How 'Finding Nemo' Taught Me to Watch Movies Like a Kid

Children have an almost supernatural capacity for repetition. It is not at all uncommon for one to sit through a feature length film, and then after the credits roll, beg you to rewind and hit play again. Like many adults, I have often wondered how children can tolerate the same movies over and over again. And then I found myself on the couch, viewing Finding Nemo for what was likely the thirtieth time, and I realized I was still laughing -- and, yes, crying -- just as much as I had the first time I saw the film.

I’d never planned on watching Finding Nemo dozens of times. It’s a favorite film of my kids, so they often request it and I put it on for them. But then I always end up stuck in front of the TV myself. I’ve developed an emotional attachment to that movie, and re-watching it is sort of like reliving memories. The same way I can think back to a happy childhood moment -- my ninth birthday, say, when my mom took my friends and me to a recreated old-time village where we could churn our own butter -- and remember how I felt then, I can watch a scene in Finding Nemo and recall how I felt the first time I saw it.

This must be what kids do. Maybe when there’s something they really enjoy, they want to relive it as many times as possible. Little kids have so many fewer experiences to draw from, so  maybe they rely on their favorite movies to do that for them. Of course, most kids also have no taste, so they’re just as likely to invest themselves emotionally in a great, classic film as they are a compilation of old Snorks episodes.

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