Watch 5 Filmmakers Recall Their Most Cringeworthy Moments at the Movies with Mom & Dad

In sixth grade, my friend Amy Osborn’s parents took us to a screening of Annie Hall. The bedroom scenes with Carol Kane, Janet Margolin and Diane Keaton were chaste by today’s standards. The repartee was so beyond my frame of reference, it caused but little discomfort. What did me in was the two-line exchange between a cartoon Woody Allen and Snow White’s Wicked Queen concerning her period (or lack thereof)Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was our sacred text, but its most sensational subject matter—menstruation—was deeply taboo outside of my 1970’s Indiana tribe. I could have died, knowing Mr. Osborn was sitting right there. The one consolation was that my own parents weren’t.

These awkward encounters can be defining, which explains why the Tribeca Film Festival sought to ferret them out as part of its One Question series. It’s impressive that the four directors and one producer featured above decided to pursue careers in film after inadvertently sharing with their parents such tender moments as a masturbating Philip Seymour Hoffman in Todd Solondz’s seminal (pardon the pun) Happiness or the relentless defloration scene at the top of Larry Clark’s Kids.

Perhaps you can relate. If so, please spill the gory details below. Provided you’re strong enough to revisit the trauma, what was your most cringe-inducing moment at the movies with your mom or dad, or—let’s not be ageist here—your kids?

Related Content:

Growing Up John Waters: The Oddball Filmmaker Catalogues His Many Formative Rebellions (1993)

The Story Of Menstruation: Walt Disney’s Sex Ed Film from 1946

Dustin Hoffman Talks Sex from the Comfort of His Own Bed (1968)

Ayun Halliday grows less ashamed with every passing year. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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  1. Leigh says . . . | May 17, 2013 / 9:18 pm

    When I was a freshman in college, my dad visited me and we went to see Midnight Cowboy. He was a very conservative, old school guy and thought it was going to be a Western! Jon Voight’s male prostitute and Dustin Hoffman’s depravity disgusted him, though I love it. That evening opened a cultural divide between us that was never fully bridged again.

  2. Steve says . . . | May 17, 2013 / 11:03 pm

    I was 16 years old and went with my parents to my first R rated movie, Deliverance. I always remember sitting between them when the squealing pig scene with Ned Beatty happened and was not game to look sideways. Nothing was ever said by any of us, but it was a memorable moment, still now 40 years later.

  3. Julie says . . . | May 18, 2013 / 6:20 am

    My dad took me to see The Ruling Class when I was 17. I’m in my 40s now, still cringe at the memory.

  4. Jerianne Trammell says . . . | May 18, 2013 / 10:02 am

    I don’t know that it was as hard on me as it was my parents. Daddy couldn’t stop laughing and Mother was mortified after we saw one of the “Every Which Way” movies we were walking down the crowded sidewalk afterward and I innocently and not quietly asked them “What is the clap”?

  5. bob stepno says . . . | May 18, 2013 / 10:16 am

    My dad took me to see a double feature of “Our Man in Havana” and “Gene Krupa Story” when I was 10 or 11. I remember having many unanswered questions. “But /why/ did the pretty lady in the bar want him to unlace her top? Are there ladies like that at the bar where you work?”

  6. Alban Elfed says . . . | May 18, 2013 / 10:56 am

    When I was about 15, I was intrigued by the mysterious nature of the trailer for Eyes Wide Shut. At that age, my Mom & I didn’t spend much time together & were at each others throats most of the time, so one night we decided to go to the movies & see the film, which she had never even heard of. I had only seen the trailer & didn’t really know what it was about because it was so vague. Needless to say, it was very awkward, but we managed to watch the entire film, which was hilarious to me because she was ultra-religious & also a children’s minister at the time. It was a very uncomfortable & quiet ride home afterward.

  7. Joann Locascio says . . . | May 18, 2013 / 3:00 pm

    My kids loved the Chuckie movies so when The Bride of Chuckie came out, I took them to see it, not realizing it was rated R (not smart, I know) I spent half the movie with my hands over the eyes of my youngest son and daughter (ages 6 and 8 at the time) We still laugh about it.

  8. Patrick says . . . | May 19, 2013 / 8:52 pm

    I saw Psycho with my mother and father at the cinema. I was living with my parents at the time. I was, I think, 30, 31 years old. Some funky Oedipal stuff there.

  9. James says . . . | July 2, 2013 / 10:01 am

    When I was a teen, I begged my parents to take me to see “A Clockwork Orange” at the local university. I didn’t really know what it was about, but the stills I’d seen made it look pretty awesome. I have to imagine they were pretty mortified by what went on in that film, not only because of what went on but also because they had their young teenage son with them watching this stuff!

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