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Documenting My Pastor Grandma’s Movie Experiences

By Whitley Dunn

A grandmother’s love for the weirdly magical: from tall blue people to small enchanted halflings, this pastor grandmother can’t get enough of these wonderfully magical worlds

Part 1: Grandma & Her Habits

As the title suggests, my grandma is a pastor. Technically, she’s a retired pastor and a chaplain. So, as you can imagine, she’s a very religious woman. This is something that always surprises people. They wouldn’t guess that the gothic redhead in front of them has such a religious grandparent.

Growing up, she was the type of religious who wrote scripture into every holiday card. She has relaxed since then and has even allowed herself to take in certain movies that would make her cringe in her skin years ago.

Some of the movies we introduce her to are a complete hit, and she’ll go about watching them again as she does chores. The misses make the poor seventy-four-year-old squirm in her seat.

For some reason, Dad thought letting her watch Bad Santa with us for Christmas last year was a good idea. Between the sex scenes and the main character saying “god-damn” as filler in every sentence he uttered, we knew it was a mistake.

My grandma's major habit when we watch anything is asking what it's about, what will happen and why the characters do what they do. She says it takes away stress, so that way, she can just enjoy what we are watching.

I get it. I have comfort shows I stick to, so I’m not surprised by a sudden twist, and the times I give something new a chance, I inevitably google it. True heartbreak is when you search for your new favourite character and auto-complete shows “death scene” right after.

The strange thing is my grandma switches between claiming she’s watched said movie to claiming she has no memory of watching said movie. It's always a toss-up.

We put on a cartoon when Dad and I aren’t in the mood to explain a movie and just want something more wholesome.

We watched both Wreck-It Ralph movies with Grandma, and when we asked her if she liked them. This was the conversation.

Me: You seem like you enjoyed both movies.

Grandma: I did! The big one, what’s his name again?

Dad: Ralph.

Grandma: Oh no, that’s not his name.

Dad: Mom, it's Ralph. It's in the title Wreck-It Ralph.

Grandma: No, it was Felix.

Me: That’s the other guy.

Grandma: Oh… I thought that’s why the big man was so angry in the first movie. That everything was named after the small guy with the shiny hammer.

Part 2: Gollum


"Was it the high cheek boned elves? The rugged Dwarfs? The brave and loveable Hobbits? It was Gollum."


Somehow we convinced my grandma to watch The Hobbit trilogy a year and a half ago. A series that is infamously known for its magic system and fantasy world. This is also the same woman who REFUSED to let any of her children watch Fantasia (yes, the one with Mickey Mouse) because it had magic.

She sat through all three movies wide-eyed, deeply invested in the journey and even managed to sit through all of the magic duals without the squirming taking place. The only exception was the battle between Gandalf and Galadriel versus Sauron in the third movie.

So, how did we get her to agree to this? Was it the high cheek boned elves? The rugged Dwarfs? The brave and loveable Hobbits?

It was Gollum.

Yes, THIS Gollum. She doesn’t even refer to Gollum as Gollum. Nor does she refer to him as Smeagol. She calls him “Precious” and is convinced that is his name. If you try to correct her, she does an impression to prove her point that his name really is “Precious”.

There was also the incident with Smaug.

Grandma watched the whole movie with us, and we asked what she thought of the movie. She looks at us and says, “I loved it, but I’m confused about what happened to the gold dragon. Why would the mean black one leave him behind?”

The scene in question is when Thorin and company cover Smaug in gold to kill him. Only for Smaug to break out of the mountain, shake off the gold and fly towards Lake-town to wreak havoc.

Dad and I exchanged a look at her question. “The gold dragon?”

Confident in her answer, she doesn’t falter. We told her there was no gold dragon. That it was Smaug, she didn’t seem impressed before moving on and asking when we would see her “Precious” again.

She wasn’t happy when we told her he wouldn’t appear till the next series, and she was even more disappointed when she saw how mean he really was.

Part 3: Giant Blue People With Tails

Avatar… My grandma has been obsessed with this movie ever since 2009. I have no idea where my grandma’s love for it started. Something about giant blue people with tails has stolen her heart.

So much so that she’s watched it at least a hundred times. I’m not kidding. She has the whole thing memorized. She watches it once a month, maybe twice, if she’s feeling really wild and wants to go back to Pandora to see Jake and Neytiri again.

I asked her what made her love the movie so much. She said, “They have such strong principles. I know I’m religious in what I believe in, and they are too. They stood behind what they believe in with the tree, Pandora as a whole, and everyone who lives on it.”

She was extremely excited when she found out the second movie was finally coming out. Even more excited when she heard there were three more to follow.


"Something about giant blue people with tails has stolen her heart."


We had to give her a heads-up that they were removing the first one from Disney+ to encourage people to see it in theatres before the new one is released. This is how that conversation went:

Grandma: The new one is out! Marian and I are going to see it.

Dad: That’s the first one. I told you they are putting it back in theatres for a bit before the second one comes out in December.

Grandma: You did tell me that…

Dad: I know I did.

Grandma: YOU SUCK!

I asked her how she felt about the second movie. She said, “I loved it! But the first one is always going to be my favourite. Even if I could watch the second one on TV right now, I would still go for the first one.”

Whitley Dunn

Meet Whitley: She uses sarcasm and self-deprecating humour as a love language. You can often find her playing The Sims 4 to escape her responsibilities and crying when she has to update her mods. P.S., Whit will always choose her cat over you. That's just a given, sorry.


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