Movie Run: a foolproof way for 2 people to make a decision

I grew up with two brothers; one older and one younger. My parents used to go out to dinner with friends once a week, my older brother would have a sleepover or a playdate, and my little brother and I would stay home with a babysitter and choose a movie to watch together.

I know what you’re thinking: “a 9 year old girl and a 6 year old boy being forced to agree on *one movie* to watch with no parents around? That’ll end well.”

Considering the fact that Reed’s favorite movie at the time was “The Scooby Doo Movie” and mine was “Baby Geniuses”, and we usually had only about 20 minutes to come to a consensus, all odds seemed to be stacked against us. However, rather than getting into a screaming match about how I refused to watch “Anaconda”, and how he would rather eat cat food than watch “That Thing You Do”, we came up with what we thought was the fairest decision-making process. We called it “Movie Run” and I think it was the first algorithm we ever wrote.

Movie Run was simple.

We had 2 closets with VHS tapes in them on either side of a wall. We would visit each closet and collect 3 tapes each that we’d like to watch that night. Then, we would slide the tapes under the red blanket at the foot of our parents’ bed. When all 6 tapes were in place, we would dramatically remove the blanket, revealing the options. When all options were visible, we began the algorithm.

Step 1. Reed removes one of Wendy’s suggestions.

Step 2. Wendy removes one of Reed’s suggestions.

Step 3. Reed removes one of his own suggestions, from his remaining 2.

Step 4. Wendy removes one of her own suggestions, from her remaining 2.

Step 5. Wendy and Reed decide together between the final 2 options.

From our extensive research throughout our childhood, we’ve concluded this plan works every time. I’ve carried this plan into my adult life and shared it with friends, who have also been surprised by how well it works. If you don’t believe us, try it out yourself. And if you don’t have 2 closets of VHS tapes and a magic red blanket, feel free to use this dinky web app as a tool: .. eventually I’ll edit it so you can invite someone into your screen rather than storing the data locally.