Thursday, August 25, 2011
The First One’s Free. That’s How They Hook You
My Daughter’s First Trip to the Movies
My local cinema has a summer program: every Wednesday and Thursday, you can bring your kids to the movies—for free. I’ve been wondering when might be a good time for my little girl’s first trip to the movies. “Free” is a good motivator. It takes the sting out of the very real possibility that she’s going to demand to go home the moment the lights go down.
When we entered the theater, the place was packed with rambunctious kids, most wearing day-camp t-shirts. So … there’s a day camp around here that promises healthy, vigorous outdoor activities and takes the kids to the movies instead? Sounds like my kind of camp. Today’s film is Shrek Forever After—The Final Chapter, which was released in 2010, and we won’t be seeing it with its 3D effects, at which point I remind myself that it’s free.
My daughter’s face lit up at the sight of the images on the big screen. (So far, so good.) She’s not old enough to get the jokes. But I am. And for once, the references aligned just the way I like ’em. This Shrek is a riff on one of my favorite “sap” films: It’s a Wonderful Life. Want to see me cry? Just say, “Don’t you see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life.” I like that film on every level: as pure entertainment; as the idea that you can’t take just one brick out of the wall; the profundity of the big question of whether we really matter; and the simple answer that love and friendship are all. I’m a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life. So I liked this Shrek, too, since it was the same film. And the good news: my daughter liked it just fine. Yeah, she’d drift in and out of attention with what was up on the big screen, generally tuning out during the talky bits. But when the screen held her focus, she seemed to be in heaven. No big surprise, she liked the physical comedy, the chubby cat, and the funny donkey. But there was something else: she seemed to really enjoy the moments when all the kids laughed in unison.
I asked her if she liked the movie but she was already onto the next thing, trying to get through a door marked “private.” When I asked her again if she liked the movie, she asked me, still trying the door handle, “Can you open this door?” Okay. I won’t press. I’m going to be grateful that she was able to sit still for the length of a feature film and seemed to enjoy herself. Don’t you see, Julia? Life as a moviegoer can be a wonderful life. Now you’re a part of it. I would have paid for this one.
Do you remember your first trip to the movies? Have you taken your kids to the movies yet? What did you see? Share it here.