02 July 2008

The Strangely Persistent Appeal of the Drive-In Movie

Granted, it helps if you are able to get your hands on some first class medication, which, thanks to my crotchety lower back, I am. Percocet and Valium can give you a feeling of serenity and focus that is necessary to tune out the distractions. There are any number of these: passing freeway traffic, the idiot in the car in front of you who repeatedly turns on his rear truck-bed lights, the couple who have brought what seem to be fourteen kids and two vehicles (they will make approximately 17 trips to the bathroom and engage in a spirited debate about something without actually coming to blows), the seven or so vehicles that will pack up and leave mid-film with their headlights on high and raising clouds of dust, the hilarious pranksters with laser pointers...

I could go on but as I said, my medication enabled me to achieve an almost mystical focus. And I needed every bit of serenity to concentrate on the mystery of Wall-E. I can't really fault the film much (though it is a bit preachy) but it definitely is not going to hold a child's focus for very long--at least not at a drive in. Part of the problem is the dearth of actual dialog--lots of robot cooing, beeping and squeaking but lacking in the lower-elementary grade attention-getting-and-holding communication. This as opposed to Kung Fu Panda, which kept interest to the very end.

The theater is actually hamstrung in having to delay the start of the film until it is dark enough to actually project it onto a screen--this would be about 9:00 pm where we are. Unfortunately, they are also (being a drive-in) hidebound by the code of their guild to start the previews at least 20-30 minutes late, which I surmise allows them to pack as many vehicles as possible onto the lot. All of this means the actual start time of the film is close to 10:00 pm--not ideal for a parking lot full of small children.

I found it amusing that both Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda were the first legs of double features. Following Wall-E was supposed to be the second Narnia film, which I gather clocks in somewhere near the three-hour mark and would have started around midnight. As for me and mine, we weren't waiting around to find out.

At any rate, I enjoyed the show and plan on going again. There is just something about dumping the kids in the back of the truck with sleeping bags and pillows and a buttload of glow-sticks, whipping out a folding chair and a beer and relaxing in the relative cool of the evening.

(photo by Chris Seufert Photography:

1 comment:

  1. I brought my 2 year old to Wall-E (her first movie) and she was thankfully transfixed. I chalk this up to the likely fact that she's still too young to expect a certain frenetic pace to her entertainment.