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August 20, 2010

Old School: Drive-in Movies

I'm really cheating in calling this an Old School, since I'd never been to a drive-in movie theater in my life before last week, and until recently I had no idea there were even any functioning ones left. My eyes were opened by my friends Joyce and Michael (the proprietor of the wonderful movie blog Cinema du Meep), and after some abortive attempts to attend one of the handful of options within relatively easy driving distance of NYC this summer, we wondered if there might be any drive-ins near the spot where we were vacationing in Rhode Island.

As it turned out, there is one. (Well, it's on the other side of the state from where we were--but it's a really small state!) As seems to be the general practice at many of these places nowadays, you pay an entry fee to one screen there, at which two movies play each evening, usually a child- (and not necessarily adult-) friendly option first, and something R-rated second. With young kids, obviously, you generally just go for the first one, rather than attempting to get your toddler to shut his eyes and ears for two-plus hours of Inglourious Basterds.

In this case, there were two screens that were starting out with kid flicks, and our choice was between Despicable Me and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Being big saps, we let our older son choose, and predictably enough, he picked the one that didn't at least have Steve Carell's voice going for it. He loves cats. And dogs. (We were going to get Kenneth the Page either way, though—he appears to have a corner on the drive-in kiddie movie this summer.)

Now, this is not a review of the Cats & Dogs movie, though I will admit it wasn't as bad as I expected. (So nice to see Nick Nolte and Bette Midler working together again, even if the last time they actually had to be in the same place at the same time. And I'm always a sucker for a Wallace Shawn voiceover.) The experience of watching a silly movie with your kids in your parked car, though: This I give two thumbs up. Many more veteran families around us came better prepared, actually, parking their SUVs backwards and essentially tailgating for the film. But for our first go, we found it delightful just being enclosed together for the experience. It blew our two-year-old away in particular—his eyes got implausibly wide when he saw that giant white wall turn into a giant video. The whole thing was the perfect summer shared family experience.

Plus, we got Sean Hayes's vocal impersonation of Hannibal Lecter. Truly something for everyone.

[Photo by Drm31, via Wikimedia Commons]

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