I have fond (and fairly amusing) memories of summertime movies. In fact, kids and summer movies go together like peanut butter and jelly (or vodka and cranberry). Somewhere along the way, I picked up a liking for the vodka and cranberry and a meh-ish attitude toward movies for kids. Which is unfortunate for my son.
But when I was attempting to think of something to wax poetic about this week (feel free to email me suggestions), a friend suggested the vast amount of children's movies that are scheduled to come out in the coming weeks. I looked and he was right - there are a ton of kids' movies coming out. Perhaps I should worry about this knowledge of his since he and his wife have no kids of their own, but whatever floats your boat, I suppose.
And in looking at these movies, it made me remember my experience as a kid. See, I grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., otherwise known as the armpit of the world. It was hot in the summer; I'm talking straight-up jungle heat. The fact that everyone had a pool did nothing to help cool us off, since the sweltering temperatures had pool water feeling more like really warm bath water. Our parents and grandparents believed that we should be outside playing; or at least that was the reason given for running us out of the house so they could watch "The Young and the Restless." Well, my grandmother, anyway.
But the theater at the mall had this awesome plan that allowed us to stay cool AND watch movies all day - they showed kids movies for a couple bucks, and then jacked up the price on the concession stand junk food. They showed back-to-back kid flicks, and my friends and I were frequent visitors to the cheap movies. You only think "An American Tail" gets old, but every time I hear Fievel sing "Somewhere Out There," I get a little tear of nostalgia.
And while my grandmother - whom I called Memaw - was totally down with the cheap movies and carting me and my friends to the theater, she was not down with the prices of the food at the concession stand. The fact that we spent between four and six hours there meant we had to eat, but Memaw knew what was up. She made sure we were fed, entertained and ridiculed (at first) by the other children.
She forced each of us to carry one of her pocketbooks to the theater. Now these were not the sort of purses that elementary-aged girls would carry. They were massive, usually leather, and usually at least 25 years old. I remember vividly one giant red monstrosity that I was forced to carry. But as ugly as they were, they held oceans of goodies for us. Popcorn in giant baggies, candy purchased on the cheap at the gas station, and warm cans of soda or Capri Suns were shoved into these bags that we would carry in near bursting at the seams, and carry out flat as pancakes.
At first, the other little girls were going to make fun, but then when they saw the treasure trove of junk food goodness nestled inside those ancient purses, they changed their tunes with a quickness. Never one to forgive easily, I never shared with them. They made fun of me, so they were dead in my eyes, which made them want to be my friend even more. This is a strategy that works for me even now. It's like cats. The more you ignore them, the more they want to hang around you. I rock that annoyed feline thing.
Perhaps because of those fond memories of movies from my youth, I recognize that summertime IS movie time for kids. And there are actually some pretty decent ones coming out. "Monsters University" sounds fun; I liked the first movie fine. There's "Epic" and "Despicable Me 2," "Turbo," "The Smurfs 2" and "Planes," all of which my kid wants to see. For the older kids, you have "Man of Steel," "The Lone Ranger," "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," and "The Wolverine."
None of these necessarily sound like my cup of tea, but it sure beats standing outside sweating, attempting to play ball without having ozone asthma attacks. If your kid is old enough, there's always the double movie thing - where you see a grownup movie while they see a cartoon. But no matter what you decide to do, just remember, if you're going to sneak in food, at least let your kid carry a fashionable purse. Memaw was a smart lady, don't nobody have time for the cost of popcorn and candy at the movies.
Amber Pittman is the editor of The News' East Atlanta Entertainment newsletter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org