In a brilliant move, the nearby drive-in theater which doesn't typically show "first run" movies started showing Cars during it's second week in release. It must have done them well because it's been "held over" ever since.
Watching a movie about cars from inside a car is a novelty that I couldn't pass up. We thought we'd "play it safe" by arriving thirty minutes before showtime. But just as we exited the interstate, we encountered a shocking scene...
After reaching the entrance we looked back and noticed that droves of customers had queued up behind us...
The collective enthusiasm made it easy for me imagine what a Saturday night in the 1950s was like. The movie had been playing for ten minutes when we pulled up to the ticket booth, but I was thrilled to see that there was still room for us at this popular event.
Surprisingly, there was a parking space for everyone who waited. And I was shocked to discover prime spots available right up front. I think "walk-in" theaters have trained people to avoid the front rows, but at this drive-in, parking in the back makes the movie appear about the size of a QuickTime window on your computer monitor.
Pixar did so well at giving human characteristics to the onscreen cars that as I looked around the lot it felt as if the vehicles themselves were the ones being entertained by the movie. At one point I noted that the cars at the drive-in were watching a movie depicting cars at a drive-in watching movies about cars.
I couldn't write an accurate review of Cars if I had to. It was merely one contributing factor to the fun evening we had. The movie was what tied together the moments of fiddling with the volume knob, studying the other patrons, hunting spilled Junior Mints, showing my son around, commenting on different scenes, wiping down the windshield, navigating my way to the concession stand, and repeatedly taking in the starry sky. It was great, but watching it on DVD will be a completely different experience.
A strong message in Cars is that unless folks take time to enjoy those diversions that are off the beaten path.. they will vanish. I find it extremely interesting that the movie itself is prolonging the life of one of these very establishments.
Next thing I knew, it was my favorite time of the evening... Intermission Time! Thankfully, our drive-in uses an intermission countdown from the 1950s as well as a nice collection of vintage advertisements. (Even M&M ads from the 1980s can generate a surprising dose of nostalgia.) By the time they're over one cannot resist the urge for "piping hot coffee that puts a man on his feet again" or "freshly popped corn covered in rich, creamery butter."
The second feature, The Shaggy Dog afforded me plenty of time for snapping photos. Click any one to enlarge it...
The orange and turquoise color scheme, the crisscrossed windows, the colorful signs, the stained glass lights, the tile on the walls.. so many fun visuals at work.
The man on the moon takes in another free movie
If I may slap a moral on this tale.. while attending your favorite drive-in take the advice of the singing food and visit the snack bar. It's so tempting to pack a huge cooler of goodies for the night, but most theaters (drive-in and otherwise) are almost entirely dependent on concession sales.
I left the pleasant evening hoping that I'd get to attend another overcrowded drive-in feature someday. Looks like my dream may come true because showing this weekend is a double feature... Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and Cars.