Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A perfect way to cool off

Now I know why they waited until Boxing Day to release Disney's Frozen here in Australia. Once the heat of summer overtook us, we were going to need some cooling off.

The hottest day of the summer hit Melbourne on Tuesday, when there was a projected high of 43 in the city. Don't speak Celsius? That's 109 degrees.

And we were feeling every damn degree as my three-year-old son and his 72-year-old grandmother and I walked to the tram stop. Actually, in a rather odd phenomenon, it felt like the heat of an oven, and it was also windy. Go figure. "That's Melbourne weather for you," to repeat a phrase I hear someone speak at least once a week.

At least where the tram was taking us promised to provide some relief: Melbourne Central, an upscale mall in downtown Melbourne, which was built around an old so-called "shot factory," whose brick spire still runs up the center of the building (and whose first and second floors are home to businesses in the mall).

Melbourne Central held the Hoyts Cinema where we were going to watch Frozen, reducing our temperatures a few degrees not only from the theater's AC, but from the movie's subject matter.

Yeah, that was the ticket.

I didn't love Frozen like I love Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, but I'm glad to have seen it, especially on a day like Tuesday, where every snowflake provided an infinitesimal amount of heat relief. And there are a lot of snowflakes in Frozen.

The actual cool and the thematic cool were only one form of "relief" I got while watching this movie. The other was the pleasant surprise of my son's behavior in only his second trip to the theater.

You may remember the first, which I posted about here. He wasn't terrible when we went to see Planes in September, but my wife and I each had to miss five to ten minutes of the movie. Turns out, it wasn't a great movie, so missing a few minutes here and there was no great loss.

The stakes were higher with Frozen, especially since both Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph were in my top five films of their respective years (2010 and 2012). And when the Hoyts pre-show kicked into its 25th minute, I was worried we'd lose him even before the movie started. Frozen is preceded by an imaginative short involving classic Mickey Mouse, which only increased the likelihood that my son would turn into a complete mess before the movie was over.

Complete mess? No. Partial mess? Uh uh. A little bit of a mess? I don't think I could even say that.

Simply put, he floored me. He never got out of his seat to explore any part of the theater, which had been his biggest distraction last time. Only once did he even turn around to look at the people in the rows behind him. At about 30 minutes in, he climbed on my lap from his own seat, but that wasn't the precursor to anything worse. In fact, when I opened up the pack of Pods I'd bought to bribe him, it was a voluntary action on my part -- a reward for good behavior, not a last-ditch attempt to control bad behavior.

He got scared a couple times and commented on the darkness of the theater a couple times, and made a couple exclamations that were a bit too loud. But the rest of the time he talked in whispers, and he was really polite when asking me for more chocolates. He seemed to really respect the sanctity of the theater. Why can't I have this kid living in my house all the time?

What was even cooler was that his grandmother seemed genuinely thrilled by the experience. This was the first modern animated movie she'd seen -- she must have seen some of the Pixar movies, but I don't know which ones -- so she was overwhelmed by the capabilities of modern computer animation. I could only imagine what she must have felt like, sitting there watching it -- I'm guessing it's a bit like seeing your first color movie.

Even when we returned to the waves of suffocating heat outside, our hearts were still frozen, so to speak. (If you've seen the movie, that comment makes sense.)

At home, icy poles (popsicles) were had by all.

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