Monday, September 28, 2015

Strike two on live action

Another Sunday, another movie my son couldn't watch to its completion.

What do you do when thematic material forces your five-year-old son out of the theater because it's too scary? You double down in the opposite direction, taking him to a movie about a dog and a penguin.

Unfortunately, this time we had to leave not because he was too scared, but because he was too bored. And then, later, because he was too scared.

Fortunately, this time "we" did not include me.

My wife got free passes to the Australian children's film Oddball through her work, and planned to take my son sometime this weekend. That sometime ended up being a 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning show. This was a nice change for me, as it allowed me to stay home while my younger son napped. I'm usually the one that takes my older son to the movies, a responsibility I obviously don't mind, but this one didn't pique my interests. And since it would serve my wife to be familiar with Oddball for her work, she was the logical candidate to take him anyway.

Once they were in their seats, she texted me that her fingers were crossed, a reference to the previous week's failed Pan screening that I somehow am now mentioning for the fourth time on this blog.

I thought all was going well, but it turned out I missed a text from my wife about 40 minutes in stating "We're out - hope to lure him back in with a treat." Boredom at too many adults talking for too long of a time, it seems.

She did this successfully, apparently -- but then they had to leave before the movie ended anyway, because my son was agitated about some part involving a girl going to the pound, where her dog was set to be destroyed. Obviously the dog emerged fine, but my son wasn't to know that, which I guess makes him kind of the ideal audience member in terms of creating narrative tension. My wife tried to convince him that the movie was likely to have a happy ending, but he wasn't going for it. The second departure was permanent.

Unfortunately, now it seems that a new factor has been introduced into my son's moviegoing experiences -- video games. He appears to have remembered that I let him play some games when he forced us to leave Paddington early last December, and he tried to pull off the same thing after Pan last week, only I was too annoyed to indulge him. When the Oddball cinema didn't have any games, he whined and grumbled about it to my wife for the next hour.

One problem at a time.

The problem of getting him to sit for a whole movie can be resolved in one of two ways:

1) Just stop going to the movies for a while, until he has clearly passed a new milestone in his maturation that would give us the confidence to try again.

2) Just stop going to live action movies.

It's the live action movies that have consistently been a failure. Starting with Paddington and now the last two, he hasn't made it through one yet. So I guess maybe that's really strike three rather than strike two. Even the ones we've watched at home, like Hop and The Smurfs 2, were movies he gave up on. These tend to lodge in my memory less because in those cases, I ended up finishing the movie even when he didn't.

Conversely, even though a couple animated movies have gotten dodgy for him -- like, he really wanted to leave Big Hero 6, but I coaxed him back from the edge -- we have yet to actually make an early departure. And in a movie like Inside Out, which definitely has a couple scary moments, leaving early was not even put forward as an option by him.

So to try to get us back on track, it looks like our next attempt will be ... Hotel Transylvania 2. We saw a trailer for this in the lobby while waiting for Pan to start, and he was really into it. He likes things that are "spooky," but also if they are more funny than they are spooky. Which pretty much exactly describes the tone of this series ... especially if you consider "funny" to mean "attempting to be funny."

We found the original at the library yesterday, and plan to watch it on Wednesday when we're home and the younger one is napping. If that's a hit, I'll have good confidence that the sequel will be too.

Because they tend not to care too much about Halloween in Australia, Transylvania 2 is not actually coming out until November 26th.

That'll give him a couple months to let the "traumas" of the past week subside in his memory, as well.

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