At a July 4th picnic in Prospect Park, our good friends John and Mai told us they’d recently brought their kid, Leo, to see Cars 2: Electric Boogaloo at a real, honest-to-gosh movie theater. He liked it, of course; he was already a fan of Cars 1: The Merchandising Begins. But for a moment I had one of those twinges of parental jealousy that strike even the most indifferent New York dads. Their kid has seen a movie, I thought, and mine hasn’t!
But it’s about time to remedy that. Sasha is now 2 and a half years old, which is about the age I was when my dad first took me to the movies. I don’t remember which came first, The Rescuers or Winnie the Pooh, but I didn’t make it all the way through either one without asking Dad to take me into the hallway. I was scared.
In fact, it was only on movie no. 3 that I managed to sit in my seat the whole two hours without getting frightened. That movie was, of course, Star Wars. I still remember how small I felt as that Star Destroyer cruised over my head and across the screen—this was the movie for me. I probably don’t have to tell you much more than that for you to know it changed my life.
So, what will be the movie I bring Sasha to that changes her life? Is there anything on the horizon this summer that’s worth risking the dirty looks of fellow matinee-goers? Something that’s not just totally horrible and cynical and functioning as a mega-commercial? Or should we wait another year or three?
I do have to add one thing: While Mai, John, and Leo were enjoying Cars 2, Sasha and I were sitting at home, in my air-conditioned bedroom, watching a somewhat similar movie on TV: The Road Warrior, starring a terrifyingly young Mel Gibson as Mad Max. At one point, a bad guy manages to set off the booby trap on Max’s car, and the thing explodes in a glorious fireball. And that’s when Sasha turned to me and we said, at exactly the same time, “爆炸! (Bàozhà!)” Which in Chinese means, “Explode!” And that made it the best cinematic explosion I’d seen in a very long time. I hope Sasha remembers it that way, too.