I took my four-year-old son to the movies for the first time this weekend. It felt monumental in a way: Winnie the Pooh would be the first film he ever saw in a theater, a fact that might embarrass him as a teenager but that he’ll hopefully admit proudly as an adult. It’s not a bells-and-whistles movie; it’s cute, inoffensive, a little literary and at times clever. I thought it was great (and so did Agent Bedhead).
It’s fascinating to witness someone else experience a movie for the first time. I tried to prepare him for it: I told him it was like a giant TV screen, as big as a house, and that it was important that he not speak during the film. Still, there were some things I’d not expected: The stadium seat, for instance, would fold back up on him unless his mother or myself held it down. He wasn’t prepared for the noise, either, and spent the first ten minutes with his hands over his ears. He’d also never seen a commercial before, so the pre-movie Coca-Cola ads were shocking: In one, a basketball player shattered into pieces thanks to the refreshing taste of Coca Cola, and I thought that’d be the end of our movie-going experience. He hung in, confused, and even showing an admiration for Travis Barker’s “spiky hair” in the next Coke commercial.
But once the movie started, he settled in and watched, enraptured by the giant images floating before him onscreen. He quietly asked a few questions, mostly to ensure that there were no “bad monsters,” laughed where he should’ve laughed, and, in the end, stayed through the credits because he liked the song.
It was a success, and given the dearth of smart movies aimed at his age group and his mother’s anti-film position, it may be the last film he sees in theaters for a couple of years. But he’ll always own it as his first, as I owned E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial as mine. I was older (7) (and I wept my fool eyes out), and I wonder if children are watching movies at a younger age now than in previous generations?
It brings me to today’s comment diversion: What was the first movie you saw in theaters? How old were you? And is it a movie you’re proud to call your first? Alternatively, if you have kids, what was the first movie you took him or her to, and how old was he or she at the time? Was it a good experience?