Last night, because we are good parents and we love our children, we took the boys to see a sneak preview of Star Wars: Clone Wars. My hubby's radio station sponsored the showing so we got in free (and came home with posters and activity books...).
I can't really explain how much I was not looking forward to this movie. I mean, it's bad enough that Lucas mutilated his own story with the cinematic travesties that are Episodes 1-3, but now I had to sit through an animated version? Ugh.
However, I've sat through numerous animated flicks since the birth of my children. I'm good at enduring for the sake of motherhood.
We arrived early and stood in line with other families whose children buzzed with excitement ("It's the video game come to life!") and parents who wore an expression eerily similar to soldiers going into battle ("It's the @#%& video game come to life!"). Before long, actors in costume showed up and began marching around the line--clone soldiers in full uniform, Obi Wan, Skywalker, and even a totally realistic, life-sized, remote-controlled R2D2. All pretty entertaining, even if Daredevil did keep trying to challenge every clone soldier to a Fight to the Death.
They demurred because a) he's pint-sized and b) he had no weapon they could see. If only they knew...
We handed our passes over as we entered the theater and were given little tickets with stars cut out of them and told to hang on to them for dear life. No entrance or re-entrance without the ticket, we were told. Must show the security guard the ticket, we were told.
Perhaps the theater didn't realize that this was the animated version of Star Wars? Were they honestly worried about rogue movie-goers suddenly abandoning their plans to see The Dark Knight in favor of a Lucas-scrapes-the-bottom flick?
The security guard at the entrance to our particular theater glanced at our tickets, lectured us on turning off cell phones and not using cameras (Darn it. Foiled again!), and let us through. We climbed the long hallway leading up to the main theater and lo and behold, another security guard awaited us.
This security guard was seventy if he was a day with thick, coke-bottle glasses distorting his eyes and, I kid you not, a metal detector clutched in his hand.
I settled into my seat, wondering what he could possibly be looking for with his metal detector (braces? stray ink pens?) and then realized he wasn't using it on anyone who came in. Perhaps he couldn't really see anyone who came in. Instead, he kept waving it in front of the metal hand railing to see if it would beep.
It did. Every time. I spared a moment to wonder if the theater management realized their security guard was busy subduing a handrail and little else but then forgot about him as the conversation being held directly behind me caught my attention.
Three twenty-something men sat behind me, alternately critiquing and envying the costumes of the actors who had now filed into the theater with us. I heard statements like "Oh, I like how Obi's belt is cinched to the left. I haven't tried that before." and "Did you see the wig on the Anniken guy? If that isn't an inch too long, I don't know my Anniken."
I risked a quick glance over my shoulder and confirmed what, until that moment, I had deemed impossible. Grown-ups were in the theater. Voluntarily. Without children.
Not just any grown-ups. Grown-ups who were eager to dissect minutia on belt placement and hair-length. I sat in horrified amusement as the three behind me kept a running commentary on all things Star Wars (even, at one point, rehashing the Clone Wars trailer for their favorite parts) while the actors paraded around, brandishing light sabers and saying "May the Force be with you" and the ancient security guard waved his metal detector over the metal hand railing.
Then the real fun started.
The radio station crew had give-aways (hence the posters and the activity books) and initiated an impromptu talent show to earn the giveaways. None of my readers will be surprised that Daredevil and Starshine were the first in line to display their talents. They ran on stage, plopped themselves on their skinny bottoms, and hoisted one leg firmly behind their ear. Everyone clapped for my little contortionists and they ran back with their prizes firmly clutched in their hands. Several other kids paraded across the stage, showcasing ninja moves and Yoda-speak and then I noticed something I never thought I'd see.
Grown ups. In line. Willing to get in front of a theater full of people and do a little show and tell for a poster.
Then the grown ups began filing across the front of the theater and I realized the three behind me, previously labeled Not Quite Right in the recesses of my brain where sarcasm thrives, suddenly appeared Totally Sane.
A man did a not too bad impression of Chewy. Maybe a 4 on the You Might Be Weird scale. What was weird was the chorus of critiques and praise he received from the audience. Families with children all clapped politely. Grown ups without children wondered if perhaps his timbre was a shade too low for a true Chewbacca impression.
Then another man took the stage and gave us his best JarJar imitation. Families with children clapped politely. Grown ups without children booed and hissed. Not because his impression was bad. Because they all hated JarJar.
But it wasn't until a man squatted down (yes, squatted) and informed us that he would give us R2D2's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (does R2D2 even know the Star Spangled Banner??) that I realized I'd somehow slipped my children through a cosmic crack in the face of time and landed us all in an alternate universe. The man squatted, opened his mouth, and proceeded to give us all two minutes of the following: "Boo beeeee da bop bop beeee. Woooweeee bip bip baaa baaa deeee." At the end of it (and yes, my mouth was literally hanging wide open until I remembered that a) that was rude and b) showcasing my thoughts too clearly within this alternate universe might get me run through with a light saber), families with children clapped politely and tried to wrest appropriate expressions of interest over the glassy-eyed shock on their faces.
Grown ups without children cheered mightily.
The final kicker was a woman, resembling a linebacker in a sundress, who took the stage and gave us a female Chewy impression. Before I could find the words to describe the peculiar torture that was listening to that performance, the Scientist turned to me and said, "She sounded like a female wookie giving birth."
I waited for the three behind us to launch a verbal (or light sabered) reprimand for that piece of sacrilege but they laughed instead. Apparently, her timbre was off too.
The movie started and the three behind us instantly hushed the crowd in case we missed any dialogue. I sat through the whole thing, only wishing maybe thirty times that it would end already. And honestly, the kids were highly entertained. They laughed often. So did the three behind us who kept a quiet commentary of "Ooooh, nice line." or "Look at his uniform". I didn't give in to my urge to make any sarcastic remarks to my hubby until Zero Hut (gangster uncle to Jabba the Hut) came on the scene. Zero, a stone-cold killer, opened his mouth and out came Scarlet O'Hara meets Larry The Cable guy.
It's pretty hard to take a unisex redneck seriously.
When the movie ended, the three behind us made eager plans to meet up again for the midnight showing on Thursday and I had to hand it to them. They are dedicated fans. I feel the same sense of dedication to the Pirates franchise, LOTR, and Harry Potter. Still, I can honestly say that if any of those franchises were to suddenly foist an animated flick on the masses, I would not be first in line to grab a ticket.