Movie Night

I feel like we are getting away with something.

I mean, when our daughter was in preschool, or nursery school, or whatever you want to call it. Preschool? Nursery School? Preschool. Well, whatever you call it, when she was in it, we were fundraising every three months or so. There was the “bag o’ veggies” fundraiser where you encourage your friends and family to buy a bag of veggies. The normal bag came with onions, carrots and….what. Celery? I can’t remember. That can’t be right. Was it a mirepoix mix? Maybe it was potatoes. You could get the deluxe bag that included all of the above plus parsnips and a cabbage, or as it was known, the “fart bundle”.

Then there was the coffee and chocolate fundraiser at Christmas. I actually miss that one. The coffee was locally roasted by a dude in the north end, and it was delicious. And who can argue with chocolate? I mean, you can disagree with chocolate, but can you ever have an actual full-blown argument with a piece of chocolate? I’ve never seen it.

Inevitably in the Spring, there was the “plants and flowers” fundraiser, where our poor friends and family who were just over the tummy trouble from all that cabbage and parsnips, and just back to full night’s sleep after finishing up the Christmas coffee roasted in the back of some guy’s van on Higgins Ave, these same friends and family were then strong armed into buying flats of Johnny Jump Ups and that favourite enemy of the nematode: the marigold.

And so it went. Our daughter’s nursery-preschool (see what I did there?) was a co-op, so that meant without the fundraising and parent support, it wouldn’t exist, and we just assumed that was how it was going to be going forward.

So it was to our delight and astonishment that fundraising seems to have really dropped away at our daughter’s elementary school. I mean, there’s the odd thing that comes up, but nothing mandatory. There aren’t even those “guilt” emails about giving us the option to just pay a certain amount to avoid doing fundraising. Those ransom emails, as I’ve come to think of them. “Pay $40 or we will force you to make your friends and family buy these terrible little chocolates, or even worse: SPICES”.

I mean, I suppose it’s possible that we are just wilfully blind to the whole thing and when our daughter completes grade 6 and moves on to jr high we may be presented with a cumulative bill for the previous 7 years. I mean, I SUPPOSE that might happen, but that’s unlikely. It’s like those stress dreams I have where I get a bill in the mail for something I haven’t ever paid for. Like, “Surprise! You owe 11 years worth of property taxes!”.

All of this is a preamble to movie night, which happened last week. It was a fundraiser for the school. You read that right. A FUNDRAISER for the SCHOOL. This was such a novel idea to us, we were instantly intrigued. The idea was that you’d head to the school for 6:30 pm with your child and you would watch the movie “Moana” together and then go home. Your ticket would include a drink, popcorn and a SNACK. I hadn’t seen “Moana” but I’ve heard good things about it from people whom I trust and share their taste in things. Also, Lin Manuel Miranda did some of the music, and who doesn’t love THAT guy. He’s like musical chocolate. (That is NOT a racist comment, I’ll have you know. I was not referring to Miranda’s Puerto Rican heritage, but was rather simply making a throwback reference to chocolate as being something you couldn’t argue with. Plus, Lin Manuel Miranda’s skin tone is more of a nice coffee colouring, I should think.)

So it was settled. We would go as a family, and RAISE some FUNDS.

It all went wrong the day before the movie, when an email went out to the parents saying “due to copyright issues” the school couldn’t show “Moana” but instead would show “Lego Batman”.

What a blow this was! Not only did we actually already see “Lego Batman” in a theatre a month or so before, we didn’t particular love it. I mean, I enjoyed it enough, and there was some good lines in it, but it wasn’t nearly as fun as the original Chris Pratt Lego movie a couple of years before. And without having this devolve into a movie review, the movie itself seemed to be just a bunch of extended action sequences without much thought put into it, unlike the other Lego movie that had action, sure, but it also created this great world that took full advantage of Lego’s weird licensing where they could throw together all kinds of properties that had no business being together. Like didn’t they have Gandalf and Dumbledore together or something? “Lego Batman” stuck pretty much to using DC characters, and Batman DC characters at that, so it felt a little more limited than the other Lego movie. (Okay, so I know there’s that scene where they go to the phantom zone or whatever, and unleash all those other extra villans, like the Daleks and King Kong and Sauron and whatnot. I’m not talking about those guys.) But to Goldblum it a little bit, it IS billed as a “Lego BATMAN” movie, so you’d expect it to be “Batman dense” in terms of characters and story, and so it was. Side remark: my favourite part in the movie is close to the beginning when that guy is leaving that chemical plant and he says goodnight to the guard at the gate and the guard says to himself once the guy goes through something like, “There goes Bill. I sure like that guy. I hope nothing bad happens to him.” and then it immediately cuts to “Bill” in his car and Bill is singing, “Nothing bad ever happens to me!” and then something bad happens. (SPOILER). I don’t know. I just found it really funny the first time through.

So we briefly discussed the possibility of skipping out, but by that time our daughter had told all her classmates that she would be going, and plus: if I was in grade 2 and they had a movie night at my school, I would have thought it was the greatest thing ever. I only remember watching a movie en masse at elementary school, and it was in the afternoon on school time. It must have been an “end of the year” fun event or something, because we all filed into the gym and there was an HONEST TO GOODNESS PROJECTOR at the back of the gym and the principal showed us “Pete’s Dragon”. The principal actually acted as the projectionist! Now, I don’t know how our school acquired a copy of a Disney movie on actual film. This was the early 1980’s, so anything was possible. But I am sure glad they did, as fans of this blog may know that was the first time I ever saw Helen Reddy and it awakened some solid pre-pubescent feelings, the effects of which linger to this day. It’s no coincidence I live in a lighthouse, you guys.

So we went. It started out okay. We turned in our tickets and were given a bag of popcorn, a choice of about 6 different boxes of “Mike and Ike” candies, and a bottled water. Not bad for $4! Then it got a little weird when were encouraged to take our shoes off. I mean, it wasn’t MANDATORY, but if we WANTED to, we were shown the spot where we could leave them. Our daughter had hers off before we knew anything was happening and was off into the gym in search of her friends. For the record, my wife and I kept our shoes on. I mean, I’m not 12, am I?

When I entered the gym my first thought was, “Where are the chairs?” and then to my horror and disgust I realized that maybe we were supposed to bring our own something to sit on. No one had lawn chairs, but quite a few people had air mattresses, blankets and pillows. Let me remind you that this was 6:30 in the evening. Not exactly BED TIME, but here it was: children and grown adults setting up camp like it was some kind of St. James style Cubs weekend. I turned to my wife, “we were supposed to bring chairs?” and she shrugged her shoulders. She liked “Lego Batman” even less than I did, and the thought of sitting through it again was not a happy prospect. Plus: we were missing choir practice. Some early arrivers plunked themselves down on benches along the back wall of the gym, and I instantly hated them for their punctuality. I’m not a great “floor sitter”. I know some people, even adults, will happily sit on the floor in living rooms and what-have-you, and if there are no seats available I’ll do it, but my feet and legs fall asleep really easily, and the floor here was so hard! Do I lay right out and prop my head up somehow? Do I sit cross-legged? Do I kind of lay on my side? I tried all of these AND MORE and found I couldn’t really settle for more than a few minutes before I got the tingles. I joked to my wife that I was going to ask the kid in front of me if I could stretch out on his air mattress next to him and share his pillow. My wife gave me one of those looks where I wasn’t 100% sure if she knew I was joking, and that made me think that maybe my past behaviour has ruined things for me.

The next problem was the aspect ratio of the screen. I KNOW that to some friends of this blog, this is a major issue. The movie was projected in its original 1.85.1 aspect ratio, but it was projected ONTO A SQUARE SCREEN, thus cutting off the sides and leaving unseemly black bars at the top and bottom. Don’t even get me started on the sound. The sound was terrible. I am so glad this isn’t the first time I saw this movie, all of a sudden. I couldn’t make out much of the dialogue, and if I wasn’t really looking for the “Nothing Bad ever happens to me” guy, I would have missed him. As it turned out, my wife DID miss him, not because of the sound quality, but BECAUSE SHE DECIDED IT WOULD BE MORE INTERESTING TO CHAT OUT LOUD TO ONE OF OUR FRIENDS WHO’S SON ALSO GOES TO THE SCHOOL AND WHO HAD ALSO SEEN THE MOVIE BEFORE AND SO NOW I GUESS ALL RULES OF DECORUM AND MANNERS GO OUT THE WINDOW AT A MOVIE NIGHT AT A SCHOOL. The one silver lining I thought would be that my wife missed a funny section of the movie the first time through because she was out in the washroom, and I thought that at least she could she it this time. (I’m talking about Batman’s visit to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude where that Justice League party was in full swing.) But NO! Guess what? She went out to the washroom AT THE EXACT SAME SPOT and missed the scene again.

Back to the “Nothing bad ever happens to me” guy: when that scene happened, my daughter, who was sitting up front with her friends (and why not? I didn’t expect her to sit back with her parents like a square), turned around and gave me a little thumbs up, which warmed my heart.

At some point of the evening, a bunch of kids starting running back and forth under the screen, and none of their parents seemed to want to go up there and stop it. This was either because the parents were too embarrassed to admit that was their dumb kid (that would have been my reason if it were my daughter: thankfully it wasn’t), or even worse: maybe the parents thought this was acceptable behaviour. It was at this point that I was actually glad I wasn’t seeing “Moana”, because I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to make any sense of it, and would have ended up hating it. As it is,  I will watch it in the comfort of my living room whenever my library DVD copy comes in, and it will be great.

I must have really either gotten into the movie, or actually drifted off on the hard floor at some point, because before I knew it, the movie was over and the lights came up. My wife was not beside me, and neither was our friend. In fact, our daughter wasn’t up at the front either. Where was everyone I cared about? Well, at some point during the movie, this girl stomped on our daughter’s foot ,and she started crying. My wife went out to the school office and got some ice for it, and they were out in the hallway. How could I have missed all that? Could I really have drifted off? I can’t get more than 3 or 4 hours at sleep in my own bed these days without waking up with the existential dread, so how can a noisy gym with a noisy movie do the trick? Am I into extreme white noise? The other weird thing was that the kid that did the stomping is a tiny little thing, so I couldn’t understand how she could have hurt our daughter’s foot to the point where ice was needed.

“She might be small, but she has size three feet” was all my wife said.

“You mean like a hobbit?”

“She’s all feet, and they are big ones.”

Well, I don’t think that can be possible? Can a child be “all feet”. I know children grow at different rates, and some may have a longish trunk, and others may have gangly limbs, but all feet? I have no way of proving or disproving this. Maybe our daughter should have kept her shoes on after all.

We returned the ice pack to the office, and our daughter knew exactly where it went, which made me think that maybe “going for ice” was a common thing for her at school. Myself, I don’t think I ever put ice on ANYTHING in my childhood. I don’t think my Mom believed in it.

We stepped out into the early evening and walked home. It was still light out, and the air was filled with the warmth of early spring.

“Did you enjoy the movie?” I asked my daughter as we walked.

“Well, I saw it before.”

Yeah. We all did.

Can’t wait for the next one.




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