“Singin’ in the Rain” a hit with the kids

When my friend, Sandra, and I recently met for lunch, she gave me a flier detailing a fall line-up of classic movie hosted by Celebration Cinema in Portage. The September through October series consists of Rebel Without a Cause, Sunest Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain, Giant, Casablanca, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Dracula and Wizard of Oz, with shows on Tuesdays, Thursdays and (September only) Sundays.

Back when I lived in Kalamazoo pre-motherhood, Sandra and I had together taken in several high brow Kalamazoo Film Society films at WMU’s east campus theater. I truly enjoy off the wall Indie flicks involving off the beaten path themes and characters. Classic films are my next favorite, followed by British comedies. With an occasional exception, mainstream films don’t often hold my attention.

I especially enjoyed films shown at the east campus theater because the audience consisted of fellow serious filmgoers and was minus the typical passel of brats and their shushing parents (of which I’ve since become one) who park directly behind me and makes noise throughout the movie.  

Conversely, I imagined the film society folks as people who took Sunday afternoon off from watching PBS, playing chess and/or wine tasting to go see a quality production. They didn’t shout obscenities at the screen, make out, smuggle in alcoholic beverages, throw popcorn or announce in loud voices they had to go pee.

On the other hand, for all I know, they may have arrived already stoned, wearing monogrammed Depends made especially for artsy fartsy patrons. Still, it was with great trepidation I took my kids with me to see an early Sunday showing of the 1952 musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.” 

“There won’t be any car chases,” I warned during our drive to the theater. “And I don’t think anyone gets killed or anything blown up.” I caught Connor and Kate exchanging glances in the rearview mirror, but couldn’t refrain from adding there were no computer-enhanced graphics or other special effects. Just good old singing and dancing.  

“Great!” said Connor, who was still recovering from being subjected to my most recent Friday home movie night pick, Lilies of the Field. He was pleased to learn this movie would at least be in color and at a real theater.

 If you haven’t been to Celebration Cinema, it’s an enormous multi-plex boasting leather furniture in the lobby and video screens playing coming attractions. To expedite concessions, patrons butter their own popcorn and fill their own soda cups. Zowie!  

The only problem with the popcorn system is all the butter and salt remain on top. As usual, I caught myself over-salting our bucket with the scientifically impossible expectation that, if I only shook it enough, some of the salt and butter would travel toward the bottom. It never does. It never will. But we salinized several perfectly good tastebuds trying. At least that prevented us from noticing there was no butter or salt on the rest of the popcorn. Then Kate had to miss part of the movie fetching a soda refill in a feeble attempt to cleanse our palates. 

My fears surrounding my children’s movie theater behavior proved unfounded. They watched, entranced, the exceptional singing and dancing from the edge of their seats, cheering for the hero and heroine, hissing at the villainess, and laughing at the clever lines and antics of the characters.  

“She’s the mother of Princess Leia from Star Wars,” I elbowed them when Debbie Reynolds first appeared on the screen. Judging by the way Gene Kelly’s character was admiring Debbie Reynolds’ character, Connor thought Gene Kelly had to be Carrie Fisher’s father. “No, Eddie Fisher was before Elizabeth Taylor stole him away,” I informed, adding, “Never mind” to his blank stare.  

I was the only noisily disruptive member of our group, at one point whispering too loudly to Connor (for emphasis), “Don’t you dare try that at home” when Donald O’Connor ran up a wall, did a backflip, and landed on his feet, still singing and dancing.

“That was really good,” Kate said on our way home. It had better be. We’re going back to see Wizard of Oz on the big screen. Sure as monkeys fly.

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