Wednesday 10 August 2011

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Distracted at the Drive-in

I remember going to see the James Bond movie Moonraker with my parents when I was about 10.  It was my first James Bond movie, and I remember it as one of my first grown up movies.  For once the screen wasn't filled with cartoons, but there was real action and mild violence on the screen and I felt all grown up watching it (even if I was too young to understand the meaning of "Dr. Holly Goodhead").  What I remember most about it though, was that it was in a drive-in movie theatre.

I used to love going to the drive-in.  When I was young we would go and my sister and I would sit in the back of our station wagon where we would undoubtedly fall asleep before the second movie would end.  As a young driver I remember being able to go to the quadruple features that they would run on long weekends, coming home around five in the morning after watching movies and eating popcorn all night.  These days I'll admit that the experience of the drive-in pales when put up against a new IMAX 3D movie in a theatre with stadium seating, but sometimes nostalgia just rears it's head and you long for a chance to redo something that you remember fondly.

So when our plans for tonight fell through, we decided that we would take the kids to their first drive-in movie.  Actually I didn't realize it, but it would be Lori's first drive-in movie too.  Obviously I would have to be the voice of experience here, but upon arriving I noticed that things had changed a little since I last went to the drive-in.  The first hint should have been the name of the place..."The Scottsdale Six".  There were, in fact, six separate screens showing six different double features.  These weren't third run movies either.  Some of the pairings were Captain America/Transformers 3, Cowboys & Aliens/Harry Potter 7, or Crazy Stupid Love/Friends with Benefits.  I haven't seen any of these movies, and they all appeal to me on some level.  So what did we end up seeing?  Yeah...The Smurfs/Zookeeper.  I hate getting outvoted.

The really strange part about the setup here, is that the screens are set up in a circle around the projection building, meaning that if you park towards the back of the section for your movie, you can actually see all six screens.

This leads to some rather distracting moments.  At one point tonight I drifted off from our movie (C''s the Smurfs..) and was watching Cowboys & Aliens out the right side of our van.  It was the end of a shooting scene, and Daniel Craig looked over at Harrison Ford and said "Smurfette this is no time for shopping!"  After that I kept myself focused on the screen out the front window of the van.

Surprisingly, one thing that's gotten better since I used to frequent the drive-in is the price.  I was actually stunned when the lady told me my total.  It seems we had come on Family Fun night, which means admission was $4.50 per person, and kids 11 and under are $1 each.  Our entire family could go to a double feature of new movies for about the same cost as one person back home.  Even the concession prices were very reasonable.  With a value like this you would think the place would be packed, but there were only about 10 cars in our section (It looked like more at the other shows.  Again...we were at the Smurfs.) and there was plenty of room to spread out.  I suppose you could blame the attendance on it being summer in Phoenix.  It was 105°F when the movie started, but we just ran the air conditioner sporadically throughout the movie and we were pretty comfortable.  By the end of the first movie it had cooled down to around 96°F and it would have been fine to leave the car off and just wind down the windows a little.

Even though I was given a little bit of a reprieve as everybody decided they were too tired to stay for Zookeeper, I still left feeling like I got a complete steal of a deal.  The only downside to the evening is that minivans aren't ideal drive-in vehicles.  It's tough to see from the back seat (we ended up folding the seats down and sitting on the floor) and even the middle row has to lean in to the center to see properly.  A little bit of planning probably would have helped overcome this though, as with some pillows and blankets we could have parked backwards and left the tailgate up.  Even with the poor seating it was a ton of fun and is definitely going on my "Must do in Phoenix" list.  Now I just have to figure out how to not get outvoted when it comes to choosing the movie.


  1. ... Daniel Craig looked over at Harrison Ford and said "Smurfette this is no time for shopping!" LOL