Despite nearly three weeks of unbearable heat and humidity, afternoon monsoons, and at least two morning power outages already where I've had to shave by flashlight, Summer officially arrived today. Those of you with offspring (and you know who you are) understand that this time of year means something else far more frightening than extreme weather conditions--an onslaught of outrageously bad and derivative movies that the kids absolutely must see to keep up with their social circles.
Though my 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son have tastes that have obviously been influenced by their film and music freak/Programming Director daddy, they would be very happy checking out the new Hilary Duff flick or The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (to be honest, a Robert Rodriguez film in 3-D, no matter how juvenile, appeals to the little kid in me as well). Nevertheless, it can be quite challenging to find a good reason (besides air conditioning and fresh popcorn) to spend money and time going to a theater nowadays.
Wasn't I pleasantly taken aback then, when a wide assortment of quality cinematic choices awaited us this past weekend. While Millions and Madagascar (which my daughter had seen and was eager for a second go-round) were still on screen and Mad Hot Ballroom had recently opened, four other kid-worthy films opened on Friday: Batman Begins, Howl's Moving Castle, and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill and The Animation Show 2005 in a rare split opening at Enzian. While some of The Animation Show is perhaps a bit too esoteric for pre-teens, the kids had gone wild over the Aardman-esque "Ward 13" and the amazing sci-fi CGI of "Rock Fish" while previewing an early DVD version of the program months ago. The prospect of seeing these two on the big screen was definitely a strong contender, but the Caped Crusader and the new Miyazaki film won out. We were not disappointed--obviously Batman will be sticking around for a while, but you don't want to miss the chance to see the latest masterpiece from Japan's greatest and most magical animator on the big screen. And despite what our esteemed Orlando Sentinel movie critic says (he thought Spirited Away was boring!), not all kids find anime dull.
I'm sure it was too good to be true, but wouldn't it be nice if this first weekend of Summer was a sign of things to come--a season filled with movies with a brain...and a heart! Orlando parents should be so lucky.