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Movie Theater Rookie Report

I welcome Adam Darowksi as a new contributer to Kidoinfo. When not hanging out with his three-year old daughter and six-month old son, Adam Darowski works for BatchBlue Software and blogs at Darowski.com.

Bee MovieA couple of months ago, we brought my daughter (who had just turned three years old) to her very first movie. She had only watched one or two feature length movies on DVD before, but we were confident a full-length film on the big screen would keep her attention.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have many options for what movie to see once we decided she was ready for her first theater experience. Our choice at the local cinema was Bee Movie or . . . Bee Movie. So, Bee Movie it was.

We were a bit nervous because it was rated PG, but another parent told us that it wasn’t violent, and that the little bit of adult humor would fly over the a child’s head. Fair enough.

Our daughter thought she was the coolest girl in the world sitting in a “big comfy chair” munching on pretzels and watching previews. When it was time for the feature, the lights dimmed.

Whoops. She got nervous.

“I can’t see my pretzel,” she said timidly, holding her pretzel six inches in front of her eyes.

Soon, the opening credits brightened the room, and she felt okay again. However, we soon realized that some scenes that were likely harmless when sitting on the couch watching a 27-inch TV in broad daylight went over differently on a gynormous widescreen with booming surround sound in complete darkness. Nervousness turned to quiet tears during certain scenes before she announced, “I have to go pee-pee.” (Code for “get me out of here!”)

She returned from the bathroom and gave it a go for a few more minutes, but an hour into the movie, she decided she had had enough. So, off we went to eat dinner at Gramma’s and Grandpa’s. She told them she liked the movie, but “It was scary.”

What seemed to get to her were some particularly loud, noisy, and dramatic scenes (such as the lead character getting stuck in a car engine and desperately trying to save himself). I have the feeling even some G-rated Pixar flicks would have had the same effect on her at this stage.

The experience had me wishing there was a full-length Little Einsteins or Clifford feature, but it seems like that dream went straight to DVD. While I know my daughter is the sensitive type (I was shocked when she cried at an old Mickey Mouse cartoon when Pluto was frozen in a block of ice), I wanted to throw the question out to the readers…

When was your child’s first movie theater experience and how did it go?

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  • Oh my, Michelle. Sounds like quite the ordeal. I sure hope the keys were at your seats after all that!

    Ella tried out the Curious George movie yesterday at home. While she wasn’t scared, she is still so sensitive about scenes like when George was taken away by Animal Control. She cried. Not out of fear, though, but out of compassion. I know this because in other movies she cries at parts where she feels for the characters, not particularly scary moments.

    I guess we’re raising a child with feelings—can’t complain about that.

    Ditto about the choice of previews for some of these movies. What are they thinking?

  • Hey Adam – thanks for sharing! It brought back memories of my two “first movie disasters”. My daughter was 2-1/2 when Shrek came out. She loved the movie, but why I took her to the 7pm show with no “supplies” is beyond me. Needless to say, she was ready for bed by 8pm, and they don’t exactly sell milk at the popcorn stands. Had to leave before the end.

    Fast forward two years to my 2 1/2 yr old son’s first movie – Cars. Trying to get out of the house on a rainy day, the movie was an attempt to keep Mommy sane one afternoon. Two wiggly young kids in a dark theatre (“sit down”, “stop talking to the nice people next to us”, spilled popcorn, two trips to the bathroom, etc. etc.) was not the best idea. I’d had enough by mid-movie, and packed everyone up to leave the theatre -our timing was awful. It was a torrential downpour as we left, and I scrambled to get the kids the car, using my keypad to get in. Once everyone was locked into their carseats, I dug into the diaperbag for the keys, only to find they must have dropped out of the bag in the theatre! EVERYONE, back inside! Seeing us march to our seats for the 4th time in one movie, the nice people next to us must have thought I was nuts. Too tired to head back out again, we crashed in our seats, and actually finished watching the movie, and Cars is still one of my son’s favorites to date! I guess all’s well that ends well. Lesson? See if your kids can sit through an entire movie at home before taking them to a theatre!

  • My boys first movie theater experience was the “Polar Express” when they were 3 1/2. They both were a little stunned by how loud the surround sound was (it was not a plus for them) and confused by the previews, but once the movie started they were mesmerized. And they managed to get through the few gripping moments by sitting on our laps. I agree, I always wished there were more G movies available for little kids (like Winnie the Pooh). Although our house is full of movie fans, we tend to watch many movies in the comfort of our own home, fast-forwarding through the scary parts when necessary.

    The boys are 6 now and have seen maybe 6 or 7 movies on the big screen. When I talk to other parents I find what movies they or their kids feel is age-appropriate varies a great deal. My one son is still scared of Nemo and does not want to see it on the big screen but he would happily see “The Incredibles” or “Lion King”. And even now when we see movies, I am amazed what previews play (like “Pirates of the Caribbean” or the “Transformer” movie) for the more mild movies we are seeing, like “Shrek”.

  • Thanks Erma. Santa brought the Curious George movie, so we’ll have to check it out. While she loves Nemo, she still hasn’t seen the movie (though I adore it). Glad you liked it—the holidays certainly sparked ideas for more articles!

  • Our first was “Finding Nemo.” We lasted until the sharks had their AA type meeting. Our son was screaming, “This is too scaaaaaaary! I want to leave!!!!” and so we did. We still haven’t seen it. The Jack Johnson Curious George movie was a good choice for a first movie for our 2nd child. It is dull, but somehow it is not irritating.

    I loved your article Adam!