At first I thought I’d regret spending a rainy Sunday matinee at the new Star Trek. As the house lights dimmed and stragglers tried not to spill their popcorn and barrel-sized beverages on the rest of us, I felt kicking on the back of my seat. Not the settling-in, getting adjusted bumps and kicks, but bored little kid back-of-the-airplane seat kicking. I moved to my left. Could still feel the vibration, but it wasn’t as bad as before.
OK, back to Kirk and company. I guess I’ve reached that point in life where I’ve been exposed to most plot devices you’ll find in action films and franchise series. I tend to enjoy their execution rather than their attempted surprise. The afternoon was becoming an enjoyable exercise in déjà vu – Where’d they lift that from? Nice little homage, good sight gag, wonderful pun if you recall number so-and-so in the series, and so forth.
Then I experienced something I haven’t dealt with in a while – a kid’s clear voice making comments and asking questions. I silently swore this was the last weekend matinee I’d ever attend – and compared his age to the film ratings guidelines in the opening frames. To be polite, he was at least 4-5 years younger than being able to see it on his own.
His dad would shush him, but couldn’t control the kid’s enthusiasm and curiosity. After a bit I began to appreciate the experience, if not totally enjoy it. The kid was picking up on things that I considered part of the wallpaper. He was surprised. He was worried. He cared about the characters. He didn’t know if his heroes would live to fight another day or make another sequel.
His eyes, his imagination, his curiosity and sense of wonder re-opened mine. And unlike many adults and teens who text, talk and loudly comment on whatever they want to, the kid cared about the characters and plot. He’s the ideal audience for any creative person. Hell, for anyone. Wouldn’t it be nice if people paid as much attention to us as he paid to the film – and vice versa? I’m guessing that nearly all of us treat people and are treated like the kid treated his father, with polite, but instantly forgotten, attention.
So here’s my toast to childhood eyes and the joy of discovery. Thank you, young man. But you know something, no matter how much extra you added to my afternoon’s experience, I think I’ll go back to my regular diet of live theatre, art house cinema and late light showings of mainstream films. I can take just so much newness at a time.
PS – IMO, Star Trek Beyond was good, but not great.