At The Drive-In

How are your summer to-do lists coming along? Officially we're only 10 days in, so if you've only checked off 20 or 30 activities then, you're probably still on track. I know, I've been busy busy busy doing sooooo many fun summer things, and like probably way more than you. Pie baking, Sunday bike rides, planning trips to the beach, barbequing, drinking our homemade cold brew coffee, swimming in the suburbs...Not like it's a competition. Or a mean one anyway, right?

Well since we are all playing on the same team, I'm going to help you out. Before July hits, I wanted to give you time to add one more thing to your lists. That way you won't forget and have to scramble in September and do it hastily right before the summer closes for the season. Now look at your lists everyone. Pencils in hand! See there underneath Camping? And above Capture the Flag? You forgot to write Go See A Drive In Movie with All My Friends.

It occurred to me yesterday over brunch (really, as all worthwhile ideas do) and by eight o'clock we had gathered the necessary blankets and chairs, a responsible quantity of beer, $25.00 worth of Trader Joe's snacks and seven friends all piled in and bound for the DelSea Drive In a mere 40 miles from Philadelphia. It is the closest one to us, in case you were wondering, and the ONLY drive-in in New Jersey. A dying art, apparently.

But basically the deal is this: for the price of a regular movie in a plain old boring indoor movie theater you always get a double feature and an entire parking spot large enough to stretch your legs. And by regular movie I mean a regular movie at the theater in my hometown in Wisconsin back when I was in high school. Which is to you, $8. To bring in our arsenal of snack food (beer is sort of against the rules, but for covert operatives, perfectly possible to consume) cost an additional $7 for the whole vehicle. Since we are more or less law abiding, and getting caught risks getting kicked out forever, we weighed the extra dollar a person and deemed it a worthy price. So if your math matches mine, that's a total $9 for that four hours of silver screen.

Now I know, I know, you're practically jumping out of your skin about what movie we ended up seeing. It was a toss up, to be sure. Screen one was Wall-E and Get Smart vs. Screen Two featuring Kung Fu Panda and The Incredible Hulk. Our party (literally!) was split between Wall-E and The Incredible Hulk, and when our lot-switching operation failed, we got as close to the other lot as possible and pretty far from the other cars and just watched the Incredible Hulk from the Get Smart side of the place. You might say we beat the system. But for your reference and to save you any heartbreak at getting stuck in one lot, you're not really allowed to switch lots. Scary reflective attendants with flashlights will get you.

The Incredible Hulk was pretty good, though this stitcher may have dozed off towards the end. Four hours is a very long time to sit gazing at a screen, after all, bargain or no. Wall-E on the other hand was near genius, Pixar sweeping you off your feet with clever cuteness and a pretty plausible base plot involving post-apocalyptic Earth in the year 2700. A part of me, even in this Global Warming enlightened age, can't believe this made it off the shelf as a kid's movie. But I'm pretty happy that it did. The movie supposes that Earth became uninhabitable right around now, and that humans boarded a gigantic condominium mall ship to inhabit until the planet becomes safe enough to live on again. Wall-E was the robot humans forgot to disengage before leaving and he lives a lonely existence amidst the trash heaps, collecting little bits for himself and compacting the rest into little cubes. That's the premise. I will tell you that another major actor in this movie is a little plant, which lefty political theorists wiil tell you, is a very radical thing to find in a movie put out by Disney.

I would like to emphasize that Wall-E is a trash picking robot. They animated him by using real objects that might be discarded and designed him as a machine first, a character second. He carries his little treasures around in an old red Coleman cooler and keeps them in his house, which has grown by the time we meet him to be more of an homage to human civilization. There is also a love plot, if somehow you find that more interesting than a movie about garbage. This movie is rife with adult-level subtleties, only now the joke isn't about mass marketed toys, but wasteful American consumption.

Wall-E will still be playing at DelSea for the next week or so, if you can swing it, and if not, then I would urge you to give it a check box on your list all its own. It's that good.


  1. oh it breaks my little heart that i wasn't there.

  2. Mary, I loved reading this. And I thought your biggest talents involved cooking and sewing! Your blog is going to be on my to-do list from now on.

    Cathy Caldwell