The first time I took the Major to the cinema it was just the two of us. I told him that it was a very special treat. But he demanded some kind of reward as if he was fulfilling some distasteful family obligation, which in a sense he was.
Maybe he was also aware that as far as special treats go this one isn’t that special. The cinema near us offers tickets for selected children’s films on a Sunday for £1.75. That is £1.75 for children and £1.75 for adults.
I’ve not yet established whether the reduced price for an adult is reliant on being accompanied by a child, but if you’re in your thirties and turn up to watch Monsters Inc. on your own then probably prepare yourself for some odd looks and to be put on some kind of register.
The economy of a cinema trip is not the only attraction as it also represents a rare opportunity for me to sit in the same place for an hour. It seems that I am not alone in this. The cinema is always lit up by a galaxy of Smartphone screens, operated by parents enjoying the freedom of an entertained child.
I envisaged our trips as an induction for the Major into the noble filmic arts. But actually he regards the cinema as simply a dark room where he can eat snacks. When the scoffing is over the cinema has outlived its usefulness and the Major wants out immediately. I’ve never watched an entire film at the cinema with the Major.
So if I really want to know what happens at the end of Hotel Transylvania 2 then I need to both provide full snack-catering but also ensure we take our seats at the precise moment the opening credits appear. This is a challenge because of the various factors that have to be weighed up in timing our run.
Of course the advertised start time of the film is actually the start time for an absurd amount of adverts, some of which are weirdly age-inappropriate. I mistimed our journey to Shaun the Sheep: The Movie and watched on in horror as the Major guzzled half his popcorn in front of various ads for women’s hygiene products.
At my cinema the queue for food can stretch out into the car park; columns of exasperated mums and dads waiting for the shuffling staff, who frequently disappear for suspicious lengths of time to retrieve hotdogs from a back office. I am profoundly disconcerted by this. Hotdogs should be visible at all times. I can’t help imagine some kind of aquarium of grease where the frankfurters swim about waiting to be fished out.
Once in the cinema I am comforted by the fact it seems the Major isn’t the only one with a short attention span. There comes a point in every film when the collective fidgeting breaks out into foot-races on the stairs and a wrestling tournament in the aisles. And that is normally our cue to leave.
I always try to initiate some kind of critical review on our way home. What was your favourite bit? Who was the best character? What kind of socio-political message was the director trying to convey with their use of form and light?
But mainly the Major wants to know what a Lilet is. Still. At least I’ve spent only £3.50.