A Day with the Spawn

Yesterday was a scheduled Daddy/Daughter day, as we headed for Real City for lunch and a movie. The day’s activities were funded by the Spawn’s earnings; she recently broke the $1K mark in savings from her library work, and decided to celebrate a bit. I acted as chauffeur, driving Mrs. M’s car, which I had taken in for an oil change that morning.

We left home a bit past noon, and made it to Real City about a half-hour later. We went to one of the Spawn’s favorite restaurants, where we benefited from the fact that my birthday is later this month. Turns out that gets me a free burger — SCORE. Afterwards, I found a comfortable seat in the mall while she picked up a couple of items from a store one of her sorority sisters had recommended. From there, it was across the street to the used media emporium, where we browsed for a bit, eventually heading to the movie theater, in plenty of time to get our tickets for the 3:45 screening of the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s It.

Or so we had expected. However, when we got there, we were told the movie was sold out. The next available screening was at 6:15, which meant that we’d be getting home later than we thought, but you get what you get, so we got our tickets and swung by the local Kroger.

It’s funny — life in Mondoville has its perks, and I have simple tastes (e.g., a fondness for Underwood Deviled Ham or Chef Boy-Ar-Dee ravioli or spaghetti), but while I can get the stuff I need and most of the stuff I want at our three local supermarkets, I occasionally miss the somewhat higher-end shopping of Kroger. (Of Publix, to say nothing of places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, we will not speak — life in Mondoville does not allow for such beatific visions.) It also happens to stock canned Cincinnati chili and my favorite ice cream, so I picked up a few cans of Skyline. The Kroger also happens to have a Fourbucks coffee kiosk, so the Spawn and I got beverages (Chai frappe for me, water for her) and talked about writing, life at the college, and how much we were looking forward to the movie.

From there, it was back to the used media store for me, while the Spawn hit a used clothing store a couple of doors down. Finally, though, we headed back to the cineplex, just in time for the line to form for our showing of It. There were screenings of the film going on in at least four of the auditoriums, and apparently it had been (It had been?) doing boffo box office, to dredge a Variety-esque phrase from our collective pop culture history.

We were pretty close to the front, and the line was orderly and well behaved (with the exception of two or three young people who cut a corner and got into the theater sooner than they should have. May their popcorn be stale henceforth.) The Spawn and I got seats in our favorite location, on line with the screen’s center, maybe about 60% of the way up. The house wasn’t quite packed, but it was a near thing.

We made it through the previews. None of those particularly excited me, and one — for a remake of Death Wish starring Bruce Willis and directed by Eli Roth — just reminded me that All Graves Must Be Robbed. (Coincidentally, just the other day I was reading one of Lawrence Block’s books on writing, where he relates the story of how Brian Garfield’s novel was inspired by the vandalism and robbery of Garfield’s car.) I notice that Roth’s movie says it was inspired by the original film — the novel? Perhaps less so. Sic transit gloria literacy, I guess.

At last, it was time for the film to begin. As it happens, I read King’s novel when it first came out in paper — my mom was a big fan of his work, and while I’ve generally preferred King’s short stories to his novels, I was home from school for a weekend, and there you go. So that would have been about 1987, but it was funny how much of the book I remembered as the movie progressed.

The Spawn read the book a year or two ago, and has been stoked for the movie for quite some time. At one point in the movie, she whispered a bit of background info to me. “I know,” I said. “I’ve read the book.”

“You did? When?”

“Before you were born.”

“How did you remember that?”

“English professor.”

But one of the consequences of having read the book, of course, is that the movie was less scary for me than it appeared to have been for much of the audience. (Another factor may be that the movie — which declares itself “Chapter One” over the end credits — only covers the first half of the novel’s story, and personally I found the second part more frightening, even when I was in my early twenties.) Certainly the folks behind me were scared enough.

Having said that, the movie was pretty good. The move of the kids’ story from the 50s to the 80s (in fact, to a time by which I had already read the original novel) works well enough, and the young actors made a good ensemble cast. In particular, Jaeden Lieberher as Billy projects a teen Tom Hanks vibe, and Sophia Lillis plays Beverly very well. Jack Dylan Grazer looks like a Wonder Years-era Fred Savage.

Beyond the time transplant, there were some key departures from the novel. The film omits a couple of the novel’s more controversial elements, and relies on suggestion for another (the one the Spawn tried to fill in for me.) I don’t think the movie suffers for that — indeed, the omitted elements still create divides among some of the King fans I know. And while there are a couple of cringeworthy scenes, the violence is kept on a pretty manageable level — it’s horror, after all, not a cozy.

There are several nods to other films along the way — King’s Stand By Me and Nic Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, most notably — and various suburbs and exurbs of Toronto do a nice job of standing in for Derry, Maine. The use of bits and pieces of 80s music are effective as well — especially a snippet of XTC’s “Dear God” about 2/3 of the way through. As I said, it was a solid enough movie. I enjoyed it, and getting to see it with the Spawn — who loved it — made it that much better.

When we got home at about 9:30 last night, the Spawn modeled her acquisitions for Mrs. M while I settled in to watch a football game I had recorded. It was after midnight when I came upstairs, and the Spawn was getting ready for bed. We agreed it had been a very good day.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Family, Literature. Bookmark the permalink.

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