Shepherd’s first movie

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This week I decided it was time. It was time for my 17 month old son to finally be introduced to the magic known as the movie theatre. I went into this adventure very apprehensive. Shepherd has never been one to enjoy watching what’s on our TV at home. Occassionally he likes what’s on the screen (especially if it has upbeat music) but for the most part he tends to ignore it. I can’t tell if it’s because he’d rather play with his other toys or read books, or if what tends to be on TV (usually news, wheel of fortune, sports) just bores him. But the other week the Disney Channel was airing Cars, of course, to promote the newly released Planes. And Disney doesn’t need me to tell them that their movie is a marketing genius. Shep’s attention perked straight up when he saw Lightning McQueen talk and go real fast. That got my attention. I decided it was time to take my little guy to see his first movie.

After work I loaded Shep up to go grab a bite to eat and head to the theatre in time for the 6:20 showing. Emily needed to get some work done and I don’t think she minded getting a couple hours of peace and quiet around the house. It was definitely a mutually beneficial trip. Shep and I don’t get to do many things that often with just the two of us so this was exciting.

If you know me at all, you probably know that I highly value what a movie theatre means to communities, and the importance of them for the film community, especially up and coming filmmakers. Movie theatres are even more vital for small communities and Seward’s thriving Rivoli Theatre is a comforting sign of a community that values art, and future generations. In fact, it recently just added a second theatre next to its already adjacent video rental store. Yup, those still exist. It’s a great example of how making a private theatre in a small town can work.

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As we rolled up to The Rivoli, Shep looked up and pointed at the colorful marquee letting out an awestruck, “Oooohh!” Taking Shep to a smaller local theatre didn’t seem daunting at all. I knew I wouldn’t have to fight for seats. I wouldn’t pay an arm and a leg. The employees kindly noticed that I needed about 4 arms to carry everything so they offered and carried in a booster seat for him. And there were just enough other families with small kids there that it made me feel comfortable if Shep decided to cry or run around.

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After getting the popcorn I sat Sheppy down so he could walk through the red curtains and down the aisle to find a seat. Because it was on a slope he started going so fast he had a hard time stopping. But I think that was mostly because he saw the kids up front and wanted to play with them. The instinctual desire for kids to want to sit in the front row at movie theatres is so weird to me.

We got there just in time for the previews. The lights turned down and Shep started looking all around him to see who was flipping the switch. (Shep LOVES to see lights switched on and off.)

The previews started and of course I was watching him to see his reaction. He seemed very subdued during The Secret Life of Walter Mitty trailer but when the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 trailer came on his eyes got huge as he pointed to the screen and looked at me to double check that I was seeing the same thing he was. It blows me away how animation can trigger young kids’ minds like nothing else.

When Planes finally started, Shep never took his eyes off the screen, all while digging his hand in the popcorn, proceeding to eat half the box. Nevermind the movie. It was typical, silly, and nothing worth writing about. But it was the perfect movie for Shepherd to go see. It was definitely targeted toward little kids more so than most Disney animated movies and it may have been one of the few movies that could keep his attention. Shep would wiggle and jive during the songs and he giggled whenever a new silly character would show up. We both liked it when the planes showed up at Lincoln, Nebraska’s airport so I could tell Shep that crop dusters around our area are Dusty from Planes.

Overall, I was super impressed that he watched the entire movie. We kept having to switch seat positions and I ended up holding him for most of it, but he was alert and loved to interact with the movie. I was even more impressed when he would see slightly older kids walk back and forth down the aisles and he would stay put in my arms.

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The movie ended around 8, which was perfect because that’s normally when he gets tired and needs to go to bed. I’ve always stayed through the entire credits of movies as a point of respect for its creators and Shep had no problem with that. He loved the dance music playing over the credits probably more than anything. I let him down and he danced and waved goodbye to the other kids walking back up the aisle. By the time the credits were done we were the only ones left and Shep walked all the way out like he owned the place.

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Albeit to say, I think Shep had a great time at Planes. It may have not been the perfect movie for Daddy, but I think it was the perfect first movie for Shepherd. I know he won’t grow up remembering that experience, but I was so happy to share something that I cherish and to see my son get swept away with his imagination.

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