You probably didn't believe that, which is fine, because what we actually did was exchange random gifts in the morning (including a stuffed Totoro, a Justice League t-shirt, and The Princess Bride [the novel]) then ate made-from-scratch chocolate chip pancakes for brunch. We had dinner at Sushi Station in Arlington Heights, then went to see Man of Steel at the Keno Drive-In theater just over the border in Wisconsin.
This is Totoro. If you've never seen the movie, you're missing out. It's adorable. This is likely one of the best gifts Joey has ever given me. Ever.
And here is our shared half-a-ticket. Behind it you will see a quote about drive-in theaters, from a three minute video they showed before the film. If it's too small for your squinty little eyes, it says, "America once had 4063 drive-ins. Only about 400 survive today."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a very sad truth. But it wasn't always. I spent many summer nights camped in a car at the Valley 6 Drive-In in Auburn, Washington. I saw Chicken Run there, and Jungle 2 Jungle, and some others I definitely can't remember. But I do remember having a good time, and even as a kid I reveled in the fact that I could bring my own snacks. A recent article, written in March, explained the high likelihood that the Valley 6 is now closed--forever.
It might seem like no big deal to most people who have never been to a drive-in (including my husband, whose first drive-in experience was just on Tuesday) but to many of us the realm of drive-in theaters is magical and comforting. I was happy to see that the lot was over half full. Many families actually brought portable radios and camping chairs and sat outside with blankets. One family even brought their dog. Between the two movies that night (they showed World War Z first) there were kids running around in front of the big white screen, playing with the projector lights as they waited for the next movie. They continued to play there while the "drive-in movie info" film ran, and even the advertisements didn't disturb them.
The ads didn't disturb me either, probably because there were only two other than previews, which brings me to this: Drive-in theaters are better than the regular theater hands down (weather pending.) Here's why.
1. Drive-in theaters are more accommodating. You can fit truckloads (literally) of cars in the lot. This also means you don't have to pay for building upkeep, or heat bills, because the parking lot is also the theater.
2. Drive-in theaters are cheaper. $8 for adults, $4 for kids, and the Keno Drive-In actually has a deal on Tuesdays that's just $12 per car. (pile 'em in, folks!)
3. Drive-in theaters usually start movies late. We left for the theater half an hour early (Man of Steel started at 10:30, we got there at 10) and World War Z was still playing. We saw the last third of the movie, which was a nice surprise.
4. To add to point 3, drive-theaters ALWAYS offer a double feature. One ticket (or half a ticket in my case, haha) allows you to see two movies. That's $8 per person for two movies. Got that?
5. Drive-in theaters can't stop you from bringing your own snacks. There have been a few times I went to a Starbucks or some other coffee joint before a movie, and because I'm a terribly slow drinker I had to sit in the lobby and sip my drink--or just throw it away. At the drive-in, you could bring a four course meal in the car if you wanted to. The drive-in companies claim that they make most of their money from concessions, but I'm not too worried about that because, hey, no one can resist movie theater popcorn in an old fashioned cardboard cup.
6. Drive-in theaters allow you to be comfortable. You can sit in your car, with blankets, and pillows. You can sit in the open trunk with a puppy on your lap. You never, ever have to worry that there will be enough seats in your row for the huge group you came with. (Yes, I've had that problem too.)
1. Smokers. The solution: roll up your window. (or bring air freshener!)
2. Driving around to find a spot. The solution: try to get there early.
3. Walking to the bathroom in the dark. The solution: bring a flashlight. You probably have one in your car somewhere, silly.
You can see now why they're better overall, and I hope at least a few of you out there remember how enjoyable movies at the drive-in are. Be a good citizen and go support your local (or not-so-local) drive-in theater. Now.