My sons and I went to see Hamlet this week-end. The one in 3D with the lions and the happy ending, where Hamlet, Ophelia and their new little Danish Prince, Rosencrantz and Gildenstern and Polonious stand in a row on Pride Rock looking benevolently down on the Danish Savannah. Because, in case you hadn't noticed, "The Lion King" IS "Hamlet" except that the King is some sort of heaven channeling Darth Vader and the Queen doesn't pour poison in his ear. Claudius is still a conniving, power mad little shit and still gets what he deserves. Everybody wins.
First off, we went the the first show so we could get the really cheap ticket prices which would enable us to see the limited run 3D and afford the myriad surcharges that come with this. We saw "Cars 2" in 3D and, quite frankly, the best thing about that movie was the trailer for "The Lion King" in 3D that came before it. Because they didn't put together a lot of clips, they ran "The Circle of Life." In 3D, 'cause we all had our glasses on by then. And, being "Cars 2" the theater was full of little kids so what better time to run another Disney trailer so another 300 kids could holler "DADDY! I want to SEE THAT!"
So there we were, and there was the baboon lifting the little cub up in the air and the phony African rhythms as interpreted by Sir Elton John came up and the little Simba hung there, looking EXACTLY like my cat looks when we pick him up under his front legs and let him dangle there except we sort of raise his legs up and down while someone sings or, occasionally, plays something through iTunes. The last time it was "Rock Lobster." Yes, we made the cat dance to the B-52s. And the cat has the same look on his face as the lion cub as he's being waved in the air by a baboon. Come to think of it, my cat probably thinks he's being waved in the air by a baboon. Maybe it's not a baby thing as much as it's a cat thing, I never really thought about it.
Well, anyway, we saw the trailer and the "for two weeks only" which we didn't really believe but we all went "WOW. I want to SEE THAT!"
My younger son had an unexpected windfall and he and his girlfriend went to see it on Friday. They couldn't stop talking about it. Amazing. Of course, I realized that neither of them had really seen it when it came out. Neither of them had reached the age of 10 and, as "The Lion King" proudly carries on the grand Disney tradition of scaring the living crap out of young children and getting a "G" rating while doing it. Not only does Simba's father get trampled to death by a canyon full of stampeding wildebeests, we get to WATCH it. Then we get to see Mufasa'a carcass lying on the dusty canyon floor and, for good measure, Jeremy Irons tops the entire thing off by sending the kid out to die in the middle of the Serengeti. At least we didn't have to WATCH Bambi's mother get shot.
And he was dying to see it again and so to our Sunday morning cheapo matinee which, when added to the 3D upgrade brought the tickets in at 11 bucks a head which is still outrageous.
Breakfast consisted of a bucket of popcorn, a hot dog, a pretzel and three drinks which came to 30 dollars even. Seriously? Don't START me on that. But we were having fun and my son really wanted to give me and his brother a good time.
The movie started. Not a bad crowd considering. There we were in our funny glasses. And I notice...how come one lens looks dark and the other doesn't? Okay, one lens WAS dark and the other wasn't, I know that...but we were watching a 3D movie and I'm thinking..."this shouldn't look like this, I've seen this scene in 3D before." I raised my glasses. Raise, look. Lower...look. No difference. I was getting concerned, because most of the theater was sitting there watching the movie with their glasses on and I couldn't see any difference. I noticed my son was beginning to adjust HIS glasses too. He said "I'm going to go tell them." He left and came back, looking disgusted. "they said they'll look at it later." Well, I noticed three other adults get up, leave and return so it wasn't just us. My older son, btw, continued to view the film through his 3D glasses until I told him to stop before he got a headache.
About 10 minutes in the digital frame froze, the house lights came up and a very nice young woman from the theaters came in and explained that the 3D projector wasn't working and they were going to continue running the film in it's regular form (and, thankfully, told the rest of the idiots sitting there to take their 3D glasses off) and they would give us all passes to come back to any movie we wanted to see, any time, any location, 3D, IMAX, whatever. It's the super duper pass. And, while I was glad to get it, I still want to see the damn Lion King in 3D. Except I don't want to have to go PAY the extra to see it in 3D, as I've already done that once. And I don't want to use my spiffy ticket to go back and see a movie I just saw on Sunday morning, seems like kind of a waste when I can use it to go see "Sherlock Holmes" come December. No, the movie isn't called "Come December," that's the kind of thing my grandmother would say instead of "when it's released in December." So there's my dilemma.
As I figured, the two week engagement has been extended. The fact that "The Lion King" has been the #1 movie in the country for the last two weeks had something to do with that, I frankly, figured it would do pretty well but it never occurred to me it would beat out "Moneyball" AND "Contagion." And, while they're milking this limited run the fine folks at Disney are drawing up blueprints to turn yet another unvisited section of "Disney's California Adventure" (now known as Pixarland) into Simbaland. It shouldn't take all that long, the last time I was there it wasn't much cooler than the Serengeti...and had about as many trees. The exit corridor already resembles the canyon of the stampede at closing as every single "guest" in DCA makes a frenzied charge for the gates of Disneyland, otherwise known as the watering hole. And Lord knows, there are plenty of baboons there already.
The mere fact that, in the dog days of the movie year (which are now) when the summer blockbusters are fizzling out and the onslaught of "LOOK at US, Academy!" pictures that will glut the December movie screens in order to remain fresh in the minds of the parking lot attendants who will be accepting cash, checks and credit cards in payment for your Golden Globe nomination, a SEVENTEEN year old animated film that's been hauled out of the vault and rejiggered for Blu Ray and 3D viewing is making money hand over fist says a lot about the sad state of movie making today. It also say a lot about the sad state of Disney Studios, where they are currently dancing in the streets of Burbank knowing that they finally came up with something to get the taste of "Mars Needs Moms" out of everyone's mouth.
Maybe if the people who MAKE movies actually LIKED what they were doing stuff like this wouldn't be an issue and people wouldn't bitch about how you can buy a car for what it costs to go out to a movie anymore. During the First Great Depression the movies flourished. They were fun, two hours in a dark room that you could actually TELL people about. People could scrape up the nickel. Now? Frankly, I RESENT having to fork over close to 100 bucks it costs for a family of 4 to go to a mediocre film after work and pay for parking and popcorn.
Which, in all honesty, I do NOT recommend for breakfast. Next time, I get coffee and that really cool looking iced cinnamon roll pretzel. Live and learn.