The annual Family Matinee: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

It's still Star Wars, even if it is my least favorite of the prequels....

Movies have gotten ridiculously expensive, and as such, we typically only go to the movies once a year. We’ll watch DVDs and stream films on NetFlix, but a movie has to be pretty special if we’re going to actually watch it in the movie theater.

Cute Husband took The Boy to see The Muppets last November, and I took him with my sister and nieces to see Hop last April. Cute Husband would have taken him to see Cars 2 in the theater last year, too, but The Boy said he didn’t like that Mater gets shot at and said he would rather watch it when it comes out on DVD.

So a trip to the movies is really a rare treat. It’s even more rare for all of us to go together.

Now, I know Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is available on DVD. (And I’m also aware that we own it.) It’s also not my favorite of the Star Wars franchise, and the reviews I read all warned that 3D didn’t add much to the experience.

But it’s Star Wars, and it’s on the big screen. And Cute Husband and I agreed that makes it worthy of a family trip to the movies.

Well, $44.25 later ($11 per ticket plus an additional $11.25 for a medium popcorn and the largest “small” drink I’ve ever seen), we were settled in a mostly empty theater. The Boy sat in my lap the whole time, but he also got restless a few times during the movie (there’s a lot of grown up talk in it, I realized) and insisted he didn’t like the movie and wanted to go home. But Cute Husband and I were adamant that we were staying for the entire film.

The Boy liked Jar Jar Binks (I’ll excuse that because he’s only 4, after all) and seemed to enjoy the pod race and the battle scenes. The reviews I read were right; 3D didn’t add much to the experience. If anything, the glasses were kind of bothersome and detracted from the experience. But on a positive note, Yoda’s switch from puppet to CGI didn’t bother me; in fact, if Cute Husband hadn’t mentioned it before, I wouldn’t have even noticed. Jake Lloyd’s portrayal of Anakin was still grating, but I understood Jar Jar’s role better now that I’ve seen the entire prequel. And Ian McDiarmid’s portrayal of Senator Palpatine was as unsettling as it was when I first saw The Phantom Menace in 1999. Natalie Portman still irritated me a bit because she just does not enunciate in this film, but I’ve forgiven her for that.

All told, it was a good (albeit expensive) outing. We will probably have another family matinee day when The Avengers is released in May, so I suppose Cute Husband and I should start saving up for that now.

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