Thursday, August 28, 2014

So many layers

I counted them all up, and from the time the family left our home on the afternoon of Saturday the 16th until we returned from vacation in the early evening of Sunday the 24th, the little guy watched The LEGO Movie seven and a half times. We split the roadtrip down across two days, and he watched it twice in the car on the first day and once again on the second. Then he watched it twice at the beach house, once by himself and once for a movie night with his sister and grandparents. (For the record, the grands were highly amused by it, as if the all-ages appeal needed any more evidence.) The last two and a half viewings were all on the marathon return trip this past Sunday; for some reason after watching it twice he just wanted to start in the middle and watch to the end, and at that point I was not inclined to argue.

I had insisted that we bring other DVD's to watch in the car (per necessity) and/or at the beach (optional), and both the little guy and little girl complied and made enough selections to bring a round half-dozen along. Other than LEGO, they were all Disney/Pixar joints: the first two Toy Stories, Frozen, the first Cars, and a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse compilation. And some of those got some play, at that. Toy Story was in the mix on the way down, and Toy Story 2 on the way back. Frozen also got a spin on the very first day of the initial roadtrip, plus a grandparent-attended movie night of its own, as well. (Yes, my in-laws set aside two separate evenings on vacation to watch movies their grandson and granddaughter respectively talk about a lot but they had never seen. I thought that was sweet.) Poor Cars and Mickey Mouse might as well have stayed home, but see yesterday's post re: overpacking the entertainment options.

But clearly nothing came close to The LEGO Movie's dominance in the rotation. And I specified that it was the little guy watching it all those times because, in fact, the mid-week daytime viewing was for him alone, while the little girl was napping, and she fell asleep in the car during one of the last viewings, too. really this post is about how my son is obsessed with The LEGO Movie, not in the casual-ironic way I refer to myself as being obsessed with certain things but in a more literally fixated kind of way.

And here's the real kicker, the reason why I think this is worth going over despite the fact that, ever since home video was a thing, kids have been wearing out movies on infinite repeat. Three of those seven and a half viewings over the course of a week were with the directors-and-actors commentary track turned on. I am not even joking a little bit. The second viewing on the day one trip, the mid-week afternoon viewing, and the second viewing on the return trip. The first time, the little guy stumbled onto the commentary track by accident. But he was immediately drawn into it. And the second and third times were completely by choice. He thinks the commentary track is the greatest thing ever.

I suppose on some level this makes perfect sense. The three things he loves best in life right now are watching The LEGO Movie, playing with Legos, or talking about The LEGO Movie. So watching the movie with the commentary track on kind of combines items one and three, there. The little guy has always had that tendency when he gets into something to really immerse himself in it, in the minutiae of deep understanding, so listening to the people who made the movie talk about making it is bound to be something he gets no small amount of satisfaction from. He's seen the movie in its natural form enough times now that he doesn't need the dialogue and soundtrack in order to follow it at this point, and the commentary version lets him keep gorging on it without it getting stale. And it is a pretty good commentary as these things go, with both directors and a good cross-section of the cast; the directors are geeky and technically-oriented, while the actors (Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Will Arnett and Charlie Day) keep things pretty funny. Most of the actors' jokes kind of sail over the little guy's head, but he was thrilled to learn little secrets about the film as pointed out by the directors, visual jokes in the corner of the frame that really go by too fast to notice unless they're pointed out to you and so forth.

But still. He's FIVE. He'll be six in a week, ok, sure, but who ever heard of a six-year-old nerding out for the commentary track for a movie? I love movies, I buy DVDs for my own personal library, and I hardly ever turn on the commentary tracks myself. It never in a million years would have occurred to me to point my kid towards the commentary on anything. So it was kind of weirdly great to just bear (audio) witness, from the front seat of the car, as he serendipitously discovered it for himself and was immediately so taken with it.

And I'm trying, I really am, to just leave it at that. It's all-too-tempting to revel in the thought of a budding cineaste taking shape in the form of my own offspring, that as my son gets older and continues to broaden his horizons he'll also continue to get more and more deeply interested in movie-making, the nuts and bolts of what makes them tick, all the intricacies that I get a kick out of studying and analyzing and breaking down &c. It would be deeply satisfying to be able to go back and forth with him on such subjects at great length and in exhaustive detail. But I know that's pure projection (pun maybe like 25% intended) and the truth is he's not so much intrigued by behind-the-scenes workings of all movies or even certain kinds of movies as he is one very specific movie that has its hooks deep into him at the moment, and by Christmas he might be totally enthralled by some age-appropriate collectible game or some eye-crossingly esoteric science subject. It's happened before, it'll happen again, the carousel goes round and round.

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