My daughter has every reason to feel at home in the cinema. Throughout my pregnancy I had to attend reels of film screenings for my work as an entertainment reporter – some brilliant, some not so enjoyable.
Early on she bounced around inside my belly as she was bombarded by crashes and explosions from big blockbusters. Jurassic World was a particularly interesting cinematic experience for me, with every note of dramatic music being pounded out inside me by a little foot or fist. I kept going to see films right up until the week before she was born, sitting awkwardly on the edge of the red velvet seats, so as to angle my bump into the least uncomfortable position.
If you are a fan of going to the movies, these days becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean the end of trips to the cinema. Baby Cinema, -where theatres offer cheap tickets for morning screenings to parents of babes in arms – mean you can still see the latest releases on the big screen with a tot in tow. But then your baby hits 12 months and starts toddling and chatting, and generally being harder to keep quiet and in one place, and the velvet rope is closed. (When I left the screening of Bridget Jones Baby, the day before my daughter’s First birthday and realised I had only seen about half the film, in between chasing after her across the floor and trying to stop her stealing other children’s rice cakes, I knew the dream was over for me.)
Unless you are fortunate to enjoy regular date nights, your visits to the cinema from then on are most likely going to be with your kids. Family films mean just that, they should have something to entertain all the family. And a decent ‘kids’ movie, will have enough jokes and subtext to keep adults entertained too. For the first viewing, at least…
There are no set rules about when a child is old enough to go to the cinema. If they are able to sit through a whole film at home, and they don’t mind the dark too much, then there’s no harm in giving it a go.
Last weekend we went on our first family outing to the cinema to see Disney Pixar’s Coco. Set in Mexico during national holiday The Day Of The Dead, it follows a young boy who accidentally finds himself crossing over to The Land Of The Dead, where he must get the blessing of his ancestors to return home.
We were guests at a special preview screening (thank you Disney) and as a result my daughter enjoyed getting a glitter tattoo and balloon model made for her, as well as joining in craft activities before the film started. The only drawback being she may now expect the same every time she goes to the cinema!
Once inside the theatre she tucked into the popcorn and was just delighted to be there. The cinema even had booster seats, so small children can still see over the heads of the people in front of them.
As the lights went down she didn’t bat an eyelid at the dark, and was soon fixated on the bright moving images in front of her. I don’t think she really understood much of the storyline, but she loved the dog and the skeletons and the music. During the 1hr 45m film she didn’t really show any signs of being restless. Now and again she asked where the dog was, or talked about something on the screen. But with enough popcorn and water, and a few answers to her questions, she was riveted to the end.
In the final 10 minutes she wanted to sit on my lap, by which time I had tears streaming down my face thanks to the rather moving storyline. (I always cry at the movies.)
Coco is fun and entertaining, but at its heart is a message about how important family is. How lucky we were to see it on our first family trip to the cinema. And it’s a good job my daughter likes the movies as much as I do, because there will be many more.