Since seeing Super 8 last weekend I have not been able to get it out of my mind. Two specific things have been nagging me all week… first, is that I didn’t stay through the credits and I missed seeing the film that the young kids were making in the movie. Second, I knew my 8 1/2 year old daughter simply needed to experience this film in a theater and at her age.
I had been bugging her all week, trying to convince her that she really did want to see it. Thinking back to how much I objected to seeing certain movies that on the surface didn’t look like much, but ended up becoming life changing, I figured I needed to push a little. I tried just talking it up… that wasn’t doing the trick. I then realized I hadn’t used the greatest weapon in the arsenal of persuasion, informing her who specifically J.J. Abrams is as the creator of LOST. That got her interested. Then I had her sit down to watch the most recent trailer again while keeping LOST in mind… as well as playing up the Jaws-ness of the film. When it was over, all I had to say was, “you have goose bumps don’t you?” She did…
I didn’t take my younger daughter because it is a bit too scary for a 6 year old… at least in a public theater. But my 8 1/2 year old is becoming quite the seasoned movie-goer and this film is square in her wheelhouse… it simply took a little extra nudge. I was very pleased to see another dad and young daughter in the audience and realized that is how we must look. Unfortunately there was a very annoying older couple sitting behind us who probably had imbibed a few cocktails before coming to the theater and couldn’t seem to shut the fuck up or stop tapping his shoe… to the point that my daughter even made a comment or two, not directly about them, but directly in contrast to them. A very sly way of criticizing boorish public behavior… and a sad reflection of adult behavior when getting called out by a fourth grader.
Throughout the film she was alternately resting her head on my shoulder or squeezing my arm during the more frightening scenes. She jumped at the appropriate times and had a grin from ear to ear by the finale. Super 8 is ultimately about the characters, the monster/alien is somewhat incidental… but it’s also about a love of the movies. And it is very much what a movie going experience should be.
Seeing it a second time afforded me the opportunity to watch it a bit more critically as well. I was able to spot most of the Easter eggs (slashfilm.com has a great list of the Easter eggs found thus far… follow this link), although I still couldn’t spot Leonard Nimoy, and found myself searching for flaws in the performance… I couldn’t find a one. I am still quite taken aback by how well acted and directed this film really is. I’ve read a number of reviews this past week and not all of them are as glowing as the one I gave, and I can agree with some of the negative aspects some are seeing, one of those is people nit picking on issues of realism. Isn’t suspension of disbelief part of the experience? Isn’t a film about an alien (not that it is “about” an alien) meant to be a bit on the side of the fantastic? It is not a perfect film to be sure, as I mentioned in my original review, it’s evocative more than anything else… but it does hit me in the sweet spot, whatever that is. And being able to share an experience like the one Super 8 gives me is worth more than I could possibly imagine.
With Father’s Day around the corner, as in tomorrow, I feel like I already received a gift that cannot be topped by anything in wrapping paper and a box… spending two hours in a theater with my daughter clutching my arm and smiling up at me during a key scene followed by the excitement and flurry of questions when all was said and done. That is the gift I may recall on my death bed, and it may be the gift she will tell her kids about someday, even though she didn’t know she gave it to me. Movies can be so much more than images on a screen… and that is something both J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg understand… and that is why I will skip lesser fare offered this weekend in favor of sharing the very essence of movie going with someone I love.
A very happy father on this day,
Cornelius J. Blahg