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Chasing the Ovation

The movie theater was small and lush. Old. Glass brick in the entry. A single screen. Of course a single screen.

It was small town 1984. I was eight years old, growing up in a rural town in southern Illinois. My parents owned a real estate company downtown, next door to the old movie theater. Shaking my head as I write this, I’m trying to wrangle the right words to explain what it was like to grow up there, then.

My parents worked long hours, successful business owners, very hands on. My younger brother and I spent countless hours with them in the office and would inevitably grow restless. When the wiggles would overcome us, we were allowed to wander around downtown, unsupervised. It was 1984. It was a small town. It was safe.

It just was. I miss that freedom. I impossibly miss it for my children.

One evening, I was with my best friend, Natalie, at the office. My parents had to work and allowed Natalie and I to scoot next door and watch the movie playing. Back then, you just watched whatever was playing. Going to the movies was the fun, the movie itself didn’t really matter.

The movie playing was The Karate Kid.

I will never forget that movie theater experience. The seats were filled by the time Natalie and I arrived so we had to sit at the back. The movie was amazing and my eight year old heart fell deeply in love with Ralph Macchio, absolutely. We quickly became completely swept away by the movie.

And we weren’t alone. That’s the bit I want to share with you. At the end of the movie, when Daniel does the crane kick? The entire audience leapt to their feet and applauded. I get goose bumps remembering it.

Everyone. Everyone stood up and screamed. Applauded. Hooted with vindicated laughter. It. was. awesome. I’d never seen anything like it before, but from our perch near the back row, we saw the wave of raw emotion ripple through the theater and my heart burst.

We were part of something very cool. We were eight years old.

I have been chasing that communal experience ever since. And that’s why I want you to get your act together and go see Marvel’s The Avengers this weekend. Yes, The Avengers.

We went to see Marvel’s The Avengers on opening weekend, something I usually avoid with the kids but just couldn’t put off this time. My boys, seven and five, and I had been looking forward to the movie for too long. We are huge fans of the individual Avengers’ heroes’ movies and, well, they are boys. (I should mention that this isn’t a sponsored post. I know Disney owns both Babble and Marvel Entertainment but they don’t know I’m writing this nor did they ask me to write it. So there.)

Going to the movies with me is, hm, rigorous. I utterly adore going to the movies. I could spend the entire day at the movie theater, wandering from show to show. It’s not nearly uncommon for me to shout a “Goodbye and good luck!” over my shoulder as I race out of the house on short notice and buy a ticket for whatever is showing next at our multiplex.

But when I know I’m going to a movie in advance? I have some rules.

My biggest rule? Don’t miss the previews. We leave the house 30 minutes before showtime so we can arrive at the theater no less than 15 minutes before the movie starts. Sure, we can grab snacks but if it looks like it’s going to make us miss the lights dimming, I’ll start to twitch. And I’d really like to sit directly in the center of the theater with a buffer of at least one seat on either side of our party. I am so much fun.

We showed up at Marvel’s The Avengers on Saturday afternoon exactly 45 minutes before showtime. We walked into the theater 30 minutes before the lights dimmed. And I’ll be vanquished if the house wasn’t already packed. Grumble grumble growl. We had to sit in the third row. As in, try to lie flat on your back so you can see the screen without having to turn your head to catch the action. That close.

Now? I’m so glad we were that close. The boys thought we were in the movie.

Opening weekend is something special. The energy in the house alone is worth the price of admission. And the costumes! Oh, I wanted to clap every time a little kid walked in sporting a Thor costume (complete with hammer) or balancing a tub of popcorn between her Incredible Hulk hands!

The movie hadn’t started and we were already part of something.

Opening weekend has passed, but I still think it’s early enough (for what will be the greatest blockbuster of the summer) that you can go now and experience the same excitement.

I want you to see the movie with a full audience of fans. Not just movie-goers, but fans.

Seeing Marvel’s The Avengers with an audience of fans was spectacular. We were a living laugh track. I should mention that this movie is laugh-out-loud funny. I don’t generally laugh out loud during movies because I don’t want to miss the next line (see: rigorous), but I counted five times I laughed straight through the next five seconds of dialogue.

The theater echoed with audience members quoting back the lines aloud in a “This is awesome.” tone. And the kids were just blown away. All of them.

I’ll admit that there wasn’t a “standing ovation” Karate Kid moment this time. I’m not sure I’ll ever find another one of those, particularly here in suburban multiplexes of the 2000′s. But there were plenty of ovation moments, when the audience was so tickled with a feat of superpower wickedness that they couldn’t help but clap. It was involuntary. That kind of “hell yeah!” clap that you don’t realize you are doing until your nose is scrunched up and you are giving that sharp nod of approval to a pretend superhero that can’t see you.

Do this for me. Go see the Avengers fly across the big screen sooner than later. Catch it while the audience is still crammed together and pulsing energy. See it while little kids are still showing up dressed as Captain America.

And then come back and report to me.

In the meantime, have you ever been to a movie that received a standing ovation?
Tell me your best movie-going experience!

• • •

Read more of Megan’s writing at VelveteenMind.com
Follow her rigorous ovation chasing on twitter and Facebook

More of Megan on Threadbare Theory:

Does Facebook (And Instagram. And your Mom) Think You Love One Kid More Than Another?
We Bought A Zoo Closes Your Holiday Family Break on a High Note
I Knew It! Fighting the Know-It-All Motherhood Trap

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