This is not a review of The Hobbit. It’s a review of Taking My Kids To See The Hobbit. So if you haven’t seen The Hobbit and you’re worried about me spoiling your thus far unblemished viewing of The Hobbit, just calm down. I’m not a movie reviewer. I’m a man with kids. We will never see The Hobbit the same, you and I. We bring to The Hobbit vastly varying experiential contexts inside of which our viewing of The Hobbit occurs, not to mention the mood from which we actually watch The Hobbit at a particular time. In my case, I was light and floating in the sense that the world is a rich and abundant harvest of mysterious treasures. I was also with my kids. I hope you’re in a good mood when you see The Hobbit, too. Try to cultivate a good mood before you go with positive affirmations that you’re a good person and worthy of good movies. Say a prayer. Count your breaths. Wish on a star.
Me and my kids attended a 4:30 viewing of The Hobbit, allowing us to kill two birds with one stone (no birds were actually harmed) by transforming our movie into a movie plus dinner. Armed with American sized sodas, buckets of popcorn, and gummy worms, we settled into our cushy theater seats. I love the anticipation of sitting early in a dim theater. I love the fact that the arm rests double as drink holders. I love buttery fingers. I love my kids. Despite the existential fact that something is always about to happen, sitting in a movie theater before the movie begins amplifies and announces this fact in a curious, exciting way: something is about to happen. We are about to see a movie, which is to say “We are about to sacrifice the narrative of our personal stories to become submerged, for a time, in a completely new adventure.” This is an important skill. It’s one of the best gifts I can give my children. Better than popcorn for dinner.
My daughter asked if Gollum was in this movie and if she could bury her face in my arm if he was because Gollum gives her the creepies and I assured her that she could because few joys in this life compare with protecting your kids from the creepies.
Mr. Clark gave me The Hobbit to read in the 6th Grade because Mr. Clark understood that I was the kind of kid who needed The Hobbit in 6th Grade and I loved Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy more than is probably appropriate for a grown man, so I was pretty excited, these being aspects of the experiential context (referred to above) that I brought to the movie. However, by the time I saw the subtitle, An Unexpected Journey, I was furious. I know I alluded earlier to the fact that I was floating in the sense that the world is a rich and abundant harvest of mysterious treasures but I am mercurial and complicated, just like you. The Hobbit is actually called The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, and my 6th Grade sense of remaining loyal to the text was outraged. However, the fact that the subtitle, An Unexpected Journey, was unexpected was not lost on me and I quickly regained my composure, lost in thought about journeys and their unexpectedness. This is what being me is like.
My son whispered with a nodding grin that this was not going to suck.
Oh, Bilbo. How much we have in common, little imaginary Hobbit friend. And you, too. We think it’s going to be easy, just chilling in The Shire, smoking pot through long pipes and water bongs, sipping tea, and great parties with wizards and kickass fireworks. Plans plans plans. But then unexpected trolls and dead friends, stone giants and divorces, goblins, financial insecurity, wargs and your daughter has to pee again. Seriously, how many times does your daughter have to pee? I think she’s just bored. I think she’s planning to shake you down for quarters at the candy machines. But all those shattered plans, the unexpected disruptions of your ideas about how things are supposed to go, the shocking intrusions along the way — these are not merely composed of disaster and woe. No.
Because after the unexpected journey begins, just then, just right there — pow! — exactly then, immediately after all your plans crumble and before you begin developing new ones, there’s an enormous relief in finding yourself standing in the never-ending story that’s so much bigger than yours. A unique relation to immediacy. An uncanny presence. The trolls are stones and you are alive and there’s a sun and there are people who love you. There are people there, really there, in the world, and they love you and the world loves you too because in this place between plans there is no place for distinctions between the world and people and things — it’s all only this inescapable being cared for in care.
These two strange little creatures to my left and right, unplanned, unexpected, yet there, one eating popcorn and the other hiding from Gollum with her head buried in my arm. We were there and we’ll go back again.
Read more from me at Black Hockey Jesus,
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