I’m three years old. My dad has taken me to see Aladdin at the theater. My first movie. I’m happy with my candy, but my dad takes the box away from me because I’m playing with it too loudly. I’m about to melt down and demand it back when the lights dim and the movie starts. I stare up at the big screen, wide-eyed, enthralled by the moving pictures of the short, ugly man singing to me. I’m not sure what a Rabian night is. Suddenly, a massive lion head erupts from the desert floor, and I’m screaming, and then we’re driving home. I don’t want to go to the movies again.
I’m fifteen years old. I don’t even remember what movie I just bought a ticket for, but my friends and I are sneaking into The Aviator. We file into the front row, since it’s sold out and this is when movies like The Aviator still attracted over $100 million of box office business. I’m feeling rebellious and maybe just a little bit guilty when the lights dim and the movie starts. I stare up at the big screen, wide-eyed, enthralled by the moving pictures of huge planes and jars full of urine. DiCaprio’s performance amazes me, filling my head with dreams of being an actor myself and achieving the same levels of greatness. I never want to stop going to the movies.
I’m twenty-five years old. It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’ve surprised my wife with a trip to the movies to see Paddington. She’s really excited, because she had a Paddington bear doll when she was a kid. I’m feeling happy, because I’m married now and I have someone else’s excitement to look forward to. I’m worrying about the restaurant I had planned for dinner when the lights dim and the movie starts. I stare up at the big screen, wide-eyed, enthralled by the moving pictures of a jacketed bear and tubs of marmalade. The story has a madcap energy, child-like in its enthusiasm, and suddenly I’m three years old again, only this time I’m laughing at pratfalls and worried that Paddington won’t find a home in London. The movie ends, and my wife and I talk through dinner at an Italian restaurant about how fun it was.
I want to go to the movies again.