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Going to the Cinema with Kids in the '80s Vs Now

Frequency of visits

I think I was taken to the cinema twice in my early childhood, once to see Snow White and the second time to see Splash. It was beyond thrilling and I appreciated every second of it. My kids are cinema-spoilt and have the audacity to turn their eyes up when I mention going and will try to back out until I mention popcorn and sweets. I do bring them ALOT but it’s one of the few things I enjoy doing with them. I’m certainly not outdoorsy or even craftsy, but sit me in front on a movie with endless snacks and I excel (it's a gift).


Fear of not getting in

I’m not talking about the movie being completely booked out and having to settle for a slightly later time/different movie. In the 1980s, there was normally only one movie showing and it was first come, first served and so we had to queue outside the cinema (similar to a Ticketmaster situation... a One Direction one).

I remember queuing with friends to see The Delinquents somewhere in town and we were racked with nerves as throngs of people lined the streets saying quiet novenas that they would get to see Kylie in all her post-Neighbours glory (I did and it was fabulous).

Smoking

It was often difficult to see the screen with all the cigarette smoke and how it reflected in the light of the projector. In fact, my entire childhood was spent passive smoking and it is the reason I am 5ft 4 and had to shelve my dreams of being in a George Michael video. I will admit to watching Reservoir Dogs in UCD back in the day and being so excited that you could smoke in the lecture hall that I bought a box of ten (ten!!) and smoked the lot for the sheer boldness of it.

Snacks

The bloody price of food in the cinema these days and I feel like such a whingy middle-aged woman when I complain to the blank stare of the unfortunate cashier but what’s the story? The mark-up is incredible! Why is this issue not being brought up on the doorsteps during election times?

I’ll think “grand, we’ll head to the kid’s club... €3 each... €15 for the lot of us.” A couple of kids meals, a large drink and popcorn between myself and the husband and a much debated hanging bag later and there’s no change from a fifty.

I do sneak in the odd snacks but there’s no avoiding the food counter sometimes. This week, one of mine discovered the pick and mix as I was paying and filled a bag in 5 seconds which was odd because it takes him 15 minutes to pack up his school bag at night. This particular bag cost me €7 and another cashier interaction/eye-roll… computer says no.

In the '80s you brought your own food… possibly a corned beef sandwich and a bottle of Cadet. My mother was, and still is, a big fan of tin foil and would wrap random items and put them in a bag. A rolo, 3 buttered digestives, that kind of thing. I remember a kiosk in the Fairview cinema that sold tiny baggies of popcorn for 20p, but the queue was always jammers and I was way too panicked about getting to my seat in time.


There weren’t that many kids movies in the '80s and they certainly weren’t politically correct:

Nowadays there can be 5 kids movies on the go at the same time and they will be squeaky clean (boring). Recently I watched ET with my kids and within 10 minutes Elliot called his brother penis-breath. My kids went wild with the excitement of it all. It made me think that perhaps we’re trying too hard to sanitise everything for them at the cinema. Can you remember the thrill of an F bomb or a rogue bum/boob in an '80s movie? We need more Indiana Jones and Back to the Futures and less Chipmunks (none at all if possible, the horror).


The Fanciness

Yes, sure, we have big American multiplexes now with huge screens and reclining chairs but where’s the old school glamour? I loved the fabulousness of the big, red velvet curtains in the cinema of old. It gave the illusion of a theater trip. There were intermissions also to allow a reel change and for someone with a tiny bladder, that was gold. I'm always missing bits of movies due to loo trips. Don't get me started on 3D movies. I hate them. The glasses make me nauseous and I feel ridiculous.

The Novelty

Going to the cinema now is an extension of watching stuff at home. Most people have oversized TVs and access to Netflix, Showbox et al. It is inconvenient to go to the cinema and sit through the same ads we can forward at home. In fact I find my hand reaching for a non existent remote most of them time. In the 1980s, if we missed a movie in the cinema, it could be years before it reached TV, as most of us didn't even have videos yet.

I wish that my kids had the same love of cinema that I have, but it is a different time and possibly when they have kids, they will wish their children had the same love of watching shite on YouTube that they have. It's all rose-tinted nostalgia, but I love the movies from that time, although I don't want to sit in a cloud of cancerous smoke to watch them. However, can we start a petition on change.org or something to lower the price of cinema food?

I'm just sayin'.


About the Author

Mother of 3 young boys, blogging about poo, post-baby vags and other beautiful aspects of parenting and domestic slavery.

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