I love movies. Love them. And if I can, I love to see them in the theater. Not opening night. Not in 3D (that's a whole other post, folks). And not in a majorly crowded theater. Just in one full enough so that I am not the only one laughing at the funny parts, the only dorky one gasping and hiding my face during the intense parts. One just loud enough to hide the opening of my snuck-in soda pop. There is little that I enjoy more than the lights dimming and that green preview screen showing up. It ranks up there with the birth of my children; I really really love movies. Right now, with the continuation of $5 Wednesdays and Awesome Mom's famous Oscar party to prepare for (Super P. is thinking of dressing me in teal this year...he claims it is in), I am seeing a lot of movies in the theater as opposed to my other love, Netflix. (Still love you, Netflix; you are rock solid and adding the entire run of West Wing was a thing of beauty.) It has been mostly amazing at the theater this winter, no complaining here, although I could have done without that preview for Dark Skies, yikes!
I recently saw The Hobbit one and a half times (long story), which was wonderful. (Martin Freeman, call me! Seriously. Awkward Dad says it is OK.) But what I really want to talk about is this preview I saw for Pacific Rim because I saw it twice and it really stuck in my mind. Pacific Rim looks like a fairly tame, pretty standard Monster/Robot action movie, especially when you consider that it is directed by Guillermo del Toro, who has a stunning imagination, tortured vision, and, I am willing to bet, some seriously messed-up imaginary friends. I am sitting there, sipping my illegal diet Cherry Pepsi, listening to Awkward Dad try to slowly and quietly open a box of Rasinets (which made it so much louder), when I see Super Preschooler. No, no, don't worry, it isn't really him. As much as I want to, they aren't really ready for Middle Earth just yet. He, and the rest of the Supers, are home with the sitter. No, the actor that Super Preschooler would be, if he were an actor, is standing there, all heroic and military and intense, giving a big speech about defeating the monsters and "cancelling the apocalypse!" He is shouting; he is passion itself. It is pretty stirring. The camera pans to the left and Super Baby comes into view, a stunning but serious-minded scientist who isn't quite comfortable with the results or ramifications of her genius. She is biting her lip and looking adorably brilliant; all the acting going on is in eyes as deep and wise as the ocean. They shoot to the unholy alien monsters and then to some enormous robots and the handsome soldiers that are going to "drive" them. They linger on the leading man. You can tell he is the leading man because he looks blindingly cute and clean-cut, but slightly conflicted. I am not interested in him. I am looking over his left shoulder to the fun-loving burly guy who winks at the leading character while doing some silly trick with his robot. Ah, there he is. I have located Super Toddler.
Super Toddler is John C. Reilly. Kevin James. Danny Kaye and Donald O'Conner (No, that's not the same guy. I swear it.) Joseph Cotton. Jean Reno. Steve Buscemi when he isn't being creepy. Super Toddler is Winston from Ghostbusters. Sergeant Horvath from Saving Private Ryan. He is Grandpa from Little Miss Sunshine. Joshua Deets from Lonesome Dove. Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore from Apocalypse Now. John Blutarsky from Animal House. Uncle Eddie from National Lampoon's anything. Sometimes he is there for comic relief. Sometimes he is there to die selflessly to save the hero. Sometimes he is there because he is crazy and likes the smell of napalm in the morning. But know this; he is there, he knows exactly who he is, and if you aren't careful, he will steal your movie. Or at least, every single scene he is in. Super Toddler is bold, brave, and barely bad. (He is really more mischievous, but we all know about my weakness for alliteration.) Super T. is not shy, conflicted, or unsure. You are going to have adventures with Super Toddler; it is a foregone conclusion. Super T. is Charles from Super 8, Vern from Stand by Me, and pretty much anyone in the Goonies.
Star Wars? He is Chewbacca. Indiana Jones? Sallah. Godfather? Tom Hagen. Wizard of Oz? Cowardly Lion. Pretty in Pink? Duckie. (Duh. But with Super T. in that pompadour, no way she is going home with Blane, let me tell you.) Taxi Driver? Wizard. The Maltese Falcon? Joel Cairo. Breakfast Club? Andrew. Almost Famous? The drummer. On the Waterfront? Father Barry. The Philadelphia Story? High Society? Mike Conner; he prefers the one where he sings. Robin Hood? Little John. Citizen Kane? The Third Man? See previous paragraph for reference to Joseph Cotton. (Then go re-watch The Third Man; just amazing.) Marx Brothers? Harpo. I could do this all day long. That is, if I wasn't pushing the limits of my children's lego interest as it was.
Super Toddler is not neurotic enough to be in a Woody Allen film, and he is too full of warmth and life to be in a Kubrick movie. (Yes, I said it. Comment me, I would love it. It'll take me back to college.) Super T. pops up in war movies and westerns as grizzled sergeants and sheriffs. Sometimes a moonshiner, just to keep things interesting. In the musicals, he is always the tap dancer. In the horror movies, he breaks the tension with some comic relief. In the blockbusters, romantic comedies, and dramas, he is the friend. And what a friend he is. He is the Duke of Exeter from Henry V. He is George Stone from the Untouchables. He is Mickey in Rocky. He is John Watson from any version of Sherlock Holmes except the Basil Rathbone ones. (Nigel Bruce, I love you, but Super Toddler is not likely to step on important clues or befriend the bad guy.) He is Donal Logue from Just Like Heaven, John Candy from Splash, Bruno Kirby from When Harry Met Sally. Bets are good that Super Toddler will have a wagon wheel coffee table someday. He doesn't care, he thinks it looks cool.
But it would be lazy to just see Super Toddler as a fun-loving friend character. Super T. is a man of action. He is Thor. He is John McClane. He is Josh Duhamel from Transformers. Super T. is strong and steady. You want Super T. on your side. If Super T. was in Lord of the Rings, he would be Sam, but he would have little patience for Frodo's antics. Super Toddler would snatch that ring out of Frodo's conflicted hand, hurl it in the river of fire, throw Gollum in after it, poke the Eye of Sauron in its, ummm, eye, and saunter back to the Shire, dripping in Ork blood, eating an apple. Super Toddler is not here to play around or stare poetically at the sunset. Super T. likes to brawl, eat, and laugh, but he is no villain. Super T. is a true friend and a brave comrade. He has got your back, the next round, and, if you aren't careful, your girl. Super Toddler has got this. Don't worry, he's got this.
In about a week, Super Toddler will turn 3 years old. I am not sure how his amazing confidence could get any bigger, but I am sure it will. Super T. rarely disappoints. He is a glorious toddler, a wonderful son, and the best friend you could want. His presence adds a particular sense of merriment to our house that no one else could bring. I am sure a conflicted leading man phase will happen at some point (I am predicting somewhere between ages 13-18), but that solid steadiness underneath and boundless mirth will bring him back from full-on tortured hero. I am sure of it. Let others have their name above the movie title and the achingly beautiful close-ups; Super Toddler's doing just fine over here, feet kicked up on the table, drinking a beer (I mean, apple juice), telling a joke that has them rolling in the aisles.
To ring in his third year, Super Toddler has requested a Transformers party. The invitations have a sedate picture of Optimus Prime on the top. Fine, makes sense. But underneath this wise leader of the Autobots, there is an equally large picture of a leering Megatron; devil eyes, corpse nose, teeth like a shark. The text above his head says "Let's Party," and thus are we asking the parents of Super Toddler's friends to trust Megatron with their angel babies for the afternoon. When we queried Super Toddler that perhaps the invitations were a mite scary, he replied, "Megatron not scary. Megatron a goof, Mommy! I get him, don't worry." See, we told you. Super Toddler has got this.
Mom, I got this, don't worry.
Seriously, it's cool. I totally have this. Pose away over there, I'm good.
No worries. I've got this.