Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ice Age & Transformers (Redeux)

We're trying something new. Video blogging. I'm using my wife's camera, so bear with me as I struggle to use this technology in a creative way.

Nonetheless, here's our night at the drive-in, on the hottest day in recorded history in western Washington. Over 114 degrees it reached, just hours before our arrival. Box office temps were in the low nineties.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Drive-In Rituals

When she learned that the new Transformers movie was coming out this summer, my seven-point-five year old daughter sat down and composed a to-do list of preparation for our eventual going-to-the-drive-in-to-see-it. Then she promptly hung it up on the refrigerator:
pillows, blankets, soda, hamburgers, bug spray, pop corn, clean car, get candy, take flip-flops...

My daughter’s list was spontaneous, without prompting or help by me, or older sisters, and it made me smile. Getting ready for the drive-in when I was young was tantamount to a religious ritual, much the way a parachutist will pack his chute, Fox Sports will lead up to the Super Bowl kick off, or that guy you work with and his friend Steve prepare for their annual Oscar party.

An early memory I have is my father washing our station wagon in the driveway on the afternoon before we saw The Poseidon Adventure at the Vegas 4 Drive-In. I remember every door open and the tailgate down as my mom vacuumed out the interior and ever since then I've always associated going to the drive-in with dutiful preparation.

When you’re a kid, you have a personal responsibility to gather your supplies, and for me this entailed picking out the right pajamas to wear, grabbing my pillow and blanket, and making sure my butt was in the backseat when Dad said it was time to go. (No, we didn’t have seatbelts that I remember, and if we did…please, who wore them? It was the 70s!) Our red metallic Coleman ice chest we used for camping was loaded with chilled Pepsi on ice, and not those plastic bottles you get today. These were the long neck glass bottles that you needed a bottle opener to pries off the metal bottle cap. Say what you will about the convenience and safety of plastic, but glass bottles held the cold better and the taste was superior. (OK, mostly because they used pure cane sugar as a sweetener instead of today’s high fructose corn syrup. You can re-experience this retro flavor by trying Pepsi Throwback this summer, if you can still find it. Vastly superior taste.)

On our way to the drive-in we’d stop at The Pizza Hut on Decatur Avenue and pick up their Supreme Pizza on their traditional thin crust, and sometimes their Thick and Chewy (before Pan Crust’s greasy mess). Instead of boxes, the pizza was wrapped in a paper teepee, of sorts. Whenever I see Pizza Hut I always remember that fond association with the drive-in, and if I get a thin and crispy supreme pizza, its familiar taste resonates with me. Other than that, the Pizza Hut franchise is bollocks, having gone the way of overpriced franchise restaurants like Applebees and Outback.

Jump ahead a few years, now living in a new state, having new drive-in theaters to experience in the city of Yakima, Washington. Instead of pizza, we’d make pizza boats on French bread using spaghetti sauce, chopped onions, green peppers, hamburger, Canadian bacon, pepperoni and lots of cheese. Very filling and very scrumptious. We’d wrap them in foil, place them in a box. On our way to the drive-in, we’d stop at 7-11, or the AM-PM and get 32oz drinks, which at the time were a novelty item, and for me, the most soda I’d ever seen personalized for one person. (Today, 32 oz drinks are small compared with the 44oz and the jumbo 88ozers, if such a creature exists.)

Pillows and blankets and wearing pajamas obviously fall by the way side when you get older, but when you have your own kids, you take your own traditions, implement them, and gradually they evolve into new ones. While I was always envious of families who hit McDonald’s on the way in with their bags of fires and hamburgers, in the hot summers in the Yakima valley fruit basket it became a family tradition to pack in our ice chest with bags of big, fat bing cherries. Oh so crisp and delicious cold. We’d also pack nectarines and peaches to go with our pizza boats. And who among us NEVER stopped at Safeway and grabbed their candy bars that were always on sale two or sometimes three for a dollar? For me, it ain’t the drive-in unless I have my Snickers bar. On a recent venture to the drive-in my seven year-old and I packed root beer on ice with a big bag of Rainer cherries, popped a sack of popcorn, Nathan hot dogs (no mustard for her), jo-jo fries and chicken tenders. No sense starving, you know. We're Americans.

"Did you clean the windshield?" A lot of time this really isn’t an issue. I hardly remember staying in the car to watch a movie. If I’m not sitting on the tailgate or on a lawn chair, I’m in front of the car on a "bed" constructed out of half a dozen blankets and sleeping bags we packed away in the trunk. But as a matter of protocol I’d make sure the windows were scrubbed clean, inside and out, as I vacuumed out the car.

Prepardness for nighttime weather is a must. Thank goodness we packed light jackets and a blanket the other night as a layer of marine air came in and chilled us down. But right now the Pacific Northwest is pushing into a monster heatwave and with another venture to the drive-in coming up, weather forecasts put dusk temperatures around 94. Yeah. This might mean mucho-on-the-mosquito-repellent that night because all the windows are going to be down (if the little buggers can stand the heat). And mucho-on-the-bottled-water, too.

But you can see this obsession in every car when everyone lines up at the box office each night, the rear window of their cars piled high with folding chairs, blankets, pillows and several excited children. They've come prepared.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs & Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Here we are again at the Skyline Drive-In Theater. Tonight’s double feature is Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, followed by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. When we left home at 7:15 and stopped at the ATM for the entry cash, the temp was 81 degrees and clear skies. By the time we reached the drive-in forty some miles north, a marine air push covered us in clouds with brisk winds gusting seven to fifteen miles an hour. As you can imagine, it’s not 81 degrees anymore.

It’s a Wednesday, and unlike a Saturday it’s not that busy, for obvious reasons. I know full well that I will not get to bed until 2:30, and must get up between six and six-thirty to get ready for work. (Fortunately I only teach summer school from eight to eleven, so I’ll go straight home and crash.) With a half hour before the Ice Age 3 begins, the field is only filled one-thirds capacity. Lots of kids here and they’re tearing it up in front of the screen, which is an empty field roughly fifty yards long and twenty yards wide. My seven year old is leading the charge out there right now, and she’s my only passenger tonight. My fourteen year-old is at our church’s girl’s camp and the nineteen year old is vacationing with her aunt and cousins in SLC, Utah for a family reunion. They’re not thrilled to be missing out. My oldest went through this a few years back when she was at girl’s camp and missed out on the I, Robot and Spiderman 2 double feature, which was a great line up, you gotta admit.

Right now it’s ten after nine, and with this thick cloud cover, its getting dark extra quick. I’ve heard good things about Ice Age 3. Very good things. But I know very little about the plot. I know Simon Peg voices one of the characters and I’m a big fan of his. If you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, you’ll know why. (And no, I haven’t seen Star Trek yet. But I have met the original Scottie, James Doohan, at a showing of Star Trek III in Tacoma the day after I graduated from High School. I’ll save that story for later. Trekkies will like it. Everyone else will be bored.)

Holy Crap! This big rock just hit my windshield! It bounced off, miraculously doing no damage! Little kid behind us got wild with a pitch. Father apologized profusely.

Oh! Showtime! A female voice is welcoming us. Here we go!

Previews! AstroBoy. And it seems there’s a ‘squeakweal’ to the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. They go to school and meet a new band made up of female chipmunks. Coming this Christmas. My daughter is excited. I’m…indifferent. I didn’t much care for the first film. Maybe this one will be better.

And here’s another preview for Aliens in the Attic. Ever get the feeling this trailer is showing us everything about the movie, leaving no surprises when it hits theaters? This film must really be terrible and the producers are hoping to get as many butts in the seat on their opening weekend before word of mouth spreads.

OK…Ice Age 3 is starting, and there’s Scrat, of course. My daughter is already giggling with anticipation.

10:46. pm. Ice Age 3 is over, and of the three Ice Age films, this was the best, hands down no contest. Wildly imaginative, and jammed packed with humorous sequences, in particular a scene involving a poisonous green mist you mustn’t breathe in. I’ll say no more. Go see the movie if you haven’t. And yes, if you love Simon Pegg, his character, a weasel, is not unlike Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, albeit with more courage, or chutzpah. His part is by the far the centerpiece of affection, and if you like Scrat the squirrel, this movie won’t disappoint you.

Next up is Transformers, the movie my seven year old has been waiting all these past months to see!

Right now they’re showing an old intermission film to open up intermission. The problem I have with this drive-in’s intermissions is that they go to a dark screen for five minutes with no music. Nothing. I’ve always enjoyed having music over the speakers, in this case the car radio, while the movie is on. The field is also very dark, and it wouldn’t hurt to cast some more spotlights over the front half of the field to help the mass of people heading to the bathrooms.

The movie is starting. Oh. It’s a trailer for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I’m dubious of films that open in August, although The Sixth Sense made such an opening many years back and became an instant classic. Even though it’s from the Stephen Sommers who did the Mummy movies, and it looks to have an epic quality to it, I’ll hold judgment. But history is none too kind… (OK, I know Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby also had an August debut, and it was very, very funny, but still… I’ll shut up.)

2:14. am. OK. I’m home. So, what did I, and my daughter, think of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? (How about that James Doohan story now! It’s pretty cool…)

Yeah. Unlike the first Transformers film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was disappointing. It starts off great, but halfway through it gets very tedious. Very. I can’t stress this enough. It just keeps going and going and going. It’s one adventure after another, and I found myself wanting it to end. That’s not good. I’m at the drive-in watching an explosive action adventure movie. Wanting the evening to end goes against the emotion of going to the drive-in in the first place.

But what’s wrong with one adventure after another? I don’t know, why don’t you go ask The Matrix sequels, huh? As I watched Transformers II I imagined Michael Bay, the film's director and executive producer, horsewhipping the screenwriters into one macho plot evolution after another.

“Let’s do this, then have them go here, then suddenly this’ll happen, and then we jump clear over here, then we’re way up here…”

The problem in coming up with ideas for movies and novels and plays is that it all has to make sense and what you have here are plot pieces randomly glued and stapled together like a four-year old's popsicle stick project. In fact, the friggin’ plot of this movie resembles the friggin’ robots themselves—parts and pieces all jammed together to resemble a movie, and when the movie moves it stomps and clanks and makes terrible noises. And man, that crap gets old, and old fast. Oh, so fast…

How do I know? Transformers’ biggest fan fell asleep in the middle of the endless climatic battle sequence. I tried to wake her. She’d pop her head up, look at the screen, then fall asleep. I was trying to stay awake as well. I kept rolling down the windows to wash cold air over us. But the movie wasn’t making me want to stay awake. (Don’t you think that’s a problem Mr. Bay, or should I direct my comments to Mr. Spielberg, who, of all people, should know better.) I stayed awake because I drove us forty some miles to see this movie, paid my money, and by God I was gonna see it through, clear to the end!

But would I do it again, pay this money, waste this gas, and go all that way to see Hollywood’s idiocy?

Oh yeah. It’s the drive-in, baby! See ya later.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Up & Land of the Lost

8:15. Here we are the Skyline Drive-In on a warm, but windy Saturday Evening. We arrived at 7:40 to a line of about fifteen cars, and more quickly piled up behind us. It's just me and my daughters, ages 19, 14 and 7. This is our first venture to the drive-in since last summer, and this makes my first report from the drive-in nearly four years. I’ve been busy writing other things, and supposed that I couldn't write those things and do this blog at the same time. I’ve decided to poo-poo that notion and write both at the same time.

(It's a little over an hour until show time, and once the movie starts I don’t think I’ll load up much else information until the next day when I can reflect on the movies and the other goings-on here.)

8:30. The crowds are filling up with only an hour until showtime. With only a half an hour after the box office opened, the field is nearly half full. Most vehicles are trucks and SUVs (people are still stuck with these) and that leaves those of us with compact cars and station wagons to take the first four rows. Truth be told about the Skyline drive-in theater is that the grade of the field is a bit lousy. No matter—-

--Oh brother. Someone’s enormously loud car alarm is going off. My heavens. Sounds like we’re about to get skewered by a North Korean missile. Alert NORAD.

Anyway. The grade, or slope of the field, combined with the low height of the screen, makes viewing a bit challenging. Whereas most drive-in fields are flat, and car hills give you significant lift, this drive-in is at a slope, with gravity running downhill towards the screen. The tops of every car, truck of SUV, no matter what row you’re on, comes up to the bottom of the screen. If your kids like to lounge on the top of your car, or you rear-parked your SUV and lift the hatch to watch the show, the people parked behind you aren't going to be happy-campers. (Later, on my way to the snack bar, I see one of the field managers assisting a driver in tethering his lifted hatch a little lower with twine.) As much as I appreciate the fact that this drive-in is open, and reasonably close to where I live, I long for the drive-ins of my youth, of the professionally graded slopes and car hills and tall screens that allow you to park in any spot, in any direction, and view the screen unobstructed.

8:40. Where am I parked? Front row. Center. We have no speakers anymore here at the Skyline. It’s radio, 93.7 on the radio dial. I brought my MP3 player and I’m going to try to enjoy the movie outside the car by wearing headphones, which sounds like heresy. When you don’t have speakers in the field, you miss the romantic sounds of all that music, and the movie, pouring into the air, echoing around, no matter where you are. And this really doesn’t work with car radio, not unless it’s very, very, hot humid night and people have their windows rolled down, and it’s a really loud movie, like Transformers, which has the same decibel rating as a 1972s Who’s concert--

Finally! The hot boiling sun, roughly 94 million miles away, has dropped below the horizon of hills around us. We're only one week after summer solstice. The days are now getting shorter, slowly. But days and nights will be getting warmer, and less windy, but right now the wind keeps the skeeters away. Always come to the Skyline with repellent. Always.

8:49. We have two thick sleeping bags in front of the car, and pillows. I may have to sit inside the car. My seven year-old wants to sit with me, and she can’t because we have no radio outside, except for the MP3 players belonging to me and my 19 year-old daughter. The little one is clingy, and I figured that while she’s young and wants to be with me, I’d better enjoy this while it lasts. So it might be me, and my two youngest piled into the front seat of our Ford Taurus. My middle child probably hates this idea with a vibrant passion.

As I sit here in front of the car, staring across the empty field between the front row and the screen where dozens of kids and parents run around and toss footballs and Frisbees, my two oldest have just performed for me, and the entire front row, a display of sibling rivalry not unlike the song and dance Godzilla and Rodan oft do in downtown Tokyo. What did they wrestle over, giggling and laughing? The remnants of an energy drink, which wound up getting crushed as their hands clasped the can and tugged with all their might. The middle child, who bought the drink at the snack bar ($2.50), won the tug of war, and sipped from the can’s wounds the dripping fluids of intense caffeine.

I'll pause here and express my concern, as I did with my daughter, that the so-called energy component of the drink would have a horrific effect on her. Halfway through the night, I would hear strange sounds emanating from behind me, and that I would find her on top of the car, chittering away in the form of some half-cricket, half-cockroach beast before flying away into the night sky to go live inside underground subways to eat hobo and track worker meat. The movie Mimic? (No one?) Or she could become entranced by the projection light and attack it, crashing into the snack bar. I don't know what movie that would be. (Not Mothra.)

9:12. OK. It’s getting rather darker out. The middle child has taken the youngest to the rest room, so we're not having do this during the first feature: Up, courtesy of Pixar. Good things have been said of this film, which did rather well with the foreign audience at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. seems the youngest didn’t need to go to the bathroom. I then explained to her that she hasn’t gone to the bathroom since leaving home, around 6:30. “That’s three hours. You WILL have to go during the first movie, and we won’t take you then, and you’ll pee your pants. Do you want that?”

She shook her head no. Her oldest sister then took her, with the proviso that the second oldest take her during intermission.

But guess what? My daughter came back, apparently afraid of the bathrooms. (She has this thing about foreign bathrooms. So I quickly took her to the men’s room and went into the stall with her. (I turned my back.)

9:24. I've moved into the car, with my two youngest. The oldest is out front on the sleeping bags. Radio music has just stopped. Now the snack bar announcer is welcoming us. The movie will start in seconds--

Here it is. The movie’s starting, but it's too light out. I can hardly see what's on the screen. Some Disney preview for a cell animation film. Something about a talking frog and a dark-skinned princess. Indian? Pakistani? Wow, what’s this other preview? A stork in the clouds… Oh. It’s a Pixar short!

(My daughter is having problems getting a full radio signal on her MP3 player...)

11:17. Intermission! Just went to the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom (And by the way, two of the three toilet stalls were down and out, leaving one with six urinals) a short old time intermission snipe played on the screen. Black and white. Very old time. I place it circa 1958. But I only caught the end of it.

(During the Pixar short before Up, my oldest daughter couldn't get a clear radio signal on her MP3 player, which she didn’t suffer from last year. I had to go to the snack bar to rent a radio, but there were eight lines, seven people deep, so I went back to the car, changed places with my daughter and I sat outside with my player. I did manage to find a signal by finally placing it under the car behind me.)

11:20. Intermission previews are starting. One for a gerbil secret agent movie. The next is for Ice Age III. Here’s some Adam Sandler comedy-drama with Seth Rogan. It's chilly outside, but I'm wrapped up in a blanket. Girls are snuggled in the car. We’re ready for Land of the Lost. Will Ferrel, make me laugh!

11:29. Showtime!

1:55. We're home now. We got the youngest up the stairs, into the bathroom, then into bed pretty quick. I finished getting the car unpacked while my older daughters headed to bed. The leftover food was put into the fridge, the ice chest with remaining cold soda set on the kitchen floor. Must hurry. We have church at 11:00 am.

Land of the Lost was not great, nor terrible. Just visually interesting enough to keep me awake, and boy did I want to knock off, like my youngest did in the backseat. Will I get this movie on DVD? No. It's simply a weak movie in light of the expectations of the old TV show pairing up with Will Ferrel. You get a sense that the humor was reaching to be more adult that the studio wanted, to keep the PG-13. Think of it like an Adam Sandler booger-fart-penis-betchyourgay comedy with science fiction visual effects. But Up was spectacular. (I laughed far more watching Up than I did with Land of the Lost. Ten to One.) Pixar is batting a 1000 so far. Go see it. Get it on DVD. Out of this world!

Goodnight. See you later at the drive-in.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Double Feature

Much has been written and spoken regarding drive-in theaters and its appeal to the American way of life. Admittedly, car and movie culture played key roles in the drive-in’s invention by Richard Hollingshead Jr. in depression era 1932. His notion was that the Americans would never give up--no matter how difficult economics became--going to the movies and driving their cars. Both were fairly new technologies in their own right, continually evolving the rapidly changing culture of American, and the marriage of the two was a sustaining magic. For me, the allure of the drive-in has always been the DOUBLE FEATURE.

“What’s playing at the drive-in?”

I loved hearing my parents utter those words. Yet, I was always way ahead of them. When reading the Las Vegas Sun newspaper every morning as a kid (we never subscribed to the Review-Journal), I quickly scanned past The Redrock 4, The Redrock Americana, The Parkway, The Huntridge, and The Fox theater ads until I found the drive-in ads for The Nevada, The Skyway, The Sunset, The Desert 5, and The Las Vegas 4 (the closest D-I to our house), and found what was playing:

Live and Let Die…
The Legend of Boggy Creek…
Mary Poppins…
The Battle for the Planet of the Apes…
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry…
Enter the Dragon...
Now You See Him, Now You Don’t…
Bedknobs and Broomsticks…
The Bermuda Triangle…
Gone in Sixty Seconds...
The Swarm…

Yes, these movies date me, and most of these films are crap (then and now). But this is no matter, not when you’re at the drive-in, or an impressionable child. Watching a machine-generated wave flip a 20 ft. model of an ocean liner upside down and seven panicky survivors shouting inane dialogue back and forth (no, not Gilligan’s Island, but you're close) is worth its weight in gold. Once the movie ended, and the lights from the snack bar came up across the field, and the speakers once again pumped out radio music, we took solace knowing another movie was on its way.

It wasn’t often that a great movie like The Poseidon Adventure was paired with another great flick. (Frankly, I can’t remember what followed that movie. It could have been The Ruling Class with Peter O'Toole and Alastair Sim for all I know.) In truth, I often fell asleep after the first feature and usually woke up as we drove away, or the next morning in bed. Once I was forced by my parents to sit through a triple feature of torture: Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Magic Christian, and Paint Your Wagon. (Yep, you read that right.) All I recall is that Paul McCartney song "Come and Get it"--performed by Badfinger, people thrashing around in sewage for free money, Alan Arkin arguing with a woman in bed, and a bull rampaging through a gold mine. Blame this on the biology of my seven-year-old body, or a very boring movie. Or in this case, three.

As I got older I could stay awake and partake of the second feature. When 1974’s The Towering Inferno finished, the second feature had me just as excited. 1972's Skyjacked starred Charlton Heston and James Brolin and was directed by John Guillermin, who co-directed Towering Inferno with Irwin Allen. Here was the story of a jetliner highjacking by a whacked-out Vietnam veteran (Brolin) and his on-board bomb (I don’t know who played the bomb). How could I not stay awake? Something had to explode! I just watched hundreds of people get barbecued and flooded, all in one movie, so why not one more?

I didn’t stay awake. Somewhere in the middle of the first act, waiting for events to happen, I passed out from the boredom and woke up late in the third act, just in time to see Brolin shoot Heston in the shoulder (allowing the hero to live another day), and the Soviet police shoot Brolin (all about the face and chest). My father assured me I had seen all the action anyone who stayed awake had seen. But I blame it on The Towering Inferno, which was so bloody long it had an intermission. In retrospect, the skyscraper was very, very tall (136 stories), and there were all those arrogant rich people to kill and maim in rather interesting ways. (Actually there's only one way to burn to death, but you know what I mean.) At the film's core were the numerous interlocking love stories, either romantic or familial, seeking resolution amid a torrent of dysfunctional communication typical of American culture in the 1970s. The film's Academy Award winning song, We May Never Love Like This Again by Maureen McGovern, best exemplifies this struggle:

We may never love like this again
Don't stop the flow
We can't let go
We may never love like this again
And touch the sky
Though we may try

So, while we're here,
Let's give out all,
Release the dreams inside--

Oh, who gives a crap...

I was rather fortunate to go to the drive-in as a kid and see movies I was interested in viewing. Disney movies never failed me. I still fondly recall seeing The Living Desert and Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in the very early 70s. You bet I stayed awake through both of those! What a great double-bill. When I was higher up on the throes on puberty, I enjoyed The Outlaw Josey Wales and Freebie and the Bean. While I did not ‘get’ Freebie and The Bean starring Jimmy Caan and Alan Arkin (it was very adult with a transvestite serial killer and tons of F-words), I did manage to stay awake. But much of that film is a blur, and from what I hear an equal blur with most critics. (It’s not even out on DVD yet.)

Sometimes you get a mismatch of films that don’t jive with one another. For a modern day example try last year’s The Dark Knight and Mamma Mia! A little something for everyone, right? But have you seen Mamma Mia!? (Have you ever gnawed off your own foot like a crazed raccoon? There's not much difference from what I've seen.) This is why movies like Mamma Mia! are shunted to the tail end of a double feature.

Naturally, this leads us to our next topic, the notorious nature of the second feature as a wasteland of disjointed plots, hyper-extended characters, odd camera angles, bad lighting and overamped sound. In my impressionable youth these would include 1970s car chase movies, those ultra-creepy Billy Jack movies (which I love!), and films where black cops put the beatdown on corrupt Whitey. (And Skyjacked.) Drive-ins were these film's last--or sometimes only--refuge to earn money for their distributors by piggy-backing them on more reputable films. Here's just a sample:

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls...
Women in Cages...
Foxy Brown...
The Car...

If you want a great-bad movie for a second feature you can't go wrong with 1982's Megaforce, starring Barry Bostwick and directed by Hal Needham of 'Stoker Ace' fame. Forget Plan 9 From Outer Space (overrated as a bad movie, much the way Duck Soup is overrated as the Marx Brother's best film, which is A Night at the Opera). Megaforce is the mother-god of all craptastic films, hands down, no contest. Just to quickly illustrate how deliriously lousy this film is, the next time you're saying good-bye to someone you romantically love (or not, just to creep them out), stand like Superman with your cape blowing in the wind, kiss the tip of your thumb, and then give them the thumbs-up sign as you smile, utterly confident that no one suspects that you and your motorcycle riding, pastel headband wearing, anti-terrorist commando squad are as gay as French toast.

What we drive-in goers most want is a great double bill, and sometimes we get it. Sometimes not. If I could go back in time and order up the perfect double bill at the drive-in I’d line up the following:

Forbidden Planet and The War of the Worlds
The Blob and Fast and the Furious
Lady and The Tramp and The Shaggy Dog

The Magnificent Seven and Spartacus
Ice Station Zebra and The Planet of the Apes
The Nutty Professor and The Pink Panther

Dirty Harry and The French Connection
Airport 1975 and Earthquake
The Omen and The Exorcist

This year I wouldn't mind seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen paired up with Land of the Lost. But truth be told; I'd go see Transformers with Mamma Mia! any night at a drive-in. Or Skyjacked. Skyjacked and Megaforce! Oh, yeah...

Hey, it's the drive-in!