So I thought I’d try a little experiment this week by taking my son, Nicolas, with me to see “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” and then doing a Movies With Friends with him. The drill with this feature is that I bring a friend with me to see a movie and then we go have a drink somewhere and talk about it afterward.
Being the son of a film critic, Nic has seen a lot of movies, and he’s not quite 4 yet. He has an actual basis of comparison. And he’s not exactly a shy individual, so I figured he’d have a lot to say. But he wasn’t terribly fond of this sequel, which features the voices of Bill Hader and Anna Faris and includes a bunch of food-animal hybrid creatures like shrimpanzees and tacodiles. A half an hour in, he wanted to leave. An hour in, he started playing with the Gumby and Pokey toys he’d brought and singing that “I like to move it, move it” song from an animated movie he likes better, “Madagascar.” And toward the end, he actually turned to me, made a frowny face, threw his arms around my neck and got a little choked up.
Not napping might have been a factor — for both of us.
Nevertheless, I thought I’d try and go through with the whole process. We saw “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” at a packed Sunday afternoon showing at the AMC Century City, then sat down at the counter at The Counter for some cheeseburgers. Because all those gooey, menacing cheese spiders were making me hungry. Here is our totally incoherent conversation, which I recorded:
Me: So we’re going to talk into this and it’s going to hear us talking. So what did you think of the movie? Tell me again what made you sad …?
Nic: Um … um … when the baby started to cry.
Me: The baby marshmallows? Why did they make you sad?
Nic: Because they come there and they make me cry.
Me: But what about them made you sad?
Nic: I don’t know!
Me: Was it because they were hugging?
Me: So what did you think of the movie otherwise?
Nic: I want to drink my lemonade.
Me: Drink your lemonade. So, several times you said you wanted to go home. Why did you want to go home?
Nic: I want to have that (grabs for the digital recorder).
Me: Well let me hold onto that first, and then we can have my phone maybe later on. I’ve got a question for you: Why did you keep wanting to go home?
Nic: Because I didn’t want to watch the movie.
Me: How come? You were all excited about it. What didn’t you like about it? Was it too scary?
Me: What part was scary? You were laughing a lot — you were laughing at the cute, little strawberry who was talking. You liked her, right?
Nic: (Nods while he sips on his lemonade.)
Me: What did you like about the strawberry? Was she funny, was she cute?
Me: So of all the movies we’ve seen together, which is your favorite?
Nic: “Despicable Me 2.”
Me: And why is that your favorite still?
Nic: Because I don’t like the purple minions.
Me: Because you DON’T like the purple minions? You’re a tough interview, dude. You’re very evasive — bobbing and weaving. So was this better than “The Smurfs 2”?
Me: ‘Cause that was horrible — you hated that.
Me: Why was this better? Did you like the tacodiles?
Me: Why is that?
Nic: Because they bit everyone.
Me: And what about the cheese spiders?
Nic: I think they were trying to walk to them and then ran away, so I don’t like the cheese spiders.
Me: OK. Well, who do you like in the movie?
Nic: I like Sam.
Me: You like Sam, the weather anchor? Why do you like her?
Nic: Because … um … what’s the white one’s name?
Me: The guy in the white lab coat? Flint?
Nic: Sam was trying to touch the spider and then they chased them.
Me: And then they chased them. But why do you like Sam, is she pretty?
Nic: Mm-hmm (sipping on his lemonade).
Me: Did you like Barb, the ape? What did you like about her? You’re shrugging your shoulders and you’re grunting?
Nic: Phone! Phone!
Me: You want my phone now? Is there anything else that you want to say about this movie?
Me: So, in conclusion, you did not like it?
Nic: I want to play with your phone now.
Me: All right. What game are you going to play?
Nic: Bad Piggies.
Me: Is that more fun than talking to Mommy?
Me: All right, we’re done.