Ah, the double feature. I remember one evening back in 1989, pulling into a drive-in theater as a kid, snacking on a Kentucky Fried Chicken box meal while watching Turner and Hooch and Three Fugitives from the back of my family's 1964 Plymouth Belvedere station wagon. Few things thrilled a young Vidiot like knowing he would be allowed to not only spend three-plus hours in front of the equivalent of a giant TV, but that he'd also be eating junk food while doing it.
Fast-forward to Jan. 21, 2010, circa 6:30 p.m.
A text message is sent to Mrs. Vidiot's co-worker inquiring about the 12:01 a.m. opening night screening of Legion. No response. So a call is placed to a Vidiot pal instead, inviting him to the 7:25 p.m. showing of The Lovely Bones. He accepts. Minutes later, a response text arrives: "We're in for Legion!" Suddenly, it's double-feature night all over again.
Oddly enough, the two titles we opted to see were both lifted from my recent co-authored article on 2010 films of note. But would my pre-excitement toward them be justified?
In The Lovely Bones, director Peter Jackson's special effects and Stanley Tucci's creepitude (as the film's killer) were both wondrous, but I felt devoid of emotional connections to any of the characters, and left swearing it was far less poignant than my favorite interpretation of Heaven and the in-between What Dreams May Come. (Just to be sure, I re-viewed the DVD this week and my sentiments were confirmed.)
After a short stop at home, we were off again to Edwards 21 on Overland Road to see Legion: in short, God turning his back on Homo sapiens, sending angels to annihilate the race as one rogue angel, played by Paul Bettany (A Knight's Tale), descends to assist humanity. Better than The Lovely Bones? Yes. But not because it was action-packed; because it committed to its genre and because Bettany is amazing in virtually all his films. And, because if you're going to see one or the other in theaters, the safe bet is always picking the action movie over the drama, even if this one had a few thriller-type moments and a lot of CG.
The '80s are long gone. No more Plymouth, no hokey comedies, no fried chicken. In 2010, it's four movie stubs, two Coke Zeros, a box of SweeTarts--and a tab of more than $50. Morphed as it has, the double-feature night lives on. And somewhere in time, a 9-year-old Vidiot is grinning.