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The other day we were doing one of our numerous trips to our local IGA for something stupid because we are constantly unprepared shoppers (“Honey, get your shoes on! We’re going for a walk to get a tomato!”), when the Rocket said out of nowhere, “I want to go to big movie. Big TV. Mummy had a drink. And the dog!”

This, for anyone not there at the time, was a recollection of when we took her to the flicks early this year to see Mr Peabody and Sherman, and she became fixated on my enormous cup of cola and was generally annoying. We’d put off seeing anything with her since then because no one wants to spend sixty dollars chasing a child around a dark room when you can do that for free at 3am if you want the experience, but because she’d suggested it, I thought maybe it was time to give it another go. I’m putting that mildly; what actually happened was Teach came home from work and I shouted in his face, “THE ROCKET WANTS TO GO TO A MOVIE AGAIN CAN WE GO NOW, HUH? HUH?”

Anyway school holidays are now upon us so we ended up going on Monday morning, at ten past ten, to perpetually quiet Forest Hill, and saw House of Magic. Most people I’ve told about this have stared at me blankly, because this movie’s had virtually no advertising. It’s a grim holidays for movies this spring, either way. There’s the Boxtrolls, which looked fun but the Rocket declared “too scary”, or Planes: Fire and Rescue, which is getting terrible reviews and looks like complete nonsense (and this is coming from someone who saw Cars 2 twice.) House of Magic was about a cat, and the Rocket loves cats, so off we took her.

There were maybe ten other people in the cinema, and she wasn’t even the only scrappy toddler, so I didn’t feel too guilty. And for the first half of the movie, she was great, squashed up next to her dad, watching intently. Thunder, the cat of the movie, is ditched by his family and seeks shelter in a creepy old mansion. Turns out this house is owned by Lawrence, a grey-haired magician who is also kept company by a crotchety old rabbit, a codependent mouse and an array of robots and dolls who come to life, because the house is magic or Lawrence is or something, who knows. Anyway the rabbit doesn’t want the cat to stay around for reasons that are never fully explored, and Lawrence is threatened by his dickhead nephew Daniel who wants to kick his uncle out for reasons that are never fully explored beyond “greed”. Chaos ensues, etc. It’s no Pixar film, but there are some kickass moments, especially when the camera is from the cat’s point of view, or darts around in tiny spaces. The fx are good enough, the plot didn’t make me yawn too much, and I still think it’s probably better than Planes. As for Rocket’s opinion, about halfway through she got bored, kept trying to leave, and then when we hissed at her to stay on her seat she crawled onto our laps and then tried to eat our noses. She also said, “Where’s the remote?” and, “I’m done.” But on the upside, she didn’t squeal, or run up to other people; it could’ve been worse, but I don’t think we’ll try again until next year. Next time a good children’s movie comes out (Big Hero 6, I’m looking at you) I’ll do the grown-up thing and go without one of those pesky kids.

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So before our favourite thing to do was feed the Rocket lemons to watch her expression*, we would spend virtually all of our time at the movies. Sometimes we’d go to see something new, and realise we’d seen everything that was out. Basically, unless it was a musical or a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl**, we saw it. Then we had a baby and it turns out she is totally unwilling to sit during a movie and whisper “Hey it’s that person from that other movie we saw yesterday!” “Oh yeah, and the tv show with the laugh track.” “I know right!”, so we stopped seeing movies for a while. VERY SAD.

After a while, we discovered a couple of ways to return to our beloved pastime.

One: get the Rocket babysat. But really, then we have to PLAN and I have to do things like express milk, which is the thing I do that most makes me feel like I’m a cow, and an unsexy cow to boot, so we don’t really do that a lot.

Two: Mums and Bubs sessions. Which I do go to, but I hate the word “Bubs”; I think I might be allergic to it because it brings me out in a sulk.

Three: The drive-in. We’ve done this once, and it was half successful. We’ll try doing it again these holidays, and I’ll let you know if we get the knack.

Four (and the best): go to Hoyts Victoria Gardens. Because in two of their very nice cinemas, they have these things called crying rooms. They are glassed-off, soundproof rooms, seven seats in each, and you can take your kid in there and they can scream and yell and no one can hear you, but you can see new releases and pretend you’re a normal person again. Every time we’ve gone we’ve been the only people in there (so while I recommend this heartily, please don’t, you know, go when I want to) and it’s been wonderful. The sound’s a bit poor as it’s piped in through a single speaker, but who really cares? The lights are turned off altogether (otherwise the reflection on the glass would make it tricky to see the movie), and to buy tickets you have to go there in person and request your tickets, but it’s a blast. We’ve gone a couple of times now, and last week we saw Ruby Sparks (which I’ve reviewed properly here), and it’s just the best. I can’t throw enough love at Hoyts for doing this, and within a twenty minute drive from my house too.

So I recommend: go early to get your tickets, though at least no one will ever want to fight you for your seat; take toys, especially ones that light up; remember that it’s still kinda gross so have a plan if your dummies/toys/what have you get cast dramatically upon the floor at the exciting parts; if you go to a late night session, the baby will probably get bored and fall asleep. The most annoying part is figuring out what’s showing there; you’ll have to go on their website and check the seating for each film separately. You’ll see the little bunch of seats in the corner that are never open for sale–hurrah! it’s a crying room sesssion! But seriously DO IT. So fun.

****

Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Cnr Burnley and Victoria Streets

Richmond

9425 4444 (though fair warning, they have never answered when I called, though they did call back the one time I left a message.)

There’s a lift up to the cinema, but I haven’t used it; there’s a nice parents room just underneath in the food court, and if you’re there during opening hours, IKEA probably has an amazing one.

Be warned: there is an IKEA in Victoria Gardens so remember if you want to park there on the weekend, you will probably rage-park on top of a smaller, weaker car after half an hour. There’s a tram stop right outside, however.

*Haha I haven’t done this.***

**I’m sure she is very nice, but no thank you.

***YET.

****No, I didn’t let her eat the popcorn. I made her pose with it, then once she’d smiled and put it to her mouth I stole it back from her and ate it, then the rest of the bucket. NO REGRETS.

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