Today was The Boy's very first movie theater experience. I'm not sure about what age children tend to see their first movie in the theater. Has this age changed since home movies are easily accessible? In either direction--children may be more apt to sit through a film in the theater because they have sat through other movies at home. OR parents might take one look at their little charmers and decide that waiting until the movie comes out on video would be a smarter decision.
I'm going to try to make this entry as spoiler-free as possible. Of course, I already knew the basic plot of the movie because I read the story in the bookstore.
The movie was Toy Story 3, which we had been looking forward to seeing with The Boy since we saw the preview before watching Avatar. We figured that it would be a perfect first film for him, as he had recently become interested in the other Toy Story movies. He didn't care for the movies at first, but as soon as he got Pez dispensers with Woody and Buzz on them, he decided that their movie was worth watching. Same thing for Nemo.
The Boy enjoyed the theater lobby--video games to look at, air hockey (which we actually paid for, although The Boy decided that it was funny to put the puck in his goal multiple times, rendering the game shorter than it should have been), and wide open space, not to mention the GIANT painting of The Hulk. The theater was interesting to him, and the seats which he could barely hold down were amusing to him. Of course, the popcorn and candy were highlights of the afternoon.
The Pixar movies generally begin with a short cartoon, and this one was very cute. The Boy watched it and laughed in many appropriate places. We could see that he was very likely to sit and watch all or at least most of the movie.
We were also quite relieved that most of the other people there had small children; that way, they wouldn't get offended by The Boy's occasional running commentary: "Silly Buzz!" "Oh no! Where's Woody?"
He did alternate between sitting on the chair himself, sitting next to us, sitting on one of us, or standing near us. He tried to wander near the end, but he lacked conviction, so the notion didn't go anywhere.
Regarding the movie:
Like many other children's movies, this one had a plot that could be understood on the most basic level by, say, 6-year-olds. And by that I mean that a child that age would be able to recount many of the events in the movie and be able to talk a bit about the types of characters in the movie. However, the more meaningful aspects of the movie require the wisdom of years to understand. Likely a person at least as old as Andy, the boy in the movie, who is 17 and about to go off to college. The movie deals with issues of friendship, loyalty, and redemption, as you'd expect. It also deals with watching children grow up and learning to hold onto the past as only a memory instead of something that can be recreated in the present.
The movie had several jokes that related back to the other movies in the series and also had some little cookies in there for the grown-ups. Nothing "inappropriate" for kids, but just that they likely don't have a reference for jokes made about old movies or shows.
The toys in the movie seem to be adult figures. Except that, being toys, they don't age, and the only thing that happens to them is that they eventually wear out. From the moment they come out of the box until the moment they are thrown out or recycled, a toy possesses a certain intellectual capacity. Working with whatever laws govern toy behavior, they are forbidden to show the kids that they are alive and can see and hear them. Even so, these toys find a way to let their children know that they, as toys, are there when the children need them. It's a unique perspective, because the toys, as far as the children are concerned, don't have to learn about how to be better toys (contrary to what the toys who come to life would have us believe). The toys are subject to the children's notions of play.
As parents, however, we are always learning how to be better parents at the same time that our children are growing up and learning how to be people. Because you see, we as the parents have done a lot more learning. The children learn to be people for the first time; we have already learned to be people but must adjust to life as people with children.