My buddy Trent would give even the best nostalgist a run for their money. His interests seems to exist within a small window of time, maybe 1980-1985. Maybe 1978-1987 if I’m being generous. And I don’t blame him: movies, music, hell even quirky foodstuff was more enjoyable then (Ecto-Cooler, anyone?) So it was my hope that Trent would use his knowledge of the arcane to summon a Drive-In Double Feature of childhood favorites, and he did not disappoint.
Drive-in theaters, you may have heard, have become a dying breed. In their 1950s heyday, locations for seeing the latest film (and in a lot of cases, a pair of films) numbered in the tens of thousands, and accounted for one-third of theaters in the United States. Now, we are at about 350 across the country.
I was near one today, and that seemed somewhat remarkable to me. Now when I see a drive-in, I make a mental note of it and try whenever I can to make it there. It’s one of the few vestiges of pure Americana we have left.
So let’s say I pull up to one, and they are showing a double feature in honor of me (maybe I’m dying or I’m the president or something). I get to pick – which two movies would I want to see in the best setting for the viewing of movies that remains?
I looked at this question from dozens of angles and tried to avoid the following conclusion because since I was five or six years old, I have not been able to shut up about –
I’m leading off with what remains, 31 years later, as my favorite film of all time – Ghostbusters. I’ve seen it on televisions, computers, movie screens, tablets, phones, gaming systems, apartment walls. But to see it in the great outdoors at a drive-in movie theater with my fellow Americans? I would be so happy I’d be eligible to be busted before the theme song kicked in.
I cannot say enough good things about this film. The perfect cast, in their prime, with the perfect script working with possibly the greatest film comedian of all-time in Bill Murray.
It’s not only a great, and hilarious film, it is also a marvel to behold and its huge (and occasionally dated) effects lend themselves to a huge and occasionally dated setting. It’s a film to share in the hot and sweaty company of others, and it puts us halfway through the perfect summer night. So go take a whizz and buy another 6 dollar popcorn and settle in for –
To show you I’m a reasonable man, I cannot laud Teen Wolf the same way I did the previous film. But I don’t care. It’s an even better movie for an old-school drive-in setting than its predecessor, and it’s a fuckin’ hoot. Ever wonder what would happen if you pretended to surf on top of a moving van while your friend blasts “Surfin’ USA”? Nothing, dude. You’d be fine.
Fresh off of Back to the Future (my runner-up, by the way) Michael J. Fox makes you believe a teen could also be a wolf, and use that quirk to his or her advantage, suddenly excelling at basketball and becoming wildly popular.
Playing the son of a hardware store owner (and fellow wolfperson), Mike Fox crushes it as Scott Howard, a teenager who suddenly realizes an ability to become a wolf almost at will (though sometimes against it), and with the help of his enterprising best friend, Stiles Stilinski, capture the school’s attention and takes his basketball team to dizzying heights.
Typing that out loud it sounds a little crazy, but it is, and that’s the point of drive-ins. You go to escape, because making sense isn’t always fun. You go to be with other people, to let your imagination run wild, to immerse yourself in a world where things work out in the end.
Short of finding this perfect pairing at the drive-in, I will keep searching for the next best thing this summer at my local drive-in, in the dwindling moment where seeing a film outdoors from a car is still a thing that can happen on the planet Earth.
Trent spends most of his free time talking about old episodes of Saturday Night Live, reading Kurt Vonnegut, and hustling little kids at the local arcade with his Tommy-like Ms. Pac-Man skills.