Stars and Strollers is a program for parents to take their babies with them while they watch a movie. Cineplex arranges for a baby friendly environment with dimmed lights and lowered volume and plays a choice of 2 movies a week. Show times and movies vary depending on the theater.
We went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince today at Silvercity Riverport in Richmond. It was one of the closest theater to us that had the Stars and Strollers program. Harry Potter was playing the week of July 24-30 and at that theater, it was showing at 1PM on Thursday. It was a movie we didn't mind seeing and we had to use our Cineplex admit one vouchers before they expired at the end of the month. Yeah, we just had to wait until the last minute again! Jean-Louis took one of his vacation days and we went to see the movie.
The movie itself was alright. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you would probably enjoy it. If you are familiar with Harry Potter, you are also aware that the movie contain scenes that could be frightening for small children. For this reason, I didn't really think it was an appropriate film to bring Tristan to. But we had to use the tickets we had and I wanted to experience "Stars and Stroller."
So our experience went something like this. Good, ok, bad, embarrassing bad, ok, good. We arrived a little late since we ran out of gas and had to take a detour to fill up. We weren't the only ones late - big surprise. As we approached the room, we saw a change table with diapers, wipes, and creams all laid out outside. Aww, how nice. There were also about a dozen strollers parked outside too. Hmmm. Don't think I would trust leaving my Bugaboo stroller outside unsupervised. In fact, we noticed some people actually pushed their strollers into the room.
So, the first mistake we made was to sit where we always sit when we go to a movie: smack center. When we sat down, everything was rosy. Tristan was curious staring at the big screen. The preview trailers were playing and I noticed right away that the sound was loud. If they lowered the volume, it wasn't by much at all! The other thing we noticed was that the room was very dark still. I brought solid food for Tristan, thinking the room would be a bit brighter. It wasn't as dark as a normal theater because I noticed the lights along the walls were still on. Jean-Louis disagrees and believes there was no change in the lighting.
When the loud noises came from the trailers, Tristan was scared. You know it was the noise since other babies around you were starting to scream and cry at the same time. They played the trailer for Sherlock Holmes. Again, not baby friendly. I tried to shield Tristan's ear. 10 minutes after sitting down, we actually had to use the pacifier on him. It helped but then he wouldn't let go of it and started to play with it. Then it fell on the dirty floor and we couldn't just give it back to him. We decided to feed him his milk from a bottle. I had defrosted some breastmilk for him the night before. That went well but then when the milk was gone, he started to fuss again. When we gave him a toy, he would throw it on the floor, one by one. Tristan has always been a "toy dropper!" I soon realized there is no way you can remain clean in such a public place. I was scared to give him anymore toys after that since he loves to drop and throw things. I had a nasty vision of him chucking a toy at the people sitting below us. I know the theater was filled with mostly parents and babies but you can only be so forgiving, right?
The embarrassing bad moment took place maybe 30 or 45 minutes into the movie. The pacifier didn't work and he was just throwing a fit. And he was the only baby this time throwing a fit so he was loud and clear. Finally, Jean-Louis got up with Tristan and left. Sitting in the center only made us stand out like an even sorer thumb. The two of them ended up hanging out in the hall of the theater and watched the movie there. Jean-Louis said people were laughing at him but I wasn't there. I was still sitting in my seat. After awhile, I left too. We both watched from the side for awhile and then took seats at the very front row where there was no one around. Yeah, the view sucked big time but at least we had some privacy. We sat at the very end of the row this time and it was brighter near the front too. I fed Tristan some solid food. When he started to fuss again, we headed back to the side of the theater. There were 4 or 5 other parents there with their babies too. So, we were not alone :)
Things were already better since we moved to the very front of the theater. I rocked him to sleep on the side and then sat back down in my seat. He sleep for maybe 30 minutes and things were great. When he woke up, the movie was done. Hooray! Now, don't ask me too much about what the movie was about. I was only focused on Tristan and caught bits and pieces of the movie.
To sum up, it was an interesting experience. Babies all around were crying on and off but it wasn't too disturbing and knowing this, we were more relaxed about bringing Tristan along. I think it really helped just knowing this. Would we do it again? Maybe with a very small infant since they sleep well through almost anything. If we had a well behaved baby that was older, maybe we would too but I would only go see an animation or comedy. Tristan is normally well behaved but has been a pain in the butt this week because of the very hot weather and he's lacking so much sleep. Sleep makes such a HUGE difference in his mood.