Friday, August 5, 2011

Worcester Movies on the Common II: "Back to the Future"

Well, it's taken me a whole week to finally write about this, but the second Movies on the Common show happened last week (July 28). The movie for this edition was "Back to the Future" (1985). I could use a time machine to go back a week and write this post in a little more timely manner, but...

This outdoor movie program is being put on by Worcester Film Works. The first show in June featured the film "Grease" (1978) (read about that show here: Movies on the Common 2011). There is still one more show to go at the end of August. That one will feature "Spaceballs" (1987). But, let's discuss show number two, shall we?

You can't go to the Worcester common and not check out the "Turtle Boy" statue!
The stage/screen set up behind City Hall

We all went to the show again (The Wife, the two Little Monsters and myself); and this time were joined by several other friends. It would seem that the word has spread about this outdoor movie series (as I had hoped it would), because there was a much larger crowd this time around. I thought the turnout for the first show was more than respectable, but the second one was even better.

The crowd grows as the sun sets

As an added bonus, they got the totally awesome 1980s cover band Flock of A**holes (you can figure it out) to play before the movie. It was a very nice evening and The Flock (as they're also known when children are present) put on an amazing set of classic 80s tunes that lasted a couple hours. Anyone who showed up just in time for the movie missed out on a chance to really get into an 1980s frame of mind before watching "Back to the Future". The Flock played tunes from all kinds of bands and artists like Prince, Billy Idol, Duran Duran and, yes, A Flock of Seagulls. They even played Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love"--which would of course be featured in "Back to the Future"! As the evening wore on and the crowd grew you could see the 80s-vintage people starting to shed the years and get up and dance to the music from their formative years. Heck, I felt so immersed in the 80s I wanted to walk across the street to Strawberries to pick up Huey Lewis' latest tape, or head over to the Worcester Galleria to pick up an Orange Julius!

The Flock rocks!

It occurred to me last year (the 25th anniversary of the release of "Back to the Future") that there is an interesting juxtaposition when watching the movie now. It came out in 1985, and that was the "present" setting of the film. Of course, 1985 was twenty-six years ago and now seems very much like the past. When Marty travels back 30 years to 1955 we have to deal with the fact that the "present" he leaves is practically that old to us. The scenes in the "present" seem like a period piece now. Adults who watched the movie when it came out could probably relate to the scenes from 1955 the same way that many of the viewers on the Worcester Common last week related to the 1985 scenes. Okay, I could talk about this stuff for hours, but let's get back to the show...

The Common "opened" at 6:00 and people started picking out their spots. Jen from Worcester radio station WXLO 104.5 introduced the band and gave out some prizes through The Flock's set. The Theatre Cafe and Sweet Sister's ice cream truck set up shop once again, selling food, beverages and frozen treats to anyone who brought along their appetite. The Little Monsters got ice cream of course, and later on I even splurged on a couple hot dogs from the Theatre Cafe.

Getting ice cream from the Sweet Sister ice cream truck

The Creature enjoying her ice cream
Hot dogs from the Theatre Cafe

The only real "disappointment" of the night was that it was announced that Finz, the mascot of the Worcester Sharks hockey team would make an appearance. Unfortunately he never showed up. The Little Monster brought along her stuffed Finz and was a bit let down by his absence. With this only being the second show, the series is still in its infancy. They still have one more show this season to try to work all the (admittedly minor) bugs out.

The Little Monster and her stuffed Finz doll

Speaking of bugs, the Worcester Film Works table had a popcorn machine at the first show that they were expecting to use to make and sell popcorn to the movie-going patrons. Unfortunately it malfunctioned and they had to buy a bunch of bags of Smartfood Popcorn to fill the machine with. I had figured they must have gotten the machine fixed for the second show. When I visited the table before the movie the machine was indeed operating, though the WFW people were a bit concerned that it wasn't popping the corn fast enough. Later on--during the movie--I took a look at the table and saw them selling bags of popcorn. Thinking that everything was running smoothly I went over to pick up bag. To my surprise I was greeted with a sign stating that the popcorn was Smartfood! Apparently the machine failed them again. This is beginning to become a bit of a tradition in itself. I have to admit that a little part of me hopes to go to the "Spaceballs" show next month and see the popcorn machine once again filled up with Smartfood! Of course I want everything to run the way it's supposed to, but it almost feels like this is the way it's supposed to go at this point...

The Worcester Film Works table...
...And the sign announcing the true identity of the popcorn later on.

After The Flock's set ended there was a bit of a delay while their equipment was removed and the screen was lowered. Because of the concert there wasn't as much of a chance to have the projector all set up and ready to go beforehand as they had last month. But once it got dark enough the movie did start up. There's not really much to say about "Back to the Future". If you haven't seen it then you SHOULD. If you have seen it then you know what it was like. The Wife and The Tiny Creature left before the feature presentation, but The Little Monster and I stayed right until the end. It was her first time seeing "Back to the Future" and if course I loved the experience of seeing it through her eyes. The highlight was probably when she came up to me during one of the time travel scenes and asked me with a solemn voice--"Daddy, did this actually happen?". I just love that kind of stuff! It's funny to discover how tough it actually is to try and explain the film to someone from a generation or two removed from 1985. Another great moment from the night was when the scenes with the clock tower in it played on the screen...just below Worcester City Hall's very own clock tower (There's a bit of that interesting juxtaposition toward the end of the video below)! All in all, it was definitely worth keeping The Little Monster up nearly three hours after her normal bedtime to see the whole movie. As we headed back to the car around 10:45 on a cool summer night I saw in The Little Monster that familiar ultra-tired state that I remember experiencing as a kid after a long night at the drive-in.

The screen is lowered into place after the band finishes up
Marty rocks out!
Doc Brown informs Marty that they have to go "back to the future"!

As I mentioned, this was only the second of three shows for Movies on the Common. They've done an excellent job so far, and I'd definitely recommend trying to make it out for "Spaceballs" at the end of the month (August 25) if you can. They have one more chance to work out any little bugs that might still be lurking around in the series and fine-tune it a bit further. I can only hope that the success of the series will mean that it will return for a second year in 2012! Otherwise I'll just have to jump into the Delorean time machine next year and head back to 2011 to experience it all over again...

Here's some video from the night. It's heavy on The Flock's set, and the short amount of "Back to the Future" highlights didn't really come out very good. Still, it gives a bit of a look at what the show looked and sounded like for anyone who couldn't be there.

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