As my 21 year old self sat in a movie theater in Harlem at 2pm on a Tuesday alternately sobbing and laughing, I realized my only other film-watching companions were between 6 and 10 years old (with parental accompaniment, of course). I guess that would make sense. It was, after all, a showing of Pixar’s Inside Out. I wish I could say that was just one instance, but how often I spend Friday nights reliving my childhood through the animated worlds of Pixar far outweigh the nights I spend going out and acting my age. It’s good to know I’m not alone though. I talk about the joys and sorrows of these colorful characters less with four year olds more with people working on their 401ks.
So what is the secret ingredient in Pixar’s recipe that tastes just as good to both little kids and big old adults? Some quick thinking can figure out what often makes up their team’s shopping list.
Story For The Child’s Heart
(Best digested by ages 1 – 101)
(1 tablespoon) Grumpy, curmudgeony character
(1 tablespoon) Goofy, light-hearted character
(1 cup) Use of of personifying non-human objects or beings
(Used liberally) Love – can be of any variety, but must be strong
(1 teaspoon) External Villain/Conflict
(4 tablespoons) Laughter
(½ teaspoon) Tears
(2-3 cups) Adventure
(Optional) Musical Numbers
(1 teaspoon) Easter eggs, inside jokes
Baking instructions after this can vary. Users of this recipe often prefer to preset with a short, wordless film to precede their feature length. This acts as an appetizer to fill the heart and whet the eyes, before anyone’s even moved on to the main course. It is important that no feature bakes for longer than two hours. You are not looking to bake a heavier, meatier course that younger tastebuds have yet to acquire taste or patience for.
Be very careful with how you add in tears. Pixar advises to sprinkling them in very gently, and to use a brand that only adult tongues can really taste. Younger people may be able to smell or sense that there are, in fact, tears to be had, but will hopefully not recognize the loss of innocence that tastes so bitter to older mouths.
Ask an adult what Finding Nemo is about. Stop them when they start to tell you it’s about a bunch of fish who go on an adventure and meet sharks and turtles and whales on the way. Ask them again. They’ll tell you it’s about a father trying to take care of his child in the face of overwhelming odds and loss. A younger person might tell you it’s about someone realizing a flaw they have is actually a gift—in more or less words about Nemo and his smaller fin. As a college student, don’t even get me STARTED on Monsters University.
Okay, so, why, might you ask, is ArtsEmerson going on about the magic of Pixar? Is there a showing of Ratatouille coming up in the Bright Screening Room? If only! But no, what we have coming up is something better and, it’s live theatre! This is the show I’ve been just as excited about as Finding Dory.
There aren’t any trailers before this feature, but The Wong Kids in The Secret of The Space Chupacabra GO! has all of the ingredients that are known to keep kids and parents totally in the moment for the entire show. There is adventure (both on our planet Earth, and other worlds entirely). There is laughter, musical numbers, grumps, goofs, villains, and a lot of love. Heck, I’ve already fallen head over heels for Violet and Bruce Wong, the two siblings with less-than-expected superpowers who save the universe! If I had kids, I would take them immediately to this show. Safe to say I’m pretty far from parenthood—but, like all of you, I do have my inner sense of wonder and childhood, and taking that out to a night at the theater means I won’t have to sit alone.
Because Bruce and Violet are going through what we’ve all gone through (sans some telekinetic abilities). They struggle to fit in, and to accept themselves for who they are. Sound familiar? Not all of us get the chance to rescue the galaxy from imminent destruction in order to realize that who we are is enough. But we all are enough and The Wong Kids are here to remind us of that through laughter, and some of the most lovably weird characters in the universe.
The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! runs FEB 19 – MAR 6 at The Paramount in downtown Boston.
Katie Grindeland is an undergrad student at Emerson College whose enthusiasm for all things is a total win for ArtsEmerson.