Zombie wannabees and how I missed seeing Brad Pitt

Penny, in her best 'real' zombie impression, gave us her review of the book.
Penny, in her best ‘real’ zombie impression, gave us her review of the book.

Spoiler Alert: or maybe not … This blog entry will deal in a roundabout way with the movie World War Z, and with what at least might be one or more significant plot points as interpreted by a 14 year-old. So, if that kind of thing cheeses you off, like it does my husband, and you plan on seeing the movie, you need to stop reading right now.

Mike wants me to include that statement because he’s been fussy about movie reviews ever since I wrote one about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for our college newspaper that he says totally spoiled the movie for him. I did remind him it was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. A movie with that title – any movie staring Keanu Reeves, really – isn’t going to lose any more points by my revealing the plot. And he wasn’t going to see it anyway.

For him it’s the principle of the thing.

Yesterday I pick Jack and his friend up from the movie, and of course I have to know whether it’s worth the money to see in a theater and if it is gory-scary or more disturbing-for-all-it-portends-for-humanity-scary. Jack tells me the zombies in the movie aren’t real zombies. When I remind him there aren’t any real zombies, ever, he explains that what he actually means is the zombies in this movie aren’t the driven-by-the-taste-of-living-human-flesh type of zombies, but just people overcome by a virus that compels them to spread zombie-ness to others by biting them, and that’s it. No flesh-eating, limb-rending, innards-spilling grossness, just mindless zombie wannabees chasing people down and biting them and making more zombie wannabees.

So they start telling me about the movie, and having these “oh, DUDE, remember that part where the guy did such and such? Remember THAT?” kind of moments.

“There was this guy, mom, and he’s the last remaining hope for humanity, and he’s carrying a gun, although he doesn’t know really how to use a gun, so his finger is always on the trigger, and he trips and blows his own head off.”

“JACK,” I say, “did you just ruin the movie for me?”

“No, mom, he was just a minor character, I’m just telling you a little bit,” he says.

“You said he’s the last remaining hope for humanity, but he’s just a minor character?”

“Well,” Jack says, “he’s one of a few last remaining hopes for humanity, actually.”

“Seriously, don’t blow the whole movie for me,” I say, “I want to see it.”

“You do?” Jack’s friend says to me, incredulous.

Yes, that’s right, I want to see the same goofy movie as my son and his friend, and I’ll probably have to wait for it to come out on DVD and then wait for the kids to go to bed at a reasonable hour because one of them is a little young yet to watch zombie movies, even if they aren’t REAL zombies that eat the flesh of living humans, but just the running around biting people kind. The other kid is bound to talk through the movie, pointing out moments I shouldn’t turn away from the screen because some minor character – who is also one of several last remaining hopes for humanity – is about to do something so shocking, I won’t want to miss it.

And then Mike will fall asleep twenty minutes into the movie, so we’ll end up watching it in several sittings, spaced out over the course of a week or ten days or so at times when we can actually sit down to watch a movie.

It occurs to me that I have somehow missed the sweet spot, at least where movies are concerned, where the boys are old enough to join Mike and me in doing some of the things we enjoy. When the kids were little, we went through a whole lot of time where it was necessary to introduce them to the stuff we love in bits and pieces.

We spent more than a couple years on the bunny hill, skiing five feet at a time, working on our turns and how to get back up when we fall. We’d get the boys up the mountain, wake them from their Dramamine-induced slumber, break a sweat getting them into all their gear, then strip them down again when somebody remembered he had to pee, then zip them back in again and head up the mountain for a total of forty minutes in a line, two minutes on a chair lift and twenty-seven seconds on the slope. Then it was time for hot chocolate, and an ‘I don’t want to ski anymore today mom,’ a little bit of lunch and back down the mountain.

Then we told them the lift operators had called and they needed the bunny hill for beginners only. So we graduated to the green runs, then the blue runs, then a couple of black diamond runs all in one winter. Now they ski with us out of politeness, and because if they lose us there’ll be no one to buy their lunch. What they really want to do is ditch us all together because I’m too slow to keep up.

Upside down and barefoot with a bunch of screamy-teens. © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons
Upside down and barefoot with a bunch of screamy-teens. © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

This same sort of thing has been happening every summer at the fair. We started out spending eons waiting at the bottom of the kiddy slide, or at the exit to the toddler train, waving at them every time they came around to our side of the fence. Once, it was my birthday, and as a present they waited patiently with their dad, staring up at me while while I rode the Fireball, spinning around and screaming all by myself with a bunch of barefooted adolescents. This year they’d probably be tall enough to ride the Fireball, but the line is too long, and it’s too hot, and when you figure it out, each of the seven coupons required costs a buck, so for all of us to ride this one ride for three minutes, it’ll cost roughly the same amount as it would to take the whole family to a two-hour movie. Minus the snacks.

And, now, apparently we’ve left behind the sweet spot wherein we could all enjoy the same movie together as well. Having graduated them both from Shrek to Star Trek, I am now relegated to the role of money dispenser and chauffeur, with the reward of haphazard summaries of plot lines peppered with copious and enthusiastic use of the word ‘dude’ on the ride home.

At least I know I’m only missing Brad Pitt, not real zombies.

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