This is Me in ’83 – Movie Mix-Up
National Lampoon’s Vacation came out in July, 1983.
I’d heard about its hilarity – possibly from my parents – so when my friend Mike H. invited me to go see a weekend matinee showing (the school year had already started), I was excited – and a little nervous to ask my parents for permission to go see an R-rated movie. I was surprised at their immediate approval, but in retrospect, Vacation is pretty tame. Not PG-13 territory, for sure, but only brief nudity, and certainly no language I wasn’t hearing every day in junior high.
It was sunny on the Saturday that Mike and his mom picked me up, and we headed to the Belden Village Twin Cinemas.
I saw a lot of movies there growing up: E.T. and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century come to mind, and I feel like saw Star Wars at Belden Village at least once, maybe during one of its re-releases.
The “Twin Cinemas” may have once been a pair, but I remember the business as a quartet of theatres – two houses each in a pair of adjacent strip mall buildings. They don’t exist as theatres anymore – the buildings are now home to things like Panera, Cici’s Pizza, and dental offices. You wouldn’t be criticized for wondering how the hell they ever had movie theatres in there, and it was only when I was older that I realized how relatively small the theatres were.
So Mike’s mom drops us off at the theatre. It has become clear during the drive that she is not attending the movie with us, but up to this point, I was figuring she was going to come along and buy our tickets. Now, though, I’m wondering how the heck a couple 12-year-olds are going to get away with purchasing admission to an R movie, and I’m silently freaking out.
Mike and I get out of the car and start walking toward the building where Vacation is showing. Before we get inside, we hear his mom calling after us. She has pulled the car up to the curb and calls from the window, “Where are you guys going?”
“To see Vacation,” Mike answers kind of sheepishly – he’s failing at nonchalance – while gesturing at the theatre.
And then the light bulb goes on: Mike has either lied outright or played a little misdirection/obfuscation with his mom, who clearly has no idea she was aiding and abetting a couple of would-be R-rated movie-crashing pre-teens.
“That’s rated R,” she responds. “I thought you were going to see Eddie and the Cruisers.” And now she’s pointing to the building next door.
“Oh,” Mike responds. What choice did he have? “Yeah. OK.”
I had no idea what the heck Eddie and the Cruisers was, but I admit I felt a little relief that I wasn’t going to have to pretend to be 17 years old to see it.
Eddie and the Cruisers was released on Sept. 23, 1983. (Which means Vacation was still running after nearly two months – I think that was kind of ordinary for the era, although that kind of theatrical run seems unheard of now, unless you count dollar-cinema runs.)
I barely remember anything other than disinterest from that viewing, and the movie became a punchline to Mike and me.
I didn’t see Vacation until it hit cable.
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