Jul 6, 2007
"Transformed" into a Kid Again
On Monday night, July 2, I went to see a sneak preview screening of the movie Transformers. You can read my review on the Maycock Media Mix blog. It was a fantastic experience, not just because it was an exciting thrill-ride of a movie but because of all the memories it brought back. My brother Vince and my cousin William and I were all huge Transformers fans when we were kids. We watched the TV cartoon faithfully, knew the theme song by heart, and collected as many of the toys as our meager budgets and parental permission (eventually my mom banned the purchase of the Decepticons--the bad guys in the series) would allow. Eventually, of course we grew out of our fascination with Transformers as new interests (like girls) took hold. I guess the show soldiered on in one form or another (though when they killed Optimus Prime--the heroic leader of the Autobots--in the 1986 cartoon movie and reconstituted him as Rodimus Prime, that pretty much squelched any remaining interest I might have had). Our toys disappeared into boxes stowed in attics or basements and we moved on.
So when I heard this movie was coming out, I knew that seeing it would be a pilgrimage of sorts. My cousin William (who was probably the most rabid collector) flew up to Colorado to see the film with his older brother. But Vince and I, along with my friend Greg, Babs, sister Dawn, cousin Yvette, Dawn's boyfriend Jim and a slew of his friend made the journey to the Universal Studios cineplex to catch an early screening of the movie.
Far more rewarding than the movie itself (which is actually pretty good as shallow summer action flicks go--heck, my wife who almost refused to go see it and couldn't tell Megatron from Ironhide actually enjoyed it), was the feeling--not of remembering--but of actually being a kid again. Seeing it with old friends and my little brother (who at 31 isn't so liittle anymore), hearing the familiar voice of Optimus Prime, I really, honestly felt like a kid again, immune to the cheesy dialogue, thin plot, and poor acting and just awed by those cars turning into robots.
I only remember feeling that one other time in my adult life--and again it had to do with Transformers.
Two years ago, when William's mom (my aunt) passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer, William and I spent the long afternoon the day after the viewing and the day before the memorial service hanging out at his home and talking. Eventually the talked turned to childhood and Transformers, and we ended up digging out all of his old toys, stored each in their original boxes in his attic. We debated the merits of the various characters, checked their values on the e-bay, and generally felt like kids again. Perhaps it was our way of beginning to come to terms with our grief, an attempt of sorts to go back. Manipulating those plastic and metal (yes, children, in the old days many Transformers had metal parts, not the cheap plastic versions of today that come apart with the even the most basic boyish manhandling) toys, turning them into cars and planes and back again, we too were transformed. For a little awhile on that sad afternoon, we were boys again.
Optimus Prime,fearless leader of the Autobots, as he looked in my youth (above), and as he's been revamped to look for the film this year (below). For those of you who aren't fans and haven't seen the movie, see if you can guess what vehicle he turns into.