Tag Archives: movie theaters

How to succeed at Hogwarts

Lizabeth was thrilled to see Daniel Radcliffe perform in “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying” on Broadway during her last trip to NYC. But long before his stage work, which also included the play “Equus,” Radcliffe was working the wizardry angle as “Harry Potter” in a series of films inspired by J.K. Rowling’s books.

When Harkins Theatres put a special package of tickets for their upcoming “Harry Potter Week” at Tempe Marketplace on sale, those puppies went in a hurry. Something tells me that “Harry Potter Week” is about to become the Valley’s version of Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” — meaning tickets for those who wait will be hard to come by.

Thankfully, Harkins Theatres has since opened up more seats and added additional locations, something that won’t be possible on Broadway until elders Price and Cunningham agree to cloning — which isn’t likely given the rigors of performing eight live shows a week.

The “Harry Potter Week” package — which covers designated films from Mon, July 11 to Thurs, July 14 — is available (while supplies last) at Tempe Marketplace, Scottsdale 101 and Arrowhead 18 Harkins Theatres. It runs just $40 and includes tickets to all eight “Harry Potter” films.

Check the Harkins Theatres website for a list of additional benefits. Think free popcorn/drinks. “Harry Potter” swag. And early entry to the midnight premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” Be sure and read the fine print online because the brevity of blogging prevents me from sharing every detail.

For those of you who find a full week of “Harry Potter” just too thrilling to imagine, there’s another option — a “Double Dose of Harry Potter” package that runs just $18. It includes tickets to a 9pm showing of “Deathly Hallows” part one and the midnight premiere of “Deathly Hallows” part two (in 3D!).

The “Double Dose of Deathly Hallows” deal is available (while tickets last) at Arizona Mills, Arrowhead, Chandler Fashion, Gateway Pavilions, Norterra, San Tan Village, Scottsdale 101, Superstition Springs and Tempe Marketplace. Get your tickets at the box office or online at www.harkinstheatres.com.

For those of you eager to maximize this thrilling moment in movie-going history, Harkins Theatres presents “Arizona’s Ultimate Harry Potter Line-up Party” at Tempe Marketplace from 10am to midnight on Thurs, July 14. Think costumes, trivia contests, random drawings, freebie 2011 Harkins loyalty cups for the first 100 in line and more. (Please think water and sunscreen too.)

I’m told prizes for the random drawings include “Harry Potter” swag, Harkins Theatres movie tickets (also 2011 loyalty cups), gift cards, merchandise from participating Tempe Marketplace retailers and more. If you don’t see me there in line with you, there’s a simple explanation.

I’m traveling to New York with Lizabeth later this month, and it’s entirely possible that I’ll be living in “The Book of Mormon” ticket raffle line until my name gets called. Where is Harry Potter’s wand when a girl really needs it?

— Lynn

Coming up: “Stage Mom” posts from the Big Apple!


Comicon tales

A few of Lizabeth's fun finds from Friday night at Phoenix Comicon 2011

It was “show and tell” at our house this morning — something my daughter, now 17, hasn’t done since circle time during kindergarten at Desert View Learning Center in Phoenix.

She awoke eager to show me her first day’s haul from Phoenix Comicon, taking place this weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center, which is billed as “the signature pop culture event of the Southwest.”

Autographed photos. Freebie like luggage tags and treat bags featuring faces of fan favorites. Posters to line the walls of her college dorm in NYC this fall — including one from a movie called “The Roommate” that’ll hardly make a glowing first impression.

We got our first taste of Phoenix Comicon 2011 while lunching at Majerle’s Sports Grill, across the street from the stage door at Symphony Hall, which we first discovered when Lizabeth performed the role of “party girl” in the Ballet Arizona production of “The Nutcracker.” The streets were dotted with folks wearing superhero T-shirts and other pop culture fare.

James was struck, while picking Lizabeth up after the event Friday night, by the blend of people intermingled in the streets — those finely dressed for an evening graduation ceremony, those donning patriotic garb for the Phoenix Symphony’s “Boogie Woogie Pops” concert and those whose tastes trend more towards Marvel’s “Green Goblin.” The city, like our three children, is growing up all around us.

Having a mom who blogs is a mixed bag. My kids know to offer a disclaimer for arts-related conversations that aren’t meant for public consumption. But sometimes they enjoy the opportunity blogging brings to spotlight the good things we discover during our daily travels.

Lizabeth was particularly animated while describing finger puppets she’d seen at one of the exhibitor booths at this year’s Phoenix Comicon. Finger puppets of cute, furry animals aren’t hard to come by. But “bacon” finger puppets — and even “finger” finger puppets — have a different sort of magic altogether.

Lizabeth took special care to snag a business card for Stacey Rebecca Gordon, proud puppet crafter and performer whose business is dubbed “Puppet Pie.” I was delighted to discover that Gordon — who describes herself as improviser, mom and wife — has a charming, cheeky blog complete with photos of her works.

One of Lizabeth's favorite actors is working to create a culture of literacy

Lizabeth was equally smitten with the “Kids Need to Read” booth. “Kids Need to Read” is a non-profit organization based in Mesa that enourages literacy, promotes social responsibility, fosters leadership and inspires imaginations. Canadian-born Nathan Fillion, one of Lizabeth’s favorite actors, is a co-founder of “Kids Need to Read.”

“I felt like such a geek,” Lizabeth told me during one of her many Comicon tales. I expected her to follow with a story of being the only person at the Convention Center sporting regular street clothes (if that’s what you call a purple “I’m Not Dead Yet” T-shirt from the musical “Monty Pyton’s Spamalot“).

But she was referring to gushing over someone she met at Comicon. Not a celebrity or actor protraying a super-hero, but a real super-hero — a librarian. Lizabeth shared with the librarian how much trips to our local libraries, still a favorite pastime for James and the girls, have meant to her through the years.

Libraries make the world feel bigger and more intimate at the same time, and no child should ever have to do without them. Lizabeth mentioned to the librarian she met at Comicon the fact that librarians she met as a child were always so nice, friendly and helpful.

Lizabeth shared that the librarian seemed genuinely touched by her words. Perhaps she, like many others, feels unappreciated or doesn’t receive nearly the recognition she deserves. It can’t help that so many libraries and other keepers and creators of culture are taking a hit during budget battles that strip pounds while trying to save pennies.

Tonight’s Phoenix Comicon events include the “Kids Need to Read Geek Prom,” sponsored by Bookman’s — with all proceeds benefiting “Kids Need to Read.”

Comicon also includes a film festival — with films sporting titles like “Laptop’s Revenge,” ” Paint-B-Que” and “Peace, Love & Tacos” (plus others with a more offensive vibe). But it’s Lizabeth’s flyer for a 2010 independent film titled “Beautiful Boy” that looks most intriguing. The movie hits Valley theaters in June.

As James headed out this morning to drive Lizabeth to downtown Phoenix for more Phoenix Comicon adventures, I commented that Lizabeth seems to be having the time of her life. He readily agreed, adding an insight of his own…

“She’s with her people.”

— Lynn

Note: Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix is home to the “Arizona Pop Culture Experience.”

Coming up: From Sondheim to South Park, Father’s Day meets JFK

“Rango” meets “Beastly”

Recently I spent a morning at the movie theater with two of my children — Christopher (21) and Lizabeth (17). It’s a quick fix for days we’re feeling a bit restless but don’t have the time or energy for something more elaborate.

Lizabeth decided to see “Beastly,” a PG-13 flick that’s billed as a modern-day twist on “Beauty and the Beast” in which the beast is an outcast teen bearing all sorts of tattoos.

She was pleasantly surpised to learn that the cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, a favorite stage and television actor. Other cast members young movie-goers will likely recognize include Vanessa Hudgens and Mary-Kate Olsen.

The message of the movie is clear: It’s what you think of yourself, not what others think of you, that really matters. Lizabeth noted that this was voiced just once, during a pivotal part in the story. She appreciated the fact that the movie’s message is delivered with subtlety. No need to hit teens over the head with it.

Though our movies started at nearly the same time, Lizabeth ended up waiting a good 30 minutes for Christopher and I to finish up with “Rango.” It could have been at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, shorter without losing anything of real value.

“Rango” opens with the central character, a lizard (voiced by Johnny Depp), questioning his own identity — but the closer he gets to finding it, the farther the movie strays from having a clear identity of its own.

Some parts seem too scary for the little ones. Does the big, bad “Jake the Rattlesnake” really need a machine gun where a rattle would suffice? Does he have to use it so often and with such delight?

True, the piece is set in the “Wild, Wild West” — but are all those guns (handled in some seriously unsafe ways) really necessary? I’d have been content with other cowboy references — like the  many creatures who walk with bowed-legs from too much time spent on horseback.

There’s some humor that might appeal to teens or adults still fascinated with body fluids. The laxative joke. The “number two” joke. The order by law enforcement to get urine samples and fetch a latte — taking care not to mix up the two.

Folks should know before they go that this is a morality tale about the scarcity of water in the desert, and the impact of that scarcity on individuals and communities. “Rango” becomes sheriff in a little town called “Dirt,” which has mysteriously lost its water supply.

Turns out the meanie banker has stolen the water because he knows something others have yet to comprehend — he who controls the water, controls the world. Near the end of the movie we learn that all the missing water has been running sprinklers and such for his lavish Las Vegas style city complete with golf courses galore.

“Rango” and his posse of misfits find the solution and save their town, but leave movie-goers feeling like they’ve just endured a redundant sermon rather than an entertaining big-screen story. The writer’s apparently no fan of developers or real estate types.

A few that I happen to remember — It’s the deeds that make the man; It’s not about you, it’s about them; No man can walk out on his own story; We each see what we need to see. All true, perhaps. But not what I’m looking for in a movie.

Theater folk might appreciate the many references to their craft. Early on one of the “Rango” characters says “acting is reacting.” Later the good guys try to distract the bad guys by putting on a “thespian performance.”

A bit of advice to younger critters goes something like this — “Stay in school, eat your veggies, and burn everything but Shakespeare.” When a wise old bird sees two critters fighting, you suspect he might be hosting the latest reality TV show. “Dysfunctional family/Need intervention.”

Not surprisingly, a grandmother and her preschool-age grandson left about halfway through. I’m not sure there’s that much material in this movie that kids will feel they can relate to.

There certainly isn’t enough to keep adults engaged unless their highest aspirations include downing a tub of popcorn awash in salt and butter. It’ll never make my bucket list.

Randomly throwing in concepts like “metaphor,” “paradigm shift” and “defense mechanism” didn’t help. No one who aspires to lie down on Johnny Depp’s couch is looking for therapy or philosophical stimulation.

After sharing our thoughts on the moves we’d seen, Lizabeth felt “Beastly” earned a solid “B.” Christopher and I both gave “Rango” a “C” — but we were feeling generous.

— Lynn

Note: Feel free to comment below if you’ve seen either film and want to briefly share your own impressions

Coming up: Poetry meets dance, More movie reviews, Roosevelt Row, “Poetry Out Loud” meets PBS, Naughty puppets

Lynn & Liz go “Luxe”

With a college-age son at home who’s 6’4 or more and still growing, I sometimes wish I could whip up dinner with the simple push of a button.

Seems it’s now possible to do just that — thanks to the Valley’s newest cinema, which sports several VIP auditoriums for patrons age 21 and older.

Every seat in the five “star class” auditoriums has a button for calling for food or beverage service. (And yup, adult beverages are on the menu.)

I first drove by the theater last weekend when I was up at the Scottsdale Pavilions for another reason, and have to admit I didn’t get the best vibe from the purple and orange exterior.

Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much the first time I walked inside. I love me some Phoenix Suns’ colors, but this wasn’t quite the tribute I’d have chosen.

Still, as soon as you enter UltraStar Cinemas’ Ultra Luxe Theater in Scottsdale, you know you’re in a very special sort of movie land.

Giving the exterior the Renaissance Venetian feel of the VIP auditorium where members of the press previewed “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” Monday night would give passersby a much better sense of the theater’s inner grandeur.

Snack bars feature glass and mirrors that make you feel you’re about to enjoy a martini rather than a movie. There’s a “box office” instead of a ticket window — though you can also order tickets online (and reserve particular seats).

There’s a birthday room with a glass window-front that’s much more appealing than your average fare. There’s even a giant orange megaphone inside — marked with the word “director” in big letters. I know plenty of kids who would totally go to town with that baby.

Pity I’ve already celebrated my 50th. Now I’ll have to find another excuse to get a group of friends together for a “Let’s get Luxe” shindig.

Put this puppy on your short list of possible venues next time you’re planning an office party, holiday gathering, family reunion, donor tribute or volunteer recognition event.

It’s way cool to sit in a “star class” auditorium and order from a menu that includes beverage options like Italian sodas, espresso drinks and beer.

“Sweet Shoppe” selections range from Red Vines to European chocolates. Even whole freakin’ pies! (And they’ll supply the forks!)

Food choices include pizza, paninis, edamame, salad and many more — even several varieties of popcorn, including kettle corn.

I hope they’ll consider a paint job so the venue’s exterior matches the interior’s cosmopolitan vibe. Of course, that would make it hard to add the other element I was almost hoping for — food service folks on roller skates.

— Lynn

Note: We also enjoyed the wide leather seats with firm support, and more legroom than we typically enjoy at local live theater venues. Click here to learn about these and other features — including seats with a motion feature, digital screens and a special sound system.

Coming up: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”