The marketing campaign for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been unsubtle, over the top—and incredibly effective. I am massively psyched to see this new Star Wars movie, and there’s one specific thing that is making me as excited as when I was a 5-year-old boy in 1977: I get to go with my own 5-year-old boy, who has never seen a Star Wars movie on the big screen.
To be sure, I’ve been getting him ready. Last winter, when our Maplewood house was buried in snow and it was too cold out for sledding or snowballs, we sat down and watched the original Star Wars trilogy together. And then we watched it again.
(Note: Because I try to be a good parent, my son has never seen the trio of prequels. He doesn’t even know they exist. Yes, he’ll find out eventually, but those terrible, terrible films are not my problem, nor will I be the one to inflict them on him.)
My son was entranced and enraptured. Just like when I handed him his first comic book and he seemed to instantly understand how to extract information from it, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi seemed to have be pre-coded into him. Watching the movies was just the last step in releasing something that is already in a little boy with a burgeoning imagination.
Soon anything sword-like became a lightsaber. X-wing fighters were fashioned from Legos. We both dressed in Star Wars costumes for Halloween. And one day I walked into the living room to find him on the floor, extending his hand up to the ceiling fan and concentrating deeply. “Daddy,” he said, “I think I just used The Force a little.”
When the first trailer for The Force Awakens came out, we watched it together on the iPad. “Daddy,” he said when it was over, “can we watch it again?” Yes, we can and we will and we did.
So we are ready. I’ve reserved two seats for an opening-weekend matinee at the AMC Essex Green. He’s asked tons and tons of questions about The Force and Yoda and the Sith and Tatooine and Luke and the Emperor and Obi-Wan and Chewbacca and I have answered them all, in depth.
My son probably thinks he’s the most excited person in the house about going to see The Force Awakens. But while he’s been building up to this new movie for a year, I’ve effectively been getting ready since 1977. And he’ll only get to watch it through his own eyes, while I get to see it through mine, through his and through the eyes of the 5-year-old boy I always become whenever I see “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” up on a screen.