We‘re finally coming out of lockdown... I love going to the cinema I’ve missed it so much. It’s been such a long three months, however the cinemas here in Plymouth do not open until the end of July! I was growing Itchy needing that fix you can only get from the cinema. Alright we all love sitting at home On the sofa or lying in bed bingeing Netflix. Even dusting off old Blu-rays and DVD’s and having movie nights. But nothing compares to the experience of the cinema. The smell of stale popcorn, over priced pic-a-mix and drinks that are far to big for one person to consume in a day let alone 90 minutes.
So I was fortunate ”Open Air Cinemas Drive In”had come to Plymouth. I thought great i can get the fix and I’ve always loved the idea of a drive In. A staple in America over the years, we’ve all seen it featured in the movies like “Grease”. So I thought I’d treat myself and my Fiancé. So I looked at what they was showing. I choose Roger Michell’s 1999 classic “Notting hill”. Perfect date night movie right... THEN it came to booking it. Complete with booking charges it cost me £39.10! Yes almost £40 to watch a film That I had already seen before in my very own car!.. I reluctantly booked it. FORTY POUND date night was on! I was excited. I broke the news to my fiancé. She’s was excited! Fantastic I’m going to get my Cinema experience. Then, I had the thought if I’m sat in my own car, I’m bringing the puppy! Even better news.
So Sunday we were ready the three of us wrapped up warm and headed off to Home Park ( the home of Plymouth Argyle football club) we we’re all excited, not so sure the puppy knew what she was going to experience, to be honest neither did we. So we got there. We were told to queue up and put into car height order, I drive a Mini Cooper, a small car so I was sent to the front. This made me very happy, our view wouldn’t have been blocked at all. We were then told how it worked, they had allocated two spaces for us, one for the car and one for us to get out and watch the film from. We opted to stay in the car because that felt more in keeping with the theme of a drive in. Then we were told to Tune our car stereo into a particular station so we could heat the film, or if we choose to sit out side we would be given wireless headphones. As it was date night we chose for the car stereo so we could still talk to each other. As for food options we were given a leaflet with a QR code on it which if you haven’t use one open your camera on your phone and point it on the code and the website pops up on your phone. Very 21st century, I was hoping to see waiting staff on roller skates for the authentic Americana experience. But post COVID-19 maybe that wasn’t possible. the prices I felt were reasonable. We ordered two hotdogs which came to £6. £45.10 is the total so far for the first date night after lockdown.
So far so good. So the film starts, we lean back and watch as the bumbling Hugh Grant and the stunning Julia Roberts bring Richard Curtis script is life. Their chemistry is there for everyone to see. Hugh Grant plays William Thacker the most British person you could ever imagine. With his floppy hair and stiff upper lip but combined with the clumsy yet sophisticated approach. He‘s almost a precursor to our current Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Across from him is the iconic smile of a Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts who plays Hollywoods biggest actress Anna Scott. When Anna Scott walks into Thackers travel book shop, they almost have a moment that only exists in the movie world. Then as luck would have it, the literally bump into each over again. This time Thacker is carrying orange juice. Because this is a classic Rom-Com, It covers both of them. He then offers to go back to his place to get cleaned up. Which is were the plot thickens, now I don’t want to go into deep to this story because I’m sure you have all seen this film, if you haven’t please do.
Back to date night, were in the car with the puppy. About an hour in I’m starting to get a little fidgety. My cars not that comfy It turns out. But I’m loving the experience, the fiancé has a big grin on her face and the puppy is in the back snoring her head off. We’ve brought our own popcorn with us, which is going down a treat. I look out the window to see the other people. Some our wearing the headphones some in the cars. one car had even reversed into there spot sat in the boot with a duvet. They are clearly winning! Next time I’m doing that.
Rhys Ifans steals every scene he is in in this film. His character Spike, is the comedy relief for most of the film, whether it’s him choosing his Inappropriate T-shirt for his date, or posing for the press in his tiny grey briefs. His performance in this film rocketed his career and you can really see why. His wiry welsh frame constantly on show. The typical Rom-Com back and fourth in this film is really interesting and almost classy although a little predictable with Roberts style and beauty combined with Grants “British“ style, they are almost a contrast of each other Hollywood vs Notting Hill. Glitz and Glamour vs Shabby Chic.
The soundtrack for this film is brilliant, starting with the wonderful “She” by Elvis Costello For a timeless montage of Julia Roberts character Anna Scott. Showing in three minutes that she is a huge Hollywood player. This really does set the scene the tone perfectly for the film. Showing her beautifully iconic smile and how big of a star she really is. My absolute favourite scene in this film is the season changing scene. Where Hugh Grants character walks through Notting Hills famous markets as the season around him change. It’s a hugely powerful scene on its own, but with “ain’t no sunshine” by the Lighthouse family makes it a really powerful scene, a true classic scene which will be remembered all most as foundly as Julia Roberts asking Hugh Grant to love him.
Am I happy with my experience? It was surreal but nice. Very expensive for two people and a puppy. However I truly believe that this is night we will remember for along time to come. Yes it cost allot and yes I wasn’t that comfortable but the true powerful experience of the cinema was almost there. I loved it! My Fiancé loved it. It was a great treat. Notting Hill is a true classic which has aged well especially as it’s a 90s film. Which tend not to age well. I would like to see the prices come down, which would be one of the reasons there was only 26 cars there. I feel I get lucky with this showing with this countries climate. It didn’t rain. I’m sure if it did it wouldn’t be as good. Unless you were watching something like Jurassic Park.
I can’t wait for cinemas to reopen. But this is a very good makeshift way of seeing films. I would encourage everyone to go and see something at least once a t the Open Air Cinema Drive In. Would I go again? If somebody else paid yes.
Don’t forget to tune in to The Friday Film Show at 11:30am on Friday to hear more of my experience at the drive in.