Going to the movies has become less and less pleasant. Of course, the main offense is the entire paycheck + second mortgage + blood of your firstborn ticket price. Or the equivalently outrageous cost of a bag of popcorn or box of Jujubees. Then, of course, there’s your texting/talking/snoring/masturbating neighbors and the uncomfortable chairs. And we’ve gone from TV shows dumbed-down for the big screen to movies based on board games, with Battleship out and Monopoly coming down the pike. Seriously, there has to be a better way…
And there is! Spots with lower prices, better movies, relaxing surroundings and superior refreshments. Perhaps even cocktails. Of course, the traditional spot for this slightly elevated brand of moviegoing is the drive-in. The Las Vegas Drive-In (4150 W. Carey Ave., 646-3565) remains the go-to for retro signage and cheap flicks: Double features of current-run flicks are less than seven bucks, with about a dozen movies to choose from.
Another drive-in advantage? You can praise, disparage or go Mystery Science Theater 3000 throughout the movie and bother no one. Hell, you can even smoke. Don’t want to sit in the car? Sit on a blanket, on lawn chairs, on the hood, the roof. The snack bar has popcorn, soda and Milk Duds (as well as some old-school video games), but occasionally your appetites/adherence to a theme demands something different. A viewing of Machete required Roberto’s Taco Shop takeout. Dark Shadows is red wine and Rocky Horror Picture Show snark, whether chanting, “Kill the hippies!” or reciting, “Every year I get half as pretty and twice as drunk.” Just be sure you’ve got cups and a corkscrew on hand.
But perhaps you desire something more elegant. The Cosmopolitan (3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 698-7007) serves up another of its good ideas with a movie series on Monday nights at the Boulevard Pool. The film flickers on the enormous screen overlooking the Strip, and the entire pool area is open for lounging, drinking, playing pool and/or playing in the pool. Goldfinger opened the series — and how better to contemplate the adventures and amours of James Bond than reclining on a chaise in the middle of a plus-sized pool overlooking the Strip, martini glass in hand.
The Cosmopolitan creates a themed cocktail for each movie — Goldfinger inspired the Fort Knox, a straight-up blend of honey Stoli, Lillet, Bols Genever and orange bitters that comes on crisp and clear, but has an unexpectedly sweet finish, rather like Pussy Galore herself. There are also popcorn, hot dogs and sausages, as well as a $50 “picnic basket” with snacks and drinks. Even without any of the extras, moviegoing at the Cosmopolitan is still an only-in-Vegas experience. The series runs through September, and cinema selections range from the classic (Wizard of Oz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s) to the less so (My Best Friend’s Wedding? Really? What kind of vile, pink, mid-shelf concoction goes with that?)
If you’re a Strip-avoider, there are other options. The Downtown 3rd organization already sponsors a farmer’s market, chef events and other amusements. With a blocked-off block at its disposal, outdoor films seem an inevitable addition. It’s called Mugs & Movies (www.downtown3rd.com). It provides the movies, you bring the mug and somehow between you, the Mob Bar and a little cash, your mug gets filled. The screen is set up at Stewart Avenue and Third Street (there’s a scattering of tables and chairs, but if you want to be sure of seating, it’s best to bring your own). The scene is a bit more communal than some of the others, with conversation and commentary flowing easily between groups.
Downtown 3rd kicked it off with one of the great Vegas films, Casino, and there’s something delightful about watching Oscar Goodman’s giant head looming over downtown in his cameo moment. The most recent selection was The Hangover — and I’m not sure why Las Vegas residents would want to watch this film: It’s rather like asking cows to look at slaughterhouse footage or making people who were foreclosed upon watch Cribs. Apparently, that’s what either the public or Zappos chose, according to Facebook. However, if the movie’s not a fave, step into one of the nearby bars for a drink and a bit of air conditioning during the dull parts
Nontraditional movie screenings will be an even better place to hide once Adam Sandler’s Candy Land comes out. No joke: It’s real and it’s coming. So keep avoiding the theaters: You never know when the trailer might pop up. …