Many of my favorite films are ones that, in my opinion, accurately depict what it is to be a kid. Films like Stand by Me, The Goonies, Super 8, Now & Then, Liberty Heights, E.T. and the Netflix show Stranger Things all capture that magic of childhood perfectly. Another one that also happens to be a perfect movie about the love of cinema is Matinee which is finally seeing its Blu-ray debut from Shout Factory.
Set during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Matinee tells the story of Gene Loomis (Simon Fenton), a regular kid living in a coastal town and dealing with the same stuff as every other kid: girls, parents, and trying to get into the movie theatre for the latest science fiction horror film. In this case the film is Mant!, a radiation monster movie from kitschy movie producer Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman). When Gene actually meets Woolsey as he arrives in town to set up the premiere, the two become friends as Gene learns about the ins and outs of the movie biz while also trying to woo a girl he likes, deal with tensions in town and the looming threat of war. Just another day in the life of a kid in the sixties.
Matinee is one of my all time favorite films and is practically the definition of feel-good. Director Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins, The ‘Burbs) expertly sets the time and place and makes it all feel incredibly authentic. Fenton is a wonderful lead with great on screen charm, the rest of the cast is filled with amazing kid actors as well as Goodman at his best, Cathy Moriarty, Kellie Martin, Robert Picardo, John Sayles and of course, Dick Miller. Matinee is a love letter to childhood and to movies and the combination of the two made it a home run for me.
The new Matinee Collector’s Edition from Shout Factory is massive and sure to wow fans (and soon to be fans) of the film with new interviews with Joe Dante and Cathy Moriarty, a making of the film within a film Mant!, four new interviews with cast and crew, a featurette with Joe Dante, some vintage featurettes and such and even the entire film Mant! with an introduction by Dante himself. Matinee is a treasure and one that deserves more recognition. Very highly recommended.