If I haven’t explicitly said it, I think it should be clear that the one thing I’m missing most in this lockdown is going to the movies. That shouldn’t be hard to get. And I’ve posted about how I miss Disneyland. That one comes in waves for me. I’ll be mostly okay with it (saving all that money sure helps) and then something will make me really wanna go there. Yesterday it was a little stretch of highway in the morning sun that make me wanna just keep going south. But also yesterday (as of writing) I started missing something I didn’t think I would: Universal Studios.
In four years living in LA, I’ve had a Universal pass for half of that time. I generally have mixed feelings about the park. Their rides are pretty cool, but there’s only a handful of them and they’ve always got long lines. You can do everything in the park in less than a day, and you’ll likely spend half that time in hour long lines. And most of their rides all follow the same basic format. You watch something on a screen while you’re jostling around. Just depends on what you’re jostling in. All as opposed to Disney, where there’s so much to do, if something’s got a long line you skip it and hit something else. Maybe next time, the line will be shorter. Either way, there’s always more options and there’s always something new. A busy day at Universal can get frustrating. If you’re not feeling like waiting in a super long line to ride the exact same thing for the millionth time, there’s really not many other options. And yet, I still started missing it yesterday.
Actually earlier in the week I’d been watching a movie that was clearly filmed on the backlot. I’ll save the details for a quickpost later, but in that case it made an already bad movie worse, recognizing the set I’ve driven by in a tram so many times on the studio tour. That same tram tour drives by another set I was watching yesterday: Whoville. Or at least it did drive by. Word on the street is they’re taking Whoville out because it hasn’t been well maintained (another +1 for Disney, who keep on top of such things). But anyways, the main route of the tram does take you past a couple of Who houses that look like they’re made of foam. If the tour guide cares to talk about such things, they’ll tell you that the majority of the film was shot instead of 4 of their biggest sound stages. Then the tour continues and the very next thing you see is my favorite part: the Bates Motel. Yes, Norman Bates and the Grinch are back to back neighbors. Kinda wild.
Now another +1 for Disney is that they really do up their holidays pretty big, not just decor but changing up rides and seasonal characters and different food. Besides stringing some Christmas lights on things, Universal doesn’t do all that much, but they do have one thing going: Grinchmas. The first year I went for Grinchmas, when you got to Whoville on the tour, some Who’s came out of the house and sang with The Grinch. That was gone by the time I went two years later. So really all it is at this point is the center part of the park, the one thing that gets switched out seasonally, is redone for the holiday. There’s a few photo ops, a bunch of random Who’s wandering around and interacting, and a chance to meet Max and The Grinch.
I met the Grinch the first time. Was an hour long line and totally worth it. The second time, I didn’t wanna wait and was kinda bummed at my lack of patience. I got him to take a picture with Marty Martian, whom he referred to as my weird husband, before throwing him over his shoulder to get rid of him. I don’t even think I took a picture with the Who myself (regretting that now). Character interactions at Universal aren’t as good as Disney, but this one is the exception that proves the rule.
Anyways, this is a blog about movies, not about theme parks. I watched Jim Carrey’s Grinch movie last night. I’d previously dismissed it because for me it doesn’t top the old Boris Karloff cartoon. It still doesn’t, but I do appreciate the Jim Carrey-ness of this interpretation. I think part of what throws me is how much filler is added in to make this feature length. The new animated Bennedict Cumberbatch one had the same problem. Sometimes you just can’t improve on something that’s already great.