By GABE MELINE
The Castro Theatre
Better than: Going to the Frozen singalong and not living to tell the tale, either from suicide or trampling by small children, both of which very nearly occurred.
I come to you a broken man. A man who, upon his first viewing of the Disney marketing behemoth-cum-pre-tween cultural juggernaut Frozen -- he says, spat out like the obscenity that it is -- kindly declared, "This is the worst pile of shit ever made."
Yet I come to you, also, as a man with a four-year-old daughter. A lovely daughter whom I have attempted in all valiance to shield from the Barbies and the Veggie Tales and the Pink Pretty Princess Industries Inc.™ of this world. A daughter that has broken through that shield time and again. A daughter that, bless her beautiful manipulating little heart, has behooved me to enter on my own volition a McDonalds -- A GODDAMN MCDONALD'S! -- and ask the cashier, "Do you have any Happy Meals with the Rainbow Dash My Little Pony figurine? It's the only one she doesn't have yet."
And so it was that I found myself joining in on The Day The Stupid Breeders Took Over The Castro, standing at the end of a long, long line of tiara-wearing children and frown-wearing parents that snaked around the corner of Twin Peaks and past the snickering, kilt-wearing furries inside Orphan Andy's. Hoping, in desperation, that I may be able to secure two treasured seats for the 'Frozen' sing-along.
Alas, I underestimated the popularity of the worst pile of shit ever made.
See that sign above? Now imagine that sign surrounded by a dozen or so crying children clutching to the legs of frazzled parents, personal flurries of despair over all of their inconsolable little hearts. This, indeed, was my predicament. "Honey," I intoned on bended knee, "I'm sorry. But there aren't any more tickets." She held back a sob. I began walking her back to the car -- past the parents working the line and offering literally $40 for one ticket -- promising her a gigantic ice cream sundae as a substitute.
My daughter has seen Frozen 36 times. She has the DVD/BluRay combo of Frozen. She has the Little Golden book of Frozen. She has the super-expensive deluxe triple-gatefold LP soundtrack of Frozen. She did not need to go to the Frozen singalong. And yet, halfway up the hill on Castro Street, the vision of a 'World's Greatest Dad' mug one day adorning my desk took hold. I pulled out my iPhone. Maybe there was hope. I hit StubHub. I hit TicketsNow. And then, on a lark, the Castro's own site. There they were: two miraculous face-value tickets, buyable, downloadable, and presentable as tiny 960x640-pixel PDFs to the doorman after a flushed, rushed run back to the Castro Theater. (Curse you, Disney gods, and bless you, Apple gods, I guess.)
The scene, inside, was utter mayhem.
You think you know things in this life, absolute truths like "Corollas are dependable automobiles," "Always wash the cheese grater immediately after using," "LCD Soundsystem never made a bad album," and then the Frozen soundtrack spends 13 weeks at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 and everything you know is wrong, buddy. You wake up one day and walk into a theater to see a costume parade of kids across the stage dressed as snowmen, ice-harvesters, reindeer, princesses, and so many Queen Elsas that the poor hapless presenter gives up announcing "It's Queen Elsa!" for the zillionth time and simply endeavors to sigh "adorable... adorable... adorable..." in a defeated, unconvincing tone. There are 100 more kids waiting in line to parade across the stage. Yours is one of them. This is your life.
Forty-five minutes of pre-screening hoopla later -- said endless costume parade; a quick rehearsal of "Let It Go" with the Castro organist; Rocky Horror-like instructions to blow bubbles during the snowstorm, pull the party-string popper at the end of the movie, "ooh" and "aah" at the first sight of Anna and Elsa, etc. -- the film rolls to a exhilarated cheer at the very first sight of the gleaming Disney logo. And then, like a religious mass, line-by-line recitations of dialogue from every row in the theater. It. Is. Insane. Kids today at age four have every single line to Frozen memorized the way you had every line of Operation Ivy's Energy memorized at age 15.
"The sky's awake, so I'm awake, so we have to plaaay!"
"I wanna stuff some chocolate in my faaaaccceeeemmenh..."
"Not you're awkward, but just 'cause, we're, I'm awkward. You're gorgeous. Wait. What?"
Complete with Mitch Miller-style bouncing snowflake, the lyrics to all the musical numbers come subtitled on the screen to jubilant squeaky-throated choral renditions of all the insta-kiddieclassics: "Let It Go," "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?," "The First Time In Forever," "I Want To Stab My Eye Out With A Pickaxe But I Love My Daughter, What Can I Do?" and more. Everyone hisses when Hans of the Southern Isles appears. Everyone cheers when Else erects her ice palace. Everyone goes utterly crazy with giddy shouting and laughter when Anna punches Hans into the fjord.
You know the rest, I'm sure, and if you don't, consider yourself lucky. Or, should you be a hopeless masochist, attempt this dangerous journey yourself: There is another 'Frozen' sing-along at the Castro Theater this Sunday, May 11, at 1 p.m. Tickets are available here, if you dare.
The Castro Experience: I've routinely seen people hiss at Sydney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon and guffaw at the line about the Mission being Skid Row in Vertigo at the participation-friendly Castro Theater. To see tiny children do the same to certain characters and lines of dialogue at the same venue is wonderfully bizarre.
Deprogramming Needed: Remember when I said I was a broken man? Yeah, so anyway, I've had "For The First Time In Forever" stuck in my head all day, and like that old Bay Area Genser-Lee Diamonds commercial jingle, it has been bludgeoned into my skull so frequently on a daily basis that I actually... sort of... like it now. Aaaagghhh!!!