Thankfully, we got in line early enough to get in at all. The place was packed with cars, pickups, vans, and SUVs from all over the area. Surprisingly, this is a very well-kept facility. The thick grass lawn in front of the ticket booth and behind the screen is trimmed, along with long rows of green bushes. Just under the screen sits a beautifully nostalgic playground, just like the quintessential drive-ins of a bygone era. Even the restrooms and snack bar are gloriously stereotypical.
Everything I hoped for between movies was there. The dancing hotdog bun coaxing the frankfurter was just as I remembered from decades earlier, along with the announcement every minute telling patrons how many minutes remained before the second feature.
I knew I would have to pay closer attention to the Pixar picture, Inside Out, so I gave in to turning on our own radio and watching through the dirty windshield. This was a very cerebral movie (no pun intended). I'm sure younger children could enjoy the action and the silly parts, but this movie has a great deal of psychology and abstract representations as well - or rather it gives a physical look to what is actually quite abstract.
OK, so these movies weren't in 3D, but I think 3D is overrated anyway.
So what if you had to listen to the cicadas in the trees along with the soundtrack.
Who cares if other viewers are talking a little too loudly or if a liftgate is cutting an inch off the bottom of the screen?
I am impressed with the safety we felt. Sheriff's deputies patrolled on foot, and children roamed freely, yet politely, among the cars. I'm not ready to permit my own children to walk barefooted through the pea gravel among hundreds of strangers, but the low expectation of nefariousness is somehow refreshing.
One kid fell asleep, but the other got to have the experience of watching a movie on the big outdoor screen with none of the thuggish behaviors that kept us away from the drive-ins in the past. Most of these places are gone, and I figured it was an experience my children would never have, but with the family-friendly attitude of the Route 66 Drive-In outside of Carthage, Missouri, we will return. Since four of us paid less than $20 for two first-run movies, the price is right, as well.