A trip to the cinema – especially as a family – is a rare treat for us. It is mostly budget that restricts us, as we love watching films together, but for How To Train Your Dragon 2 we made an exception.
We saw the first HTTYD film just after our son was born and now, two and a half years later, it is easily our most-watched DVD, with everyone able to quote large tracts of dialogue and the toddler terrorist often plays games of make believe where he is Hiccup and our poor black cat is Toothless. It is not hard to imagine, therefore, how keen we were to see the new sequel and, even better, found that it was to be aired a week before general release at a cinema we had always wanted to visit.
The Regal Picturehouse in Henley-Upon-Thames is a traditional-feeling cinema. As you go in there’s a foyer with a wide curving staircase leading up to the bar and ticket desk. The smell of sweets and popcorn hangs in the air, and the whole place has a sense of event that is rather lacking in the large multiplexes. We had also hoped that the smaller screens and more intimate rooms would be less intimidating to the toddler terrorist who has only been to a couple of films before.
The seats were plush and comfortable, the 3D glasses provided were a mere 70p each (cheaper than some places) and came in terrorist-size – there was even a stack of booster seats available for those lacking in stature. The staff were friendly, very helpful, and numerous enough that we weren’t kept waiting for anything. We got settled in with our popcorn and glasses and waiting with heady anticipation for the first sight of Hiccup riding his Toothless… and that’s where it all went wrong.
The toddler has always been pretty fearless. Countless people have commented upon it. Lately, though, something has changed. “Please Mummy, I want to go out” started during the trailers. I took him out, then back in again when the husband assured me Hiccup had arrived. “Please Mummy, please Daddy, we go out? We go home? I scared Hiccup and Toothless.”
Not being a draconian parent I complied with his request and took him out, hoping to reassure him and return to the film before missing too much. Trying very hard not to think of the money spent on this trip, and how it was a week’s worth of groceries, I bent down and chatted with him, but it soon became clear that he didn’t want to rejoin Daddy and see the film.
It is at this point that the Regal won my heart entirely and made me decide to write this review. A young woman, who I assume was some kind of manager, came over to chat to us, spoke very kindly to my toddler, and offered to get him some colouring in to do. I nearly wept with relief. OK, I wouldn’t get to see the film, but at least the toddler terrorist would be happily occupied whilst Daddy got to see the film. The manager flicked through a large A4 folder of printed out colouring in sheets and laid down an enormous tray of crayons, felt tips and pencils in every colour. Toddler terrorist was in heaven.
As it happened Daddy shortly afterwards gave up on trying to watch the film, so I guess we’’ll just have to wait until the DVD comes out to find out what happened after the first 15 minutes – and miss the 3D rendering entirely. We were two bitterly disappointed grown-ups who perhaps should have known better, but we’ll know better another time (when we’ve saved up enough money). We’ll leave the toddler terrorist with Granny and go back to the Regal Picturehouse in Henley.
No compensation was received in return for this review. The venue did not invite us along for review. This is an entirely spontaneous spot review because we received exceptional service.