It was an autumn evening and a few hours before my young charge had to be returned to his boarding school. We had one judgement to make – could we fit Madagascar 3 in before school? Yes – just.
We raced down the steep hill into the town. Lights flicked on in the buildings around us as we parked and ran the square to the cinema entrance.
Inside was warmth and the smell of popcorn. It was a Monday. There were tickets and a charge for the 3D glasses but no queue. Within minutes we had made our way to Screen 8 just in time for the trailers.
There we were – two bodies in the black, empty, muted rows. There were only two others in Screen 8 and they had decided to sit dead centre in the row furthest from the screen. Both were elderly ladies and something suggested that they might have been there for a while. I studied them briefly from behind the confusion of my 3D glasses. Not the obvious audience for Madagascar 3 … but good for them.
I turned back to the screen, to the unexpected happiness of sitting next to a just-turned-twelve-year-old about to enjoy an animated, roller-coaster ride. Madagascar 3 would not let us down.
It did not – it was a wild chase packed with fear-conquering friendship and always top spot to the penguins. It was vibrant. It was impossible. It was a proper circus.
We met the heroes immediately – Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer), Gloria the hippotamus (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Marty the zebra (Chris Rock). They were cavorting and fretting in an African desert.
We were with them in glorious 3D, we shared the bleak heat of the desert completely, until a stern voice made us jump:
“What film do you think you’re watching?”
It was one of the old ladies.
“Not Argo?” The voice was accusing.
“No.” I had never heard of Argo. I adjusted my 3D glasses and re-studied the screen. “Definitely Madagascar 3.”
The old lady peered at me briefly, swung on her heel, summoned her friend and left.
I stared after them as they blurred into the black. Then I returned, thankfully, to the impossible chase.
It was only later that I discovered that Argo was an intense CIA thriller.
Some mistakes are more confusing than others.