Cinefamily's Revival of the Saturday Morning Cartoon
In a world where an influx of commercial-free streaming services have stolen the joy of Saturday morning cartoons, one theater has set out to reap some old fashioned justice. Featuring nostalgic cartoons, complimentary cereal, and a whole lot of laughter, Cinefamily is on track to restore the Saturday morning cartoons to its former glory, and ultimately, to resurrect the fading fire of film making, community events, and unadulterated fun.
If you were born after the 1980’s like Elise and I, you may not be familiar with the concept of Saturday morning cartoons. Our generation frequented channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network that offered children’s programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even though I never complained, there must have been something magical about waking up early on a Saturday morning in your matching paw-print PJ's, grabbing a bowl of cereal (that certainly exceeded the daily recommended sugar intake for someone of your stature), and making your Dad grumble "Turn that nonsense down!" into his hot cup of coffee. Nowadays—with services like Amazon Video, Netflix, and YouTube—there is no need for that special, early morning tradition. I must say, it's both a blessing and a curse that I can watch the Regular Show at 3 AM on a Tuesday.
Thankfully, for anyone living in the greater Los Angeles area, a refurbished silent theater has made it their mission to showcase an old fashioned cartoon compilation chalked full of the best gags, goofs, and laughs. On the first Saturday of each month, Cinefamily (a non-profit organization determined to make the movie going experience a social event) lines up two hours of hilarious content plus a cereal bar, couches, chairs, and even mats on the floor for the true believers. For only 10 dollars, you can watch their hand-picked selection of cartoons on the big screen, from Sponge Bob to Gumball, and from greats like Chuck Jones to modern internet revivalists. There is truly an episode for everyone.
But wait, there's more! Love them or hate them, commercials were a huge part of the Saturday morning experience. As expected, Cinefamily decided to include the most hilarious, memorable, and strange advertisements from the 80's and 90's in their collection. I honestly found myself excited when “We’ll be back after these messages” flashed across the screen, and some of the biggest laughs from the crowd came from these commercial breaks. I guess as advertising has evolved, I've started to miss the wacky, insane commercials I saw as a child.
While I loved every minute of the amazing slew of cartoons and commercials, the whole day would have been nothing without Cinefamily's hard work. Their mission, as previously stated, is to put some life-blood back into the movie theater experience. “Like campfires, sporting events and church services, we believe that movies work best as social experiences. They are more meaningful, funnier and scarier when shared with others” says Cinefamily's about page. I wholeheartedly believe that they are living up to that goal. The movie going experience isn't about watching cartoons, it’s about meeting with friends, dressing in your favorite pajamas, sitting on the floor with blankets, and enjoying a bowl of sugary cereal.
In fact, the complementary cereal was my favorite part of the day by far! As an adult, I’ve almost complete forgone breakfast, and I certainly wouldn't spend a ludicrous $3.50 for “part of a well-balanced breakfast.” (As if you’re supposed to have a small bowl of frosted flakes with a side of fruit and a hard boiled egg. Who are they kidding?) I digress. The point is, I don't get to enjoy cereal very often, and I definitely miss it. During intermission, everyone lined up outside to drool over a table stocked full of every type of cereal you have and haven't heard of. Don’t have enough marshmallows in your cereal? That's okay! Just throw in an extra scoop from the marshmallow bowl. Lactose intolerant? Doesn't matter, have some complimentary almond or soy milk. Still need more sugar? Good, because Cinefamily offers peeps, assorted candies, Oreo's, and fruit. The cereal bar was a sweet tooth's fever dream—and it was all included in the entry fee.
Everyone spent the intermission socializing and meeting new people, which was a beautiful thing to witness. And while I can’t complain about the huge plush seats that more and more theaters are adopting, I can’t help but think that they are missing the point. Cinefamily sees the movie going experience like a church or sporting event, not for lounging around at home like we all do on a daily basis. I didn’t know that I loved this extroverted sentiment until I experienced it.
If this is beginning to sound like the best theater ever, which it should, make sure to check out their monthly events calendar! For instance, if animation isn’t your cup of melted celluloid, you'll be happy to find a large number of film classics, obscurities, and events, “which are enhanced with special guests, live music, dance parties, potlucks and other kinds of social fun.”
So whether you have children, or are just a kid at heart (aren’t we all?), be sure to check out Cinefamily’s events as soon as humanly possible. If you’re reading this as it comes out, know that I have my eye on their brand new 4k restoration of the cult classic Donnie Darko presented both in its long director's cut, and it’s original theatrical cut. Maybe we'll see you there!
Huge thanks to Cinefamily for putting on a great event and revitalizing the movie going experience. Be sure to check out their website if you’re at all interested in what they’re doing. If you’ve been to one of their events, or know of a place near you doing something similar, let us know in the comments down below!