So last night, my 17 year old son Lucas and I head down to the upscale & fancy Renaissance Cinema in Highland Park to see the documentary Above and Beyond.

In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal – “volunteers from abroad” – this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride.

My 15 year old daughter Izzy bailed, choosing to spend the night at a friend’s house.

Whatever….Lucas and I are stoked. This will be great. Military stuff. History. Jewish. America. It hits all of Lucas’ sweet spots! And I’m taking my teenager to a DOCUMENTARY on a Saturday night. Huge Good-Mom points.

And I’m smuggling in cookies-in-lieu of pricey concessions, so huge thrifty points too. (I try not to think about the minor infraction of movie theatre policy although I suspect honor and integrity might be themes I’ll soon be reflecting on)

We get parking right down the street. This is AWESOME! We’re even 10 minutes early so we can fit in the obligatory pre-show bathroom visit. God, I’m good.

We stride in, mother and son, together.

The 4:50 showing of Above and Beyond is sold out.

Are you sh*tting me?

Movies don’t sell out.

Especially documentaries.  

Then I start working the numbers.

  • This is Highland Park. A large senior population. And this is a 4:50PM show on a Saturday night. Prime date night & time for the AARP set. Some dude is planning to get lucky tonight.
  • Also, yes, a large Jewish population as well.
  • And the Renaissance…it’s no multi-screen Cineplex. No fancy (and generous) stadium seating and 12+ screens. Property values in Highland Park being what they are, each footprint of real estate costs more…so no sprawling Cineplexes.

But, being the undauntable movie-lovers we are, we quickly regroup. We were going to a movie and by god, we are GOING TO A MOVIE! 25 minutes later, we are standing in line to purchase tickets to Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2.

From insightful documentary to slapstick comedy. I feel my Good Mom crown beginning to slip.

When we get to the front of the line, we are informed the 5:20PM show is on the Ultrascreen. Yup. Kevin James 70 foot screen wide. In Hi-Def. But tixs are $13. There goes the Thrifty Mom Award.

Lucas, on the other hand, is thrilled. When hearing the showing of Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2 we are attending is also on the Ultrascreen, he says something along the lines, “Alright! When God closes a door, he opens a window!”

So we go into the Ultrascreen auditorium. Wow. No worries about selling this show out.

Were my intellect and emotional selves’ equally engaged by the riveting story arc and dramatic nuances in Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2?


Did we both have fun?

Hell YEAH!

It was a timely reminder. Sometimes the cosmic awards are in the doing, not the “stuff” of the doing. Because I had a really good time hanging out with my son. I was proud that he took the minor disappointment completely in stride, not berating the universe over a minor SNAFU, and even celebrating God’s opening a window (to the Ultrascreen, no less!)

FYI, The Avengers is opening May 1st. Yes, on the Ultrascreen. We will be sure to pre-purchase our tickets to that so we will all be winners.


  • Superheroes in Hi-Def + concessions galore for Lucas
  • 70 foot wide Chris Evans & Chris Hemsworth for me.


Good times.