The Movie Diary

Out of sight, out of mind

By Dom Cioffi

I watched him drop an easy pop fly; I watched him muff a very field-able ground ball; I even watched him half-heartedly try to steal second base only to get thrown out by 10 feet.

I watched all of this occur to my son this past Saturday as our Little League team was scrimmaging in preparation for the upcoming season.

I initially tried to boost his confidence with words of encouragement, but after several failed attempts, I soon realized that his head simply wasn’t in it. Something was going on that was rendering him useless.

I was already preparing my post-practice pep talk to ferret out the issue when I overheard him in the dugout gleefully explaining to a teammate how he had recently “totally destroyed” one of the levels in his favorite video game. He was thoroughly animated in his description as he mock assassinated a nearby alien, his hands forming a futuristic weapon that rattled furiously as he unleashed a hail of pretend gunfire.

And at that moment, I had outed the enemy.

He knew something was wrong as we started heading toward the car because I wasn’t answering his questions. I remained silent as we climbed inside and shut the doors. I then took a deep breath and calmly asked my son whether he wanted to play baseball or video games.

He responded appropriately (or at least intelligently, given the situation), at which point I launched into a diatribe about how the baseball diamond is for baseball and not for gaming; that baseball is a sport and video games are a distraction; that you can’t expect to play baseball at an acceptable level IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT KILLING EXTRA-TERRESTRIALS!

He cowered back in his seat when my voice raised, knowing that the conversation was taking a serious turn.

“I’m not kidding,” I continued. “There is no way you can expect to play well if you’re brain is ruminating about alien executions.”

He eventually agreed that his daydreaming was an impediment to success, but still felt compelled to ask me to try playing just to see how awesome his new game was. Not surprisingly, this didn’t go over well with me.

“This is what I’m talking about!” I screamed. “I’m out there trying to teach you and your teammates how to play baseball – an activity that you could potentially be playing for decades – and you’re concerned with a video game that will more than likely be relegated to the closet in two months!”

Again, he cowered in his seat, realizing that this was probably the worst thing he could have said.

“Something needs to change, and soon!” I barked.

The rest of the ride home was quiet as I stewed and he stared out his window, no doubt anticipating the removal of his gaming system. I have hinted at removing his console on several occasions and have even threatened to destroy it with my sledgehammer after other flare-ups. Fortunately for my son, I’ve never followed through due to his promises of temperance.

This time, however, I was at wit’s end. I fantasized about splattering the dreaded unit into a thousand pieces on the driveway, but knew that wasn’t an option since he helped pay for it.

No sooner had we arrived back home when my son came down the stairs carrying a large Tupperware bin. He walked into the kitchen and, in front of my wife and I, announced that we needed to take away his video games until baseball season was over. He then set the bin down and opened the cover to revel the console and all of his games, along with several controllers and various other peripherals.

We were admittedly stunned, but supportive of his decision.

I moved the bin into the attic so he wouldn’t be taunted and then went searching for him to reinforce how I proud I was of him for making such an adult decision. I looked for him for 10 minutes and was just about to give up when I heard a strange noise. I followed the sound, which led me upstairs into the spare bedroom.

And wouldn’t you know it – there was my son holed up underneath the bed playing a video game on his iPad. Needless to say, that device is now inside the Tupperware bin in the attic.

This week’s feature, “10 Cloverfield Lane,” highlights a cramped living scenario that I would find incredibly difficult, but one that my devious son could no doubt handle with ease.

Starring John Goodman as a doomsday prepper, “10 Cloverfield Lane” imagines what life might be like buried deep underground inside a small bunker while the surface of the earth remains uninhabitable.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is a beautifully scripted psychological thriller that will have you second-guessing right up until the last scene. This is the kind of movie I pine for, especially when it comes to the science-fiction genre. Not being able to foresee an obvious outcome and being totally manipulated by the story is what going to movies is all about. Be forewarned, this is not a true sci-fi film, but instead mixes genres to deliver a wholly satisfying and completely unexpected experience.   A claustrophobic “A-” for “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

Email Dom at [email protected].

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