A Star Wars Birthday Party (in the van) *with spoiler-free movie review*

Okay, here it is you guys. Finally. I have been having exasperating computer issues that have been a drain on my already limited blogging time. But I just know you guys have been dying -dying- to know what I think about The Force Awakens and whether or not it's a good idea to have a birthday party for eleven little boys in your twelve passenger van. So here goes . . .

As you'll recall from this post, Bobby and Gus wanted to go see the new Star Wars movie with their friends for their birthday, and they wanted to have the party in our van. And since we are gluttons for punishment love them very, very much, that's just what we did.

We went to see The Force Awakens on opening day.

With our eight kids.

And eight extra little boys.

Here's how it all went down . . .

The Prep

This party was actually less work than our normal parties. I didn't even have to clean the house!

Bobby designed 4x6 Star Wars character trading cards in PicMonkey, and we had them printed up at the one hour photo place (I threw in some of the quotes and prayers I made as well). They turned out really cute and the kids had a blast playing with them.

I put the character cards in the Etsy shop in case you need a last minute gift! All proceeds go to Bobby. :)

I made candymelt cupcake toppers, again, because my cake pans are still packed up. But also because cupcakes are quite portable. And I made them like this . . .

because it's how I do most things. (The trading cards also make excellent candymelt templates.)

Betty did the baking. We're turning into quite a team in the kitchen.

Jack typed up a trivia game for the boys to play during the drive.

The morning of the party, Bobby and Gus cleaned out the van, and decorated it with a few hanging decorations we got at the party store.

And I called to order some pizzas.

The Pre Game

We met up at our regular homeschool parkday, and the boys ran around in a barely-containable frenzy of excitement until the husband arrived to pick them up.

It wasn't Mary Jane's party, but she was pretty stoked about it nonetheless.

Jack, Bobby, Gus, and eight of their friends filled up the big van, and my parents and I in two minivans with the rest of the kids joined the caravan to the movie theater.

We ate pizza on the sidewalk.

We sang happy birthday and had cupcakes.

The Main Event

I just picked a random movie theater on Fandango for its proximity to the park, and it turned out to be one of those fancy recliner ones. I may be spoiled forever. Those chairs are excellent for nursing.

The boys liked them too.

I got reuseable plastic Star Wars cups from the party store, to hand out to the kids in the theater for snacks and as their party favor. We bought two large popcorns and I brought a big bag of m&ms and we all shared those between us.

It goes without saying that they LOVED the movie. Listening to them gasp in wonder as the movie started is something I will always cherish. Seriously. I'm not a super sentimental person. But it really felt like a special moment to be able to share together.

The Post Game

After the movie, I drove the rest of my kids home, and the husband spent two hours dropping boys off at various locations. His take: "How was it? It was fine. I don't know if I'd recommend it, necessarily. But now I can say I've done that."

The boys had a great time trading their cards. There were only five of each card and eleven boys, so they had to make deals with each other to end up with the ones they wanted.

They also played the trivia game and no one barfed. So . . . sounds like it was a success to me.

Spoiler Free Thoughts on the Movie

I watched it surrounded by ecstatic little boys, who loved every second of it, from the opening credits on. So, I would have had to have a heart of stone or it would have had to be truly terrible for me not to like it. But, really, I did like it.

I thought the effects were excellent. There's been a lot of talk about the return to models and real stunts and film cameras (alongside digital effects), and I thought it was all worth it. There was a realness and heft to the traditional effects that was refreshing.

I liked the new characters. BB8 is uhDORable. Rey is a strong female character. Finn is a charming, if reluctant, hero. I LOVED that there was no language or innuendo or suggestiveness at all. (There are some battle scenes, but nothing gory.)

I liked the old characters. It's wonderful to see them again, having aged as actual people do. The mature relationship between some of them is bittersweet, but seems in character. Han spoke almost exclusively in action movie one-liners, which got old. But I get what they were trying to do.

I appreciated that they went simple with the plot after the prequels and their Senate resolutions and trade agreements and Midichlorians and other unnecessarily complicated plots. But I think maybe they over corrected. Pretty much the whole plot was trying to find a map . . . to a person. Which A. Isn't a thing (unless you're Maroon 5) and B. Wasn't even really explained (who made the map? Why not ask that guy? What if the person you're looking for has, ya know, changed location? People do that.)

Clearly the nostalgia factor was high. Mostly I liked it. But what I liked was when they put nods to the original movies in a new setting, like the lightsaber in the snow, wiggling. I didn't love how the plot itself was so self-derivative. There's a Death Star. BUT ITS REALLY BIG! People get killed and fall down shafts. Why do they even have shafts? (I kept thinking of The Emperor's New Groove.) There's a death that is very reminiscent of a death in the original trilogy.

The surprising twist is VERY surprising. I was shocked!

Basically, it felt like they were going for . . . safe. Don't go too deep or too edgy or too complicated, just make sure people don't hate it.

Anyway, I'm hoping the plots gets better and the rest stays good. Overall I think it's enjoyable. And appropriate for kids of all ages.

Thoughts on Parties in Vans

I think it was cool. And certainly something the boys will remember fondly. I might even be talked into doing it again on May 26, 2017. It just happens to be exactly one month before Jack's 15th birthday . . .

You might also enjoy . . .

The Force is Strong With These Guys (but you already knew that)

DIY Chewbacca Sleepsack Mod and a Homemade X-Wing Bomber