chasing that hogwarts high, or: okay, FINE, fantastic beasts, you disaster

Sometimes the logistics of the thing is the real joy of the thing.

For example, I was so happy this past Wednesday to look up movie times, bundle up in my coat and scarf, and walk a mile and a half in the chilly sunshine to get to the movie theatre. I was equally happy to get my ticket and my small popcorn, and to have enough time to set everything down and run to the restroom before the trailers even started. In the midst of terrifying life uncertainty and the promise of impending holiday wackiness, I was so so happy to sit in the dark, crunching on popcorn and pretending to be somewhere else.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I didn’t hate everything about my experience with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Just typing that title fills me with nerd-rage. What even is that title? PICK A LANE, UNNECESSARY FRANCHISE.

If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have gone on a long, boring rant about all the reasons I wasn’t going to bother seeing Crimes of Grindelwald. “Blah blah blatant cash grab blah blah it isn’t even about finding fantastic beasts blah blah Dan Fogler deserves a better movie.”

Blah blah.

But then the same thing happened to me that happened around the last time I was staunchly not going to see a Fantastic Beasts film: I spent an afternoon in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I really like theme parks.

Lately I’ve been experiencing a very uncharacteristic sense of calm. I have no idea what the near future holds, and instead of descending into panic, I’ve been able to ride a really magical wave of “Fuck it!” I go to work, I hang out with my friends as much as I can, I go to the movies. I just kind of am right now. And for the first time that I can remember, I’m cool with it. I don’t necessarily know that *I* feel like enough, but *it* all feels like enough. It’s getting colder and darker, so I’m striving to stay as warm and light as possible, whatever it takes. And if that takes not punishing myself for each and every imagined wrong… well, I’m grateful that I have the capacity to be in that space right now.

So, in this current state of comfy, reasonable “Things are fine, and that’s pretty good,” I sipped my Pumpkin Juice (#BetterThanButterbeer), and pretended to be inside a book that I’ve loved for most of my life. And it’s that feeling (combined with these lowered expectations) that I’m ultimately still chasing when I fork over my MoviePass to devote two hours and thirteen minutes of my life to the possibility of Crimes of Grindelwald.

Because I’m not tired of Wizarding World stuff, even though it’s mostly let me down post-HP. I’m not an easily fatigued nerd. But I miss when this all didn’t feel like an obligation. I miss the joy of exploring and discovering alongside these characters, instead of feeling like they’re playing an active game of Keep Away with me.

I can’t tell if I think movies like Crimes of Grindelwald are actively diluting the magic, or just harmlessly taking up abundant nerd-space. Like, it’s really, really bad, you guys. It’s confusing. It’s a waste of some talented actors doing some good work in spite of a story that makes no sense. But it has its moments. It has Newt riding a Kelpie, and it has a little snippet of “Hedwig’s Theme” play as Hogwarts comes into frame, and it has Zoe Kravitz wearing some truly tremendous costumes.

One might say that it’s not entirely without its… charms?

SORRY.

So, you do you, fellow nerd. If you find yourself in a place wherein you need to actively pursue some magic and you’re nowhere near Orlando, checking out Crimes of Grindelwald might be a nice afternoon for you. Again: I can’t say that it’s a good movie. It’s a mess. But sometimes it’s okay to lower your expectations to have a good time. To lower your expectations in pursuit of a little peace and quiet. I’m striving to be less of an asshole when it comes to doing things that can make you feel good, even if they’re not especially high quality. If Harry Potter is a really fancy cheese from the farmers’ market, then Crimes of Grindelwald is a box of off-brand Cheez-Its. They’re not good, but I’m not necessarily unhappy that I ate them.

Or, you know, we could just re-read Harry Potter again. You. Do. You.

 

 

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