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Thank You for Taking Your Baby to <i>X-Men 3</i>

"Now there's someone who cares about their children too much to leave them with strangers."
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Sometimes, I worry about the future of the cinema. With iPods, Xboxes and TiVO, will the next generation ever be satisfied with a movie they can't fast-forward through to the "good parts?"

But then you came along to raise my spirits. I hope you're not embarrassed by my public thanks to you and your whole family for restoring my faith that the magic of film will not be lost as long as kids of all ages get the chance to experience the thrills of the big screen.

I confess a little smile crossed my face when I saw your cute baby snuggled against your chest, your adorable toddler grasping your hand, as you passed my seat the other night for the 9 p.m. showing of X-Men: The Last Stand. (Too bad you missed the trailer for that hilarious new Adam Sandler film where he has a clicker -- babies love those things). I remember thinking, "Now there's someone who cares about their children too much to leave them with strangers." (True confession: I felt a little guilty for not thanking the young couple with the 2-year-old who sat behind us at United 93, so I am trying to make up for it now.)

Just a glimpse of the spittle on your little guy's chin (excuse my assumptive genderification, but he was wearing such a cute little blue Cubs hat), told me that he had already seen the DVDs of the first two X-Men movies and was anxious to see if Magneto was going to get what's coming to him. His big sister's spirited chant; "Mommy, mommy, mommy, blue lady, blue lady, blue lady," became a wonderfully infectious reminder to those of us around you that, yes, in fact, there was a blue lady on the screen. I think I noticed your son's eyes widen just a bit at the evil blue Mystique's voluptuous form-fitting mutant skin costume -- hubba, hubba, indeed!

I also learned it is not only women who coo at the site of Hugh Jackman. Perhaps your son is a lifelong fan, having caught some of Hugh's Tony Award Show hosting in his formative pre-natal period. Or maybe he just liked his pointy finger things. Either way, I think I speak for the entire fifth row of Theater 14, when I say that we understood your baby's anguish when Wolverine's skin was nearly ripped off his body by his one true love, the newly-risen-and-now-evil Dr. Jean Grey. I'm sure those were genuine cries of pain for a character we all want to see make it to X-Men 4.

Now there are those who pooh-pooh action films for the younger set, but I agree with you that children need to learn life's lessons right from the start, no matter their bedtimes. Life is not just about reorganizing bridges, pulverizing walls and setting flying cars on fire. Buried right at the surface of X-Men: The Last Stand is a socio-political lesson for your little moviegoers that will resonate throughout their toddler years.

This classic sends a clear message that intolerance towards mutants -- I think the writers meant gays, too -- is bad. Whether your son can see colors yet does not matter; this movie is purposefully and spiritually gray, and I could tell, when you began breastfeeding him during the mutant assault on Alcatraz, that he got that.

I enjoyed the movie, but what truly made the night special was that I got to hear the bond between parent and child forming in the shadows of a film rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content and language). I'm sure your kids will take away many thoughts to ponder in their tiny brains, including the credo of the Il Duce-like Holocaust survivor, and super-villain, Magneto, who said, eerily echoing our great president, "If we want Freedom, we have to fight for it."

Or maybe your little guy's first words will be another character's exultation: "I'm Juggernaut, you bitch." No matter, it was a fun night! Thank you again, and please let me know when you and your family will be catching Al Gore's The Inconvenient Truth.