On summer evenings, the movies come outdoors

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the-iron-giant-(1999)-large-pictureby Kelly Fahey

Between Center City Park screening of ET and the outdoor double feature at Geeksboro featuring the Warner Bros. animated classic The Iron Giant last weekend, Greensboro pretty much covered the bases for touching stories about kids taking up unlikely friendships with a misunderstood extraterrestrial being.

Similarly, it was a great time to fill up on outdoor films. The weather was perfect, and the town has been injected with a bit more life now that its colleges are about to be back in session.

Although I wasn’t able to attend ET on Friday, I did finally get the chance to take in one of Geeksboro’s outdoor movies, something I had been meaning to do and somehow didn’t manage despite working there during the summer. The Lawndale Drive-In series hosted by Geeksboro has been a fixture among moviegoers this summer, and featured screenings of feel-good classics such as Space Jam and Clueless.

The Iron Giant, which came out in 1999 and features voice acting by the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Christopher McDonald and Vin Diesel, who voices the iron giant himself, is a personal favorite, mostly because it is incredibly touching. I challenge you to watch this movie without your eyes welling up a bit. Also, who didn’t dream of having their own alien robot friend when they were growing up?

It tells the story of an amnesia-stricken robot that fell to earth from outer space but can’t exactly remember why. Hogarth Hughes, a plucky kid voiced by Eli Marienthal, discovers the kind nature of the giant and befriends him.

The film often pokes fun at the paranoia-driven red scare of the 1950s and pits Hogarth and his robot friend against the United States government, who are hell-bent on finding and destroying the giant.

Geeksboro’s double feature continued with Shaun of the Dead. The popular zombie movie parody is a favorite among zombie enthusiasts and comedy fans alike. It was written by Simon Pegg, who also stars as Shaun, the films protagonist.

This double feature followed suit with the rest of the outdoor screenings that Geeksboro has held this summer in that each has been fairly all-encompassing and very accessible. It seems that an inviting atmosphere was a sought-after characteristic of this summer’s Lawndale Drive-in screenings.

These drive-in screenings are really something to see. The staff transforms the gravel driveway behind the building into a makeshift outdoor movie theater. Patrons bring lawn chairs or blankets, or use the ones provided by Geeksboro, for a modest fee.

Surprisingly enough for an animated film, the audience of The Iron Giant was mostly comprised of nostalgic folks like me who may have seen the film in theaters back when it came out.

These particular screenings acted as the finale of Lawndale Fest, a day of celebration for the businesses that Geeksboro shares its shopping center with. Among the businesses that joined the celebration were Acme Comics, Don’s Music City and Balance Day Spa.

And according to Geeksboro owner Joe Scott’s Facebook page, Lawndale Fest 2015 is already in the works.

“We will ask local BBQ Wizard Todd to make more BBQ for Lawndale Fest 2015,” he posted, referring to the Geeksboro regular that provided his expertly-crafted barbeque for the day’s festivities.

While the end of the summer may have brought a temporary end to the Lawndale Drive-in series, you can still catch one more screening in Center City Park for the summer. The whimsical sci-fi odyssey The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will be showing on Sept. 19.