Oh, to be a pre-schooler or pre-teen growing up in Dallas, the heretofore undesignated "Hub of Under 18 Culture." To have from one to four pairs of parental hands guiding you to enrichment activities. To have one to four parental vehicles at your beck and call; one to four parental salaries on direct deposit. Add the extended family, little denizens of Dallas, and you could be set for life. Since 1983, the USA Film Festival has put on an outstanding KidFilm offshoot. If your parents took you when KidFilm was new, they (and you) saw Ice Age, A Wrinkle in Time, My Dog Skip and The Wiggles Movie before anyone else did. They (and you) rubbed elbows with Muppet co-creator Jane Henson, Mr. Peppermint's Jerry Haynes and actor/producer Shelly Duvall. The Dallas KidFilm is the oldest and largest children's film festival, says spokesperson Valerie Gabriel-Swenson. "We feature the best contemporary and classic children's films from around the world," she says. Animation Oscar-winners are aplenty, and this year your parents (and you) can learn all the words to the "Oom-pah, loom-pah" song. A showing of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will include sing-a-long lyrics. The Wizard of Oz will be screened with costumed characters in attendance. Dallas will also premiere a Jim Henson production Five Children and It. Film and television star Joe Mantegna will make an appearance with his daughter, Gina, to debut their collaborative Uncle Mino. Also scheduled are Millions, by Danny Boyle; Pooh's Heffalump and Wayne Wang's Because of Winn-Dixie. All events will be held at Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, on afternoons January 22 and January 23. All tickets are $3. Check for final schedules after January 10 at www.usafilmfestival.com or call 214-821-FILM. --Annabelle Massey Helber
Be Our Guest
Cult movie phenomena--and everything that goes with it--doesn't begin and end with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Years ago, I was witness to an enthrallingly twisted "audience participation" moment when a screening of Blue Velvet turned into an expletive-filled sing-along with Dennis Hopper's psychopathic anti-hero. There won't be any F-bomb-laced choruses happening this Friday and Saturday at the Magnolia's midnight screening of Christopher Guest's 1996 mockumentary Waiting for Guffman, a rather heartfelt little improvisational film about an eccentric Broadway producer who helms a commemorative play documenting the history of a small Missouri town's first 150 years, but that shouldn't stop you from seeing one of the most beloved and ingenious comedies of the last decade. The Magnolia Theater is at 3699 McKinney Ave. Call 214-764-9106. --Matt Hursh
Inherit the Wind is still as relevant today as it was when first performed. The 1960 film (and its stage predecessor, which had its 1955 world premiere in Dallas) recounts the controversial 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, sparked by John Scopes teaching the then-illegal theory of evolution in a Southern high school in 1925, that pitted Darwin's theory of evolution against biblical creationism in the court room and across the country. The Fine Arts Division of the Dallas Public Library will screen the film for free in the Fine Arts Division's Performance Space on the fourth floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St., at 2 p.m. January 8. An audience discussion follows. Call 214-670-1643. --Mary Monigold
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At 5 years old, turning a UPS box into a fort or secret lair is cute and creative. But after turning 20, the whole concept becomes pathetic. Stop using boxes for furniture, people. You're not fooling anybody by covering them in a sheet or hiding them in a corner, and if you think it's too expensive to spruce up your house, then head to the Dallas Home Show. The three-day home and garden expo, Friday through Sunday at the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin St., is filled with exhibits that'll make the best of your tacky, low-cost design ideas, both inside the home and out. Lee Snijders, host of HGTV's Design on a Dime, speaks on Saturday afternoon and should have some good advice on how to convert your cardboard boxes into, say, cute decorations that'll fit on your new table. Tickets are $8 and under. Call 972-732-6100. --Sam Machkovech
Way back in the day, I happened to work at a Pink Floyd laser-light-show extravaganza in Austin. My boss gave me these laughable instructions: "Make sure no one drinks, smokes or does drugs." He might as well have said: "Make sure no one comes to the show." As soon as the lights went down, I gave up and took a nap. Which wasn't hard, because unless you're drunk or stoned or, preferably, both, these things are bo-ring. For that reason, Paramount's Original LaserSpectacular featuring the music of Pink Floyd would seem to be another booze-or-snooze proposition. But here's the twist: The first half of the Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie affair includes a complete run-through of The Dark Side of the Moon synched up with The Wizard of Oz, the much-discussed and more or less proven partner of the album. And that, my red-eyed friends, is worth staying sober for. Show starts at 8 p.m. Call 214-373-8000 for tickets ($22 to $28). --Zac Crain