“Just picture perfect…a beautiful backdrop” is how T.J. Brustowicz of Shore Flicks described Riverside Gardens Park, the open-air setting for a summertime series of free feature film screenings (presented by Red Bank Parks and Recreation) that enters its ninth season this coming Tuesday, July 5.
Even with Brustowicz and his Shore Flicks crew bringing their pumped-up inflatable screens and beefed-up sound systems to beaches, parks and community centers all over Monmouth County, there’s no arguing that the sculpted terraces and waterfront walkways of Red Bank’s Gardens represent the Shore’s premier place to catch your favorite cinematic stars beneath the stars. From the super sight lines of the sloping lawn to those complimentary Navesink River sunsets — and even the busy energy from the nearby Front Street main drag — it’s an experience you’ll be hard pressed to match anywhere else. And, with the anticipated opening of the new Gracie and the Dudes Organic Ice Cream at the park’s (historically under-utilized) snack bar, the stage is set for a family friendly diversion that continues Tuesday evenings through August 23.
Another thing in favor of the Red Bank series is the fact that, for the first time in several years, Shore Flicks will not be running regular screenings in any other nearby municipalities like Fair Haven, Sea Bright or Middletown. So “even if you’ve seen a movie for years on TV, it’s always a treat to watch it on a large screen, with an audience,” as Brustowicz told redbankgreen a couple of seasons back — and it’s an even better deal for movie buffs who want to catch up on some recent features that they might have missed the first time around.
Keynoting the 2016 schedule with a roar on July 5 — and screening at sundown (approximately 8:30 p.m.) — is “Jurassic World,” the latest sequel in the dino-namic franchise, and a blockbuster that smashed as many records at the box office as it did trucks, choppers, buildings and containing walls on the screen. It’s followed in short order by two more very recent hits: the animated “Despicable Me” spinoff “Minions” (July 12), and the Mouse Empire’s bid for intergalactic domination, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (July 19).
Another recent animation is next up, as “Zootopia” applies the talking-animals template to the “buddy cop” genre on July 26. Then on August 2 comes the by-now traditional showing of the thriller that started the whole modern summer-blockbuster industry as we know it — 1975’s “Jaws,” screened here in the centennial-anniversary summer of the 1916 shark attacks near Matawan that inspired Peter Benchley’s original best-selling novel.
Reaching almost all the way back to the Jurassic era for the ultimate crowd-pleasing road trip movie on August 9, “The Wizard of Oz” invites the whole family to park it by the river (and maybe even sing along). Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” injects a note of horror comedy on August 16, and the 2016 series concludes on August 23 with a bit of “Christmas in July, in August,” when Will Ferrell stars in the latter-day classic “Elf.”
Continuing another long-held tradition, attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items (to be donated to Lunch Break and other local charities) along with those folding chairs and beach towels. Follow Shore Flicks on Facebook or Twitter for up-to-the-minute information on weather-related cancellations or other schedule changes — along with details on other outdoor movie events at locations around Monmouth County.