Silver Screen Not So Golden at Star-Vu Drive-In

We're all about creative dissent here at LAist. You got the pro view on the new Star-Vu Drive-In from Ryan Young. Now for something completely different. Here's an opposing take on the Star-Vu experience written especially for LAist by Josh Tate.

Star-Vu Drive-InThe words of Ian Malcolm troubled me as I surged onto the 405-N. "Dinosaurs had their shot and Nature selected them for extinction." The last three and a half hours of my life had been spent watching the 93-minute Shrek 3 at the spankin’ Star-Vu Drive-In at the Orange Country Fairgrounds. Christ, maybe there was a good reason that the drive-in had faded from our culture.

I wanted to like it. I swear, I really did. The last time I was at a drive-in I had managed to get completely wasted on only half a fifth of peach schnapps while enjoying the rare handie from my (then) c-tease of a girlfriend. Mind you, that was back in ‘87 so a thick aroma of nostalgia was percolating nicely as I pulled into the entrance of the Fairgrounds. There I met one of Star-Vu’s founders, Bob Deutsch, who seemed an eminently decent fellow, properly enthused about his new business and enjoying the corresponding cigar. This was the unfortunate highlight of the evening. Thereafter, my date and I spent the next 57 minutes inching towards the ticket counter located a scant quarter mile away and, more troubling, the rum buzz I had caught at dinner was disappearing.

By the time our car reached its slip, the movie was already 30 minutes late in starting, the concession stand was out of hot dogs and the popcorn was cold and unusually greasy. Star-Vu was undergoing some serious birth pangs. The movie eventually started about 45 minutes after the posted show-time of 10:30, but the audio was so hissy and the screen so dim that my date and I quickly submitted to the palpable schadenfreude impulse and cracked wise for the duration of the screening.

Star-Vu Drive-InI’m not sure exactly what happened in Shrek 3. I can only assume that Shrek won and Donkey was instrumental. I mean seriously, isn’t that going to be the plot of Shrek 4, too? What is the real benefit of a meticulous Shrek 3 deconstruction, people? It’s not like I was watching motherfuckin’ Once right? (Go see Once!) As for the Star-Vu, I guess I can recommend it if actually enjoying the movie isn’t a paramount concern. Sure the audio and video were fairly crappy, but the SUV-loads of parents and children seemed to be having a grand time watching a movie in the open air under the stars. Maybe that’s finally the point. Cineastes might enjoy the novelty of it, but probably no more than once or twice. After all, the Bridge and the Arclight are out there delivering a significantly better experience for a decent price. A final note to my fellow Angelino degenerates--the security presence was fairly constant so be wary with your beers and weed.

WHERE: 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa, CA
COST: Adult tickets are $8.50. Children are $5.00 unless they’re under 5 in which case they’re free.
--No outside food or alcohol is allowed.
--Tickets must be purchased online at