When director Joe Dante (The Hole) got together with, among others, the writer of the original TRON, the result is this perfect recreation\satire of a 50s B-movie with a 1990s perspective and a heavy flavoring of The Brady Bunch thrown in (well, a Halloween episode anyway). The film subtly skewers the era as well as brings out the magic of the movies, particularly the monster movies upon whose shoulders it is standing.
Matinee is a quiet film of growing up during a political crisis, making it rather applicable today. Unfortunately, its pacing and sensibility remain in the late 50s, so it likely will not resonate with most current audiences. It didn’t when was released over 20 years ago for similar reasons. Just because art is done well, doesn’t mean it will find an audience.
Everyone in the cast embraced the approach, from the young actors portraying a real sense of naivete and guileless charm to John Goodman (Kong: Skull Island) and Cathy Moriarty (The Double) as jaded Hollywood purveyors of schlock. Moriarty, in particular, gets to do this on multiple levels. There are a slew of recognizable faces from horror films of the era as well, which was a nice nod.
There are some surprising moments in the movie, and it avoids a slew of traps that you think are laid out for it as well. Check it out for a look back at what movie going was sort of like (and where it almost went). If you think this is hyperbole, check out The Tingler as a reference. It certainly isn’t a great movie, but you have to respect the result given the intent.