Friday, August 08, 2008

It’s That Time Again…

(Relatively) New on
Pineapple Express
Brideshead Revisited
Swing Vote
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
American Teen
The Wackness
Step Brothers
The X-Files: I Want to Believe

And by “that time,” I mean August, a time when the weather’s hot, and the movies…not so much.

Things have been pretty strange in Film Critic Land this summer. Some weeks (most of them, in fact), we’ll have just one screening. Maybe two. Then suddenly we’ll be bombarded by five in one week. Then we’ll go back to one the next.

This week, things were pretty up in the air. I had all kinds of random screenings on the schedule, but I wasn’t sure which ones I was actually going to attend.

For instance, on Tuesday morning, there was a screening of a French thriller. Despite the fact that I tend to enjoy both thrillers and French films, I just wasn’t feeling it. It was raining, and I was tired, and the screening was at the theater on the other frickin’ end of town. So as I was getting ready to leave, I called David.

“I’m not missing a screening, am I?” he asked as soon as he picked up. I explained that he was, in fact, forgetting about a Tuesday morning screening—but I was contemplating skipping it.

I did, however, offer a trade: The Midnight Meat Train. It’s a movie that we’ve all been obsessing over ever since we saw the trailer at the Good Luck Chuck screening last fall. Last week, while I was compiling one of my millions of weekly newsletters, I noticed that it was scheduled to open on Friday. Since I hadn’t heard anything about it, I did a little searching and found that it was, in fact, opening. At one theater in town—my old friend, The Cheap Theater. No kidding. It was opening directly to the discount, second-run theater.

Originally, the plan was to hit the theater on Friday afternoon—but Jason was heading out to New York for the weekend, and David had friends over, so we scrapped that idea. So, while we were discussing the French thriller that we were skipping on Tuesday, we decided to hit The Cheap Theater instead. It was, after all, Tuesday—which meant that it would cost a buck instead of $1.25. Talk about a bargain…!

The movie was scheduled for 12:25, and I was running behind, as always. To make matters worse, it seemed that (as is usually the case), I was the only one on the road with anywhere to be. Everyone else had no problem driving 15 under the speed limit and waiting at intersections after the light turned green, just to see if anyone else wanted to go through first. When I finally made it to the theater parking lot, I ended up behind two guys in a pickup, who were barely even idling. As I followed them, I figured that they were actually cruising for chicks in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I kid you not. Now, I realize that we don’t have beaches to cruise here—like the one we had back home in Michigan—but I didn’t realize that people here had taken to cruising the Wal-Mart parking lot as an alternative.

So I finally got myself a parking space, and I was rushing through the parking lot when my phone rang. David.

“I just went in there,” he told me. “It’s full…of old people.”

Apparently, he’d even walked out of the theater to check the sign again—to make sure that he hadn’t walked into the Horton Hears a Who! theater. But no. There it was. The Midnight Meat Train. Filled with senior citizens.

When I finally got inside, David was waiting in the lobby. And I got in line behind a woman who paid for three tickets with dimes. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not. This was just my luck.

So we finally made it into the theater as the trailers were starting. And despite the fact that we figured we’d have the theater to ourselves, David was right—it was packed. At 12:25 on a Tuesday afternoon. And, yes, there were at least 20 elderly moviegoers already in their seats. I couldn’t help but wonder if they had any idea what they were in for.

I, on the other hand, knew what I was in for. Kinda. It was totally gruesome—more so, I think, than any movie I’ve ever seen. Sometimes, in fact, it was so over-the-top that David and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. It was sick and twisted, but it was funny.

Strangely, though, David and I were the only people in the theater who were laughing. And that just made me laugh harder. I laughed so hard, it hurt. And then I felt a little bit ashamed of myself. But I couldn’t help it.

After the movie, David decided that he was hungry—though I’m not sure why, since I was pretty sure that I’d never be able to keep anything down again. Since there was a Tim Horton’s nearby, though, we walked over there—so David could get a sandwich, and I could get my iced coffee fix. While I was at it, I got a bagel, too. And I kept it down.

There, at Tim Horton’s, were even more elderly folk. David and I wondered how many of them had just seen The Midnight Meat Train. We then decided that, when we’re old, we, too, will go to crazy movies at The Cheap Theater and follow it up with a coffee at Tim Horton’s. It seems like something we’d do. We’ll invite our grown children to join us, and they’ll be extremely embarrassed. David’s pretty sure his son will have moved to Australia by then to get away from him.

After we finished our post-movie snack, we headed back to our cars and said, “See you in a few hours.” I then rushed back to the office to write up my review before I had to head back out for another screening at night.

Tuesday night’s screening was Pineapple Express. It had screened at random times for weeks, but the past weeks have been ridiculously busy, so I was waiting until the last minute to see it—so were David and Bill. But it was just us—and my husband…and Bill’s brother. It was a surprisingly calm and stress-free screening, really. It went off without a hitch. And I was surprised that I liked the movie a whole lot more than I expected to. So it was a good day all around.

On Thursday, I was planning to catch Tropic Thunder with everybody else. Since I’d already been to another screening, I didn’t have to go, but I wanted to—because it’s so funny that I wanted to see it again. The main purpose, though, was to take my husband, who had missed the previous screening. I’ve been talking about it ever since I saw it, and he was looking forward to seeing it, too. Unfortunately, he ended up having to fly down to Florida on Thursday afternoon, so the screening was out. Instead, I stayed home and watched North by Northwest, which I borrowed from David approximately eight months ago. So it was okay that I stayed home for once.

Next week, however, I probably won’t be so lucky. Nights off…HA! So far, I’ve got screenings on the schedule for Monday and Tuesday morning, along with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. We’ll see which ones I actually see. It is, after all, August. And watching five August movies in three days could probably be considered a pretty reliable method of torture. Perhaps they should look into using it in Gitmo.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Feast or Famine

Recently, on
Mamma Mia!
The Dark Knight
Meet Dave
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

This summer, I’ve been finding it difficult to keep on top of blog postings—for a couple of very different reasons. You see, it’s been either feast or famine in the Cheap Seats lately. Either we have one rather uneventful screening during the week (which leaves me reluctant to write about my one uneventful screening—since, after all, it would make my glamorous life seem quite dull and monotonous) or we have a gazillion of them, and I’m left scrambling to get caught up (as I am right this very minute).

Last week, you see, was one of those gazillion-screening weeks. It all started on Monday morning with our screening of The Dark Knight. This one, of course, was one big freakin’ deal. It was The Critic Event of the Summer (well, that and the screening of the summer’s first blockbuster, Iron Man). The screening was so big, in fact, that a few critics’ spouses took a vacation day so they could see it. I, for one, was so excited that I almost threw up. Okay…not really. But I was excited. And, fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. We got to screen the whole head-spinning thing in IMAX, which was truly amazing—and, despite the 160-minute runtime, it didn’t feel long at all. The only problem was that the screening was at 11—and by the time 1:30 rolled around, I was pretty much starving to death. Fortunately, though, eight of us had planned a post-screening luncheon at California Pizza Kitchen—which made the day just that much cooler.

On Tuesday night, we had our Mamma Mia! screening—which, for some reason, my husband chose not to attend with me. When I showed up at the theater, though, the place was already packed. There was a very large line of very eager middle-aged women—many of whom were dressed up for the occasion, and most of whom were giving us dirty looks for standing in a pack by the theater door instead of waiting in line like the rest of them. Oh, if looks could kill…

It’s no surprise, then, that we scurried into the theater as soon as we were allowed and took our seats. We sat next to the rep’s mom, who we all remembered from an earlier screening, when some crazy bat questioned each one of us before loudly announcing to her friend, “They’re not press.” As it turned out, the Mamma Mia! screening proved to be just as action-packed. As the theater began to fill up, a couple walked up to the seats right next to the rep’s mom and proceeded to rip the press signs off. David, being absolutely sick of people who seem to do that at just about every screening, called over, “Um, excuse me, you can’t take those seats.” The two continued to exchange words, while I nudged Neil, who was sitting next to me, to announce that a fight was in the works. We were all prepared to back David up (after all, we’d just seen The Dark Knight, and we all felt that we were prepared for battle), and we watched eagerly as the man got all snippy and belligerent. He demanded to know if, perhaps, David worked for the theater. Else, apparently, he figured that David didn’t have the right to point out to him that those seats were reserved for someone who was not him. David then explained that the seats were reserved for the people in charge of the screening—and that those people would not feel the slightest remorse if they had to throw him out of the theater. Apparently, that got him—so he finally left. We were happy to see him go—but, to be honest, we were secretly hoping for a brawl. After all, we do love the Film Critic Legends. Someday, when we’re all old and crazy and mostly blind, we’ll sit around all day, in our custom-made theater-seat wheelchairs, saying things like, “Remember when Jason almost got in a fistfight at Roscoe Jenkins?”

That incident may have been over, though, but the fun just continued. At 7:30, when the screening was scheduled to begin, some crazy guy in a Hawaiian shirt got up to start the promotional giveaways. Unfortunately, he wasn’t just going to throw some T-shirts out into the audience and call it good. No, he had to do a “Name that ABBA song” contest, which was long and drawn out and ridiculous. The best part, though, was when he read off the lyrics to “Mamma Mia” for some poor, clueless schmuck who had absolutely no idea what the song was. So Hawaiian Shirt Guy gave him a clue: “What’s the movie title?”

“I still don’t know it,” Clueless Schmuck replied, to groans throughout the audience.

“No, really—it’s the title of the movie we’re about to see. What’s the title of the movie?”

“I don’t know! I haven’t seen it yet!” Clueless Schmuck responded. At that point, the entire critics’ row put their hands over their faces and shook their heads.

But it got even worse. Afterwards, Hawaiian Shirt Guy started handing out lyrics sheets, to encourage the crowd to sing along. He tried to hand one to David—not a good idea, since he was still a little riled up over the Stolen Seat Incident. I honestly thought that David was going to punch him in the face.

The funny thing, however, was that Kevin emailed the rep the next day to complain about the whole song sheet thing, and the rep told him that the studio (Universal) had actually encouraged singalongs. Kevin was irate. I, on the other hand, figure that listening to the guy next to me (meaning: Neil) singing couldn’t have been any more painful than listening to Pierce Brosnan.

On Wednesday night, I was planning to catch another Dark Knight screening—this time with my husband, who didn’t take the day off to see it on Monday. However, things were so tight with the Wednesday night screening that I decided not to risk it. After all, the rep had told me that I wasn’t allowed to screen it again—not only that, but critics who were allowed to screen it (meaning: those who didn’t see it on Monday) weren’t allowed to bring guests. And, since I’m not a jerk like that, I took the night off instead—and planned to catch it over the weekend.

On Thursday morning, we had a screening of The Wackness. Neil loves it so much that he’s already seen it five times at various film festivals—but, surprisingly, he didn’t show up for the screening. Unfortunately, I think Neil’s hype ruined it for a few of us—because I liked it more than the rest of the gang.

After the screening, I went rushing back to work on my radio script for the week. Clay was on vacation, so I was filling in for him. Unfortunately, John was also out for much of the week—so he had to catch up on The Dark Knight on Wednesday. That meant that we had to record on Friday morning instead of Thursday—and that we’d be finishing up the script on Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, though, I was pretty much ready to go, so I was finished in time to make dinner and head out to another screening.

Thursday night’s screening was The Rocker. Originally, it was supposed to come out…next week, I think. But the release has been bumped a few weeks. Still, I wanted to get it over with. Not only that, but it was screening at a theater nearby, making it nice and convenient. I was also curious—since I’d never actually been to that theater.

As it turns out, the theater by our house is The Smelly Old Theater. It’s the kind that was huge in the late ‘80s but is now just kinda old and out-of-date. It smells musty, the air-conditioning barely works, and I’ve seen bigger screens in people’s home theaters (though, sadly, not my own). But hey—it was close to home. It was pretty close for Kevin and Jason, too—so both of them were also in attendance (Jason proudly grabbed a stylish “I Only Drum Naked” T-shirt). Kevin was keeping his fingers crossed for a timely screening, since he had to rush home afterwards, pick up his son, and head into town for a pre-Dark Knight roundtable discussion.

Since both Kevin and Neil rushed out to see The Dark Knight at midnight, it wasn’t a surprise that they weren’t at the Friday morning screening. I, on the other hand, had already made it through a morning recording session (this week on It’s Movie Time, John and I covered an interesting combo: The Dark Knight and Meet Dave). After a two-screening day and a morning in the studio, I was beat, but I couldn’t miss Emma Thompson in Brideshead Revisited. Strangely, very few of my male colleagues were there. Go figure.

After a crazy week like that one, you might think that I’d take a break from movies for a while. And I’ll admit that, on Friday afternoon, I may have vowed never to see another movie again. But alas, I lied. And at noon on Saturday, I wrangled my husband out the door to see a matinee The Dark Knight. I couldn’t resist.

Now, however, I get a break. Or at least I don’t have to watch a movie today. I’m back at it tomorrow, though. And Wednesday morning. And Wednesday night. Another feast week…

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Comedy Showdown

New on Since Last Time:
Get Smart
Then She Found Me
The Incredible Hulk
Kung Fu Panda

Okay…let’s start with a quick overview of last week—since I missed last Friday’s entry. Really, the only exciting moment in last week’s schedule was when we showed up for our first morning screening in ages, only to be told (by the terrified new manager of the café next door) that we’d have to wait a bit to see Kit Kittredge because no one was there to set it up for us. Apparently, whoever had scheduled the screening forgot to tell anyone about it. So we got to sit around and drink coffee and eat sandwiches (or, for John, quiche) while kicking ourselves for choosing to show up for the screening instead of, say, sleeping in.

Though we were told we’d only have to wait a half-hour, we knew that was just an optimistic estimate. Instead, we ended up waiting an hour. And after sitting through the movie, we were all kicking ourselves for sticking around and waiting (except for Clay, who eventually gave up on trying to watch the movie and took a nap instead).

So that was last week. This week, then, was Comedy Showdown Week. You see, studios tend to plan their release dates pretty carefully during the summer—so they won’t have to go up against similar movies for opening weekend box office dollars. For instance, you wouldn’t see Iron Man and The Dark Knight opening on the same day—because you’d be forcing superhero movie fans to choose between the two. But, this week, two comedies are going head-to-head, choosing comedy fans to make a choice: Steve Carell or Mike Myers. This was supposed to be a big fat deal—but, after seeing them both, I can tell you that there’s just no contest.

Tuesday night, we headed to The Theater With the Balcony to see Get Smart. They had started letting people in early, so the balcony was already filling up by the time we got up there. We’d been assured that there were seats reserved for us, but I was a little bit confused about that whole situation.

You see, there were fancy, laminated “Reserved” signs placed throughout the balcony, but they were all in random spots. There would be one on the end of a row…and then another one a few seats down. I didn’t know if that meant that they were all reserved—or if they were even reserved for me. You never know—sometimes they reserve seats for various groups, and these signs didn’t actually say “Reserved for Press.” So I decided to wing it. I took a few seats, saved an extra or two for anyone else who might show up, and waited for the screening to begin.

A while later, a couple ended up and decided to sit in the seats that I’d saved (by putting the “Reserved” signs down on them. The woman loudly announced that she was sure that they were supposed to have reserved seats—even though I had no idea who she was. Since the rest of the gang hadn’t shows up yet, though, I figured they either weren’t coming or they’d decided to sit downstairs.

But then the couple beside me did something that totally surprised me. When the rep was giving his usual spiel, he mentioned that those “Reserved” seats were reserved for press (who, he jokingly added, “Think they’re special,” thereby allowing people to hate us even more than they already do). The couple realized that they were sitting in press seats—so they got up and went somewhere else. I was both surprised and delighted. So, you see, there are still some polite, respectful people out there after all.

Not long after that, the rep called up to me from below to check to see if there were still a few seats left for David and Bill. As suspected, they had ended up downstairs. But after Hazel, the crazy lady who insists that she’s press (which she proves by wearing a homemade “PRESS” badge around her neck) came and sat down by them, they decided to see if I was upstairs—and if I happened to have seats there for them. Fortunately, that kind and respectable couple had gotten up, so there were, in fact, a couple of seats available for them.

Finally, once we were all settled in, the screening began. And, believe it or not, the Balcony Brigade was a great crowd—for the first time ever. No one talked through the whole movie. No one kicked the back of my seat repeatedly. I couldn’t believe it. The only explanation I have is that the theater managers must have forced the Balcony Brigade to take Movie Theater Etiquette 101 before letting them in. But they were a dream. I’m still stunned. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that the theater smelled like bologna sandwiches. But that’s another issue altogether.

Though Steve Carell is sometimes one of those hit-or-miss comics, I found myself enjoying Get Smart. I laughed quite a bit—and I hardly ever cringed (maybe just once). So, all around, not bad.

And then came Wednesday.

Wednesday was the one that I was dreading: The Love Guru. With every new trailer that came out, I feared it just a little bit more. But, well, it was a hockey movie, so at least it had that going for it. Or so I thought.

Pretty much everyone had made their excuses and steered clear of Wednesday night’s screening, leaving Jason and me to suffer through it alone. And though I secretly hoped that it would turn out to be surprisingly funny, it didn’t. It was terrible. Horrible. No good. Very bad. In fact, there are not enough synonyms for “bad” to describe it. I spent most of the movie with my mouth slightly open and an expression of sheer horror on my face, in utter disbelief. I couldn’t believe that any movie could be that bad. It was just one big, crazy mess of male-genitalia gags (65%) and midget jokes (30%), with a few stupid acronyms and ridiculously long book titles thrown in for fun (making up the remaining 5%). But perhaps the most unbelievable thing about this movie was that some people were actually laughing. Then again, as John always says, people will love any movie if it’s free.

After I got home from the screening, I was too angry to sleep—so, despite the fact that I had to get up early on Thursday morning to record the show, I stayed up and wrote my review before getting a few things ready for my crazy Thursday morning.

Thursday morning was another crazy studio session. Traffic was surprisingly light, so I was even a few minutes early for our 8:30 designated rehearsal time. Of course, Clay never shows up for rehearsal time, so I probably could have slept in a little bit longer. But I consider it my warm-up time—it gives me a chance to relax and wake up (and get caught up on all the good gossip) before having to do the show.

Since John, Clay, and I were all doing the show, that meant that we needed to do some finagling again. This time, John and I shared a mic—and it was much like a game of Twister. But we all survived with minimal injuries, and we made it out on time for John and Clay to catch a screening of Mongol. Though I saw it in Cleveland in March, I was tempted to see it again—because it’s really that good—but I figured that I should probably head back to the office and get some work done instead. And since I had another screening this morning, followed by lunch with the boys, I figured it would be best for me to hold off on seeing it again until it comes out on DVD.

Next week is another busy one, with screenings of both WALL*E and Wanted—both of which I’m looking forward to seeing. There’s also Origins, the annual game fair, which I intend to check out on Thursday and maybe for a while on Friday, too. It’s definitely an interesting event—and I never really know what I’ll find when I get there. Last time, I ran into William Hung in the hallway. That was really…weird. I missed it last year, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to the craziness again. So if you happen to be heading out to Origins, be sure to stop me and say hello. I’ll be the one female in the building who isn’t dressed up like a medieval princess or a witch or something. You can’t miss me…

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Slowly Building…

New at Since Last Week:
You Don’t Mess with the Zohan

This summer’s schedule is really starting to upset me. Seriously…what’s going on here? I realize that the studios are really hesitant to release summer movies on the same weekend as some other summer movie, but come on here—can we please have a few options? And can I please have another movie or two to help me fill my schedule? Thanks.

So, last week, The Strangers dared to go up against Sex and the City—but the fact that inadvertently scheduled both screenings for the same night didn’t do me any good. And, this week, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan faces off against Kung Fu Panda. And, for once, the screenings were at completely different times.

Zohan screened on Monday, on campus. And despite the fact that I was once a pretty die-hard Adam Sandler fan, I was pretty much dreading it. But, fortunately, Sandler managed to pull through for us. Silly, yes. Painful, no. In fact, at one point, Jason laughed so hard that I was concerned that David and I might have to attempt to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on him. So, yeah. It had some really funny moments. And I was greatly relieved.

Then, on Tuesday, we screened Kung Fu Panda. This was another one that I’d been dreading since about November, when the AMC theaters started running that turn-off-your-cell-phone spot starring the panda. Every time I saw it, I cringed. Sure, I believe that people should turn off their cell phones at movies, but I would rather not have Jack Black tell people to do so. Maybe we could find someone else—someone a little less…well…irritating. Perhaps someone that people would actually listen to—instead of laughing at. Maybe Morgan Freeman. People listen to Morgan Freeman, right? But I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. As it turns out, the cartoon-panda Jack Black doesn’t scat once. And, again, I was greatly relieved.

Meanwhile, this week, I was once again amazed by the general rudeness of some people. Before both screenings, we had people completely disregard the big “RESERVED FOR PRESS” signs that were taped to some of the seats and just sit right down next to us without giving it a second thought. Now, neither screening was actually packed. No one was fighting for seats here. It wasn’t like they were the last two seats in the theater. Nope. They just wanted those seats, and they were going to take them.

Now, I’m not going to say that all people completely disregard the signs. There are some people who are very considerate of them. There are people who ask us if it’s okay to sit in certain places, and they’re perfectly okay with sitting where they’re allowed to sit—and not sitting where they’re not supposed to sit. These people I like.

The other people, however, not so much. This means that I really didn’t like the couple who plunked their butts down next to me for Zohan. Not only did they totally disregard the signs that remained taped to the seats behind their backs, but the guy next to me had clearly smoked an entire pack of cigarettes right before coming into the theater, and he reeked of smoke. And since I’m still trying to recover from my allergies, or whatever it is that’s causing me to hack up a lung, I wasn’t all that thrilled about having to sit next to a guy who smelled like a chimney.

Even worse, however, was the woman on Tuesday. You see, most Seat Stealers think they’re being pretty sneaky about it. They think that if they just sit down quietly, no one will notice that they’re sitting in seats that were reserved for someone else. Then there are the Defiant Seat Stealers, like the woman on Tuesday. This woman came into the theater with her kid (talk about teaching good manners to your kids!), ignored all of the available seats, walked right up to the RESERVED FOR PRESS signs, ripped them off the seats, threw them aside, and loudly announced to her young son, “Press seats. Sit down.” She then forced her son to sit next to me, which he clearly didn’t want to do—so, in the end, he whined until she let him move to the end of a row somewhere, where he didn’t have to sit next to anybody but his mom. Now, perhaps I’m a scary person, but I’d have to say that I’m much less scary than that kid’s mom.

So anyway…next week is another two-screening—maybe even three-screening—week. Yay! I’m greatly amused, however, that M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s latest, The Happening, isn’t on the schedule at all. On one hand, I’m totally okay with that—because after seeing the monstrosity that was Lady in the Water two summers ago, I’m still holding a grudge. On the other hand, though, after that horrible night, I made David (who wisely attended the My Super Ex-Girlfriend screening instead) promise to keep me from attending any future M. Night Shamalamadingdong screenings, so we agreed to skip the next one and go play laser tag (or maybe go bowling) instead. And if there is no screening of The Happening, when are we supposed to go bowling? Sheesh.

I suppose, though, that, either way, I’ve successfully dodged that bullet.

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Friday, May 30, 2008


New at Since Last Time:
Sex and the City
Son of Rambow
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

This week, I’m having a ROGO special: read one week, get one week free.

Since there wasn’t a whole lot going on last week (or this week, for that matter), I figured I’d hold off for one entry this week. That, and it was the holiday weekend, and I had stuff to do. Like shop. And eat.

So anyway…it’s been nearly two weeks since our big Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull screening. And it was definitely one crazy screening.

The screening was set for 2:00 on Sunday afternoon—something that’s never been done before, but apparently Paramount was screening the movie for press across the country all at the same time. Knowing how packed these press-only screenings of big summer movies can be (last year’s screening of Pirates 3 was the same thing—only on a weeknight), I hustled my husband and brother-in-law out the door as early as possible. And we arrived at the theater at around 1:20. By that time, the area around the little theater was already filling up—with people I’d never seen before in my life. John and Clay were there, too, so I wandered up to talk to them.

When they finally started letting us in, I managed to be the second person in the door. I had to be—because I was the only one of the Rodents there. I had a bunch of seats to save. Between the three of us, we ended up saving an entire row—10 seats. And I managed to make a lot of new enemies in the process. The theater we were in was one of the tiny ones—so it filled up quickly. There were all kinds of people there who weren’t technically “press.” There was also one gigantic guy who had made himself his very own “press pass,” which totally cracked the rest of us out. We’re still considering making our own press sandwich boards.

I’m guessing a bunch of people didn’t RSVP, as requested—because the theater filled up so quickly that I was surprised that fights didn’t break out. People were forced to leave as other showed up. And I have to say that I felt really bad when the rep’s wife and kids were sent away—because one of our favorite I-won’t-waste-my-time-by-showing-up-early colleagues showed up at the last minute.

In the end, I was pretty impressed that everyone made it out in one piece—and that no punches were thrown. And, a few missteps aside, the movie was pretty good. Not bad for an exciting Sunday afternoon.

Another big fiasco that weekend, however, was The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. We’d planned to see it on Friday afternoon—but when Jason and I were the only ones who could go, we decided to cancel our plans. So Ed and I went guitar shopping instead. First, we thought we’d see it on Friday night instead. Then Friday night turned to Saturday night. And Saturday night turned to…“Um…maybe Monday?”

Finally, we made it to the infamous Movie Tavern on Monday night. I wasn’t all that impressed by the movie (neither were the kids across from us, who spent the second half screaming and running around). And I guess the person behind me, who made me violently angry by kicking my seat through about half the movie, probably wasn’t all that thrilled, either. But at least the experience was cool. In fact, I think it was the highlight of Ed’s visit. He was pretty thrilled to be able to eat dinner and drink a beer while watching a movie. And, really, who wouldn’t be?

But that was it for screenings for the rest of the week—until this Tuesday night.

This week, there are two wide releases: Sex and the City and The Strangers. And, unfortunately, they were screening at pretty much the same time. It was a tough call—because:

The Strangers started at 7:30 at the theater I like, and it was only 90 minutes long. Not only that, but it looked pretty cool. Whereas…

Sex and the City was going to be held at a random theater in the middle of freakin’ nowhere. It was scheduled for an 8:30 New York premiere red carpet simulcast, followed by a 9:00 movie, which would then last almost 2½ hours. And, well, I’ve seen only a few episodes of SATC, so I really didn’t care. I was, however, mildly intrigued.

In the end, however, I ended up going to see Sex and the City. I really didn’t want to—especially since it was late, and I was suffering from some nasty allergies. But John asked me to be on the show this week—and he seemed pretty intent on covering SATC (which, I suppose, is understandable). So he made my decision for me. Not that I was happy about it or anything.

So at 7:45ish, there I was, in the lobby of this random theater in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, surrounded by girls in (I kid you not) dresses and heels, along with guys in suits. There was a huge line of very excited women (and about five guys) snaking through the lobby. And then there were the critics: Bill (with his very excited mom), Jason (with his very excited girlfriend and mom), and me. And then came Hope, who pointed out, “You can tell the fans from the critics by their shoes.” And she was right—my Chuck Taylors do not have heels. And Hope wasn’t wearing a dress.

When the rep told us we could go in, we all made a break for it. Jason’s girlfriend, Milu, and I rushed past the cheesy red carpet that had been set up for the event. There was someone with a camera nearby, and we really didn’t want our pictures taken.

Once we got inside, we were hit with a barrage of SATC stuff on the big screen. It was like watching the DVD’s special features. Some crazy lady talked (very loudly) about the wardrobe. And that’s when I decided to try to tune it all out (which was difficult, since the volume was deafening). I chatted with Clay and his friend, Michelle, who had taken seats behind me. I laughed with Bill and Jason at the people walking in. And I marveled at the fact that I was, without doubt, the only woman in the theater who would be watching the movie with a straight man on either side—and, really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We also made plans to create our own TV series. It’s called Two Guys, a Girl, and a Movie Theater. We’re currently entertaining offers.

At 8:30, we had to sit through a trailer of the movie—and then the red carpet hoohah began. It, too, was deafening. A crazed Stephen Cojocaru (who looked like he was so excited, he could pee himself at any minute) interviewed everyone who walked up, telling them all that they were, in fact, the most stunning person on the carpet. Our personal favorite moment, however, was when Jennifer Hudson and her scandalous cleavage took her turn with Cojo. When asked if she’d bathed in gold that day (thus her tight gold dress), she replied, “No, I just rubbed up against my Oscar.” Classy.

At a few minutes to 9, there were a couple of giveaways, which Jason’s mother was totally eager to win. Finally, to hoots and applause from our row, she successfully listed off all four starring actresses, and she won a shirt. She was thrilled.

Then, at 9ish, the movie started. Finally. And, instead of being deafeningly loud, like everything leading up to the movie had been, it was ridiculously quiet. I could hear the oohs and aahs from the people around me (not to mention Clay’s chuckles from behind me) better than I could hear the actual movie. It was annoying.

It was even more annoying when, suddenly, the print was thrown off, and the top third of the screen was black. Everyone’s head was down at the bottom of the screen, and all of the boom mikes were totally visible. This brought about snickers from the crowd, along with groans from the critics. Jason said something not-so-nice about the projectionist and his mental capacity, and I expressed how happy I was that we came to this theater in the middle of freakin’ nowhere.

Somewhere in the middle of the movie, as the crowd gasped at something said on-screen and Jason and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes, I realized that we really do have our own sit-com. We’re living it every single week. And even when I have to sit through movies that make my head hurt—movies that take place too late at night, at a theater in the middle of freakin’ nowhere—it’s still kinda fun.

When it was all over, the guys and I waited in the lobby as the moms battled the crowds at the women’s bathroom. It was pretty amusing to listen to everyone twittering away about the characters and their actions—as though they didn’t realize that they’re fictional characters. We did, however, note that the crowd wasn’t all that enthusiastic. Sure, there were “oooh”s and “aaaah”s and gasps and giggles at off-color jokes. But the enthusiasm definitely died down. There wasn’t a huge, thundering round of applause after the movie (as is often the case at public screenings). People just kinda left.

I couldn’t blame them, really. I mean, I wasn’t impressed at all. It was pretty predictable and fluffy and melodramatic. It was whiny. And it was totally melodramatic. I don’t want to give anything away, but at one point, Carrie decides to check her messages—while on the beach in Mexico—and after listening to one, she deletes it and melodramatically throws the phone into the water. Then the camera cuts to the phone as it slowly sinks below the water.

Ugh. So much drama. I know that was probably supposed to move me to tears or something, touched by the pain that Carrie was feeling—but, mostly, it just made me groan and roll my eyes.

And it really drove me crazy how, every time the four of them got together, it resulted in about a minute of shrieking and jumping up and down. Last time I checked, girls stopped doing that at around the age of 10. It hurt my ears. And it made me angry. I was even a bit insulted. I mean, really—is this the way that strong, independent grown women are supposed to act? Because, last time I checked, that’s more like the way spoiled 13-year-olds act.

But I wasn’t the only one who was less than impressed. Jason admitted that he’s pretty much seen the entire series—and the show was way better than the movie. So that made me feel a bit better. Personally, I’d been intrigued by the show. I’d always meant to watch it more—and whenever I caught it on TBS or whatever while I was flipping channels, I’d stop to watch. And I remembered liking those few shows much more than I liked the movie. The show seemed to be smart and funny. The movie was long and annoying.

And if I get hate mail for saying so, so be it. Personally, I’m kinda glad that no one around here really knows who I am—because if they did, I’d probably get my eyeballs scratched out while walking down the street after giving the movie a D on the radio this week. I know that people are really attached to the show. I know they’ve been looking forward to the movie. And that’s fine. It’s not their fault that the movie’s not good—nor is it mine. But, well, I’m sure it’ll make a boatload of money anyway.

So did I mention that on Tuesday, before the movie, I was hit with some nasty allergies? Well, I was. And they only got worse on Wednesday. That made me a little worried about recording the show yesterday morning. Then again, considering how congested I was, I guess it wouldn’t be a big deal—it would just sound like John was doing the show with deep-voiced Clay, as usual.

Fortunately, though, everything went relatively well, considering that I spent most of the show willing myself not to hack up a lung—while finishing off a couple of bottles of water. In hindsight, it probably would have been best to record the show today—since I sound way better this morning. But, well, who knew? And, really, it didn’t turn out all that bad, after all (you can have a listen for yourself).

So anyway…next week, we’re back to a more normal schedule: two screenings next week. In fact, we’ve already got at least two screenings a week scheduled for all of June. That’s more like it. This whole one-screening-a-week thing was weird. I was starting to forget how to write reviews. And I found myself scrambling to fill my schedule each week. So I’m glad things are picking up again—even if it means having to watch You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Kung Fu Panda on consecutive nights. I won’t even complain. Much.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

One Crazy Night

New at Since Last Week:
What Happens in Vegas

This week’s screening schedule was exactly as this week’s title suggests. We had just one evening screening, and it was pretty much insane.

Tuesday night was the Son of Rambow screening, which was held at The Theater Where Nobody Shuts Up. And that always makes for an entertaining evening.

Since the theater is way on the other side of town, we decided to carpool—so Neil showed up at our place, and we drove down from here. We were planning to leave by 6:15ish for the 7:30 screening (both because it’s quite a hike down to that part of town and because the theater has absolutely no parking, so you have to show up early to get a spot that doesn’t require a two-mile hike). But Neil stopped at Kevin’s place before the screening and ended up playing with the baby for longer than expected. Fortunately, though, we’ve got backup. So while we waited for Neil to show up, I picked up the phone and called Jason, who was already on his way. So if we weren’t there before the doors opened, we’d still have a seat. It’s cool how that all works.

So anyway, we ended up parking on the street and still making it into the theater before the doors opened. But when we got there, we were greeted by one big, happy surprise: goody bags. Jamie, the lovely Paramount Vantage rep, had put together goody bags, filled with all kinds of fun, sugary ‘80s goodies. As soon as the bags were in our hands, we regressed about 20 years, and we were all like little kids on the playground, trading my Boston Baked Beans for Neil’s Snow White Pez dispenser. It was awesome. We had already been pretty excited to see the movie—and suddenly we were both excited and wired on Air Heads. Did I mention it was awesome?

So anyway, once the doors opened, we got ourselves some seats—right in the middle, right where we usually sit. We got to sit around and get caught up, since we hadn’t seen each other in a while week. It’s pretty strange, really, not seeing everyone several times a week. I actually kinda miss them. So it was nice to get caught up again.

Eventually, the theater started filling up, and, as is usually the case with The Theater Where Nobody Shuts Up, we ended up surrounded by entertaining characters.

Behind us, for instance, there were two Pepper Pots in training. I believe they were rather young, but they were still very Pepper Pot-ish. By that, I mean that they were absolutely mortified by everything in the movie. There’s a mouse on-screen, there are two “EEW!”s behind me. The kid’s drawing is a bit violent, there are two “UUH!”s behind me. There was an “OOOH!” or an “UUUH!” or a “EEEW!” for everything. Even pinecones, apparently, mortified these women. And if they weren’t expressing some form of horror and outrage, they were chatting up a storm.

But that’s only the beginning.

Then there was the guy in front of us. Now, I know that the movie was about a couple of kids in the early ‘80s, but I didn’t think that the screening necessitated costumes. But this guy definitely had a great costume: long, scraggly brown hair, black leather vest. He looked like a cast-off roadie from an ‘80s metal band. He had clearly smoked an entire pack before entering the theater, and I’m pretty sure that isn’t all this guy’s been smoking—since, from the sound of it, something fried the guy’s brain cells years ago. Oh, and he sounded just like Sam Elliot.

Fortunately, though, Sam Elliot enjoyed every minute of the movie. He was laughing. And clapping. And talking to the screen. He was having a great time. And as we sat behind him, snickering, his girlfriend was hunched down in her seat, and his friends, who were sitting next to him, were chuckling in embarrassment and leaning the other way.

So, yeah. It was another night at The Theater Where Nobody Shuts Up. Fortunately, the movie was a whole lot of fun. Neil’s looking forward to seeing it again at the screening he’s hosting this week—mostly because it’ll be nice to see it once without Sam Elliot’s commentary.

But that was it for the week. Kevin actually made the drive to Cincinnati last night for the Prince Caspian screening, but at $4 a gallon for gas, the rest of us figured that, if we really wanted to see it, we could pay to see it here instead of driving 200 miles round trip to see it for free. We were actually planning to see it today over lunch at the Movie Tavern, but then Neil decided to take a nap instead and David realized that he had a scheduling conflict, so Jason and I scrapped that idea. Since my brother-in-law, Ed, is in town this weekend, I took him to Guitar Center instead—and we had lunch at the only Friendly’s in town, followed by a stop at the only Dunkin’ Donuts in town. And we might just head to Movie Tavern tonight instead.

So this weekend’s a busy one. On top of having Ed here—which means some shopping, some hanging out, and maybe a trip to the zoo—I’m also heading over to the WCBE yard sale tomorrow for a while. (If you’re in the area, it’s from 10-2, and there will be cool stuff. Be sure to stop in!) And Sunday is the Indiana Jones screening. And we still have to re-watch The Last Crusade sometime between now and then. So I’m sure that’ll make for one crazy weekend. After that, though, there’s nothing. Seriously. Nothing at all. There are two screenings on Tuesday night, but they’re both movies that I will have already seen. So there isn’t a single screening this week. It’s going to be a quiet, lonely week—but, on the bright side, that means that I’ll be able to catch up on DVDs and books and music and stuff. So I’m not going to complain…

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Those Lazy Days of Summer

New at Since Last Week:
Speed Racer
Made of Honor

May seems to be a pretty sleepy month for movies. And by that, I don’t mean that the movies are boring. I just mean that there aren’t a lot of them. For instance, last week, two movies opened (in wide release, that is): Iron Man and Made of Honor. This week, it’s What Happens in Vegas and Speed Racer. Next week, it’s just Prince Caspian. The week after, it’s Indiana Jones. In other words, all kinds of big movies that no one wants to try to battle at the box office. So while each week brings an exciting new adventure for us critics, they’re few and far between.

This week, we had just two screenings—both on Tuesday. On Tuesday morning, we were scheduled to see What Happens in Vegas at The Other Theater (the one where we rarely have morning screenings—but where we totally prefer to have them). Since it’s much closer to home, that meant that I could leave at the same time and still make a stop at the nearby Tim Horton’s. It’s a good thing that I had plenty of time, though—because the poor kid working the counter clearly had no idea what he was doing. He greeted me when I walked in and asked what he could get me, and I said, “I’ll have a chocolate chip muffin…” and I paused to let him do whatever he needed to do. Instead, he just stared at me. So I went on. “…And a small hazelnut iced coffee with no cream and a little bit of sugar.”

His response: “A chocolate chip muffin.”

At that point, I knew I was in trouble. This one took a whole lot of explaining on my part—and when I walked out, I ended up with a regular iced coffee with no nothin’, but I wasn’t about to complain. The movie would be over by the time I got what I wanted.

But at least I had my muffin. And some sort of coffee.

When I got to the parking lot, David was already there, eating a breakfast burrito in his car. (I’ve mentioned that film critics have a glamorous life, right?) And Jason had just followed me from the Tim Horton’s drive-thru. So we gathered in the lobby to wait for the others.

Apparently, everyone was a bit burnt out after seeing Made of Honor last week—because very few people showed up for the screening. And when it began, I, too, was a little (okay…more than a little) worried. But, fortunately, it turned out to be much better than Made of Honor (not that the bar was set all that high).

After the screening, we all went our separate ways, heading back to our offices to try to write something up before racing back to the theater again that night for Speed Racer.

Since most of our evening screenings have been at the same time and same place lately, I didn’t even think to double-check the time of the screening—until we’d finished dinner. It was then that I realized that the screening was at 7—not 7:30—and we had to race to the theater. I called David to ask him to save us seats, and we headed out—dirty dishes all over the kitchen. It looked like a tornado had just gone through—but we had places to be.

Of course, we were still there plenty early. So no worries there. We were, however, displaced from our usual seats—this time, not by the usual rep, complete with entourage, but by one of our own. He had taken the center seats, leaving the rest of us either to split up (which sucks—but we do it if we have to) or to sit at the very side of the theater, right by the steps (which would mean that half of the movie would be blocked out by the constant parade of kids heading to and from the bathroom). Though Jason asked him politely if he could move down just a couple of seats, he refused—first stating that they were press seats (apparently assuming that the rest of us were just pushy fanboys) and then announcing, “No, I’m good here.”

It’s not like someone was asking him to sit up front—or way off on the side. They were just asking him to move a seat or two over. We do it all the time. No big deal. But apparently it would have meant the end of the world for this guy. Eventually, Jason got the rep to ask him to move over—which, I’m sure, made us look a little spoiled, but we didn’t really care. At least we didn’t have to deal with the parade of kids headed to the bathroom.

As it turned out, though, not only did the guy refuse to move over, but he also refused to let anyone sit next to him, preferring to save an extra seat for his coat. Now, in many cases, that’s okay. The theater doesn’t always fill up. But, in this case, there were more passes than seats—and there were all kinds of people who were turned away. The reps in charge asked (several times) if anyone had extra seats around them, but he never said a word. So someone was sent home that night because his coat needed a seat. Now, I understand that some critics like to have their “buffer seat”—but even John, who loves his buffer seat, will give it up when there’s a full house. So I’d say that this guy ranks right up there with the one who, upon showing up late for I Am Legend and demanding a seat, told the guy who showed up on time and still got thrown out, “Yeah, like you’d lose your job if you didn’t see this movie.”

So when people tell me that film critics are jerks (and yes, people have), I guess I can’t totally disagree. Some are. But I swear that most of us are totally cool. Really. So please don’t throw things at us or send death threats via email. We’re really not that bad.

But anyway…Speed Racer was, as expected, one crazy movie. Needlessly complex but totally crazy. When we walked out, Bill announced that he was going to go home and stare at a blank screen for a while, just to recover. A few guys complained of headaches. And I couldn’t actually see normal colors—everything was red and blue and swirly polka dots and stuff for hours after the movie ended. But, well, it was kinda fun anyway.

The kids, on the other hand, were barely effected—unless, of course, you count the fact that they came running out of the theater and ran around in circles and bumped into things. Other than that, though, they seemed happy.

After the screening, Kevin had to head back to greet his in-laws, who moved in for a few days to take care of Kevin’s two little guys while Kevin and his wife, Carolyn, brought the third little Kevin into the world. And on Wednesday afternoon, we got the news—along with the unauthorized photos—of the birth of the latest Carr, Nicholas Ronon. In a couple of years, he, too, will be wreaking havoc on movie theaters and running into things—and I look forward to it. Believe it or not, little Carr kids are really quite adorable. Why, just last week, at the Iron Man screening, the youngest walked up to Neil and, out of the blue, announced, “I love you, Neil.” Of course, this is the same child who, right after the Speed Racer screening, also exhibited is talent for farting on cue. So, yeah—cute…and entertaining.

But that’s it for this week—just one crazy day of screenings followed by a few days to recover. Next week will be even quieter. We just have one screening scheduled for next week—Son of Rambow (yeah!). Of course, there’s no Prince Caspian screening—so we’ll all be heading out on Friday to see it at the Movie Tavern (where there will be fried pickles). My brother-in-law, Ed, the coolest brother-in-law ever, will be showing up for a visit on Thursday night, so he’ll get thrown right into the craziness that is known as the COFCA Mafia (AKA “The Internet Mavericks,” AKA “The Rodents”). It’s sure to be quite an adventure for young Ed. Perhaps I’ll drag him away from the Wii long enough to guest blog for me on Monday, following his movie-filled weekend.

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