Friday, March 25, 2005

Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events (22Mar05)

Tuesday's movie-going experience was truly an unfortunate event.

Paul, my husband/partner in cheap movies, came home at the usual time and perused the list I'd provided for him. We had four movies to choose from, and we agreed on Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events because it had been in the theater for a while, which meant:

a) It might not be there much longer, and if we didn't go, we might miss our chance

b) The crowds would have diminished enough to make us feel confident that we'd get a seat without being surrounded by kids. That may make me sound like a horrible person, but admit it -- it's not fun to try to really focus on a movie when you're surrounded by kids who laugh loudly at things that aren't funny and who have not yet learned that they're supposed to be quiet in movie theaters. It's like going to a movie with one of my high school friends, who always spent the whole movie yelling, "Where's he going?" "Is he gonna die?" or "Who's that guy?" -- as if we knew any better than she did. I have to hand it to the kids -- at least they're young enough not to know much better.

Anyway, when we jumped into the line leading to the theater's sole ticket-ripper, it seemed like all the people in front of us in line were headed to the first theater on the left. I figured it had to be a movie like Closer, which just came to the theater last weekend. Unfortunately, he directed us to the first theater on the left, too, which was my first bad omen of the evening.

We walked in, and there were still plenty of seats left, so we were still doing okay. We chose a seat in the middle, on the aisle -- behind three college kids (college kids being regular patrons of Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater) and in front of a couple of guys.

It soon became painfully clear that the guy seated behind Paul wasn't exactly the brightest one in the bunch. He was one of those guys who thinks he has the funniest comment for anything that happens -- and he wants to bless everyone around him with the joy of hearing it. That, mixed with the fact that he apparently can't read anything unless he says it out loud (in his outdoor voice), made watching the previews an irritating experience. But I gave the guy the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he simply had no respect for previews (unlike those of us who take notes on what's coming and what we want to see), and he'd shut up when movie started.

I have good news and bad news. The good news: the guy behind Paul did, in fact, shut up when the previews were over. The bad news: the guy next to him (and behind me) took over -- starting when the lights dimmed, and he shouted out, "So I guess the movie's starting now, huh?"

It was quite clear from the very beginning of the opening credits that the man behind me was seriously bored out of his mind. Poor guy. He sighed as though the weight of the world were on his shoulders and no one cared. He started babbling about anything and everything -- usually totally unrelated to the movie. Even his chatty friend in the seat behind Paul shushed him -- and he quieted down a bit (except for the world-weight-carrying sighs). And then he began kicking the back of my seat in a perfectly rhythmic -- yet still entirely annoying -- manner, so hard that my whole seat shook. In fact, it was so hard that it even shook Paul's seat, causing him to turn around regularly and give the guy the "Do you mind? We're trying to watch a movie here," look.

Meanwhile, I was trying to decide whether I should turn and ask him politely to stop kicking my freakin' seat -- or if I should just grab his ankle on one rhythmically-placed THUD and pull until he fell out of his seat, flat on his butt on the Coke-coated cement floor. Just the sheer thought of it gave me great pleasure.

As I was contemplating my ankle-pulling, two little people joined us in our row. I was slightly distracted by the kicking and fantasizing that I didn't really take notice of the first -- other than to note that she was especially diminutive, though a lot of people seem to be rather diminutive when you're especially tall. The second person, however, I noticed as she lifted her booster seat over my lap and plopped it down on the seat beside me.


Instantly, the little girl beside me started talking about the movie, about what was going on, about what was going to happen (all the while smacking my arm, which was resting in my lap), her comments and questions punctuated by the rhythmic THUDs on the back of my chair.

Eventually -- after a few dirty looks from Paul and plenty of bad vibes from me -- the guy behind me stopped kicking. But as soon as he stopped, he apparently came down with a serious illness, causing him to clear his throat loudly, as well as to cough and sneeze without considering covering his mouth to combat the earth-quaking noise of it all or the germs that attached themselves to the back of my head. I was annoyed, but I also felt bad for this man, who was obviously knocking (quite loudly, I'm sure, since I don't think he could possibly do anything quietly) on death's door -- and his friend sitting next to him didn't seem to care at all.

And the child continued her running commentary. She made it quite clear, during the course of the movie, that she thought that the baby was especially chubby. And at one point, the dear little angel shouted out, "Get out of there! Are they STUPID? GET OUT!!" About halfway through, she got especially antsy and decided to go to the bathroom. She hopped off her booster seat, climbed over us, and left. It was around this time that I realized that the diminutive female who accompanied our little angel was not, in fact, a diminutive mother. It was a diminutive sister -- probably no older than ten or eleven -- which would explain not only why she allowed the little one to leave and apparently wander the theater by herself but also why she was not seated with a hand firmly planted over the little one's mouth.

Shortly after the little one returned, a woman appeared in the aisle beside Paul. "Excuse me," she mumbled, leaning on top of my husband, handing over two little grease-stained bags.

"POPCORN!" the little one shouted. It was then that it occurred to me that not only was the little one accompanied by her sister, but her mother was also in the theater -- but had decided that he didn't want to be bothered by her little angel's incessant babbling, so she took a seat in the back of the theater to enjoy the movie in peace and quiet. And believe me -- despite the fact that the trio had shown up ten minutes into the movie, they still could have found three seats grouped together. Instead, the mother chose to tell her children, "See that angry-looking lady? The one with the guy kicking the back of her seat? Go sit next to her. Have fun!"

So the little one cheerily munched her popcorn, which didn't prevent her from chatting about the movie. But then, as the film progressed to its climax, she curled her little legs up to her chest, covered her face with both of her hands, and announced, "I'm SCARED!!" Her sister was rather disturbed by the situation, and the two of them had a rather heated conversation about what the little girl was going to do about the situation -- the options of which included her return to the bathroom or a trip to the back of the theater, by her mom -- but she kept insisting, hands firmly planted on eyes, that she was, in fact, scared. Really, really scared.

Apparently the guy behind me was, too, because he cleared his throat loudly and returned to kicking the back of my seat.

And at that point, something inside me snapped. While others around me watched on in suspense, wondering what was going to happen next, I leaned forward, put my head in my hand, and laughed until I cried (silently, of course, so as not to be rude -- because I would never dream of disrupting others' movie-going experience).

So what did I think of the movie? From what I caught, it was dark. And scary (really, really scary, if you happen to be a little kid in a booster seat -- despite the fact that her general knowledge of what was going on suggested that she was familiar with the books...). (And apparently, according to the little girl next to me, the baby was quite chubby.) Paul thought it was just too depressing. The visuals were cool, but the story was pretty weak. But you can read all of that in my review.


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