Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Robots (24May05)

This week, we played it smart. We'd both had a bad day, so we chose a brainless animated comedy instead of a heart-wrenching drama. Smart choice, don't you think?

It was another cold, drizzling night, and The Cheap Theater wasn't exactly buzzing. We didn't have to wait to buy tickets. We barely had to wait for the ticket-ripper to rip our tickets (we wouldn't have had to wait at all if the guy ahead of us hadn't stuck his ticket somewhere in the deep, dark crevices of his jeans pocket for safe keeping in the 50 feet between the ticket booth and the ticket-ripper, thereby having to take the time to dig it back out).

Since Robots was in its second week in the theater, I hoped it wouldn't be too packed. But when we walked in, the theater was already crawling with chattering children. My day had been so bad, however, and I was so relieved to be out of the house for a while, that I found their excitement rather entertaining. In fact, I was even amused by the two children in front of me, who were thoroughly ticked off by the fact that their mom made them share a tub of popcorn.

Eventually, my ears adjusted to the kid-movie sound levels in the theater. That's just one of those things you have to get used to if you want to see a kids' movie in the theater (unless you go to the midnight showing). You just have to learn to tune out the constant chatter -- it goes with the territory.

Once the movie started, though, the kids were perfectly well-behaved. Sure, they chattered and they giggled, but it was just the usual hum of a kids' movie audience. There weren't any shouters or screamers or any kids making a scene.

That was left for the adults.

Yes, the children in the theater actually had more self-control than the adults. The children chattered. They giggled. The adults talked to the characters. They shrieked. They guffawed. They made horrifying bodily sounds.

Apparently, the adults in the theater figured it was okay to act like kids -- only louder. The woman behind me took her seat and let out an eardrum-shattering belch. And when the movie was about to begin, she howled (almost to the point of hyperventillation) through the moderately amusing introductory short featuring that poor little squirrel from Ice Age.

The two women who sat beside us gasped in shock at everything that happened during the movie -- and they peppered their gasps with "Oooooh nooooooo!"s and "Awwwwww!"s. And whenever struck them as amusing, they'd laugh their loudest, heartiest "A-huh! A-huh! A-huh-huh-huh!"

Meanwhile, at the other side of the theater, another woman (who I seriously hope had been drinking before arriving at the theater) found everything extremely funny -- and she'd let everyone know it by letting out a shriek so shockingly loud that it sounded like she'd just been bitten on the rear by a passing toddler. Her howls of laughter were so randomly placed that I'm quite sure that even the kids (who, in general, tend to laugh at pretty much anything) were wondering what the heck she was laughing about. I'm pretty sure we've encountered this Random Shrieker before -- when we saw Be Cool -- so when the movie ended, I tried to get a good look at the other side of the theater, so I'll know whom I should never sit anywhere near (I believe she was the one with the short hair and a baseball cap).

In general, all of the adults around us acted more childish than their children. The two kids in front of me got over their feud over the popcorn, and they spent the duration of the movie quietly munching -- with their mother responded to everything by saying, "Oh no!" or "Oh dear." Behind me, a child would occasionally ask a question or make a comment to his dad in his best indoor voice -- and his dad would respond in a voice loud enough for everyone in the back half of the theater to hear.

While the kids quietly enjoyed the movie, giggling at the appropriate times, the adults got up and paced through the theater. Or babbled loudly. Or belched. Or shrieked.

They obviously need their five-year-olds to teach them a thing or two about etiquette.

The Aviator Review Published

Check out for my review of The Aviator. And, while you're at it, read my entry about the experience.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Million Dollar Baby (17May05)

As we headed to The Cheap Theater to see the Academy Award-winning drama Million Dollar Baby, I wondered what kind of crowd we'd be joining there. I was reminded of the night of the Oscars -- and a clip of host Chris Rock interviewing average-Joe moviegoers at a local theater.

"Have you seen Million Dollar Baby?" he asked a gaggle of happy, popcorn-munching theater patrons.

"Nope," they all responded.

"What about White Chicks?" he added.

"I love that movie!" they all replied.

And at that moment, I smiled a smile of sadistic pleasure -- not because people in general loved White Chicks (that actually frightened me just a little bit -- but to each his own) but because I wasn't the only one who tended to avoid the heavy, dramatic movies that get so much hype from the Academy.

Of course, I still wanted to see it. I am, after all, a Movie Person. I have to see and appreciate all kinds of movies (even though -- I'll admit it -- it was pretty tempting to forget that crap and go see Man of the House or maybe Are We There Yet? instead).

But I did it. I went to see a Drama (one so dramatic and so critically acclaimed that it deserves a capital D).

But what kind of person actually goes to see a Drama -- especially in The Cheap Theater (which, in my mind, accommodates more to the Man of the House crowd)?

1) Older viewers. We were actually some of the youngest people in the theater. Most of the people there seemed to be somewhere in their 40s through their 60s (and even some in their 70s). We were surrounded by groups of middle-aged people and pairs of adorable petite white-haired women who smelled powdery -- just like my grandma always did. It made me wonder how they handled the gruesome scenes with broken noses and gushing blood (I, for one, closed my eyes).

2) Intellectual/alternative college students. Most likely philosophy majors who will go back to their dorms and sit up all night discussing the underlying message. Some may also be English majors as well, but I was an English major, and you never would have caught me in that theater when I was in college. I most likely would have been in the next theater over, watching Are We There Yet?

3) Three boys, ranging from about 12 to about 17. No, I don't get that one, either. I have a feeling it wasn't their idea.

4) A few people like me, who just go to look intellectual and open-minded.

Did I appreciate the movie? Yes. Did I secretly wish I'd snuck out and gone next door to see Are We There Yet? A little.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Constantine (11May05)

It's been a crazy week. Poor Paul has been working even more than usual -- and he worked so late on Tuesday that we missed Cheap Night at our favorite Cheap Theater. So we did something different this week -- we visited The Cheap Theater on a non-Tuesday weeknight. And it was -- not surprisingly -- dead. So dead, in fact, that no one was working the ticket booths, forcing the evening's concession stand worker to do double duty. Poor guy.

This week, we decided to see Constantine (which, for those of you who might be wondering, is not, in fact, a movie about that guy who was recently and oh-so-wrongly voted off American Idol well before his time) -- partially because I got called in to work, due to a yarn-store emergency, and the movie didn't start until 7:25. And despite the fact that the theater was far from packed, we were still able to observe the behavior of two different kinds of Perplexing Moviegoers...

First, The Laughers.

There were two girls across the aisle from me who apparently thought that the movie was a comedy. For those of you who don't know, Constantine is a supernatural action movie, filled with scary-looking demons and exorcisms and stuff. And it does not star Bill Murray.

I'm not saying that there wasn't any humor in the movie. There was. But it was the sly kind that makes you grin. If anything, it makes you let out a quiet "huh." These girls, however, found those bits of subtle humor absolutely hysterical in a laugh-out-loud-till-it-hurts kind of way.

Don't get me wrong. I love to laugh. But there's a time and a place for everything -- especially laughter. This wasn't it.

I know it's not just them, either. I've run into The Laughers before. Believe it or not, I sat right in front of one when I went to see The Passion of the Christ. I'm still baffled by that one.

Anyway, I was relieved that I wasn't watching an actual comedy with these two ladies. I'm afraid, if faced with something that really was funny, they could possibly laugh themselves right into heart failure, and that would put a serious damper on my movie-going experience.

But it wasn't just The Laughers who joined us in our movie-going experience. We were also joined by...

The Personal Space Guys.

I've always been intrigued by these guys -- the ones who think that it's just not right for two men to sit next to each other. Apparently, if two men go to a movie together (just totally as friends, got that? cuz their totally hot, totally female girlfriends just didn't want to see this movie, okay?) and they sit next to each other -- in a way that could possibly lead to their arms accidentally touching at some point in the movie -- then people will see them and think that those two men, sitting right next to each other in a dark movie theater, watching a totally manly movie, aren't just friends, if you know what I mean. Or maybe they're afraid that if they do end up sitting next to a guy in the dark theater, and their arms do accidentally touch, they could possibly become gay.

Either way, as a precautionary measure, these two men will thus sit with one seat between them, so as not to tempt fate and/or encourage gossip. They will then have to lean way over to yell their manly comments at one another (or to share their popcorn) -- and they could possibly end up in a packed theater, where a lonely old lady will end up sitting between them.

But at least no one -- especially none of their fellow beer-gut-toting, mullet-sporting rednecks -- will ever suspect them of being gay (just as long as they aren't seeing something like, say Legally Blonde 2).

Life Aquatic Review Published

Check out for my review of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (and read my post about the experience, too, while you're at it).

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Paul was super-busy at work last night, and he didn't get home until late -- too late to eat dinner and still catch a movie. So this week's movie night is on Wednesday night. We'll have to pay full price (a whole $1.50 each!), but it'll be an experience -- we've never been to the theater on a weeknight that's not Tuesday. Full report tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Aviator (3May05)

Though we planned to see one of our longer movies over the weekend, it didn't happen. I worked all day on Saturday, and I didn't get home until after 7. By that time, all I wanted was dinner, a Margarita, and a long night's sleep. So we decided to brave a long week night movie this week. We chose the mammoth Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator (weighing in at a super-bulky 170 minutes).

This week's Cheap Theater experience was a perplexing -- and seriously disturbing -- one. It's something that will most likely haunt me for years to come. And I'm not talking about the movie -- it wasn't all that memorable. I'm talking about what I saw before the movie started.

It wasn't really busy at the theater when we got there -- most likely because most of the evening's offerings had already started. Since there wasn't a line, we were early. In fact, when we got inside, they weren't even seating for The Aviator yet, so we took a seat on a bench just inside the door, where we had a great view of the concessions, the ticket-ripper's podium, the arcade, and the bathrooms.

I was studying the "Coming Soon" board when something strange caught my eye. I quickly glanced to the doorway to the bathrooms and then glanced back at the list of upcoming movies. It took a second to register what I'd just seen -- and when realization hit me, I did a double-take to confirm that I wasn't hallucinating.

"Holy crap!" I exclaimed, nudging Paul. "I think I just saw an old guy in short jean shorts and tall black books with heels!"

Now, if I had been sitting in the lobby of The Cheap Theater, just minding my own business, studying the case full of candy and waiting for my movie to start, and someone told me they'd just seen an old man in short shorts and tall black boots, I would most likely think that that person had serious issues that went well beyond poor eye-sight. And I'm sure that's exactly what Paul was thinking.

"Where?" Paul asked as he scanned the room.

"He just went into the bathroom," I replied (at which point he was probably thinking, Sure he did...).

"Are you sure it wasn't a woman?" he asked.

"Oh yeah. That was no woman," I told him.

"Well, then we'll just have to sit here and wait for him to come out," Paul said (most likely thinking, We're going to be sitting here for a heck of a long time).

So there we sat, staring at the doorway to the bathrooms. I stared for a long time, and even I was beginning to wonder if I'd been hallucinating. Maybe I need more sleep...or glasses...or a prescription... But apparently it takes a while to use the facilities in that kind of get-up. Or maybe he was detained by the other men in the bathroom, who blocked his exit so they could laugh at him. But eventually, there he came.

"See? I told you!" I exclaimed, relieved that there was no longer a straight jacket in my future.

I'd say he was in his late 50s or maybe his 60s. White hair, beer belly. He wore a white T-shirt and a jean jacket. From the waist up, he looked like he could have been Santa Claus incognito. But then there were the short-short denim shorts, accented with shiny black knee-high boots with what looked like three-inch heels.

Apparently, this Santa in half-drag was still waiting for the rest of his party (which, I could only imagine, included the bearded lady). So he casually leaned up against the wall beside the bathroom doorway with one knee bent, one heel against the wall -- the perfect Pretty Woman pose.

Women in the theater lobby turned their back to him so they could politely smother their laughter. I, too, turned away. I just couldn't watch. I glanced back just in time to see him meet up with a grandmotherly-looking woman who was dressed in perfectly normal, grandmotherly clothes. The look on her face showed no embarrassment, no horror. Instead, it seemed that, in her mind, her companion's choice of clothing for their trip to The Cheap Theater was totally normal.

I turned away to stifle another giggle.

"Is it safe to laugh now?" I asked Paul a few seconds later, when I figured they'd safely made it out the door.

"I don't know why not," Paul replied. "Everyone else is." And he was right. The whole lobby seemed to explode into giggles.

After that, even the goth boys who arrived to see Constantine, dressed in their best flowing black dresses, looked perfectly normal.

Once we got into our theater, things got a lot less interesting. The crowd around us wasn't nearly as fascinating as the spectacle in the lobby. I could tell stories about the girls who squeezed into our row about 30 minutes into the movie. (Maybe they were just hiding from someone, since they didn't actually pay attention to the movie -- they were, instead, having a conversation. The one next to me got a call on her cell phone and took her dear sweet time turning the phone off. And then they left about an hour before the movie ended.) I could also tell you all about the people around us, who fidgeted and yawned and sighed and whispered as the movie got longer and longer and longer -- but those stories would pale in comparison to the part-Santa-part-street-walker we encountered in the lobby, so I won't even bother.