Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Interpreter (28June05)

Normally, Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater is pretty busy. We generally leave home a half hour before showtime to make sure we'll get a seat. But Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater in the middle of summer is pure insanity. It was so busy, in fact, that two showings had totally sold out by the time we got there -- something that we'd never seen before.

I was a bit nervous last night because we left later than usual. Paul had an extra-long day of work, and by the time we got into the car, it was more like 22 minutes before showtime. So, as I sped to the theater, we devised a backup plan. If we got there too late for the 7:40 showing of The Interpreter, we'd just go to the 8:00 showing of The Pacifier instead (because, obviously, we're not all that picky).

I went through a few lights that were a bit on the orange side on the way -- and once we got to the theater, I was then faced with the parking issue. The lot was crammed. So instead of slowly cruising around the lot, trying to vulture a spot close to the theater, I decided to suck it up and park in the middle of nowhere.

As we hiked to the ticket booth, we saw that there was still enough time to make it to The Interpreter -- as long as the line moved quickly enough.

Fortunately, it did.

For a while.

Then the little old ladies got to the window. The shorter of the two (she was about 5'2") stepped up to the window and just stood there. Apparently, it hadn't occurred to her that she'd have to pick a movie to see. I suppose she figured they'd just hand her a ticket to whatever was playing, in random lottery style.

("Let's see...this week, you get to see...Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 43!"

"Aw, shucks. We had to see that one last week, too!")

So then she asked the girl in the ticket booth all kinds of questions -- which movies were playing when, what they're about, who's in them... Meanwhile, we stood in line behind her, becoming more and more irritated with each passing second. But I knew that some would consider it rude if I were to push a little old lady out of the way for a 50c movie ticket, so I refrained.

Finally, she made her decision -- I believe she went with The Pacifier -- and she stepped aside with her white-haired cohort. There was one other girl in front of us, and she speedily purchased her ticket while the two old ladies studied the piece of paper in the short one's hand. They obviously noticed something wrong because they both looked up at the ticket booth, and the taller of the two almost shoved the girl at the window out of her way.

The girl quickly grabbed her ticket and ran, leaving the old ladies to cut in front of us and step back up to the window.

"Did you only give me one ticket?" the little one asked. "Because I wanted two."

"You didn't give me one!" the taller one complained.

Time ticket on as the bewildered ticket seller produced one more ticket, in return for the two quarters that the taller lady had rather testily thrown down on the counter. And then the little old ladies were off to see Vin Diesel.

Finally, it was our turn. By the time Paul got our tickets, I was already rushing through the door to the lobby. We sped off to our theater with not much time to spare.

The theater was packed when we made it in. As our eyes adjusted to the dark, Paul pointed to the other side of the theater. "There are two seats over there," he announced -- and we rushed back through the doors to the other side and took the two seats in the very back corner of the theater -- before someone else could take them from us.

"This seat has definitely been worn in," I said as I settled into my seat, which had pretty much no padding left (Muffy from Fever Pitch would have been positively mortified). But I suppose we were in the make-out seats -- and not only that, but our seats had an unusual amount of leg room (which, when you're 5'10", is a valuable commodity). So they had every right to be popular seats. To make it better, there were only two of us in our very own row -- so I didn't have to worry about sitting next to any Laughers. And since it was the back row, we didn't have to worry about any Seat-kickers. Not a bad deal.

Unfortunately, we did have to worry about sitting right behind another parent who had opted to forego the babysitter. In front of us were two women with a little girl. I'm guessing she wasn't two yet, since she spoke mostly in grunts and shrieks).

Again, like Sahara, The Interpreter is not a kids' movie. In the opening scene, there are dead bodies and a couple of brutal murders. But these women didn't seem to mind -- nor did the little girl, who shrieked with joy.

I may not know children very well, but I do know that children of about two really don't care about following the intricacies of the complex plot of a PG-13 moving -- nor do they especially enjoy sitting still for more than 30 seconds. They would much rather run around and make 2-year-old noises -- and this little girl was no different. About every 30 seconds, she'd shriek, and one of the women (usually the one on the right, who, I'm pretty sure, wasn't her mother) would turn and say, "SSSSSSHHHHHH!" or "Be quiet!" or "You're really getting on my nerves!" -- or, in certain situations, "Sit down and stop that!" or "Don't touch me!"

The little girl would then go to sit with the woman on the left. Then she'd change her mind and put her arms out for the woman on the right. Then she'd cry, and the woman on the left would take her out in the hall for a minute before coming back and starting the whole thing over again.

I'm sure that neither woman was able to follow the movie -- it was, after all, complicated enough without the distraction of an impatient toddler. I had a hard enough time keeping up, and I didn't even have to keep saying, "SSSSSSHHHHHH!" (I just thought it in my head.)

I was, however, considering digging into my purse, handing them a few bucks, and telling them to do us all a favor and get a babysitter next time.

But alas, they left three-quarters of the way through the movie -- before I had the chance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sahara (21June05)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Cheap Movie Night...

It was a relief to be back at The Cheap Theater after missing two weeks -- first because of Paul's business trip, then because a friend was moving away the next morning, and we got out of her going-away dinner a little too late.

This week, we chose Sahara -- because it met our usual qualifications (most importantly, it had been in the theater for more than a week). On the way there, I yawned and told Paul that this had better be one exciting movie -- or else I may sleep through it. The last couple of weeks of having something to do every single night have taken their toll, and I'm running on pure caffeine now. So Paul, being pretty much as tired as I was, suggested we do something crazy -- spend an extra $42.50 on top of our $1 movie admission to split a gigantic and horrifically overpriced soda.

As we pulled into the parking lot -- a little later than normal -- we were stunned. The lot was so full that we had to park what seemed like five miles away. But now it's officially summer -- which, we discovered, means that every kid in the area goes to Cheap Movie Night because they've got nothing better to do on a Tuesday night. It hadn't really occurred to me before then that school was out -- and thus the kids, with their lack of homework and later bed times, would flock to The Cheap Theater. But heck -- if I were a high school kid, I'd do it, too.

The place was so busy that there were three lines of ticket sales open. I listened closely as we waited in line, making sure that not everyone was buying tickets for Sahara -- and we seemed to be in luck. People were coming to see The Interpreter. Or Hitch. Or The Pacifier. Only one woman bought a ticket for Sahara. Still, though, it was getting close to show time, and I was worried that the theater would already be full when we got there.

"Maybe we should skip the soda and just get in there," I told Paul.

"Or maybe you can just get in there, and I'll wait in line for the soda," he suggested. Paul is a genius. That's why I married him.

So we went our separate ways. He went to the line at the concession stand, and I went to the line for the ticket-takers -- a line that was so busy that they'd even brought in an extra ticket-taker for the evening.

I was directed to one of the bigger theaters, which posed a problem. There were two doors -- each leading to a different aisle. I had to try to use my Wonder Twin mind powers that married couples often acquire to pick the one that Paul was most likely to pick -- so he wouldn't get lost trying to find me in the dark while lugging around his keg of Diet Coke. I chose the door on the left. Then I picked two seats on the aisle in the center section -- two rows ahead of the people behind me and two rows behind the people ahead of me. Perfect.

The opening commercials (the ones that now come before the 15 minutes of previews) were already playing, so I didn't have a lot of time to study my surroundings -- though I did see (and hear) a lot of high school kids. But it wasn't just teenagers who had wandered into the theater. It was small children, too. Before Paul arrived with our mammoth soda, a family sat down in front of me -- Mom and Dad and two kids, maybe three and five years old. The kids stood up and turned around and chattered and giggled and complained and whined -- and that was before the movie began. In the row ahead of them was another family with a three-ish-year-old who stood on his seat and poked his parents in the eyeballs and asked all kinds of questions in his best outdoor voice.

As the movie began, I heard the usual sound of high school girls -- the loud whispering and the giggles (followed by the extra-loud "Shhhhhh!"s from the high school boys, which only brought about more giggles). But the movie was loud enough to drown them out. It was not, however, loud enough to drown out the three-year-olds.

In case you're not aware, I'll just clear something up right now. Sahara is not a Disney movie. There are no animated talking animals or song-and-dance numbers. There are, on the other hand, skeletons and explosives -- as well as a pretty yucky plague. This is not a movie for kids. But apparently the parents of these chatty, squirming children decided against getting a babysitter, for some reason that goes well beyond my comprehension. If you ask me, if you're only paying a buck for the two of you to see a movie, you can afford to spend a couple bucks on a babysitter. After all, we could afford a gigantic soda...

Bringing kids along to a grown-up movie is a lose-lose situation. The kids get bored and/or pissed off, and they'll most likely have nightmares for a week. And the parents will spend so much time telling the kids to sit down and shut up that they'll most likely have to go out and rent the movie later anyway. As an added bonus, once the kids start with the nightmares, they get the pleasure of having a shrieking little body in their bed every night for a week -- or until they can convince the kid that Mommy and Daddy aren't going to die of a horrible disease, in which they get yucky open sores all over their bodies and their eyes get covered in a creepy film (which just reminds me of the time when I was a kid and they showed an ancient skeleton that had been kept in a grandfather clock case on Ripley's Believe It or Not, and I couldn't sleep for ages, convinced that there was a skeleton in my closet...but that's another story).

Sure, parents of unruly children may be able to ignore their kids' obnoxious behavior -- in much the same way that my grandpa, who worked in an egg-processing plant all day, never even noticed the smell of rotten eggs. Unfortunately, those of us who are sitting behind them have not been likewise conditioned.

These parents see no problem with bringing along their three-year-old, who will most likely spend the entire movie yelling and bouncing in his seat and telling jokes and generally being a nuisance to those around them. These same people don't see a problem with leaving their five-year-old alone in the theater while they take their three-year-old out in the hall for a minute to calm him down. But I'd put money on the fact that those parents would also turn and give dirty looks (and perhaps even make a nasty comment or two) to anyone who accidentally forgets to turn off his cell phone before the movie started.

For that reason, I am entirely in favor of both cell phone blockers and obnoxious toddler blockers in movie theaters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fever Pitch (9June05) -- Finally!

Our latest Cheap Theater Adventure was once again delayed, due to the fact that, on Tuesday, Paul was in a different state. He got in late that night (actually, after 1 on Wednesday morning), thereby making Wednesday a day of recovery. So Thursday was movie day.

Since Thursday isn't exactly a buzzing day at The Cheap Theater, the poor guy at the concession stand was doing triple duty -- ticket sales, backup concessions (fortunately, he had help there), and ticket-ripping. I hope he got paid extra for covering three normal jobs.

I expected us to be watching Fever Pitch pretty much by ourselves, for a couple of factor:

1) It was Thursday. Why pay $1.50 to see a movie on Thursday when you could pay the same to see it on the weekend?

2) It's a Red Sox movie, and Columbus is mainly split into Reds fans and Indians fans.

But I forgot one big factor:

3) It was 92 and humid, and I'm guessing that anyone who lives in a home without air-conditioning would pay the $1.50 to see anything in a nice, cool theater -- even if it starred Ben Affleck. So the place was surprisingly full.

There was one couple in particular, however, that caught my attention as we waited for the movie to start. They were dressed as though they had been on their way back from dinner at the country club when they decided to do something entirely bourgeois -- like seeing a movie in an actual movie theater. They paraded down the aisle and selected seats a couple of rows ahead of us and across the aisle.

"Oh, dear!" the woman (let's call her Muffy) exclaimed as she took her seat. "This seat is lumpy!"

I snickered and whispered to Paul, "For a buck-fifty, what did she expect, a La-Z-Boy and a butler serving caviar?" As a matter of fact, I, too, have sat in The Lumpy Seat before, but I figured it was understandable. After all, the aisle seat in an old theater like that has most likely gotten more ass than Tom Jones.

Muffy's husband (let's call him Charles) took it rather lightly, quietly replying, "Oh, it's probably just worn out a bit." He kindly switched seats with her.

"See?" she shrieked as he sat down. "Isn't it horrible?"

Charles, who most likely used to sneak out with his friends after a long day at the prep school to sit in the theater with the riff-raff to see Rocky movies, took it like the man that he dreams of being someday. He sat down and shut up. Then he promptly stood up after receiving Muffy's demand for a small popcorn and a small Coke (preferably with a side of Beluga).

I thought I'd seen it all at The Cheap Theater. The Crazy Old Man in Cut-Offs and Stripper Boots and the Goth Kids. The Laughers. The Clueless. The parents with their screaming infants. The Seat-kickers, accompanied by the Chatty Kid. But I'd never seen anything like Charles and Muffy. And I doubt if I'll see them again. After all, one can take just so much of the bourgeoisie.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Coming soon...

This week's entry is, obviously, late. Paul was out of town on Tuesday, and we were planning on hitting the movies on Wednesday, but he was exhausted after his delayed flight and his crazed business trip. So we went last night, instead. I've got a busy weekend ahead of me, but I'll get to it ASAP...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Hitch (31May05)

This week, our Cheap Theater experience was rather...frantic. For some reason -- perhaps because everyone was fresh off the holiday weekend -- there was an extra amount of energy running through the building. I felt it the minute I walked in.

This week's movie was Hitch -- one we'd been dying to see since it first hit the Real Theaters. When we got inside our theater ("All the way down, on the left"), it wasn't all that packed -- but we tend to show up early now, ever since the time we showed up late for Ocean's 12 and had to sit in the second row. We took our seats and watched as the theater filled up around us.

This Tuesday at The Cheap Theater was Teen Date Night -- and I couldn't help but study the groups of Teen Daters, since I already knew all the answers to the trivia questions playing on the screen (mixed with subtle hints that I desperately needed a jumbo tub of popcorn and a large Coke). A few rows ahead of us sat five people. On the very outside sat two young boys, both slouched down, with their feet on the back of the seat ahead of them. In the next seat over was a young girl who giggled and fidgeted and repeatedly pulled her hair into a ponytail, pulled it out of the ponytail, shook it around a bit, and put it back into a ponytail. Next to her was an even younger girl. And two seats over was a middle-aged woman who looked like there were a million places she'd rather be.

"Let me get this straight," I said as I studied the group. "Those two are on a date...but he had to bring his best friend, and she had to bring her mom and her little sister."

"Looks like it," Paul replied. "You know how dating goes when you're that age..."

Actually, I didn't. At that age, dating, for me, consisted of passing notes to a boy's friend to give to him. There was no going to movies. In fact, there was no actual contact of any kind. When I was that age, relationships were mere rumors, confirmed by the friends who did the note-passing. I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16. And as I sat there in the theater, I was glad. I made a mental note to thank my mom later. After all, dating was excruciating enough without having to do it with parents and siblings and best friends looking on.

Next, another group of Teen Daters arrived. They were a little older -- I'm guessing that one of them was old enough to drive. The four of them marched down the aisle into the theater single file and chose a row near the front. I watched as they situated themselves -- boy, girl, girl, boy -- then proceeded to slouch down in their seats and put their feet up on the back of the seats ahead of them.

I remembered those nights of teen dating at the theater -- the nervous sickness in the pit of my stomach. The horrible anxiety of trying to figure out how the date was going so far. Was it going well? Did he like me? Was he going to ask me out again, or was he going to tell everyone in town that I was totally undateable? And I remember being completely unable to concentrate on the movie, since it took all of my brainpower to contemplate whether or not he was going to try to hold my hand at some point -- or if I was sitting with my hand in this obvious (and somewhat uncomfortable) position for nothing.

And I was once again reminded of how nice it is to be married. Paul and I go on our date to The Cheap Theater every Tuesday. I never need to worry about whether or not he's going to call me again. He doesn't have to -- we'll just talk over breakfast tomorrow morning. And I don't have to miss a good movie because I'm worrying about whether or not he'll hold my hand. Because he will. And if he doesn't, it's perfectly okay for me to make the first move. Marriage is cool like that.

At the same time, the kids ahead of me got me thinking about an issue that's been fleetingly crossing my mind for the last few weeks. What's up with this slouching-with-your-feet-on-the-seat-ahead-of-you thing? And why don't I do it anymore? I used to, but at some unidentified point, I stopped. In fact, I can't even imagine how I used to sit that way -- all squished in my seat, eating my knees.

That's when it hit me -- I'm getting old. When I was in high school -- and college -- sitting that way was cool. Everyone did it. But somewhere, in the blur of getting married and buying a house and picking out living room furniture that matches and concerning myself with things like 401k plans and cholesterol and sensible shoes, I have switched from slouching in my seat with my feet up on the seat ahead of me to sitting in my chair like a grown-up -- legs crossed, back straight, so as not to ruin my posture and end up with the hunched shoulders that run in my family.

I don't like what's happening here. I think I'll go back to slouching next week.

Finally, my sitting in the aisle seat this week paid off. While I could still hear the anxious chatter of those around me -- and I often couldn't hear the movie over the Extremely Loud Laugher seated in front of us -- this time, I escaped the worst of it. Poor Paul was seated next to what he called The Stupid Couple. Neither of them understood the movie (come's not rocket science -- it's a romantic comedy!), so they had an ongoing conversation about it:

"What did he just say?"
"I don't know. Who's that guy?"
"That's her boss. Why did he just say that?"

And so it continued through the whole movie. Poor Paul was almost as unhinged by the end as I was after my Lemony Snicket experience -- though he never curled up in the fetal position and started giggling. But they're wearing him down. I'm sure it'll happen sooner or later. Feel free to email me with your wagers.

Since this movie was already reviewed on (check out Tony's review), I'll throw in my two cents now. I loved it. While I was disappointed by Eva Mendes in general, Kevin James more than makes up for it. The story is cute, and the dancing scenes had the whole theater (including the Extremely Loud Laugher) howling. I laughed until the tears welled up in my eyes. It's a great chick flick (though even guys will like it) -- and it's on my list of movies to buy.