Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Kicking & Screaming (26July05)

This week, I learned a little more about what to expect when attending a family film -- because this week we entered the theater, took our seats (in the back row, of course), and watched as the rest of the seats filled up with kids. I'd say they made up about 85% of the theater's occupants.

As I learned, this may lead to a few experiences to which the typical grown-up moviegoer may not be accustomed. For instance:

1) Where there are a lot of kids gathered in a movie theater, there will inevitably be a lot of giggling. At times, you won't be able to hear the movie over the giggling, even though you're not really sure what's so funny. It could be, however, that a character just said that he was, for example, "out of the loop." The word "loop" sounds a lot like the word "poop." And the word "poop" is absolutely hilarious to anyone under 12 (as well as to some adult males). Additionally, giggling among children is contagious. And once one of them starts giggling -- no matter the reason -- the rest of them will start giggling, too.

2) No one will actually sit through the movie. I've learned -- after working a part-time job that requires me to try my very hardest to teach children how to knit -- that it is physically impossible for a child to sit for an entire 90 minutes. At some point, they'll have to get up and run around for no apparent reason. Or they'll need to go to the bathroom. Or they'll need to get a drink of water. Watching a movie in a theater full of kids, therefore, is an awful lot like trying to watch a movie in the middle of Grand Central Station.

3) To kids, movies are always real. Kids watch movies like adults watch the evening news. They take it in, they absorb it, and they put themselves in the middle of it. In the same way that adults will get so wrapped up in the news that their blood pressure will rise to unhealthy levels, kids will get so wrapped up in the movie they're watching that they'll cheer and clap for the Good Guys. (They'll also clap when the movie ends, though I'm still not sure why...)

This week, though, I also go to experience a few other things that should, in the future be banned and/or regulated in movie theaters.

A) There was a teenage couple making out a few rows ahead of me. Not only was it distracting for me (they were, after all, a bit noisy about it, as teenagers often are), but I also thought it was a bit tasteless to be making out in front of a small child. So in case you're a teenager who just happens to be reading this, here's a little make-out etiquette: make-out sessions in movie theaters are to be reserved for empty theaters and/or the back row only. Thank you.

B) This week, there was also a kid sitting across the aisle from us, wearing those light-up shoes. Every once in a while (with more and more frequency as the movie progressed), I'd catch some strange red flashes out of the corner of my eye. Each time, I'd get distracted, and I'd look over, trying to figure out what I'd just seen (and, of course, hoping that I had, in fact, seen something -- and I wasn't Just Seeing Things). It took a while to figure it out -- because every time I'd look over, the kid wearing the shoes would already have returned to his/her seat, and I'd see nothing. It wasn't until the kid decided to do a little dance in the aisle (see Point 2 above) that I realized what was going on. It's a good thing the movie wasn't one of those deep, meaningful movies that takes a lot of concentration -- because I'd have been totally lost by the time I figured out that the strange flash of light was coming from a pair of kiddie shoes.

Movie theaters often run cute little clips before movies, reminding moviegoers to respect those around them by turning off cell phones and pagers, by being quiet, by not smoking, by refraining from the use of laser pointers, by using trash receptacles... And I'd like to propose a couple more:

"Please remember that making-out is to be done only in the specially-designated make-out seats."


"Please remove all light-up shoes. If you need temporary footwear, please see the wonderful people at the concession stand to rent a pair of fuzzy bunny slippers."

Anyone else have any suggestions for other warnings/messages that theaters should run before movies?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (19July05)

This week's movie was extra early. It started at 7. So, with our typical planning and forethought, we left home at 6:30, after shoveling in our dinner. When we got to the theater, I was shocked. The parking lot was practically deserted. We barely had to walk to get from the car to the ticket booth.

"There's no one here!" I exclaimed, thinking about why that could possibly be (so I could add it as a factor in our scientific movie-selecting procedure). It was Tuesday, so tickets were only 50 cents. And it was hotter than hell inside -- and nice and cool inside. Why wouldn't the place be packed?

Paul interrupted my train of thought. "But it's still early..." he told me.

Right. It was still before 7. By 7:30, it would most likely look like the parking lot at Disneyworld.

We got right in. We stepped right up to the ticket line and bought our tickets. We flew right past the nearly-comatose ticket-ripper ("First one of the left," he mumbled almost inaudibly as he handed our ripped tickets back). We marched right into the theater and snatched a couple of seats in the back row. We learned our lesson when we saw Monster-in-Law -- the back seats are the best seats (unless, of course, you're joined, once the movie has already started, by three obnoxious women who demand that you give them your seat -- not that I'm bitter or anything).

Thanks to the close parking spot and the non-existent lines, we arrived in plenty of time to test our knowledge of movie trivia while the theater filled up around us. We were in one of the small theaters, so I didn't really expect a huge crowd. But we got one anyway. I watched as people began to gather in the back of the theater, trying to find a couple of vacant seats. I watched as they made their way into the theater, wandering blindly through the dark, climbing over top of people, trying to get to those last remaining seats.

Still, a few rows ahead of us sat three Every Other Seat Guys. Due to their extreme homophobia -- or whatever it is that compels men to have to keep one seat between them at all times, so they have to yell in order to converse with one another -- these three men had taken up almost an entire row of seats. All around them, people squeezed together, trying to fit everyone in. But these three guys refused to sit next to their friends in order to allow a couple more people to actually sit down through the movie. Elsewhere, people moved and rearranged their seating arrangements to accommodate the crowd. The little girl (who really wasn't all that little) in the row in front of us climbed up on her dad's lap so her dad's friend could sit with them.

But the Every Other Seat Guys didn't budge. They didn't, however, get to keep their own row. A young couple decided to brave the Guys' fortified ranks and climb over top of them, taking seats at the very end of the row. The young woman sat next to the wall; the young man sat next to one of the Guys. So that shows that an Every Other Seat Guy would much rather sit right next to a total stranger than sit next to his friend, with whom he came to the movie. I don't really get it, but I guess that's just me.

Since the review of the movie has already been published on (read Timothy's review), I'll give my two cents here. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is brilliant. It's been ages since I read the book, so I didn't go to analyze how closely the filmmakers stuck to the story. Instead, I let myself just sit back and enjoy the movie. And I did. I loved the singing dolphins. I loved Zaphod. And I especially loved the scene when the ship turns into a big ball of yarn, and the crew turns into knit puppet (and Arthur pukes pretty bright-colored yarn). But that's just me.

If you love geeks and British humor, it's a must-see.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Monster-in-Law (10July05)

We once again missed our Tuesday night moving outing, since we were at my parents' cottage for the holiday, basking in the sun. So we decided to make up for our absence by catching a Sunday-night show instead.

Since Sunday is both a work night and a full-price night at The Cheap Theater (a whole $1.50 per ticket!), the place wasn't full at all. In fact, it took us less than ten minutes to get from our parking spot to the theater -- I consider that pretty impressive. At the same time, however, only one movie was added to the theater's roster this weekend (and not a very popular one at that), so our strategy of picking a week-old movie didn't exactly work this time. In fact, everyone in the ticket line had chosen the same movie we had.

"Two for Monster-in-Law," I heard as we stood in line.

"One for Monster-in-Law."

"Two for Monster-in-Law."

I could only imagine where (and with whom) we'd end up sitting if we didn't hurry.

And that, of course, was the time when Paul decided that he needed to go to the bathroom. He handed me the tickets and sauntered off to the men's room. As I stood there waiting, I anxiously watched the people in the lobby. There were large packs of men standing there, waiting for their female counterparts to return from powdering their noses. All of them, I assumed, were headed for Monster-in-Law. And if Paul didn't move fast, they'd take our seats. We'd end up in the front row, off to the side, next to a kid who would scream and throw food -- and behind a guy who would repeatedly kick my seat, a woman who would ask questions about the finer points of the plot, and a teenager who would cough without covering his mouth. I'd end up with soda-drenched pants, nursing a deadly cold in the local mental institution -- all because Paul forgot to go before he left home...

When he came out of the men's room, I rushed to the line for the ticket-taker, who told the five people ahead of us in line, "Second one on the right." By the time he took our tickets, he gave up on directing us and just assumed that we'd follow everyone else.

And we did.

When we walked into the second one on the right, I was amazed to find that it wasn't packed. We didn't even end up in the front row. In fact, we noticed that the entire back row was empty, so we took the center seats.

"Wow!" I exclaimed. "I don't think I've sat in the back row since I was in high school!" But it was wonderful -- and I suddenly remembered why we always used to sit back there. No one behind me to kick or throw stuff. And if I wanted, I could thrown my arms up in the air and wave them around in the middle of the movie, and no one would complain. And though they had the minimal padding of highly popular seats, they also came with an added bonus -- tons of extra leg room. So I was thrilled.

As I looked around, studying the Sunday night crowd, I began to hypothesize that perhaps those who were willing to pay a little more for their tickets (three times the Tuesday night price, in fact) were a little more...refined. There were no small children, and the crowd seemed to be rather relaxed and under control. That was, of course, until the three young girls showed up and took seats a couple of rows ahead of us. One of them had brought a digital camera (not even a camera phone -- I checked). And -- for some reason well beyond our comprehension -- she had decided to take pictures in the dark theater, in the middle of the previews. Since we'd already gotten accustomed to the darkness, the flash was blinding. I started looking around for something to throw.

And that, unfortunately, wasn't the worst of it.

As the movie started, some very large women arrived. Very large. And very loud. And they decided to take the two seats between me and the aisle. Of course. I was trying to ignore them -- and pay attention to the movie -- though it wasn't easy. One of them -- who struggled to make her way to the seat next to me, kept yelling out, "I can't see! I can't see where I'm going!" Apparently, it hadn't occurred to her that when a theater lists the show times for its movies, it means that if you show up past that time, it will be dark, and the movie will most likely have already started. It doesn't mean, "We'd like to start at around 7:15, but show up when you want -- we'll wait for you."

As I continued in my attempt to watch the movie, quietly praying that J-Lo wouldn't ruin it, I added a prayer that the gigantic-loud-and-temporarily-blind lady wouldn't choose to plunk her muumuu-covered rear in my lap.

Eventually, she took her seat, but there was one more problem. There were three loud fat women and only two seats. Apparently, none of them could see far enough to notice that there were people already seated and trying to watch the movie -- because if they had been able to see, I'm sure they would have chosen three of the other (numerous) seats available throughout the theater.

Then again, probably not.

"Excuse me," one of them called out, causing the entire theater to turn around and scowl. "Could you move down so we can all sit together?"

Personally, if I had three people who all wanted to sit together, I would have thought of that before trying to fit all of us into two seats. But that's just me. And since I was in no mood to put up with a fight while I was already missing the movie (and, let's face it, I'm a pansy), we got up and moved.

I wish we could have moved farther down the row, away from our loud and inconsiderate neighbors, but there was another woman (who had made a point of showing up on time) who had already taken her seat in our row, and I wasn't about to inconvenience her and ask her to move.

But that's just me.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Coming soon...

Due to the holiday, we didn't get to The Cheap Theater this Tuesday... But we'll return soon -- and I'll be sure to post our experiences as soon as is humanly possible...