Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (11Oct05)

This week, Paul was back home, so I wasn't forced to see another movie by myself, which was probably for the best. Paul was horrified to hear about my experience last week. He couldn't believe that I'd go to a movie by myself and sit there knitting. How embarrassing!

I suddenly understood what it must be like to be the parent of a teenager.

Really, though, it could have been much worse. I could have been yelling at myself or cheering wildly. I could have brought a big bag of popcorn, which I'd popped for myself at home. I could have gone dressed up as Lindsay Lohan. Believe me. I could definitely be more embarrassing. I am the daughter of the man who, on his last visit to our house, showed up wearing a bucket on his head. I know embarrassing.

This week, we had a hard time choosing our movie. The ones that I wanted to see weren't all that appealing to Paul, and vice versa. The only one we really agreed on was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so we decided to go to that one -- despite the facts that:

1) it was a kids' movie
2) it was in its first week at The Cheap Theater.

Both bad signs.

We pulled into the parking lot a little behind schedule, and that made me nervous because there were at least three movies all starting within ten minutes of each other, and that meant that there was a greater possibility for a long line at the ticket booth -- which also meant there was a greater possibility of us ending up in the front row.

As we hiked in from our distant parking space, I noticed how alive the strip mall seemed. Last week, a new wings place opened up next to the theater. It was buzzing -- and the whole parking lot smelled like chicken. I also noticed that, in the space next to the wings place, there's already a lit-up sign announcing the upcoming arrival of a new pizza buffet. I'd seen a paper sign in the window last week, and I was so excited that I had to call Paul to tell him the good news.

The pizza buffet is something I'd never experienced until our trip to Arizona in the spring. We returned home and discovered that there were two relatively nearby -- all-you-can-eat pizza, salad, pasta, and dessert for only $3.99! It was like a dream come true (especially since I can never get Hawaiian pizza unless I order my own). And now we're about to have one so very close by -- in a place where we stop once a week. I might as well start buying my jeans two sizes bigger.

"Just think!" I told Paul last week. "We could do dinner and a movie on Tuesdays for NINE BUCKS!"

Now that's livin'.

But anyway...back to the movie.

As I had feared, there was a pretty large group gathered around the ticket booths. But, as it turned out, most of them were just hovering, trying to decide what to see. We stepped into line and waited our turn.

I watched as two men stepped away from the booth ahead of us. One led the other, who wore dark sunglasses and held a cane out ahead of him. I wasn't the only one who had paused to consider the blind moviegoer. In fact, the whole crowd seemed to pause for a few seconds. At first, I was surprised. I'm pretty sure I'd never seen a blind person at a movie theater before. But, then again, on second thought, I couldn't see why not. Here in the days of the Talkies, there's no reason for someone like him to stay away. I just hoped that he'd chosen a movie with an actual plot. Those are, after all, few and far between these days.

I pulled myself out of my thoughts as I heard a tinny, static-y voice yell, "I can help someone over here!" from the neighboring ticket booth. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her, so Paul jumped out of line and rushed over to get our tickets. Then we hurried inside.

The small theater was already filling up when we arrived -- but, for some reason, the back row was empty, so we chose two seats in the back corner. All around us, there were loud conversations going on. I wondered if that would continue after the movie started. I started to worry even more when a large family shuffled into the row ahead of us, seating two children directly in front of us.

Oh, well, I told myself. We can always rent to movie later to see what happens.

Shortly before the movie started, we were joined by an older woman, who was carrying a large shopping bag. She took the second seat in and set her back on the aisle seat. Then she stood up, picked up her bag, and took the aisle seat. Then she stood up again and returned to her original seat. I figured she must be new to The Cheap Theater, since she appeared to be surprised by the lack of padding in the seats. After nine months of it, I'm quite used to it. In fact, I'd probably be shocked to sit down in real, full-price theater seats...

After doing the whole movie thing by myself last week, I was especially intrigued by this woman -- and the bag that she'd brought with her. I wondered what could be in the bag. Was she going to knit through the movie, as I had? I quietly hoped so, at the same time wondering if it just contained contraband popcorn from home.

As I glanced over, trying to be discreet, hoping to see what was inside the bag, I suddenly noticed that she'd donned headphones -- not the kind you'd use to listen to your iPod but the kind you'd wear if you were entering a particularly eardrum-shattering construction zone. As I studied her headwear, she was joined by a man, who sat in the aisle seat she'd rejected.

Now, I'm going to assume that the woman had a good reason for the headgear -- other than not wanting to hear the movie. I have a friend whose dad, after years of running a noisy factory, has recently become especially sensitive to loud noises -- and I'm going to guess that this woman suffers from the same problem. But the giant headphones meant that her husband was forced to yell to talk to her, which made it difficult not to notice. Also, from time to time, by the way she tipped her head to the side and put her hand to the huge cup covering her ear, it looked like she was using the headphones to listen intently to a football game, while appeasing her husband by going to the movie. I almost expected her, in the middle of the movie, to jump up and yell, "GOAL!" -- just like Homer Simpson would.

The thing that bothers me most, however, is that I never did figure out what was in that big shopping bag. Maybe she'd decided against pulling out her knitting -- because her husband would have been embarrassed.

Once the movie started, the theater was shockingly still. Not a peep out of the people who had been so noisy before. And the two kids ahead of us didn't even move, as far as I could tell, leading me to assume that they were:

a) asleep
b) dead
c) heavily drugged.

The movie was just that captivating, though. Very Tim Burton -- but a *good* Tim Burton (as opposed to the *bad* Planet of the Apes Tim Burton). The casting couldn't have been more perfect -- nor could Johnny Depp have been more...weird. And even though Paul was, is, and always will be a *huge* fan of the original, we both thoroughly enjoyed this version. (For a full review, check out Angela's review on


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