Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Lord of War (29Nov05)

If you want to buy a ticket for a movie at The Cheap Theater, you have to wait in line outside the theater itself, in a semi-covered area that looks quite nice but isn't really all that practical. If you're sitting there, waiting for your mom to pick you up on a summer evening, it's a nice place to hang out. But if it's freezing cold, like it was this week, it's not fun at all. You shiver while standing in line, and by the time you get to the ticket window, your hands are so frozen that it's hard to get a grasp on your money to pay for your ticket. If this were, for instance, Southern California, where the weather tends to be permanently moderate, waiting in line outside probably wouldn't be too bad. But here in Ohio, it gets cold. And when it gets cold, people tend to get a little batty -- like the guy we passed inside the lobby, who was pacing and grumbling to himself.

Perhaps I should have passed on this little tidbit of information to the kid who sold us our tickets. After all, he must have been important because he was wearing an awkwardly ill-fitting suit.

In the Battle of the Cheap Theater Uniforms, this week the Cheap Theater Management chose to make the Suits and the Stripes mingle. Only one of the three ticket sellers wore a suit with a fancy nametag. He was frighteningly polite, and he told us to enjoy our show in that weird, robotic way. The other two ticket sellers, along with the concessions staff, wore the the usual red-and-white-striped shirts that were designed to make anyone who dons one look like Bobo the Clown -- Bozo's reject little brother.

Our ticket-ripper also wore a suit and a nametag that introduced him as Mr. Something. I have to admit that it seems a little silly to call a college kid in an awkwardly ill-fitting suit Mister, but who am I to judge? Our be-suited ticket-ripper -- Mr. Wilson, perhaps? -- was quite polite, as awkwardly ill-fitting-suit-wearing college guys often are at The Cheap Theater. And when I thanked him for directing us to our theater, he said, "You're welcome." Oh, the eerie politeness of these lads in suits!

Though we arrived at the theater ahead of schedule, we were just seconds too late to get our coveted back-row seats. We were beat out by a group of sorority sisters who giggled and chattered like they'd never been in a movie theater before. We could hear them throughout the movie from where we were sitting.

Once again this week, we found ourselves in a theater that was inhabited mostly by solitary men, most of them large and munching on popcorn. But, in the front of the theater, romance was blossoming. When we arrived, there were two solitary moviegoers -- one male and one female -- seated toward the front of the theater, one of each side of the aisle. They yelled across the aisle at one another in a friendly manner, making me wonder if they'd come together but had decided, for some reason, that they each needed their own row. These two were somewhat larger than average (or somewhat average for Central Ohio standards), so it's not that they were big enough to need their own row. She did just fine in her one seat. And he probably could have used two -- but he definitely didn't need his own row.

Instead, I prefer to imagine their story to be more of a fairy tale, the two of them showing up at The Cheap Theater alone on Cheap Night, taking their usual seats at the front of the theater and finding someone else who likes to sit alone in the front of the theater. Someone to shout across the aisle to. I even noticed once that the woman reached across the aisle to share her popcorn. It was cute. I didn't see the two of them walk out of the theater together, but I think Chuck Woolery would agree that those two may have made a love connection at The Cheap Theater.

As for the movie-watching experience this week, it was...noisy.

One of the large solitary men chose to sit directly ahead of me. But instead of being smelly, like the solitary guy ahead of me last week, this particular solitary guy was phlegmy. He spent the majority of the movie hacking and coughing in that manly, phlegm-curdling way. Just the sound of it made me want to guzzle some Pabst and go shoot a deer.

Meanwhile, across the aisle from me, another solitary guy was thoroughly enjoying the movie. He thought it was hilarious -- in a Farrelly Brothers, falling-off-your-seat-laughing kind of way. As this was an action/thriller kind of movie about running guns, most of us didn't see it as hilarious. Darkly amusing in that smirking-at-the-subtle-humor kind of way, yes. I may have gone so far as to chuckle a couple of times. But this guy had that explosive, grating laugh that sounds like your car does when you accidentally shift into the wrong gear. And he laughed at the moderately amusing parts -- but never at the parts that actually warranted a laugh. I could understand why no one would want to join him for the movie. I wouldn't want to, either -- but I got to anyway. Lucky me.

As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it. Check for the upcoming review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Two for the Money (22Nov05)

This week, as we prepared for our Cheap Theater adventure, I was tempted to wear some big, black boots. That would make Hooker Boot Guy feel good, don't you think? He'd see that I, too, like to wear big, black boots. Then we could be friends, and I could finally figure out the deal with the boots.

But then I thought about it some more and decided against it.

Still, though, I'm on a mission to find Hooker Boot Guy back. I took the time while we were waiting in line at the theater to check the footwear of everyone else in line. But alas, no hooker boots.

The suits were gone this week, too. Remember the fancy uniforms -- with the suits and the formal name tags -- that everyone was wearing last week? Gone. The usual striped shirts were back, as was the somewhat uninterested manner in which the employees treated us. Now that's more like it!

Paul figures somebody important must have been visiting last week. Whoever it was, I'm glad he's gone now. The formality freaked me out.

I felt way more comfortable when the ticket-ripper (whose name I didn't catch because I was trying to be friendly and polite and make eye contact) was back to the old "second one down there" routine. None of that "enjoy your movie" crap. It was good to have things back to normal.

Right from the beginning, as soon as we took our seats in the back corner of the theater, I knew I didn't belong. Despite the fact that women tend to be especially tolerant of watching all kinds of guy movies, there were almost none of them in the theater. Most of the people there were either groups of guys in their 20s or older, solitary men.

And remember what I've said before about the lack of padding in the seats at The Cheap Theater? I now understand. I think the kind of older guys who go to see a movie like Two for the Money by themselves may have something to do with it. They were mostly very large men -- say, at least 250, though probably much more. And their size was only enhanced by their big quilted jackets (of either a plaid or camouflage pattern). After seeing them, I can totally understand why the seats in the theater are no longer padded.

There were a few women in the theater, however. One of them sat right in front of us. And after all of the people who have sat in front of us and blocked our view or distracted us with their screaming children, this girl was quite refreshing, really. She took her seat and settled in -- and then she turned around and asked Paul, "Can you see okay?" I found it a bit odd, since she was actually seated more to the outside of the theater than Paul was, and she wasn't really all that tall (especially since she wasn't really sitting up straight). So it was totally unnecessary. But I appreciated the gesture nonetheless. In fact, I was even a bit stunned by it. So kudos to the girl ahead of us for being shockingly considerate.

The experience this week wasn't all hearts and flowers, though. By the time we got out of the theater, I was somewhat troubled.

"Do I smell like rotten eggs?" I asked Paul, sniffing myself.

"I don't think so. Why?" he asked, obviously confused -- and maybe a bit disturbed -- by my question.

"Because it smelled like rotten eggs in there," I told him. And I would know rotten eggs. One of my grandfathers was a chicken farmer, and the other worked at an egg processing plant. I know rotten eggs.

I quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn't me -- since, if anything, I would smell like the tacos I'd made for dinner (though, sensitive to the strong smell, I'd changed my clothes before going out). And I was pretty sure Paul didn't smell like rotten eggs, either.

"I think it was the guy ahead of me," I concluded.

Paul just shrugged -- since, as a guy, he's pretty much incapable of noticing bad smells, like rotting garbage or that horrible smell that clings to hockey gloves...

But I digress...

The man ahead of me had shown up alone -- but instead of being especially large, apparently he smelled like rotten eggs. Perhaps he (or another solitary guy like him) was the cause of the mysterious Smelly Seat we encountered this summer...

But I guess it takes all kinds at The Cheap Theater. What fun would it be without them?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Madagascar Review Published

Head on over to to check out my review of Madagascar. And, while you're at it, check out my Madagascar blog entry, too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Brothers Grimm (14Nov05)

This week, we had a last-minute change of plans. Paul found out on Monday afternoon that he was scheduled to attend Very Important Meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday -- and that included dinner on Tuesday (which, I know from experience, means I shouldn't expect him before 10).

"So I'm on my own for movie night?" I asked as soon as I was informed of the new plans. I didn't mind that he wouldn't be home for dinner -- and I'd inevitably end up eating a meal consisting mostly of Doritos. But Cheap Night is sacred. It can't be missed.

I headed straight for the Cheap Theater web site to see if there were any movies I'd like to see by myself. But, I was disappointed to discover, the selection wasn't all that impressive, unless I wanted to rewatch something, just for the heck of it.

"Maybe we could go tonight," Paul suggested. But I had plans until 6 or maybe 6:30, meaning that I'd have to hurry home, he'd have to have dinner ready when I got there, and we'd have to eat fast if we wanted to make it there in time for the opening credits. The idea didn't sound all that appealing to either of us, so we left it at, "We'll see what happens."

By the time I got home, I wasn't really thinking about catching a movie anymore. It had been another long Monday. But everything just came together. By the time we finished eating, we still had time to possibly catch a movie. So while I cleaned up the dishes, Paul looked up showtimes, and we found that there was one possibly-interesting movie that wasn't playing until 7:25. So we agreed on The Brothers Grimm. We had just enough time to make it, so we rushed out the door and headed for The Cheap Theater.

It was a cold, rainy night -- and it was Monday, which meant a hefty $1.50 a ticket -- so I didn't expect the theater to be busy. And I was right. We had no problem finding a decent parking spot, which was nice, since it meant that we weren't drenched by the time we got inside.

When we entered the lobby, we stepped into a new and unfamiliar world. The staff had gone formal, wearing fancy uniforms to sell tickets and scoop greasy popcorn into giant tubs. It just didn't feel right.

But things got even weirder.

Next, we walked up to the ticket-ripper. First of all, our ticket-ripper was female -- something I'd never before encountered. And if that weren't unusual enough, she was also wearing a spiffy suit with a shiny bronze nametag that, identified her as Ms. Something -- instead of just Becky or Jenni. Instead of taking our tickets, ripping them in half, and pointing while directing us, "down there, on the left," Ms. Whoever stiffly yet politely asked how we were doing. Then she delicately ripped our ticket while telling us, "This will be down this hall and on your left." I think she may have even told us to enjoy our movie. It was just plain weird -- and bordering on creepy.

I walked down the hallway feeling under-dressed in my jeans and stylish new Old Navy polo. I wondered if the theater owners had decided (sometime since last Tuesday) to drop the movie theater thing and give opera a shot instead.

"Do you think they're seriously trying to make The Cheap Theater classy?" I asked Paul skeptically. Perhaps the owners are trying something different on non-Cheap Nights. Perhaps they're looking to attract a classier, non-hooker-boot-wearing crowd. Or perhaps they're about to raise their prices. Whatever the case, I don't like it.

I didn't have much time to contemplate the ramifications of the new uniforms and the formal nametags, though. We walked in just in time to catch the previews.

The movie itself was...interesting -- ranging from The Princess Bride to Sleepy Hollow in a dark and often bizarre way. For the full review, keep visiting

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (8Nov05)

As I contemplated this week's Cheap Theater options, one question came to mind: If I were an old man in black vinyl hooker boots, which movie would I want to see? Paul chose The 40-Year-Old Virgin (which, if you'll recall from a couple of weeks ago, the loud old people from Wedding Crashers had already seen, though the old woman was blocking it from her memory, for some reason). I figured it was a pretty good guess.

I sat anxiously in the car on the way to the theater, hoping to see what kind of ensemble Hooker Boot Guy had thrown together this week. But alas, we didn't cross paths. Instead, there was mass confusion outside the theater, where those waiting had formed one ginormous line. Everyone was complaining about the line, despite the fact that it was moving quickly, since it led to two ticket windows. But things got even worse when a well-meaning ticket-seller came out to tell everyone to form two lines, which led to utter hysteria and possibly the brutal trampling of a few weaker moviegoers.

But that wasn't the last of the mayhem. While standing in line, someone noticed an ad that's been hanging from the ticket window since about June, advertising a special deal at the theater -- if you bring the whole family (of four or more) on Mondays, admission is only 50 cents each.

"They've changed 50-cent night to Monday!" someone gasped. The rumor spread through the crowd (despite the fact that the ticket price sign clearly stated: "All day Tuesday: 50c"). People were obviously shocked and appalled by the thought of having to pay a hole $1.50 to see a movie. I was afraid they might revolt -- and while I generally think of myself as pretty tough, the woman behind me was huge, and to get beaten by her over scandalously high movie admission prices. I started to slowly walk away, leaving Paul to buy our still-just-50-cents-each tickets.

As we wandered through the lobby, I kept my eyes peeled for vinyl boots. I found none.

The ticket-ripper (his name was Derek, incidentally) was busy chatting with a coworker who appeared to be scanning the lobby for chicks, so I decided to hold back with my Be Kind to Ticket-Rippers thing for the week. He did, however, take the time to direct us to our theater, which was already filling up. All of the coveted back-row seats were occupied, so we hesitantly moved farther down the aisle.

I was stunned to see how many old people had chosen to see this movie. An old couple sat in front of us, and it made me feel especially uncomfortable, like I'd decided to take my grandparents to see a new porn flick. Because this movie isn't a cute, cuddly comedy. It is, as you might imagine from the title, a two-hour attempt to get a guy laid in any way possible. As I told Paul, it's quite clear that grandparents have changed since I was a kid. There's no way you would have found my grandparents there (though my grandpa, who's now 93 and usually somewhat medicated, might actually enjoy it now).

This week's moviegoing experience was a study in laughter. After all, the movie may have been, at times, painfully crude, but it was also just plain hilarious at other times.

In general, I amused myself by observing the waves of laughter as they grew through the theater -- from a quiet snicker to an all-encompassing, theater-wide belly laugh.

Specifically, though, I encountered all kinds. At times, I made out a hint of Shrieker coming from the other side of the theater. But the guys behind me and across the aisle were even more entertaining. They had the same laugh -- a loud, honking laugh (much like Balki on Perfect Strangers. They'd laugh and laugh and laugh, well after everyone else had stopped, punctuating their laughter with the occasional loud, echoing clap. Then they'd cool down gradually, with some half-laugh-half-sighs. By the time they wound down all the way, there was usually something new to laugh about, so they'd start up again. It was pretty much constant, actually.

Meanwhile, Paul, too, was joining in on my sociological study of The Cheap Theater. He spent the movie studying a big guy who showed up alone and took a seat a few rows ahead of us. The man had apparently spent the entire two hours laughing that heavy, whole-body-shaking chortle -- and Paul eagerly relayed the details to me once we'd left the theater. And I was very proud of him. For so long, when I commented on people in the theater, he'd look at me funny and ask, "Did you actually catch any of the movie?" But I think Hooker Boot Guy has changed his outlook. Now, checking out people at The Cheap Theater is fun. It's a challenge -- like a Where's Waldo book.

As for my review of the movie, it's coming soon to (you can sign up for the newsletter, and you'll get a weekly listing of the latest reviews -- and now's a good time to sign up, since there's an incredible subscribers-only contest going on). Until then, I'll leave you with one piece of advice: don't see this movie on a first date. There won't be a second.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Must Love Dogs (1Nov05)

We hit the Crazy Jackpot again this week. We strolled up to the ticket window -- well ahead of time -- just as a man walked up to the window next to us and said, "Four for Must Love Dogs." I looked over, and something about the man looked vaguely familiar... The baseball hat? No...and it wasn't his chosen outfit, either. He pretty much looked like any other respectable guy taking his wife and friends to the movies.

But wait -- the boots! The black vinyl platform boots with what must have been five-inch heel, demurely hidden beneath his khakis! The guy with the boots was back! The spectacle wasn't quite the same as the time in May (see The Aviator) -- when he paired them with jean shorts -- but there he was again.

I have to say I was relieved. At least I knew I wasn't just hallucinating or something last time. But, at the same time, I was perplexed. And disturbed. What the heck kind of place did I move to, where kindly old men who look like someone's grandpa prance around in black vinyl hooker boots?

Admittedly, Paul and I were quite giddy over spotting the guy with the boots. And he was going to the same movie as we were, too! Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater doesn't get much better than that! We practically skipped up to the ticket-ripper.

I have a new fascination with the ticket-ripper (even more than before), now that I've discovered that I know the mother of one of the fine young gentlemen (not once has it ever been a girl -- I wonder why not...) who ripped our tickets and directed us to our theater this summer. He's not working there anymore, but now I have even more respect for them, and I intend to be even friendlier to them than usual. This week's ticket-ripper's name was Ben. He did a fine job.

Ben was being guarded by a scowling little man in a suit and a security guard. Ben didn't look especially nervous, so I'm guessing that they weren't there out of suspicion toward him. Perhaps Ben is a member of royalty, slumming it at The Cheap Theater for kicks with his secret service guys. Or perhaps the two men were on the lookout for crazy old men in hooker boots. But we didn't stick around to find out.

Since I knew that Hooker Boot Guy was on his way, I was almost tempted to sit somewhere other than in our coveted back-row seats. But we went for it anyway. Perhaps it made me feel like I could spy on people under cover of my dark corner.

After we sat down, I was so excited about the whole evening that I went rummaging through my purse for a little notepad that I knew was buried down there somewhere. I scribbled down notes about men in boots and scowling guys in suits -- and a few about the girl in the middle of the theater who had dangled her bare feet over the seat in front of her, and who appeared to possess no inside voice whatsoever. But I was starting to worry about Hooker Boot Guy because he still hadn't made his appearance. Maybe his attempt to cover the boots with his khakis hadn't fooled the Scowling Suit Guy, and they'd taken him away... But then, there he came, shuffling behind his wife and friends, making that squeaky noise that vinyl boots make (yes, I do know from experience, thank you very much). I waited for the girl without the inside voice to say something about him in her loudest outdoor voice, but she didn't. She was, however, stunned enough to keep her mouth shut for about 10 seconds.

The group's arrival made Paul lament about having left his camera phone at home (though we still have no idea what to do with the pictures once they're in his camera anyway). Then we began to discuss why an old man would feel the need to wear hooker boots.

"Maybe he has to wear boots like that for some medical condition," Paul suggested. "Bad tendons or something." Paul, being a man, has no clue about high-heeled boots (and while we were sitting there, I told him that if he ever wanted to wear them, he'd have to get his own because he's not allowed to borrow mine). I know (again from experience) that wearing heels doesn't heal the tendons in your legs (just ask Sarah Jessica Parker). And besides, if an old man had to wear heels for a medical condition, don't you think he'd go with something a little more...subtle?

"You'd think if he wore them often, he'd be able to walk a little better in them," Paul observed. He was right -- the guy looked like a little girl trying to walk in her mother's heels. Perhaps he only wears them on special occasions -- like Cheap Night.

In our quest for answers, we also ruled out some sort of crazy mid-life crisis (too old) as well as insanity. After all, he sounded perfectly sane when he'd bought their tickets. That brought us back to the same conclusion we'd come to before.

"He must have lost a bet with the other guy," Paul decided. Obviously, this guy makes lots of bad bets -- because he's lost at least twice that we've seen.

After the Hooker Boot Excitement, I almost forgot that we'd come to see a movie -- because really, we'd already gotten our dollar's worth of entertainment for the evening. But as a bonus, we got to see a fun movie, too (review to come).

Once the movie was over, I slipped into CIA mode (I really think I missed my calling on that one), and I hung back for a bit. I had this overpowering urge to follow those four seemingly normal old people and eavesdrop on their conversation. But we were way in the back, and Hooker Boot Guy was way in the front -- and I hadn't brought my secret spy equipment. I couldn't manage it without being obvious (at least to Paul, who wondered why I was just hanging out in the back of the theater). But I'm determined to get to the bottom of this Cheap Theater Mystery. Someday, I'll figure out Hooker Boot Guy's story...