Saturday, December 31, 2005

Must Love Dogs Review Published

My review of Must Love Dogs was published on today. Check out the experience (including the return of Hooker Boot Guy), then read the review.

King Kong (28Dec05)

We did something very different this week. In honor of Christmas With The Fam, we embarked on a trip to A Real Theater. Since we discovered The Cheap Theater on New Year's Day and have been religiously attending every since, I can't really remember the last time I was in A Real Theater. I'm guessing last Christmas With The Fam.

The whole experience was quite rushed. We decided on Tuesday night that we'd all meet at the theater on Wednesday. We'd been visiting friends all day, and we pulled into the driveway just as Dad and brother-in-law Ed were climbing into the car to leave. They graciously allowed me a pitstop before I had to jump into the car and speed away again.

The lobby of the theater was packed when we arrived (in Canada, they let you wait inside to buy your ticket -- or maybe that's just a part of the $10 admission price). Unfortunately, Steve and Suzanne, who were supposed to meet us there, weren't there. So the four of us freaked out for a while, trying to figure out what to do, until they showed up just before we got to the front of the line.

The local movie theater isn't exactly new and high-tech, but it is big and flashy. The uniforms are stylish. The concession stand is huge and covered in neon. The video games look like they're mostly from this decade. It's all quite unfamiliar.

As we were herded through the lobby, Ed grabbed my coat and shouted, "BE SURE TO GO PEE BEFORE SEEING THIS MOVIE!"

"Why, is it scary?" Steve, our brother-in-law-to-be asked.

"No. It's LONG -- and if you have to get up and leave, you'll probably miss the best part," Ed informed us.

"I just went," I let him know.

"Like, today? Or recently?" he asked.

"Right before we left!" I told him.

"You sure you don't need to go again?"

"Pretty sure," I told him.

As we wandered around neon signs and flashy video games and into our theater, I was stunned by the size of the screen. It was monstrous. HUGE! I was in awe.

We wandered down the aisle, and I tugged on Ed's coat.

"Hey sure to go pee before seeing this movie!" I shouted.

"Yeah. I think I'd better go," he said. And as soon as he'd settled into the seat next to mine, he got up and left.

Just because we paid full price for our movie doesn't mean everything was classy and peaceful. In fact, it was pretty noisy. People were especially restless (which makes sense, since it's a three-hour movie filled with big scary things and creepy crawly things). And one poor guy noisily dumped over what sounded like a bathtub-sized soda in the middle of the movie. I'm surprised it didn't flood the theater.

The greatest annoyance, however, were the three 12-year-old boys seated two rows ahead of us. I knew they'd be a problem from the start, when the one seated directly in front of me started bobbing frantically in his seat, probably in some sort of a sugar fit. I asked Ed, and he was pretty sure I'd be able to bean him in the back of the head with my purse, but I refrained.

After that, it only got worse. It was pretty clear that their mothers had gotten sick of dealing with them and had dumped them at the theater and bought them tickets for whatever was the longest. The kids had no interest whatsoever in the movie, and they spent all three hours doing one of the following:

1) talking loudly
2) hitting each other
3) flailing their arms
4) crawling around on the floor
5) taking pictures of things with their camera phone (and blinding Paul)
6) doing bird calls, which finally got them shushed rather angrily

I did, however, learn a lot from my experience. For instance:

1) Theater seats are uncomfortable, no matter how much you pay to sit in them.
2) Going to full-price movies is cool because:
a) the screen is HUGE!
b) you get to see previews of movies that aren't already out.
3) Even the expensive theaters have no way of making 12-year-old boys less annoying.

As for the movie itself, it was okay -- but none of us thought it was as spectacular as the carefully worded TV commercials say it is. It was longer than necessary. The creepy-crawlies were just plain icky. And Naomi Watts is still just a cheap knock-off of Nicole Kidman (albeit one who doesn't mind running around in the mud in nothing but a silk nightie). Adrien Brody, however, was at his best. Jack Black, though he took some getting used to, was actually right for the part. And Peter Jackson is still pretty great.

For a full review, check out Tony's.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Weather Man (20 Dec05)

Okay, people. I realize that Christmas is only a few days away. I'm excited, too. But, please -- CHILL OUT ALREADY!

There was mass hysteria at The Cheap Theater this week. The parking lot was packed -- just like it was during summer vacation. Then again, maybe it was even more packed this week. At least during the summer there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep kids occupied during those long summer-vacation evenings. Now, however, it's frickin' freezing.

The Suits were almost non-existent this week -- except for one poor, frazzled-looking guy attempting to scoop popcorn without getting butter stains on his jacket and another who jumped in to help out our usual ticket-ripper. Other than that, the Cheap Theater staff was decked out in their festive candy-cane-striped shirts, attempting to successfully herd the crowds.

The lobby was packed, just like the parking lot -- and Paul raced through the crowds while I ran behind, trying to keep up without getting trampled or beaten.

And it was LOUD. Deafeningly so.

We made it to our besuited ticket-ripper stand-in, who was heavily guarded by security staff, who were, I'm guessing, on mob patrol. Yet the Suit still found time to politely say, "You're welcome," when I thanked him for ripping my ticket and directing me to my theater. So polite, those Suits.

The theater was already starting to fill up when we rushed in, hoping to escape the angry Cheap Theater mob. Fortunately, the back row was still available, so we quickly slid into our seats, which, also fortunately, did not throw a spring when we sat down.

Inside the theater, it was just as loud as it had been in the lobby. People were chattering and giggling so loudly that I couldn't even hear the tasteful theater music. And since we'd come to see an R-rated movie, these weren't kids, giggling about their Barbies or whatever it is that's cool this Christmas. There weren't even any kids in the theater because their parents couldn't get a babysitter. Apparently, the whole theater was excited about their Barbies...or perhaps their new X-Box.

As more and more people crammed into the theater, it got louder and louder. Three people ahead of us were obviously so filled with the Christmas spirit (or at least some kind of spirit) that they could hardly contain themselves. The woman seated in the middle had a serious case of the giggles, which lasted through the entire movie -- often rearing its ugly head at times that weren't particularly funny.

If I were her, I'd be more careful. This close to Christmas, Santa's watching pretty closely -- and if he happens to be a movie lover, I'm sure he gives people like her lumps of coal in their stockings.

Then again, maybe not. Because, as a matter of fact, Santa was in the theater with us, and he wasn't particularly considerate. He wandered in with the Mrs. right before the show began. A portly guy with a big white beard. But he had a rugged suede coat on -- and a big cowboy hat -- making him look like the Santa who regularly appears on the Christmas cards you get from your friends in Albuquerque. He sat down toward the back of the theater and removed his coat, to reveal a bright red sweater. But he left the big, obnoxious hat on, despite the fact that the girl seated behind him was, in no way, going to be able to see through him.

Shame on you, Santa! You've been naughty this year!

NOTE: My movie-going schedule will be somewhat unpredictable for the next few weeks. I'm sure I'll be hitting the theaters a few times over the holidays (especially since The Cheap Theater just released a bunch of great movies!), but I'll be out of the country for a week after New Year's. Regular movie-going will resume again on January 17th. Until then, may your holidays be happy, and may the guy ahead of you in the theater be short and silent.

The Brothers Grimm Review Published

My review of The Brothers Grimm was published today on Check out the experience -- then read the review.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Prime (13Dec05)

For some reason, Tuesday has always been the worst day of the week for me. On Monday's I'm still in a good mood after the weekend. But on Tuesdays, the week sinks in, and I become just a little bit crabby and forlorn. It's even worse if the weather happens to be cold and grey, as it was this week. To make matters worse, there just weren't any movies at The Cheap Theater that really excited us this week. We were close to foregoing our usual Tuesday movie ritual for Blockbuster and booze. But at the last minute, we changed our minds and rushed out to the theater.

The first thing I noticed when we pulled into the parking lot was that the lights were on at the new pizza buffet. It's not open yet, unfortunately -- but they've obviously got the construction crew working overtime to get it done. I give it a month, tops.

Once again this week, a few suits made their eerie appearance at The Cheap Theater. The guy who sold us our tickets wore a suit; the guy selling tickets next to him wore the standard-issue peppermint-striped shirt. Our ticket seller was way more polite, of course (not that I know from any experience with the peppermint shirt guy -- I'm just making a general assumption here). And he made sure to tell us to enjoy our show. If you ask me, we don't pay enough to actually enjoy the show. That's just an added bonus.

The ticket-ripper -- the one who's now always there on Tuesdays -- wore a striped shirt. He did not tell us to enjoy the show.

We selected our seats in the back row, as usual. When I sat down, my seat shook and made a terrifying noise that had me fearing for my general safety. I think, from the sound and feel of things, that my seat chose to throw a spring when I sat down. I actually leaned forward to look for it under my seat.

I must say, I was offended. I'm not overweight. I'm just a little bit big-boned, thank you very much. I'm 5'10", for goodness sake. I'm not supposed to weight 98 pounds. But I'm not heavy enough to break a seat!

"I think I broke my chair," I whispered loudly to Paul.

I've sat down in some pretty worn-out seats in our nearly a year of regular visits to The Cheap Theater, but this one surpassed them all. There was a butt-dent so huge in the middle of the seat that it felt much like watching a movie while seated on a toilet.

I don't even want to think about what must have taken place in that seat to make it so worn.

I would have gotten up and changed seats, but I was pretty sure that it would be impossible to pull myself out.

The dynamics of the crowd that had gathered to see Prime with us was as surprising as the movie itself (though you'll have to wait to read my review for me to elaborate on that part). I figured the movie was a chick flick -- so I expected the crowd to be almost entirely female. There were plenty of women there, as expected, but there were also three rather elderly men, all of whom had come to the movie alone. And right as the movie started, three college-age guys walked in and took seats at the front of the theater. At that point, I just assumed that there would eventually be a naked Uma Thurman appearing on the screen. But I was wrong. And thus, I still have no idea why all those guys were there.

I was also amused by the four college girls who walked in shortly after the three college guys. Despite the fact that the theater wasn't all that full, the girls chose to climb over top of one of the solitary elderly gentlemen. And instead of following Standard Movie Theater Procedures by leaving an empty seat between them and the old guy, one of the girls plopped right down next to the poor guy, who was quite visibly flustered.

But then the movie began -- and, believe it or not, there wasn't a single distraction. I've found that less popular, low-budget films tend to draw a more reserved crowd -- and that was definitely the case with Prime. The movie itself was pretty quiet -- and so was the crowd. The only sound was the occasional laughter -- and everyone agreed on the moments in the movie when it was appropriate to laugh.

If it weren't for the padded toilet seat that I was seated upon (which, incidentally, was frighteningly reminiscent of Grandma's house), it would have been a utopian movie theater experience.

And the guy in the suit got his wish. I enjoyed the show -- in fact, I enjoyed it way more than I should have, considering I paid a mere 50 cents.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin Review Published

Check out my review of The 40-Year-Old Virgin at And, while you're at it, check out that week's Cheap Theater Experience as well.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Corpse Bride (6Dec05)

This week's Cheap Theater adventure could possibly have been the most obnoxious to date. No...I take that back. Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events was way worse. But this one definitely takes second place.

But before I get into that, I'd like to note a vehicle that I regularly see in the parking lot. I first noticed it several weeks ago. I probably wouldn't have taken notice of the little tan truck with odd green details if it didn't look just like a truck owned by someone in our old apartment complex back in Massachusetts. Since I first noticed it, however, I've seen it just about every Tuesday. Either the truck belongs to an employee of The Cheap Theater or another shop in the strip mall, or we're not the only ones who indulge in a 50-cent movie every Tuesday.

This week's show was an early one, so the place was still dead. There was very little waiting in line, and the lobby was practically a ghost town. The ticket-ripper (who, incidentally, was back to the standard red-and-white-striped shirt), was passing the time by chatting with a coworker when we walked up, but he paused the conversation long enough to nod down the hall and tell us, "Third one."

When I said "Thank you," he didn't respond. He didn't tell me to enjoy the show, either. But that's because he was wearing a striped shirt. Had he been wearing a suit, he may have actually taken my arm and escorted me to my seat. But not in a striped shirt...

Since Corpse Bride debuted in The Cheap Theater just last week, it was still showing in one of the big theaters. We wandered in and took our usual seats -- on the far side of the theater, in the back row. But I wasn't satisfied.

"I feel like we're way off to the side," I told Paul. I could have sworn that, from our seats in the big theater, we were practically looking at the screen from the side.

"There are seats over there," he replied, pointing to a group of seats in the center section of the back row. "Do you want to move?"

I decided that I did -- so we moved. And, right from the beginning, I regretted the move. We were seated about four rows behind a whole row of high school kids, all of whom were giggling and yelling at each other and climbing on top of each other and playing with their cell phones.

But, believe it or not, it got worse.

Shortly before the movie started, a rambunctious little mob showed up in the theater. Three wild kids and two women who didn't seem to care. The kids ran down the aisle as the women shouted to anyone who cared to listen about where they should sit.

Of course they sat in front of us.

The three unruly children were inflicted with a serious case of Ants in the Pants. But Mom and Grandma (as we soon discovered the two women to be) were even more obnoxious. Not only did they have no control whatsoever over the kids, who jumped and danced and twirled and ran up and down the row -- but they were even louder than the kids. The mother was a Laugher. She threw her head back and laughed loud, deep belly laughs at everything remotely amusing. She discussed the previews (and later the movie) with her kids -- and her mom, who was two seats away -- in volumes that are entirely unnecessary unless one happens to be speaking to the legally deaf.

When the little girl started running around, Mom and Grandma would yell, "Sit down RIGHT NOW!" so loudly that I'm quite sure there were people in the next theater over scrambling to take their seats. The little girl, however, paid no heed, and she kept running and twirling and smacking the young couple in the row ahead of her on the backs of their heads.

I sat there wide-eyed, amazed that anyone could be so rude -- and that so much rudeness could exist in one family. But poor Paul was beyond amazed. He was seriously ticked off. I had to restrain him a couple of times to keep him from strangling Grandma.

But if their behavior annoyed us, I can't imagine how painful the experience was for the poor young couple seated ahead of them. The little girl spent most of the movie standing just an inch or two from the backs of their heads, yelling at her mom and flailing her arms, often swatting the poor couple's heads. I was hoping they'd turn around and say something, but they never did. They did turn around a few times to glare at the little girl, who continued yelling and flailing in sheer oblivion. But, in general, I was shocked and awed by the couple's patience. If I were them, I would have gotten up and found seats that were less dangerous. But they endured, and later, as we followed them out of the theater, I heard the girl remark, "That's why I think kids shouldn't be allowed in movie theaters."

At one point, Mom took one of the two boys out. I'm assuming it was for a trip to the bathroom -- though, shockingly enough, he didn't yell about it loudly enough to let the people in the front of the theater know that he had to pee. When the two returned, the little boy was back to his running, yelling little self, and Mom yelled (loudly enough that even the actors may have heard her), "Ssshhh! People are trying to watch the movie!" What she didn't realize is that we'd all given up long before.

To make things even worse, the high school kids, who had also given up on watching the movie, started giggling everything time the kids made a scene -- which, of course, only made them do it more often.

But the kids got more and more restless as time passed. Fortunately, Corpse Bride is a really short movie. Unfortunately, the kids didn't seem to notice that there was a movie playing. After a while, they got bored -- and all three began asking Mom repeatedly if they could leave. Apparently, Mom and Grandma were the only two people in the theater still able to pay attention to the movie, so they yelled back, "Not until this is over!" One of them even made a break for the door, but Mom screamed enough to get him to come back. Obviously, the kid's not too bright. If I were him, I'd have kept running.

Fortunately for the rest of us in the theater, the movie wasn't really all that exciting. Even with the constant distractions, we didn't lose much. Just our sanity.