Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Wedding Crashers (25Oct05)
Due to yet another coworker's vacation schedule, we missed another Cheap Night last week. Instead, I spent the evening trying to look busy while assisting the one customer I had between 6 and 8. It was an evening well spent.
So we gleefully returned to The Cheap Theater this week, eager to get back to our regularly-scheduled Cheap Night. It seems to be the end of coworker vacation time for a while, so, barring any unforeseen trips out of town (considering Paul's company's track record, we could be in Europe next week...I never know), we should be back to our normal schedule for a while.
The options this week weren't exactly spectacular, which actually helped us make our decision. It's always harder to agree on a movie if we want to see everything that's playing. This week, it was either Must Love Dogs or Wedding Crashers. We decided on the latter.
The theater parking lot has been especially busy lately -- not really because of the theater but because of the new businesses that are opening and reopening in the strip mall. When we first started coming in January, there wasn't much going on. Now the pet store and the bookstore have both expanded, and the wings place has opened -- and, this week, the lights were on at the new pizza buffet, showing off the construction that's well under way (woohoo!). All the craziness makes it hard to get a good parking spot -- even on slow nights.
The theater itself really wasn't all that busy -- both because it was cold and rainy and because it was still early. We didn't have to wait in any lines -- we just got right in.
The theater to which our esteemed ticket-ripper directed us (actually, on the tickets, they now call the individual theaters "houses") was already starting to fill up. In fact, we couldn't even get two seats together in the back row -- so we were forced to move down the aisle to the center of the theater, to mix with the riffraff. Paul led the way to an empty row near the back, with a single girl behind us and a couple in front of us. He thoughtfully took the third seat in. I'm not sure if that was so I wouldn't have to try to see through the head of the rather large man ahead of us -- or if it was so the girl behind me wouldn't have to try to see through my rather tall frame (it has, after all, caused people to switch seats before). But either way, it was thoughtful.
To be honest, I was a bit excited to get back to the middle of the theater. We'd been missing out on the action lately, in exchange for extra leg room (which has been very nice). So at first it felt good to be back in the midst of the popcorn-munchers and the constant chatter. But that only lasted for a while.
To begin, before the movie started, an elderly couple climbed over the girl behind us, trying to reach the seats beyond her. The friendly old guy greeted the girl with a cheery, "Hello!" which she quietly and reluctantly returned (most likely while trying to decide whether or not she wanted to move to a different row, shared by people who weren't going to invade her privacy and/or personal space by trying to talk to her -- I mean, who talks to people they don't know in a movie theater?). Then the old guy went to take his seat -- but not before removing his coat and smacking me in the back of the head with it. I believe I now have a permanent zipper-shaped indentation on my head.
As the previews played, I heard the old woman ask, "Are we going to see that one?"
"We already have!" the old man shouted back.
Personally, I was amused -- yet somewhat disturbed as well -- that this elderly couple had rushed right out to see The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Perhaps that's because I was never allowed to talk about going to movies in front of my dear, sweet grandparents, who were convinced that anyone who bought a ticket at the movie theater could just as well be buying a ticket to hell (which is why it's so ironic that I grew up to review movies and my brother grew up to make them).
Then again, this cute little old people were there to see Wedding Crashers, which wasn't exactly Bambi -- so I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised. In fact, when I think about it, I'm pretty sure Paul and I will someday be those wacky old people.
But I digress...
As it turned out, besides the crazy old people behind us, the girl behind me turned out to be a Seat Kicker. And the woman ahead of me turned out to be a Howler. She found the movie to be very funny (not that I blame her -- I did, too). She laughed all the time -- and instead of laughing the polite movie theater chuckle, she let it all out, throwing her head back and howling in a shocking, seat-shaking way that I never did get used to.
Admittedly, it wasn't as bad as it could have been -- or as bad as it has been in the past. The Howler usually laughed at the times when most of the rest of the people in the theater laughed. The Seat Kicker did not display a constant anxious habit, repeatedly whacking the back of my seat in a fast-paced, rhythmic beat. In fact, I wasn't even annoyed enough to have to turn around and give her a nasty look.
And, fortunately, I have plenty of hair that will cover the zipper dent in my skull.
But still -- I think it might be safest to return to the back row next week anyway.
Incidentally, there's already a review of Wedding Crashers published on NightsAndWeekends.com. I totally agree with Tony -- it's a fun movie. It's wild enough (and there are plenty of hot chicks) to keep the guys amused, but it's still got a bit of a chick-flick story to it. Check it out if you haven't already.
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:
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 NightsAndWeekends.com.)
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Herbie Fully Loaded (4Oct05)
This week's Cheap Theater experience was unlike any other experience I've ever had in a movie theater. And that's not because of the Cheap Theater Crazies (though there were crazies -- oh yes...there were). It's because I went by myself.
Paul was out of town on business for four days, so I figured it would be good for me to get out of the house and go to a movie. I was convinced that going to a movie by myself would be fun and adventurous. But then, after the initial novelty of the whole thing wore off, reality set in, and the thought of it freaked me out just a little bit. After all, I've been paying attention to the crowds at The Cheap Theater, and I see the kind of people who go to movies by themselves. Sure, some are perfectly normal human beings who want to see a movie and are confident enough to go alone. But most of them -- the ones I take special notice of -- are alone for a reason. And I really didn't want to be grouped with those people. So I started talking myself out of going. First, I went online to check the listings, but they weren't available. That, however, wasn't quite enough of an excuse, so I called the movie listings line and got the showtimes.
The next problem: I'd already seen everything I really wanted to see. There were a couple that looked interesting, but they were horror movies -- and after four years of marriage, I've become paranoid enough when I'm home alone. If I saw a horror movie, I'd be up all night, roaming the house, gripping Paul's nine iron.
Another option was The Dukes of Hazzard, but I had a feeling that that, too, would give me nightmares.
So I settled on Herbie Fully Loaded, a good G-rated movie -- one that I'd previously had no intention of seeing. And I proceeded to try to talk myself out of going. Maybe I could just rent a movie instead -- a good chick flick that I couldn't talk Paul into seeing. Or I could go shopping... But the fact of the matter was that I was just a big, fat chicken. So I scolded myself before forcing myself to get into the car and drive to the theater.
It was almost eerie the way everything fell into place, making it as easy as possible for me to feel comfortable with my experience. I got an awesome parking space, and I barely had to walk through the lot. I didn't have to wait in line for my ticket, either. I just walked right up. I did, however, feel a little bit stupid when I had to say, "One for Herbie, please." I tossed my two quarters down and took my ticket. I tried to stand tall and look as confident as possible as I walked into the empty lobby to the lonely ticket-ripper, who courteously took my ticket and directed me to the theater, most likely wondering what serious defect I had that forced me to go to the movies by myself. Did I detect a hint of pity in his voice?
I found my theater and stepped inside, pausing to let my eyes adjust. And there it was, practically staring at me. A single seat. All by itself. In the back row. It seemed to call to me, "Welcome! You belong here! Here's a seat just for you!" Sure, I knew it was designated for those accompanying a wheelchaired moviegoer, but it just felt like it had been put there for me. A place to sit, all by myself. I took the seat, relieved that I didn't have to venture deeper into the theater.
Another benefit of my seat: it was near the door, which was well-lit. Normally, that's a bit annoying. But in this case it was perfect -- because I'd brought my knitting.
It suddenly occurred to me that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was one of those people that I'd take notice of -- a solitary young-ish woman, sitting alone in the back of the theater (right by the door), watching a Disney movie while knitting. Yep. I'd gone over to The Dark Side. I'd joined the crazies. And I didn't mind at all.
The crowd was pretty typical for a Disney movie:
1) A few couples, the male half of which was most likely wishing he could become invisible.
2) A few kids with their parents.
3) A group of chatty little old ladies.
4) And the crazies.
The kids, being rather lacking in number, made up for it by being especially loud. One, who sat across the aisle and ahead of me, had come into the theater, taken his seat, and asked, "Can I talk now?"
Good, I thought. His parents have trained him well.
But apparently his parents had only trained him to sit still and be quiet until the movie starts. After that, it was obviously okay for him to turn back into a monkey.
And then there were the crazies. Besides me, there were two loners in the theaters. One was a long-haired, oddly-dressed hippie-looking young man, probably in his mid- to late-20s. He sauntered into the theater and headed straight for the front row, where he appeared to enjoy the movie way more than anyone else in the theater. The other was a woman, who took another back-row seat. Apparently, no one had notified her that she'd come to the movie alone -- because she had an on-going conversion (rather loudly, incoherently, and, at times, quite angrily) with the imaginary friend she'd brought with her.
Then again, maybe she'd brought a guy with him -- and he'd actually gotten his wish and had become invisible.
I'm not going to say that the experience was a totally natural one. It was strange to sit in the theater alone -- especially with the frightening crazy lady only about seven feet away. But it wasn't all that bad, either. In fact, I may just do it again the next time Paul's on a business trip. I have to be careful, though. If I do it too often, I may end up talking loudly to myself in the back row or cheering wildly in the front row. Who knows...the other crazies in the theater were probably just like me not too long ago -- just bored on a Tuesday night...