Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Matador (25April06)

This week, we actually chose the night's movie during our lunch break. It was an easy decision -- we wanted to see The Matador, and this was its last week at The Cheap Theater. It was as simple as that.

The movie started at 7:50 -- a late-early show. That meant that we had plenty of time to make dinner and eat it and clean up after ourselves before the movie. From past experience, I should have known that it also meant that, given that much extra time on our hands, we'd inevitably be late.

But alas, I never learn.

We took our dear sweet time with dinner -- and then we still had time left. So I went to my office to get just a little more work done while Paul went outside to drag the bags of grass clippings to the road for Yard Waste Pick-up Day. The next thing I knew, we were running late. I ran out the door and climbed into the car to wait for Paul, who was still dragging sopping-wet trash bags around the yard. When he finally made it to the car, he was covered in dirt. But hey -- it's The Cheap Theater. No one cares.

Once on the road, we ended up stuck behind a guy who was swerving all over the road, going 15 under the speed limit. "He's either drunk or on his cell phone," Paul noted as the street widened, allowing us to pass. As we sped by, I glanced over to see the driver trying to dial his phone while looking nowhere near the direction of the road.

Despite leaving late and getting stuck behind the crazy cell phone driver, we still managed to make it to The Cheap Theater on time. And as we were making our way through the parking lot, I even took a second to take notice of the sign at the pizza buffet announcing that Tuesday is now $3 Buffet Day.

"Dinner and a movie: $7!" I announced. "We are so there."

Fortunately, even though we were running a tad behind schedule, we were seeing an R-rated movie in its last week at The Cheap Theater -- so I knew we wouldn't really have a problem getting a seat. We bought our tickets (Paul using the least number of words possible: "Two Matador.") and found ourselves in line for the ticket-ripper behind two other people who were headed for the same movie. The ticket-ripper barely took notice of us, though. He was more focused on a woman and her young son, who were headed into a theater on our right. Perhaps they were trying to sneak in a double-feature. And if that's the case, it's really a shame that the security guard wasn't on duty this week.

As expected, our theater wasn't full at all. And there's just something about a nearly-empty theater that brings out the quirks in your fellow moviegoers -- especially at The Cheap Theater, where there's a pretty high quirkiness ratio.

This week, we were sitting two rows behind a Cackler, who would cackle loudly at anything and everything that happened in the movie. Either that, or we were sitting two rows behind a very large chicken. It was dark. I can't be sure.

In front of us and to the right was a Sniffly-Snorter, who snorted through the whole movie (either that, or someone brought their pet pig along -- and why not, for only 50 cents?). Whenever the Sniffly-Snorter would sneeze, he sent the woman in front of him diving for cover, as though she were suffering from some germy version of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Behind us and across the aisle was a Chronic Fidgeter. Fortunately, we hadn't wound up in the back row this week, or we probably would have had to watch him squirm through the whole movie. Unfortunately, however, he was seated in one of those well-worn seats that are in serious need of some new padding and some WD-40. So we got to listen to the seat squeak as he fidgeted through the whole movie.

At the front of the theater, there were two AlternaTeens, who always remind me of a song I loved back in college. ("Alternateen... Would you go to Lollapalooza with me? Then we can spend five dollars for a glass of water...") Sure, we were all AlternaTeens back then, in our own special way. We wore old Salvation Army flannels and boots from the Army surplus store. We were so alternative that we were practically invisible. We did not wear crazy giant factory-worn pants that cost $80 at Hot Topic.

Sheesh. I'm getting old.

Finally, about 20 minutes into the movie, a couple took the seats in front of us, smelling quite strongly of popcorn and some other bitter smell that I couldn't quite place. They sat down and proceeded to focus all of their concentration on shoving as much popcorn into their mouths as was humanly possible. I guess if you're going to pay $20 for popcorn, though, you might as well get your money's worth.

After a few minutes, I determined that the smell emanating from the seats ahead of us was alcohol-based. And a while later (after mentally running through every known alcohol at the liquor store), I concluded it to be beer. Cheap beer. In large amounts.

So in our little corner of The Cheap Theater, we ended up surrounded by a Cackler, a Sniffly-Snorter, a Chronic Fidgeter, a pair of AlternaTeens, and a Beer Bather. Not too bad for a night at the movies...

Casanova Review Published

My review of last week's movie, Casanova, was published this morning. Head on over to and check it out!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Casanova (18April06)

There once was a time when Cheap Night at The Cheap Theater was a formal event. It was Date Night, which meant that I'd actually take some time to make myself look somewhat presentable. Looking back, I wonder why. After all, when we first moved here, I was struck by the fact that the locals' standard uniform consisted of a college T-shirt and sweatpants. I live in a place where people will ask why you're so dressed up if you're wearing jeans and a logo-free shirt. And The Cheap Theater is far from the center of class and style. I could, for example, wear cut-off Daisy Dukes and knee-high black vinyl boots, and I would fit right in. So in the past year or so, I've given up on looking nice for movie night. In fact, I would have to say that, in the last 50 visits to The Cheap Theater, I've worn the same hooded sweatshirt for approximately 48 of them -- and this week was no exception.

After all, watching a movie at The Cheap Theater isn't much different from watching a movie at home -- except the popcorn is cheaper at home. And our couch has more padding than the Cheap Theater's seats. And, in our living room, there's no crazy guy on the other side of the room, giggling through the whole movie.

Come to think of it, watching a movie at The Cheap Theater is nothing like watching a movie at home.

My point, though, is that it's not a dressy occasion. We don't put on nice clothes to go to The Cheap Theater. We don't go through the effort of combing our hair. We figure brushing our teeth and putting on shoes is good enough.

So, this week, after a wonderful dinner of grilled chicken out on the deck, I brushed my teeth, threw on my old faithful hooded sweatshirt over my T-shirt (to cover up those annoying white deodorant marks), put on my black Chuck Taylors (which, if they were children, would now be nervously anticipating middle school), and jumped in the car.

We didn't have a problem getting a parking space this week -- because we've reached one of the slow times of the year. It's not summer vacation yet, so the kids aren't packing the theater. And it's just too nice outside to spend the night in a cold, dark movie theater. It's the kind of weather that's perfect for having a brew on the patio of the local pub -- which is exactly what a bunch of bikers were doing at the pub by The Cheap Theater.

But not us. It was Tuesday. On Tuesdays, we see a movie. We're creatures of habit, you know, and if we don't go, it'll mess up the whole week.

There definitely weren't any crowds to battle on our way in. We got our tickets and handed them to Derek, our friendly ticket-ripper (whose mother obviously did a wonderful job of teaching him to be polite). Then we took a long walk down the hall to the very last theater down the very last hallway.

"Looks like they're showing this one in the supply closet," Paul commented as we approached the door.

There were about six other people in the theater when we got there. As usual, it wasn't until after the movie started that people began filling the place up. And, as usual, they gathered in the back, shocked that the back row seats were taken, trying to scope out seats elsewhere in the theater. At one point, one woman huffed and asked her companion, "Is it always this dark in here?"

Apparently, she'd only been to the theaters where they keep the lights on during the movie...

Once everyone finally settled in and shut up (which actually took quite a while, not that that's a surprise anymore), they were a pretty subdued crowd -- all of them, that is, except for the guy across the aisle, who sat alone in the back row and giggled through the whole movie.

The Lone Giggler.

The Lone Giggler found the movie absolutely hilarious. While I'll admit that it was quite amusing -- and I thoroughly enjoyed myself -- I can't say that I found it quite as hilarious as he did. Perhaps he's a dentist -- and he had to clean out the laughing gas canister before leaving work. It's a tough job, but it's gotta be done.

After the show, we joined the mass exodus out of the theater, herding ourselves like cattle out into the street. As we wandered down the hallway, Paul and I were amused to see a couple break away from the crowd and walk right into another theater for a double feature. They knew exactly where they were going -- as though they'd done the math and scoped out the next theater before the first movie started.

I have friends, who shall remain nameless, who have been known to sneak into a second movie after paying for the first. I, however, have never done it, since I would most definitely be caught. That's just my luck. But my friends used to do that at real theaters, where the movies cost ten bucks -- not at The Cheap Theater, on Cheap Night, when movies cost a whopping fifty cents each. I seriously feel bad for these people, who can't afford to pay another buck for a movie.

But, now that I've seen it happen, I think I understand why The Cheap Theater hires a security guard -- to prevent the great loss of cash that results from people sneaking in a free second movie. He must catch a lot of perps to earn his salary...

To read a review of Casanova, visit

Memoirs of a Geisha Review Published

My review of last week's movie, Memoirs of a Geisha, was published this morning. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha (11April06)

It never fails -- the more time we have to get to The Cheap Theater on Tuesday, the later we end up being. This week, we had all afternoon. Paul left work at noon, and I picked him up to go downtown for an appointment with the INS -- to get Paul one step closer to his permanent Green Card (which, incidentally, isn't even green).

You meet a lot of interesting people at the INS offices. List people who apparently visit at least once a week, hoping that they can annoy the INS into getting their paperwork done sooner. Or illegal aliens who think they should get preferential treatment because they at least took the time to learn the language. But all that is a different story for a different blog... didn't take long for us to show proof, once again, that we are, in fact, married (though it probably wouldn't have hurt if I'd started nagging him about something mid-interview). So, after a quick smoothie break downtown, we were home by about 2:30. Since it was a gorgeous spring day, we decided to go to our favorite trail and go for a four-mile walk. Then we'd grab dinner next to the theater (wings -- not the pizza buffet this time) and make it in time for the 6:50 show.

For the most part, everything went well. We had a great walk, and we even had time to stop home to freshen up a bit before heading out for dinner. We stuffed ourselves with wings and cheap beer, and we watched nuns and monks face off on a Family Feud rerun. The problem arose when we finished dinner early. So we could either go to the theater and wait for a half hour or we could do a little shopping first. We wandered down the mall to the bargain bookstore, where I promptly lost Paul. I swear he dematerialized. And by the time I found him, it was 6:40. We waited for someone to check us out (and got a free tote bag for having to wait), and then we still needed to drop off our purchases at the car and buy our tickets -- and I had to stop at the bathroom. We rushed off in separate directions. Then we met back up, got our tickets, rushed past the ticket-ripper (who was so friendly that he said hello when we were still 15 feet away from his ticket-ripper stand), and hurried toward our theater. We got stuck in the hallway behind a particularly pokey pair, who walked as though their movie wasn't starting for another couple of days -- when, in actuality, they were just as late as we were because they were headed for the same theater.

Thank goodness for endless previews -- there were still two more left when we entered the theater. And, somehow, there were still back row seats available. It was a Cheap Theater Miracle.

Of course, we weren't the last ones to show up for the movie. Because people at The Cheap Theater figure that, since it's only costing them 50 cents, they can show up an hour late, and it's no big deal. Personally, I think these people must be on crack, since those first few minutes are often critical to the movie. But whatever. It's their problem.

It becomes my problem, however, when they show up 15 minutes into the movie and are furious that the seats that they want are already occupied.

Yes, I realize that the seats in the back of our local cheap theater are designed to accommodate handicapped moviegoers and their guests. And if a handicapped moviegoer arrived and there was no other room left, I would gladly give up my seat (though, admittedly, I'd still be a bit miffed if I had to do so after the movie had already started -- because that's still just a tad bit rude). But these Cranky Latecomers who arrive late and get ticked off that we're in their seats are never handicapped. Usually, they're middle-aged or older. In groups of at least three. And the person who gets the huffiest (and the loudest) is almost always female and shaped much like a pepper pot. She and her cohorts will stand at the back of the theater and converse loudly, trying to make us feel guilty for taking their seats. They will occasionally take a few steps toward us, so as to give us the opportunity to call them over and say, "Please take these seats. We're so sorry for taking them, when they're obviously reserved for you. Shame on us."

But, just for the record, I don't feel the slightest bit guilty. To the Cranky Latecomers, I say: if you want specific seats, show up early. Don't come crying to me when you show up 15 minutes into the movie and you can't get the seat you want. And, just for your information, talking loudly won't make me give you my seat. It will not wear me down. It will just piss me off, since I'll be forced to focus even harder on ignoring you so I can watch the movie. Call me rude and disrespectful if you will, but I have long legs, thank you very much, and I'm not going to get up during the movie and willingly switch to a more cramped seat just because you want me to. If you want my seat, you're just going to have to sit on my lap. Sorry.

Eventually, the Cranky Latecomers found seats -- or, perhaps, a movie where their fellow moviegoers were more obliging -- and a good time was had by all. For a review of the movie, check out

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Walk the Line (4April06)

This week, we experienced another first -- we left for The Cheap Theater without a clue as to which movie we were going to see.

It had been...a Tuesday. I had an outstanding amount of work to do -- and I worked frantically for most of the day, followed by a brief zone-out phase in the afternoon (as is the case every Tuesday). Then I suddenly looked up to realize that it was after five, I had laundry that needed to go in the dryer, and I still had no clue what we were going to have for dinner. So I got up and spent the next 45 minutes or so running from my office to the kitchen to the laundry room, trying to do everything at once. It's a miracle that I didn't end up putting the chicken in the dryer.

So dinner was late -- and as we ate it, we discussed our movie options. But we couldn't seem to come to a conclusion.

We finally got it down to two: Syriana and Walk the Line. Syriana was one that Paul really wanted to see -- and I'd agreed to see it, out of payment for the number of chick flicks he's seen without complaint. Walk the Line was one that we both were interested in seeing -- yet, in the weeks and weeks and weeks that it had been playing at The Cheap Theater, we'd never really been in the mood to see it. They both started at around the same time. They were around the same length. They were both well-ranked on IMDb. And, since I was actually more in the mood for a goofball comedy (as is usually the case after a long Tuesday of work), I didn't care either way. In fact, I was pretty close to staying home and curling up on the couch in my jammies. But I didn't. Instead, I got ready to go and see...some movie, yet to be named.

When we walked up to the box office, we still hadn't chosen a movie.

"What are we seeing?" Paul asked.

"I don't know. Pick one," I replied.

Typically, if we're in this situation, we'll end up flipping a coin or something. If we're trying to pick out a DVD to watch, Paul will put them behind his back, and I'll have to pick a hand. But this time Paul ended up making the decision (based, I assume, on some computer-programmer-logic in his head -- which occasionally comes in handy). And Walk the Line it was. We got our ticket from the cheery box office girl, who told us to enjoy the show like she actually meant it. We passed by the ticket-ripper, whose mind was obviously elsewhere. And we happily found our way to the back row of the theater.

I've got to say that I was pretty amazed by the number of people who were still coming to see Walk the Line -- after several weeks in the theater, followed by several weeks in The Cheap Theater. It's still playing four times a day, and the theater was still pretty full. That's not to say that I didn't like the movie (for a full review, see this one). I was just surprised that there were that many people who were still going to the theater to see it.

Anyway...back to the theater....

If you've ever seen the Monty Python sketches featuring the Pepper Pots, you've seen the two women who were seated across the aisle from me. In case you didn't go to Blockbuster after school and rent The Flying Circus tapes to watch with your friends, as I did, the Pepper Pots were shrill and rather roly-poly older women, played by the Pythons in drag. In one particular sketch, the ladies went to the movies, where they sat in the back of the theater and repeatedly shrieked, "OOH! ...AAH! ...WELL, I NEVAH!" to the great annoyance of everyone else in the theater.

That was almost exactly how the two women in the theater behaved. In fact, when the credits rolled, I almost expected to find that the two women were actually John Cleese and Michael Palin in disguise.

Throughout the movie, these two women (who were, in fact, shaped much like pepper pots) tittered and howled. They shrieked, "Ooh!" as if they were shocked and appalled by the grittier parts of the movie. They giggled nervously as if laughing at something amusing yet naughty. And, the rest of the time, they chattered loudly to each other.

While I enjoyed the movie itself, the Pepper Pots were, hands down, the best part. Still, though I didn't get a really good look at them, they were just a little too Mrs. Doubtfire to be real. I really wouldn't be surprised if they were actually men in old-lady drag. I have, after all, seen stranger things at The Cheap Theater...

Narnia Review Published

My review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published on this morning. In case you missed last week's entry, be sure to check out the Cheap Theater Experience -- then read my review.