Friday, June 29, 2007

Pre-Vacation Panic

New at Since Last Time:
Live Free or Die Hard
A Mighty Heart

As a rule, the week before and the week after a vacation tend to be so hectic that it sometimes makes me wonder if it’s worth taking a vacation at all. The answer is yes—of course it’s worth it. But it doesn’t always feel that way at the time.

So next week, we’re taking some time off. Or at least we might be. Since my husband just started a new job this week, it’s still a little bit up-in-the-air. Fortunately, we were just planning on visiting family—it’s not like we had flights and hotels booked or anything. So who knows. We could decide this afternoon that we’re not going—and then we’ll just go later instead. But I’ve been trying to prepare for it anyway, just in case.

So maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to skip Monday morning’s screening—since I’m currently trying to figure out an extra week’s worth of reviews. But I had a perfectly good reason. I wasn’t the only one who skipped Sicko, though. There were a few who just couldn’t stomach Michael Moore on a Monday morning. And there were others who admitted that there wasn’t really a point—since they’d already watched the whole thing on YouTube anyway. So I wasn’t alone in my absence.

On Tuesday, however, it was back to the grind. Tuesday’s screening was the much-debated Live Free or Die Hard (rated PG-13, much to Bill’s dismay). Despite getting ourselves caught in the mother of all traffic jams on the way to the theater, we made it there just as they were letting press in. I, however, sent my husband to get seats while I made a quick pit stop.

The women’s bathroom at the theater was almost entirely empty when I got there. There were just two primping teenagers, who left right after I walked in. I chose a stall somewhere in the middle of the bathroom. A few seconds later, two women walked in together and chose the stalls on either side of me. Now, as a woman, it is perfectly acceptable to walk into a bathroom with a friend and talk through the whole process. But if that’s the case, and you want to chat-and-pee, it’s customary to take stalls next to each other. And if you take stalls on either side of the only other person in the entire bathroom, well, that’s just plain weird. And if you happen to be talking about movies—and the person in the stall between you just happens to be a film critic—you shouldn’t be shocked if that person joins in your conversation. I didn’t actually butt in on their conversation about Evening, but I sure was tempted. And, well, they would have deserved it.

So anyway, I got into the theater in time to join in on one last discussion about PG-13 movies before Die Hard started. At one point, David stopped and asked, “Have we discussed this before?”

“Um, yes,” I replied. “We’ve discussed this every day for the past two weeks.” And I wasn’t kidding. Bill’s mortification over the movie’s PG-13 rating has turned it into a permanent discussion topic—ever since the rumors started swirling around.

But you know what? I don’t really think it could have been better if it had been an R movie. Okay, so the language could have been stronger—but it didn’t really seem that unrealistic. And not once does Bruce Willis call someone a “Motor Scooter.” So, when it was all said and done, even Bill (who had promised to add a few f-bombs, anyway, in his head) was satisfied.

The movie was, however, really long. And it didn’t help that we had to sit through six trailers before the movie even started. And then, when we got out at about 10, we all had to rush back to our computers to start working on our reviews—because the movie was released on Wednesday, and we all needed to get our reviews up on opening day. But I liked it anyway.

On Wednesday, we had another great adventure. After Tuesday night’s traffic jam (due, in part, to construction and road closings on every other street that would get us to the theater), I decided that I needed to leave even earlier to get to the License to Wed screening on time. It was an early screening, and my husband wasn’t going, since he had a hockey game that night, so I ended up talking to him for about ten minutes while I stood in the kitchen and ate something before running out the door. All the way to the theater, I prayed that I wouldn’t run out of gas—because I was low, but I didn’t have time to stop. Fortunately, I made it—at about 6:20. I stood around for a few minutes and filled the rep in on Die Hard before the rumors started—the print was at a different theater altogether.

Now, this has happened before—though not at a screening that I was technically supposed to be attending. It was two days before another one of my vacations, and I’d decided to do a double-feature, since Mark and I had been told about another screening that press weren’t supposed to attend—but we were told that we could, as long as we didn’t post any early reviews. So after the first screening, we tried looking for the second one—only to discover that the second one was actually at a theater across town (the same theater, in fact, that License to Wed had settled). They ended up holding the screening a half hour (not just for us, mind you—for everyone who had shown up at the other theater), and we made it just in time.

This time, however, we were told to sit tight—that they’d get the print, and we’d just start a half hour later (which made me so glad that I’d rushed to get there on time). Then they let us in, and we settled down into our seats for the long wait.

At 7:29, Sir John left his seat to talk to the rest of us. “They’re about to make an announcement,” he told us. “And since I’m looking at the projection room, and there isn’t a single light on, I’m guessing it’s not good.”

Just seconds later, one of the reps walked up to our row. Quietly, she made her way down the row, saying, “Go…go…go…go…” while waving us toward the exit. I’m sure the rest of the audience got that uneasy feeling when they saw an entire row of us running for the door—but we were glad to get out before the angry mob was released.

Outside the door, barriers were set up, sending everyone right outside, instead of out into the theater lobby. One of the guys’ friends wondered if it was all a little melodramatic, but you’d be surprised what people will do for a free movie. And if you take that away from them, they get pretty pissed off. In the end, they were all offered passes to an upcoming screening—but I’m sure that only helped a little.

After we stood around for a while, avoiding the mob, some of the gang went out for drinks—but I headed home. I met my husband just as he was pulling out of the neighborhood and heading to hockey—just in time to get him to turn around and take me with him. And it was actually a pretty exciting game—so at least that was some consolation for sitting in a theater and waiting for a screening that never happened. But I still have no idea what I’m going to be able to publish next week instead.

Then came Thursday. Thursday was a big day—the Transformers screening. We were all skeptical until we saw the first trailer—and after that, we were sold. We couldn’t wait for the screening. And then came the Great Screening Dilemma—we had two screenings scheduled for the same night. The only screening of Transformers was scheduled for the same night as the only screening of Ratatouille. How were we supposed to choose between the two? Fortunately, we didn’t have to—because more Ratatouille screenings were added. And we were all relieved.

Speaking of Ratatouille, now that it’s officially in theaters, I can say how much we all loved it. Sure, the kids in the theater weren’t nearly as thrilled as we were, but the critics’ row was rolling. We especially loved Anton Ego, the evil food critic. I loved it so much, in fact, that I already have plans to see it again once we get back from our week off.

So anyway…back to Transformers. As a chick who probably still owns a few Transformers toys from the ‘80s (have I ever mentioned that I was a bit of a tomboy?), I was pretty psyched for this one—but not as much as some of the guys. Granted, we were all a little concerned that it was directed by Michael Bay—and that it was well over two hours long. But we’re talking robots here.

The plan was to meet up for drinks at the bar next to the theater before the movie started. There was some confusion over where we were meeting—resulting in our getting a table for 12 at a nearby sushi restaurant. But we all ended up at the sports bar next door, stuffing our faces with beer and spicy chicken parts, so everything turned out okay.

The problem, though, was that the screening was at 7—and that didn’t leave a lot of time for beer and chicken. One of the perks of being a critic, though, is that we get those reserved seats. Other people were already waiting in line when we checked in before heading to the bar.

We did our best to hurry, though, so we could get some good seats—because you never know which seats they’ll reserve for press, and we like to have our pick. As soon as were finished, we sent Colin, the youngest of the group, to get us seats. But, as the rest of us waited to pay up, we realized that there might be a problem. Or, as Kevin so eloquently put it, “If eight hot chicks show up, we’re all screwed.” So David ran off to find the friend who was attending with him. And, shortly thereafter, I ran off to save the rest of the seats. I was hoping that I’d still be early enough—that they hadn’t started letting people in. But when I ran into the theater, I was met with a horrible sight: an empty hallway. In other words, they’d already let people in. And, to make matters worse, for some reason, they didn’t think that there would be a ton of press in attendance for the only screening of Transformers. So, even though eight hot chicks didn’t show up to take our seats, we were screwed anyway. And we ended up sitting at the far side of the theater. It was a good thing I’d run over, though—because if we’d waited too much longer, we’d either have ended up in the nosebleeds (which, in this particular theater, was very, very high up there) or in the second row. And, fortunately, the seats didn’t end up being too bad—though there was some guy across the aisle who had a conversation with his wife through the whole thing (oh, how I wished I had that little hand-held device, with the button that I could push to electrocute him!).

Since it doesn’t come out until next week, I can’t really say much about the movie itself (though I will say I was totally underwhelmed). Instead, I’ll talk about the trailers—or one in particular—that struck up an email conversation that’s been going on all morning. The trailer appeared to be for some sort of monster movie. It was all very mysterious, though—not even a title. But it’s directed by J.J. Abrams, and it’s coming out in January. And it looked really cool. So David, being the genius that he is, went online last night to start searching for it. As it turns out, the project is so mysterious that it’s not even listed on IMDb. So David did more searching and passed his findings on to the rest of us. According to the source that David found, the movie is called Cloverfield. It’s a The Host kind of monster movie that’s told entirely through home videos—shot all on DV.

Neil, who had gotten on his fancy phone right away to text a rep at Paramount last night, confirmed David's findings. And though Kevin is a little concerned that it might make him throw up (like Blair Witch), and we’re all a little concerned for Neil’s well-being (since monster movies tend to make him a little jumpy), I say we’ll be fine as long as we pack the Dramamine for Kevin (and okay…for me, too) and some sedatives for Neil. Bring on the monsters!

Mostly, I’m just glad that we’ll have something to look forward to seeing next January.

So, anyway…now it’s time for all that last-minute stuff. It’s time to pack the DVDs and the books and the CDs before hitting the road. Since I won’t be around next week, I’ll be skipping next week’s entry. But I’ll be back at it again on the 13th. Until then, have a great holiday. And, to quote a wise man I know, “See you at the movies, folks.”

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