Friday, November 17, 2006

The Movie-Going Experience

Today was the first time I've been to a movie theater in about a year. I was reminded today several of the reason why I haven't been in so long. When did a portion of the general public become so rude and inconsiderate? Was there a declaration made that I missed?

I went to watch two movies today, the new James Bond flick "Casino Royale" and if you've read my posts before you can guess the other film, "Happy Feet." Both were entertaining and worth watching. While the movie isn't where most of my grievances lie, I will say I do not like being highly mislead by a trailer, and I think Happy Feet does that to a certain degree. The storyline isn't just about a penguin chick's plight but pulls in a much larger environmental message. Regardless of whether I agree with the message, it's not even hinted at in the trailers. There are movies that have missed an audience simply by being mis-billed. One great example of that is "The Girl Next Door." It's nothing remotely like the American Pie series, but more a coming-of-age story. I don't believe it did very well at the box office, and I certainly wouldn't have even watched it if I had not just happened onto a few minutes of it while flipping through the channels one evening.

Anyway, my issues with going to the theater... In short, if you're going to take your cell phone in with you, at least have the common sense to set it to silent/vibrate or turn it off. Having a lengthy conversation after announcing to your caller "Oh I'm just at the movies, there's no one around me..." while those of us non-existent people around you listen to you blather on about nothing of consequence is simply put, rude. What do you say to a person this inconsiderate? A man marched down to the guy two rows in front of him today and announced loudly, "How can you be so rude?" The talker completely ignored him, but expecting a response was probably too much.

I think theaters also have given up the fight to clean the seating areas between screenings. After walking through a sludge of sodas and candy left behind from two previous groups, I ended up leaving my shoes by the door to clean them before wearing again. Call me a germ freak, but I can't begin to imagine what I would be dragging through my house on the bottom of those. They may toss the cups from cup holders around the seats, but the floors go untouched. I feel for the crews cleaning those up at night; that can't be an enjoyable or quick task.

But there is something about sitting there with that huge screen and the digital surround sound that does add to the experience. You just can't get that at home unless you have a theater room, which is beyond the reach of many consumers. Theater owners and the Movie industry wonders why sales are down. Ask the customer. They'll tell you how theaters are dirty, other viewers are rude, and we won't even elaborate on how popcorn has deteriorated into some popped-three-days-ago Styrofoam peanut substance.

Oh, Daniel Craig does give a very good performance as the new Bond. The film takes a step back to the character's earlier days, when he's more rough around the edges and doesn't quite have that suave persona as developed. Bond fans will enjoy the references to things you see appear in later films. Missing are both Moneypenny and "R." It's definitely worth watching.


John Galt said...

Now that you mention it, I think I did see some sort of notice in The Harvard Lampoon last December 18th about changes in movie etiquette. Something to the effect that you should imagine how a pig would act in a theater, then try to be worse. Apparently many people took them seriously by adding cell phones. Pigs can’t carry them or answer unless they have grunt/snort activation. Sorry you had to endure a two-legged wart hog.

Thanks for the movie reviews. Please keep up the blog diversification.

Anonymous said...

You are not wrong about the rudeness of some moviegoers. There is also the public display of affection problem although that is less noisy, at least most of the time. Here’s my solution.

Don’t bother asking them to cut it out. That hardly ever works. (Now this takes some commitment and investment, but it’s worth it.) You go out to the concession stand and buy the $5 size drink, a 5 gallon bucket of popcorn, some candy. Buy enough so that the tray is filled to overflowing. Oh, and have them make the drink ice water. If you haven’t figured out why, you’ll see in a minute.

Next you casually walk back into the theater and down the row behind the offender/s. When you get right behind them, accidentally trip and douse them with the drink. You can do both drink and popcorn depending on the level of offensive behavior. If you go with what I call the “Green Maneuver” (ice water only) that actually dissolves some of the gunk on the floor, and most theaters have a floor drain down front anyway.

Quickly drop and crawl back to your seat. Leave the candy. It’s not worth it. Some of these guys pack heat, and it’s hard to run a serpentine pattern through rows of folding seats. You’ll thank me later.