As a general rule, I shy away from public events such as concerts, sports games, or any other occasion that involves a large group of people collecting in one place for the purpose of witnessing something entertaining. Doing so gives me the strange and unsettling feeling of inhabiting two worlds simultaneously. With one foot in the crowd and the other on the stage, court, or field, I am overcome with a light-headed, out-of-body sensation that I find quite disturbing.
There is one notable except to this rule and that is going to the movies. I love the entire theatrical experience and my love has only increased now that I have kids with which to enjoy the experience as well. (Sadly, Jim doesn’t share my love for movie theaters and would rather take his $7.50 and run, unless tempted by the latest M. Knight Shyamalan or Quentin Tarantino film). I like to arrive early in order to maximize my pre-show pleasure, since these trips to the theater are a rare treat. First there is the perusal of posters for upcoming shows and making mental notes for what flicks to add to my ever-growing Netflix queue. Then there is the selection of film viewing snacks, the careful flavoring of popcorn with a hot, yellow liquid we unconvincingly refer to as movie butter. And then the climax leading up to the actual reason for coming to the theater in the first place, to see a movie…the previews. Aptly named “teasers” this smorgasbord of things to come is a plan-ahead girl’s dream come true. I love to anticipate things and this string of glorified commercials is just the thing to assuage any bittersweet regret that soon the film viewing experience will be over. Now I can watch the movie knowing that there is another film coming soon that I look forward to seeing.
But lately I have found the entire experience a bit disappointing. So in the tradition of my less than traditional Top “Ten” lists, here are Four and a Half Reasons I Don’t Like Movie Theaters as Much as I Used To:
#4 The Snacks — I held my tongue when for no apparent reason, we suddenly became responsible for the “buttering” of our own popcorn but can no longer remain silent at the unjustifiably pathetic selection of candy. Anyone who has stood in line with three or more children, one of whom is allergic to peanuts, trying to get them all to agree on one treat to share, knows that the paltry array of sour gummy worms and sweet tarts just doesn’t cut it.
#3 The Previews — In a perversion of everything I hold sacred about the movie theater experience, the thing that I once most looked forward to is now the reason I prefer to arrive late—to avoid the overly long, plot-spoiling previews. Was the profession of trailer editors suddenly taken over by a group of frustrated short film directors who have decided to ruin all of our fun and create mini-films rather than brief commercials? If the film industry wants to boost their sales in these hard economic times, perhaps they should consider reversing this trend and follow Hitchcock’s rule: showing less is better. There are several Hollywood starlets who might consider taking this advice as well, but that’s another post entirely.
#2 The Theaters — When I was growing up, back when a guy played the organ as the soundtrack and “talkies” were just a gleam in the brothers Warner’s eye, movie theaters were large enough to seat an entire Tibetan village and the screens were sized to match. Nowadays, the theaters have been chopped in half, all in the name of maximizing profit (as if ticket prices and snack gouging aren’t raking in enough dough). Some of the screens aren’t much bigger than our home TV, and that’s saying something.
#1½ — Did I mention the snacks? It bears repeating. They are really, really bad.
#1 The Films — All of the above drawbacks might be tolerable if it weren’t for the fact that most of the films in theaters aren’t worth seeing. On the rare occasion that I can convince Jim to take me to the movies, it is difficult to find something we can sit through, let alone enjoy. There have been some notable exceptions of late—Slum Dog Millionaire, Inglourious Basterds, and The Blind Side—but on the whole the pickings are slim out there. I keep holding out hope, only to be disappointed time and again.
So, with a heavy heart, I have forsaken movie theaters, that is, until the next Shyamalan film comes out…or the next Tarantino film…or anything featuring men on horseback and women wearing long dresses with empire waists…or…. Okay, I haven’t quite turned my back on movie theaters yet, but I sure am tempted!