As I'm sure most of you will agree, the best place to view a movie is in a nice, large theatre. There's something exciting about running out on opening day to see a new movie "before nearly everyone else in the world." You've already waited over 12 months since seeing that first advance teaser trailer, and although you've desperately tried to ignore all the hype over that time, it's gotten to you anyway. Finally, you find standing in front of the theatre anticipating the wonders that will unfold before your eyes.
The excitement starts while you wait in line for an hour to buy your tickets, and then wait another three hours in a different line before actually being given permission to step inside your local shrine to the projected image. After the pimple-covered teenager in the ill-fitting clothes takes your ticket and mumbles something you can't understand, the excitement builds even further. The smell of popcorn and last year's hotdogs permeates the air around you, and your enter the theatre proper, your feet sticking to the floor, as you try to find a seat in the center of the theatre that isn't covered with some mysterious substance. As you sit down, you realize that everyone around you is as hyped up as you are, and the deep buzzing "murmur of anticipation" resonates throughout the entire theatre audience. This is going to be one terrific group experience, you say to yourself.
After waiting another hour and going to the snack bar three times, the lights dim, the trailers for films not coming out until the next century show, and the movie finally, finally begins. "Wow!" you say to yourself, "here comes the fun..." But "fun" isn't the sort of word that accurately describes what happens over the next two hours..."Hell" is more appropriate. Your entire movie experience is ruined because you've suddenly found yourself in the domain of the most vile and wretched creatures you'll ever meet...the dreaded "Seat Kickers" and "Talkers." You find it impossible to hear the film because the creatures next to you refuse to shut up, but it doesn't matter anyway since your concentration is completely shot thanks to the inconsiderate moron sitting behind you who sends 7.5 Richter scale tremors through your seat every ten seconds. You ask them politely several times to stop talking or kicking your seat, but they just stare at you like you're from Mars and ignore you completely. You then find yourself repeatedly screaming at them to knock it off, but they are completely oblivious. You then finding yourself hoping that they'll drop dead in their seats simply to end the misery. And then you realize that you've just paid $7.50 for nothing.
Paula (my wife) and I are more fortunate (or spoiled) than many people when it comes to seeing movies. Paula is one of the many currently-nonworking actresses in Los Angeles, and as such, she's got a full membership in the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). One of the membership perks is that we get to see nearly weekly screenings of upcoming movies at the gorgeous Director's Guild theatre in Hollywood. The theatre is large and extremely clean (no food or drink allowed), and the audience is filled with movie professionals. There is no unnecessary talking during the screenings, no one kicks your seat, and everyone waits until the end credits are over before leaving the theatre. We consistently have a great time during these screenings (unless the film is really awful, like when we both suffered through The Bridges of Madison County.)
But more times than not, Paula and I find ourselves going to the local AMC to see a film that SAG either didn't show or that we unfortunately had to miss. And that's when the trouble starts. I don't know if we're just particularly unlucky, but no matter what, we always manage to find ourselves surrounded by jerks every single time we go out to see a movie. Maybe it's because we live in Los Angeles (more specifically the San Fernando Valley). This happened to us uring a recent excursion to see The Game (we missed our advance screening). Sitting next to us on the right were two people we soon dubbed "The Bitch and Her Stupid Friend." Apparently, the "Stupid Friend" understood absolutely nothing whatsoever about The Game while she was watching it, so "The Bitch" decided to loudly explain every single scene to her during the entire film. Polite requests to quiet down were completely ignored, as we the several shouted "shut up" comments that came from various audience members. After the movie, Paula personally thanked "The Bitch" (i.e. embarrassed her in front of everyone) by very loudly thanking her for talking the entire time, and then telling her that this wasn't her own personal living room. "The Bitch" limply responded with "Get a life." Now let me get this straight...they were talking the entire time and ruining the film for everyone around them, and we should get a life?! Absolutely pathetic.
And I haven't even gotten to the seat kicker yet. Yes, one of those was also present at The Game, or more specifically, several of them. There was an entire group of apparent "friends" sitting behind us, and several of them did nothing but kick the seats repeatedly. One was sitting directly behind me, and the couple sitting a few seats over on my left side had another one behind them. Throughout the entire film, we found ourselves continually getting up and yelling at the people behind us to knock it off. And can you guess what happened? That's right, absolutely nothing.
None of these people gave a damn that there were other people sitting around them desperately trying to enjoy the film they paid to see. These people were acting as if they were sitting in their own living room eating a TV dinner and watching Friends. Absolutely inconsiderate pigs. It's gotten so bad recently that Paula and I often wonder why we bother going to regular movie theatres any more. Unless we can attended one of our SAG screenings, we're sorely tempted these days to simply wait for the laserdisc or DVD release and actually enjoy a film in our own home. We've got a big screen television, an excellent A/V system, no disgusting smells or sticky floors (unless the cat has been sick...don't ask), and best of all no seat kickers or talkers. And we know were not the only ones who feel this way. That's why home theatre will thrive...because of people who are fed up with the assholes they have to endure at theatres.
And if you're one of those people who does nothing but talk and kick seats when you're seeing a movie (not that you'll actually know it or admit to it anyway...) we have this one word of advice: KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!!!
Originally Created: 10/04/97