Movie-theater etiquette is dead
June’s record-breaking $733.2 million box office take may be thrilling Hollywood execs, but it’s bad news for moviegoers. Why? Because if my last dozen trips to the multiplex have proven anything, it’s that the general public is suffering from a case of collective amnesia when it comes to how to behave at the movies. And with more people buying tickets than ever, the problem is only going to get worse. Trust me, there’s nothing like a theater full of obnoxious yahoos to ignite your gut with a searing, white-hot flame of hatred for your fellow man (or woman).
Case in point: I went to see ”Big Daddy” on opening weekend in a midtown Manhattan theater. It was a capacity crowd, and the hell began even before the movie started. During the previews, two grown men proceeded to get into what can best be described as a wrestling match because Man A wished to switch seats while Man B wanted him to stay put. So while Man A attempted to move, Man B put him in a bear hug and whined, ”Staaay in yeerrr seeeaat!” This went on for a good two minutes, and the duo of doofuses were so loud I couldn’t hear the ”South Park” preview. In my head, I let out a Cartman-like wail: Weeeaaaak!
When ”Big Daddy” finally began, it was hard to tell if the audience noticed. Judging from the jet-engine-like din the crowd produced, I’m pretty sure they had happily forked over $9.50 for the privilege of chatting with their friends in a dark room with sticky floors. Then, of course, there was the Goddamned Baby Behind Me. But who could blame the poor thing for babbling throughout the whole movie? After all, he was only following his mom’s example.
Can anyone tell me why people can’t sit quietly for two hours? Especially when there are colorful pictures flashing on a big screen to keep them occupied? Here’s an idea — if while watching a movie you find yourself just bursting with a clever observation or a witty aside, why not bring along a notepad and jot it down? That way, when the lights go up you can regale your friend/date/spouse with a nonstop string of bon mots like, ”Hey, that’s Steve Buscemi!” or ”Dude, those guys just kissed!”
Another thing to keep in mind: Movies, like any stories, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. So if during the ”beginning” or ”middle” something happens that surprises or confuses you, try to remember that the purpose of the ”end” of the film is to clear up most — if not all — of the story’s lingering mysteries. Leaning over to the person next to you and loudly whispering, ”Who is Rosebud?” will not expedite this process. Just pretend you’re on hold with a movie hotline, and repeat to yourself, ”My question will be answered in the order that it was received.”
If any of these rules sound too complicated or restrictive, stay home and spend some quality time with your VCR. It really, really misses you.