We’ve all been there. Opening weekend of that giant blockbuster you’ve been dying to see so much that you’ve actually braved a movie theater on its opening weekend. You even got there early, stood in line for a ticket, and wiggled your body into a prime viewing position, snacks in hand as you wait for the main attraction to begin. And then, just after you silenced your phone, in walks someone with a stroller or a tiny human who in almost any other circumstance you would have found just ah-dorable. But in this moment you simply feel a chill as fear creeps up the back of your neck. What do you fear? The strong likelihood that your night out is about to get jacked by a crying, talking, or otherwise noisy or disruptive child.
Listen, I’ve been on just about all sides of this one. I’ve been the new mom who accepted that since I had no one to babysit the kids on demand, I couldn’t go see the movie I wanted to see when I wanted to see it. I’ve also been the young mom who so desperately wanted to share one of my favorite childhood movies that I took my then-4-year-old to see E.T. during the 20th anniversary reissue on opening weekend — only to have to either talk him through certain scenes or keep him from being bored by others. Shhhh, Mommy’s watching the movie.
But much like a reformed smoker who gives death glares to anyone lighting up around them, I am now the first person to give an exasperated sigh at the sight of a grown-up escorting their little one into a theater when it’s for what I deem a grown-up movie, which I recently did at an opening-weekend showing of Iron Man 3. Yes, these are considered “family movies” and you expect to see a fair amount of preteens, tweens, and teens. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the super-young kids who are not going to be following plot. Or are likely to grow bored and whisper at their parent in an ABSURDLY LOUD VOICE because they don’t know how to whisper. Or will get overstimulated and then rambunctious and move around in the aisle.
This is not simply about the old question of whether a movie is age-appropriate for your little pumpkin, or will it scar him in some way. This is about being considerate of a room full of people who’ve plunked down their money to see a movie that they want to get lost in for a couple of hours. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.
I’m going to go tell the kids to get off my lawn now, but how about you? Have you had a nightmare experience where a movie was ruined by children who shouldn’t have been in the theater in the first place? Do you skip the movie when the first stroller shows up? And parents, do you try and bring your kids only to matinees? Or do you go anytime you want and not give two shakes what anyone else thinks?