One of the Wits Behind 'Mystery Science Theater' Goes to the Movies -- Every Single Day for a Year

A Year at the Movies

Put your finger under here,” commands Kevin Murphy as he puts his own finger under the melted-butter dispenser at the Mall of America multiplex outside Minneapolis. He licks his honey- yellow digit clean and makes a face.

”It’s not butter!” Murphy wails, the mock outrage in his delivery recalling his voice work as the robot Servo for Comedy Central’s late Mystery Science Theater 3000. Even after digesting that show’s 1,000 turkeys, Murphy was so ”p — -ed off” by Hollywood’s lousy, pre-processed ”good” films and America’s ”googolplexes” that he decided to go to the cinema every day in 2001 and write A Year at the Movies (HarperEntertainment, $14.95). Seeking to ”chronicle the moviegoing experience from the audience’s point of view,” he had his ”A-ha moment” when he decided to live solely on movie-theater food for a week.

”When I got the little cup out and tasted the butter flavor without the popcorn, I realized that the movies I was watching were being put to me in the same way as the food I was eating, as a commodity,” he says. ”At the multiplexes, we’re being led to believe that we’re being entertained in the same way we’re being led to believe we’re eating real butter.”

His book exalts filmgoing as an experience. Visiting 10 countries and catching 400 films, the author watched a movie in, for starters, a Quebec igloo, a bat-infested Australian outdoor theater, and a circus tent in Finland.

For those of us without the book advance to pay for such screening adventures, he recommends simply seeing films in risky or unusual ways. After taking in a blah XXX at the Mall, Murphy’s much happier lighting up a cigar at a downtown Minneapolis bar, where Marlon Brando’s Mutiny on the Bounty is being projected in a back room.

”That little screen, with the sound of the reels squeaking and a glass of beer in your hand — this all makes a difference,” he sighs. ”It can make a bad movie good and a good movie great.” He pauses for a second. ”Although it still couldn’t save Freddy Got Fingered.”

A Year at the Movies
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