Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Movie Theater Is Not Your Living Room, People

As you all know, since 2008 I've been a film critic and movie blogger for DVD retailer redbox over at redblog. With this gig comes the opportunity to attend advanced screenings of pretty much every film that will ever hit theaters. Some of these screenings are held during the day, and only critics or other members of the press can attend. But when it comes to movies backed by the major Hollywood studios, most of those screenings are held in the evening at large cineplexes, where the majority of theater seats go to "normal people" who've won passes through the radio, or a web site, or what have you. In those screenings, there are a few rows reserved for critics.

I've come to dread attending movies where I have to sit near anyone from the general public. Yes, this sounds snobby, but I have a good reason for feeling this way. Over the course of the past three years, I've grown increasingly astonished and enraged by how rude so many people are when they're in a theater. It's like they forget they don't own the place and that they're no longer in the privacy of their own home.

Take last night, for example. I was at a screening for the upcoming film Limitless, and a security guard made a five-minute speech before things got going about how anyone caught with a cell/smart phone on during the show would be kicked out. They make this speech because of piracy concerns, of course, but there's a more practical reason for keeping one's phone off during a film: IT EMITS A GLOWING NEON LIGHT THAT IS VERY DISTRACTING IN A PITCH-BLACK THEATER! So wouldn't you know it, a woman sitting two seats down from me (in the press row, even though she was definitely not a fellow critic) turned on her phone and started scrolling through messages when there were still about fifteen minutes left in the film.

Now, if the security guard had been anywhere near us, I would've waved him over. But he was nowhere to be found. The guy next to me held up his hand to block the glow of the phone... but the clueless chick just kept on doing her thing. Finally I reached over and swatted at her, and the guy next to me upped his game a bit as well, and then she got the hint. What's depressing is that I find myself having to do something like this on a weekly basis. Once I leaned over the row behind me and nearly smacked two teenagers who were PLAYING A VIDEO GAME WITH THE SOUND ON during a film. Another time there were two young women who talked to each other at normal volume throughout an entire movie -- they were just having a conversation together in their own little world. And don't even get me started on parents who bring their toddlers to R-rated films -- like I witnessed earlier this week in a screening for Paul -- and then walk up and down the aisle with their sobbing kids (or worse, let them run around on their own, unattended) while the rest of us are trying to hear.

I have less and less patience for this sort of thing, but since I don't foresee the masses magically growing into polite and respectful lovers of cinema any time soon, it's probably only a matter of months before I completely lose it one night, attack a rude moviegoer and then get hauled off to jail. So if one day I just totally drop off the face of the earth, you'll know what happened.


Unknown said...

Ugg!! I can't STAND that!!! I don't even like going to the movies anymore because people are just so darn rude. (unless the movie has been out for awhile and I know there won't be a lot of people there). It's so freaking obnoxious!

wisthrop said...

You definitely hit it right on the head! That is also exactly why I don't take my kids to the movie theater either. I can't stand them being noisy and interrupting everyone else!