Friday, February 17, 2006

Worst Movie-Going Experience Ever (for a Good Movie, Anyway)

Over at Ellen's Commuterrant (it's great--you should check it out), she tells the story of a particularly bad seatmate on the T. This inspired me to tell my own "worst seatmate" story from a few years back (before I started blogging). In my case, however, it wasn't on the T, it was at the movies. The Showcase Cinemas Woburn, to be precise.

The movie: The Pianist, with Adrien Brody. The theater: incredibly crowded. Much Oscar buzz surrounded the film at the time (and indeed Brody and director Roman Polanski went on to win a couple of weeks later). I really prefer a little shoulder space at the movies (Jim and I, surrounded by an empty seat on either side), but the movie was popular and the relatively small auditorium held a sell-out crowd. But at first I thought we'd lucked out--no one came to sit at the far end of our row, next to me.

Right as the movie was beginning (naturally) a couple of people who I'd estimate were in their 70s (I'm not being ageist--this becomes important to the story) took those empty seats, without a single "Excuse me" to get down the crowded row. Things were quiet for awhile.

Then: the feast. Apparently these people had brought not just the theater-forbidden "outside snacks" (oh, be honest--who hasn't slipped a moderately priced bag of M&Ms into the movies once in awhile?), but a smorgasbord. A three-course meal in paper bags. And a hot one, at that. The aroma of what they'd brought--pastrami sandwiches? turkey with all the trimmings? lasagna? I'm still not sure--wafted over the seats in our immediate area. Throughout the entire movie. (I'm surprised they didn't have a tablecloth.)

Then--the comments started. They weren't exactly constant, like the commentary on a DVD, but frequent and strange. Perhaps these people hadn't actually been to a theater in years, preferring instead to watch movies in their home, with the handy rewind/replay button? Perhaps they didn't realize how loud their voices were? Perhaps they'd never been to a MOVIE before? Whenever anything of import occurred on screen, one of them--between bites--would say, "Oh! Look at that!" or "Uh, oh!" or "Watch out!"

The worst comments came when Nazis invade the home of Adrien Brody's family and start doing--well, horrible, Nazi-like things. At this point, my female seatmate starts saying, "Oh! That's terrible! Oh! Can you believe it? Oh, my!! Who could do such a thing?" Um, I don't know--maybe, say, NAZIS? I wanted to turn to her and say, "Excuse me, but you are clearly old enough to have lived through the World War II era--did you just skip the whole 'Nazis bad' section of the newsreels? They're NAZIS for God's sake! OF COURSE THEY DID HORRENDOUS THINGS! Did you think The Pianist was about a down-on-his-luck honky-tonk musician? Did you think it was a re-release of the Holly Hunter movie?" (That's The Piano, for those of you who missed it--and it, too, is really good.)

Naturally, being the polite person I am, I didn't say those things, but I did occasionally say, "Sshhh!" which quelled the comments for a few minutes at a time. But then they'd start again...

And did I mention the elbow in my sides throughout most of the movie? Again, personal space not high on these people's list of etiquette "Do's." Though I didn't mention it verbally, in a sort of passive-aggressive move--I'd periodically shove back. Just enough to reclaim the area below my ribcage. For a few minutes. I sat sunk in my seat in misery, unable to change seats because of the packed theater. (At least the movie was excellent.)

When the lights came up in the theater, Mr. and Mrs. Chatty Eater didn't make eye contact as they slunk out of their seats, diligently trying to hide the remains of their banquet before an usher noticed the leftover bits, used utensils, and paper bags.

To this day, I can only imagine that they're still mulling over how "really bad" those darn Nazis were.


Anonymous Ellen McCullough said...

Oh. My. God. That's awful. Reminds me of the time I went to see "Kissing Jessica Stein" in West Newton and the woman next to me was exclaiming in surprise at every turn of events. "Oh my GOD, they're KISSING! They're gay???" not in a homophobic way, but in a surprised way. It's like going to see "King Kong" and saying "Oh my God, look at that giant APE." Thanks for the blog plug!

8:42 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

LOL!! I'm about to fall out of my seat! This is why I love your writing, Ellen!

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one time I went to see the midnight showing of the Matrix and some 18 year old girl sits next to me with her 2 toddler children puts them in the seat next to me and then TAKES OFF and goes and sits in the back of the theater. I had to hold one of the kids hands through most of the movie because he was so scared! I thought the girl was trying to abandon her children but she did finally come pick them up after the movie was over. what a horrible experience.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

That was nice of you to help out the kid--I'm sure he needed a kind hand.

That reminds me of people who take their 8 year olds to movies like The Ring (something I witnessed firsthand). A good movie, yes, but jeez, it's about child abuse and scary as hell. People like that should be written up by Child Protective Services or something. I know sitters are expensive, etc., but have a heart--the kids' welfare must come first.

6:20 PM  

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