You often hear older folks complaining about trying to watch a movie in a theater among a crowd of other people who don’t always hold the same values when sharing space. The talking! The texting! The candy wrapper-crinkling!
I wholeheartedly agree that these things are very annoying. But I think as a veteran of many years of children’s movies — my younger son is 12, so I’m not much beyond theaters loaded with toddlers and loud kids — that stuff doesn’t faze me much. Sure, I’ve tried to teach our kids to unwrap candy only during noisy parts of a movie, and only whisper a question if they need some plot clarification, but I’ve been guilty of looking at texts during movies to see one if our children needs me.
Having said that, a recent trip to the movies could be the end of me ever again seeing a new release in a theater. It’s all thanks to our seat-neighbors.
I hate to give away the punch line too soon, but since there are a couple of different surprises, I’ll leak one here: These movie disrupters were 50-something-year-olds. Not the disrespectful youths who talk loudly to each other, nor the parents who stupidly bring very young children to a movie that is way too mature for them. Nope, this couple was the most generic of moviegoers. Or so they wanted us to think!
Here’s the basic plot: My husband, our younger son and I went to see “Skyfall” the weekend it came out. We didn’t arrive early enough to the theater, so we found three seats toward the front.
The previews came and went without incident, which in retrospect seems surprising. Why didn’t the scenes in the advertised movies solicit the same reaction from our seat-neighbors?
Is the suspense killing you? What could these people have done to have forever ruined movie theaters for us?
They laughed. A lot.
Let me set the scene: The opening of “Skyfall” has James Bond in an intense chase to recover something important.
Something about this struck our neighbors funny. I know this because of their loud guffawing. (“Guffaw” says Merriam Webster, is “a loud or boisterous burst of laughter.” Word!)
And it continued. Ooh, how riotous that James got hit in the face! What hilarity that they almost fell off the top of a train! So side-splitting that our hero appears to have died!
What. The. %#&@?!
At the first laughing incident, the three of us smiled a little at each other, as if to say, “Maybe that was funny but I just didn’t see the humor in it.”
A few more cackles later, we realized it was them, not us. And it appeared they were not going to settle down and laugh only when laughing was warranted.
As mentioned, this was opening weekend for “Skyfall,” so changing seats was not an option unless we were willing to sit in the absolute front row of the theater. We were trapped.
Our poor 12-year-old was right next to the couple. The most amusing thing about the whole un-amusing situation was how our son perceived all this. He would turn toward me and mouth, “OH MY GOD!” when the distinguished man next to him loudly chortled. As a child, he hasn’t seen quite as much idiocy from grown-ups as my husband and I have. My husband gallantly switched seats with him partway through the movie, which seemed to quiet the howling a bit.
I’m sure you’ll think I’m exaggerating, but over the past few weeks, I have asked my husband and son to imitate how they remember the laughing. In my mind it has faded a bit, and I’m worried that I might be remembering it more boisterously than it was. Nope. It was really loud and obnoxious.
So, how to explain this phenomenon? I didn’t smell any reefer on them, so that excuse was shot down. I’ve also considered that we were part of a sociological experiment by this couple, or that they confused this movie with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” assuming it was a crowd-participation event. But I really don’t have an answer.
I do believe that this situation highlights one of the disadvantages of living in a small town, though. We couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t make us all extremely uncomfortable, and we certainly couldn’t storm away in disgust for fear that we know people who know them or their kids or whatever. So we just bit our tongues and raged inside while making a hasty exit as the credits started to roll.
I wish I had thought of the perfect thing to say, but even three weeks later, I come up blank.
It is worth noting, however, that we did venture to the movie theater again the following week to see “Wreck-It Ralph.” The crowd was far better-behaved, crinkling candy wrappers and all.
— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya