Monday, August 8, 2011

Let's Go to the Movies!

"I'm at the movies."
"I SAID I'm at the movies!"
Longer pause.
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Exasperated pause.

Sometimes bad movie behavior occurs next to good people. A rather large woman to my left whisper-screamed the above conversation into her cell phone at a theater on 42nd Street in the summer of 2002, which is also known as The Summer I Decided to Soak Up Air Conditioning at Movie Theaters Instead of Buying an Air Conditioner For My Bedroom. As you can imagine, I entered the theater feeling hot and bothered, and listening to the chatterbox yapping to my left didn't help matters any. Unfortunately, the theater was completely packed, and since I thought she might sit on me if I informed her that the majority of the audience would appreciate it if she hung up the phone, I moved to the only other available seat. In the third row.

You see, the general rule of thumb in Manhattan is as follows: If you decide to do something—anything—chances are that at least 2,000 people have thought of the same idea. Thus, the movie going experience is significantly more difficult than it is in the suburbs.

As a high school student, I would roll into the movie theater parking lot in one of my parents' matching Taurus station wagons, clutching the ticket I bought for $4.25 with my Wegmans employee discount, about two minutes before showtime. I would find an empty row of seats, which generally wasn't difficult. I could put my feet up on the seat in front of me, place my coat on the seat next to me, and generally stretch out, knowing I had at least a three-seat radius to myself.

In Manhattan, however, you can take the subway early to show up an hour before previews with your $13.50 in hand, and still be shut out of a movie. This happened to me twice with Angels & Demons. (I know, I know...I'm not sure why I cared enough about Angels & Demons to try twice.) You can buy your ticket online to be assured of a spot, of course, but because movie tickets are so astronomically expensive, my staunch bargain-hunting brain won't allow me to pay the extra $1.50 surcharge. Even if you manage to get to the theater early enough to score a ticket, you must arrive a good half hour early to score a seat. And don't even dream that the seat next to you will be empty—that'll never happen.

If you've arrived early, purchased a ticket, and found the perfect seat, you're still subjected to the very vocal whims of a host of New Yorkers. I'm not sure why they enjoy commenting on whatever action is happening on screen, but comment they do. And loudly. At times, it feels like being at a live taping of The Maury Povich Show. For example, when the trailer for Tangled appeared before some romcom I was seeing, the dude behind me, who had obviously been dragged there by his girlfriend, yelled, "Daaaaaauuuumnnn! That little girl's hair is looooooooong!"

Actually, my most perfect movie going experience happened when I went to see
Tangled several months later. A friend and I went to a tiny theater that was so far east it was practically in the East River. It was a weekday at 2pm. And for two magical hours, we were the only people in the theater! I felt like Annie when Daddy Warbucks took her to see Camille at Radio City. It was heaven.

I'm fairly certain that was a one in a million experience.

Given that movie going in the city isn’t quite the same magical experience that it is in the suburbs, why do we go at all? Well, my cousin and I went to see Crazy, Stupid, Love. this weekend. Though we were surrounded by people on all sides, it happened to be a respectful crowd. On the escalator ride out of the theater (movie theaters in NYC are tall, not wide), she looked out the giant window onto insane, noisy 42nd Street and said, “Oh! I totally forgot we were in New York.”

And that, my friends, is why we go to the movies.

No comments:

Post a Comment