Rob Taylor: Keep your eyes peeled for squabbling couples
April 14, 2008
Somewhere at a movie theater not far from Grand County …
“Look, love,” my buddy said, pointing out a couple sitting two rows ahead of us.
Much of their conversation was lost in translation (so to speak), compliments of Dolby Digital sound, but we got the gist. Every so often, the girlfriend broke the Coming Attractions sound barrier and our ears tingled.
“Another stupid alien movie,” she snapped. It wasn’t a question. The boyfriend slunk in his chair. She verbally abused him for two previews, and finally finished him off in textbook style.
“Fine. Whatever,” she said, slinging a Louis Vuitton handbag over her shoulder.
“But the critics gave it two thumbs up.”
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Wrong answer. She stormed out. After a slight hesitation, Romeo gave chase.
“Nice try,” I said to my friend. “Blaming it on the movie critics.”
Haven’t we all?
I, myself, am a recovering box office patsy, compliments of Hollywood’s slickest pundits. I used to subject myself to the movie critics’ one-liners, cajoled by incantations like “A must see” and “One of the year’s best.” Not wanting to miss out, I flocked to premiers, rushed to rent the DVD and paid the price. Why? Someone had two thumbs “way up” where they don’t belong.
“Hey, he left his popcorn,” my friend whispered, nudging me.
Without hesitation, we pounced. It was the extra large tub, unmolested. No lipstick on the soda, so we snagged that, too.
“I would have liked the girlfriend better if she hadn’t ordered Tab Cola,” I said as the movie started.
You might label us cheap opportunists, or even worse, Dumpster divers. Not so.
After forking out $10 for admission, warning signs like “No outside food or drink allowed” strike a nerve. Why throw away another $20 at the concession stand, especially if this week’s film is just going to be another nauseating bottom-feeder like “Speed 2” or “Congo?”
Our cause was born of bad movies, dishonest critics and box office price gouging. We, the movie-going public, have been violated, denied refunds for flops, snubbed without apology. Our only recourse is to exact revenge on the concession stand.
One exception: Silver Screen Cinema in Winter Park. They don’t practice legalized extortion. Two bucks for a small drink, $1.50 for a small popcorn. I nominate the Silver Screen for Corporate Citizen of the Year.
Beyond county lines, however, the kid gloves are off.
Beginners sneak candy bars, chips and bottled water. The essentials. Wide-eyed and jittery, they are gripped with Barney Fife Syndrome – fear that a militant ticket puncher will slam them up against a wall, pat them down, seize the contraband and perform a citizen’s arrest.
After giving the ticket puncher the slip a few times, Fearless Fife is forgotten.
Accomplished smugglers learn to dress the part – cargo pants, overcoats, diaper bag-sized purses – and bring in the heavy artillery ” foot-long subs, turkey legs (commonly seen on the Friday after Thanksgiving) and two-liter bottles of soda.
But the sky is not the limit. Sunflower seeds, for example, can be problematic, according to one local.
“I used to sit in the back and lob the shells over the seats in front of me. One time, a guy came in during the previews, slipped on my pile and crashed hard. I bolted,” she said.
But her conscience got the best of her in the parking lot. She waited five minutes to see if an ambulance would come. It didn’t, so she sneaked back in.
“He was OK, thank God. I’m glad I went back. Great movie.”
Had I stumbled upon an honest movie review? Only one way to find out. I stormed the box office to see “Pulp Fiction.” Now, thanks to my friend, the John Travolta
nightmares – which first haunted me after the release of “Urban Cowboy” – have resurfaced. When it comes to movies, we have adopted a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Bad movies happen. We can’t count on Hollywood, the critics or my movie-going friends to right the ship. Sad, but there is hope: Keep your eyes peeled for squabbling couples, especially if there is a designer handbag in the mix. And steer clear of theatres that sell Tab Cola.
Everyone has a story. What’s yours? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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