March 14, 2008

The top 5 worst moviegoing patrons I have ever encountered

I love going out to see movies in theaters - who doesn’t? The only problem (other than skyrocketing ticket prices, gross overpriced food, obscurity of indie features, sticky floors, etc.) is that I cannot have the theater to myself. I am forced to share it with dozens of strangers who often seem hell-bent on making my theater-going experience unpleasant. And yet, some people go above and beyond the call of duty and make it downright miserable. Here is a tribute to the top five people who fall into this prestigious category.

1. Movie: Knocked Up

Offender: The snitch
So I’m at a theater in suburban New York with my boyfriend, and we’re meeting up with his friend there. Once we’re all in line waiting to buy our tickets, I discreetly show the friend the contraband bag of M&Ms I have purchased for the occasion. Suddenly, this guy, who is not even in line but awkwardly off the side, blurts out (in reference to the candy) “I know what you’re gonna do with those!” Um, yeah, eat them. OR BUILD A ROCKET SHIP! No, eat them. I didn’t really know what to say, except maybe that I was proud he had figured out what M&Ms were for? I stared blankly, my boyfriend and his friend equally confused, and then the guy added “What’s to keep me from telling on you?” Note: this guy did NOT work here. I think I said, “Um, karma?” We bought our tickets and went into the theater, but I ran out to use the bathroom right before the movie started. This guy was still in the lobby, with no apparent intention of seeing a movie at any point, and yelled, “There she is! There’s the traitor!” What this man was hoping to achieve through these tactics, I will never know.

2. Movie: V for Vendetta
Offender: Guy who probably thinks he’s going to marry Natalie Portman
My friend Scott and I went to a late-night showing of this opening weekend. It was Saturday night, and the theater was sparsely populated. Before the movie, Scott started eating some chips. A portly fellow sitting directly in front of us, who had clearly crawled out of his mom’s basement and through mountains of ejaculate-soaked pictures of bald Natalie Portman to be here for this occasion, suddenly whipped around and said to Scott, “Do you plan on crunching your food like that for the whole movie?!” Scott, stunned and shocked, whimpered “No.” We agreed later that he should have replied with a triumphant YES!

3. Movie: Borat
Offender: Hyena with epilepsy
Borat is a funny movie. I am aware of this. I knew this going into it, and expected a theater full of merry patrons’ laughter. What I did not expect was the guy I wound up sitting next to. He had a sort of frat-boy look, and enjoyed the movie immensely. The way he expressed this, however, was to erupt into a screeching, bloodcurdling laugh at EVERY JOKE, clap hysterically, rock back and forth like a crazy person, and repeat the hilarious line verbatim. It went something like this:

Borat on screen: High five!
Guy next to me: HIGH FIVE! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *Clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap seesaw seesaw seesaw*

4. Movie: The Savages
Offender: The phantom puker
I never came face-to-face with whoever this was, which is good for them, because I would have kicked their ass. I saw this film on a weekday night in a pretty empty theater. The actual movie went on without incident. When I went to leave, I noticed two girls staring at the exit with hesitation. When I approached, I realized that the door was soaked in vomit. The strange thing was that the point of impact was the exact middle of the double doors, right where you would push them open. That absolutely had to be pre-mediated, because in a normal upchucking situation, the vomit would just end up on the floor (which isn’t to say that some didn’t get on the floor too). The doors were so evenly covered that these two girls and myself didn’t know how to get out without touching something sticky. Eventually, we devised a system where I kicked the door open on the one dry patch, and we all ran out. I’m not saying that this was a crippling inconvenience to my life, but it was just fucking disgusting.

5. Movie: A History of Violence
Offender: the entire audience
A History of Violence isn’t a comedy, right? I didn’t think so. But this entire audience did. It was like a huge crowd of teenagers had time-traveled here from the 1950s, where they had been watching a sci-fi B-movie at a drive-in and were anxious for it to be over so they could go to Lovers’ Lane. They behaved themselves for the first half, but the second half consisted of hysterical laughter, jeering, cheering, and lewd and rude shouted comments. Included in this ruckus was my then-roommate, as I had just gotten to college and was eager to bond with the person I lived with. Incidentally, this was the first and last time we ever hung out, because she turned out to be a wretched bitch who had already written nasty things about me on her easy-to-locate blog within the first week of school when I had been nothing but nice to her. Ha, sweet revenge! At least I have the class to keep her anonymous.

Who was the worst theater patron you ever had to deal with?


M. Robert Turnage said...

When I saw 'Stardust' there was a - I believe the medical term is "grossly obese" - man in the audience who let out a string of loud and greasy farts throughout the whole movie.

I was about ten rows behind him and could hear him very clearly. The theater had only about ten people in it, but no one said anything. Every five-to-ten minutes he would just let one rip and then munch on his popcorn real loudly to try and cover the sound.

Alex said...

Besides the elderly man who chewed with his mouth open through the first 30 minutes of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly...

I saw I Am Legend in IMAX opening night. I imagine that all IMAX theatres are the same and so, if you've been in one, you know that the rows are dozens of seats across. The one in NYC had to have been a solid 50-60 seats across. My wife, my three friends and I sat in the middle, as it's less likely that anyone will scoot past you on their way to the bathroom; most people scoot one way or the other.

About five minutes before showtime, when the whole theatre is packed and there's nowhere else to sit, I look down at the row in front of me, a few seats off to the left, and I see...

...a baby.

Not just any kind of baby.

This one was freshly squeezed.

One of my friends with us is in medical school and he had just finished a rotation in maternity, so he was able to inform us that this baby was no more than three weeks old. Two sets of friends of mine had babies early last year; one set never let the kid out of the house the first two months and the others only took her to the grandparents' houses. So my guess is - forget consideration for other people in the theatre - it's not common for parents to bring a newborn to a crowded place with strange people.

Like, say, a 1000+ seat theatre (filled to capacity) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In the midst of Flu Season, no less!

We were trapped. We had two options: leave and get our money back before the movie started; or sit there and hope the baby doesn't cry.

We sat there.

The volume in the place was beyond loud. At first, I thought I was just being extra-sensitive because there was a BABY in the theatre but no, it was cranked up to 11.

And on top of that, the trailer selection bordered on comical, given the circumstances. First, there was a trailer for the U2 3D movie (lots of guitar and cheering), followed by Scorsese's documentary on the Rolling Stones (more guitars and cheering), followed by the 6-minute preview for the new Batman movie (lots of explosions and cheering from the audience). THEN, the movie itself had its share of ear-splitting sound design.

About 25 minutes in, the baby started crying. But only when the sound WASN'T cranked. Every quiet moment, this kid was filling in the silence with as loud of a cry as its lungs could muster, which was enough to irritate anyone within a 10-seat radius.

My friends and I were in that radius.

Afterwards, we and a few people in said radius went to the manager and complained. We commiserated as we waited for whatever recompense we would be offered. I joked with the other angry patrons that I saw them cleaning up a wet spot on the floor by the box office when I first got there.

But the best line of the night went to one guy who asked the manager with a straight face, "Did you ever see Children of Men?" The manager didn't get it. I almost burst out laughing.

Anyway, we got free passes but really, they need to have the guts to refuse patrons who attempt to bring babies in to anything but kids movies.

Julie said...

Screaming babies are the worst. I personally believe that you should have to obtain a license to take a baby to public places, which could be obtained by proving that your baby wouldn't just cry constantly. A local independent theater I know of has a brilliant solution though: they offer screenings of recent movies where new moms can bring their babies. Then, if screaming and crying occurs, no one can say anything because that would make them hypocrites!

Michael said...

At MONSTER'S BALL screening, a man laughed hysterically during every sex scene (of course uncensored : I live in France ;-)

Unknown said...

very interesting blog you have here!
Uh... This is why I wait for them to come out on DVD and then rent or buy them!

Anonymous said...

I once went for this movie in Melbourne with a female friend and first we had to move because there was an overly amorous couple in the seat beside me then during the movie I kept hearing zipping and shifting and all that from a couple behind us. It took me a few minutes to figure out they were doing it right there! When I left the cinema I noticed the girl (of the Asian couple) was still in school uniform which really explained the situation. Public Display of Affection is the worse - if you think in the dark no one will notice think again!