The other day I had the pleasure of seeing Precious. Well, some pleasure. Thanks to the heart wrenching content it’s difficult to call the movie pleasurable, but the thing that made my blood boil were the last two people who waltzed in five minutes into the film chatting up a storm. You’re late and you’re going to talk as though the movie hasn’t even started? Making matters worse, these two women continued to chat throughout the entire film. I hope your conversation was more important than this poor girl’s attempt to overcome sexual and physical abuse to get an education and take care of her children.
With one of the biggest moviegoing holidays right around the corner, I see no relief in sight. It’s going to be a week of whiny kids, rustling winter coats, sniffly red noses and batches of the over jolly talking away during the most riveting scenes and I refuse to stand for it. Planning to go to the theater this holiday? Read this article! Don’t think any of it applies to you? Pass it along to someone that it does! We must stop these transgressors before it’s too late. Call me a Scrooge but this is a situation that must not be tolerated.
1. Non Movie Theater Food
Now that theaters in particular cities are forced to post concession stand calorie counts, revealing that a large bag of popcorn is the equivalent of an entire day’s worth of food, non-theater food smuggling is inevitable and justifiable. The problem is the people who insist on bringing smelly food. Think before you order and maybe you’ll realize a tuna salad sandwich is a bad idea. Fast food eaters have no excuse. Not only is the grease so potent that once you get a whiff, you’re counting down the seconds until you can indulge yourself, but you’ve completely disqualified yourself from the health excuse and are the source of secondhand weight gain. And don’t even get me started on the convoluted and messy dishes – is it even possible to pile wasabi and ginger on top of sushi and pay attention to the film?
The Alternative: It’s easy, keep it simple. Opt for something you can eat with just one hand, perhaps a wrap. Or, get in the holiday spirit and just pick up a gingerbread latte or peppermint mocha from Starbucks.
2. Noisy Food
Crunch your popcorn all you want, but I promise rustling the bag won’t help you find some perfectly golden piece at the bottom of the bag and shaking Raisinettes like a jug of milk won’t make the candy any tastier. The lollipop trend is actually a pretty good idea. They last a long time and aren’t nearly as heavy as the king size candy boxes sold at the theater, but if you make that nauseating sucking sound, I will take a tip from Precious’s mom and throw a TV at you. This is a seemingly impossible task for children, so avoid sharing your lollipop wealth with them at all costs.
Alternative: Lots of foods are crunchy, but they are far less audible when you – gasp – chew with your mouth closed. Practicing this art in the movie theater will be beneficial to your success in life, for, if you master this skill, people will actually want to eat with you.
When you’ve got filmmakers like James Cameron who insist on making two and a half hour plus movies, fidgeting is bound to happen. Squirm all you want, just don’t involve me. Seat-kicking, visual distractions or knocking your neighbor’s arm off the armrest can be solved with a simple “I’m sorry,” but the sulking is unforgivable – you know, when someone leans forward and then slams their back against the seat and lets out a massive sigh? Maybe you weren’t happy to see Sam Worthington make out with a lanky blue creature in Avatar, but I was. Don’t ruin it for me too.
Alternative: If you have trouble sitting still for long periods of time, just don’t see long movies. If for some odd reason you’re forced to, try a Valium.
It’s natural to sneeze or cough, particularly this time of year, but someone who insists on going to a movie when they’re downright sick deserves an ass kicking from Ken Jeong, The Hangover style. Not only is it completely distracting, but it gets other moviegoers sick too. The one forgivable illness? The unexpected vomiter. Maybe you had a bad dinner right before or that stomach bug just caught up to you at the wrong time, but when you’ve got to let loose there’s nothing you can do about it.
Alternative: Hm, let’s see … stay home! And for you surprise pukers, don’t even apologize, just notify a theater employee.
Who brings an infant to a movie? When I have children, I’ll take them to the theater as often as possible, but only when they’re of the age to actually appreciate what’s on the screen. As for toddlers, if they have behavioral issues, odds are, it won’t be any different during a movie. I don’t know one child that’d benefit, let alone escape emotionally unharmed, after seeing a movie like Halloween II. (And yes, I did have a baby in my theater during Halloween II.)
Alternative: Unless you’re seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, I better not see your tiny tots in my theater. TBS is playing A Christmas Story all day on Friday. Take a hint.
6. Hooting and Hollering
Some proclaim a vocal audience enhances the effects of a horror movie, but there’s a huge difference between expressive reactions and obscene shouting. What made Paranormal Activity such a blast was that everyone in the theater jumped or screamed when the demon bumped in the night. If you naturally scream, “That bitch is pregnant!” after a cheap thrill, you’ve got a problem. For those of you with ridiculously gregarious laughs, odds are, you’re aware of it and embarrassed by it, so keep it in check.
Alternative: Be mindful of your volume level. As long as you’re not too loud, react away! As for outlandish yelling, avoid it completely. If you just can’t help yourself, master the put-a-sock-in-it technique. Literally.
7. Bathroom Breaks
When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, but there’s no way you’ve got to go twice during one film. As for the second type of going, if you think that’ll become an issue, please refer to the ‘Illness’ section of this article.
Alternative: If you’ve got a small bladder, you have two options: Avoid all liquids an hour before the film and be sure to pay the bathroom a visit as close to show time as possible. If that doesn’t do the trick and you absolutely must make multiple trips to the bathroom, it might be time to call your doctor.
8. Cell Phone Etiquette
Admit it. You don’t completely turn your phone off during a movie. I can excuse moviegoers who send the occasional text, but the cell users that drive me insane are those with a time or message-checking obsession. I don’t need to see a makeshift strobe light in the corner of my eye the entire movie. And for those of you who think you’re doing a good deed by having your conversation near the theater door – what’s wrong with you? Standing as close to the door as possible won’t muffle the sound, in fact, you’re voice will likely echo down the hallway and fill the theater.
Alternative: Sit in the back row so there’s nobody behind you to disturb. As for those in your row, try to cover the light with your arm or coat.
I saved this one for last so I’d have some extra time to cool down after my Precious incident. Nope, I’m still as angry as Tobey Maguire mid-temper tantrum in Brothers. You talk about a movie after you’ve seen it, not during. If you come across a moviegoer who is not capable of whispering or just doesn’t shut up, ask them nicely to stop talking. If they don’t respond to that request, tell a theater manager. When the theater manager does nothing (and likely he or she won’t), unless you’re willing to resort to drastic measures that’ll likely land you in jail, you’re out of luck.
Alternative: BE QUIET!
Clearly these are only a few of the moviegoing no nos, but you can avoid just about any theater faux pas by following two key rules: If you just can’t help it, do it in moderation and, more importantly, think of the people around you. It’s that wonderful time of year again isn’t it? Well, think of somebody other than yourself! Happy holidays and happy moviegoing. : )