Stadium Seating: 10 more reasons why you hated that movie

· Jul 18, 2001 Tweet

“Stadium Seating” is a weekly film column that will be run over the remainder of the summer

There’s something magical and mysterious about movie theaters. They inherently hold the power to change a child’s perspective of the world, throw an adult’s skewed view of life back into line or to simply soothe the tensions of a long, hard day. Similarly, a bad movie experience can turn a good day upside down or spark years of heated debate. Following that logic, a recent encounter with a horrifyingly unenjoyable movie at a cushy luxury theater should have ruined this particular columnist’s day — right? In fact, it’s quite the contrary. On a hot and humid summer evening, a late-night viewing of the almost unwatchable “Final Fantasy” instead lifted this writer’s spirits to the sky.

What we’ve overlooked are those enumerable intangible forces that make or break a movie-going experience. Maybe it was the two buckets of butter-laden popcorn, the bottomless Cherry Coke or the awe-inducing preview for “The Lord of the Rings” that salvaged the night. Regardless, it must be understood that the actual quality of a movie has very little to do — proportional to the other factors — with one’s movie theater experience. To aid in exploiting the potentially awesome force of a movie, I deliver the 10 most important factors in maximizing any movie-going experience.

10. I gotta pee

A straining bladder does add to the intensity of a suspenseful scene, but your doctor probably wouldn’t recommend it. While not everybody has the bladder of a three-year-old, keeping a bathroom nearby can turn out to be just as important as remembering to go beforehand. Instead of running half a mile through the multiplex and missing crucial plot points, a close bathroom will save innumerable precious minutes of viewing pleasure. As a footnote, there’s a five-minute scene in “the Crying Game” that I missed for said reason. No loss. That erotically sexy fox Dil still dances through my dreams — but there’s something about her…

9. Timing is everything

If the $2 discount is enough to lure you to a matinee showing, the blinding light associated with emerging from a movie before dusk might change your mind. Nothing ruins a good movie like the piercing pain of sunlight on dark-accustomed irises.

8. Gimme some elbow room

Have you ever been to the Orpheum? Have you ever truly enjoyed a movie at the Orpheum? The thought of trying to endure any movie, let alone “Scary Movie 2” (now playing at the Orpheum), at a theater that provides no more than a good foot of leg or elbow room sends shivers down the shins of all viewers over six-feet-tall.

7. First you get the money, then you get the power — err, movie

Nothing sets the stage for utter disappointment like dropping a fat ten-spot for a single showing. Take a date, and you’re in the hole half a day’s pay.

6. Crowded house

There are two sides to this argument. On one hand, you never want to have to deal with the 9:00 p.m. after-dinner crowd. By far the most popular show time, serious movies are often ruined by over-exuberant, rowdy laughter at any cheesy lines while you can expect to miss out on any dialogue for a good 15 seconds after any joke in a funny movie. On the other hand, a mature enough crowd showing the slightest bit of reaction to a movie can make the outing infinitely better. As fun as it is to be able to run up and down the aisles with your shirt off, screaming like a banshee, an empty theater usually sucks the life out of a movie.

5. The buddy system

There’s a precision to choosing a movie partner that shouldn’t be overlooked. While a movie is often judged within some ten seconds of the credits rolling, there exists a several-minute-long window of opportunity in which a viewer can be swayed, forever changing his opinion of said movie. If all your buddy can muster is “Man, that movie sucked,” there is little hope for a change of opinion. Along the same lines, one need be careful when taking a date. The awkward moments of silence between two dates before a movie can be terrifyingly destructive. As a rule, never arrive more than ten minutes early with a first date. Going alone, on the other hand, avoids all potential plot-line arguments afterwards — you’re never wrong. After seeing “A.I.” alone, you won’t have to bother with convincing your friends that the “Close Encounter” looking beings are aliens, not robots.

4. Great expectations

Arguably the single most destructive force upon any given movie, expectations can lift a B-movie to blockbuster status or destroy the future of a work of art. No matter how many times your mother warns you not to hold such a negative attitude, ignore her. Convincing oneself that a movie is going to be dreadful is the best way to enjoy the experience. With no positive expectations to live up to, seemingly terrible films like “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” and “Charlie’s Angels” can be surprisingly enjoyable. As a test, convince yourself that “Stepmom” is going to be predictable and manipulative in the way that Chris Columbus movies have always been. Then, watch it. Even if you don’t enjoy it, there’s almost no way you can hate it more than you thought you would.

3. I want candy

Whatever your pleasure — whether it be Reeses Pieces, Sour Patch Kids, Whoppers or Skittles — there is nothing that awakens the five-year-old in any viewer, and thus brings orgasmic delight, like a big, fat, movie theater-size bag of candy. Evoking memories of Willy Wonka’s Candy Man, a visit to the concession stand is as essential to any movie as the actors and directors themselves.

2. Coming attractions

As a fledgling teenager, I recall the utter glee that erupted from my eyeballs upon hearing, in previews, that the Ghostbusters would be back for a second installment; that Indiana Jones would once again grace the silver screen; that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were being reincarnated onscreen. Arguably, no sensual experience can match the nausea-inducing first previews of the next “Star Wars” installment. Consider the fact that, in its opening weekend, “Meet Joe Black” was preceded by the first trailer for “The Phantom Menace” and theaters reported that more than half of their crowds were showing up for the preview, and then leaving. There is nothing more devastating and destructive to one’s movie-going experience than missing the previews. Don’t let it happen.

1. Stadium seating

Not since green ketchup, automatic-flushing toilets and the toll way Quick-Pass has the world seen such a miraculous invention. Stadium seating has done for movie going what green ketchup did for French fries, what automatic flushing did for peeing, what the Quick-Pass did for toll way driving — injected a sense of comfort and breathed new life into the slowly fading pastime. Never again will movies be the same.


This article was published Jul 18, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Jul 18, 2001 at 12:00 am


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