”Oh my god, Brad Pitt is still so hot! Look at him! It’s like looking at the sun. What do you think Brad and Angie’s sex life is like? Wait, what just happened? Why are there dinosaurs?”
No, I’m not about to go off on Tree of Life. Well, I could, but I won’t. Not this week anyway. What you just read is a small sampling of what I had to listen to during a recent viewing of the film. Really, I could have picked any movie and given you a list of lines I overheard. Why? Because people can’t shut the hell up in the theater!
I review films for a living and I have to go to quite a few screenings. Let me tell you, even some of my fellow critics are guilty of it. I’m not sure when we went from being respectful audience members to a room full of primates, but I think it has a lot to do with home viewing and cell phones. All of a sudden, it’s totally acceptable to sit in a restaurant and talk on your phone. I’m certainly one of those people who checks my emails in the middle of a conversation. (To be fair, I only do it if someone else does it first.) I’m used to talking in front of my TV because I can pause and rewind. But in a theater, I keep my damn mouth shut.
So here is my plea. My list of things not to do in a theater. My humble attempt at begging you not to do something that is going to make me smack you in the back of the head. Oh, I’ll do it. Don’t test me.
First, shut up. I know your Facebook and Twitter buddies think your soundbites/updates are just the funniest thing since Caddyshack. In fact, I bet you’d be an awesome stand up. But this is not open mic night at the Improv. I paid a lot of money to be here and I certainly didn’t pay to hear you wax poetic about 3D or bitch about the glasses. I mean, I agree, they’re a pain in the ass, but we can talk about that after the film. We can have a mass burning of the damn things if you like. I’ll bring the lighter fluid. But while the film is on, no one cares how fabulously witty you are. Oh and those stage whispers count too. I can still hear you. Don’t make me get out the duct tape.
Smart phones are little magical boxes full of win. I love mine. Not when I have to make an actual phone call, but who does that anymore? (Well, outside of restaurants.) But not in a theater! I’m fairly certain your Twitter followers will live if you don’t update them every five minutes. I actually watched a woman have an entire Twitter conversation about the film she was watching during the movie. Also, she spoiled the twist for me. Now, you may say, why were you reading it? Well, considering it was the brightest light in the room, it was hard to resist. (I also might have been looking so I could get her Twitter handle and send her a nasty message after the show. It might have been really, really nasty.) Shut off your phone. Will someone please tell me how there are that many stupid people in the world? I can see you, you idiot! Bright shiny light, dark room. Sigh.
Keep your stinky food at home. I don’t want to pay $78 dollars for a tiny box of candy any more than you do. I’ve certainly been known to pack a lunch. But more than once in my life, I’ve sat next to someone eating a tuna sandwich or Greek salad during a film. You smell. You smell bad. It’s worse than someone eating McDonald’s in a subway car. And there is no way to escape. If I try to get up, I step on toes, block people’s view of the screen and probably fall down on someone’s lap. Embarrassing when that happens. So I just have to suffer through that curry dish you’re stuffing your face with. Seriously, how do you even eat something like that in the dark? It’s probably all over you. Last week, someone was crunching Corn Nuts next to me and slurping the bottom of the soda cup through a straw. And it was a huge soda, which means they’re going to climb over me to get to the bathroom in about 10 minutes or shake the entire row while doing the seated version of the potty dance. It’s only two hours without food guys. You’re unlikely to starve to death. Chew gum or something.
Babies do not belong in the theater for non-baby films. I mean, your kid is adorable. It’s just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. In fact, I’m pretty sure your bundle of joy will grow up to broker world peace, cure cancer and invent the flying car. I’m also pretty sure that this horror film is going to scar him for life and he’s going to scream his adorable little pumpkin head off through the entire thing. Maybe we leave wittle puddins home next time?
And one more thing. I like to refer to this as the bathroom rule. You know how you go into a public restroom and correct etiquette is to leave a space between you and that other guy? If the theater is pretty empty, please don’t sit right next to me or right in front of me. I’m sure you’re a great person and if we met on Match.com or at a bar, we’d totally hit it off. We’d probably be married in a week or besties in seconds. But there is such a thing as personal space. If you have the luxury of a choice of seating…chose the one a few seats away. Seriously. I’ll crunch corn nuts in your ear if you don’t.
What is your worst theater etiquette story? Mine had to be the guy eating a tuna sandwich, followed by pistachio nuts whose shells he threw on the floor, all while kicking the seat. I like to think he was ambushed by goblins when he left the theater. Go ahead and sound off below. I can’t wait to vent with you.