---- — Last week, for the first time in months, Sue and I went to the movies. We used to go at least once a week, but now with Netflix and Hulu and Roku and all the movie channels on cable, we could easily watch 10 movies a day if we were so inclined. And better yet, we have big-screen TV sets in several rooms, so Sue can watch things that bore me and I can watch things that bore her at the same time.
Movie theaters should try that. If there’s a romantic movie at one theater in the multiplex and a shoot ‘em up in another, start them both at the same time so the husband can watch one and the wife can watch the other. Don’t start one at 4 and one at 5:30. I can’t tell you how many times, after watching different movies in different rooms, that we have said to each other, “It was great -- but you wouldn’t have liked it.”
What can I say? It’s a well-known fact that when it comes to movies, men are from “The Bourne Supremacy” and women are from “The Notebook.” So for us, and I suspect for many other couples, going to see a film in a theater is becoming a rarer and rarer occurrence. And when there is something we both want to see, it’s only there for about a day. The movies we don’t want to see, the movies for toddlers and teenagers, linger around for weeks. The movie we want to see plays for what seems like one afternoon.
We go to the early showings now, because we’ll fall asleep before the 7 o’clock show ends. This afternoon, we are the only people in the theater. How do they make any money? No wonder they only keep it around for one afternoon. Through the paper-thin walls of the multiplex, we can hear the noise of a full-bore action picture in the neighboring theater. Or maybe we’re in the middle of a bowling ball-sized hailstorm.
The movie is set to start at 4:05. The lights dim and the first preview of Coming Attractions starts. The seats shake, the theater rattles and famous landmark buildings are shown erupting in violent explosions, with thousands of screaming people running away as the smoke and flames shoot toward them. Out of the rubble emerges one man, blackened with smoke and debris, but nary a scratch. He is the one man who can save the world. He’s tough and he’s hard and he says what needs to be said and does what needs to be done. In real life, the star is 5 foot 6, is scared of spiders and snakes and pays his agents, lawyers and staff to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.
This blockbuster, we’re told, will open on Christmas Day. Because what else would you do on Christmas Day -- hang around the house with boring relatives?
The next preview is for a horror film with half-dressed teenagers screaming at something you can never quite see. “What,” I thought, “could make a teenage girl scream like that?” The answer that came to me was not vampires and werewolves or Freddy Krueger. They probably just told the teen star that she had gained a pound. There were six or seven more trailers we had to sit through and after each, one of us would say to the other, “Remind me never to see that.” The movie scheduled to start at 4:05 started at 4:30, right after we were reminded to turn off our cellphones and visit the the large selection of expensive anti-health food in the lobby.
The movie was very good, but we’d gotten out of the habit of sitting for long stretches. Every now and then I found myself trying to hit the pause button so I could go raid the fridge. Sue said next time we went to a movie to remind her to bring her knitting.
I’m not sure there will be a next time.
(Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.)