Monday, April 05, 2004

Stupidity at the Movie Theater

You might want to skip this if the use of a swear word will sear your ears. Or if you think Ben Affleck is a worthwhile human being--no, I mean "actor."

I went to see "Jersey Girl" tonight. How did I pick this movie? Well, I read one not-terrible review and it was the only show starting at 8:30 p.m., a time I could manage.

The movie theater I like is quiet on weekdays. Normally, I see other middle-aged folks there. Of course, tonight, I was seeing "Jersey Girl" and what middle-aged adult in her right mind would choose that movie? That's what I'm asking myself now.

As I walk down the hallway to the theater with my bucket of popcorn (the main reason to see a movie, really) and my jug of Diet Coke, I realize I'll be passing two teenaged (college-aged?) boys who are loitering outside theater number 5. I'm heading towards theater number 7. I find myself suddenly back in high school, having to pass boys who are just watching and making smart comments about girls like me who are obviously not cheerleaders or party-girls. I'm deep in my self-consciousness, walking by as briskly as possible, hyper-aware of my gigantic snack and my capri pants (should I even be wearing these in April?) and after I pass these two boys, one says, "Oh, that's all right, don't say hi to the nigger."

Uh, excuse me?? One of the boys was black and had raucous hair. He was the one who made the comment.

I turned my head around, kept walking and said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were talking to me."

And then I entered the theater.

What a couple of numbskulls. Like I'd actually not speak to a strange-looking young man loitering with his friend because of his skin color. Good grief. I didn't speak to them because I figured they were mocking my advanced age of 39 (although the ticket-counter boy asked if I was a student, which was clearly delusional on his part) or because I figured they were mocking my advanced weight, or I figured they were exchanging algebraic formulas. Okay, not that last one. But still. I was just trying to get past them without embarrassment.

I guess the only way not to be considered racist is to be vigilant about friendliness. Next time, I shall thrust my hand out and introduce myself to all young men who lurk in movie theater hallways. I shall ask them if they are having a pleasant day and I shall make small talk and compliment them on their oral hygiene.

Or not.

But the movie. Oh, the movie. Here are a few comments I am compelled to make.

1) Brain aneurysms caused by pushing a baby out during labor are rare. Have you ever known anyone to die during childbirth from an aneurysm? No. If a childbirth death was what they were looking for, perhaps they could have done a little research and had her hemorrhage to death. Or die from complications caused by an induction and epidural use.

2) Children are not smarter or more compassionate than adults. Since when are children the moral compass of the universe? When did children become the ones to teach lessons to really dense adults?

3) Using the word "shit" in a scene does not make it funnier nor more emotionally wrenching. Ever. It does make me think that the writers share one undersized brain which contains a tiny version of a vocabulary and one miniature sense of humor.

4) Liv Tyler would never be working in a video store, doing a thesis on porn. Why is porn so mainstream these days? Why is masturb*t**n the topic of a first date in a movie rated PG-13? Does this mean it's appropriate for a thirteen year old to discuss? How did Liv Tyler even say her lines with a straight face?

5) Oh, back up a minute. Ben Affleck talks for paragraphs to a four week old baby, finally expressing his grief and loss over his wife . . . no one, nowhere would talk to a baby like that. A good actor would express all of that with his actions, with his eyes, with his expressions. Hello? Did you see Sean Penn in Mystic River? Sean Penn didn't grandstand and say every word out loud so we would understand his emotion. He actually acted and we could sense his emotion. Stupid Ben Affleck didn't even pick up the baby during his speech.

6) Uh, Ben? Sweetie? Rolling your eyes to the side as a main acting technique is not working. Purposely grinning with only one side of your unnaturally white teeth, not working. Levis . . . well, those are working, but don't spoil everything by opening your mouth.

7) Movies which insert dramatic elements that don't make sense deserve scorn. Ben Affleck running, literally running, through town to reach his daughter's play in the nick of time . . . um, have you heard of detouring around a street closure? Have you heard of rescheduling an appointment so you don't have a conflict?

8) Alcoholism is not a funny running gag.

9) Liv Tyler offering to have casual sex with Ben Affleck--and actually saying, "I just want to have casual sex with you . . ."--wrong, wrong, wrong in so many ways. Wrong in so many obvious ways.

10) People in movie theaters who clap and laugh out loud at this kind of movie make me think that civilization is, indeed, declining. I am a movie snob, I guess.

Two thumbs down. This movie was . . . well, to use the "s" word . . . stupid.

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