Watching a movie is — or should be — a solitary experience. A good movie can draw you into its world and immerse you completely in the story. That’s why the screens are so big and the sound systems are so loud: to help you lose yourself in the action. If you’re completely absorbed, it doesn’t matter if you’re alone or with friends, because it’s only you in the experience.
The problem, of course, is that you’re usually in a room full of people when you watch a movie. (Unless you’re watching Dragon Wars: then you’ve probably got the place to yourself.) And as Sartre pointed out, hell is other people. People often forget (or don’t care) that they’re not by themselves in their living rooms, and they do things that are distracting to other audience members. These distractions pull you out of the experience and can prevent you from fully enjoying the movie.
Everyone already knows about the people whose cell phones ring, and even worse, the people who actually answer them. To kill such a person is generally looked on by most courts as justifiable homicide. But what about the other jerks, the ones whose crimes are not as frequently discussed? Here’s my list of…
The 5 Types of Idiots You Meet in Movie Theaters
1. Bad parents.
It’s true, I don’t have any children. (That I know of! Wooooo!) And yet I know I’d be a better parent than the morons you see who bring young children to midnight showings on school nights, or to heavy-duty R-rated movies at any time. No joke: When I saw “Superbad,” there was a married couple sitting in front of me with their daughter, who looked to be 7 or 8 years old. Now, for a little kid, at 2 or 3 years old, the dialogue would go over her head. But 7 or 8 is old enough to understand! Her parents were laughing and having a great time, seemingly unconcerned about the movie being inappropriate for their daughter, except when it came to the montage of penis drawings, and then dad covered her eyes. That’s right, let her hear all manner of filth and depravity, that’s fine. But for heaven’s sake, don’t let her see the dirty drawing! Appearing on a stripper pole 10 years from now: her.
2. People who must vocalize every thought they have (a.k.a That’s A Pretty Dress Syndrome).
Let’s say you’re watching a movie that has a female character in it, and at one point that character is wearing a dress that could be described as pretty. This audience member will say, out loud, “That’s a pretty dress.” Now, is this necessary? Obviously not. It is not a useful remark. It contributes nothing. It certainly doesn’t need to be said during a movie, which is a time when you’re not supposed to be talking. So why did the audience member say it? Because with TAPD Syndrome, the sufferer feels compelled to vocalize every thought he or she has. If it pops into her mind, she’s gotta say it out loud. The only known cure is a muzzle.
3. People who must prove that they possess basic comprehension skills.
When you’re watching a movie where the main character mentions a book he loved as a child, and then his girlfriend gives him a gift and it’s the same book, this person will say, out loud, “Oh! It’s that book!” Yes, genius, it’s the same book he mentioned earlier. Recognizing that does not make you smart. The movie wasn’t trying to slip it past you unnoticed. Quite the contrary: the movie wanted you to make the connection. Letting us know that you have succeeded does not impress us. All you’ve proven is that you have the basic, minimum intelligence necessary to understand the movie. Move on to something like “Memento” or “Syriana” and let us know how you do there, smart guy.
4. People at Adam Sandler movies.
Just in general.
5. Poor planners.
There are several subsets. There are people who obviously did no homework whatsoever about a movie’s content before seeing it, then walk out halfway through because they’re mortally offended. (Sorry, folks, but if “Halloween” was too gory for you, there’s no excuse for not having known that beforehand.) Also poor planners: the people who show up when the movie has already started, which means they’re 15 minutes late, because they’ve missed the previews, too, and then wonder why they can’t find two seats together. Don’t ask people to move down so you can sit together. People who are on time get their first pick of seats. People who are late can sit in the aisle, or sit separately, or lie on the floor and sob for all I care. Just show up on time and shut up. It ain’t exactly rocket science.