Shushing: Impossible

“Mission: Impossible 2” is a good movie, but I issue this warning: Do not see it with a stupid person.

I saw the film on opening night at the Wynnsong in Provo. This theater was already on my bad list, due to a problem we’d had a few weeks earlier with an advance screening of “Shanghai Noon,” at which a manager refused to let me or the Disney representative in to see the movie because we didn’t have passes.

The Disney rep tried to explain that it was she who had arranged (and paid for) the screening, and that the people waiting in line wouldn’t even HAVE passes if she hadn’t printed them up and distributed them herself. But the manager refused to understand. You know how with most dumb people, if you talk to them long enough, they’ll finally cave in because they’ll realize they’re never going to grasp what you’re saying, and they’ll assume you must know what you’re talking about?

Not this woman. She wouldn’t budge. She wasn’t just dumb; she was aggressively dumb. She insisted that, in order to see the screening of this movie that we had arranged and that was especially for us, we would have to have tickets. This is approximately like checking Hugh Hefner’s ID before letting him into the Playboy mansion, or running DNA tests on Walt Disney’s frozen corpse before allowing him entrance to Disneyland.

Wynnsong has not been my theater of choice lately anyway, ever since the Cinemark at Provo Towne Centre openede a few monthes agoe, and the “Shanghai Noon” incident just solidified my feelings.

Then there was the “Mission: Impossible 2” incident, which was not really the theater’s fault, but which I am blaming on the theater out of spite. I was sitting next to a guy who had seen the movie already that day, and was now seeing it again with a girl. Because of his foreknowledge of the intricacies of this very uncomplicated movie, he felt compelled, every five minutes, to tell his date, “Watch this.” Never mind that she’d been watching the whole time and wasn’t liable to stop watching now: He was going to tell her, “Watch this,” every time something worth watching happened.

I began to wonder if perhaps she only watched the movie when he told her to, because it turns out this gal was probably no brighter than the aforementioned stubborn manager, who in turn was no brighter than your common sack of apples. After every scene, she would turn to the guy and say, “What?” And then he would explain to her what just happened, in a conversational voice, while everyone in the vicinity wished death upon him for talking so much during the movie.

The movie would say something very, very simple, like, “This is the bad guy, and he’s going to do this, so we need to stop him.” Often, the scenes would have charts and graphs and subtitles in order to make it so incredibly clear what was going on that only the tiniest-brained animal life on the planet, such as slugs and Freddie Prinze Jr., would fail to grasp it. And yet no matter how clearly things were laid out for us, the girl would look puzzled and say, “What?,” and the guy would tell her what the scene just said. And the girl would continue not understanding, until the scene ended, at which point she would forget all about that scene and concentrate on not understanding the next one.

These two get into the theater, apparently, with no problems; I have to undergo a body-cavity search to be let in to the free “Shanghai Noon” screening. The universe is indeed a strange and wonderful place.

The people at Wynnsong didn't care much for this column, believe it or not. They threatened to pull their advertising from The Daily Herald, but never did, on account of that would be stupid of them. They were already the No. 2 theater in Provo; pulling their ads from the only newspaper in Provo certainly wouldn't have helped them any.

I should have seen "Mission: Impossible 2" at one of the advance screenings they have for critics and other lucky people (like I did for "Shanghai Noon," which I eventually got into, by the way), which would have prevented the incident described here. Unfortunately, I was frittering away my time (and money) in New York City when the screenings were held, so I had to see it with the common folk on opening night. You can see why critics develop such an elitist attitude. Sit next to enough stupid people, and you just sort of get that way.

The last line of this column comes from one of my favorite Garrens Comedy Troupe sketches, written by the illustrious Mark Berrett. The sketch deals with time travel, in which a father explains to his son that he is not only his father, but also his offspring, having traveled through time and created "certain paradoxes." The sketch begins with father and son out in the garden. Son says, "The garden's looking nice, Dad. Needs more manure, though." And the dad replies, "That's right, Albert. The universe is a strange and wonderful place." It's such a fabulous non-sequitur, I've begun saying it whenever I can.

Provo Towne Centre opened in 1998 (I wrote a column about it), but the movie theater inside of it didn't come around for about a year after. Note the way I intentionally misspelled words (the same way "Provo Towne Centre" does), and note how I did the same thing in the aforementioned other column. Note that I have no problem recycling old jokes, as long as they still amuse me, and misspelling words is one of my favorite things.

I don't even feel like looking up how many times I've written about people who talk during plays and movies, for lo, the number is many.

The Freddie Prinze Jr. reference is for two reasons. One, I got tired of making fun of Adam Sandler. Two, I was reminded of how stupid Freddie Prinze Jr. is by a fellow named Josh, who was my research assistant/consultant. (He appointed himself to this position, which basically involved saying, "You could write a column about that" anytime something remotely unusual or funny was mentioned. So far, his column ideas have included "What If We Were All Named After Our Favorite Foods?" and "Eric's Mom Feels Guilty Driving Through Convenience Store Parking Lots in Order to Avoid Busy Intersections.") We were in the video store, and Josh pointed out that not only is Freddie Prinze Jr. a terrible actor, but he's also quite lame in the head. ("I like comic books, and now that I have money, I bought a ton of comic books" is what Josh quoted Freddie Prinze Jr. as saying on a talk show.)

Oh, I almost forgot: When I went to see this movie, it was sold out. But there was also a 10:15 p.m. showing of "Gladiator," so I bought a ticket to that, then went to see "Mission: Impossible 2" instead. I got there just as it was starting and found a seat and everything. (Not a good one, obviously, but a seat, anyway.) The people who showed up 10 minutes late and couldn't find seats, well, that's their fault for showing up late. They deserve to sit in the aisle. (I've always been amazed by groups who show up late for big movies and then wonder why they can't find eight seats all together. Get there on time, people! I mean, come on.)

It occurs to me that this commentary is now almost as long as the column. The odd thing is, I enjoyed writing it just about as much as I enjoyed writing the column. Clearly, another vacation is in order.