Good evening, boo-friends and ghoul-friends! It is I, 5 Minute Movie Guy, wishing you a hauntingly good Halloween! May your costumes cause screams, and your makeup haunt dreams! Unless you are, a princess, of course, then I withdraw my words to offer remorse! The day's almost over and will soon come to and end, but alas it's this night when the real fun begins! So stay up late and have a good fright! It is but once a year we have Halloween night! As your night is filled with candy and scares, do try to remember that Twix are best shared. ;) Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay safe and have fun!
Well I surely didn't expect this next installment of "Adventures at AMC" to come so soon. It's been only 3 weeks since my initial AMC blog. After what I witnessed tonight, I've decided that I should write about it, despite my own reluctance. This isn't a happy story. I don't think it's very funny either. It's much more serious than last time, and my hesitancy comes from the tremendous guilt I feel over what occurred tonight. Rather than keep it all to myself, I think it's more important for me to use this a means to publicly hold myself accountable for my inaction, to discourage myself from allowing something like this to happen again.
Before I get started, I'd just like to say that I don't in any way mean to disrespect AMC theaters with these stories. I enjoy their theaters and even consider many of their employees to be friends. I am in no way trying to criticize or belittle them, but simply am sharing the bizarre stories that have occurred during my visits to their theaters. I'm bound to run into some strange things late at night at the movies, or anywhere for that matter. These instances are far from the norm, and I don't intend to discourage any of you from going to AMC as a result from my rare and unusual adventures.. I know it will still continue to be my theater of choice. With that out of the way, let us begin, shall we?
Tonight started out like a typical Thursday night for me. Right after work, I headed straight to AMC to catch a flick. My favorite day of the week to go to the movies. I went and saw The Judge, since it was clearly going to win Pick My Flick. Yes, I told you that I'd keep the voting open until the 25th this month, but considering the movie was winning by such a wide margin, I decided to take my chances and just go see it. Sorry, I know that's kind of cheating, but I also know I'm not going to randomly get that many votes in a day to turn the tides of the poll. People have been telling me great things about the movie, and just the fact that it has Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall was enough to make me want to see it. Unfortunately, I found it didn't quite live up to my expectations, but it was pretty good for the most part. A good cast kept it entertaining, but it was never great.
Anyway, so I walk into the theater, and it's empty, and it completely smells like marijuana. Great. And I'm the only person in the whole theater, so naturally I'm paranoid the next people to come in are going to think that I'm the one that smells like weed, despite the fact that I am very much drug-free and alcohol-free. I always hope for an empty theater anyway, but because of this, I was hoping for it even more than usual. There has actually only been a single time in my life where I was alone in a theater, and it was with my cousin. We saw Iron Man 3, and it ended up being one of the greatest movie experiences of my life. While I'd argue that the movie wasn't great, it was definitely funny, and was even more enjoyable with my cousin. What still baffles me to this day is that we saw this hugely successful movie on the Monday after opening weekend, and nobody else was in the theater. The movie went on to gross $400 million in the US, and $1.2 billion worldwide, making it the 14th most successful movie in box office history, and yet THIS is the movie that nobody else watched that night? I've seen so many less successful movies in my life and still there is always at least one or two other people there. Somebody always walks in during the previews, and that's exactly what happened last night, but those people have nothing to do with the story. The real story here doesn't begin until after the movie, as I'm exiting the theater.
I'm usually the first person to walk out of the theater once the credits begin to roll. My brother-in-law insists on sitting through the credits as a way of showing respect to the people that worked on the movie, but I'm not worried about all of that. I don't even like waiting through the credits for a post-credit scene because I think it's typically not worth it. I usually watch movies late at night, so I just want to hurry up and get home. I even play this odd little game in my head where I try to get completely out of the movie theater before anyone reaches the escalator that leads to the exit. Just vanishing without a trace; unseen. I guess I'm kind of weird like that. Though that's not quite what happened last night.
So I reach the escalator in good time. I can see there's a guy just getting off the escalator to exit as I'm getting on it. I'm checking out the movie posters and cutouts on display, and then notice the man ahead of me is pushing himself up off the floor. Uhhh... what? Did that guy just randomly do a push-up before leaving the theater? What a weirdo! (Says the guy who tries to leave the theater undetected). Usually I walk down the escalator, but I stopped and just rode it along, keeping my distance from this dude. The theater is on the third floor of the mall, so there's an escalator to leave the theater, and then two more to get down to the ground floor and exit the mall. I'm approaching the 2nd escalator as he's just getting off of it, and he's kind of wandering around clumsily. That's when I realize something is very wrong with this dude. He's totally drunk. He wasn't doing push-ups. He was picking himself up after eating it on the floor. The third escalator is turned off, so I watch him bounce back and forth against the sides while he tries to walk down the escalator stairs. It was like watching a bowling ball bouncing back and forth between bumpers. I can't believe he managed to make it all the way without falling on his face.
I can see a security guard in the distance, back on the third floor, halfway across the mall, watching from a distance. I wave him over, to let him know to come down or send somebody over to deal with this drunk guy. I watch the guy walk right into the closed glass doors of a shoe store and almost fall down. It's more sad than funny. He keeps on going, though, walking towards the exit, using the wall to help him keep his balance. At this point, I'm about 15 feet behind him, cautiously trailing him. I don't think he notices me at all. He has a cell phone in his hand, and keeps holding it to his ear like he's waiting for someone to pick up, but he never says a word. He stumbles through the exit doors and makes it outside. I follow.
He's still on the phone, walking around like a Drunken Master. His ability to keep from falling is almost skillful. As the man starts heading towards the outdoor patio area of a restaurant, I notice there's a security guard in a truck parked outside. I walk over to notify security about this guy and he informs me that he already knows and he has it under control. Okay, so I leave the guy alone for the security guard to deal with, and proceed to walk across the parking lot to my car. I keep looking back to watch. The security guard pulled the truck forward to get a better view of the guy, and then got out. I'm slowly walking backwards, nearing my car, and the drunk guy walks right past the security guard, and hurries through the parking lot, coming my way. The lone security guard is standing idly and watching. The drunk guy seems to have found his footing and is walking steadily. A car I had walked past beeps and lights up. He had just unlocked his car remotely. He's going to try to drive away in his condition. I'm waiting for security to do something, but he just continues to stand there and watch from a distance as the drunk guy gets closer to his car. That's when I should have taken action and stopped the man myself. But I didn't. He got into his car and drove off. The security guard jumped back in his truck and made a haphazard attempt to block the car's exit, but he managed to drive past him and drive away.
My reluctance to act could have cost someone's life. This guy could have killed somebody. Somebody I know. Somebody I care about. While yes, this was the security guard's job and he failed to stop it, that doesn't excuse my own inaction. As a human being, I have a responsibilty to help and protect others. I could have stopped him easily. Anybody could have. He was drunk out of his mind. He could hardly walk. But I let him get in his car, and I am at fault for that.
I don't know if security called the police, but I never saw them. For the record, the guy's driving was actually quite normal. I didn't think he'd even make it out of the parking lot, but he managed to do it just fine. Still, that doesn't make any of this okay. He was far beyond the legal intoxication limit and should never have been behind the wheel of a car. I don't know if he made it home, or if he crashed or got pulled over, or what. I think that's what makes it all the more troubling for me. Not knowing what happened as a result of my inaction, but knowing that I could have prevented any potential tragedy from occurring at all if I had just taken it upon myself to handle the situation responsibly. I have to be able to stand up for what I know is right, no matter what.
You guys will probably laugh at this, but when I find myself in these kind of situations, I ask myself, "What would Tom Cruise do?" WWTCD? What would T.C. do? You know what T.C. would do? T.C. would Take. Control. That's right. Take control. It means to take control of the situation. Take control of your own actions. Take control of your life. That's what T.C. means to me. It's become something of a personal motto, but I don't always heed its call, like I should have done tonight. I always want to be the hero. I look up to guys like Tom Cruise, and Sylvester Stallone, and Mel Gibson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Guys who play the hero in the movies. Yet in my own life, I so often let that moment to rise pass me by. If I want to be like them, then, crazy antics aside, I need to act like them, and I need to take action. I need be responsible, confident, and courageous. So not only is this a message for myself, but I hope it may also serve as a message for you. Do what you know is right. Trust in your judgment, and don't be afraid to act. Your very own inaction could end up costing lives.
Nights like last night make me wish I had a smart phone. I wish I could have live-tweeted the play-by-play of what was going on in the theater prior to my late night viewing of Gone Girl. I arrived at the theater around 9:45 for a 10:00 show. Nothing was playing on the screen yet. Normally there's commercials and special features playing, but nothing this night. It's not the first time I've encountered this during a late night showing at AMC, but it's always a little weird, especially when you can hear all the little conversations going on around you. I carefully picked my seat, being unsatisfied with the seating arrangement of this particular theater. 2nd row from the front of the back section, right in the center. Two gossiping girls were in the row in front of me, off to my left, while a couple was seated in the row behind me, off to my right.
As I sat there, soaking in the uncomfortable silence of the moment, I pulled out a box of Milk Duds that I had hidden in my pocket. I've never actually snuck in candy before. I just happened to have some candy left over from a giant gift basket I received as a graduation present. I had noticed a few days prior that the remaining candy was close to expiring, and Milk Duds are my favorite movie theater candy, so I decided to do it. Seriously, I was the kind of kid who would keep his Halloween candy all year long, or at least until my brothers raided my candy stash. I don't think I in any way constitute a hoarder, but I guess I've just never seen the point of rushing through something good. I like to savor things. Hence Milk Duds being my favorite. They're the one candy that will last you the entire length of a movie. Wink, wink! ;)
Okay, getting back to the story. There I am, sitting in the dark, about to enjoy Milk Duds for the first time in easily five years. I don't normally eat or drink anything in theaters. Eating leads to drinking, and drinking leads to needing to pee, and needing to pee leads to either missing some of the movie or sitting through excruciating torture while desperately waiting for the movie to end. You know what I'm talking about! Not to mention that a small cup in a theater is like an outrageous 32 ounces! Nobody could survive that! It's like an evil theater ploy to make you have to pee so you'll miss the best part of the movie and you'll have to come back and see it a 2nd time. Am I right or am I right?! This is the REAL reason why movie ticket sales are down this year. People have had enough of this outrage and are opting to watch movies at home instead, where they can pause and pee freely!
You'll have to pardon my rambling. It's late and I should probably be sleeping right now. Anyway, as you can imagine, I like to avoid that situation entirely and just take my movies a la carte. Just me, and the movie, and my complete undivided attention. (Speaking of that, I also have this thing about exit signs. It totally bothers me when exit signs are visible in your peripheral vision while you're trying to watch a movie. Look, we know where the exits are. In case of an emergency, I'm sure I could find a way out. If they're going to be visible, can they at least dim them when the movie starts like the rest of the lighting? That would be great.) Okay, okay, back to my story. I open my box of Milk Duds, and it appears I'm too late. They're clearly already old and bad. I had no choice but to ditch the box. Serves me right for sneaking in candy, I guess.
So there I sit, sans Milk Duds. Still nothing on the screen. In front of me, the two girls are quietly gossiping amongst themselves about the fact that Ben Affleck has a full-frontal nude scene in the movie. I found out about this myself just a couple days ago and wasn't so thrilled about having to see it. Still, I can respect any actor who actually has the courage to do that. It really takes some balls. (Ha-haha-haha.) Meanwhile, I could also hear the couple behind me quietly arguing with each other. I try to mind my own business, but its persistent. It goes on for several minutes and it's actually sounding pretty juicy. I think they might be breaking up in that very moment, in a movie theater before the movie, of all places. The guy's voice is starting to crack. I think he's crying. Awwwkwwward! She gets up and walks out. That's when I notice she's easily got 20 years on him. I sat there wondering what was more awkward; what just happened, or the fact that I was about to see Ben Affleck's batarang. Oh man. I had enough of all that. It was time to switch seats.
I worked my way down to the front section, which disappointingly only had 2 rows. I typically favor the back row of the front section. I find most people are afraid to sit anywhere in the front section, thinking it's too close. However, the back seats are usually far enough away that you can see the whole screen comfortably, without having to sprain your neck or turn your head to see the whole picture. In a big theater, the front section is usually 10-15 rows deep, so the back rows are the ideal distance from the screen. Provided that it's more than a few rows long, there are actually some major perks to the front section. First of all, since you're looking up at more of an angle, the seats usually recline. Nice! Also, I find that the temperature is much cooler. Heat rises, so the elevated back section can get pretty warm, especially when it fills up with people and becomes crowded. And most importantly, hardly anyone ever goes to the front section at all. It's where I go and I usually have the whole section to myself. I can sit there undisturbed. I don't hear the other movie-goers, nor do I have to deal with people walking in front of me or distracting my field of view. It's great. You should try it. But don't all of you try it at once because then it would be crowded like the back section and that would just ruin the whole appeal.
Anyway, these front seats? They were actually too close. Not to mention there was like a plate of nachos or something stuck to the back of a chair just a few seats away from the center seat I chose. The cleaning crew must have missed that one. Kind of gross and smelly. Now I'm stuck in a bad situation. I'm already the guy who got up and switched seats, which makes it look like I'm a jerk who is annoyed by the people around me. I wouldn't be surprised if the gossip girls were gossiping about it. To switch seats again would just make me look like a weirdo. So now I'm stuck here, about to watch a 2 and a half hour movie, and I'm way too close. I need to get out of this. It's too close for comfort. It's a neck-ache waiting to happen. I need a plan!
10:02. The screen is still blank. The movie should have started already. This is a chance for me to get out. I walk out of the theater room, looking for an employee to notify them that the movie hasn't started. He tells me they'll get to work on it right away, so I head back in and go back to my original seat. Mission: accomplished! Switched seats twice without looking like an idiot (well... I hope so, anyway). The guy behind me still sits alone. A lot more people have come in at this point. More than usual for a Thursday night opening. (Another pro-tip: movies now open Thursday night starting as early as 8:00 PM rather than midnight. Most people don't seem to be aware of this as the theater is usually pretty empty on Thursday nights, while it's much more crowded on Friday nights. Take advantage of this if you want to get a jump on seeing movies early and avoiding the crowds.)
10:10. Everyone is wondering why the previews haven't started. There's probably around 20 people in the theater at this point. All these people showing up "late". No respect for the trailers. Oh well. Today they get a free pass. I've become a little more relaxed in my need to see the trailers these days, considering I've seen most of them multiple times now (from posting them on the site, taking screenshots, and just going to the show every week). I'm never one to ask for handouts, but at this point, the thought of complaining to get a free ticket next time is crossing my mind. I should clarify that I have nothing against AMC. Since starting the site, I've gone exclusively to AMC, choosing between three of their theaters in the area. I usually have a good experience, but strange and comical things do happen at theaters sometimes.
10:15. Gone Girl begins. No previews are shown. Finally, I can sit back and watch the movie. Once I get this blog posted, I'm gonna go straight to writing the review, so look for it soon. All I'll say here is that it is as good as you would expect from director David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo). I expect it to get a lot of Oscar nominations come March. Easily one of the best of the year. Some of the audience whined about the ending hitting so abruptly, but I thought it was great. Like Se7en, it has the kind of ending that will have you thinking about the film long after you see it.