Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit, or A Pox on People Who Bring Babies to Theaters

This isn’t a regular movie review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I will do that post as part of my Oscar nominees posts in January and February, since it will likely get at least a nomination for visual effects or sound.

Just to give you a quick idea of what I thought of the film: it’s a notch below The Lord of the Rings, and quite a bit sillier, but this is fitting since this is also the relationship of The Hobbit book to the LOTR books.  I did not see the movie at the higher frame rate, so I can’t give you an opinion on that.  Overall, I’d give this film a high 3 out of 5 stars.  For comparison, I would give the three Lord of the Rings movies 5, 4, and 5 stars out of 5, in that order.

No, I am doing this post in the hopes that maybe I have some latent voodoo ability that has as yet not manifested itself and by writing this I will be able to curse two sorry excuses for movie goers. 

I was sitting there in the theater just starting to watch the first trailer when all of a sudden I could hear this screaming coming from the short hallway that separates the entrance from the seats.  I turned to look and a man and woman walked in pushing a stroller.  The screams were coming from the kid in the stroller.

They didn’t just sit in the front.  No, they had to take the stroller up over the stairs, bump, bump, bump, which made the kid scream more.  Once they settled down the kid continued to scream until his mother took him out of the stroller and held him.  Soon she was texting away with one hand while bouncing the kid in the other.  The few people that were sitting by them found seats much further away.

Either the kid was smart for his age or they’d had him in the stroller long past the time he should have been walking on his own because he soon showed the rest of us in the theater that he could talk.  Sure, he didn’t have the largest vocabulary, but he did make up for that lack with an overabundance of volume.

It turns out his favorite word was “Mommy”.  He said it approximately 5,000 times.  Okay, admittedly it probably wasn’t that much.  I lost count somewhere in the 3,000s.

What possesses these people who do this?  I only go to the theater a few times a year and I bet that close to half the movies I have seen in the last three years have included a young child who doesn’t know to shut up.  Yes, I understand babysitters are either hard to find or expensive, but so what?  Maybe, just maybe, becoming a parent involves making some sacrifices like, I don’t know, not going to the movies together when you can’t leave the child with someone else?

Oh well, at least when I eventually watch this movie on Blu-ray I will be able to do it in the peace and quiet of my own home.

By the way, notice how quiet that young gentleman over in the right hand column looks?  I bet you could take him to the movies and he wouldn’t cry.

22 comments:

  1. You should get your money back. I'm sorry but never bring a baby to the movies. Get a baby sitter or ask a teenage child that you know to watch the kid.

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    1. I thought about complaining to the theater, but since I had stayed for the entire movie I figured my complaint would have been weak. I considered walking out, but I also didn't want to have to come back to the theater at another time to see the movie.

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  2. That totally passes me off as well. In the cinema I an not the most tolerant person. I suppose it is akin to road rage. One of my issues is when people put their feet up on the back rest of the seat in front of them. And have to sit in that seat! Uf!

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    1. I've said things to people in theaters before - usually people keeping up a constant conversation - but I was not close enough to these people to speak to them without shouting.

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  3. Chip, I feel your pain. Sounds like they need to get an Alamo Drafthouse (or similar) in your neck of the woods. They don't permit children under 6 in the theater (except during specific showings designated as "Baby Days"), and texting is prohibited.

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    1. I wish we did have a place like that around here. Many people wish the same thing. I actually did a humor post about a year and a half ago about the Alamo Drafthouse's no texting policy. For what it's worth, she did put her phone away after a little while, leaving "only" the kid as a distraction.

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  4. I think we've all got horror stories like this one. I went to see The Artist in theaters, and a group of 50-to-60-year-old ladies sat about five rows behind me. Suddenly, probably 20 minutes into the movie, I hear someone's cell phone go off. Not on vibrate, but a full blown ringer. It's one of the old ladies. Not only that, but she ANSWERS IT IN THE THEATER. She even said to whoever was calling, and I quote (I couldn't possibly make up something this perfect), "I can't talk right now, I'm at the movies". She then proceeds to talk for five minutes before finally excusing herself not outside the theater, but in that short entrance hallway you mentioned, where we all could still fully hear her.

    I just smiled and contained my inherent urge to lash out at her, and enjoyed the film regardless.

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    1. Oh, I've had any number of people answer cellphones during movies I've been in. It usually goes something like, "Hello......Not much, just watching a movie. How about you?"

      As bad as teenagers can be I actually once had an old woman ask her husband every couple of minutes, "Why are they doing that?" I kept turning around and glaring at her, but since I was young and had been taught to respect my elders, I didn't quite dare say something. After about the fifth time I did this she asks her husband, "why does he keep turning around and staring at me?"

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  5. My wife and I missed The Two Towers in the theater because we'd just moved and couldn't find a babysitter. Not only would I not take a kid to an adult movie, but I wouldn't take one to a movie with so many monsters and darkness. And that includes The Hobbit and most superhero movies as well. It's significantly different to see it at home, especially for a kid.

    I had a friend in the theater when someone a couple rows in front of him was on the cell phone, and he just yelled as loud as he could "SHUT! UP!" The guy sheepishly put the phone away.

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    1. At either the Two Towers or ROTK I had two men sit down right beside me (full theater). They had obviously just come from some job that required a lot of manual labor because they reeked of sweat and dirt. I spent most of the movie breathing through my mouth.

      Anyway, they started an ongoing conversation right through the trailers and didn't let up as the movie started. After about five minutes of this I said to them, "I hope you're not going to talk the entire three hours of the movie." They got these pissed off expressions on their faces, but they shut up.

      The worst parents I ever saw were ones who brought a baby with a bad cold, or maybe even whooping cough, to a movie I was at. Every minute or so this small baby would let out these great, wrenching coughs. At first I was pissed, but the longer it went on the worse I felt for the little kid. Not only should it not have been in a movie theater, it probably should have been in a doctor's office. For the first and only time in my life I tried to track the people with the baby down as we all left the theater, but I couldn't find them. I was going to tell them to for God's sake get that kid some medical attention.

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  6. Ah yes. Theater-going horror stories. Part of the reason why I only go to see (current release) movies in theaters a few times a year. I am sorry, man. I've been there, I know your pain.

    My worst experience was Syriana back in 2005. It's a pretty complex film, and thanks to the jackasses who talked NONSTOP through the entire thing, I still have no fucking clue what that movie is about.

    Not a horrible experience, but not a great one either was seeing Jaws at the Dryden this past summer. Idiots who sat directly in front of us thought it would be a good idea to bring their 6 year old daughter to it. Sigh. Jaws is not an appropriate film for a 6 year old. She was bored out of her mind for the first two thirds of the film and was fidgety and chatty, and I do believe I had to "shush" her several times (and I have to be very pissed off to actually "shush" someone). And then, at the end, she was scared out her mind. Poor kid, it's not her fault, it's her idiot parents'.

    Yeah, we've all been there.

    I'm sorry your shitty experience had to be at The Hobbit. That stinks.

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    1. You know what my two best theater experiences were? Superman Returns and the recent Total Recall remake. They were great not because the movies were great, but because I was literally the only person in the entire theater. I didn't have to put up with talking, texting, people coming in late looking for seats, people leaving because of the 64 ounce soda they drank, people coming back and calling out for their friends because they forgot where they sat, crying babies, hard of hearing old people, seat kickers, people who play with their straws by constantly drawing them in and out of the cup cover holes, etc. etc. etc.

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  7. God this is just awful. I really don't understand why people bring toddlers to the cinema - I would never do that, even only for not scaring the child, I mean The Hobbit has all those trolls and dragons, the child could be frightened.

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    1. I had a good friend where I used to work. She was both intelligent and friendly, but she and I hugely disagreed on this subject. She was almost militant about the fact that she was not going to stop going out to restaurants or to the movies just because she would have to take a baby with her. She figured it was nobody's business but hers. She and I got into a couple of good sized arguments over this. Ironically, as her kids got old enough to know to keep quiet she actually did stop taking them for the very reason you mentioned - they would get scared by most any movie and have nightmares afterwards.

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  8. I think we all feel your pain Chip. I've had three bored 7 year old boys staring at me from the row in front during The Woman in Black (a horror film, who takes children to a horror film?) earlier this year, and just the other week there were some people a few rows in front of me playing with a torch during Seven Psychopaths. A goddamn torch, in a pitch black movie theatre.

    At least when you go home you get to enjoy movies without screaming babies, my neighbours have a 3 and a 1 year old, who like to compete on the decibel stakes. The thin walls are the main motivation for me to move house next year.

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    1. Ah yes, the joys of apartment living. As soon as I could afford it, I bought a house. Before that I lived in a place that initially did not allow animals, but changed that policy when they were trying to attract new tenants. The guy that moved in next to me had a dog that didn't like being left alone. When he would take off the dog would start barking and usually continue until he came back. I called the manager to complain a few times, and apparently they spoke to the guy, but he never did anything until one day when he came back for something he had forgotten and heard the dog barking up a storm. He moved not long after that, thankfully. There's also the joy of knowing that if your neighbor is an idiot and accidentally burns down his apartment, yours goes with it.

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  9. Are you not able to request the cinema staff to remove the offensive people from the auditorium? Perhaps they didn't realise what was happening?

    Recently we went to see 2 Days in New York on its final showing of its final day in the cinemas of Perth. There were the two of us and three other people. I'm 30 my partner is 25, the other attendees were in their 60s if not their 70s and they just kept talking and talking and talking. In the end i crept quietly over to their seats and very loudly asked them if they needed medical attention. They seemed quite put out by this. But they did realise they weren't on their sofa at home afterwards.

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    1. All of the suggestions people have mentioned in these comments are all possible solutions that I considered. I rejected them all because it would have meant missing part of the movie and coming back another day wasn't a very pleasant option with the distance I had to travel. It was the distraction from the movie that the baby provided that was bothering me, so missing even more of the film didn't sit well with me.

      Theaters rarely send anyone in while the movie is running nowadays. A few years ago when pirating was supposedly peaking from people bringing camcorders into the theaters some chains started sending someone in to walk the aisles to prevent filming. (Newsflash, Hollywood - the majority of the copies online come from the employees of the theaters and from the employees at the DVD mastering companies.)

      Years ago I was in one movie (I think it was Spider-Man 2) where a young child was being very disruptive. Someone did leave and a few minutes later an employee came in. The father of the child got a REALLY pissed off look, like he was going to punch the employee, and he refused to leave. He continued to glare at everyone else in the audience for another 10-15 minutes instead of watching the movie, but he couldn't figure out who had complained about him. He finally left with a "there, that showed them" attitude, like the little kid who's told to stop touching something and touches it one last time afterwards before leaving it alone.

      If I were elected dictator every movie theater would wire its seats for electricity. When a person spoke it would give them a zap, like a collar that teaches dogs not to bark. If they spoke again they would get a stronger zap. Eventually even the dumbest person would learn to either stop talking or they would be unconscious. Either way they would be quiet. (Note: laughter would not trigger the zap). There would also be a machine at the entrance door that fried every electronic device that passed by it (except pacemakers).

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  10. I hate talking in cinemas too, very distracting. It certainly was An Unexpected Journey, with that baby issue, sorry it took away from your enjoyment of the film.

    On the flipside, the only time I've experienced a positive audience interruption (and laughter from the packed theatre) was during Titanic in 1997, when someone made a disappointed outcry, when the camera didn't reveal a full frontal of Kate Winslet (:

    My worst theatre visit was sitting next to a foul-smelling over-weight person during Indy 4, I was on the verge of throwing up!

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    1. I do have to say that I've been lucky in that I have never been in a theater with someone who thought they were the entertainment and not the movie (i.e. trying to shout out witty lines or comments.)

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  11. I am gonna take my four-year old to watch Evil Dead this weekend. ;-)

    In reality I do take him to a lot of kids movies. However, if it something like the Avengers or Spiderman that he really wanted to see I will make sure it is an early morning matinee, if he can't sit still or be quiet I will take him to the lobby.

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    1. I wish more parents were like you.

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