I have to dredge up a lingering issue. One that really chaps my hide (god, I love that phrase). Recently, against my better judgment, I begrudgingly settled on the Studio Movie Grill, for a family outing. It’s one of those all-in-one theater chains that thinks combining drinks, dinner, and a movie, is the ULTIMATE MOVIE GOING EXPERIENCE.

Which is kind of like calling an anal fissure EDGE OF YOUR SEAT EXCITEMENT.

The corporate mission statement behind these abominations, is much like a slogan from McDonalds or Burger King. Super-size it! Make it a combo! And don’t forget to add a McNugget Flurry for only twenty-five cents more! 

See, this is how it works: You take a movie, and then you add an overpriced, frozen dinner, and a lot of terrible drinks, and you wrap that all up into a burrito of poor decision-making, and then you shove it in your face-hole. Where stuff goes. And please remember to reserve your seats ahead of time, online. Because there’s always an online component, when you’re destroying something beautiful.

At a glance, like most successful sales pitches, it sounds like a good idea. “Hey, we can get a drink at the theater, then we can eat our meal while watching the movie! Oh, and there’s a red button we can press on our tables! Wooooo!”

This sort of logic might seem sound, if you have a babysitter watching the kids, and you have exactly two hours to spare. Fine, crowbar it all in. 

But for those of us lucky enough to have a night out, and a desire to watch a movie and share a meal, this is the worst possible option. It’s like a candlelit dinner at White Castle. Except there’s a possibility of more diarrhea and less ambiance.

Problem #1: You have a drink or two at the bar beforehand, while you wait to be seated. Great, now you’re slightly buzzed going in. One soggy quesadilla later, and let’s face it, you’re not exactly on your A-game. So yeah, enjoy that movie you’ve either misinterpreted, talked over, or fallen asleep to.

I’ve been trapped next to two drunken middle-aged housewives, complaining that they didn’t “get it” between wet slurps of margaritas and whispered conversations with the waiter. Of course they didn’t get it. They were doing everything but watching the god-damn movie. And it was fucking Jurassic World, not Truffaut.

Problem #2: You’re dealing with waiters in the middle of the movie. They’re scrambling around like ball boys at the French Open, and someone in your group is inevitably going to ask “Should we get another bucket?”  No. You should get a gun and put it in your mouth. Because art is dead.

Problem #3: The food is awful. It’s microwaved soylent green. And we swallow it down like the gluttonous, indecisive children we are. God forbid we hold off on saturated fats for a couple of hours, and choose where we’re going to eat. No, that would be too great of a decision to make. Instead, let’s ruin a movie along with our night. Whatever it takes. Just feed us your soggy quesadillas, and turn up the background noise. This is a decision-free zone.

These places fail miserably in everything they set out to do. They’re a failure as a movie theater. Your experience will undoubtedly be compromised by the wait staff, by your own buzz, and by the people on either side of you (who are either continuously pressing shiny red buttons, or devouring unholy quesadillas between wet burps).

Let’s face it, if one of these places was just a restaurant and bar, it would be a Planet Hollywood without all of the accoutrements.

Movie theaters with a bit of history and a varied movie selection, are getting harder to find. While in their stead, we’re being offered something we don’t need or want. And yet, somehow, we’re still being coerced into thinking that this is our preferred method of movie-going.

And it’s too easy. And they know that. And we like easy.

Enough is enough! So, um, I guess this is the part where I stand up and quote something… and that something is one of the greatest American songs to ever grace a film: “There’s no easy way out. There’s no shortcut home.”  *koff* Rocky 4 *koff*

It comes down to this, dinner and a movie has been co-opted by corporate assholery. We are being sold an inferior alternative. An alternative that cuts out a vital part of this shared, cultural experience. It cuts out the part where you choose for yourself. The part where you walk out of a theater and say “Hey let’s grab a bite to eat, or a drink, and talk about whatever it was we just saw.”  And I fucking love that part.

I guess it’s our own damn fault. We’ve allowed this to happen. We’ve went along with the program, and in doing so, we’ve betrayed a piece of our cultural identity for the first shiny, new thing that came along. 

And with less and less real movie theaters left, this inferior alternative is quickly becoming the only game in town.

 

Comments
  1. Patricia Lofthouse says:

    And those reclining chairs stink too. I can’t even put my short legs on the ground so I dangle through the movie and end up with paralysis when I finally get to stand up!

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