6. Eating concessions loudly in quiet, dramatic moments
Perhaps it’s just the OCD in me, but I do not generally purchase concessions at the movie. Even if they were not too expensive to reasonably consider, I would rather focus on the film than on food, especially given how much noise popcorn and candy can make.
That’s a consideration most people fail to take into account. Popcorn remains as prevalent as ever, and in the now-standard horse trough portions, your fellow viewers may be munching loudly up until the end of the movie. I would not necessarily stop people from eating popcorn altogether, especially during silly summer movies, but most films contain quiet or dialogue-heavy scenes that can easily be obscured by viewers who crunch right on over the characters.
It’s not just the chewing, either. The rustles of bags, slurps of straws, and strangely cacophonous sound of fingers searching through a thick bucket of popcorn can all disrupt the movie. It is not a difficult problem to address; just wait until the film gets loud again before eating more snacks, or at least try to do so quietly when characters are saying something important.
Who knows? Maybe someday movie theatre popcorn will become so expensive only the richest Americans can afford it, and the rest of us will finally be able to enjoy our movies in peace. One can only hope.
5. Laughing at inappropriate times
This may not sound like a big deal. “So, a couple people started laughing,” you may think. “What’s the problem with that?”
An example, then. Consider Rian Johnson’s recent sci-fi sensation Looper. It is a great movie. A serious movie. It has some intentionally funny bits, but they are relatively low key, and for the most part, the film plays things straight. But at the screening I attended, people burst out laughing, loudly and raucously, every single time somebody got shot or injured. I kid you not. When Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character would take out one of his future targets, people laughed. Throughout Bruce Willis’ entire violent rampage on the Looper station, viewers were howling with hysterics. I’m pretty sure somebody even chuckled when Willis shot one of the children. Because toddler slaughter, as we all know, is the height of physical comedy.
If Looper were not such an excellent film, the laughter would have ruined the experience for me. It is extremely difficult to concentrate on serious or dramatic moments when morons in the back are chortling with glee. And this has not happened to me just the one time, either. People laugh inappropriately all the damn time, often at violence (which means these idiots share something in common with the sociopathic Joker), but also at small, intimate character beats.
When Kinji Fukasaku’s landmark classic Battle Royale was screened for the first time in the US earlier this year, a row of people in the back howled at the entire movie, finding each youth-on-youth murder or dramatic speech hilarious. I really do not understand what compels people to do this, and it bothers me every time it happens.
It is okay, of course, to laugh at bad movies, though even then, you should probably be sure the film is universally reviled (a la The Room) before guffawing. Be respectful, to the movie and your fellow viewers. It is as simple as that.
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