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Let’s All Steal From the Movies! August 4, 2006

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.

The summer movie season is rolling to a complete and full stop. Please wait until the superhero epics, cameo laden gross-out comedies and three hour period pieces starring ingénues who will flame out faster  than a red dwarf are finished before moving around the entertainment landscape. Because when this is it, you know what comes next.

The fall movie season is almost here, and while for many this means no longer melting into a puddle as soon as they exit the movie theatre, for me it means, well, a lack of anything meaningful. The months of September and October are notoriously known for bad, badder and god awful (See any Baldwin not named Alec) films. The time is reserved for any film that doesn’t instantly elicits oohs, aahs or scores of fanboys lining up around the block in costumes their mothers made them. It also means that every film released in this time period has absolutely no worthy aspect that would place in into awards contention. Even the choreography for Ishtar got a nod, so make your own interpretation there. It’s as if the studios open their junk drawer, turn it over and shake free everything not nailed down or starring Meryl Streep.

So what does this mean for you, my fair reader? Quite simply, start loading up. When a smack addict finds out the next few shipments have been seized by super sniffing schnauzers, they hit their dealer up and keep enough heroin around to make it through until the next balloon makes its’ way out of some poor mule’s ass. So, if you’re  a movie fan, you have no choice.

Very few people get to see every movie they’re excited about during the summer movie season. There are all sorts of excuses. Maybe you had “family” in town (In-laws are double work as they require both time spent with them and equal amounts of down time, usually involving the heroin mentioned above.) Maybe you had a really busy summer trying to finish that life size bust of Kim Cattrall before her career finally disintegrates. Maybe you got really into Grey’s Anatomy. Whatever the excuse, you probably have more than a few films that when you first saw the promos, you began drooling like a Pavlovian dog. But know, they are being pulled from the movie theaters like 1980’s Tylenol and soon the only way you will be able to see Superman returning is on the crappy 26-inch you still have from your college dorm. And you’re, like, 28. That means one thing. Take a sick day from work, put aside a little you time and have yourself a Trifecta Thursday. Three movies. One theatre. One day. And yes, one ticket.

(Doctor’s Note: Do not try to pull this off with regularity. It affects the film industry immensely and it can cause them to make billions of dollars instead of billions and billions of dollars. It may result in them having to buy new Escalades instead of tricking out their old ones, leaving a whole bunch of unemployed secondary rap stars without shows that chronicle a “pimpin’” of a ride.)

Like with any major stealth undertaking, the Thursday Trifecta (or the T.T.) requires split second planning, major cojones  and impeccable timing. It is not as simple as it seems to be: just pick three movies at the same theatre and go. It’s that type of thinking that’ll get you in trouble, or worse, caught and thrown out the door by a multiplex cop,  the enforcement officer who wasn’t even good enough to earn a shift as a mall security guard.

(Why Thursday, you may first ask? No, it’s not just for the alliteration and the opportunity to say T.T. in front of your friends without being looked at as a dork. Simple, Thursdays are by nature slow movie days. Most cinephiles are probably sleeping off a hump day hangover and since Friday is the major movie release day, who wants to go get last week’s Salisbury Steak when the Filet Mignon goes on special tomorrow?)

Step One is to choose your films and theatre. This is where the planning comes in. The first rule is to choose the film you absolutely, positively cannot miss. This is the movie you will be paying for. This accomplishes two things: One, you are actually giving money to a good film, making Hollywood secretly realize there’s more money in it for them and two, even if the mission is a total failure, you’ve gotten one good film in and the day isn’t a total waste. But be careful. Picking a film that isn’t worth it’s salt can result in a walk-out for you and a pre-emptive theatre switch. We’ll be going over the switch in depth later, but keep in mind,  there were no early pictures or audio of Clinton’s earlier discretions, but the more times he went back, the more audio tapes found their way to the surface. The best criminals are the ones who do it right, successfully and infrequently.

The theatre itself is also an important consideration. The Mom and Pop mini-theatre, with it’s freshly vacuumed floors and the throwback crushed red velvet everywhere are great, sort of like catching a big budget film in a 1920’s brothel. But they’re tiny and the selection is often nil. It’s usually one summer movie and a few art house films you only heard about because your cable went out and all you got in clearly was Bravo. The staff is small and usually hangs out in the tiny vestibule that divides the three theatres, trying to out nerd each other with their knowledge of obscure French neo-Classicism. All of these signs are like a big red Family Feud X. Which means the T.T. can only be done at the multiplex, cinema’s great equalizer. All the big budget films rubbing elbows with the indies, albeit on much different screen sizes (Popularity does have it’s perks, but we all knew that from high school.) 30 screens taking up more land than a stadium. Multiple concession stands that are never open. Cheesy old Hollywood murals with badly painted caricatures of Humphrey Bogart. Uncomfortable cookie cutter seats. That undeterminable but fully noticeable lemon cleanser smell. And best of all, less staff on hand than a late night 7-11.

Step Two is the plan and purchase. Always start your day at eleven or so. Matinee employees are usually teenagers who are still half asleep. That gives you a good seven hours before the late night date crowd comes sauntering in. Become creative with your choices, but focus on running times. If your go-to film runs 2 and a half hours, then shoot for a film that begins about two hours, forty five for choice number two. That leaves plenty of leeway to sneak in before the film really gets going and you miss important exposition. Unless it’s a big budget shooter you’ve chosen for film two, at which point, plot is sort of like parsley on a dinner plate: it’s there because everybody else is doing it. So film genre and time become a factor. Think of it as a tiny little puzzle you must complete to succeed. Even James Bond has to figure out how to pick a lock MacGyver style every once in a while.

Now you’ve arrived at the theatre with your three movie choices in hand. Remember though to have some back-up choices. I don’t frown upon brining the whole movie section with you under a jacket or in a purse. They’ve never patted me down for sneaking in snacks, so I would assume a newspaper is an easy bit of contraband. Plus, you can read Garfield if the movie is boring and come on, who doesn’t love Garfield? Back-up choices are important because of your one and only task before you take your seat in the film you are actually excited about seeing: scouting. In multiplexes, there are often whole wings that divide the monolith into sections. And your films may be on opposite sides of the theatre, leaving you with a quick manipulation of plans. You’ve got to work on the fly and that’s tough to do without some sort of guide. Otherwise you may be stuck sneaking into a movie that doesn’t rate high enough for you to even rent on DVD, and one bad apple can ruin your day. I still frown over sneaking into Weekend at Bernie’s II because I was unaware True Romance was in the next theatre. Scouting out what movies are playing where is key.

Now I suggest grabbing some snacks and a drink to fuel yourself up for the day. If you smoke, grab a patch. Because once you’re in your seat, you can never go back. Drawing even more than one look from an employee can have them scan you up and down, cataloging and remembering your face like the Terminator. But sit back and (hopefully) enjoy movie one. Because once the cop and his family are reunited or the superhero vanquishes the villain, it’s game time.

Step four is the move. There are many schools of thought as to just how to move from theatre to theatre. The one I prefer is the tried and true “lingering in the bathroom.” You know, grab a stall and have a seat. Wait for all the first show’s theatre goers to file out while you sit on the toilet and wait (Again why Garfield comes in handy!). You emerge and stumble back into the wing, ducking immediately into the theatre. Think of it as stealth mode in a video game: if any one sees you, game over. So be quick. You should have already mapped out your plan anyway, so the trek should be second nature. Don’t however try practicing the walk during the film or employing any sort of ninja spin death move as you tear across the carpet. Popcorn oil, especially the remnants stuck to the swirly purple carpet, is a bitch to get out of jeans.

Now you’re in the theatre and hopefully the movie has either just begun or the previews are finishing up. Do not, I repeat, do not try any sort of acting techniques you may have learned from a Summer Camp drama class. Do not stumble around aimlessly trying to “find someone.” Do not call out looking for said person. Do not even try to play it off like you were already there. Movie watchers are smart and we know who was and wasn’t on line with us for the one o’clock show. Simply grab the first available seat and try to blend in. If you were seen, blending in is a great technique. Very few ushers carry those cheesy flashlights anymore because their velour black uniforms have a habit of spontaneously combusting. And if you must employ an acting job, because that’s “your thing,” do it only if an usher walks by. Pay no attention to him. Nothing’s wrong. I’m cool. Do not however scoff as he walks by and “try” to find the culprit he’s obviously looking for. Velour black uniform pants may be tinder, but they do have built in bullshit detectors.

Now for movie three. Again employ all the tricks from your original move. This time though, be careful. Your legs are probably a tad bit on the atrophy side from sitting down for four or so straight hours, so your nimble feet and stealth moves are not as spry (Think Nadia Comaneci then…and now.) But all rules apply as before. Feel free, if movie number three is a success to leave your newspaper behind in the final theatre because Garfield sure can liven up a bad date.

When the credits roll and you finally step out into the setting summer sun, be proud. You have accomplished a truly wonderful feat. I even like to look back at the ticket taker and if it’s the same one as the morning, I even give a little wave, in case they remember me. Because they know this goes on and the ticket taker cares the least. To them, they’re just biding their time until they can move up the corporate ladder and become projectionists, because everybody knows the strippers and parties go on in the camera room.

Congratulations on pulling off a T.T. Share this knowledge with your friends. Feel free to shout it from the rooftops. And soak it all in, because there’s some crap up there on the horizon and no amount of free movies, stealth moves and inter-theatre mingling can stop it. Enjoy the rest of summer and please, pray for the souls of the Baldwins.



1. christine - August 5, 2006

just last week i was thinking how i needed to spend the day at the theater like i used to when i was a kid. i’m way behind on my movie watching, too. unfortunately, i’m afraid my neon red hair will make people take notice and realize that i’m hanging around longer than i should.

2. doctorolove - August 5, 2006

They do offer a wide selection of neon red hair hiding hats…

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