Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Private Screenings

Nothing says "date night" for a pair of 32-year-olds like going to see the new Muppets film, so my girlfriend and I took in Muppets Most Wanted the other evening in…a totally empty theatre.  That's right, I rented the entire thing out so we could enjoy the iconic pairing of Kermit "It's not easy being green" the Frog and Ricky "it's not easy being an atheist" Gervais in total romantic privacy.  Contact the good people at Boyfriend Magazine to tell them that they can start engraving their 2014 BF Of The Year trophy.

…or, we just happened to be the only ones who bought tickets to this particular screening.  This may be a slightly likelier scenario (especially since I won the 2013 BF Of The Year trophy from Big Faker Magazine).  Still, while I didn't spread some cash around to make this two-person screening happen, it was still a terrific bonus.  Is there anything better than being the only one in a movie theatre?  I feel like such a big shot.  When/if I eventually make my millions, my first move is to build a private movie theatre within my lavish mansion.  Well, wait, I guess the actual first move would be to buy a mansion in the first place.  And really, to be technical, the ABSOLUTE FIRST MOVE after becoming a millionaire would still probably be something mundane like buying milk, or getting a tank of gas before driving out to the mansion to meet your real estate agent.  Or hiring a driver to drive you out to the mansion.  I'm babbling.

The point is that these so-called "private screenings" are always a treat, and so singular that I can remember them all.  The four times they've occurred in my life…

* firstly, Muppets Most Wanted.  It was probably exactly what you'd expect from a Muppets movie…cute, entertaining enough, nostalgic, with the one caveat that it seemed way too long at nearly two hours.  Upon realizing we were the only ones there, my girlfriend and I immediately left our phones on, put our feet up on the backs of the chairs in front of us, and just openly talking in our regular voices.  We probably would've started making out had it been a different film, but the fact that it was a Muppets movie kind of killed the mood.  It also would've come off like a re-enactment of that Simpsons scene when Troy McClure is seducing Selma at the drive-in, while his onscreen seduction of Miss Piggy is happening in the background (with the same dialogue). 

* secondly, Observe & Report.  We have to go back to 2009 for this one, and it was an afternoon screening at the Woodbine Mall Rainbow Cinemas, and this was particularly notable since I was the ONLY person there.  That's right, this one was a true private screening.  An usher strolled in halfway through and I happily waved at him, which drew a laugh.  This was a thoroughly weird movie from Jody Hill (of Eastbound & Down fame) that starred Seth Rogen as a lunatic mall cop.  In terms of tone and obviously not quality, Observe & Report: Paul Blart, Mall Cop :: Taxi Driver: Taxi (that turd with Jimmy Fallon & Queen Latifah).  Rogen's character is definitely a spiritual descendent of Kenny Powers as a thoroughly terrible human being who is nonetheless the 'hero' of the story.  It's pretty clear that Hill hadn't quite learned to keep from totally crossing the line at this point, as Observe & Report is totally ruined by a scene when Rogen essentially rapes Anna Faris' character…and it's played for laughs.  Had there been other people in the theatre, surely there would've been a few walkouts.

* thirdly, Let's Go To Prison.  My friend Aron and I went to see this wholly forgettable comedy in 2006 on the basis of "hey, Will Arnett is in it!" and this was the peak of our Arrested Development fandom.  "Hey, Will Arnett is in it!" is a line of thinking that led to a lot of bad movie choices over the years, so if Arnett's agent is reading this, I hope you're eaten by a rabid giraffe.  I'm not kidding when I called this one wholly forgettable, as I literally remember nothing about it aside from Arnett and Dax Shepard being the stars (p.s. there's a recipe for laughs!)  Looking at the cast list on IMDB, it's full of familiar names like Chi McBride, Aziz Ansari, David Koechner and even Michael Shannon, which isn't surprising.  Shannon is the classic case of a veteran character actor who gets his big break (i.e. his Oscar nomination for Revolutionary Road) and becomes well-known, and then you go back and realize that he was in tons of notable movies and you just never noticed him before.  To wit, Shannon was the guy in the "we're going to Wrestlemania!" couple in Groundhog Day, so yeah, consider your mind blown.  Anyway, I'll have to ask Aron if he remembers anything at all about this movie since I'm at a loss.  We saw Let's Go To Prison at the ol' Wellington 8 Theatre in London, which I'll still always call the Wellington 8 despite the fact that it's changed owners a few times since 2006.  Aron and I probably would've started making out had it been a different film, but the fact that it was a Dax Shepard movie kind of killed the mood.

* fourthly, Daredevil.  So back in 2003, four pals and I went down to Florida for our slack week.  It ended up basically being like Spring Breakers, except with guys, and instead of committing crimes, we sat around my friend Bryan's parents' condo and played Risk.  Not even joking, we played more Risk than you would've expected on what was supposed to be a wild spring break trip.  There wasn't a ton of a local party scene given that the condo was ensconced in the middle of what was essentially a retirement community, not to mention the fact that it rained for a good three-quarters of our trip.  So to amuse ourselves on one of these rainy nights, we went to see Daredevil, a.k.a. the movie that launched the Affleck/Garner relationship, so at least something good came out of it.  The five of us were the only ones in the theatre, which led to a lot of open hooting and sarcastic comments thrown at this craptasterpiece.  I'm reminded of the old Howard Hawks line about how a good movie only needs three great scenes and no bad scenes…well, Daredevil had a ton of bad scenes, yet it did indeed contain three great ones.

1. Daredevil finally puts down the Kingpin during their climactic fight scene by sliding between his legs and then kicking backwards, shattering both of Kingpin's kneecaps.  Michael Clarke Duncan (RIP) sells it by screaming bloody murder.  It's one of those classic action movie scenes that works because it's both incredibly painful and kind of hilarious at the same time.

2. The scene where Daredevil "sees" Garner's face for the first time in the raindrops.  The movie used some pretty lame ways to illustrate how Daredevil's radar sense allowed him to "see" things despite his blindness, yet this one was kind of sweet.

3. The scene where Jennifer Garner shows up at some gala event looking like a zillion bucks.  I'm not even a big Garner fan looks-wise, yet at the moment she walked on screen, all five of us went from wisecracking and carrying on in this empty theatre to just being struck dumbly silent for a moment.  I'd like to think it was this scene that inspired Affleck to dump J-Lo on the spot.

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