Silence is not golden when eating at the movie theaters
From drive-in movies in the 1950s and 1960s where we could eat and even bring our own food to the super digital movies where you can have dinner delivered to your seat. It’s great to be able to eat, but once-in-awhile, some movies are not made for food
By Ray Hanania
Years ago as a kid, I would get so excited when my parents would take us to see a movie at the drive-in.
It was a lot of fun not just as a family event, but as a meal. My parents are from Palestine, which is occupied today, and my mother would cook a huge pot of lamb and rice stuffed grape leaves that we would bring to the drive-in theater.
Once-in-a-while mom would give us money and we could go to the concession stand and buy the hotdogs and popcorn and bring it back to the car where we would listen to the scratching audio on the little gray box hanging on the top of the hand-rolled window in the car.
The movie experience has changed a lot since I was a kid. Most of the drive-in theaters have been moved inside and you can’t sneak your friends into the movie by hiding them in the trunk. Which is probably a good thing.
The screens are larger. The pictures are so clear it’s almost as if you were in the movie itself. And the sound echoes loudly from every direction. They added gourmet food along with the hotdogs and pop that you could carry in to the theater with the popcorn and snack while you enjoyed the movie.
They converted the sometimes uncomfortable stationary seats to lunge chairs, and expand the food service to include food a wider assortment delivered to you by the salesperson while you were already seated in the theater watching the movie.
I figured I was in movie heaven, until I went to the Emagine Theater a few weeks ago to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster to be released, “A Quiet Place,” a horror film involving frightening alien monsters with large mouths that open to display rows of shark like teeth.
The movie is produced by John Krasinski, who you might remember from the phenomenal comedy TV series, The Office. Krasinski also stars in the film with his real-life wife Emily Blunt, as two parents trying to protect three young children following an alien invasion.
The alien monsters don’t have eyes but have hyper-sensitive auditory, or huge ears. And when they hear a sound, they see it and pounce on the source, usually clumsy humans, ripping them to bloody pieces.
The movie is 90 minutes long and I figured, you know what, I want to see this one. I love Science Fiction, and this past year has only had a few good films. “A Quiet Place?” How bad can it be?
Actually, the film itself worked, although for the first 45 minutes, there literally was very little sound or dialogue. The actors used sign language to talk to each other, displayed in captions along the bottom of the huge screen.
Honestly, I was expecting silent screen star Charlie Chaplin to waddle on out and make a few monster and alien jokes.
But about 10 minutes into the silence, the theater cashier walked up and place the tray with the food I ordered onto my seat. I figured, why not try the Nachos, with the cheese and burger meat spread out all over it. I remember when I was standing in line ordering before the show, I thought, wow, Nachos would be a phenomenal treat.
But, of course, as I sat through the quiet movie and the ultra-quiet theater, I started was shocked as I munched on one of the Nacho chips from the box placed on the tray as I leaned back in the lounge chair. The crackling sound echoed through the theater and I could people turning around to look at me, with that look that was reserved for loud mouthed people who talked during movies.
You know that look.
I spent the first 50 minutes hoping for some sound. A crackle. Music, even that might drown out the chomping of the Nachos that were sitting invitingly on the tray in front of me, untouched because I was too afraid to eat and cause a noisy ruckus.
Snap. Crackle. And pop. Then I heard someone crunching on popcorn and I couldn’t stop myself from feasting on the sound.
The food was great. But I was so worried about eating and the noise, I really didn’t concentrate on the movie itself. I’ll have to go back. But next time, I’ll wait until after I eat a full meal.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Contact him through his website at www.Hanania.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)