October 10, 2009

A Story About Toy Story

I've been struggling to come up with something that I'm willing to write about. Oh, there's plenty I'd like to write about, but I don't feel like this is the place. It just isn't, for me, beyond a certain point.

My life has, in some ways, changed so incredibly much in the last few months; in other ways, it's exactly the same, which can be its own problem. I'm not working for the first time in longer than I can remember. I'm grateful that I have the luxury of not feeling unbearable pressure to get back out there, though I am looking. There are other aspects, of course, but right about there is where I stop being interested in writing about it.

That doesn't make for much of a post, so you can see my dilemma. Finally today, however, I did something that made me feel like writing so I figured I'd get all that out of the way and move on with something other than just my football picks.

I never used to like 3D movies. The glasses were ridiculous, didn't really work half the time and the effect was never as good as it promised to be. But prior to last year, it had probably been decades since I'd seen a whole movie in 3D. I went to see Coraline while it was out in 3D and, while I liked-but-didn't-love the movie itself, I was pretty impressed with how much better the 3D effect was.

That made me more inclined to go see Up, which I enjoyed so much, and I was once again pleased with the improvement to 3D technology. After a while, I even forgot that I was wearing the glasses and that's really saying something in my book. Well, I forgot about them until I had to reach up and wipe the tears away, but that's not terribly relevant, now is it?

One of the previews at Up was for a double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D. It had been years since I'd seen them and I thought it would be interesting to see them again, both because of the 3D thing and to familiarize myself with them anew, as I'd heard that Toy Story 3 was in the works. (It is.) No one else I asked was inclined to go so I decided today that I'd go by myself, as they're advertising it as being in theaters for only two weeks. (I'm guessing that it will likely be extended if it's making money, but I didn't want to take the chance.)

I always experience trepidation about going to see what's considered to be a "kid movie" because I really dislike having the movie disrupted by noise. Now, the parents who read this could be bothered/offended by that statement. What I usually hear at this point is, "But it's a kid's movie, you have to expect kids and kid noise." I get that, I really do. And let me make it clear, I love kids and I love that they enjoy movies. But I also think there's a lack of accountability on the part of SOME parents -- some, not all, probably not you, but you can't deny some -- who take kids who are too young or too antsy to make it through a feature-length film. I also get the reasons for this. They are influenced by ads and by merchandising and beg to go, even if they're not ready for outside-the-home moviewatching; the older kids want to go but they're certainly not old enough to go alone, so you have to go with them and can't leave the younger one(s) out; it's cheaper to take kids to a movie than to get a sitter; it's a kid's movie, why shouldn't you take them, everyone else's kids will be making noise. I'm sure there are others.

My problem is that I had to pay to go see it, too. If a kid chatters and questions and exclaims throughout it, I'm not able to enjoy it.* I've been told to "just ignore it;" if I could, I would. But I can't and I have little recourse if it's a "kid's movie." I can't say anything because it's a kid. I'm supposed to be OK with it, no matter what. I really don't want to be the jerk. But when exactly can I go see it when there won't be any kids? Never -- there doesn't seem to be any time that some people won't take their kids to a movie. And, much as I wish there were, there aren't any "adult theaters" that don't instantly mean X-rated films, at least not around here. (I know some exist that are more like a dinner theater where they serve food and alcohol, and I imagine kids aren't allowed, but I've never been to one and they certainly don't have any near me.) So do I have to miss the fun of seeing a movie in the theater? Do I just have to wait until it comes out on DVD? No. I don't buy that, sorry.

So, for me, going to an animated movie is a crap shoot. There are times when it's absolutely fine and the kids there are practically angels or, if they're not, the parent takes them out until they can calm down (and I really wish that all theaters had a room where they could take them so that they could both see and hear while the soothing is going on, because I feel bad that the parent has to lose the thread of the movie) and we all enjoy ourselves. Then there are times when I feel like tearing my hair out, but I sit there and take it and stew, and any enjoyment is ruined.

Today, since I was going alone, I decided to ask for one of the assisted listening devices. I traded in my driver license and got a headset to wear. I figured I'd give this a shot, because I thought maybe it would help in case there were some kids for whom a double feature was just too long. So, there I sat, looking quite the fool with both the 3D glasses and the headset with the little flashing red light. (I purposely didn't look too closely at the headset; while I know they sanitize the glasses before they're re-used, I'm willing to bet money that they don't do anything of the sort for the headsets and goodness only knows how many other heads mine sat on. For the sake of a peaceful experience for everyone, I ignored that thought.)

And guess what? It worked pretty well. There was some buzzing that was especially bothersome during the quiet parts (I just turned them down for a few moments), they died out a couple times (I fiddled with them until they came back) and by the end of the first film my ears hurt a little from the pressure (I took them off for a little while and took off my earrings), but overall it was a pretty good solution. I could hear that there was noise from time to time, but it became peripheral and didn't prevent me from hearing the dialog, so I didn't mind. It's not a perfect fix, but it's a decent one that I'll use again.

Oh, and the movies? They were just as good as the first time, enhanced by the 3D, and I was surprised at how much of both of them I had actually forgotten over the years. I suggest you go if you have the chance. With or without the kids.

* For any movie, if some inconsiderate jerk talks, has a ringing phone, kicks my seat repeatedly or -- my favorite -- sits there and translates the movie for someone with them...the entire thing...it's a problem. But if it's a teen or adult, I do have recourse, and I'll take it. I'll speak up or move or get an attendant or just leave and ask for my money back, depending on the severity. Movies that are designed to appeal to kids are a different matter. And I'm not expecting perfect silence; I'm not an idiot, that's unreasonable. I'm not talking here about "normal" movie-viewing noise. I'm talking repeated or non-stop disruption, in case that wasn't clear.