Monday, October 5, 2009

Juvenile Behavior

Disney's claim that the Toy Story double feature is "Two movies for the price of one" is somewhat misleading: since the films are being shown in 3D, you are actually receiving two movies for the price of one and a half.

But these are Pixar movies, so it is still a good deal.

Reviewing a pair of movies which came out years ago seems like a waste of our talents.  The experience is akin to that of watching two Pixar films.  In 3D.  The 3D is better in Toy Story 2 than the original, but then almost everything about Toy Story 2 is an improvement over the first film.  The original remains an excellent picture which invented a new form of storytelling, but the sequel may well be the movie that first mastered that form.

In many ways, Jessie's lament in Toy Story 2 paved the way for the dramatic moments which have since become the company's signature.  It would not retain its title as the best Pixar movie long - Monsters Inc. came out a few years later, with Finding Nemo and The Incredibles close behind, but it remains the best CG sequel ever made - possibly the best animated sequel to date.

All of this is academic, though.  These are fantastic films further enhanced by 3D technology.  That isn't what we're here to discuss.  We've come to discuss the audience.

In an effort to minimize the effect of seeing the movies in a audience of children, we selected a later screening, assuming that most parents would hesitate before bringing their young to a show ending at 10:30 on a Sunday night.

It seems we overestimated the average parent's concern for their childrens' education.  The theater was packed, emanating with the sounds of the young.  Whispered questions, cries, and shrill laughter echoed around us.

And, on the whole, it wasn't so bad.  The children surrounding us seemed relatively polite.  They were far from silent, but, overall, they did not detract from the films.

No, that was something solely accomplished by their parents.  There has been, as of late, a trend among audiences to ignore the request to deactivate cell phones and similar devices at the start of a picture.  We have witnessed, with both confusion and aggravation, audience members ignore the movie before them and turn to text messages and games.

But we've never before seen it in such numbers.  Perhaps these people have seen these movies so often they no longer care what's on the screen.  Perhaps it has yet to enter their minds that every time they check their email, those on either side of them - and indeed for dozens of rows back - are blinded by the sudden light.

Or maybe they simply shrug these implications under the logic that it's become common practice.  That such juvenile behavior comes from adults is discouraging, but perhaps not surprising.

We strongly believe that the experience of seeing these movies is well worth the effort, though we advocate waiting a few days and finding a theater playing these as late as possible.

Hopefully, it will be enough.

In the meantime, we would like to take this opportunity to call on our elected representatives: the request made at the start of movies is not enough.  Without legal consequences, there is little hope this behavior will change.

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