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Pancake Presents: Your Movie Etiquette Guide

November 4, 2009

photo from

photo from

Darlings, a word.

One of my favorite things in the world is watching a movie in the theater – box office reports would suggest that I am not alone or unique in this particular enjoyment, so I think it is safe to assume that most of us are on the same page when I say this.  There is so much delight to be found in the act of going to see a movie – eating popcorn for dinner, the nature of escapism, the potential to have your face melted by something new and innovative – to giggle, to cry, to be scared, to have your thoughts provoked and challenged, to be moved on an emotional level and often simply to be entertained.  With so many wonderful things to enjoy in the movie theater, it is a shame that it can take as little as one person’s jack-assery to completely ruin the experience entirely.  Of course, Dear Reader, I am not addressing you here – we are simpatico, we would never behave in such a manner while out – but there is a chance that you may know someone who could use a little boning up on their movie going manners.  I am compiling a guide for film-watching etiquette that you can pass along to that special person in your life who has publically embarrassed you.

Without further ado, here are some helpful reminders of Things That Are to Be Avoided:

-Talking during the movie.   Obviously, you don’t want to do this.  Ever.  Even if you have to run to the restroom* during the film and you just know that you missed something really important and you are dying to whisper to your companion, “What did I miss?”  Just…don’t.  Engaging in running commentary during the film – no matter how quick-witted and charming you may be – is also a no-no.  Likewise, calling out to characters onscreen and holding conversations with your friends will earn you a very special place in the Seventh Circle of Hell – at the very least, behavior like this could result in your being called a cocksucker by other theater patrons – and you will deserve it.  Keep a lid on it.

-Using your cell phone during the movie, in any capacity.  Talking on your cell is an enormous gaffe, but so is texting, looking up crap, playing with applications and games, checking the time, checking your messages or using the light of the phone to find your fallen car keys.  All of this behavior is hugely disruptive, annoying, distracting and rude to the other movie patrons.  To be on the safe side, just turn your phone off completely – if you forget to turn off your phone and it rings during the movie, quickly turn it off – do not answer it.

- Eating and drinking loudly during the movie.   This happens more times than I care to count – you are enjoying a movie and inevitably when a silent moment arises,  someone will rip into a bag of candy, or crunch their food obnoxiously or slurp from their straw – without fail.  It is wonderful to enjoy snacks during a film, but a little consideration** for your fellow theater goers will go a long way.  Have your snacks opened and ready to enjoy before the movie begins and time your consumption wisely – nothing ruins a dramatic scene like the deafening sound of nacho chips being horked down by a noisy eater.

-Bringing children to an adult movie.  I am shocked by how often this happens.  When Shannon and I screened Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, we counted at least five children in the theater who were under the age of seven.  I am a parent and must confess that there have been times when I have weighed the relative risks involved in dragging my under-aged children to a movie that I really wanted to see…but the bottom line is, you just can’t.  It goes without saying that bringing a child to see a movie that they are too immature to view is inappropriate – in doing so you are not only being a bad parent, but a terrible theater patron as well.  Your young child doesn’t belong in the theater in the first place and in the worst case scenario, is going to ruin the experience for everyone else by complaining, fussing, crying, screaming, whining, using his cell phone, eating and drinking loudly, etc.  I am all for fostering a love and appreciation for film at an early age, I just don’t think a premature viewing of Saw VI is going to be the one to get the job done.

*here is a helpful website which offers guidelines as to which moments are best for you to make a bathroom break.

**If you must tear into your treat during the film, then do so quickly…trust me.  I tried to quietly and gradually open a can of soda during the South Korean film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and ….Spring and I only prolonged the audio disruption when my can hissed loudly for five full minutes of the quietest moments in film history.  Mortifying.  (Also, I would like to openly apologize to all movie patrons who were present during the Tivoli screening of Rear Window 10 years ago – I made some bad choices earlier in the evening and deeply regret my behavior that night.  I would never uncork a bottle of wine during a movie now…)



6 Responses to “ Pancake Presents: Your Movie Etiquette Guide ”

  1. Hollywood Hood on November 4, 2009 at 9:00 am

    nicely done there Pancake….the masses are asses and the theater is indeed a sanctuary worthy of the highest mutual respect….your cause is noble, and your delivery is smooth….

  2. Jenna on November 4, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Oh, Jane, the memory of that fateful evening and the low, sonorous ‘bomp’ of the cork coming out of the bottle….Christ, I tear up with laughter at the thought. I apologize for nothing, NOTHING!

  3. rebar on November 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Ms. Pancake -

    Well said. May I also add my own theater horror story? Some underage hooligan pulled the fire alarm not once, but TWICE recently during Inglorious Basterds, completely ruining the Tarantino flow. What back woods slack jaw person allows a child to run so rampant?

    So I add to your list: Put those pint-sized pranksters on a leash!

  4. anncine on November 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I once brought a beer (or two) into a theater. I accidentally tipped one of the empty bottles over and it loudly rolled all the way down the sloped floor…Sorry, all who were involved. I would also like to apologize to anyone who was in the theater with me when I saw The Money Pit when I stacked several straws from my coke set down on the floor to my mouth. I was young.

  5. Jackson on November 4, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    my favorite is when you tell some punk-ass kids to “shut up” and they get all bitch-gangsta on your ass, like it’s their right to do whatever the fuck they want since they paid to see the movie. i went to complain to the management, little kiddies ended up keeping their yaps shut after that. i just don’t understand how some people’s minds work.

  6. Sara on November 4, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    I’ve always felt that teenagers and under-aged kiddies deserve their own screening rooms…out back…in some sort of run-down wooden structure…which locks.