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Sit Down, Shut Up 

When the magic of the cinema is ruined by clueless people

click to enlarge Just stay at home if you do any of these things.
  • Just stay at home if you do any of these things.

The weird noises started about 15 minutes into a Sunday morning screening of a recent crash-bang-boom action movie. At first it sounded like someone repeatedly clearing their throat in a weird way. After it kept happening, I thought maybe someone in the audience had a kind of verbal tic.

But then it became pretty clear that this was no ordinary noisemaker: There was a dog in the theater, and it was growling and yapping every time the movie got even a little bit quiet. That was a new one.

  • It took me completely out of the movie, and I walked out halfway through and got a refund. And it got me thinking about all the annoying audience members I've encountered, the clueless people who have made me rethink my career trajectory. Some of these happened recently. Others are at least a decade old. But I've never forgotten.
  • Someone fell asleep halfway through the leisurely paced Glenn Close vehicle The Wife and snored loudly off and on for half an hour.
  • A very young child ran up and down the aisles during a late-night screening of the R-rated comedy Adventureland. Perhaps the parents saw the title and thought the theater was a theme park.
  • A guy brought two little girls to see the super long, super violent The Revenant. Maybe they were DiCaprio completists.
  • At a retrospective screening of the 1984 comedy classic This Is Spinal Tap, an armchair comedian in the balcony of the Bing kept shouting out the punchlines to the jokes before they happened. He was eventually met with a "shut the f—- up" from a true hero.
  • After the cut-to-black ending of No Country for Old Men, some bro yelled, "We should have seen Hitman instead!" Yeah, you probably should've.
  • During the Somali-language sections of Captain Phillips, the older woman sitting directly behind me loudly read the English subtitles out loud to her husband. Unfortunately, she was always one subtitle behind.
  • Somebody two seats down cracked their knuckles all the way through Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which ended up being the least annoying thing about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
  • During the wrenching Holocaust drama Son of Saul, a man in the front row happily crunched popcorn with the eerie regularity of a metronome.
  • A family with several small children arrived after a goofy shark movie had already started, produced a backpack filled with baggies of the loudest snacks in the world, talked out loud as if no one else was in the room, and left and came back into the theater at least 1,000 times.
  • Just a few months ago, a stranger sat right next to my girlfriend and me — not with a buffer seat in between us, but RIGHT NEXT TO US — in an otherwise empty row, took off his shoes, put his bare feet up onto the seat and proceeded to messily eat a burrito the size of a baby. He got lettuce everywhere.

Ah, the magic of the cinema.♦

The original print version of this article was headlined "Sit Down, Shut Up"

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