so, with my jetlag / travel cold combo receding by last week's end, Grace and i decided to revel in our shared love of collecting souvenir admission tickets to places packed to the gills with idle pre-teens by spending that Friday night at the local cinema watching the exploits of Nacho Libre .
we showed up about ten minutes prior to the start of the previews (a heartwarming underdog story involving Marky Mark and 1970s Philadelphia Eagles football? it's like Rudy for cheesesteak lovers) and settled in to the end of a mostly-full row, leaving a two-seat buffer (the negative space everyone in a theater naturally seeks to put between themselves and the presence of stranger elbows...) to my left and one to Grace's right.
a few minutes passed uneventfully before my buffer seating (which was admittedly in excess of the required amount) was halved by the introduction of a new would-be Jack Black viewer to the second empty seat on my left.
White, seemingly in his mid to late -40s, bearded, seated alone, outside of the movie's key demographic.... it rang a bit odd against the senses but not to the point of being a perceptible or bothersome disturbance.
until i noticed him rest, on the seat 'twixt he and i, his coat...
who carries around a wool coat in the summertime?
in the summertime in Houston, humidity capital of the world?
surely the coat couldn't just be for saving a seat in a theater; other means such as "excuse me that seat's taken" are readily available... my "something's awry" meter ticked up one notch.
a few minutes pass and then, with the noise of the impatiently bored crowd chatter increasing, Mr. Beard leans forward from his seat and waves vigorously, cautious but eager in his motions, to someone below.
waving, to flag someone down, to let them know where he was. but waving to whom?
my passive curiosity was unsettlingly answered moments later when our row was entered by, and the seat immediately to my left occupied by, a 12-to-13 year old girl dressed in a Friday-night short denim skirt.
at this point the "awry" meter is going off the charts and the social environment of the moviegoing experience for Grace and me irrevocably changed for the worse; what before to my left had seemed a simple case of "bachelor's night out" had morphed into some discomforting MySpace hook-up.
now, having a real-life version of Steve Buscemi in Ghost World and his young bird sitting near you in a theater is offputting enough but we didn't understand yet just how bad the supplemental movie-going experience was going to be until the previews got underway. i feared some sort of creepy "coat over the laps / disappearing hands" impropriety when the lights dimmed but what grace and i instead endured was the other, more common type of movie disturbance.
the girl.... laughed.... at everything. loud, and long, and clear just like that chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. (or was it some rotund doctor they visited, i can't remember. floating around in the air, laughing incessantly, was there some sort of drug reference going on in that movie? anyways...)
good jokes, bad jokes, things on screen that weren't really proffered as jokes, all of it was indescribably hilarious to her brain. before you dismiss me as a crotchety 29-year-old i will state that, despite the low number of laughs/guffaws/chuckles that actually escape my own lips, i do find and enjoy a lot of humor in the world.... but the mad jester Comedy is going to have to bring the grade-A stuff if he craves my true laugh reactions.
though i internalize most of my humor appreciation, i don't expect other people to conform to my tendencies, neither do i begrudge them their laughs at what they think is amusing. a comedy at a theater full of people like me would suck due to the fact that there'd be little to no ambient laughter echoing after the funny bits, just a bunch of guys smiling a little and thinking to themselves 'hey... that was pretty clever'.
i only ask for a bit of good judgment in discerning what's really, at its core, funny. the junior-higher to my left failed to show she had such judgment; let me try to describe her comedy-view adequately:
there was a preview for an underwhelming-looking animated film entitled Barnyard, where ugly-looking farm animals secretly walk upright and talk just like humans but must hide their
anthropomorphism from the people on the farm. (note: written by the guy whose previous brainchild was Kung Pow: Enter the Fist)
at the end of the trailer we're shown some clips from a sequence in which the animals , barnside and in the midst of partying to previously unforeseen levels of heartiness , use human mannequin arms through the barely-cracked barnyard door to pay for and receive the pizza delivery that they'd presumably ordered over the phone (with money presumably lifted from the farmer's wallet at some point....oh, no admirable animals these...).
but oh no! one of the animals loses his grip on his mannequin arm and it falls to earth at the delivery guy's feet. will this suspicious development cause the animals be found out, their secrets revealed all for the want of some circular cheese-covered dough? (i don't quite recall but i assumed the pizzas didn't have ham or anything on them that would give the film a sadistic fauna-cannibal angle)
no, it seems that the delivery guy's natural reaction to a disembodied plastic arm, which he previously believed to be either a real or prosthetic limb connected to a living person, is joy as he claims it as his new possession, excitedly crowing "whoooooooooo!! alright, i got an arm!" in triumph to the other delivery guy in the car as he walks away from the barn.
first off........what? mannequin arms are a prized commodity among pizza delivery guys?
secondly....when has pizza delivery ever been a two-man operation?
the punchline to this scene, the scene used to end the trailer and give you lasting impressions of the movie to intrigue you until its release for viewing, makes no sense. it is not comedy. it was a completely random reaction. no substance, nothing.
maybe the trailer failed to capture the intricate "delivery guy's quest for a mannequin arm" subplot that serves as the centering backdrop to the gag; if so, shame be to the trailer editors, we were all unjustly cheated. regardless, what was shown on screen during the trailer was unworthy of praise by laughter in any form or quantity.
Junior High, naturally, found it to be an aggressive assault on her funny bone.
further exacerbating the laugh riot, at the end of the trailer the pizza delivery wingman apparently validates the first delivery guy's elation at finding the mannequin arm prize by leaning out the car window, wagging his fingers in some fashion, and rejoicingly singing (and i quote): "deedly-deedly-deedly-deedly" in some kind of grim Bill S. Preston / Ted Theodore Logan mockery.
this , of course, prompted from Junior High the first of many demonstrations over the next couple of hours of a rarer variation of movie disturbance: the "repeat what you just heard the movie say" or "plainly state to someone else nearby what actions just took place onscreen".
Junior High swivels to face Friendly Uncle and , through her hysterics, apes Pizza Wingman's celebration. what effect this had on Uncle Overcoat i'm not sure but it was at this point that all hope was extinguished for me that A) grace and i would know a moment's peace during the movie and B) that this guy was just her dad. it may have been a while since i was that age, and for the record i was never a girl, but i'm pretty sure that that age for girls is prime "embarrassed to be seen with the parents" territory, not "leaning heads in close together in a public place while clasping hands and laughing".
from that point on and throughout the movie we were served with a constant artillery run of laugh bombs from Junior High punctuated by spastic limb movements and "he got run over by the bull!" points of clarity.
because i liked the smooth combination of Jack Black, Napoleon-Dynamite goofy vibe, interesting filmwork in capturing Mexico's vistas, and Danny Elfman / Beck music (this is my mini-review by the way), i was still able to enjoy the movie though i believe that grace's fatigue (she had spent extra time at the airport that day due to missed connections, general airline snafus, etc.) made the ceaseless peripheral braying a little too much to bear for her to leave any room for enjoyment of the film's finer moments.
the movie ended and we left; i'm not sure what happened to Lonely Bachelor and the Justin Timberlake Fan Club Member (bah, that's probably too dated a reference, who do the kids like these days....) but hopefully she comes to her senses and starts hanging around with guys her own age and renting DVDs at home in lieu of weekend rendezvous with creepy older men.