At the Movies: Why the Theater Has Always Been a Special Place to Me

July 21, 2012 § 6 Comments

A lot of people seem to have that memory of the first time they went to the movies.  Their dad taking them to go see a family movie, a cartoon, maybe even something R-rated, and then being amazed by the magic and the spectacle.  I don’t remember the first movie I ever went to see in theaters, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been changed by the experience of going to the movies.

Many of my most treasured memories come from when I was at the movies.

I remember going to see Back to the Future part II and how excited I was when they previewed part III at the end of it, and how upset I was that it was going to feel like forever until it was released.

I remember going to see White Fang with my sister, a rare moment when we hung out together as kids, and then her telling me to hold her seat when she went to the concession stands because the theater was packed.  A family came by and asked if the seats were taken and I was young and frightened by all people back then, so I just say “No” and my sister lost her seat.  We had to sit separately, once again meaning we wouldn’t be “hanging out” together as kids.

I remember seeing There’s Something About Mary as a teen and not realizing that you could laugh that hard.  The term “rolling in the aisles” made so much sense finally.  Everybody in there was amazed, in tears, and in pain.  It’s one of those experiences that truly defined why it was important to see a funny movie with a large group of people.

I remember when my mom took me to go see The Sandlot.  It wouldn’t be long after that until I became a snotty kid that didn’t want to be seen with his mom, but we both really loved that movie and had a great time.

I remember going to see Jurassic Park three times in the theater, because you just had to.  One of the times I went with my uncle in North Carolina, a man I’ve probably spoken to three times, but we really loved that movie and that experience.

I remember going to see The Others with a group of friends.  At one point near the end, a woman pops up and scares the crap out of you, and one of my friends literally ran out of the theater and didn’t come back for the last 15 minutes.  We were probably 18 or so at the time.

I remember seeing The Sixth Sense with a buddy after hearing all the hype about the twist and then somehow, beyond reason, despite how everybody was talking about the twist and looking for the twist, being completely fooled and still not knowing what it was.  Walked out of the theater with jaw dropped.

I remember also seeing Signs for my first time at the Cinerama in Seattle and having a great time.  There seem to be a lot of people who hate that movie, but I love it.  Part of the reason I love it is because of the experience I had at the Cinerama with hundreds of other people.

Even by myself, I’ve had dozens of good times in the theater.  I’ll never forget the summer day when I had no one to hang out with, so I went to the movies.  It was a middle of a Wednesday, nobody else was at the movies at all.  So I went to four of them in a row, just sneaking in: The Descent, The Night Listener, World Trade Center, and Miami Vice.  I’ll never forget that.  I’ll never forget how much fun I could also have in a completely empty theater.

My ex-girlfriend and I went to at least 50 movies together.  I kept every ticket stub, including the one from our first movie date (Dead Silence.  Sorry, I love horror movies and she loved to please me.) and then took every stub I ever saved and put them on a card for her.  She had no idea I had saved every one.

I could literally go on forever talking about the great times I’ve had a movie theater.  How those moments have made me the person I am today, how they shaped my life, changed me and gave me a different view of the world.  It’s not just about seeing the movie anywhere, sometimes its about seeing the movie at the theater.  (Remember how f-ing great Avatar was in the theater and how awfully terrible it is anywhere else?)  It’s one of the few times that you’ll just sit down with strangers for a few hours and co-exist, just as long as they don’t talk, and not be strangers.  Or going there with a new romantic interest or acquaintance that could turn into a buddy, and bonding.

The times you may have went there with your dad, or mom, or the whole family, and finding that even if a movie is “expensive” these days, you can still have a great two hour experience for under $20.  I love going to the movies almost as much as I love doing anything.

Yesterday some sick, depraved, piece of shit did something that’s going to change how we view going to the movies for a very long time.  The ripple effect of what he did on Friday morning is going to ruin hundreds, or thousands, of lives.  It makes me mad to know what he did, but I guess we’re the lucky ones.  We’re the ones that get to be mad, and not the ones that have to deal with losing a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a lover.  I can’t imagine what they are going through at this very moment.  I only know that it’s upsetting to sit where I sit.  To think about this tragedy happening at all, and also happening in a setting that I love and cherish so much.  A place that’s supposed to be safe, even if right now it seems so obvious.

I’m still going to go to the movies.  I’m still going to love the experience.  It’s still going to be a major part of my life.  I think we all are, with the exception of those that are dealing with what they have to deal with right now.

I may not remember what exactly my first movie was, but I definitely haven’t gone to my last.

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§ 6 Responses to At the Movies: Why the Theater Has Always Been a Special Place to Me

  • RJ McHatton says:

    Great tribute to the importance of a shared movie experience, Kenny. As a former movie palace owner, I can relate very much to this entire movie theater massacre tragedy and its been a tough time, but I always remember how much joy that watching a great movie can be with a full house of people, all laughing at the same time together, or jumping at the same scary moment. Hopefully this massacre won’t scare people into wanting to wait to see the movie at home. Its not the same no matter how big of flat screen a family might have. There’s always too many distractions and never quite that shared dream experience.

  • Thanks for writing this. I have to say, the Colorado shooting is hitting me harder than most things like this have… and I know it’s because I also have a massive love affair with going to the movies. I’m ashamed to admit that I really don’t feel like going to see one for a little while, which sucks, because I was looking forward to the Dark Knight, and it feels a bit tainted for me now. You’re right – we are the lucky ones. Anyways, great post. And PS: I also love Signs.
    ~Annie

  • Chelsea says:

    I loved this post! My heart swelled as I thought of all my special movie memories… Signs is a big one (the first movie I was ever allowed to go to alone!). Thanks for posting this… one of the best I’ve read since Friday’s tragedy.

    Chelsea

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