This afternoon I was standing out on Prince Lawn at Coastal Carolina University talking with my co-worker, April Betsch. We got to talking about “Dumb and Dumber To” and one thing led to another. Pretty soon she brought up the subject of shared experiences in movie theaters. April explained how cool it is to go to a movie theater and really feel connected with the rest of the audience during the film. I knew exactly what she was talking about but had never so eloquently put that movie-going experience into words before.
With April’s inspiration, tonight I want to write about the five movies I can easily rattle off the top of my head where I had a “shared experience” with the people in the theater. These movies are listed in no particular order. In the brackets after each title I have the city where I watched the movie and the year I saw it.
“Lone Survivor” (Missoula, MT – 2013) – The theater was completely packed when I went to this film on opening night. As I watched people walk in all I can say is it looked like they had their game faces on. You could just tell that no one would be talking or texting during this movie. Throughout the very well done film, you could feel the nervousness of those around you during the fighting scenes. You could feel the tension when the Taliban was in hot pursuit of the SEALs. Everyone laughed out loud together in relief during the very well-placed humorous lines. You could then feel the appreciation and pride of everyone in the theater when the air support came in and lifted Mark Wahlberg’s character to safety. The moment he thanked the tribe that sheltered him was indescribable. The second before the credits started to roll someone yelled out “YAH!!” and the whole theater erupted in applause, to this day the loudest ovation I have ever heard after a movie.
“The Ring” (Walla Walla, WA – 2002) – I saw this movie with my sister and when we walked out into the parking lot we were literally shaking. But it was what took place inside the theater that I really remember. “The Ring” ushered in a new era of horror movies so a lot of people were not really exposed (myself included) to what we were about to watch. Throughout the movie you heard a lot of shrieks and noticed most people with their hands over mouths in disbelief. The images of the girl really terrified a lot of people. The grainy video that was the kiss of death and center of the movmie made people uneasy. Then of course there was the final scene that had everyone in the theater crying out in horror (and of course approval…what an awesome ending!).
“Passion of the Christ” (Spokane, WA – 2004) – Walking into the theater for this movie I could sense from everyone else in the theater that they knew it was going to be a tough one. You could just feel the somber aura in the auditorium during the whole film. People were not there to be entertained, they were there to watch the most gut-wrenching aspect of their faith. When the movie ended, people just didn’t exit the auditorium in silence, they exited the movie theater itself in silence and proceeded to walk to their cars in the parking lot in silence as well. Ironically, because of the fact that everyone was so silent and so disconnected from everyone else, it actually made it seem like everyone was intertwined somehow.
“The Mask” (Spokane, WA – 1994) – You might think I am crazy for remembering a movie I saw in theaters 20 years ago this month but it seems just like yesterday. We hosted Thanksgiving at my parents’ house for my dad’s side of the family. They all came from out of town and on Thanksgiving night we went to the theater to watch “The Mask.” As my dad has a very large family, we had about 20 of us Resers in that theater. From start to end, my family was in tears they were laughing so hard. This energy transferred to everyone else in the auditorium as it was just a circus as Jim Carey put on a complete show. My aunts and uncles still talk about that night to this day.
“Fault of Our Stars” (Myrtle Beach, SC – 2014) – I wrote about watching this movie in June and the absolute tear bath that ensued inside the Myrtle Beach theater. Until that night, I had never heard such a collective cry from strangers inside an auditorium before. You could sense a thick cloud of agony inside the theater from the tears, sobs, and nose blows from the predominately female audience. Another movie I saw on opening night, you could figure that most people in the seats were diehards of the book. It was definitely an experience.
I hope to have more shared experiences in the movie theater in the near future. However, I don’t think it is going to come when I watch “Dumb and Dumber To.” Although a must see for me as I loved “Dumb and Dumber” as a kid, this new sequel looks utterly stupid. Don’t Blink.