Making a Movie Experience – or – Stalk Thy Neighbor

I go to movies alone a lot. Often, it’s for logistical reasons like I can’t convince my friends that a double feature of Big Hero 6 and Nightcrawler is a good idea for a Saturday afternoon, and sometimes it’s just for the solitude.

But, when I’m sitting there watching the same commercial previews I’ve seen 75 times, I sometimes like to switch my attention to my fellow movie-goers. I like to try to guess their relationships to each other. (And yes, I understand the judgmental irony here, but I’m pretty sure I’m not hurting anyone.) Usually, it’s pretty easy—couples, groups of friends, brothers, sisters, parents and kids—but sometimes it’s not. For instance, I went to see Interstellar this week (check out my review!) and a group of three guys sat in front of me—two grandfatherly types and a guy probably in his 20s. So, maybe there was a father-son connection there, but nobody looked particularly alike, and there were some stilted Thanksgiving invites all around. (It’s not eavesdropping if other people are talking loudly in a movie theater. It’s an inherently quiet place!) Anyway, I never really settled on how these three gentlemen came together to see this movie, but, in the end, their relationship to each other wasn’t the important part. I think the important part here is that the movie brought them together.

There’s a lot going on in the world today, and nearly every hobby or interest can find its niche. (Like pop culture journalism! Thanks Internet!) But, like moon landings of yore (or did we? Interstellar joke!), TV and movies still bring us together. We gather at our friends’ houses who have HBO to watch Game of Thrones—or, OK, football or something. We make special plans to team up to go to midnight showings of Avengers: Age of Ultron together. Even when I’m hanging out with family members who have some different views than mine, we can most often find some movie to go see together. ( Family, remember that Christmas we went to see We Bought a Zoo together? Ah, hilarious mistakes.)

OK, who farted? OK, who farted?

While I remember all the movies I go to on my own, the ones where I’m with others are where I have the best memories—my mom going with me to see Guardians of the Galaxy, even though I wasn’t sure she was going to like it. Or my brother going with me after I continuously harassed him to do so (against my own advice). (Of course, they both loved Guardians, because I think it’s physically impossible not to like that movie.) Or, in high school, when some friends and I had to sneak in to see Girl, Interrupted because it was rated R and, at 14, apparently none of us had the emotional maturity to buy tickets. You get the picture. I didn’t mind seeing Birdman by myself, and I really liked the movie, but that particular movie-going experience just isn’t going to stick in my mind the same way.

So, maybe this column got a little sentimental as we approach the holiday season, but getting together with a group of people to watch Die Hard—or Christmas Vacation or Elf or the upcoming Grumpy Cat holiday movie or whatever your holiday movie or TV episode of choice is—is fun. We should all try it in the next month or so. Have some popcorn. Have some laughs. Create some shared memories.

Do you have some favorite group viewing memories? Holiday viewing suggestions? Guesses on how those three guys who sat in front of me at Interstellar knew each other? Now it’s back to bugging me again…

About The Author

Abby Penning

Following in footsteps the likes of: Nora Ephron, Frances Fitzgerald and Eppie Lederer, Abby seeks to hone her opinion into a sharp and decisive tool used to inform and educate the masses - unless they don't agree, then she just beats them to death with it. Also a lover of pop-culture and friendly debates (arguments), Ms. Penning finds the world of modern entertainment so fascinating and compelling she can't contain her thoughts on what she consumes! Educated, articulate and opinionated, Abby's most distinguishing feature is her ability to work a minimum of 4 jobs for 80+ hours a week (Isn't that called work-a-holic?) When asked, "Why do you work so much, Abby?" she simply posed, "Who would do it better?" (Just kidding, I can't actually publish what she said.) Make sure to cruise her column, Ask Abby..., and to Contact Us with your questions for our thoughtful editor.

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