Going to the movies

We’re crossing the parking lot and up ahead, two gentlemen in their 70s or 80s are approaching the ticket window. We slow down, half out of respect, half because it means less Army and Sprite commercials to watch inside.

It’s our third movie in a movie theater that we’ve seen in 14 months. Fiona is wonderful and life-changing, but I do miss seeing movies. We have very few opportunities to see a film when someone is watching her.

My first thought is what on earth are they doing at a movie theater at 11:30 AM in July? It’s nothing but blockbusters, superheroes, and comedies this time of year. These men look distinguished, almost certainly war veterans. The Greatest Generation. World War Two movies ended months ago.

We’re seeing Pirates of the Caribbean 2 only because the first one was so brilliant and light and enjoyable. When you see one new movie every six months, it’s tough to pick exactly which one. Superman was out because it started later and overlapped with some meetings. I haven’t heard rave reviews for anything else. I haven’t even heard of half the movies.

The men seem upbeat. As they’re taking the curb, one pauses for the other as he carefully places his cane and ascends the step. We’ve still got 15 minutes so we trail behind, watching.

I heard the average price to make a movie in Hollywood is now $96 million. I remember the uproar a decade or so ago when Waterworld was the first film to crest $100 million. Spiderman 3 is supposed to run $300 million. A third of a billion dollars? For a movie? And a sequel no less?

They’re at the ticket window. They’re joking around with the teen girl behind the glass. At 11:30 AM on a weekday, the cost of matinee tickets and senior tickets is identical, but I overhear one insisting on buying a matinee, not senior ticket. The other laughs.

I have a feeling Pirates isn’t going to be quite as good. The first one only worked because I had no expectations. I loved Oceans 11 for the same reason and it had the same wonderfully fun upbeat style I could rewatch a thousand times but its own sequel was crap. It tried too hard to duplicate the first. It was desperate. Maybe lightning can strike twice here with Pirates, but I doubt it.

We’re right behind the guys at the window and it’s taking a while. I’m scanning the choices, trying to figure out their purchase. Devil Wears Prada is probably the most serious or dignified choice and it’s still a comedy. Perhaps they’re Superman fans from reading comics during the Depression? Maybe they’re former executives from an automobile company ready to enjoy Cars? I’m leaning towards them, straining to hear what their choice will be.

I remember our first summer in Oregon, three years ago, when we didn’t have air conditioning in our rental apartment. When the thermometer passed 100, we’d be here, watching 2 hours of fluff but enjoying the relief. Maybe that’s what these guys are here for, but all the nearby retirement communities seem to be modern enough to be comfortable in the summer.

The joking has subsided. They’ve got their money out and they’re ready to pay. After tailing them for several minutes, I’m dying to hear what brought them out on such a hot day at such an odd hour during this weird time of year for film.

“Two for Little Man.”