3 Movies I’ve Seen Alone In the Theater

I waver drastically between wanting to be alone and never wanting to be left alone. The time I most embraced this dichotomy was in my early 20s, when I was pursuing acting as a career. NYC will do that to you by default, if not choice.

That was the time I learned how awesome it could be, to dine alone at a TGI Fridays and read a new script whilst eating broccoli-cheese soup. And of course, tipping extra well for the server’s time and occupation of his or her table!

It was also the time I learned that I loved going to the movies by myself. My dad went through a phase in the ‘80s where he went for walks and to see movies alone, and I always thought that sounded so magical. Movies are great for dates, and for group-hangs (TM “The O.C.”), but as it turns out, they are really fun solo dates, as well.

All in all, I’ve only seen three theater movies by myself in the past 20 years, but they were three very memorable experiences. Here they are!

Richie Rich

In 1994, I joined my church’s dance group. The days that weren’t Sunday, I’d bike back and forth from Baldwin to Malverne, but one Sunday there was a practice scheduled for later in the afternoon. As I went to church for both the 9 and 11 am services (one youth group, one regular service, and sometimes working in the nursery), there was no reason to get a ride home with Mom, only to bike the IIRC 14-mile round trip.

Especially when just across the street, there was the awesome Malverne Twin! It’s since become (last time I checked, hope it’s still there!), a more expansive theater that caters to indies, including Long Island homegrown productions. Which is awesome. But back in ’94, there was one movie airing in the afternoon that I had some time to kill: “Richie Rich.”

Macauley Culkin’s career had always fascinated me. As a former child actress that never got past “Romper Room” Hollywood(?)-wise, kid actors as a rule held my interest, and Macauley was a bonafide star.

So I was interested to see what movie Culkin would do next, and I grew up reading “Richie Rich.” Even as a kid, I remember having little sympathy for Richie’s family plights because hello, money! But I had empathy for Richie, because he was just a kid, and seemed to have a jolly spirit.

Regarding this movie, I remember next to nothing, as far as the deets. But I do remember thinking that Macauley Culkin was a dynamic Richie Rich. And I remember feeling very empowered – a word I tend to hate, so use very sparingly and specifically – by sitting in the movie theater by myself that day.

That Thing You Do!

Two years after “Richie Rich,” I was vascillating, spiritually. I no longer went to the nine and 11 am services, all the time. I did go to rock church, which was run by some awesome friends.

I did go to still dance practice, as for some reason that I can’t recall, our one famous dance (as far as these things go) had been brought back by popular demand! So we had to practice. And in the meantime, for another reason I can’t recall, I had more time to kill, and obviously, Malverne Twin was yet again the obvious choice!

It kind of shocks me that I’ve not written more about “That Thing You Do!,” as it is one of my Life Movies. That day in the theater – I almost never feel bliss, but that day, I felt bliss. Everything about “That Thing You Do!” is just so awesome. 17 years later, joyful tears still spring to my eyes when I think of the scene where the Oh-Nee-ders single gets played on the radio, and Liv Tyler runs screaming through town, and the eventual scene in the….washer/dryer store?

Details like how the money gets made still escape me, but the visceral ecstasy does not. That day in the theater likewise never did, either. And speaking of Liv Tyler, there are almost no movies in the world that have both my girl and boy crushes. Liv Tyler is erstwhile, but Tom Everett Scott held my heart that day, in my single, 21-year-old way. I’m a guitarist girl but when I saw “That Thing You Do!”, to paraphrase Wilco, I fell in love with a drummer. Then I fell out because I found out he is married, and even in fictional ’90s crushes, I was never trying to mess with some other chick’s man.

Superbad

“Superbad” bears the distinction of being the one movie on this list that I’d already seen – in the theater, no less! And also the movie that inspired the blog, as I went with Josh to see “This Is the End” last week in the theater, and now I feel addicted to movie theaters. It’s so easy to “wait for it on DVD,” but that’s not how I grew up, especially when you consider that my family didn’t even have a VCR until December 1987.

Anyway.

I went to Rockville Centre to watch “Superbad” with my friend, back in the day, and we got there a little bit late. The place was absolutely packed, and we had to sit on the left at the RVC Fantasy – one main middle row, two tiny rows on the left and right. I totally still love the Fantasy, but I’m not certain that it’s well constructed as far as these things go.

And I remember not being crazy about the movie. Mind you, for better or for worse, this was many years after my churchgoing days. I don’t consider myself a prude, but “Superbad” felt kinda vulgar to me. At the same time, I knew that wasn’t quite the right word. I also knew that the scene where Michael Cera accidentally touches his crush Becca’s boob, was uber-brilliant.

A month after this first viewing, I was working a double at Boulder Creek. It was slow, but I had to work the dinner shift, so they gave me several hours off. While my apartment was only five minutes away, it seemed too soul-crushing to leave and come back. So I meandered across the parking lot to Broadway Mall, and moseyed up to the upstairs movie theater, that was awesomely next to the indoor playground.

“Superbad” was playing. In the literal sense; it had started 20 minutes ago. It felt so right to buy a ticket – just one, please – and go sit in the dark for the next hour and a half.

As it turned out, there was only one couple in the theater. The rest of the patrons were scattered, single dudes ranging from teens to middle age. I felt strongly, the vibe, of everyone just out for a random laff in the afternoon on a Wednesday.

And this time, I really liked “Superbad.” There was something about being back again, alone in a movie theater, that really helped me appreciate the artistry of an on-the-surface base comedy.

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4 Responses to 3 Movies I’ve Seen Alone In the Theater

  1. ChadZ says:

    Hmm… I don’t usually see movies by myself either. I told that to a girl I was interested in and she challenged me to try it. She said she did it all the time.

    So I found myself on a business trip in California and one day after work in the year 2000, I decided to try it. I went to see Titan A.E.

    Titan A.E.

    It was a terrible movie. But the experience wasn’t too bad. There were some funny points where I glanced to the side to catch my dates or my friends eye… but then remembered I was alone. It was strange at first. It was a little saddening the first time it happened. But after a bit it wasn’t too bad. I disliked the movie, but the solo movie experience was all right.

    Shorty after my solo movie victory (about 1 month), I wanted to see another movie, but I didn’t hang with people that were into spoofs at this time, at least not this one… so I bought myself a ticket to ticket for Scary Movie (2000).

    Scary Movie

    I really liked it. I mean the bathroom stall scene was a little much, but this was the summer after the South Park movie came out, so I had already been desensitized some by that.

    I still had the occasion glances to the people that would have been my date/friend, but this time strangers looked back. Titan A.E. was pretty empty. I went to Scary Movie on the opening Friday. It was PACKED!

    It was a totally different experience to walk into a crowded theater alone (when I first came in) and try to figure out if someone was saving one seat, or if I could squeeze in between couples or large groups of friends.

    Trying to squeeze into a seat all alone was a little awkward. I felt there were people asking themselves… “Is this guy here by himself?”.

    But, some of those strangers I ended up squeezing between did give me glances back during the movie. They gave me glances like “that was pretty funny” or “eww that was so gross”, etc. And all was well in the land. At the end of the movie it felt like we were all friends… until I thought about it. Then I was like no way… I don’t even know them! But all still felt well in the land.

    PS I absolutely loved “This is the End”

  2. judisunshine says:

    That is awesome. I never saw “Titan A.E.,” but I liked “Scary Movie!” Have you seen “Not Another Teen Movie?” That is my favorite spoof from all those. Thank you for writing this 🙂 And yay to loving “This Is the End!”

  3. Bryan says:

    How have we never discussed That Thing You Do? One of my favorite unappreciated movies. The Oh-Needers were amazing.

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