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!
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” 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.
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.