Friday, May 27, 2011

Let's all go to the movies

When we were in line to buy movie tickets the other night, we were surprised to see a small group of younger teenagers get turned away at the ticket box.

But then we saw a sign prominently posted by the window. At this particular theater, no one 17 and under is allowed to purchase tickets for any movie after 8 p.m. unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

That’s right—any movie, even a G-rated one. Such a ban must have been prompted by repeated bad behavior.

Has it really gotten that bad?

It’s safe to say that now is a good time to go over good manners at the movies.

Turn off your phone. If you must have it on, silence it. If you are expecting a possible emergency call, put it on vibrate. But keep it in your pocket. That means no random checking of the time, no text messaging, no Facebook updates (as we witnessed at the last movie we attended). And if you actually do get a phone call you absolutely must answer, leave the theater and go to the lobby to do so.

Find a baby-sitter if the movie is not appropriate for children. If you’re watching an adult movie and bring children, they will likely be bored, scared or disruptive—and who can blame them for crying, sitting in a dark room full of strangers and loud noises? Don’t punish the children for acting their age; just make arrangements for them to stay home. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under the age of 2, so your child won’t miss anything anyway. For preschoolers, check to see if your local theater offers special screenings just for children.

Stop talking. Seriously. The actors on-screen can’t hear you, and other theater goers are less interested in your opinion than you may think. Some epic scenes deserve audible gasps, explosive laughter, or the occasional sobbing, but please refrain from loudly narrating the film (“Oh, she’s opening that door!”) to sharing spoilers (“That guy’s about to get shot!”).

Be aware of your body. Even if the floor’s sticky, keep your feet on the ground, not on the seat in front of you next to some unfortunate person’s head. If you need to use the restroom, excuse yourself quickly but without trampling other people’s feet. Use the arm rests, but keep your elbows in your own space. Keep your snacks (and any snack-related trash) to yourself.

Enjoy the show!

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