So I Went to the Movies Yesterday…

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the movies. Sounds like a typical Saturday, right? Wrong. Whereas I’m a pretty big frequenter of venues such as art galleries, theatrical productions, concert music, and even independent movie theatres, I very rarely go to the mainstream cinema. VERY rarely. In fact, the last movie I watched in a mainstream movie theatre was Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. And that was nearly seven years ago, back in December 2002.

So, what made me break my mainstream-movie-going fast and venture forth to my nearest cinema? Zombieland? Heck no! I’m talking about a film so powerful that even the mere mention of the filmmaker’s name is enough to send some people into fits of erratic and aberrant spasms. And no, I’m still not talking about Zombieland!

I’m talking about Capitalism: A Love Story, by Michael Moore (cue the “Ack! Err! Blahr!”). It’s a comedy… and a tragedy. Above all, it’s a documentary about the failure of capitalism that we all witnessed in 2008. Because like it or not, that’s exactly what we saw. Many people have passionately argued that communism, though it may look appealing on paper, ultimately fails because it does not take into consideration human greed and corruption. I would point out that capitalism ultimately fails for the exact same reason.

When a free-market, sink-or-swim, only-the-strong survive system is brought to its knees by greed and corruption and has to turn to the federal government for a bailout funded by the taxpayers, that’s called a failure of the entire system. When many of the same banks who were rescued then turn around and slash credit lines, raise interest rates, and gorge themselves on newly added fees, that’s called a slap in the face.

Then again, this post is not meant to be a review of Moore’s new movie. Yes, I did enjoy the film, and yes, I’m glad that I chose to drive to the theatre and spend a whopping $9 per ticket to watch it. That was my choice, and I’m glad I did so. Capitalism: A Love Story is a movie that all of us should be able to enjoy, regardless of any political party affiliations.

Moore’s greatest problem, however, is that he is Michael Moore, and people will pooh-pooh him and his movies no matter the topic. I seem to recall lots of outrage and ire across the board over TARP and AIG last year, and yet many of these same people who railed against TARP, AIG, Citi, and the other too-big-to-fail crooks now rail against Michael Moore for… railing against TARP and those same Wall Street fat-cats! Strange.

That’s just the way it is, I suppose. Michael Moore makes a movie, and people get outraged over it without even bothering to watch it. Moore could make a movie in praise of Ronald Reagan and how tax cuts will be the saving grace of America, and those same detractors will ridicule and try to discredit it. Oh well.

Speaking of greed and corruption…

On a different note, before heading to the movie theatre, my wife and I swung by a nearby mall. I’m not a very good consumer – I haven’t been inside a mall since Fall 2004… seriously. Anyway, while heading into the mall, I saw something that really made me scratch my head. Take a look at this photo. Notice anything odd about it? Yes, this is in Texas.

handicapped hummer

Don’t see it? Look closer. See the handicap wheelchair tag hanging in the rearview mirror? Wow! While I concur that it’s entirely possible for a handicapped person to drive (or ride in) a Hummer… I don’t know… something just seems odd about it.

And here’s another thing – I mentioned that I had not been to a mainstream movie theatre since 2002. One thing I DID remember is that the price for the junk food at the concession stand is outrageous, even criminal. Nothing could prepare me, though, for exactly just how expensive it was. Here’s a cell phone snap:

AMC concession prices1

Nearly four dollars for a small drink?! Almost five dollars for a small popcorn?! Pardon the sophomoric interjection, but LOLwut seems to satisfactorily express my confusion and incredulity. Oh, but it gets better….

AMC concession prices2

This picture is a little harder to read, but c’mon, $7.50 for a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut? Or, for the same price, you can get a few chicken tenders. What a deal! Want a regular hot dog (not a Coney)? That will be four dollars, please. How about an Icee? Oh, it’s $4.50. An ICEE! It’s just ice with some artificial flavoring! At least a pretzel is the same price. Holy $*@! That pretzel better tap dance and yodel for me before I suck it into my body and wash it down with a small bottle of water ($3.75).

If you can’t guess, neither my wife nor I bought anything. Since we were at the theatre a few minutes early, we watched with mixed amusement and horror as LOTS of other people did. Make that a large popcorn since I can get a free refill on it! It’s the best deal! Just slide your credit card. It will be alright.

Who knows when I will decide to go back to a mainstream movie theatre? Maybe another seven years? No matter how long I wait, I will be curious to see how much more inflated the prices will be for tickets and junk food. Maybe, just maybe, the skyrocketing prices will finally hit a breaking point, causing consumers to stop attending en masse, which will then result in massive profit losses for the movie industry. Will they scurry to the federal government and beg for a taxpayer bailout of their own? If they do, I will preemptively suggest that we consider calling it CRAP (the Cinematic Resource Alleviation Plan).

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