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The problem with movies


Let me begin by saying that I don't go to the movies much, owing to a number of factors which make my social life about as racy as a monk's.

The first factor is money. The truth is, I am a very poor man, even with a second job unloading refrigerators down at the docks. And by the time you pay the admission price at your local theater and swing by the candy counter for a trash barrel-sized popcorn, Vat o' Pepsi and two-story-high box of Pom Poms, you've blown 15 bucks, easy.

And what have you got to show for it? Cramped legs and greasy fingers, period.

Which brings us to the second factor behind my not seeing many movies: The movies themselves stink.

Of course, you would not know this from the little blurbs that accompany the movie ads, snippets of glowing prose which invariably trumpet each film as the greatest since "Citizen Kane."

Case in point: While thumbing through the movie ads the other day, I came upon a new comedy which a certain reviewer had billed as "Howlingly funny."

This was certainly intriguing, as I had not enjoyed a good howl in quite some time.

Oh, I may not look like a howler, but if there's any howling to be done in front of the big screen, I'm usually right in the thick of things.

Anyway, I went to see the movie with a friend. Well, actually it was my wife, but we were speaking to each other at the time, so it was almost like going with a friend.

Predictably, the movie was terrible. All around us, people wergrumbling instead of howling. The fellow sitting in front of us (who inexplicably chose to wear a huge fedora) was particularly angry in his denunciations of the film.

In fact, he was so angry I thought he was going to set the theateon fire. Several times he reached into his pocket and produced a Bic lighter and whispered to his wife: "C'mon, Marge, let me torch this place!"

But his wife was a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, it seemed to me. Shwouldn't even let him start a small trash fire under his seat, never mind an inferno of any consequence in the aisles.

I kept egging him on ("It's YOUR lighter, do what you want") buthe bottom line was, this guy with the hat was sort of wimpy and obviously deferred to his wife in all matters of pyromania. She probably lights the grill at their cook-outs, too.

So instead of looking forward to fire alarms clanging and stampede for the exits, we had to sit through the entire dreary movie.

"What was so howlingly funny about that?" I asked my wife bacin the car.

But she wasn't talking to me again, citing an earlier incident when I supposedly hogged the Pom Poms.

I might be going off half-cocked here, but when you come home dog-tired from a day at the word processor only to wrestle 700-pound refrigerators on a loading dock from midnight to six in the morning, you deserve a few extra Pom Poms. Please. Don't get me started about Pom Poms.

The point is, once you go see a lousy movie that some grubby, graft-pocketing reviewer said was "howlingly funny," you learn to stop trusting those stupid blurbs in the movie ads.

I hope this doesn't sound like generalizing, but over a 16-year career in newspapers, most of the movie reviewers I've met have been whiskey-swilling, morally-bankrupt vermin who run around in loud plaid sport coats -- or tight knit dresses with plunging necklines, as the case may be -- and would sell their mothers for an extra box of JuJuBees.

(Perhaps the lone exception is the reviewer for this newspaper, who is a tower of honesty and integrity. Really. I can't say enough about this person.)

In any event, maybe it's time for a new era in film criticism. Maybe it's time for a sweeping, throw-the-rascals-out mentality that would leave the unemployment lines bulging with men and women chattering "Deliciously witty!" or "Riveting!" as they fill out their compensation forms.

Perhaps then we'll see such brutally honest blurbs in movie ads as:

"Incredibly banal!"

"Awful! Really, really awful"

"Worse than Ishtar, if that's possible!"

"No plot, sketchy characters, contrived ending . . . yecch!"

Certainly, all applied to the, ahem, comedy we took in the other night, a movie so numbingly bad that it left the audience stumbling into the parking lot slack-jawed with disbelief.

Unless it was the price of the Pom Poms. You talk about "Howlingly funny."

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