Last weekend, I almost walked out of “World War Z” before the movie even began because a young couple rolled in a stroller with a toddler in tow.
I didn’t because, I thought, why should I leave? I wanted to see the movie, despite some so-so reviews. After all, I had read the book and had even had the chance to interview Max Brooks a few years ago before his Sage Colleges visit.
The toddler hadn’t really done anything too intrusive anyway, though he did almost get stepped on as he ran into the aisle at the same time another patron was getting out of his seat. The little boy yelped and fell to his bottom, and the man, seeing the toddler there, exclaimed, “Oh, Jesus, I didn’t see you! I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” The boy bounded up and his parents, from their seat, also apologized.
When the movie started, the toddler screeched and yelled a couple times, drowning out a word or two of the horror movie’s dialogue. Each time the toddler acted up, one of the adults with him carried him out of the theater.
I didn’t say anything to the adults with the toddler or to theater management, because the adults seemed to be handling it.
I did, however, tell friends and family about it, and opened up my experience on social media accounts, such as the Times Union’s Local Arts blog at http://blog.timesunion.com/localarts, the Twitter account @timesunion and the Times Union Facebook page.
People labeled the parents “irresponsible” and the theatergoers (including me) “weenies” for not saying something to the parents or to the management.
On Facebook, Joe Dragon wrote, “Bad parenting simple enough.”
On Twitter, Jersey D’Evil (@NJDevilNYGuy) wrote: “We have a nearly 3yr old & a 3wk old. Parents need to realize date night is gone for a while. Not fair to moviegoers.”
My experience also inspired others to write about bad experiences with other patrons in general, who talk loudly or use cellphones during screenings.
On Facebook, Peter J. Graves wrote: “The theater experience has been ruined for me, and not just because some parents seek to use the audience as collective babysitter. Last movie I attended was a silent film — silent because I couldn’t hear the dialogue over the guy sitting near me chewing his popcorn so loud, you’d have thought he was eating gravel. Or the woman to my left who kept smacking her gum. Too many adults and children alike confuse the theater for their own living rooms.”
So what’s the best course of action when a movie-going experience goes bad?
I called this year’s Best of the Capital Region winner in the best movie theater category, the Regal Colonie, to ask about their policies involving who they let in and what they train their staff to do if a patron, or the patron’s child, is unruly.
I was referred to Regal’s corporate headquarters, but as of deadline my call hadn’t been returned.
The Regal website, however, does list various policies about age restrictions, such as not letting anyone under 18 attend an NC-17 show, and not letting anyone 21 or younger to buy multiple tickets to a Rated R or NC-17 show.
I also spoke with Keith Pickard, the owner of the Spectrum 8 Theatres in Albany (and a past Best Of winner), who says they have a policy of not allowing children 5 and younger into any film that isn’t Rated G.
Also, he said, when someone does complain, he has trained his staff to speak with the offender to ask the offender to leave and to offer the offender a voucher to see the film at another time.
When “World War Z” ended and the credits started to roll, the mom said in general to everyone in the theater that she was sorry for the interruptions. I could accept that, at least for the toddler’s behavior. That one of the parents’ cellphones rang during the screening, though? That was inexcusable.
Vía Michael Janairo stories http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/A-toddler-in-the-cineplex-The-horror-4659877.php