Schrecklichkeit

| July 16, 2008 | 3 Replies

This morning I went to see the third installment of the Shrek movies. It was a 10 a.m. dollar show at a dying mall. As the escalator lifted me from the bowels of parking, my ears were assaulted by all manner of high pitched vocalizations. Apparently, every summer day care facility in the area decided that a morning movie was a good idea.

Armed with warm popcorn and a heavy flannel shirt, I picked the one theater of the three showing this film at this time that seemed less crowded and to have a higher ratio of authority figures to little darlings. It is July, so the warm shirt is a necessity in these venues.

This movie is better than the first sequel. Of course, the graphics and controls have evolved. But the story and characters seemed less forced. We are not talking high art, after all. There were plenty of wild takes, pratfalls, and flatulation jokes to keep the young-uns amused. There were also enough cultural references to both our modern world and to the various fairy tale universes to keep the adult intellect from nodding off.

But I was inspired to write this because of the audience. I hadn’t been to a kids movie with mostly kids since I was one of them. There never was a moment of silence from the audience. But to the credit of the herders, nannies, and moms, the dialog was only rarely drowned out. Some babies cried, some toddlers whined, and elder siblings sometimes forgot the public setting and began narrating along, until shushed. It really wasn’t too bad, once I accepted the inevitable. I’m about as adaptable as a cat, that way. Grudgingly.

I will have to see the movie again, in a venue where I can hear the nuances of the voices.

Schrecklichkeit? A German word that translates to “fearsomeness”.

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Category: American Culture, Films, Whimsy

About the Author ()

A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    I haven't gone to many kid movies at theaters — we wait for the DVD. On the other hand, I have gone to a diminishing number of non-kid movies at theaters during the past 10 years. I would estimate that at half of those movies I have felt compelled to tell someone in the audience to please be quiet. Sometimes I have to ask two or three times.

    It is incredible how so many people think that they are in their own living room and that they can talk out loud during the movie. Such behavior takes me right out of the movie, so I speak up, not out of spite but because I want to enjoy the movie, not the narration of the movie by the guy two seats away.

  2. Erika Price says:

    I've noticed that people no longer applaud in theaters after the film has finished. It's truly an inconsequential little shift- clapping for filmmakers who weren't there was quaint- but still palpable. Do we have less respect for the theater as an away-from-home special occasion? One possible reason is that moviegoing is no longer a special occasion, and that many families overindulge in it. At some point, does a movie theater just feel like a living room away from home?

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I find that usually people will only applaud a long-anticipated movie or an exceptionally good one. I remember seeing "Return of the King" in theaters several years ago and there was thunderous applause at the end of that film.

    Also, the theater experience, while it may be inextricably tied with the occasional talker, is in my opinion more memorable than just simply watching the film on DVD. During the climax of the aforementioned movie — right before Eowyn shoves a sword into the face of the Witch King of Angmar, saying "I am no man" — someone at the back of the theater shouted, "Yeah, whoop his ass!"

    Everyone had a brief and hardy laugh, and it served to remind us just how much everyone was enjoying the film. While many might have been annoyed by such a quip, it is largely because of it that I will always remember seeing that movie in theaters.

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