Am I a curmudgeon like ‘Otto’ or has the movie experience gotten worse

Until a few days ago, I had not been to a movie theater since COVID struck.

And based on my recent experience, it may be another four years before I go again. 

This is not a complaint essay; this is just a factual representation of my experience.

I have been a Tom Hanks fan for a very long time and so I wanted my return to the theater to be something I could really enjoy. The movie trailers for ”A Man Called Otto,” featuring Hanks and his son, seemed the ideal solution. Hanks’ character portrays an out-of-touch curmudgeon, angry at the world and everyone in it because life is just not fair. Many people will tell you, I carry some of those same traits.

So I went to the movies for a little fun and some smiles. I mean, after all, this was Tom Hanks.

The first thing I encountered was sticker shock. A large coke, a movie staple back in my day, cost me $5.15 and I had to learn. But the real eye-popper was the $9.19 for a large popcorn, which filled up a bag slightly smaller than a McDonald’s bag. The movie must have been about $9.00 per ticket because the total bill for two came to just under $33.00.

The second thing I encountered was trying to figure out how to get the actual ticket. Between all the buttons and the “insert your credit card here” issues, I began wishing for the days of the hungover teenager in the ticket booth along with the guy who took your ticket looking even more out of it. At least they didn’t demand things you did not know how to do. 

Once I got into the theater, I was treated to three Progressive Insurance commercials, which I had already watched during NFL games on TV. Bank commercials also popped up, as did a variety of “go buy our popcorn” commercials. So I was paying $33 to watch commercials that I had already seen. 

Then came the previews, which used to be entertaining back in the day. The first one was a totally incomprehensible trailer for the latest Marvel movie, as if the same group of folks who watch Tom Hanks would have the slightest bit of interest in the split-second sequence jumps that are the Marvel generation. At least now I understand what ADHD must feel like. It went on for at least two minutes and by the end, I concluded that that movie was one I would never see.

The rest of the previews were less offensive but not a single one was anything comparable to the better films I have seen on Netflix and Hulu. After watching five previews, I decided that the industry, even with all its new technology, had lost touch with the older mainstream generation.

That decision was re-emphasized in the new Hanks movie. The plot was predictable, and was Hollywoodized to include every ethnic and sexual orientation possible. There was the strong Hispanic woman married to the inept WASP guy … the 20-ish male who had changed his sex … the Black family … and, of course, the feral cat.

 I figured the movie producers did some serious research and discovered that more cat-lovers like Hanks. Otherwise, it would have been a dog. The storyline was full of clichés that reflected the way Hollywood thinks the mainstream old folks like me think.

It was also a movie that had at least three false endings, the ones where the storyline is concluded but the movie keeps going on. I was glad when the final credits started.

So I probably won’t go back to a movie in the theater again unless there is a special reason. The cost is too high, the theater entry is too complicated, and the movie seemed to want to touch all the current hot social issues. I go to the movies to escape real life conflict, not encounter it

Maybe it is the fact that, like Otto, I have become a curmudgeon — a “Get Off My Lawn” kind of guy who just can’t justify paying $9.19 for a large popcorn. I am thinking Otto would have just as soon stayed home and watched Netflix, or maybe a football game, than sit through what I encountered.

To be honest, I was very much excited to go “back to the movies” and see one of my favorite actors. It is hard to measure my disappointment. I’m wondering if others feel the same way

Maybe they do since only five other folks were in the movie theater.