Over the weekend Earl and I went to see “Spider-man 3”. I am a huge fan of the live action version of superhero sagas and despite the mixed reviews I had read about this film I was excited to see it. We opted to see it at the one local megaplex we have in this area.

This was a mistake.

First of all, the movie wasn’t half bad. There were a number of plot holes and convenient coincidences that I found hard to overlook, but for the most part I didn’t feel like we wasted the money by seeing the movie. In summary but without plot spoilers, I’d say it was a good movie but the weakest of the Spider-man films to date. At one point, Peter Parker and Spidey reminded me of Evil Dynagirl though.

Evil Dynagirl

Even though this was the second weekend of the movie’s run the theatre was close to sold out. Earl and I selected a seat about halfway up the stadium seating arrangement and sat on the end. The theatre filled up rapidly after we got ourselves situated. About five minutes after we sat a group of four women parked in the row behind us. I knew they were there because one of them kicked the back of my seat twice and they were all clucking away as if they were laying eggs. To add to the ambience, one of the ladies decided to make several calls to 411 (information) to get various numbers for businesses unrelated to entertainment. I could somewhat understand if she wanted to make reservations for dinner after the show or whatever, but she was calling places such as Verizon and Jiffy-Lube, both which are presumably closed on a Saturday night after 9 p.m. Luckily, they moved to a higher perch in the back of the theatre before long.

That was a close call.

In front of a us was a couple that seemed like they were really into the Spidey-thing, as he was wearing a Spider-man shirt and he had that “I’m a geek” thing going on. I know that ‘thing’ because I also have that ‘thing’. Geekdar is quite similar to gaydar. As I was sizing up this couple and determining if they were cell phone friendly or not, in came a family of five, including three very young children, who parked in front of the Spidey-couple. They were loud and played unintentional musical chairs several times before getting settled in.

By then it was time for the previews, where people started pouring in by the droves. “Excuse me, is your seat taken?”, asked one; “Why do they turn off the lights for the preview?”, asked another.

Here’s where I started getting cranky. A group of ten or so teenagers came in and sat in the front row and fired up their cell phones. Now, having a short attention span and all, I am easily distracted by flashing lights and shiny objects. Having ten kids in the front row texting away on their cell phones detracts from the whole cinematic experience. I find it hard to concentrate on the big screen when there’s ten little screen vying for my attention in my peripheral vision.

The whole experience went downhill from there when one man must have thought that we were at Rocky Horror and he started yelling out lines and directions at the screen. “Cry!” “Kiss her!” “Throw your spideyweb!” The texters started talking, loud enough that I could hear them almost 3/4 of the way back in the theatre and to the point where an elderly gentleman cuffed one of them upside the head and said, “I paid to watch this movie – shut up!” The parents in the family of five two rows in front of us opted to ignore their children. They turned a deaf ear to the crying and the whining and the pleas for a potty break. On the other hand, there was more traffic up and down the aisles and in and out the doors than there were at the Dollar General during half price day/double coupon day.

The situation was out of control.

I was about ready to lose my mind when I decided that it really wasn’t worth it. I figured the movie wasn’t as good as the first two so I wasn’t really missing anything there and we’d buy it on DVD anyway. I mentioned the experience to Earl afterward when he simply said “times are changing.”

This prompts a couple of questions worth discussion.

1. What does the fact that it’s the 21st century and not 1975 have to do with sitting quietly in a theatre and enjoying the picture?

2. Why does the use of technology (cell phones) trump simple etiquette? Why don’t parents teach their kids to use said technology responsibly? When I was a kid if I did something ludicruous with the telephone, such as scream “WHAT?” as loudly and shrilly as I could into the receiver when someone was phoning, my mother cuffed me upside the head and taught me better.

3. Why do people feel like they can talk all through a movie now? What happened to sitting quietly, enjoying the picture, snuggling up with your friend and/or anyone else around you and sharing a popcorn and a pop?

4. Why can’t movie theatre owners build theatres that reject any type of cell phone signal reception and post “warning labels” outside the theatre warning people of this? Heck, I’d pay *extra* to watch a movie in a cell free zone.

I’ve always considered myself a happy, progressive type of guy. I embrace and use technology where and whenever possible. But by doing so, it doesn’t mean that I abandoned the common courtesy and respect I learned as a child.