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DEBORA SHAULIS At movies, why must others get last laugh?



Published: Thu, July 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



I've seen and heard a lot of things at the movies that amaze me, and I'm not talking about what's on the silver screen.

There was the couple who brought their diaper-clad, 2-year-old son with them to see "Lethal Weapon 3." Maybe they thought he'd be napping by the time the gunfire erupted. Fat chance. The aggressive toddler slapped and kicked the back of my chair for most of the night. Better my seat than the baby sitter, I guess.

There are those loose-limbed folks who swing their legs over the chairs in front of them and put their dirty soles on what could be my armrests.

Maybe the next step in state-of-the-art movie theaters should be stadium seating with lounge chairs -- at $25 a ticket.

Surgically attached: Let's not forget about those people who elected to have their cellular phones sewn to the palms of their hands. The anesthesia apparently hasn't worn off, because they will take calls anywhere, anytime -- movies, Broadway shows, baptisms. ("Hello? Yeah, it's me. I'm in church. They're taking Chelsea up to the font now. The priest is pouring water on her head. Ooh, can you hear her crying? Wait, let me get a little closer and I'll hold out the phone.")

None of these rude folks can hold a candle, however, to the No. 1 offenders in all of movieland.

The Narrators.

You know who I'm talking about. People who think their color commentary is important to your appreciation of the flick. People with diarrhea of the mouth.

Takes all kinds: Narrators come in all makes and models. Some people associate Narrators with youth, because it's the last few generations that has grown up talking back to their cable TV programs and videos at home.

Baloney.

I've seen -- well, heard -- plenty of baby boomers and golden agers misbehavin' at the movies. Narrators have a genetic flaw, I think.

There are two subgroups of Narrators -- Forecasters and Reactors. Forecasters are especially maddening. They are pompous and ridiculous in their prognosticating. (About "Titanic": "They'll never see the icebergs through that fog.") They hold nothing sacred, especially movie endings. They also don't cash in on those offers of free refills on popcorn and soda, because that would require them to leave their virtual broadcast booths for a few minutes.

Reactors, on the other hand, are there to make sure no detail goes unrecognized, no joke goes over your head.

I unknowingly sat in front of a pair of mature Reactors last weekend at Cinemark Movies 8, where "Chocolat" was playing.

Juliette Binoche plays Vianne, a self-assured, free-spirited, somewhat mysterious chocolate maker who relocates to a village in the French countryside in the 1950s. She befriends Lena Olin's character, Josephine, a skittish woman whose husband has abused her.

Vianne drops by Josephine's squalid home with a gift of chocolate. Josephine can't wait to savor the taste of that trifle, but she spits it out at the sound of her husband's voice.

"She's crazy," said a helpful Narrator in one of many outbursts. Laaaaaaaady! You're driving me crazy!

Some are good: Only a few talented Reactors can make the moviegoing experience more enjoyable.

Such was the case a few years ago at a screening of "There's Something About Mary," the Farrelly Brothers' ode to love, manipulation, pet abuse and organic hair gel.

There was a naive middle-aged woman sitting behind me that night. She was appropriately shocked by much of what she saw. Shocked into hysteria, that is.

She had an infectious laugh, which often interrupted her loud observations: "Did you see what he ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" She was funnier than anything in that vile little movie.

She could have found the humor in a cranky child attending "Lethal Weapon 3."

XShaulis is entertainment editor. E-mail her at shaulis@vindy.com.




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