Monday, March 7, 2011

Proper Alamo Drafthouse Etiquette

Last night Padawan, Master Plo Koon, and I went to see Rango, starring Johnny Depp, at our local favorite movie theater, the Alamo Drafthouse.  For those of you who don't live in Texas, you are missing a fine experience for movie going.

The Alamo is a fine establishment dedicated to superior customer service. They make it extremely clear with sarcastic, biting, clever advertisements that you do not ruin someone else's movie experience. They have several rules which make it very difficult for you to ruin someone else's experience. My favorite one being absolutely no children under the age of six allowed, and anyone under eighteen must be with a parent or guardian. 

Nothing ruins a trip to the movies faster than a child screaming and throwing a tantrum, or getting up to run around the theater because they don't want to sit still, and the parents are too lazy and/or stupid to teach their children how to behave in public.  And giggly teenagers who do nothing but talk through the movie? No. You don't have to worry about that.

As for cell phone users? Not an issue at the Drafthouse.

"From this moment on, this auditorium is officially a NO TALKING ZONE. Keep your mouth shut and your cell phones silent, dark, and in your pockets. We don't want to be rude about this, but we will if we have to. NO TALKING. And for the record, texting and tweeting totally count as talking. If there's a table near you that is loud or disruptive, raise a flag and a manager will take care of the problem."

Or occasionally they'll use bits from movies.

Some people find these ads offensive or over kill or unnecessary. Some people even say it's like movie theater Nazi-ism. Those people, however, are stupid. I always love these bits, because it makes the point really obvious. Respect everyone else in the theater and don't be an ass because everybody paid for their experience.

I've been going to the Alamo with my family for years, and I've been going without them since I turned eighteen and became old enough to go without a parent or guardian. And in all of those years I had never seen anyone blatantly flout the rules of the Alamo Drafthouse during a movie.

Not until last night.

I had the unfortunate bad luck to be seated next to the only true asshole in the entire theater. This man was in the movie with his wife and three children. His well behaved children, I might point out. And while his wife was a snorter, that wasn't bothersome.

What bothered me was ten minutes into the movie I was distracted by a glowing cell phone screen suddenly appearing next to me. To my utter amazement, irritation, and horror the man pulled out his cell phone and started texting. And again. And again. And again and a-fucking-gain. 

All fucking two hours. 

He never stopped texting.

I have no idea who he was texting. I don't care. If you have a life that is so fucking important you can't pause it for two hours while you watch a movie with your wife and children in a public movie theater, then you have no business being in the movie theater. He was ruining my time because every five seconds I would hear buzz, buzz, buzzzzzzzz. 

He didn't even have the damned decency to turn off the vibrate option. 

I had no choice. I wrote on a flag, "The man to my left has been texting the entire time and it's annoying me." I put it up like I was ordering more food, and I sat back to relax. It just so happened when our waiter came by and read my complaint, the moron next to me had his phone up and was responding to a text. So the waiter saw for himself the complete rudeness.

"Sir, turn your cell phone off or leave the theater, please. You are disturbing the other patrons. If you take it out again you will need to leave."

The man nodded, flipped the phone closed, and put it in his pocket. 

For all of five seconds. 

As soon as our waiter had gone, he pulled it right back out and carried on his conversation. 

What a fucking douche bag! 

Unfortunately the movie ended ten minutes later and he wasn't kicked out. But he SHOULD have been. 

I realize that there are a lot of people out there that go to average movie theaters and think, "Well, I'm paying to be here, so I can do what I want." This is precisely why I don't go to the mall to see a movie. Nobody enforces any kind of code of behavior. Talkers can talk, texters can text, tweeters can tweet and nobody will say anything. The thing is everybody paid to be there though, and everybody paid with the expectation of enjoying a movie. I didn't pay to be distracted by an asshole who wouldn't turn off his cell phone. 

Am I alone in this, or do you guys feel the same way?

PS. Though it was impossible to fully appreciate the movie because I was distracted by Mr. Asshole, the movie itself was still funny. Despite thick Southern accents, I want to see it again. I especially loved Jake Rattlesnake. He was awesome. Also, I loved the opening scene. Poor lonely little lizard...It has an interesting combination of kiddie and adult humor that makes it fun for everyone to watch. Master Plo Koon as expressed interest in seeing it again as well. Maybe we will. I know I missed a few things the first time through. 


  1. We live in a strange age where people can't stop texting what they're doing long enough to actually do it. Everyone's mind seems elsewhere.

    I agree with those rules. I only maybe take issue with the one about no one under 18 being allowed in without a guardian. However, as the story went on and you mentioned something about a "waiter", I gathered that this wasn't a typical movie theater. Given the "Drafthouse" in the title, I assume alcohol is served, which would make the age stipulation perfectly understandable.

    As far as cell phones, I must confess that I sometimes forget to turn my off at the movies. This is only because I don't use it very often. I would never pull it out in the middle of a movie and start texting or having a conversation. If I pay to see a movie in the theater it's...I dunno, maybe a movie I actually want to see. However, once it did get a call in the middle of a movie. It was embarrassing, as the ringtone was very loud. I quickly silenced the phone and turned it off.

  2. Yes, the Drafthouse has a bar in the lobby and a full drink menu as well as a food menu with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and non-alcoholic beverages. It's dinner and a movie and drinks all at the same time, and it's fabulous. That's why no one under eighteen is allowed without a parent or legal guardian. They cater to an adult demographic and I love it.

    I know that sometimes people forget to silence cell phones and occasional accidents are forgivable. Sometimes you just forget, and most theaters aren't as in your face about reminding you to turn it off as the Drafthouse is. Nobody would hold an accidental ringing against you.

  3. Awesome place. I have wanted a similar theater in my area for some time, but I am not sure how they are able to eject paying customers on rules that generally cannot be enforced, which is why most theaters suck. Maybe it being a bar or something...or the laws in Texas are just kick ass for moviegoers.

  4. Yes, I wish they had one of those dinner and movie type combo places around here. Although, I do love that movie popcorn. Somehow it's just not as good anywhere else.

  5. I read about this theater just this week in the Entertainment Weekly. Sounds pretty cool. And the ticket price isn't even exorbitant, is it?
    We have a couple of second-run theaters like this in Denver, but they're not great theaters with not great seating and not great food. And no warning signs about getting ousted for being annoying. Despite your recent experience, you should feel lucky.
    It Just Got Interesting

  6. They have really big bouncers. I've never seen anyone break the rules, but I have seen people being escorted out of theaters I wasn't in. Apparently the Ritz location has to frequently remove rude patrons, and people generally applaud the employees. I think EVERYWHERE should have a theater like the Drafthouse.

  7. Bryan, the Drafthouse also serves popcorn. With REAL butter. Not butter flavored vegetable oil.

    Brent, nine dollars for regular admission. I get mine for 8 because I have a student ID. And it's a really good price considering they're going out of their way to make sure you have a good time. The food is also awesome. The have the best ranch dressing EVER.

  8. What's their policy on taking pictures of the screen with a camera phone? Zing!

    Sorry, somebody had to say it.

  9. Those pictures were actually taken with permission for an article ran about the Drafthouse and the awesome vibe you experience when you go there. I didn't take the pictures myself. I merely stole them from an online magazine. :P

  10. Oh, well that's a different issue entirely then, isn't it? :)

  11. Yes. I did a bad thing. Bad, Chanel! Bad!


    I am reminded of the time Tyler and I went to see "The Bourne Something or other..." (You know, the second one?) Some loud-mouthed wench was jawing away in the row behind us. Everyone kept looking back at her, trying to give her a silent hint to shut up. She actually caught Tyler glaring at her and said: "Turn around. What are you staring at me for? You're not paying to look at me!"

    Chanel, I have never been prouder of my smart-mouthed husband as I was when he whipped back at that girl without missing a beat: "I'm not paying to listen to you, either!" The girl spluttered for a minute, but finally shut up.

    If I ever have the chance, I am totally going to that theater. It sounds awesome! And thanks for the review on "Rango", by the way. I've been wondering if it's any good or not. :)

  13. First of all, if you pay to see a movie, you should see the freaking movie.

    Candice's story was HILARIOUS, and I agree with her about the Rango review curiosity...I couldn't tell from the previews.

  14. Candice, good for Tyler! I can't believe she was dumb enough to leave herself open for that one. She probably thought she was being clever. As for the Bourne Something movie...I think there are like four of them but I don't know their names...I think it's like Identity and Ultimatum and Investigation and Death. I think.

    No, wait. Padawan says I'm being completely insulting to the movies. He says the second one is called Borne Supremacy. It's a guy thing, I think.

    You're welcome. It really was a funny movie. Sometimes the laughter in the theater was so loud I couldn't even hear Padawan's giggles. I chuckles. Men don't giggle. They chuckle.

    Nicki, I wasn't really sure what the movie was about based on the previews. I wasn't sure if I was going to love it or hate it. I was pleasantly surprised. But then...Johnny Depp is awesome. And I don't know what planet that guy was from...but if you pay to see a movie with your family, you should probably at least feign interest. I love Johnny Depp's Rango more than Captain Jack Sparrow. And that's saying a lot because Jack Sparrow made me laugh a lot.

  15. We don't have an Alamo close to the house, but we do have a Studio Movie Grill - pretty close to the same, just without the kickass "keep your mouth shut" messages.

    I'm more aggressive that you. I would have said something to the jerk. In fact, I once almost got into a fight with two teenage guys at a drive-in movie because they were messing with my movie-going experience. They eventually drove away. I'm guessing the skinny "42" year old was more crazy than scary, but whatever works.

  16. I'm 32, but apparently some folks think I look like a 45 year-old twink.

  17. It's not that I'm not aggressive. I knew how it would go down if I said something. It would have been something like, "Hey, do you mind? I'm actually trying to watch the movie I paid to see. Can you stop?" and he would have said, "Mind your own business," and then I would have started a scene. And Padawan hates it when I start a scene. And then I would have been kicked out, too. And that would have served no purpose. I did the thing I was supposed to do. Just not soon enough.

    I didn't think you were like 45, but let's be honest. When you're 22, 32 is almost as ancient as 45. And speaking of Charles' blog...What was with that picture?????

  18. We have things like that where a movie clip will have a voice over by annoying teen girl voice...and they say something like "we don't add our soundtrack to your life--don't add it to our film" or the like. Then a warning about turning off phones but I like yours a whole lot more-haha. We also have no theatres with waiters-that's exciting!!! The kids I nanny for saw that movie on Saturday night and said they loved it. I'm a sucked for kids movies...I'll have to give it a go.

  19. Ours is But most of us like it that way. The only people who complain about how in your face the cell phone ads are...are the people it's directed at.

    There's an Alamo Drafthouse that just opened up in Virginia. Maybe one day you will get one, too, and then you can enjoy the greatness that is drinks, dinner, and a movie all at the same time.

    And if you see it you have to let me know what you thought. That goes for EVERYBODY by the way, not just Jewels.

  20. Um, I did not pose with a dildo. I don't remember what the picture actually was, but it was not a dildo. The magic of photoshop in action.

  21. I need to get in on this Photoshop thing...That answers my question then. No need to ask, "What was Mrs. Cheese's thought on that picture?" Obviously it is not real.

    Still. Does that mean he loses because he didn't make a comic?

  22. Yeah, I'm prounouncing him the loser. He offered to let me guest post, so that's something. Only thing is - his stuff really is funnier than mine, so I'm scared to even attempt it.

  23. Yay for Doug! Congratulations on your win!

    He's not funnier than you. You two are the same amount of funny, just different kinds of funny.

  24. Sounds like an awesome place. St George has nothing like it. Salt Lake had one similar that I loved, but I have never seen a theater take such a harsh (by harsh I mean fantastic) stance on people being rude. I wish all theaters reinforced the basic golden rule. I would pay a dollar or two more to go to the theater I knew would take care of these issues. My wife, as a teacher, is very quick to tell people to put their phones away. I am very proud of her.

  25. With all the articles about it, maybe other people will open their own versions everywhere. But once you a see a movie this way, it ruins regular theaters for you. You'll never want to sit in a regular cinema again.

  26. Thank you. That is one of the best compliments I have gotten in a while. So, either it was an awesome super-duper compliment, or my life is sadly lacking in positive reinforcement.

  27. I just saw a Yahoo story on this place and it made me think of this post.

  28. Yeah. That girl was lying through the first half. First she said she WASN'T texting, then she said she was and that nobody else seemed to care. Either way, it says right there on the screen, "Don't talk or text, or we'll take your ass out." That's the way it's always been, and she deserved it. Now they show that girl's recording at every rated R movie playing at the Drafthouse. "The Magnated stated of America." What does that even mean?

  29. Who can try to decipher what most of these idiots are trying to say? They try to use big words and it almost always back fires on them.

  30. But...United isn't really a big word...

    Maybe she was trying to say, "magnanimous United States of America." know, she might just be that stupid.


My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog