It was a summer Saturday night and Vicky and me were itching to go check out a movie. So, we headed over to the Newport Center Mall in Jersey City. There wasn’t a whole lot playing, so we settled for William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. We figured Claire Danes was pretty cool in My So-Called Life and Leonardo DiCaprio was good in This Boy’s Life.
So, we settled in and the theater was about half full. There must have been some sort of babysitter shortage, because there were three different teen-parents that brought their infants along to enjoy the evening showing.
It was a pleasant surprise to me that while the setting of the movie was updated, the dialogue was the original Shakespearean stuff. I thought that was a cool twist, but it didn’t seem to play well in Jersey City.
Maybe five minutes had gone by in the movie when a guy yelled out, “What the hell is he saying?” From there on, the audience was alive. That guy decided that it would be funny to shout out “What the hell is he saying?” about every five minutes.
Then the babies started in with the crying. I couldn’t really blame them. I sure didn’t want to watch a Shakespeare movie when I was a baby. And I’d imagine babies don’t want to even watch a Barney movie in a big dark room with a guy shouting “What the hell is he saying?”. I thought maybe I could ignore the baby noise, and then a domestic squabble broke out a few rows behind us.
They were out in the hallway before the movie started. It was a double date and one of the guys must not have wanted his date, because he was filthy drunk. He was lying on the carpet outside of the entrance and I figured he wouldn’t be a problem – it seemed like he was 10 minutes from passing out. Anyhow, this guy starts shouting how his date is a ho and this and that.
I look back and all four of them are standing up shouting. The movie is about halfway done and if I didn’t know the story, I wouldn’t know what the hell anybody was saying. We were debating making an exit and catching the flick on video in a few months, and then the back doors flew open.
Literally 100 people must have poured into the theater and filtered into the seats. Given my previous expertise as a movie theater usher, I knew this move. They were hiding out in between the end of the movie they paid to see and the start of the second movie they were going to see for free.
Some people might call them cinema vigilantes, but I think of them more as cheap, scumbag, movie-stealing, disruptive, inconsiderate, rat bastards.
The new influx of film fans were not crazy for the Shakespeare thing either, and open mic night broke out all over the theater. There were a few guys that were trying to repeat the lines of the movie while doing what they imagined to be martial arts moves. Another guy just started singing, while groups of people engaged in loud conversations. And still some others were playing tag in the aisles.
After the movie, I had a revelation: either we were on the verge of the apocalypse, or it was just time to move back to the suburbs.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet is available on Amazon in Blu-Ray, DVD, and Amazon Instant Video.