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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't leave your movie manners at home


By Wayne Harada

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Talking on the phone during a movie is one of the more inconsiderate breaches of movie etiquette. Texting or tweeting also can be annoying because of the light from your phone.

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Incessant chattering.

Feet up on the seats.

A chirping cell phone followed by an answering voice.

As you wait for the film to start, you may have experienced these typical annoyances at your favorite movie theater.

The culprits are not teens, who often forget manners; they are adults, who should know better.

Welcome to the Seven Blunders of Movie-Going:

1. Loud talking. During the commercials, during the previews, during the films. Shut it, already. If you need to talk, whisper. Please.

2. Cell phone ringing. Hey, if you don't know, the pre-show warning about turning off electronic devices is valid. Shhhh.

3. Feet up on the seats. Bare feet would be bad enough, but with dirty shoes atop the seat in front of the offenders? Rude, rude, rude.

4. Noisy kids. Sure, children should go to films like everyone else but not to adult-oriented flicks. There are ratings for a reason; and if a child cries, head for the lobby. Please, please.

5. Outside drinks and food. It's not kosher, but commonplace, to bring your own gum or packet of mochi crunch. But try to avoid stinky food, like cuttlefish; noisy food wrapped in foil; or horrors, plate lunches with odors that add an unwanted smell-o-rama effect to the movie.

6. Personal hygiene and habits. Some folks reek of body odor, perfume; even a pua keni keni lei that might be unsettling to others; or foot-tapping from the seat behind you; or even snoring. Think about the little things that become a nuisance in the theater gallery.

7. Large hats. If you wear one, take it off once seated. There's nothing worse than a person with a huge hat, blocking your view. Remove the sun-shielder.

Where are the movie manners, you ask?

Etiquette has escaped, along with the Movietone news and short subjects (including cartoons!) of yesteryear. At a recent screening of "A Single Man," I wasn't the only one to notice an insensitive, annoying chatterbox couple. They were ho-ho-ing it up during the previews, and he even took time to make a call on his cell phone.

Even when the main film started, they babbled. Oh, she also put her shoes and feet on the tops of the seat in front of her a middle-aged woman who never learned movie etiquette.

If your cell phone rings because you forgot to turn it off, don't answer; quickly tend to end the call. If you take the call, head for the exit door.

And do not text messages; do not tweet. Even the lights of the phone are a distraction.

Use your flashlight mode only if you're a latecomer and can't see folks' feet as you make a grand entrance. Then shut that down, too. Kids? Leave them home, especially babies who won't watch the flick, if it's not a kiddie-oriented film aimed at family audiences.

Babes in arms don't pay admission and thus should be summarily banned from certain films. Parents should find a sitter; or at least have the courtesy to head for the lobby when the kid cries. Happened at an IMAX 3-D showing (a packed house) of "Avatar." Everyone paid a premium to see the blockbuster; the crying kid is not a bonus. At least the dad scurried out to the lobby three times, by my count.

If you really need to talk, whisper. A phrase would do; don't ask probing questions if you missed dialogue or don't understand the consequences of the action; this kind of dissertation can be done after the movie.

If someone talks incessantly, a firm "shhhh" might help; if it continues, don't take on a challenge head for the lobby and ask for intervention from a theater manager. They get paid for such tasks.

With the alarming prices for movie snacks, I don't blame anyone bringing in their own Red Vines or kakimochi or Dove's dark chocolates that are not available. If you bring hot dogs, please don't use foil that crinkles and makes annoying noise; if you stow away a McDonald's burger or Jack in the Box tacos, you'll stink up the viewing experience for others.

Some years ago, someone brought in a Chinese plate of noodles and beef broccoli from Patti's Chinese Kitchen, and the odor penetrated the entire theater. And it was a matinee way past lunch time, too early for dinner. What's up?

The Ward Centre theaters used to offer more healthy snack options like fresh fruit. Apples. OK, good idea, but the apple created collateral problems: crunching noises, sticky drippiness, and, ahem, some folks had the indecency to toss the core on the floor. Unwrapped. Squishy. Icky.

The worst contraband making it into theater: a bottle of wine. Honestly. This was way, way, way back, when the Kapiolani Theatre was up and running, and you knew it was vino, 'cause you could smell it when the culprit dropped the bottle and it rolled toward the front, providing the aroma of a vineyard in the process. Funny, in retrospect; shameful otherwise.

And when is the proper time to exit? To me, everyone should sit through the credits; that's part of the protocol. Usually, when films pack in outtakes or mini-vignettes amid the credit crawl, audiences will stay and chuckle. But most folks up and leave, making it impossible for those remaining who want to catch a name of a character they adored, or see the locales where the film was shot.

Clearly, if you have to exit, to pick up the kids or relieve the bladder, do it quietly and efficiently to allow those staying back to see all of the acknowledgments.

The End.

Reach Wayne Harada at 266-0926 or wayneharada@gmail.com. Read his Show Biz column in Sunday's Island Life and online at http://showandtellhawaii.honadvblogs.com.