Columns, Opinion

DONNELLY: No, it’s just me: A solo cinema endeavor

When Mo’Nique threw caution to the wind and a hefty TV set down the middle of a stairwell at her daughter, I wondered, as I gently laughed at Precious’ misfortune, if I would have been within the same right with a decent human being beside me instead of an empty seat. Status: Unlikely.

Moreover, would several quite-audible groans and powerful arm flairs aimed at the dirty politics played in ‘Madagascar 2’ have been as effective if the resulting wave of spilled Coke hit a pair of size two Velcro hi-tops instead of untouched carpet? I’m just not sure they would have. Little Mindy would have thrown a tantrum and my point would have been lost on the masses.

It troubles me to know that the stuff of humiliation pangs and self-consciousness for most is something in which I revel. A few years passed before I determined the standard movie-goer would like nothing more at a matinee than to yell out ‘Jennifer Aniston!’ with friends at the screen in response to a yo-yo diet trivia question. A few more went by before I concluded there was a greater success rate in nailing those responsible with two handfuls of Buncha Crunch instead of one.

Call me crazy, but I don’t understand the reservation with being alone in a movie theatre. It’s unlit, your conversations are drowned out by tugboat explosions and Keanu Reeve’s interrogatives-for-statements and the row you finally decide to sit in almost always smells like turpentine. Besides, what makes you so important that you’d rather stay at home than be caught dead at a 7 p.m. showing by yourself?

Take a look around ‘- I’m sure most of your acquaintances aren’t thrilled to have you around in restaurants or at parties. So why the desperation to be part of a herd at the Regal Fenway 13? Ask anyone; you’re just as much a displeasure there as you were on Wednesday at T.G.I. Friday’s. It’s really more a benefit than anything else to give this a shot now before it’s forced upon you somewhere down the road.

Besides, it can be fun! Independence at the movies means you don’t have to pretend to be interested in Meryl Streep or her Oscar potential. Suddenly, you’ll learn, you have free reign to belly laugh at the wit of Raven Symon’eacute; instead of force a grimace, and you can express your love of all things Dakota Fanning without the judgmental gaping of the armrest opponent to your left. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.

Think back to your first big silver screen outing without parents. You’re armed with a jumbo pack of Sour Patch Watermelon and your snap pants are in perfect proportion to an open-buttoned Hawaiian short-sleeve. ‘My Dog Skip’ is halfway through and Frankie Muniz has just dropped the ball. THWAP! His Jack Russell terrier gets nailed all over by a shovel and time stops. The next few moments are crucial, and your forearms are trembling.

I ask: Why the unnecessary pressure? Girls, wouldn’t it have been cathartic to laugh at the scene’s absurdity without immediate, unexplained expulsion from Lisa Frank’s gossip corner? And guys, wouldn’t it have been all-too liberating to let loose that lump in your throat held in place by a single thread? Everyone around you knows the truth behind your sudden cough or sneeze. This isn’t pre-algebra.

How long will it take us to realize that $11 would be better spent in solitude than answering pestering questions surrounding the plot line of ‘Bride Wars?’ How many ‘Saws’ must we cycle through before we realize that the only hand we have to hold onto at the end of the night is our own? Raisinettes are for licking and leaving in cup holders, not sharing; your restless toes for swift kicks to the chair in front of you, not a sudden incursion of footsies.

So, with Thanksgiving approaching, take a chance at home with some theater alone time. See if you can’t out-gaze ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats.’ Surf lightly on the waves of apocalypse in ‘2012’ and don’t head home until you’ve thought long and hard about why production teams continue to cast Sandra Bullock in leads when her last few efforts have flopped harder than ‘The Happening.’ Finally, see how long you can stand Jim Carrey’s voice as a cartoon without running out and spending the rest of the night shooting up wildlife in the lobby’s ‘Deer Hunter?’

If that doesn’t convince you, stop being so selfish and consider the more severe ramifications of motion picture neediness. The art of going-it-alone has been almost totally lost on the whole of us, and the resulting disaster is unavoidable. Didn’t catch the subtle health care commentary in ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua?’ It’s your own fault. The mobile uploading of your date’s stray black popcorn kernel can certainly wait for the drive home. The fate of the uninsured won’t.

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