Sunday, July 22, 2012

A true cinematic caper: Film at 11

(From today's Times and News-Star)

Although picture show management frowns on people carrying concessions into the theatre, this does not stop us from doing it. Most people get away with it.

But not everybody. Not all the time.

A grandmother I know – we’ll call her The Matinee Momma, alias Cinematic Sally, alias Showtime Susie – has long prided herself on hauling edible loot and grandchildren to summertime movies. Often they see Disney pictures promoting the high moral roads of loyalty, goodness, justice and brotherly love. Nothing says justice quite like low overhead/high profit. (I’m thinking here of an $8 tub of 75-cent popcorn and a $25 Nestle Crunch.)

In a valiant attempt to beat The Man, The Matinee Momma – alias Reel Rebel Rhonda, alias Picture Show Paula, alias Movietime MawMaw – for years upon years has sneaked eats and drinks into cinemas all over north Louisiana. Literally, she was packing.

But not heat. Just eats. In a purse the size of Mickey Rooney.

One this particular mid-week afternoon, she paid for five tickets for an animated afternoon matinee. A grandmother and four of her grandchildren. Nothing to see here, right?

(Side note: One of her older grandchildren has for years refused to go on these outings, or “sprees,” as I like to call them, because she “knew grandmomma was gonna get caught someday.” Sure enough, “someday” was this day a couple of weeks ago. This particular grandchild, “The One With No Record,” as she is now referred to in the family, is still grateful for her foresight. And for Netflix.)

The group handed over their tickets and quick-stepped toward the theatre. It was at this point that an overeager teenaged summer hire asked The Matinee Momma if she maybe, you know, had anything in her purse, like possibly concessions, or the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers.

If looks could kill.

“Taking food into the show’s illegal, you know,” the usher said.

It was here that my criminally minded friend stole a line from the original “Bad News Bears” movie and said, “So is murder. Shut up before you get me in REAL trouble.”

They continued with purpose into the door, down the aisle and to their seats, this grandmother and her impressionable grandchildren, (a.k.a, The Dalton Gang). When a reasonable amount of time had passed, she opened her purse and passed out four bags of popcorn and four drinks.

Should have gotten twist tops. The tab-top “Pzzzzzz POP!” is what gave the crew away, but only because the simultaneous openings sounded like mortars going off, or a fireworks show.

The young manager showed up, in the dark, during the movie. He was nice and reasonable but still the grandkids cowered a bit, having never seen their grandmother asked to assume the position. Ever been frisked for Milk Duds? It makes the airport security check seem like child’s play.

In classic Matinee Momma fashion, she turned things around and asked the dutiful manager, “So, what do you want me to do? Throw it all out? Send it to starving kids in China? Give you $157 dollars for five popcorns and five drinks? What will it BE?”



“I missed what Lord Macintosh just said,” some kid whined. “Please, please make it stop! Oh, the humanity!!!”

It’s over now. The food’s been dumped, along with any grandchild’s hopes of a really big score, like maybe someday sneaking in a No. 6 from Wendy’s. It’s not that crime doesn’t always pay. It’s just that, hey, that’s showbiz.