I was in eighth grade when The Aviator came out. Too young to go to a movie alone (can’t drive) and too old to go with my parents (not “cool”), I asked my friend Amanda to go see it with me. I was very excited about the movie. Though she shared my love of Leonardo DiCaprio, Amanda did not share my enthusiasm for historical biopics. She fell asleep almost immediately and never got to see Howard Hughes carefully arrange his little blue peas on a plate. When she woke up about halfway through the movie, she told me she was bored and called her mom to pick her up. She really left! I finished the movie and walked home.
I decided right then that the best way to see a movie was alone. But I was 14, and that proved difficult. Now I’m 29 and I will only see movies with other people if there are extenuating circumstances.
Watching a movie is best as a solitary experience, which is something that we just need to admit to ourselves. And yet, going to dinner and a movie is still heeded as an ideal date. (Movies are a terrible date idea. Really, truly awful. Please tell me about a time you enjoyed seeing a movie with a human you know approximately 14 things about, and most of those 14 things are siblings and food preferences.)
When you read a book, you read it by yourself and later discuss it with other people who have also read that book. This is how we should watch movies. Whenever I watch a movie with someone else, I find myself watching it through their eyes and brains and emotions in addition to my own. Sometimes this is enough to ruin a first-time viewing of a movie experience (The Aviator). I want my first impression of a movie to be filtered through my brain and my brain only.
Are you wondering if there is a single correct way to go to the movies? Of course there is. Please consult this list that has been honed over 15 years of practice:
You show up to the theater by yourself a half-hour before showtime. You purchase your ticket, and because you showed up so early, you have your pick of seats. You select one in the very middle of the third-to-last row. You get snacks: a medium popcorn and a package of Twizzlers. You purchase a bottle of water that you can sip from in case a rogue piece of popcorn kernel gets caught in your throat and makes you cough. Or you get thirsty. But! This is not the time to drink for fun. You can’t be trusted to drink too much because then you’ll have to pee. You walk to your seat and deposit your snacks and your various weather-related accoutrements. You go to the bathroom. You walk back to the theater. You open your package of Twizzlers by peeling down the entire back seam of the package, opening it, and laying them flat on the armrest. Now you shan’t disturb anyone with the piercing crackle of plastic wrap when you want your licorice treat. You scroll through your phone for a little bit. You go to the bathroom again (just in case!) You come back to your seat and turn your phone off — yes, off! The lights dim. You are now properly prepared to watch a movie.
I haven’t done a ton of research, but anecdotally this method will improve your movie viewing experience by about 500 percent. Or maybe you are fine with showing up late with three other people and unwrapping individual hard candies for two hours. Either way, I am correct.