My view: Theaters need more crowd control

By Elena Rauch ’18 | Staff Writer

It’s cold outside, there’s nothing to do… it’s a perfect night for a movie. Walking into the Okulski Family Theater in Grosse Pointe Park to see “Jobs” (2013), I thought I was going to be able to sit back, relax, and watch the movie. However, I had no idea how wrong I was.

To kick off a movie in a theater, there’s always the cheesy, repetitive and sometimes creative short clip about cell phone use. The message is always the same — turn off your phone, or at the bare minimum, turn it on silent.

Although a few murmurs every now and then throughout the crowded theater is to be anticipated, what lied ahead of me was much worse.

With a few minutes left before the lights turn off and the movie begins, a man and his young son, maybe six to eight years old, walk into the theater. I heard the father ask a nearby woman what movie was playing, and apparently it wasn’t what he expected. Turns out, the movie “Planes” was showing the night before at the theater, and the man had intended on taking his son to see the lighthearted cartoon.

Sitting in the back of the theater with the father and son a few rows up, the movie was yet to start. The little boy started to look back at my friends and me and make funny faces, and we would laugh to each other because well, who doesn’t love a cute little kid?

Soon enough the little boy started wandering back to our chairs, talking to us and giving us some of his movie theater candy. It was cute and funny at first, but the movie was about to start at any given moment. Our new friend was still being loud and had now started climbing on chairs, and showed no sign of stopping.

I was growing anxious. Those who know me know I’m not the greatest with kids, so I didn’t really know the best way to handle this situation. Do I tell the kid to settle down? Do I go talk to his dad? Do I just ignore him and let him get bored? I went with the latter.

Sure enough, the lights went dim and our new friend was still talking to us and climbing, sometimes bouncing, on the chairs around us. I glanced in desperation to his father, who’s just laughing. Maybe he was glad to be able to watch the movie in peace?

Long story short, the first hour of the movie was, well, miserable. My friends and I were getting dirty looks from everyone surrounding us. We were taking the blame for the boy’s bad behavior! The little boy would yell at random times, climb on seats, throw candy and occasionally run back and forth to his father. Worst of all, he would not leave us alone.

I kept trying to make apologetic eye contact with all the people around me that were just trying to watch the movie. Over the noise the disruptive boy was making, the film was pretty much inaudible. Why wasn’t this boy’s father helping us?! I felt like I should have been charging a babysitting fee.

Frustrated and embarrassed, I surrendered. I called my dad and had him pick me up. Some may see my action as giving up, but I see it as escaping a bad situation.

Moral of the story, a few people scarcely using their phones in a movie theater is not the end of the world. However, a disruptive, unsupervised little boy might be getting close.

Note to parents/babysitters/older siblings: please take your kids to age appropriate movies so they won’t be bored and get into trouble. As cute as they may be, people come to a movie theater to enjoy a movie, not to entertain your child.

Don’t get me wrong, I love adorable kids, but there’s a time and a place for everything, and a movie is not a good time to let your child roam free to make new friends.

Personally, I think keeping your kids quiet and by your side should be as important as turning your phone on silent or not talking during a movie. Movie theaters should emphasize this along with all the other distractions they don’t want.