Posted at 5:10 PM on December 10, 2007
by Euan Kerr
Valerie sent in this heartfelt query as a response to a past post, and I'd like to put it to the group. What would you do?
What do you do when you encounter a small child who disrupts an age-inappropriate movie showing time? We attended an 8:00 p.m. showing of The Golden Compass on Saturday night. After we were seated, our row was entered by a family of three - a husband and wife who had brought their four-year old. He behaved as you'd expect from a tired four-year-old. In order to leave the theater during the movie, I would have had to tromp across several people, including this family. I asked them to keep it down during the movie, complained to management afterwards, and was fobbed off with future passes. My boyfriend said that my going to management was embarrassing to him because it accomplished nothing policy-wise. By the way, I'm not a MN native. Are there better options?
My local cinema (The Dominion, Edinburgh) takes all films that are new to the big screen and put them on in the morning, or early afternoon and post these on the advert as "baby and family viewing". I would suggest to your cinema that they do something similar as I am sure that the family would have been aware of the behaviour of their child and how awkward it must have been for them, and how awful the cinema experience was for everyone else. Also it does give families a chance not to miss out and have other things to talk about other than home life and nappies. Also, it is an opportunity for the cinema to make some money and stave off the whole cinema experience safe for a while from its inevitable extinction.
Hmm. I probably would have done the same thing, although I'm not sure I wouldn't have moved anyway.
It seems one of those situations where we put ourselves in the seat of the parents. Some people can tune it out or get all strangely fond for those good-old-terrible-days. It is just a kid being a kid, right? Yeah. And no. For me, if the kidlet is putting up a stink and other people can't enjoy the flick, we're outta there for a reality check. If we come back in, you can bet we'll sit somewhere away from other people. ( We can't go to nice movies! *grin* )
But isn't it just the same as any situation? I would have asked them to quiet the tired kid, just as I would ask rowdy teens to whisper. At the last movie I saw, the person put away their extremely bright cell phone just as I was leaning over to ask them to stow it. I'd rather have a short and relatively painless social moment than sit through a movie hearing the people one row back shuffling their feet and complaining about the oblivious stranger who is gazing at their cell screen.
Maybe the trouble happens when one asks - politely, please - and the rowdy/whining/talking/texters just continue in bad form?
I have a four year old and I would never have brought him to a late movie. It isn't good for him and it's rude to the other viewers. I have accepted that since I made the choice to have children, I have had to give some things up. I'm glad you said something to the parents. Maybe they will avoid making this choice in the future. And it's true that the theatre can't really do anything about the situation, but you didn't get to enjoy your movie and free passes are no real loss to them. Maybe if they get enough complaints like this, they'll use some creativity to come up with a solution.