Punch-Drunk Morning

Well, we got in to see Punch-Drunk Love last night, and it was quite the experience. Remember me mentioning the back of the ticket and its dire warnings as to overbooking and the like yesterday? (I even scanned the front and back of the ticket if you wanna see, though it’s hard to read as I had to keep it small for web purposes. Both open in a new window) Well, apparently I was one of the few who actually read the back of the ticket.

Since the screening started at 7:30, we showed up at 6:30 and took our places in line, about twenty or so back from the door. We had a near-scuffle directly behind us as an elderly Russian couple tried to insinuate themselves into the line. Sort of a vision of things to come. At this point, word had it the line was spanning two blocks. Apparently the couple knew someone on the inside, as they wound up getting in despite the scuffling.

As we entered the theater, I could tell it was going to be a great night. They had this big floor mat advertising Eminem’s new movie. It felt so good to walk on Eminem’s face and give my boots a little grind.

We wound up in a theater at the top which had the most bizarre design I’ve ever seen. It was all lopsided and angled strangely. I was going to try to explain it in words, but perhaps a crappy illustration will help. For the slower people in our audience, the circle is where we sat. The trailer was a bit disorienting, but by the time the movie started, I kinda had my bearings. But I’m skipping ahead here…

Old folks are funny. Apparently Adam Sandler has a large and loyal following of Bluehairs. Over half the row in front of us was a collection of elderly couples all out for a night together. Watching the women (hey, I’m a guy, right?) I realized why little old ladies are sometimes called old hens. The one in front of me was making a little nest out of her jacket, and as I looked down the row, I saw the others were doing the same. Of course, when the roosters got up to go to the bathroom and get some jujubes, each one of them handed their jacket to the hen. Interesting.

People continued filing in to the dinky little theater, then one of the employees (picture Wesley Snipes in Major League. Yeah, back when he was scrawny) came in to make an announcement – no seat saving allowed. Some lady off to our right decided to take exception to this and the two of them started going at it. So Willy Mays Hayes leaves and comes back with reinforcements. Big Security Goon and Cell Phone Chiquita (so named because she walked past everyone in line earlier loudly telling the person on the other end of her phone that she “had to do a screening tonight.”). The Goon had another discussion with the seatsaver while CPQ starts quizzing everyone about the empty seat around them.

Near the end of the hubbub, we get our first word from the front lines. One of the guys behind us has just returned from the snack bar where he got a peek at what was happening outside. No one who had been waiting in line had read the back of their pass and were getting quite upset as they had it pointed out to them. Apparently there was much pushing, yelling and finger-waving going on outside. Nice!

Seven thirty comes and the movie starts. I’ll start off with this: when the movie was over we went back to Barb’s office to check IMDb and see how long it was. Eighty-nine minutes. It felt like three hours. I suppose there could be an advantage to that – you feel like you’ve gotten a full three hours of movie and when you’re done you still have a lot of night left to do other things.

The first hour or so really dragged along. Things were happening, there were a few chuckles and I could see what the director was doing. He did a great job of setting up the mood and bringing you into Sandler’s character through his weird camera angles, out of focus moments, jerky camera movements and the like. And the light flares, my GOD the light flares. It was like the cinematographer was a Photoshop newbie who’s just found the “filters” menu. Anyway, all of this camerawork really has you feeling Sandler’s feelings. The only problem is, an hour’s way too long to set a mood. Especially when you would think this movie was shot by an amateur if you hadn’t read the credits or understood what was being conveyed. Uncomfortable. Awkward. We’ve got it. Let’s move on already.

That last half hour is really, really good, in part due to the fact that something is finally happening. No more weird scrambling back and forth. No more intentionally poor camerawork. We have a story going, folks! And then… it’s over.

This is one of those movies you walk out of thinking “What an AWESOME movie!” then realize that it was just the last part that was awesome and the rest of it drove you crazy. My suggestion? Wait for video. There’ll be a few things you’ll want to back up and check out again. If you pick up the DVD, perhaps there’ll be a bit in there from Mr. Anderson explaining the deeper meaning behind all of the lens flares in the movie. I know there was a reason, but I was too busy watching to pay attention.

Anyways, go see something else at the theater and wait for the DVD on this one. If you’re my parents, don’t even bother with that. Trust me.