I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
By Joshua Miller: Facebook
What I’m Thankful For:
Shitty Movie Theaters
I have a soft spot for shitty movie theaters.
Likely this is just because a good percentage of my formative movie-attending years were spent inside them. But I think there is a certain purity to shitty movie theaters too. It is hard to consider your evening a Night On The Town experience if you’re crammed into a tiny sweaty, sticky disaster of a theater. At that point it is just about the movie you are seeing. Multiplexes are great for going on dates, cause in that context the film is mostly a macguffin to bring you and the lady/fella together. “What do you want to see?” “I don’t really care. Anything look good to you?” That’s a McMultiplex conversation. If you and your date are at a shitty movie theater, that generally implies it is because of a specific interest in the film you are seeing.
Some Chewers have griped in the past about how frequently we champion great movie theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse or the New Beverly Cinema, movie theaters most people will likely never plant their asses in. Well, I’d like to sing an ode to three movie theaters that you’re probably better off never having entered, but which will always hold a special nostalgic place in my frosty heart.
1. The Walker Theater
The year I was born my dad built a cabin on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota. Despite its unfortunate name, it was a great lake. It was also in the middle of fucking nowhere. The closest real town was Walker, which had a population of maybe 900 people. They did have a single screen movie theater though. As I remember it, it looked like it was probably built in the 30’s or 40’s. Because of Walker’s seclusion, the theater got movies many months behind their regular release date. And kept them for long runs. This meant that even if we were at the cabin for several weeks, they’d likely have the same film the whole time. Like most little kids, I had a high tolerance for rewatching the same film over and over and over again (my mom still loves to complain that I got her to take me to see Back to the Future seven times in the theater), but my parents and older siblings did not share my enthusiasm. So even though I generally didn’t care about the film Walker was showing, or had seen it months ago, the one and only time we’d go see a film “in town” was a special treat for me; usually accompanied by a visit to Walker’s pizzeria. For some reason, my most vivid film memory from Walker was seeing Iron Eagle.
2. Eden Prairie West
Eden Prairie Center was/is a mall in the suburb of Eden Prairie, MN, and it was my stomping grounds in junior high. I was a mallrat, which made the fact that Kevin Smith ended up shooting Mallrats at Eden Prairie Center incredibly surreal for my lil’ brain. The mall had two movie theaters on opposite sides, both owned by United Artists Theaters. Eden Prairie East was the newer theater, and was nice and clean. Eden Prairie West was a shithole. In high school several of my friends and I got jobs at Eden Prairie West. Ultimately I learned to hate working at a movie theater, but that was mostly the customer service aspect and the fact that our bosses were pathetic 20somethings who seemed to resent the fact that my friends and I were all going to college after graduation. We also had a guy who liked to jerk off in the theaters. But there were good times at Eden Prairie West too. Namely the employee screenings. Every Thursday night, after we shut the theater down (usually around midnight), we’d play a film for the employees and whatever friends we wanted to bring. It had the same vibe as a movie night at home, but on the big ass screen. During the school year, my friends and I would usually roll into class half-asleep because we stayed up until 3am watching The Lost World: Jurassic Park or whatever else was coming out.
3. Yorktown Theater
Of all the shitty theaters I’ve frequented in my life, none were as shitty as Yorktown. Housed in a strip mall in suburban Edina, MN, there were three screens at Yorktown, each smaller and crappier than the last. But it was close to where we lived. And they showed movies. That’s all that mattered. My seminal Yorktown moment came when my friend Jeremy and I went to see the Fred Savage Nintendo classic The Wizard. No one else, other than Jeremy and I, bought a ticket to the show. I’d never been in an empty screening before, at least not without my parents. It was amazing. We climbed on the seats. Yelled stuff at the screen. Threw stuff at the screen. Ran around in the aisles. Not to mention learning of the existence of Super Mario Bros 3.
So for all the good bad times, I am thankful for shitty movies theaters.