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I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

Night at the movies offers pleasant surprises

Bob Garner

Bob Garner

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

I really need to get out more.

Recently I saw the first movie I’ve viewed in a theater in at least a year, maybe more. In the past, of course, we couldn’t help noticing that standing in line to buy tickets could take what seemed like forever. A popular movie might even sell out by the time we reached the theater, ruining the outing. And even if we managed to get tickets, standing in line for them sometimes resulted in having to rush to get snacks and losing out on getting good seats.

Frankly, we just hadn’t paid much attention to the logistics or invested much thought in greater convenience.

However, our most recent movie experience was delightful. Ruthie had purchased our tickets in advance online. Rather than printing them, she had downloaded an app to her phone so the ticket attendant could simply scan a code on the screen. She was feeling pretty smug about having managed that, along with having reserved two good aisle seats, and I had to admit I was impressed.

Even so, we left home early enough to allow for unforeseen delays. I dropped Ruthie off in front of the theater as usual and went to park. By the time I got back to the lobby, she already had our popcorn and drinks purchased, and we even had time to kill in the lobby area before we could be admitted to our particular theater.

We used 10 of those 20 minutes to reflect on how much movie food and drink have changed – after we used the first 10 minutes trying to navigate the new computerized, self-service soft drink machines. These contraptions offer over 100 drink choices to those who can figure out how the touch screens work. I’ve already made a fool of myself poking at identical machines in a couple of fast food restaurants, so I only had to start over three times, compared to Ruthie’s four.

When it comes to food, both of us simply must have popcorn at the movies, but had we cared to branch out, we could have enjoyed not only all the traditional candy choices but also hefty pretzels, hot dogs, stone-fired flatbread pizzas, chicken tenders, chicken and waffle sandwiches or cheeseburger sliders.

Chances are I’ll seldom or never venture even into hot dogs or pizza at the movies, to say nothing of more exotic fare, but I like the idea that it’s available should I take a notion to try it out.

Whereas I had grown used to seeing beer and wine being served in Raleigh-area theaters, I think the bar in which we waited at the Greenville AMC theater is the first I’ve noticed that serves mixed drinks, as well. Incidentally, all the AMC theater bars are named “McGuffins,” which is a term coined by filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock: it’s a plot device to propel a movie forward. Their marketing line is, “Our cocktails, beers and wines will be just the thing to turn this movie experience into a story worth remembering.” Wow.

I could have used a cold beer or a civilized glass of wine as a cushion against sticker shock for this latest movie excursion. Even with a senior discount, two movie tickets plus two “small” soft drinks and two “regular” popcorns set us back nearly $50, which included a $3.50 convenience fee for the online ticket purchase.

Still, the lovely reclining seats and a great movie provided enough endorphins to make me want to come back soon. And even at the smallest sizes, we both had all the popcorn and cola we could consume or manage to spill.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Contact him at bgarner2662@gmail.com.

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