Keep The Theatrical Antics At Home

by admin on January 20, 2011

I suppose this is quite a minor breach compared to some of the other stories on here, but one of them reminded of a cinema visit my boyfriend and I had last summer that left me completely speechless, so I thought I would share. We had gone to see a certain film based on a certain video game that was rated 12A (which in the UK means that a child of any age can see the film, but has to be accompanied by an adult). The film had been out for some time and the theatre was mostly empty apart from ourselves and a group of three other people. We had been sat there a few minutes, waiting for the lights to go down when suddenly in walks a young couple complete with young toddler in tow. This poor boy cannot have been older than 4 years old, he was tiny. The father was even carrying one of those fold-up buggies, he was that young. My boyfriend and I exchange looks, clearly thinking the same thing, “Damn, that kid is way too young to see this film.” We see the people in the row across from us also exchange looks.

As they walk in, this boy is jabbering away to his parents who completely ignore him, instead concentrating on where they want to sit. They decide to take the seats directly behind the ones my boyfriend and I are sat in. Now, I know this isn’t a hanging offence, but there was a whole empty theatre of seats to choose from. In hindsight, they probably sat there because it was close to the exit. The whole time this poor little kid is chattering and squawking right behind us, being completely ignored by his parents. When the lights start to go down, the mother finally says to him, and I quote ‘This is a cinema *name of child*, when the lights go down it means you need to be quiet’. To which the little boy responds ‘Why?’. This little boy had clearly never been to the cinema before and didn’t really understand what was going on. What made the parents think it was appropriate for him to see that particular film in the first place is beyond me, but what possessed them to choose it as his first cinema experience ever is even further from my comprehension.

To cut a long story short, the boy was far from quiet. The film was violent and involved scenes of war and death (not bloody death, but still) from the very start. Pretty soon, the boy starts to cry. The mother says something along the lines of ‘There, there’ to comfort him and proceeds to ignore his tears for a good few minutes. The crying quickly turns to screaming. Finally the Dad picks the poor boy up and carries him out of the theatre. After about 5 minutes they return and the boy is no longer screaming. Sighs of relief from everyone else in the cinema. Dad plonks the kid back down in his seat and goes back to watching the film. This process repeats itself several times. Crying. Ignoring. Leaving. Returning. Over and over and over. At one point, one of the people from the other group there says loudly that they are going to get a member of staff. They return to the theatre alone. No member of staff comes to intervene.

Towards the very end of the film, the boy tries to climb over the back of the theatre seats and there is an audible ‘thump’ as he falls and hurts himself. He, of course, starts screaming again. The wonderful parents again leave the poor boy to cry and cry, despite being quite obviously hurt. This was presumably because we were by this point at the key part of the film where the whole storyline comes together and, they didn’t want to miss it. Unfortunately, we all miss it because no-one can hear a thing over the cries of this distressed child. Before the film ends, the parents finally gather the boy up and leave, without returning this time, having ruined the entire film for everyone.

I would like to stress that I in no way blame the child for what happened, those parents needed smacking for thinking that bringing a child that age to see that film was a good idea.   1126-10

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Alohagirl January 21, 2011 at 12:54 am

This is why I have Netflix.

I have a 10 year old and I haven’t been to a movie that isn’t G or PG-rated in years. I don’t mind. There is no movie important enough to see that I would risk my son seeing something inappropriate. The only movies he’s EVER been to are G and PG-rated ones (not even PG-13), so if he’s asking questions or laughing loudly it’s not a problem because there are lots of other children in attendance and they’re doing the same things.

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Iris January 21, 2011 at 3:19 am

@Catwhisperer – actually a theatre in our area brought back the ‘crying room’. It has brought it much extra business as now parents can go to see movies without a babysitter. My eldest daughter watched my entire graduation ceremony sitting on her uncle’s lap in the crying room of the great hall of my university. She (and several other children) didn’t bother anyone at all even though it was a long ceremony. What a shame they are not more common.

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Cherry January 21, 2011 at 6:21 am

A few years back, I went with some friends to see Transformers 2. The cinema was pretty empty except for a mother with two children. They looked to be between 7 and 10, and I remember worrying that one of them was going to freak out, but as they were accompanied by an adult, there was nothing that could be done. Fortunately they were good as gold.

Then we got to the scene where a robot has two wrecking balls… hanging… to ressemble a part of the male anatomy. My friends and I (the mature people we were) starting HOWLING with laughter. Then these two innocent kids turn to their mother and ask why we’re laughing. This just causes us to laugh even harder as the mother desperately tries to change the subject.
I wonder when was the next time that mother took her kids to a 12A.

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Bint January 21, 2011 at 9:33 am

Bookworm – what is poor etiquette is going to great lengths to find anything in the OP, however spurious, that lets you accuse them of somehow being at fault when they clearly are not. You do this in every single post you respond to.

The OP is British. So am I. You clearly do not understand this part of our culture – of how very difficult and almost taboo public confrontation is to many British people. Regardless of whether people think that’s ridiculous or not, it’s true. And in everyone else’s stories, how many people have also sat there saying nothing? It doesn’t come easily to a lot of people, but it becomes even harder when your upbringing teaches you to actively avoid it.

Also, the kind of people shown in this story are likely to be the kind of people who think nothing of screaming and arguing with anyone who dares confront them. Do I really want to be smacked round the face in the cinema by a nasty, thick chav? No thanks.

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Abby January 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

It’s not fair, but a story like this is one of the main reasons I almost never go to movies anymore. I agree with Chloe though- even more annoying than a crying child is an obnoxious group of teenagers. I won’t even see a movie until it’s been out several weeks/months to avoid that crowd.

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Michelle P January 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Amen to the posts about the teenagers. They are worse, at least the kids have the excuse that they don’t know better (although the parents certainly should.) When my daughter and I went to see the latest Harry Potter, half the movie theater wouldn’t shut up, including adults. I said “shhhh” several times, once to be told by a man (at least forty years old with his two kids), “don’t tell me to shut up, you shut up”. Unbelievable.

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Enna January 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I am British and I have tosay the 12a rating is a waste of time and a contradiction in terms. U films are universal and PG (Parental Guidence) films are normally suitable for children 8+. If a film is not suitable for really young children it should be a PG – if the fiml is the next level up it should be a 12. After all if a child is too young to see a film on their own esp a 12 then how an adult is going to make it better is beyond me.

Those parents were irresponsible, verging on neglect. My Mum has told people in a cinma before to be quite and stop being so mersiable and they’ve listened.

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RP January 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm

It’s difficult to say where enforcing laws this way begins to intrude on the rights of the parents vs. the rights of the other people in the theatre. – Miss Raven

A note for the sake of clarity: The MPAA ratings themselves aren’t laws, just guidelines. Technically, movies don’t have to be rated at all (most do though because theaters don’t show unrated movies). The ratings don’t actually prevent someone from seeing a film except where some places have passed laws to enforce MPAA ratings. Theaters can also have their own polices regarding the ratings.

@ Daisy – You’re right, it’s not fair to blame all of the staff when they’re not trained or even allowed to handle these situations. I will blame the owner for not empowering their employees but I was wrong to cast blanket blame.

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Geekgirl January 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I was recently dancing in a show – it was only an amateur one, so it wasn’t on a stage – we danced in a hall, on the same level as the audience.

Someone bought their 3 year old. First he cried. Then, to stop him crying, the parents let him get down. Then let him run around. Then let him run into the row of dancers and start running in and out of our legs – not only could we have been tripped up, but there was a lot of kicking going on and he could have got kicked in the head. The mother called him back again at that point – and then let him do the exact same thing 2 minutes later.

We’re British, and as someone else has already mentioned, we don’t do confrontation. But really, a mother shouldn’t need telling that letting her toddler run around a bunch of kicking dancers is a bad idea. It ought to be obvious.

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LadyPek January 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm

BTDT–Deep Rising and about 5 kids under 5. Totally, totally inappropriate movie for children and they were horribly upset.

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Jessyy January 21, 2011 at 6:41 pm

@ Enna
U films are universal from toddler age (3+)
Uc is the full universal (can be shown to 1 years etc.)

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Aje January 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I always admired my parents. In all the years of raising us as small children, they only left my brother and I home with a babysitter one time- and that was my grandmother, who we only saw occationally. (We were all over the moon about spending time together.) The complete opposite was my aunt who has six kids and would constantly dump them off at her mom’s house. I understand that some parents work constantly and the idea of a night out is probably a big deal… but you can’t always dump it on family either. Maybe that’s why so many parents end up in the theater with their younger kids. They tried to dump their kids on family and got told ‘no.’ Here’s an idea- rent Cars or Finding Nemo and stay home!

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Guinevere January 22, 2011 at 12:11 am

I wonder if part of the reason people won’t confront others in uncomfortable situations is because our mothers told us “just ignore those bullies and they’ll stop”. We start thinking of the noisy people as “intruders” in our space, and either we silently sit steaming, or (like I did once) angrily confront the person at the breaking point.

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Jessiebird January 22, 2011 at 2:41 am

I live in Japan and I think they do control the cell phone reception in the some theaters and other places. But even more, culturally, I think Japanese would be humiliated to disrupt other people’s experience. There is a lot of consciousness about that, and people don’t like to draw attention to themselves in such a way. (Granted, a generalization because there are plenty of rude people here, but it plays out differently, I think, e.g., not giving up train and bus priority seats to pregnant, elderly, woman holding a child.) Cell phones work on trains, for example, but almost no one talks on them…trains are quite quiet. They text instead. Anyway, what I like in Japan is that they have special afternoon screenings of appropriate films where mothers/parents are welcome to bring babies and children, who are in turn welcome to run around and cry or whatever, and it doesn’t disturb anyone since the screening is for parents and children. (There are a lot of stay-at-home mothers here, though, probably more than the States.)

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Kai January 22, 2011 at 8:17 am

I really dislike going to the movies. Only because the rude behaviour of others has made it a constant miserable experience.

There have been a few times where screaming children have been the problem. One example is an idiot family who brought their toddler (mum, dad, grandmother, grandfather and toddler) with them to see the Dark Knight. A movie where there are lots of explosions, screams and violence and will certainly frighten young children. The little girl was screaming and running around. Eventually, the grandmother took the child, but instead of taking her outside to calm her down, sat in the back row right next to someone else. The kid continued screaming and the person who was now even more annoyed asked the grandmother to leave. This started a screaming fit from the family during the movie. Staff were called but apparently couldn’t do anything.

When the movie finished and we all filed out, my mother and I happened to talk to the couple who had been in the back row, who were fuming. The four of us went and found the manager and complained. The family overheard us and started a screaming match about how horrible we all were, how their little angel had done nothing wrong, how they deserve to be able to see a movie without some horrible ‘b****s’ ruining it for them. I then lost my cool and told them they had no right subjecting their daughter to that kind of movie, and that in future they should stick to child-friendly movies, or stay at home. They yelled back that “she’s only 14 months, it won’t even affect her so f*** off!’. The father looked like he was going to come over and punch one of us for daring to tell him to be considerate of others. The whole lot of them were inconsiderate jerks, not just to the rest of the paying customers, but to their little girl as well for subjecting her to that kind of traumatic experience.

However, the majority of my annoyance with the cinema is no longer due to noise, but by the fact that every time I see a movie, some jerk thinks it’s okay to keep putting their feet on my seat. It’s bad enough when they put them there but keep them still, it’s far worse to be constantly shifting their feet which results in being constantly kicked. The last time, was a very big middle aged man resting his feet and somehow even sitting so that his knees ended up in my back. I actually called out quite a few times to him to stop it but he never did. At the end of the movie I confronted him and he told me that I should have said something. Funny that, considering I was yelling so loudly at him to stop it that the people in front of me were looking back annoyed at me (who were also annoying in that, the cinema was virtually empty when they came in but chose to sit DIRECTLY in front of me which I do find rude. Luckily the kid in front was small enough that I could see over still. By the time the seat kicker began, there was nowhere to move to).

People seem to have no manners in the cinema. What I don’t understand though is that even if you do not care about being rude to the people around you, why bother paying for a ticket and then making it hard for even you to watch the movie?

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Enna January 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Looking at Kai’s comment about Dark Knight just goes to show how the 12a rating is pointless and only causes more bad ettiqute of parents who don’t read the consumer information properly and make bad decisions. Awhile ago the One Show did a piece about ratings of films in cinmas with the 12a rating espcially. The body that does the ratings says it carries out reseach into what the public think. However the main critisims are there inconsistancies. Dark Knight was brought up as an example. It is a very dark film, very violent etc. Gets a 12a rating and the main critisism of this was marketing. If it was a 15 not so many people would have been able to see it. The film “This is England” had one racial insult and was given an 18 certificate.

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karma January 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’ve never been in a theatre where kids sitting nearby were scared, however I’ve been in a dozen situations with kids who were talking incessantly/kicking the seats/and fighting with siblings.

It drives me insane because it does not have to be that way. It is entirely the fault of the adults who have failed to train their children as to how to behave. Kids do what they are allowed to do—no excuses explain it away! Thank god I don’t have to go home with them. If that is how they act in public, I cannot imagine how terrible they are in private.

However, in bookworm’s defence, I assure you that the crying jags would have resulted in me moving to a different part of the theatre. I would not have glared, hissed, or made a scene, but I surely would have moved as far away from the nimrods as I could.

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Enna January 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm

P,S thanks Jessy for your comment I forgot about Uc

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Nuit93 January 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm

And this is why I will drive 30 miles to the next county over, just to go see movies at the 21+ theater that serves alcohol (which in Washington State means NO ONE under 21 allowed, no exceptions).

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Wyatt's Mommy January 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Bookworm, you can’t reply to an entry without nitpicking the OP. If you have that big of a problem with what everyone writes here, why bother to read the blog at all?

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Chloe January 23, 2011 at 12:42 am

Another thing that happened to me at the cinema, besides the unruly teens that I had posted about – was someone who actually thought it was okay to put their sandal – wearing feet on the top of my seat, just grazing the top of my head. Now, I don’t have a foot phobia, but I still get incredibly disgusted at a strangers feet. Ick.

I just raised my hand to make it appear that I had thought something had fell on my head, and I was brushing it off – pushing his nasty bare feet away from me.

I’ve also had the pleasure of sitting in a cinema with teenagers , who should know better, thinking it was okay to toss popcorn around. A the cinema in my town, staff does have the right to remove people, but most of them being young teens (16) they won’t because adults or other teens won’t listen to them anyway. There are only two managers who works at the cinema, and they’re barely even there, so I do feel for the staff.

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Nicole January 23, 2011 at 1:49 am

This is why I usually opt for a mid-week matinee showing; the kids are in school and the theatres are almost empty.

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nkkingston January 23, 2011 at 8:08 am

I always think of Uc as “Parents, prepared to be bored”. There’s a lot of Us that adults can enjoy too, but Ucs seem to be reserved for those toddler-and-under semi-educational kind of shows.

I know that ‘officially’ 12A was something the BBFC were planning for a while, but I can’t shake the feeling it had more to do with the makers of Spiderman throwing their weight around about being given as 12 certificate and cutting out a chunk of their potential audience. Superhero films seem to be the worst for it: incredibly, disturbingly violent, but determined to pitch themselves at kids (presumably to get them reading the comics, since they’re hemorraging readers these days).

(anyone wondering why confronting strangers is such an issue in England should try reading Kate Fox’s ‘Watching the English’. It’s so much not a part of our culture that even a polite attempt looks rude and makes everyone in listening distance very uncomfortable. That’s why we write letters instead! Yours, digruntled of Islington)

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NotCinderell January 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Question for Breanne: What type of “appropriate for an 18-month-old” movie are you talking about? there are certain types of movies that I don’t mind watching with my 21-month-old in the room. For example, my husband and I watched Revolutionary Road at home the other night with her in the room. No egregious violence or nudity, and the adult stuff went way over her head. I wouldn’t let my four-year-old watch this movie, but for a baby, I thought it was okay.

However, I would *never* take a child her age to see the very same movie in the theater. You need to concentrate on the dialogue, and a babbling baby would be distracting. We backed up our DVD a few times when she was making noise and we missed a line, but there’s not the option of doing that in a theater. I’m not totally against babies in theaters; as I said, I brought both of my kids to the movies when they were nursing newborns, and nobody even knew they were there.

I do feel for you that it was difficult to get away from your child while unemployed. Still, unless you were actually watching a children’s movie, I don’t think that it’s appropriate to bring a child of that age into a movie theater. I appreciate that you didn’t take her to a film that would have scarred her for life, but it appears that it did affect others’ theater experience.

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NotCinderell January 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm

And Aje, I don’t know if you’re intentionally trying to vilify parents who leave their children with baby-sitters on a monthly, bi-weekly, or even weekly basis so that they can have “date night.” Leaving a child with a baby-sitter occasionally does not constitute shoddy parenting. Assuming that grandparents or other relatives will always be available to watch children for free is unfair, but some grandparents welcome the opportunity to watch their grandkids once in a while. When my husband and I lived in the same state as my mother, we’d regularly go out to Sunday matinees of movies and plays and leave DS with her. We probably went out about every other week. If we didn’t go out often enough, my mother would start suggesting that maybe it was time for us to go out again! She relished the one-on-one time with DS.

Nowadays, if we need to go out, we have baby-sitters that we pay to watch our kids. One of them is particularly close with our children and is really a wonderful girl who enjoys hanging out with the kids. I resent any implication that we are less of parents because we occasionally take time to ourselves without the kids.

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ArtsBeatLA January 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Hiya — I also have a low tolerance for inconsiderate annoyances, such as talking or using a cell phone during a movie, but I have a really nice story about this sort of thing.

As a film critic I generally get to go to press screenings. The one for the most recent Harry Potter movie was also open to families, which is to be expected. A colleague of mine was sitting behind us with a 7 year-old girl (perhaps her daughter…) and the girl was kicking my seat and chatting before the movie started. I turned around and politely asked her not to kick my seat please, at which point she turned to my colleague to ask “Why?” I could hear my colleague (who I smiled at as well) explain that it bothers people, but the girl was too little to really get it.

Anyway, I decided to be as Zen as possible under the circumstances and not let the kicking and the occasional questions & ensuing explanations of the movie (throughout the screening) bother me like they normally would.

So, when Dobby came on the screen, this little girl exclaimed, (not too loudly) “Dobby!” She continued to make this sweet and delighted exclamation every time we saw Dobby. Then — mild spoiler alert — the serious part with Dobby happened… My husband and I each privately were starting to get worried the little girl might get really upset. But she was okay.

Here’s the fun part —

Since then, if either I or my husband want to express some child-like delight at something – anything – or just for the hell of it, we just say ‘Dobbeeeeee!’

That one little word never fails to brighten our mood and make us smile.

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Breanne January 25, 2011 at 10:39 am

@NotCinderell – It was The Pursuit of Happyness. Not a kids’ movie, but fine for a baby. I understand that people may have been bothered by her. My point was only that taking a child to a movie doesn’t excuse rudeness on the part of the other patrons. It can be hurtful.

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bmyster January 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I think parents certainly can and believe should have “date nights.” Otherwise, I think their relationship as adults would cease to exist, outside of their roles as parents.

But, if it is one of those nights, and their babysitting options fell through, the date night needs to be postponed or the event changed. I feel it’s extremely rude to impose on all of the other patrons because they must have that date night. Also, a child could either be extremely bored or frightened by some age inappropriate entertainment.

Imagine if the “parents” want to see one of the Saw movies (lots and lots of gore) and brought their 4 year old toddler. The toddler might have nightmares for weeks afterwards (I had nightmares for a week when I saw Poltergeist, and I was 13 at the time).

If someone chooses to be a parent, the child’s needs come first, no matter how difficult that makes other activities. It’s not “just” a full-time-plus job, it’s a way of life.

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Courtney January 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm

My first movie theater experience was when I was 5, so not much older than this boy, HOWEVER my parents took me to see Beauty and the Beast and made me practice theater etiquette once or twice on the sofa at home. Little kids can go to the cinema, but only with responsible parents!

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NotSoOldMom January 30, 2011 at 11:55 am

Truly a legitimate complaint…sounded like the adults needed their own adult supervision. After this scenerio I would asked for my ticket money to be returned or a pass to re-see it. However, at some point I (not you) would have turned to the “young” parents and asked, “Is your pet at home just as active? If he is I am glad you didn’t bring it too” . I guarantee they will never bring their child to another movie….therefore, you provided a public service.

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Jenny February 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

@ArtsBeatLA – I approve and respect wholeheartedly what you did; however, 7 years old is NOT too young to understand what not bothering people means. It’s all part of her personality and upbringing, not her age.

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Erin T. Aardvark May 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Ugh. I seriously hate little kids in movie theaters. The last movie I saw in a theater was “The Muppets,” and, as I expected, there were kids there. I knew this, because it’s a Disney movie, a family movie. The Muppets are characters made for all ages. What I hated was several kids yammering and yammering, and nobody did anything. Their parents didn’t tell them to be quiet. I know I was breaching etiquette here, I’m sorry to say, but I turned toward them and hissed, “SSSSHHHH!” Yeah, like *that* did any good . . . . . when I go to a movie, I pay $11 to see and hear the actual movie. I don’t want to shell out $11 bucks to hear somebody’s kid talking through it.

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