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Keep The Theatrical Antics At Home

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… add one }
  • samihami January 20, 2011, 11:20 am

    I would be aggravated as well. However, I would have gone and found a manager when the problem began and had them removed. Failing that, I would have demanded a refund.

    Really-if you can’t afford a babysitter either don’t go out, or go to child-friendly places.

  • NINA January 20, 2011, 11:21 am

    It never fails. Parents like this either (1) don’t have the brains God gave a goat or (2) are too cheap to hire a babysitter or (3) think everybody just loves their little rug rat. You see them in restaurants at 10:00 at night and at Wal-Mart at 2:00 a.m. with kids who are screaming their heads off. And the parents are totally oblivious. It’s a shame you just can’t license parenthood.

  • FlyingBaconMouse January 20, 2011, 11:49 am

    I’ll be interested to see the comments on this, since while I agree with the poster above, and clearly this particular family was being rude, an awful lot of my age-peers seem to have seen Star Wars as their first movie. They all would have been even younger than the boy in this story, and they all remember it fondly even now.

  • Just Laura January 20, 2011, 11:50 am

    Well told story. I agree with the OP.
    I never know why people who want to keep living a care-free life have kids, or why they think they can drag the kids along with them to inappropriate places (pubs after midnight, adult movies, etc.). There is a reason I’ve chosen to remain child-free. I’m also grateful to those wonderful parents who put their children first.

  • nannerdoman January 20, 2011, 12:00 pm

    I’m not sure I understand–did the other patrons merely “threaten” to get a theater staff member, or did they actually go to do so? Because if they did, and the theater management refused to intervene, I would have demanded my money back.

  • RP January 20, 2011, 12:01 pm

    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.

    The staff deserve a bashing for this as well. This is exactly the reason no one goes to the movies anymore. If someone’s creating enough of a disturbance that people are willing to miss part of the movie to complain then the staff should do something about it. That is poor management and bad business. It basically gave the parents permission to stay there and continue to their rude behavior.

    I hate parents who decide that since they’re used to their children crying everyone else should be OK with it too. I may have already told this story but:
    One Thanksgiving we’re over at my grandmother’s house and we’re watching a movie after having dinner. A female relative of mine had been caring for the child (just a baby) of a friend for some time now and had him with her. When I say caring for, I don’t mean babysitting, I mean he’d been with her for weeks.

    Anyway, she gets up to help clean up which is fine but the baby starts crying as soon as she’s out of eyesight. I try to comfort him but it doesn’t work very well. I suggest she come back and let someone else help clean up. I suggest taking the baby into the kitchen so he can see her. I make several suggestions to which she just replies, “No, it’s OK.” She figured that since he was just tired and not hungry or needing a change or anything there was no need to do something about the crying.

    Never mind no one can hear the movie anymore or even hold a conversation. She just kept saying “It’s OK”. Note to parents: It’s not OK.

  • Chanel January 20, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Sometimes parents just need to have their heads examined! What idiot brings a little kid to a movie like that and then lets him interrupt everyone else? We all know the answer to that question – selfish, rude people.
    You were certainly far nicer than I would have been. About 30 seconds into the first crying episode, I would have said something to the parents, gone and gotten the manager, and insisted he do something. Trust me, I wouldn’t have left the theater without my money back and/or free tickets. You paid good money to watch that movie and you got shafted – you needed to be reimbursed. You are absolutely right, those parents needed a good smacking!

  • k2ysuzu January 20, 2011, 12:29 pm

    I don’t think I could’ve kept quiet and NOT said something to the parents! And I cannot believe the theatre staff did not intervene! I would have complained to a manager if no regular employee was willing to do something and gone on up the chain if there was still no action taken (ex: writing a letter to corporate). I would have also gotten a refund and gone somewhere else! Of course this would all be after confronting the rude couple and if they had refused to either make their child be quiet and stop ruining the film (which I don’t know how that is possible to do with a 4 yr old in a movie he clearly does not want to see) or leave!

  • Shayna January 20, 2011, 12:33 pm

    Why, oh why, can’t parents either 1) keep their behinds at home with their kids; 2) hire a babysitter; or 3) take junior to a more appropriate film?

  • gramma dishes January 20, 2011, 12:34 pm

    It’s unfortunate that no staff member was available (or willing) to step in here. I think it might have been worth your while to register a complaint after the show since you were unable to actually “watch” it in the manner you and any reasonable person would have expected.
    At the very least, the theater perhaps would have comped you a couple of free admissions to a future movie and they might have also been made aware that someone needs to be available when one small group of people are destroying the experience for everyone else. Staff and management need to know that such events do (and will) lose them business over time.

  • Ashley January 20, 2011, 12:49 pm

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves actually. It costs a fairly decent amount to see a movie now a days. If I’m there, I want to see the movie, not listen to chattering from ANYONE. Twice in recent memory I have been to a theater, only to have parents bring children WAY too young for that type of movie. During both of them the kids started crying and being loud. One group of parents got up, left, and didn’t come back. They shouldn’t have brought a child that young in the first place, but I will at least commend them for leaving when the child got out of hand. The other movie, the child was allowed to wail away, and the parents ignored said child. Someone went and got a theater employee, and there was actually a very loud argument between the parents and the employee. The parents saw nothing wrong with what was going on. The theater was awesome, managed to get the parents to leave, and even were kind enough to rewind the last half hour of film that we had missed due to the screaming child. Did I mention it was the last show of the day, so the child was obviously up past any reasonable bed time for a two year old?

  • Elizabeth January 20, 2011, 1:00 pm

    Yay for bad parenting.

  • Cindy T. January 20, 2011, 1:38 pm

    The only time I ever took a small child to a movie was when my oldest was about two months old. She always slept for four hours at a time, and never woke up, even if I did noisy things like vacuuming under her crib. I carried her, sound asleep, in my arms into the theater, where I was stopped by the manager who politely told me that I would have to leave the theater if the baby started crying. I assured him that she would sleep for another three hours, but that I would most certainly carry her out if she made so much as a squeak. She slept through the whole thing, and all was well. But I’ve always admired that manager and wished more were like him. He proactively handled a situation that he believed could have been disturbing for his other customers. Why can’t they all do that?

  • Cordelia January 20, 2011, 1:50 pm

    Maybe it’s just because I recently watched “Meet the Fockers”, but it occurred to me that the parents might be trying to “Ferberize” the kid by ignoring him for set periods of time, hoping that he’ll “self-soothe”.

    Regardless of why they did it (I don’t happen to agree with that particular child-rearing method), it’s wrong to drag a kid prone to long crying jags to a movie that will frighten and confuse him.

    If the parents were that desperate to get out of the house, they should have gotten a babysitter and left him at home, or taken him to a kid-friendly environment like a park or playground.

  • LovleAnjel January 20, 2011, 1:50 pm

    @ FlyingBaconMouse

    If it’s a kid-appropriate movie and a kid-appropriate time, there is no problem with kids being there – you have to accept it, having chosen to see a kid-appropriate show. Kids will talk, ask questions and rustle around. As long as their chaperone do a half-way decent job of controlling them, it’s fine. I saw the re-released trilogy in theaters full of kids, knowing there was going to be some chatter and milkfarts (the farts were worse than the chatter).

    It’s pretty commonsense (you would think) to not take a kid to a late movie or one that is too violent for them.

  • Breanne January 20, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Just some thoughts…

    When our daughter was little and we were out of state visiting family my cousin bought us movie tickets so we could all go to the movies together. My husband was unemployed at the time, and going to the movies was a real treat. Since the whole family was going and we were away from home we didn’t have a babysitter. We chose an appropriate movie for an 18-month old, and our daughter babbled throughout. She wasn’t crying or screaming, just babbling, mostly saying, “Hi, Daddy.” I took her out a couple of times when I thought she would be too distracting to other patrons. But about halfway through the movie someone said (in a rather rude tone), “Would you please remove your child?” I took our daughter out but I was upset. I understand that other people didn’t want to hear her, but I wish people would have compassion sometimes. Sometimes parents need to get out and a babysitter isn’t always an option.

    That said, there’s never a reason to take a little kid to a violent/inappropriate movie. And screaming and crying is well beyond where I’d draw the line on when to take kids out of a movie or other place where quiet is needed.

  • Asharah January 20, 2011, 2:05 pm

    Not to blame the victim, but couldn’t the OP have moved when the parents sat right behind her? The theatre was supposedly almost empty.

  • NotCinderell January 20, 2011, 2:11 pm

    There was an organization formed in the Chicago area a few years ago to try to lobby to get this made illegal. I think that taking kids to certain kinds of movies could actually be termed abuse.

    I did take both of my kids to a few movies when they were tiny infants, and they nursed and/or slept through the whole thing without making a peep, but by the time they started being aware enough of their surroundings that they would actually pay attention to the film, that was over. I took DS to see Stranger Than Fiction when he was 5 months old, and he wouldn’t settle down, so I sat in the ladies’ lounge for most of the movie while my husband and our friend watched the film. It’s what one does.

  • SHOEGAL January 20, 2011, 2:17 pm

    All I can say is – having a child is a sacrafice. Sometimes that means – that although you’d like to go to the theater and watch that new release like everyone else in peace – you can’t because your child is too young to sit still for that length of time, it doesn’t have appropriate content and needs to be in bed at a reasonable hour. These parents obviously didn’t care if this was an appropriate place for their son or if he was enjoying himself and none for anybody else who paid to see the movie. They sound either callous or completely oblivious.

  • TheOtherAmber January 20, 2011, 2:20 pm

    This is part of the overall problem with going to movies these days. Thanks for easily available DVDs for watching at home people are used to watching movies in their livingrooms and unfortunately don’t see why they should behave any differently at the theatre than they do at home. This includes kids screaming, people talking, cell phones, etc. It’s all so annoying.

  • Hellbound Alleee January 20, 2011, 2:25 pm

    Hm. My first film was “Papillon,” and I was about 3. It was a drive-in, I was in my pajamas, and presumably I was sleeping in the cargo hold.

    I saw the beheading scene.

    My folks were 28 years old at the time, and I suppose they should have known better, but remembering myself at that age, I was still a dumb kid, so…

  • Xtina January 20, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Why do you have to have a license to drive a car and be a certain age to vote or drink, but any idiot can have children? I just want to smack parents like this. As a (hopefully doing a good job!) responsible parent, I would not be taking my son to see an inappropriate movie to begin with, and would (and have) certainly remove(d) him if he created a fuss at a public venue. Obviously the movie was too disturbing for the boy, and the parents should have taken him home–he’s just too young, and that’s despicable that the parents made him sit through a movie that was terrifying to him. Now I wonder how warped he’s going to be for seeing all that killing on screen. Obviously the parents wanted to see this movie depsite the fact that it was wrong for their son.

    Parents!!! Either pay a babysitter or stay at home!

    Shame, shame also on the movie theater management, if other patrons complained and they did nothing to remedy the situation with the family–as others have pointed out, I wouldn’t have stopped until action had been taken or I had been reimbursed or compensated in the form of free tickets for my bad experience. If the on-site manager didn’t care, then corporate should have been contacted after the fact.

  • Daisy January 20, 2011, 2:44 pm

    I agree with all the posters, but want to put in a small word for the employees of the cinema. In our area, cinemas are usually staffed with teens who can collect tickets and bag popcorn, but have no authority and no experience getting adults to chang their behavior. Managers, when they turn up at all, are often not in the building until closing time, and usually not much older than the teens they supervise. People with small children should do everyone a favour and rent a movie to watch at home.

  • 8daysaweek January 20, 2011, 2:57 pm

    To be honest, I probably would have gotten up to check on the boy when he fell and glared at the parents while I did it.
    I’m a fairly new mom but I have never had anyone give me a dirty look or say anything to me about my daughter’s behavior when we’re out. I think it’s partly because when my daughter does fuss or cry, I immediately tend to her needs and apologize to anyone sitting around us for the disruption (granted, this is more a restaurant thing as we don’t take our daughter to the theater!).
    I have found in my life – and it has carried into motherhood – that when you are sincere and considerate to other people around you they are generally very kind and understanding. It’s extremely frustrating to me when other people, including parents, aren’t as courteous and I’ve been known to point it out, as politely as I can, in the past.
    I think a lot of parents, moms especially in my generation (I am 27) are a bit entitled, feeling they are owed something simply because they reproduced. I saw a thread on another blog about moms who feel they are able to use the parking spaces for the disabled if the shop doesn’t have any “mother” spaces or there aren’t any available! I was flabbergasted.

  • karen January 20, 2011, 3:27 pm

    I once watched a couple bring a four year old to a screening of “Kill Bill 2”. What the hell they were thinking, I’ll never know.

  • kristin January 20, 2011, 3:33 pm

    It’s one of my pet peeves, too, for parents to bring young children to places that are inappropriate, or at ridiculous hours at the night.

    I like to do my grocery shopping at night, so I was at Wal Mart at 1am one night, in line behind a pair of parents and their young, wailing son. I’m not the best at estimating ages, but he was probably 3 or 4 years old. The couple were buying clothes, a few household items – in other words, nothing that absolutely had to be bought right then.

    The kid was freaking out. “I don’t know why he’s being like this,” she kept saying to the cashier.

    “Probably because it’s one in the morning. Poor little guy must be exhausted!” I pitched in from behind them. “It’s just too bad one of you couldn’t stay home with him while the other went shopping.” I made sure to stay all smiles and stuff.

    In retrospect, it might’ve been a bad idea to speak up because they could’ve started yelling at me – but all I got were a few “hmphs!” and dirty looks from them as they paid and gathered up their stuff to leave – and a really grateful look from the cashier, who was probably thinking the same thing.

  • Elizabeth January 20, 2011, 3:40 pm

    This is one of the reasons I won’t go to movies anymore. I’ve had issues with this same scenario. In my case, I had taken my brother (who was 18) to see an R rated movie for his birthday. After the movie had been on for half an hour, a man with two small children in tow came in. When he wasn’t loudly having a conversation on his cell phone(!) he was asleep and loudly snoring like a grizzly bear. His children, in comparison, were relatively well-behaved and quiet, though I did hear one start to cry when one of the main characters in the film was shot and killed on screen during the movie. Someone did go get a member of the staff, who came out and spoke to the man, but nothing came of it. Most of the time, when I have an issue with children in the theater, it’s the thirteen year old in dire need of an attitude adjustment with a cell phone who won’t stop texting or talking to her friends about the movie (“I seen this last week. That blonde girl, she dies in the end.”).

    I can remember going to see movies that weren’t specifically children’s movies when I was a little girl. Ironically, as another poster spoke of, my first movie was “Return of the Jedi” when I was 6, which I LOVED and I cherish as one of my best childhood memories. I was only allowed to go after a VERY stern talking-to from my mother about how if I acted up in any way, shape, or form, that I would be proving that I wasn’t ‘grown up’ enough to go see movies, and I would be taken home immediately and not given the chance to see another movie for a very long time. I don’t think there was any quieter child in that theater – I probably wouldn’t have made a sound if the theater had burst into flames. And when I was a teenager, if my mother had ever, ever gotten any hint of me “popping an attitude” (as she put it) with anyone or being disrespectful in any way, I wouldn’t have been allowed out of the house until the end of puberty.

  • Geekgirl January 20, 2011, 4:00 pm

    I went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As any Harry Potter fan can tell you, the book is fairly dark, and we expected the movie to be too. And in the row beside us was a mother with her child on her lap – four years old. Obviously the mother thought Harry Potter was still all little kids fighting three-headed dogs called Fluffy.

    And then the Dementors came on. If you’ve seen it, you know that moment where the Dementors come onto the train is fairly scary for grown-ups. For this 4 year old, it was obviously terrifying – she screamed and screamed, and squirmed, and hid her head in her mother’s lap.

    The mother did nothing. Not even comforted the child. She just kept watching the movie, despite her child’s obvious terror (and everyone’s else sigh’s and shushs – we’re British, that’s fairly harsh criticism for us). And everytime the Dementors came on, this child screamed, and the mother ignored it. It was ‘gently’ suggested she take the child out, but she said ‘no, she’s fine’. She didn’t seem to understand that Harry Potter movies are not all suitable for little kids.

  • Miss Raven January 20, 2011, 4:12 pm

    Ughhh, this kind of story is the absolute worst. In the US, the only rating that prevents parents from bringing in kids of any age is NC-17, which many theatres don’t carry due to their frequently graphic violence and sexual content. For those of you in other countries, our ratings are (in order) G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, and then X-rated porn. Anyone can see movies rated G through PG-13, and R means “under 17 not admitted without parent.” Which some parents take to mean that they can bring their four year-old to see Reservoir Dogs.

    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. If your five year-old is actually quiet through the whole film, but that film is Saw (which happened when I saw it in theatres), does that mean it’s okay? How absolutely traumatizing for a kindergartener. What is WRONG with these people?

    I think if I owned a theatre, there would be a few things that would happen: movies rated G and PG (obvious kids’ movies) wouldn’t be shown after 7 pm, children under 11 wouldn’t be allowed to any movie shown after 9 pm, and no children under 14 (ish?) would be allowed into a rated R movie, regardless of whether they had a parent there. I’m a big movie buff and all too often you get the “younger kid is exhausted by the time the later show starts and gets cranky/loud” situation, the “parents bring toddler to scary/violent movie and the kid is traumatized and screams the whole time” or the “small child doesn’t want to be there in the first place no matter what the movie, the theatre is filled with mostly childless adults and the kid is allowed to entertain himself by babbling, crying, roaming around, or trying to talk to other people while the parents ignore him.”

  • widget January 20, 2011, 4:43 pm

    These situations really wind me up, more so because i actually work in a cinema so i know exactly how annoying it can be, in fact i take a reasonable pleasure in ejecting unruly or disruptive parties from my screens. so i was quite shocked and a little saddened by the the lack of response, although i can only say in defence that horrendous cutbacks in the industry often leave just one usher on during the day to clean, exit, take tickets etc, so perhaps the patron that left was unable to find a member of staff. even so i find it deplorable that the problem wasn’t noticed (Screen checks should be done every half an hour).

    but putting that aside, i am always constantly amazed though when i see parents bringing children into ‘adult’ films, just because the certificate is a 12A in no way means its suitable, in fact i’ve often had arguments with parents because we wont let them take their kids into an 18 rated because, and i quote “He’s too young to remember it anyway”. even some childrens films i find often disturbing (Even Alice in Wonderland!) and it always depresses me to see these poor children being dragged into films that they are not going to enjoy. I know that the cinema is expensive, but i find it also reasonably selfish to put aside the wellbeing of your child simply because you’re dying to see something of a more grown up nature rather than taking the time to create happy memories! i’m sure we all remember our first trips to the cinema and i hope your parents were as nice as mine and took you to see something that truly took your breath away, rather that feeling frightened and ignored as this poor child obviously was.

  • bookworm January 20, 2011, 4:45 pm

    Why did you let this inconsiderate couple ruin your good time out, and why didn’t you or your boyfriend try to find a member of the theater staff? I understand being frustrated about lazy parents, but it reads like you idly sat by and allowed them to do this to you.

  • Lizza January 20, 2011, 4:48 pm

    When “The Lion King” came out, my mom took my brothers and I to see it. (I was ten.) The theater was packed, and a mom and her kids sat behind us – her very young daughter right behind me. She was maybe four? And she didn’t stop babbling the WHOLE MOVIE. I asked several times if she could please be quiet, and the final straw was when she started crying and freaking out at some part with the hyenas, and the mom snapped, “Chill out!” That’s when MY mom got involved: she turned around and hissed, “I paid for my children and I to see this movie just like you, and you are ruining it for my daughter! Now please quiet your child or I will get a manager!” The mom finally hushed her daughter, and my mom told me later to tell her if something like that was happening, and that if I was ever at a movie with my friends, it was okay to tell a worker if people were being loud.

  • Rabbit January 20, 2011, 4:52 pm

    As a former movie theatre employee, I am sorry to say that this sort of thing happens with some regularity. Where I worked, we weren’t allowed to intervene when parents purchased tickets unless they were breaking some law (such as leaving an underage child in an R-rated movie) or annoying other patrons, where we could do nothing other than warn them to control their children. Several people I worked with were threatened by people who were asked to control their children (or get off the cell phone, which was the most frequent infraction). I must say that I’m surprised so many people are blaming the movie staff. Imo, it’s the parents’ fault for bringing in a small child.

  • Nyx January 20, 2011, 4:53 pm

    @Ashley : wow, just wow. I can’t say I’m surprised at the selfishness of the second set of parents but still, wow. At the risk of being bashed but the rug rats crowd, please leave your little darlings at home if they can’t be out in public without putting up a fuss. There is a time and a place for them (like a Disney movie) but a cinema with violent movies at a time way past any reasonable hour for a child to be awake is not it. Stop inflicting the rest of us with your children. Some of us made the decision not to have kids for a reason.

  • rifish January 20, 2011, 5:01 pm

    Why do parents feel their need to see a hyped-up film as soon as it comes out overrides their responsibility to their child and consideration of their community? If you can’t get a babysitter, rent a DVD and stay home.

    When Wolverine came out, my husband wanted to see it in the theater. We went to the 11 pm showing and just as it’s starting, in walks a couple with a 2-year-old. He wasn’t that bad, though he was pretty chatty, whiny, and adventurous. But what stuck with me most was that during the scene where the special anti-wolverine weapon is revealed, the little boy says, “I want that gun, Mommy! Mommy, I want that gun!” I guess this wasn’t the first adult-rated movie they’d taken him to.

  • LonelyHound January 20, 2011, 5:03 pm

    I am in agreement with the majority of posters. A child that young should be taken to a more age appropriate movie. A while ago I went to a horror movie- A horror movie!- and as the movie began a couple brought their *sleeping* two year old into the movie. As with any horror movie there was screaming in the film and theater. The child woke a proceeded to cry and the parents proceeded to ignore the crying. Someone left to go get the attendant and when the attendant came in he suggested that the parents leave. They ignored him!! I will interject here that, to me, ignoring someone who is talking to you is the height of rudeness. The attendant kept tapping the shoulder of the woman, who was at this time holding the crying child, and asking them to leave. Finally the couple got so annoyed that they left. I was near the exit and heard the final exchange as they were leaving. The couple was demanding either free tickets or a refund, and if they did not get one of those they would complain to the manager. The attendant said since he had to ask them to leave repeatedly they would not be granted any tickets or refund; and that he *was* the manager. The movie was stopped and played from the beginning for the remainer of the audience.

    It still baffles me how they deemed a horror movie appropriate for a two year old.

  • Catwhisperer January 20, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Probably showing my age here…”back in the day” when I was a kid, many theaters had a “crying room” as an adjunct to the normal theater. This was a room attached to the back of the theater, with a great big glass window, and seating for people with small children. It was sound-proofed so that the people with the kids couldn’t be heard by the other theater-goers. And this was where parents like the couple in this story would have gone to seat themselves, so they wouldn’t disturb the other theater-goers.

    And if, by mischance, a family group with small children seated themselves in the normal part of the theater and the kids began fussing, in no time flat an usher with a flashlight would materialize and escort them to the “crying room.”

    Ah, those were the days. I’m personally at a loss why people inappropriately bring kids to the movies; the admission cost is considerable, it can’t be fun for them when the kid starts getting upset, and there are so many better options: you can rent movies to view at home, you can get a satellite or cable subscription, you can get movies “streamed” to your TV or computer. And you don’t have to wait long to see a movie at home after its theater release, either. So why do people still bring kids too small to enjoy the movie into the theater?

  • Iris January 20, 2011, 5:26 pm

    What the parents did here was wrong, very wrong. But I have to say that the most disturbing part of the stories I am reading is not the inconsiderate behaviour to other theatre goers (although I certainly don’t condone it) but the sheer number of parents who are quite happy to let their child be terrified or hurt and do nothing about it. Apparently their ‘need’ to see the latest release trumps any emotional distress their child is feeling.

    So please don’t refer to these parents as ones whose ‘little darlings’ are welcome anywhere. There are parents like that, but the poor children in these stories are no-ones ‘little darlings’, just someone’s ‘inconvenience’

  • Katy January 20, 2011, 6:12 pm

    I am all for socializing your children and teaching them etiquette and manners from a young age, but parents can’t just plop their children into an experience and expect them to know how to behave. There are many age appropriate places to do so at and trying the ignoring technique in public places is not fair to everyone else in the place. This reminds me of an incident at a museum not a theater (although I’ve had several movie experiences like this one). My sister and I went to the End of the Oregon Trail Interperative Center. Part of the experience is you sit in this theater that is made up to look like an outpost and get to listen to a presenter talk about the pioneers and how they prepared for the long journey to Oregon. We expected children to be present. So it wasn’t a surprise when the presentation was about to began that a couple with a daughter of about 9 and a young boy of about 3-4 walked in. The boy was kind of squirmy so the parents took him in the back while the girl sat in front. When the presentation began the boy started running around in the back and making noise. The presenter was awesome but within the first 10 minutes he had to pause 3 times because the boy was making more and more noise. The 3rd time he paused an older gentleman in the audience stood up and said to the couple “Hey this isn’t fair we want to listen to this and your child is making it difficult.” I think the presenter or someone on staff then asked the couple to remove the child. As the mother was walking out the door she said very sarcastically “Thank you all for having patience and understanding with a child with disabilities.” How were we to know he had a disability? And if the parents knew this shouldn’t they have known he couldn’t sit through the presentation and that he’d be a distraction? The girl sat through the whole presentation and was very well behaved. I understand the parents wanting her to experience this but if there are two of them why didn’t one stay outside with the boy in the first place.

  • Chicken January 20, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Where I live kids running up and down the isle, switching seats, and talking/laughing loudly is the norm. It used to bother me at first but now I can drown it out. I live on a very small island (our theater only has three screens) and everyone knows each other for the most part. So when Twilight came out it’s not like anyone could leave the child with a sitter- everyone was at the theater! And I really can’t complain since I live in just about the only place left on earth where you can buy two tickets (not matinee), two drinks, popcorn, and various candies all for about twenty dollars!

  • SJ January 20, 2011, 7:04 pm

    I can definitely see the etiquette issue.

    However, what bothers me most is that poor child! Frightened, bored, upset, and physically hurt with very little comfort from his parents.

  • KH January 20, 2011, 7:42 pm

    I wonder whether these parents felt as though this behaviour was appropriate *before* they had a child? If not, it’s not ok now just because it’s your child screaming and ruining the experience for everyone else. Surely your common sense and respect for others doesn’t shut down as soon as you become a parent? Parents take note… If it wasn’t ok then, it’s not ok now

  • Yarnspinner January 20, 2011, 8:00 pm

    I’ve posted before about a column written by our local movie critic. The guy went to see The Hills Have Eyes and was horrified when a young woman walked in with a three year old child and snarled at the child for being scared. According to the reviewer the bigger horror for him was watching the little girl curl up in the chair in front of him, weeping hysterically, swith her hands over her ears while her mother ignored her completely. Then, towards the end, he said the child stared slack jawed at the screen and seemed to be lulled into a zombie trance that, again, scared him more than the movie.

    I don’t understand this attitude, this entitlement and all I can find to point at is a) the DVD in the living room mentality and b) the “I want what I want when I want it” mentality. This will sound harsh, but I see it all the time where I work–a young couple will walk in to use the computers to Facebook or play Farmville (and I know this because I am watching them) and they will have three small children who are in dire need of diaper changes, a hug or some other kind of attention–and Mommy and Daddy (or Aunt and Uncle or whoever they are) will scream “I’m TRYING to get my crops harvested, so SHUT UP.” Because, yeah, your virtual farm is so much more important than the two year old with the loaded diaper.

    And I am afraid the movie behavior is more of the same.

  • PrincessSimmi January 20, 2011, 8:36 pm

    I went to see the Simpsons movie with my younger brother and sister when it first came out. The theatre was packed with small children, so obviously, a few were chattering and poking each other and giggling, but were well-behaved for the best part of the movie. There is one scene where Bart is dared to skateboard naked through town – if you haven’t seen it I won’t ruin it for you – but at one point every single child in the cinema cracked out laughing, screaming, pointing, etc. It annoyed me at the time, but now i get a good giggle out of their reactions.

  • Kriss January 20, 2011, 8:39 pm

    I don’t get the “No, s/he is fine” when it’s suggested to take care of your kid. I know this is self centered but I’m not speaking up out of any concerned for your rugrat but because I’m inconvenienced.

    I remember once when I was a teen eating out at a restaurant with my mom there was this terribly noisey child. She’s an easy going lady and having a kid crying or babbling loudly wasn’t an issue. With as many kids and grandkids she has I don’t think she hears it usually. The kid behind us was so loud we couldn’t talk. It was far beyond the normal crying or babbling. Mom finally turned around and said “Maybe you should calm your child down outside or in the bathroom”. “No, she’s fine” the mother replied.
    I thought mom was going to blow a gasket (hey, she does when I’M being a pain!) but she smiled and replied “But I am not. Please take care of your child so I can enjoy my meal.”

    And that is why she is my hero when it comes to confrontation.

  • FunkyMunky January 20, 2011, 8:50 pm

    I pay a premium rate to sit in a section of the cinema wherein no-one under 18 is allowed (they serve alcohol there). You pay by the seat (which are lovely double chairs that are almost sofas).

    On several occasions, I’ve seen entitled parents arguing with the staff in that area that little X should be allowed in, he won’t need a seat, he can sit on their laps etc. So not only do they want their child in the adults-only area, they don’t want to pay for his ticket! Usually they stand by the law (no under 18s in a licensed area), but twice I’ve seen them wavering (as there is a convenient loophole in the law). On both those occasions, I’ve told the staff that if they let the child in, I expect a full refund as a child-free area is part of the premium I pay for.

  • Skoffin January 20, 2011, 9:45 pm

    One day I’ll have a cinema of my own, and I’ll set it up to have two rooms for each film; one for everyone, the other for adults only. I’ll be rich I tells ya, rich!

  • Miss Raven January 20, 2011, 10:25 pm

    In regards to the cell phone issue, I cannot imagine at this point in time someone actually talking on their phone in the theatre. First of all, it’s inconceivabaly rude, but if you are the certain type of person for whom etiquette is baffling, it makes no sense either to purchase an expensive ticket and then squander the experience on the phone.

    However, I hear it does happen. From my understanding (anyone here from Japan?) many theatres in Japan actually block cell phone signals so that, whether you forget to silence your phone or are actively trying to make a phone call during a film, there is no way your phone can be a disruption.

    Sounds heavenly. Do they make something like that for the screams of children?

  • Chloe January 20, 2011, 10:37 pm

    Ugh, this reminds me of once when I went to the cinema with my boyfriend. We went to see the horror flick, Jennifer’s Body – and of course, there were kids in there. But these weren’t small children, these were boys in their teens (about 13 / 14) . We sat down, and the cinema was pretty full – and they were right behind us.

    These kids started picking from the beginning, and I guess they thought my bf and I wouldn’t do anything since we’re young (19 & 20). When the movie first started, one of kids behind me put his feet on the top of my seat, on my head. I moved my head forward, so his feet would move. I put my head back, and he put them there again. I turned around and said, quietly, “Can you please keep your feet down.” This turned in to them kicking my seat, and even talking loudly enough that they were yelling. There were multiple people in the cinema “shushing” them, including my boyfriend who turned around and told them to settle down.

    Then they started telling us to “**** off”, so I got up, walked out and got a manager, who came in and gave them a talking to. When everyone else noticed the manager coming in, they applauded ! Haha.

    It’s not just small children who ruin movies for everyone. There’s the teens who don’t know how to behave in public as well. I’m not saying I was the perfect 13 year old, but I knew better than to use someones head as a footrest or to have conversations / text while the film is playing.

  • aventurine January 21, 2011, 12:44 am

    The show: Blade

    The showing: 10:30 pm

    In the ahe audience: Three kids 5 and under

    Honorable mention for Parents of the Year

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