When you walk into a theater, it isn’t just popcorn and Coke you bring with you; you bring a lifetime of experiences, positive and negative.  And a lifetime of movie-going.  And all that effects whether you walk out of the theater singing a film’s praises or damning it to hell.  Like all art, movies are what we make of them.

KCRW producer Connie Alvarez walked into the station today and made me realize that you can walk into the cineplex with too little baggage; that is to say, what you know before you go can certainly tweak the movie going experience, but so is what you don’t know.  Here’s Connie.

My husband and I walked out of Skyfall last night.  An hour and 40 minutes in, we walked out. Out!  The thing is, we have two shorties under three at home and we don’t have time – even on date night – to trifle with sub-par movies.

I’m not sure it was even sub-par.  And It’s not that we’re picky.  In fact, we don’t even choose movies.  Movies choose us.  They parade themselves around our iPhone screens, and all they really need to seal the deal is a end-time and at least a 70% Rotten Tomatoes rating.  That’s it.  That’s our criteria.

Last night, Skyfall seduced us.  Never mind that we’d never, ever seen a Bond film; that we had zero nostalgia for the gadgets, characters like M, Q, or whatever other lettered thing popped up; that fancy cars leave me feeling like I have a flat tire.  Could we see the film without caring about that stuff?  Without even really knowing the backstory?   Our little internet research assured us: Yes we could!  It said that if there was ever a stand-alone Bond film, this one was it.  Oh how lucky we felt!  And the cast!  It was dreamy – Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench!  What?  And directed by Sam Mendes? It was a match made in heaven.

So we went for it. Our post-baby movie watching opened us up to all sorts of genres high and low. But this, this was going to be a Rotten Tomatoes 91% slam-dunk…except that it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad movie.  It was just horribly meh.  Thin plot, formulaic action scenes, boring dialogue.  Altogether too predictable.  It was more like a 60% for effort alone.

Don’t be mad.  Think about it.  This was our take as average movie-goers, one a typical action-loving guy without fear of the occasional chick-flick, and the other a female that has no problem suspending disbelief (even if it’s all quick-cut action) so long as she gets to escape.

The fact that we chose to escape back to our children with their diapers and tantrums tells you one thing – that no, 007 can never stand alone.  I’m pretty sure that if we’d already come to know and love 007 before we walked into the theater we might have felt different.  Yesterday’s pleasant memories, those nostalgic moments, can make up for a world of meh-ness right here and now.

It’s kind of like a relationship, don’t you think?

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  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, Connie Alvarez, that you’ve ‘never, ever’ seen a Bond film. It makes me think you’re probably not much of a film critic. Also: your husband who’s a ‘typical action-loving guy’ isn’t. Or he would have been Bond-conversant. Also: You missed a full HOUR of the film by leaving early. I know you’re parents with young ones, but whatever research you did should have told you this film was on the long side and if you couldn’t hack it, you should have picked something more fitting to your schedule. If you’d stayed, you might have discovered a well-themed action film (rarely, if ever made) that paid homage to the past by embracing it as it raced its way into the future. This was a Bond film that was ABOUT something, but you missed it because you walked out. Thanks for expressing your opinion, but watching slightly more than half a movie doesn’t really qualify you to say anything meaningful. Hope you had a good dinner before hand, at least.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder how Connie would have felt if she’d seen the third Harry Potter movie, or the third Lord of the Rings, or the third Batman movie (The Dark Knight series) all without seeing the previous movies. A movie such as Skyfall does have a history. It’s a joy for people who love movies. I too wonder about the description of a guy who loves action movies but doesn’t know the first thing about James Bond. Odd. However, to walk out halfway through and declare it “meh” is fine. Your nickel. But it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. And I’m sorry Connie couldn’t take part in the sheer fun that was the movie.

  • Anonymous

    no

  • Anonymous

    Im with Connie. I’m a long time bond fan even, and found the film empty… Too much M screen time, and the notion of saving her life as the plot was a bore, as ere was no investment in their relationship. Makes me wonder why the “established” critics have been bestowing praise. Snooze fest.

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