Those of you who have followed me a while know that I organize several "Mom's Movie Club" outings each year: I pick a Thursday or Friday to see a movie matinee while the kids are at school and see if any of my friends are interested in joining me.
Sometimes, we go to a theater in our neighborhood that starts showing films around 11:00, which gives us ample time to see a film, grab a quick lunch and get to school before the bell rings.
But ever since the ArcLight opened a Valley branch in Sherman Oaks, we've tried to see as many shows as we can over there. ArcLight screenings are like flying first class instead of coach: you can select your assigned seats over the Internet, and when you get there, you are escorted to them by a real live usher, who greets the audience before the start of each movie and asks them personally to turn off their cell phones and pagers. A member of the ArcLight staff remains in the theater after the start of the film to ensure that the sound and projection quality are up to snuff (there are no pre-show commercials and very limited trailers for coming attractions that are targeted for the audience of the film you are seeing at the time).
Best of all: ArcLight has an in-house cafe, cocktail lounge and coffee bar (and upscale goodies in the snack bar, including the best caramel corn you have ever tasted). Since my diet doesn't allow popcorn, I usually get a non-fat latte to take into the theater... but if you decide to go for one of their evening 21+ screenings, you get to watch while sipping cocktails.
I have always wanted to go to one of those grown-up, evening screenings - and they were offering them this weekend for Sex and the City... but it was more of a party: Appetizers, cocktails and a 10:00 p.m. show for $60 a pop.
When you think about it, $60 for dinner, two drinks and a movie is probably about right... and I thought attending one of these shows would make terrific fodder for this blog. My friend Mary Ellen and I seriously contemplated doing it, but in the end, we decided that we were better off seeing the movie the way we always do -- before lunch and in the quiet of a matinee.
I'm afraid that 10:00 p.m. show time is what did me in -- that, and the thought of getting out of my comfy t-shirt and jeans and wearing some kind of evening attire. I may enjoy watching the exploits of Carrie Bradshaw and company, but my own days of strutting around in designer duds and strappy sandals are long gone. And I didn't relish the idea of coming home after midnight. At my age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get!
So we purchased four tickets for the show's first matinee, which started at noon.
Mary Ellen and I have been going to these matinees together for well over a year, and we are often the only people in the theater. That was NOT the case yesterday. The ArcLight was already bustling when I arrived at 11:30. As I waited in the cafe for the rest of our party, I saw more and more women enter the place. I even ran into another friend while I was waiting. She had come with her sister, business partner, mother and sister's mother-in-law.
We were shuffled into Auditorium #16, which was one of three theaters running the movie at various times. The usher seemed incredulous when he told me that our showing had been sold out for a week. I looked around and saw an audience that was nearly 100% female. (One of my friends said she counted three males in the theater... I was certain they must have been the ushers.) These women were NOT the ArcLight's usual market of respectful film buffs. They merrily chattered right through the pre-show announcements, and they hooted and applauded some of the trailers for coming attractions ("Mamma Mia" with Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan is going to be big with this crowd.)
And then, the movie started.
As I noted previously, the critics are not being kind to the big screen treatment of Sex and the City, and I can see why. If you were not a fan of the show, you might find a large portion of it boring, especially if you're a guy. In real life, the male characters would be considered wimps (yes, even Big!)... but SATC has very little relation to real life. It's female fantasy. The ladies of SATC have not been affected by the economy; no one is worried about troubles on Wall Street, no one has stopped buying $500 shoes, and the only time someone complains that something is too expensive is when Samantha is outbid on a ring at a jewelry auction, because $50,000 was her limit.
That said, I AM a huge fan of the TV series, and I LOVED every minute of the movie. That's why I'm not writing a review here; I did not want to think critically while viewing it. I was enjoying the fantasy too much.
And judging from the laughter, applause and tears in that theater, the rest of the audience of women loved it, too.
I ran into my friend Faith again last night at dinner, which is weird because we hardly ever see each other any more, and we figure that bumping into one another twice in a day is the universe's way of telling us we needed to make a lunch date. We talked about the movie and she loved it as much as I did; so much that we both want to see it again. I have a feeling our lunch will be back at the ArcLight.