I can easily name the worst movie villains in history: audience members who keep their mobile phones on in the theater. Let's face it: anyone can make a careless mistake and forget to turn their phone off. What makes my blood boil are the people who keep them on even after getting a cautionary warning, such as those given before every Broadway play. In one instance, Billy Crystal wished his audience a good night after a performance of his one-man show a few years ago. He then paused and made an exception for the audience member whose phone went off numerous times during the show, thereby disrupting his performance. Crystal embarrassed the unnamed audience member by referring to them as an expletive, to wild applause from audience members. Perhaps if everyone else treated these morons in the same manner, they will be shamed into amending their behavior - and the same goes for selfish people who decide that the movie theater is a perfect place to bring infants and toddlers, who then cry and throw tantrums while the parents sit shamelessly amidst the chaos, not caring about the dispruption they cause. There was a time this type of behavior was considered a minor irritant, but with ticket prices now costing slightly less than a fantasy vacation (in London, prices per ticket are about $20), you have to deal with these idiots in a more aggressive manner. Don't look for theater management to help out. There's no such thing as an usher and when I complained to management awhile back about a disruptive mother and child in the audience, I was told all they could do was give me my money back. Seems fear of litigation is now the driving philosophy - no matter who the management takes to task, they will inevitably say it is on the basis of some type of prejudice.
As long as I'm auditioning for a Grumpy Old Men remake, let's also let loose on theaters who have cut corners by removing such unnecessary baggage as projectionists. I remember seeing a Gone With the Wind revival only to find a large hair had been stuck on the lens that protruded over the actor's faces. When a group of us marched to the theater manager like the peasants in Frankenstein, we were introduced to "the projectionist": a pimple-faced teenager who also ran the popcorn stand! He told us that was the way the movie was supposed to look because it was "real old"! Just recently, I read comments on a blog from someone who had attended a showing of Planet of the Apes at New York's Ziegeld Theatre, the last remaining single-screen cinema in the city. He reported that the audience had to watch every other reel out of focus because the management didn't know how to work the changeover projector.
The bottom line, to quote Network's Howard Beale, we've got to shout out "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I'm not alone in my criticisms: film critic Michael Russnow has a similarly-themed article that stops just short of calling for the death penalty for mobile phone abusers. To read click here. - Lee Pfeiffer