Knowing the Ending

When I was little, I used to get to go to the movies with my mom. She LOVED movies, and liked to have somebody go with her. If she had a fight with my dad, sometimes she would storm out of the house and drag either me, or Patty, or both of us, along with her while she cooled down. We’d drive downtown and look at the marquees of the movie theaters (there were 3 in Provo, all within a block of each other) and we would go into the one that most appealed to her.

Notice that nothing in this pattern of behavior had anything to do with what time the movies started. It didn’t matter. She would pay for the tickets and in we would go–90% of the time at some other point than the beginning. We would watch the movie until it ended, and then watch the beginning until we got to the point where we came in. Then we would leave. I thought that was how everybody went to movies.

I had no problem with this method of movie watching, and in fact I have tried to replicate it. It doesn’t work very well these days. The theaters don’t seem to like it.

I think this has helped give me a very high tolerance for ambiguity. I don’t need to know exactly what is happening in a movie or tv show–I know I will eventually figure it out. I also don’t mind knowing the ending of movies before I see them. It doesn’t spoil them for me in least. The ending doesn’t necessarily need to come last, I always think. My enjoyment of movies or books doesn’t depend very much on surprise.

That is completely different from my friends B and M, a married couple. They have an absolute aversion for knowing the ending. They prefer to go to movies without even knowing the titles! If they should happen to be there for the previews (which they try to avoid), they literally put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and do a sort of “la la la la” sound to avoid hearing anything about the movie.

I went with them to see “Reasons to be Pretty” by Neil LaBute at the Phoenix Theater in Indy on Saturday, and I looked at the playbill and asked Paul, “Do you think I’m pretty, or do you think I’m regular?” It turns out that the protagonist has told his friend that his girlfriend has a “regular” face as opposed to saying it is “pretty.” It basically causes WWIII in the play. But me asking that question caused it in the foyer. They were really mad that I was “spoiling” it for them.

I won’t tell you how the play ends (although I will say I thought it was a deep and thought-provoking drama), but if you tell me how a movie ends–even “Inception”!–it won’t bother me in the least.


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