A girl and a boy lie in a flowery meadow, gazing into each other’s eyes with barely concealed longing. A shaft of light bounces through the trees and moves across their bodies. Suddenly the boy begins to glitter.
It was at this moment during a showing of Twilight that my boyfriend leaned over, and whispered into my ear: ‘Bawm-chicka-wah-waaaah. Yeeeaaah boy, getting’ it on till the bricka-breaka daaawn! ‘
In fact said boyfriend managed many more of these verbal ejaculations (which is more than Edward Cullen ever did). ‘Hahahaha – oh look. We’re vegetarian vampires and instead of orgasms, we glitter in the sun. I know you took me to this as punishment, but I’m loving it. When’s the next one out? This is solid gold crap!’
Obviously I dissolved into giggles (come on, it is Twilight), and now whenever one of these films is on, it feels wrong if I watch it without the sarcastic commentary. And given that watching Twilight has spawned spoofs and drinking games, I imagine many more reluctant friends and significant others were dragged along to see it. But if they hadn’t been, would a generation think of this film series in a different light?
Because it is a truth universally acknowledged that who you watch a film with will directly correlate to your enjoyment of it.
This is why so many film critics do not bring friends or significant others to screenings. The last thing you want when trying to make a point about the merits of Slow Cinema is to hear ‘bawm-chicka-wah-waaah’ whispered conspiratorially into your ear.
Which is odd, because film is essentially a social experience whether it is in the home or at the multiplex. Not that many films are meant to be viewed alone.
Watching Magic Mike on my own was … icky. And I don’t think that was Steven Soderbergh’s intention. But watching Now Voyager or An Affair to Remember all alone on the couch with a box of tissues and several hundred chocolate bars is one of my life’s great pleasures.
I have learned so many lessons about what to watch with whom over the years. For example, watching Weird Science with teenage boys is a riot, but watch it with teenage girls (or any girl really) and you’ll be scouting for tumbleweeds.
Being taken out to see a movie by someone else who is paying can also create an added layer of viewing anxiety. If it’s a date, will different viewpoints over the after-film drink mean that you won’t get laid or maybe start a new relationship? This was the fate that famously befell Elaine in an episode of Seinfeld.
Or if you are taken to see a film by a group of people who already love it and are on their third viewing, and you end up hating it, are you obligated to say you love it anyway because not to do so would essentially break the social contract ( or am I just being too English about this?) I did this when my friend’s family took me to see Gladiator back in the day. Sure I liked it, but they were obsessed with it, and had already learned all the speeches by heart. I was staying at their house that night so I just played along when really all I wanted to do was shrug and say ‘meh’.
The flip side to all this is when a movie you have previously had ambivalent/ negative feelings about, can turn into a decent experience just because your co-audience loves it and watches it with an infectious glee. Sad to say but my husband has made me feel this way about Caddy Shack (yes, I know), a film I previously despised. Maybe it’s just that I’ve mellowed with age (I’m over 30 now) but Rodney Dangerfield’s antics no longer leave me disgusted at his brash vulgarity. Now I merely think of him fondly as a classic American eccentric. Mostly because my husband’s tales of his own caddying days show this film really isn’t so far off the mark. That, and I’ve met a lot of Rodney Dangerfield types since moving over here…