I'm a big fan of the American version of "The Office." I love movies, but even more, I love free stuff. So, when my wife brought home a pass for two to see a new movie starring one of the actors from "The Office" for free, I could not imagine a downside.
First, by way of background, it was back in the summer of 1985, as a member of his fan club, I was invited to bring a guest to a free preview screening of "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." When that was over, my older brother and I used the opportunity to "do laps" in the multiplex and take in a showing of "Weird Science." Two movies for the price of none, but we did buy our own Junior Mints. The eighties were very heady times.
I have been fortunate enough to attend two Hollywood premieres in my life. There were free soft drinks and popcorn at both. The fact that I was allowed free treats to accompany my free movie only made the experience even more sweet. Having spent most of my life worshipping at the altar of the Silver Screen, I have enjoyed the feeling of being, from time to time, "an insider."
That is why, when my wife appeared with tickets to a free screening of a yet-to-be-released feature film, I felt compelled to go along.
Now a word or two about the "free" part. The theater was located twenty-five minutes away, which necessitated not only a Google map, but a tank of gasoline to be purchased. Fifty-odd dollars later, we were on our way to the movies. When we got there, we were pleased to find the parking was, indeed, free. Checking the fine print on our pass, we noticed that we needed to be at or inside the theater early, since the show had been purposely overbooked to insure a packed house. We decided to forgo dinner and take our chances at the snack bar.
This particular superfaplex had one of those cafeteria-style snack bars, where you pick your food, then pay for it on the way out of the big snack corral. We went straight to the hot dogs, which we were informed by the lady who was dropping them onto the hot rollers would be ready "in about twenty-five minutes." To our right, we saw an unclaimed personal pizza that we considered sharing, until we took a look inside the box. By this point, the line was beginning to stream into the theater, and the mild fear that we might miss our "free" movie began to assert itself. We took our ticket stubs and queued up.
Inside the concrete bunker they called a theater, we decided that we would take our chances on the popcorn. This alternative would allow us both to have something to eat and drink for under twenty dollars. My brave wife went off to brave the snack corral one more time, while I endured the endless string of advertisements that played before the feature. When she returned, I was gratified to hear her tale of acquiring free popcorn via a communication bubble with the blue-vested droid who was shoveling kernels into bags. The drinks still cost us eight dollars, but we reveled in our grocery sack size container of popped corn.
Then, after a few unctuous announcements from a studio PR weasel, we were finally treated to our "free movie." If time is in fact money, then I definitely came out on the losing end of this deal. I tried to enjoy myself from the "free" end, but it just kept feeling like the expense to my sense of humor was too great. It wasn't until we were on our way out of our stadium-seated tomb that we finally felt free to let loose. It was a relief, of sorts, to find out that we both had very similar misgivings and complaints.
When we got out, all the local eateries were closing, so we drove home to scrape together a late dinner of leftovers and sarcastic comments about the film. At the end of the evening, on the way out, we had been handed another card that encouraged us to drag our friends to another showing, and to post our love for their film on Facebook. If we did, we were told we could get a free T-shirt. While supplies last. There are no free T-shirts either.