There are no first-run theaters in my immediate vicinity. One has to drive a little to find one, and when she does find them, they are packed, particularly on a Saturday night. The parking lots take bravery and boldness to negotiate, something I don't have in the driver's seat, particularly when it comes to parking. And the lines are long.
For the past two weeks, I've wanted to see that new Clooney film, Up in the Air, that has been advertised so aggressively that one would think it would immediately spring to a 1000 screens upon release. But it still has not come to the proverbial "theater near me." So last night, R and I ventured down to Aliso Viejo to meet Robin and Manny there, in order to see for ourselves whether the dialogue and acting were really as snappy as we had heard.
The theater was as well-developed as a small village, and lit up twice as brightly. I have noticed that in South Orange County, shopping centers tend to cluster together. Instead of a strip mall here and a strip mall there, as in Irvine, they conglomerate, so that one shopping center has half a dozen stores one might seek out and as many restaurants and maybe a multi-screen theater complex, like this one . So in Mission Viejo, the shopping center across the street from Yoga Works where I spend so much time has not only Stein Mart, but Trader Joe's, Big Lots, Party City, and a bowling alley. One almost need not leave that center to fill all of her daily needs.
The center in Aliso Viejo is even more packed full of anchors, like Trader Joe's (again), Lowes, TJ Maxx, the theaters, and lots of good restaurants one might otherwise have to drive hither and yon to get to--Philly's steak sandwiches, Native Foods, and not one but TWO frozen dessert stores.
I was glad I wasn't the one driving when I saw the enormous boats of SUVs and Hummers attempting to negotiate the parking lot's narrow aisles. There were some scary moments there, but we snagged a spot, and hustled up to the ticket booth 45 minutes early to buy our tickets, then to the ice cream place. I didn't feel like ice cream, but R created his own mix at Cold Stone. I noticed I didn't have my cell phone (it turned out I had left it in a different purse the night before, when we attended a party at California Pizza Kitchen), so it was just luck that allowed us to meet up with M and R outside the theater. But by the time they bellied up to the booth, the movie was full. So we got our money refunded and went home to our house to watch Smooth Talk, the film I will be teaching next semester, along with Oates' story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," from which it has been adapted.
It turned out to be a nice evening, with a few snags. But I don't think I'll be going to a first-run theater any time soon again.