Without bothering to explain why, I'll just say I found myself in a small-town movie theater last night, watching--of all things--Fast & Furious. And the thing is, I had a great time.
Whenever I go to a movie these days, it's usually at some odd time, at some hideously impersonal multi-screen googleplex (or the self-consciously quirky local art house), and there's either no audience to speak of or the seats are full of bored suburbanites, staring glassy-eyed at the screen between bouts of conspicuous consumption.
But last night felt like a familiar, comforting ritual I hadn't experienced for some time. Parking on the town square instead of a nondescript parking lot, a lobby that looked largely unchanged since the seventies, a non-digital presentation on 35 mm film.
And even the movie, which is about as good as the third sequel to an original that wasn't that great to begin with, seemed about right for this setting, a stupid-but-watchable collection of car chase cliches that, instead of seeming tired or hackneyed, took on the feel of a familiar dance, some small measure of succor to be found in its very unoriginality. Not to be patronizing, but the audience--which laughed at every stupid one-liner, and which roared with approval at a villain's violent demise--wasn't there to see anything particularly good. They sought only entertainment, or perhaps more accurately a diversion, something to take their minds off their troubles and keep them absorbed for a couple of hours.
They were there for a Friday Night At The Movies, and they had a great time.