Let’s All Go To The Lobby
I spent four months working at a movie theater when I was a freshman in college. It was, without question, the most insane job I’ve ever had. I was mulling it over this morning, and I realized the entire experience would probably make a great movie itself. Okay, maybe not a great movie, but a pretty good one. A movie you wouldn’t necessarily shut off if it came on T.V. and you didn’t have any plans for the day.
You want characters? We had ’em all. There was the cocky high school weightlifter who drove a ridiculously pimped-out car and treated his girlfriend like shit; the spaced-out hippie girl who spent most of her time reading books about dragons instead of cooking popcorn; the super crusty old guy who had been an usher his entire life and could drop dead at any minute; the crazy kid from New York who was always telling stories about fighting cops and stealing soda; the fat loudmouth who gave everyone unnecessary nicknames (mine was “Breuer,” because my name is Jim, like comedian Jim Breuer); and the aspiring soul singer who moonwalked through the lobby and occasionally shrieked at patrons exiting the theater.
Then you had the managers. Three, to be exact: the Norman Batesy general manager that everyone assumed feasted on human entrails every night, the female assistant manager who looked/sounded/acted like Chris Farley in drag, and the male assistant manager who wore a backwards Yankees cap at all times and looked the other way whenever anyone screwed up. It was a recipe for hot, buttered wackiness…and worker’s comp forms.
Hey, that could be the tagline. To give you an idea as to the kinds of things that went on while I was employed at the Orange City United Artists Theater, here’s an outline of the trailer I’ve concocted in my head for this faux-movie, pieced together from actual, real-life incidents:
[SHOT OF ME STANDING IN FRONT OF DILAPIDATED THEATER]
COY VOICE-OVER: Jim Greene needed a job…so he went to his local movie theater.
ME: This might be a cool place to work.
VOICE-OVER: Unfortunately, they were hiring.
ME: At least I’ll get to see free movies.
[CUT TO DECAYING BREAK ROOM]
GENERAL MANAGER: Movie privileges have been suspended until the person who bit into all the hot dogs comes forward. I’m serious, people.
[CUT TO SHOT OF “COOL” MANAGER LOOKING HIGH, LAUGHING]
COOL MANAGER: Shit man, those hot dogs were fuckin’ AWESOME!
[MONTAGE INCLUDING POPCORN MACHINE OVERFLOWING, REFRIGERATOR FALLING ON SOMEONE’S FOOT, BAG OF HOT GREASE HITTING SOMEONE IN HEAD, ROACHES CRAWLING ON WALL BEHIND EXTREMELY OLD USHER]
VOICE-OVER: …Jim Greene is going to wish…
[COCKY HIGH SCHOOL CHARACTER PLAYING “SHOOT OUT” ARCADE GAME]
ME: Hey, do you think you could –
CHSC: [TURNS TO ME, BEGINS SCREAMING] FUCK YOU! GET OUT OF MY FACE! THIS IS IMPORTANT! WHAT I’M DOING RIGHT NOW IS IMPORTANT!
VOICE-OVER: …he never quit Taco Bell.
[FAT LOUDMOUTH COMES RUNNING INTO THEATER, TOSSES PILE OF CLOTHING AT ME]
FLM: Hey Breuer, hide this for me, will ya?
[COP ENTERS THEATER]
FLM: Oh, shit!
[FAT LOUDMOUTH RUNS AWAY]
COP: Hey, gimmie back my windbreaker!
VOICE-OVER: New Line Cinema presents…
[ME STANDING NEXT TO 1994 TOYOTA TERCEL, WHICH IS COVERED IN POPCORN]
ME: [ANNOYED] What the hell is this?
VOICE-OVER: …the greatest movie about working in a movie theater…
GENERAL MANAGER: You know, I turned down my own McDonald’s franchise for this.
[SHOT OF ASPIRING SOUL SINGER MOONWALKING PAST HIPPIE GIRL, WHO IS READING A BOOK ABOUT DRAGONS WHILE THE SLUSHIE MACHINE OVERFLOWS]
ME: And look at all you have now.
VOICE-OVER: …ever made.
FEMALE CHRIS FARLEY CLONE: [OBVIOUSLY FLIRTING] We should hang out sometime after work. It would be fun. C’mon. I’ll quit if things get weird.
[SHOT OF ME, WIDE-EYED]
[TITLE CARD: “LET’S ALL GO TO THE LOBBY: CHRISTMAS 2009”]
[SHOT OF ME BEHIND COUNTER WITH HIPPIE GIRL]
ME: I can’t believe what they’re paying us.
HIPPIE GIRL: I know! Isn’t it awesome?
[I STARE AT HIPPIE GIRL FOR A BEAT, THEN SUDDENLY GETS HIT WITH BAG OF HOT GREASE]
I think I’ll start writing the script Monday. I predict critics will hail the final product as Fast Times meets Clerks for a new generation! Then I’ll just sit and grin, and the money will roll right in…