I Got Into An R-Rated Movie When I Was Only Fifteen

It was The Crow, the 1994 Brandon Lee joint that inspired a generation of sullen flannel jockeys to hopelessly emulate the comic world’s most bad-ass mime. I never felt any connection to The Crow beyond the fact that it looked like a pretty awesome movie starring Bruce Lee’s son and Ernie Hudson (a.k.a. the black Ghostbuster). I suppose my interest was propelled slightly by the fact Lee died during the filming of The Crow, but no more, I think, than if Bill Murray had died during the making of Quick Change.

Man, can you imagine what the world would be like if Bill Murray had died during the making of Quick Change? His comeback would have never happened. Then again, his years of slumming through shitty “Bill Murray” comedies also wouldn’t have happened, so maybe life would be no different. I wonder who Wes Anderson would have popped in all his movies if Bill Murray hadn’t been alive. Jim Belushi? Robin Williams? I can’t even imagine.

So anyway, I was fifteen years old in 1994, the year The Crow came out, which meant I legally could not see it in a theater without an adult. So how the hell did I end up at the Palace in Danbury, CT, with my pal Jim Raymond on that sunny Spring afternoon, completely adultless and with enough money in my pocket to see Brandon Lee’s swan song? For the life of me, I cannot remember.

Neither of us could drive. Neither of us had jobs. Perhaps this was an instance in which we lied to whomever was chauffeuring us, claiming The Crow was PG-13, and they were too lazy to fact check. Perhaps I was just straight with my parents and laid that whole “I’m a good kid, I never get in trouble, I deserve this one thing” rap I occasionally busted out to guilt them into junk (got me a fuckin’ Gameboy!). Perhaps I’m blocking out some memory of car-jacking some hapless old lady and stealing her purse. Who knows. All I know is we were there, ready to see The Crow.

But would they let us in? I’ve always been cursed with something of a baby face, and my friend Jim wasn’t exactly John Cena. My plan was to dress for success. Before we went up to the ticket window, I buttoned up the dress shirt I had been wearing over my t-shirt as a casual accessory and tucked it into my jeans. I also pulled out the comb I brought with me to get that distinctive “I wear a suit on weekdays and have a mortgage” part in my hair. I wanted to look all business.

I’d like to stop right here for a second and note all the instances in my life when I have NOT combed my hair: my high school graduation, my high school reunion, my grandfather’s wedding, my grandfather’s funeral, reuniting with my girlfriend in Germany after several months of separation, every Christmas dinner up until last year, my interview with the College Board…you get the point. I REALLY wanted to see this movie.

Jim went up to the ticket counter before I did and got his ticket no problem. Must have been that Yankees cap that hid his age. Or, maybe the attendant just didn’t care. Jim bounded off as I nervously approached said attendant and mumbled in the lowest voice I could muster, “One for The Crow.”

I handed the guy my money. He gave me my ticket without the slightest look of suspicion. A weight as large as the Hoover Dam was lifted from my chest. The con had worked. I was going to see The Crow.

The irony, of course, is that The Crow sucked balls. It was like some mentally challenged straight-to-video monster that had somehow overpowered its captors and escaped to the big screen. I was completely cognizant of this at the time, and I remember feeling a lot of disappointment walking out of the Palace that afternoon. If Brandon Lee had lived, I doubt he would have done any of the sequels.

At least I’d always have the thrill of purchasing a ticket for an R-rated movie at the tender age of fifteen. A victory like that back then was of almost Super Bowl-sized proportions.

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