Cinema Stories: When Godzilla Wasn’t The Biggest Monster In The Theater

Cinema Stories is a series of posts in which writers reflect on interesting, terrible, strange, or otherwise remarkable adventures in movie-going. In this installment, Ryan talks about a troubling and disheartening experience while watching Godzilla (2014).

About a year ago, I was sitting in a darkened movie theater waiting to see Godzilla. Commercials, TV previews, and movie trivia played on the screen. The theater was sparsely filled with about eight to ten people. I sipped on a slushie. It was red or blue flavored — I forget which. I often get a slushie or a Coke at the movies; rarely food or candy.

I’m not a movie snob. I don’t believe in a high/low culture distinction. I don’t judge others for what movies they like or dislike. However, I do believe that we should have some ceremony at the cinema; adherence to basic decorum and norms. Don’t talk loudly or for an extended time (this is not the time for conversation). Don’t use your cellphone. Be respectful. Be courteous.

At this theater, these norms are consistently violated.

Enter a nuclear family — mom and dad, along with a young boy and girl. In tote are drinks and a large bag of popcorn. They sit in the row directly behind me. This sort of thing alone doesn’t really bother me. What followed did, very much so.

Minutes pass. The movie hasn’t started yet. It’s still the pre-pre-show of trivia and commercials. Suddenly, a rift develops between father and son.

“Quit being a little bitch and give me some popcorn!”

Granted, I don’t know both sides to this, but I’m inclined to side with the kid. They seemed to have patched things up by the movie’s destructive climax.

A bit later, another incident occurred. Fairly early in Godzilla, actress Sally Hawkins gets a close-up. It might be her only one in the film. When we saw Hawkins’ close-up, the father behind me let out a very audible “ugh.”

Now, Sally Hawkins is an attractive woman. She ain’t no Rondo Hatton. Yet this man was so taken aback, so affected by her appearance, that his body manifested his disgust.

While we see monsters on the screen, many of them, though they aren’t green or 300 feet tall, may be sitting right behind us.

-Ryan Pumroy


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