An Open Letter to the Elderly Couple Sitting Behind Me During Inglourious Basterds
Yep, looks like the perfect movie for your grandparents to go see!
Why? Seriously, why? Simply that – why?
Well maybe not simply that, but everything flows from that basic question – Why did you go to this movie? My pet peeve has always been parents taking their young children to ultra-violent or sexual movies, but I think you may have eclipsed them.
Perhaps you’re not familiar with the preceding works of Quentin Tarantino. Maybe he just sounded like another charmingly ethnic movie-maker-man. Perhaps you’d heard your teenage grandchildren talking about a new World War II movie and thought it would be another Saving Private Ryan. I’m pretty sure you didn’t check out the reviews on IMDB and RottenTomatoes.com. But certainly there’s no shame in walking out of a movie. So why did you stay?
Even during the previews which you vocally disapproved of, I knew we were in trouble. Your trouble would be 152 minutes of being held face-down in a bathtub of Tarantino suspense and violence. My trouble would be dividing my attention between the movie and your Shakespearean stage whispers to one another which were the same volume as said movie.
Now if I had been having trouble following the plot and characters on the screen, your comments would have been invaluable. For instance, halfway through the movie when the main antagonist comes on screen and spends five minutes talking, and then I heard you say “That’s that same bad guy from the beginning,” my confusion about this mysterious doppelganger would have instantly disappeared. Or had I been hopelessly confused when one of the characters was talking about getting a camera and film and getting someone to develop the film into 35mm and you said “She’s going to film something,” I’m sure the scattered fragments of the esoteric conversation would have snapped into place and I would have thought How could I have missed that subtext?
But perhaps my favorite part was the wife’s assortment of disapproving and offended groans, clucks, and mmmmm mmmm’s. The exact same sounds my own mother always made when someone said a word like “damn” or “bastard” on a TV show we were watching as a family, which for some reason made me feel personally responsible for soiling the sanctity of our family time. I’m a grown-freaking-man and yet I still wanted to crawl under my seat in shame when you made those noises, while at the same time thinking Why don’t you get up and leave, woman! There are another two hours of graphic violence heading your way!
Seriously, I love elderly people just like I love children, but not when I’m trying to immerse myself in a Tarantino flick. If I have to take off my shoes to pass through airport security, I don’t think it’d be a violation of anyone’s civil rights if the ticket takers at movies were required to ask elderly people or parents with young children, “Are you sure you want to see this movie? You know what’s in this movie, right? And you realize other people will be in the theater with you trying to enjoy it, right? You’re sure you want to spend your money on this ticket?”
And also they should sell beer and potato chips and dip in every theater, but that’s a battle for another day.
So in summation for any readers other than the elderly couple who sat behind me, Inglorious Basterds – great movie in classic Tarantino style. The audience never knows how a scene is going to end or where the next one will pick up. I was half expecting Brad Pitt to hit Marcellus Wallace with his car. It’s an unpredictable, dialogue-driven, suspenseful, strategically graphic, and gratuitously satisfying movie. Assuming you’re in the right demographic.
Jay Young is an author and musician living in the San Antonio area with his wife and four children. To find out more about this cheerful endomorph, visit Jay’s website at www.jayyoungweb.com.