Movie Magic?

Last night we went to see Earth at the LaGrange Theater.  Ugh.  What a nightmare.

First off, the theater is under renovation.  This I could live with, if it had been mentioned on the website.  Nothing.  Zip.

Fine, so we head in and try to find the bathrooms so the kids can take care of business and wash their hands.   No bathrooms.  Oh, there are physical bathrooms, but last night they were not operable.  Couldn’t even go in to wash your hands.  “Go to the Cold Stone next door.”  Seriously…once the movie starts and the kids have downed their large cokes, I am supposed to take them out of the theater to go to the bathroom.  Sure, that will happen.  I am sure that not having bathrooms is a health code violation, not to mention a huge imposition on the patrons.  Make sure to bring extra money, after all restrooms are for customers only.  This is something else that should have been mentioned before we bought our tickets.

And then there was the actual theater…where do I begin?  The screen was not mounted or stretched correctly, so there were puckers at the lower right corner.  And the screen was FILTHY!  There was a giant smudge right in the middle of it, and the lower corner looked like someone had thrown a tar soda over it.  My laptop screen is cleaner.  This wouldn’t be a problem in, say, Terminator, where the movie is dark.  But a lot of Earth takes place in the arctic, so every spot was not only visible, but annoying.  

We were in theater 4.  The room was so small that the walls of the theater touched the edges of the screen.  The screen was mounted at least 8 feet off the floor, so even from the back we were looking up.  And the fact that the illuminated exit sign was right under the screen didn’t help either.  I don’t know if Earth was supposed to have surround sound, but it didn’t.  James Earl Jones narrated like he was standing above the screen, and none of the music or animal sounds wandered from that spot.  I’ve had better experiences watching documentaries on Discovery.  And they just stuck the entrance door at the back of the room, so anytime someone got up to refill their popcorn (since we know they weren’t using the bathroom) the whole room was flooded with light.  And they had the doors on some kind of slow close setting, so that the door took FOREVER to close.  

We wanted boosters for the kids…they don’t have any boosters.  We put our soda’s in the armrest cupholders…they have some funky hole in the bottom so the cup sits at a weird angle, seemingly about to topple over at any second.  

Now I realize that I am only paying $3.50 to see the movie.  But that should be because we took our sweet time to see it, not because we are getting a low standard in a new theater.  We were so disappointed in the whole experience that when the kids got squirrelly and wanted to leave, we popped out of our seats and said “let’s go”!

So, if I were you, I would avoid the new LaGrange theater.  You could call to see if the bathrooms are working, but I wouldn’t waste my time.

3 thoughts on “Movie Magic?

  1. I’m not exactly a huge fan of LaGrange Theatre. But I have a problem with what you’re arguing.

    For starters, not only was the construction communicated (for YEARS) on their website (and, from time to time, on the marquee; and on the entrance doors; and I’m sure the ladders, bare drywall, and construction permits in the window didn’t give it away either), but just about everyone in and around LaGrange knew it was under renovation. Hell, it even got press in the major papers for the controversy over its renovation funding. Obviously, you’ve been living under a rock to be unaware of this.

    Second, a silver screen can only get that dirty from patrons like you throwing stuff at it.

    You honestly think there’s a “slow-close” setting on the doors? Nah. I’ll tell you what they did; they wasted the payroll to have a guy stand on a ladder–for hours–with a screwdriver to make it shut JUST slow enough to annoy YOU, sir.

    The illuminated exit sign is code, and they illuminate the emergency exit, even if it is by the screen. Tough break. This is not the only theater where this is true. Complain to your local fire department that you don’t want to know the way out of a burning theater because you’d much rather see less red hue in the corner of your movie.

    And, finally, let’s not forget that this theater was originally constructed in the 1920s. No, the acoustics are not perfect; the projection equipment is, in fact, old; and the restrooms, let’s not forget, USED to be downstairs in the basement. At least the owners have sought the funding to bring it to code and put bathrooms on the main floor.

    Of course, if you had opened your eyes and realized it was under renovation, you would have understood if the bathrooms were not fully functional that particular day. No, it is not code that a businessman must have an operating public restroom.

    And, you mentioned one of the great perks there none of the giant chains offer: free refills on any size popcorn and soda.

    I’ll give you the fact that you had an unpleasant experience, and that it lacked booster seats, the screen problems, and the lack of communication between the theater and Cold Stone managers over bathroom usage.

    But, come on: don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. And waste your time complaining about nothing.

    • Mr. Haskell,

      I have to say I am amazed that anyone other than my friends and family have read my blog. I am sorry you had such a bad experience.

      I will admit that I was a bit “ranty”. As a mother of three, we don’t get out to the movies much, so perhaps I was more disappointed than the situation warranted.

      I had to laugh when you said “people like you” throwing things at the screen. It would never occur to me to throw something in the theater! But perhaps I should take that as a compliment that you think I am younger than I am. If the screen had been sullied at the showing before ours, I could understand it being dirty. But cleaning the screen should be part of regular maintenance. I doubt you would accept a dirty table at a restaurant with the explanation that if the patrons before you hadn’t spilled, the table wouldn’t be dirty.

      It is my understanding that if you serve food or concessions, you need to have a bathroom for patrons. I tried to confirm this on the State of Illinois sites, but they are, as you can imagine, not very helpful. What really got to me was that, though they knew the bathrooms weren’t functioning, they didn’t say that before we bought our tickets. That is just basic customer service. Then, if we buy the tickets, it was our choice and we can’t complain. Because they didn’t, we do have the right.

      P.S. I went to your windmill sight. Fascinating stuff! Never even knew we had these beautiful windmills in our state. We’re all lucky there are people like you out there watching over our lesser known historical treasures.

  2. Hey, I understand completely. I actually was the manager there for a very short period of time. The owners, at the time, really didn’t know what they were getting themselves in to, and didn’t really allow me to run the theater as I saw fit. They’ve always had money, maintenance, and customer service issues.

    I found your blog kind of by accident on Google when I was looking for some interior shots of the renovation progress…which I also found by accident in the middle of doing some windmill research. Go figure.

    I guess I’m still attracted to the theater’s historical significance, and I was impressed to see that the murals and ornate columns were preserved. Before, these were hidden by stucco walls and drop-ceilings, so it’s refreshing to see that history was preserved and not covered up (or destroyed).

    Thanks for the compliments on the windmill site. I think I was a bit harsh in my rebuttal, but I totally understand the customer service (or lack thereof) aspect.

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