I’ve written before about how when you live in Los Angeles you never really have to pay to see a movie. Guys are handing out flyers for previews. Your e-mail inbox fills up with invites to see the latest crapola from Will Ferrell. But never before had I been invited to a premiere for a big budget Hollywood movie.
Last week I got an e-mail inviting me to such an event. It was a screening of the new movie Due Date at the glorious Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I figured it was a run of the mill screening filled with deadbeats who have nothing better to do then wait in line for forty five minutes to save twelve bucks on a movie. But as I got there I noticed Hollywood Boulevard was closed and it was the honest to goodness premiere. While others were dressed to the T, I was clad in a grimy t-shirt.
I waited in an enormous line. There were over two hundred people in front of me, but somehow there was still a seat with my name in it. I always assumed they would have no trouble filling these big Hollywood galas with B-List stars, agents, managers, assistants, and other assorted sycophants, but apparently the common man is also in attendance to pack the theater.
I was thirsty so I walked up to concessions. They were giving away free popcorn and sodas. I’m not a fan of corn syrup, so I was about to ask for a bottle of water when a middle aged man in an expensive suit started yelling at an employee behind the counter, “Do you have any idea who I am? I produced Marmaduke!” The man was quickly handed a complimentary box of Milk Duds.
I was next. I asked for some water. The man at concessions said, “No.”
I quickly replied, “Do you have any—“
The guy sighed, “Here.” and handed over a bottle of water. I was only going to ask for an empty cup.
I got into the theater. Grauman’s Chinese Theater for those who have never been there is the greatest movie theater in the world. The ornate curtains and aura of history outshadow the pristine stadium seating and digital projection of its modern day competition.
The lights dimmed. I took my seat next to a well dressed older gentleman and his high priced escort. Each name in the opening credits drew loud applause. This was amusing as the director Todd Phillips’ name was listed about twelve times. Each time there were cheers.
As you can tell from the title of this post I don’t feel those cheers were well deserved. I’m a big fan of the director Todd Phillips’ oeuvre. His raunchy comedies from Road Trip to The Hangover always put a smile on my face. But Due Date followed the comedy theme of 2010 already seen in Get Him To The Greek and Dinner With Schmucks. Stick a straight man with a dumb, obnoxious jerk and watch them bond as the straight man is forced to put up with the schmuck until he reaches his destination. While the previous prototypes won me over in spite of their unoriginal plots, Due Date was so incredibly lazy and uninspired that even Robert Downey Jr. at his peak couldn’t save it. His co-star Zach Galifianakis evidently thinks the key to comedy is showing off as much of his unshapely flesh as possible while acting mentally retarded. There was no high supply of wit in this flick. I suppose the fact that the TV show Two And A Half Men is constantly referenced means fans of that show might enjoy Due Date more than I did.
But who I am to complain? I got free popcorn and was able to stand in spitting distance of the producer of Marmaduke.