Monday, July 18, 2005

I'll take the penguins. You keep the kids.

What could be better on a hot, oppressively humid summer day than watching a film about tuxedoed birds waddling across the Antarctic? Over the weekend, I marched with the penguins.

Nothing will cool off your sweat glands faster. I wanted to join those guys and slide across the Antarctic tundra on my belly. Life as a penguin didn't look so bad; you get up, look for food, find a mate, make a baby, and then one parent stays with the kid, while the other goes off to search for more food. Actually, that doesn't seem too different from my current daily routine, except there's no baby involved.

Well, that, and the minus-80 degree temperatures at certain points along the journey. That didn't look too fun. 80 degrees below zero. And as Morgan Freeman's narration points out, that's without factoring in the wind. You need a bunch of mates to snuggle up with.

I can't imagine anyone not getting caught up in the lives of these penguins. It's a treacherous endeavor for them that makes for an amazingly compelling film. Watching the penguins care for their offspring is very poignant - especially when some of those babies can't bear the awful cold. It's heartbreaking stuff. Even a tough, macho guy like me got choked up. (I know, that's hard to believe. But I loved those lil' #@$%ers, man.)

There's some humor, quite a bit of drama, and a healthy dose of suspense - just about everything you need in a good movie. And if you like love scenes, well, there is that mating stuff. Not full-out penguin sex (if there's even such a thing), which may or may not disappoint some of you. (But if petting does it for you, maybe you should go to the movie by yourself.)

Speaking of going to a movie by yourself, an article in yesterday's New York Times assured me that I'm not the only one who likes to catch early matinees during the summer. (Besides having the time, the matinee price is admittedly a consideration. Unfortunately, that's not an option for New York moviegoers. I cry for you, Mis Hooz.) I would've loved to watch March of the Penguins in a near-empty theater. Kids should see this movie, and it's great that the Michigan Theater offered family-friendly showtimes over the weekend, but I could've done without a bunch of brats talking at the top of their lungs, jumping up and down in their seats, asking for more candy, and running up and down the aisles. (I wonder if I would've avoided the kids up in the balcony?)

Look, I'm not a parent, so I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to deal with this $#!+, but seriously, if you can't keep your kid still for 80 #@$%ing minutes, parents, maybe taking the kid to a movie isn't a good idea. I haven't wanted a dart gun that badly since I had to work in the childrens' book section at Borders. Parents - tie your kid down. Stuff a handkerchief in his or her mouth. Sprinkle some Ritalin - or better yet, some tranquilizers - in the candy or popcorn. Take the brat outside and tie him or her to a fire hydrant until the movie's over. Just do something.

At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, my parents never would've let me get away with that junk. I just don't get these parents who let their little $#!+heads run around like a hyper-manic pinball and wreak havoc without any repercussions. Is this some currently popular parenting philosophy? It's #@$%ing bull$#!+. Sure, maybe I could've gone to a later show. But should I have to? Shouldn't everyone in the theater be allowed to enjoy the movie, which is presumably the reason we're all there? Send the kids to live with the penguins for the summer, man. That'll shut 'em up.

(And to my friend whose soon-to-be-five-year-old daughter is having a birthday party in a couple of weeks: Thanks for the invite, but maybe I should pass.)