The old Mall of America theaters closed, making some wonder what was coming next. A Hooters the size of Belgium, with go-karts and paintball? Snowmobile jousting? A reverse Ikea called Aeki, where you buy pre-made furniture you can take home, disassemble and put into a flat box?
No: a movie theater. But it will be a luxury experience. Cocktails and appetizers, seats you sink into like a dinosaur into a tar pit. The floors may still be sticky, but they'll use the finest ingredients to make them feel slightly adhesive: fresh lark's sputum will be spread before each show.
If you've been to a luxury theater, you know it's the best way to see a movie. But I have two requests.
1. I want that theater floor so steeply raked you have to hire Sherpas to get up to your chair, and maybe set up a base camp so you can adjust to the atmosphere before pressing on. Why? So there's no possible way anyone can sit in front of me and block my view.
You know what it's like: You have the perfect seat, and 30 seconds before the movie starts, a professional basketball player wearing a stovepipe hat sits right in front of you. When I watched "The Force Awakens" again at home I was surprised that the credits didn't say "The back of that guy's skull" after "Harrison Ford."
2. Reservations. The only way to avoid getting blocked by someone is to show up early so you can get the seats on the aisle that runs through the middle of the theater. And I mean looking-at-the-trivia-questions early. Oh, they're stumpers:
What movie was about wars among the stars?
A. "Star Wars."
B. "Stars War."
C. "War Stars."
D. "My Dinner With Andre the Giant."
Then you get the previews before the previews, which promise an "inside look" at the making of a TV show about teenage computer-nerd/vampires in space. They're followed by ads for products like "Coke." I think that's what it's called. I saw the ad, and people were drinking it, and they were really happy, and I'm like all whaaaa? Is this available in my market, this "Coke?" Do you pronounce the E or is it silent? Man, I'm glad I showed up early. You learn stuff.
Then come the trailers, which have the effect of making you feel as if you've seen six movies before you get to the one you came to see. I went to see "Rogue One," the new "Star Wars" movie. Because the audience was presumed to be fans of shiny things that go vroom and blow up, the trailers were tailored accordingly. They were:
"Transformers 47: The Rise of the Falling Rising." Enormous robots punch each other in the head until Mark Wahlberg puts the OmniCrystal into the chest slot of Optimal Prone, or something. Looks awesome. By the end of the trailer I felt as if both kidneys had been liquefied by the sound of explosions, and I was unsure if I could add 2 and 2 anymore. Can't wait.
"Fast and Furious: Furiouser Furiousissimo." Vin Diesel is now the bad guy and apparently they blow up Antarctica, which is fine, since it's the bottom continent no one's really using it.
"Spider-Man Again, For Some Reason." It's a new take on the Spider-Man story, which needs to be rebooted every 36 months. This time he's up against Michael Keaton, whose superpower is "sporadic career momentum."
A week later I saw "La La Land," because you have to, and the trailers were quite different.
"Meet the Wackies" or something like that. Here's a quirky family! You can tell because they dance to records and sing pop songs into hairbrushes — but Mom's secret twin shows up! Oh, no, tears. Oh, good, hugs. From the director of "That Movie Where They Kissed in the Rain."
"The Zookeeper's Second Cousin Twice Removed." Nazis threaten that actress you remember from the Golden Globes where she wore that dress. The red one? With the slit in the back up to her scapula? Anyway, she's in this one, where Nazis shout "Achtung!" a lot while an oboe plays a haunting tune. Based on a true story, inasmuch as Nazis shouted "Achtung!" a lot and Europe had tons of oboes.
"Anthropomorphic Wish-Fufillment: The Movie." What if dogs were reincarnated over and over, until they could find their true purpose in life, which was to give Dennis Quaid a hit? Because it's been a while.
By now I've been sitting in the theater for 45 minutes. Popcorn? Gone. Soda? Naught but rattling ice cubes. So it's great that these theaters will have nice seats and drinks and reservations and all that, but let's just cut to 2057, shall we? Feeding tubes and catheters. And if we could be picked up out of our seats and borne to our car on a litter, even better.
Also, I want a haircut while I'm watching. And change my oil.
P.S.: I'd trade it all for a good cartoon.