So, I had a long week, and I decided to treat myself to seeing The Dark Knight Rises again- and its a good thing I'd already seen it before, because I would be in a foul mood right now.
I had a bad feeling before the trailers even started, when a family including two women (I assume a mother and grandmother) and 3 children, all under 10, with the youngest looking about 4 tops sat about 2 rows in front of me. The smallest child appeared to be very fussy and noisy, and I had a bad feeling even then that she was going to be disruptive.
This is not a problem, as a Brit, that I usually have to consider. Unlike in the US, the ratings actually determine who can and can't view a movie at the cinema, they aren't just a guideline for parents to ignore if they feel like it. As The Dark Knight had been a 15, I was surprised to learn that The Dark Knight Rises was a 12A, meaning anyone under the age of 12 can see the movie if accompanied by an adult.
However, I think any of us who have seen it will know full well that this is not
a movie for a 4-year-old. Aside from the big bangs and indepth plot they won't understand, it is LONG. This showing started at 7:30pm, and ended at 10:40.
All through the trailers, she occasionally cried out, or had a squinny- she was quite noisy even then, but to be fair, that was only the trailers.. Then there would be a rustle of sweets and she'd be quiet again for a bit.
Well, the movie started, and not ten minutes in, she started crying and yelling. I could see from their shadows that the grandmother and mother took turns in having her on their lap, but it did little to actually quieten her. If she wasn't screaming and crying (usually not at an anything in the movie, probably either tiredness, or just being a brat) she was babbling loudly over dialogue.
Did either guardian take her outside to calm her? Even when lots of SSSHHHs started to reverberate around the theatre?
Of course not, I wouldn't be writing this post otherwise
She was clearly just being a fusspot, probably tired from being up so late on a hot day, and she was NOISY. I remember sssshhing several times and even saying "For fuck's sake!" quite loudly, although her bawling actually mostly drowned me out (the couple in front of me seemed to hear me though, and made some agreeing noise).
I texted someone at this point to find out the rating of the movie. Because I was sitting here thinking "this movie cannot be a 12A, and if it isn't, that kid shouldn't even be IN HERE." But of course, it was a 12A and I felt like I couldn't really say anything.
Because, here's the thing, I actually understand that the kid isn't really meaning to do this. Its her mother I'm pissed at, for being so inconsiderate to everyone else. But a small child getting upset or fussy is not the same thing as a teenager or an adult being loud and talking. An usher can just kick them straight out. I was unsure what happens if the noise complaint involves a small child.
So I decided to wait it out. I had to sssssh twice at a a group of teenagers who kept having whispered conversations (conversations, not just comments), who then looked over at me looking confused, like, how could I possibly hear them?
But they actually got the hint in the end.
In the last 15 minutes, one of the adults went out twice with the kids to the loo (which indicates to me that the two older children were younger than I thought, they were both tall, which made gauging their ages difficult), and that set off the little one again, who started running around and calling out for her mum. It was hugely distracting through a very emotional and climatic part to the whole film- hell the whole FRANCHISE. There was no way any of them was really paying attention to the film, because they wouldn't have left at that point.
As soon as the lights came on, I grabbed my bags and exited quickly. Thats when I saw the little kid even more clearly- they were putting her in a fucking pushchair. Which makes her probably more like age 2, age 3 tops, not the 4 or 5 I had assumed from a distance. So basically, they bought a BABY into this long, clearly adult movie.
When I came to the first member of staff, I said "Excuse, just some advice really...but for future reference, I would like to know what I should do regarding a noise complaint regarding a small child."
To which he said "Were you in The Dark Knight Rises, in screen 11? You might as well wait with that group of people there, they have all made a complaint and are just waiting for the manager!"
There was a small group of agitated looking adults waiting nearby. I was actually very validated to realise that I was far from the only person pissed off by the kid's incessant racket. I waited briefly with them. One guy, a short middle-aged man with a bit of an attitude seemed to think of himself as the ringleader was particularly angry, and seemed to be happy to take it out on the staff. I quickly found myself begnning to dislike him, as he was loudly speaking of demanding refunds for all of us. The others were far less vocal, and actually seemed somewhat timid...I'm guessing they were genuinely annoyed, but happy to let the bully take over as they didn't have the guts to demand refunds for themselves.
An interesting notes, before we move onto the manager's arrival, before he arrived, the family actually walked past us. The bully-man spotted the mother and approached her and said "I think you should know that we're making a complaint about you."
(Now, I would like to point out that I was itching to say something myself, I had wanted to say before "take the kid outside!" or even approach them and say that they should consider researching the movies they're taking kids to say in future, but in all honesty, I didn't have the guts, and I feared a retaliation...but I also felt that what WAS said to her was quite pointless...)
The mother feigned something that I think was supposed to be surprise, but her total lack of apathy was far too obvious. She said she wasn't aware of the noise, and that anyone had been unhappy. The guy, and someone else, said that her kids were all too young for that kind of movie, and it ended up spoiling it for them, and that they were all demanding refunds and that it was HER fault. Yes, very true it was her fault, but it was hardly like the cinema was going to ask HER to reimburse them, so I don't know why they bothered telling her like that.
In the end, she just shrugged her shoulders, still pretending to be completely surprised by the information (she was not a good actress, she clearly didn't care, and there was no way she wasn't aware of the disruption) and just walked off, taking her brood with her. I did say quite loudly "There, another example of a self entitled parent who is happy to inflict her 'precious' children on everyone else!" but no response. I admit I was kinda sucky there, but I'd a had long day, and I now had a headache thanks for her brat, and she didn't even have it in her to apologise.
Well, anyway, back to the bully-man. The manager approached, and was immediately besieged by the bully, who was demanding his name, and demanding the refunds and being a real prick about it. The manager's back was up instantly, and he was a young guy- I'd be surprised if he was older than me- but he managed to keep under control. He said he would have to speak to the member of staff responsible for watching that screen, to which the bully said that no one had been notified (which was why I wasn't expecting a refund at all). The manager was avoiding giving a yes or no at this point, and clearly wanted to get all the information.
So I stepped forward and said "Well, I don't actually expect a refund for this, its not your fault at all, and I can't stay anyway because I have to catch a train, but I would like to know, for future reference, what we can do when it is a small child that is being disruptive, rather than an adult?"
He seemed relieved that I wasn't attacking him, and said politely that while it was a 12A and they couldn't very well have refused entry for the child, if a child of any age is being disruptive, an usher can be summoned to speak to the parents, and possibly remove the family should they not sort out the situation. To which I was pleased, because this was all I needed to know. As I briefly said to the manager, I understand that kids don't mean to cry and get upset, unlike teenagers or adults who should know better, so I wasn't sure of whether the ushers could do anything. He was very nice and informative, and I now know
During this, the bully man kept trying to interrupt me, in a way that seemed to indicate that he wanted to "support" my statements aggressively. The manager then said he was going to go find the member of staff who should have been in charge of that screen, and find out what he had to say, to which the bullyman began to follow him. The manager said he would have to wait in the lobby, to which the man got a bit shitty (can't remember his words, only his tone). To which the the manager asked the man to stop "talking to me like I'm dirt!" The man started to kick off and swear etc, saying the brat had spoiled the movie for him and now the manager was ruining his weekend...
You know, I actually HAD a bad week, and I wasn't taking it out on the guy, and I wasn't having it. So I said "Hey, hey, be fair, the manager was NOT in the screen with us, he can't help what has happened. He is only trying to do his job." The bully looked annoyed at this, and I said very reasonably "Look, I work in retail, I see this guy's position. He was not there, and he only had our word for it, and the family have already left. He has to try and find the member of staff to get all the information."
To which the bully fell silent and started glaring at the ground, and the manager, now quiet, left to find the member of staff.
And I had a train to catch, so I left. But I sort of wish I had stayed behind, for the manager's sake. The man was clearly a bully, used to getting his own way, and was acting like a proper SC and EW. Even though the suck that started this was from that little girl's mother, it was the suck of this adult that ended it. I have a bad feeling that manager continued to get an earful after I left, and I feel kinda bad about it. Even though I too was pissed, I hardly see how the cinema is responsible for the poor decision of one inconsiderate parent.