Because it will give me an excuse to buy and own and wear an ascot.

Last night, I was out having a drink with a friend of mine. Because we are both nerds and writers, our conversation steered into nerdy writer territory and stayed there.

It was unseasonably warm, so we sat on an outdoor patio — one of the few that isn't rendered useless to me by an army of smokers — and talked about the projects we're working on now, the projects we hope to work on in the future, and whether Pluto Nash is truly the worst movie ever made.

It will come as no surprise to some of you reading this that the discussion about worst movie ever made was inspired by some talk about The Phantom Menace.

"But, if you count things like budget, Pluto Nash is the greatest failure in history. It cost something like 180 million dollars to make, and it grossed close to 2." He said.

"Two dollars?" I asked, longing for the days when it was possible to see a movie for a dollar on a Wednesday afternoon.

"No," he said. "Two million."

(Note: Wikipedia says that it cost 100 million and grossed 7 million worldwide. It's not as bad as he thought, but it's still an epic fail. Also? His numbers were good enough for on-the-patio-in-March-having-a-drink math.)

"Goddamn," I said. "That is an epic fail."

"Did you see it?"

I gave him the same look I give people when they ask me questions like, "So, have you ever walked fifteen miles across broken glass in bare feet?" Or say things like, "How great was Ghost Rider!" or "RON PAUL RON PAUL RON PAUL!"

"No." I said, dryly. "See, Hollywood and I have this agreement where it puts things on its posters and trailers that let me know not to see a certain movie. It's sort of a secret code."

I took a sip of my drink and continued. "It's like, 'Tom Cruise stars in…' and I know it's saying to me, 'Hey, Wil, don't bother with this.'

"'Adam Sandler does that wacky voice he does in every movie, and hilarity ensues!' is code for 'just stay home, save thirteen dollars, and punch yourself in the junk.'"

An ambulance sped up the street. I paused to appreciate the Doppler Effect.

"In trailers, it uses music. If I hear 'I Feel Good' or 'All Star' or 'Walking On Sunshine', It's Hollywood telling me to just avoid that movie entirely."

"So you don't see a lot of movies," he said.

"I do not," I said.

I took another sip of my drink. 

"But I have this idea to record a PSA for people who do enjoy going to the movies," I said.

"Wait. I have to pee," he said, and got up to go to the bathroom.

I checked Twitter, and saw that my beloved LA Kings had lost yet another game to a team they could have beaten.

"Dammit, Kings," I muttered to myself.

My friend came back.

"Okay, so remember those John Waters PSAs about smoking?"


"He's smoking a cigarette, and going on and on about how great it is, and then he tells the audience that they can't smoke. Because apparently that was a thing you had to tell people at one time. 'Hey, people in this potential firey death cage: don't light anything ON FIRE while you're here. Seriously. Thanks.'"

"I don't think I've seen that." He said.

"That's because you're younger than me," I said, and unconsciously rubbed my right hip.

"So I want to do one like that where I'm sitting in an opulent library, with rich mohagany shelves, and leather-bound books, and a roaring fireplace. I'm in a high-backed French chair, sipping a brandy and wearing an ascot."

"Of course you're wearing an ascot."

"Why wouldn't I be wearing an ascot?"

"That's what I'm saying. Any excuse to wear an ascot," he said.

"So that's the scene, and I'm sitting in it like this." I held an imaginary brandy snifter in my right hand, and straightened my back. "I turn to the camera and I go, 'Hello, theater-goers. I'm Wil Wheaton. I hope you're sitting comfortably, and having a delightful evening.' I take a sip of the brandy, and savor it.

"'The management of this fine movie house has invited me here to make a small and simple request of you before the film begins.' I take another sip of the brandy, and smile at the camera. 'Ah, that's delicious brandy.' My face changes slightly, and I get serious. 'While you're enjoying this movie, please, shut the fuck up.' I smile warmly."

My friend laughed and hit the table with an open palm.

"'Also, turn off your fucking cell phones. You're in a movie house, for fucks' sake. You're not in your fucking living room.' Oh, and I'm smiling through all of this, staying very classy–"

"Of course you are."

"'So, out of respect for everyone around you: the people who got babysitters, the people who are on first dates, the Forever Alones, the husbands and wives who are here with their partners not because they want to see this film, but because they want to get laid later tonight… out of respect for all of them, turn your fucking phone off, and keep your fucking mouth shut for the duration of the picture.' I toast the audience with my brandy and say, 'Thank you ever so much. Enjoy the film, and have a lovely evening.'"

I leaned back in my chair and took a long drink.

"So that's my idea," I said.

"You should totally do that," he said.

"Because it will give me an excuse to buy and own and wear an ascot," I said. I thought for a second and added, "Oh, and maybe it will make going out to the movies something I enjoy, rather than endure.

"But, really, it's all about the ascot."

"Any excuse to wear an ascot."

We ordered another round, and talked about Aliens.

81 thoughts on “Because it will give me an excuse to buy and own and wear an ascot.”

  1. Wear the ascot anyway. If my friends and I can put on ballgowns and tiaras every couples of months to go out for cheeseburgers and beer, I see no reason for you not to wear an ascot while, for example, shopping for ice cream or having a script meeting. In fact, I encourage it. Also, if any theatre does those PSAs as you describe them above, I will spend A LOT more money at the movies.

  2. Wil, I would gladly send you real money to wear that ascot and make that PSA. Real money. When and where? (Yes, it’s been that long since I’ve been to the movies and for the very reasons you described.) Real money, Wil!

  3. The Alamo Drafthouse theaters in Austin have awesome “shut up” PSAs. My favorite one involved an RPG and “we’ll take your ass out.” :-)
    So yeah. Go for it. :-)

  4. The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin might even pay you to make this PSA. Or at least pay the cost of making it. C’mon, Intarwebs… let’s make sure this gets to their management!

  5. I am one of those ten people who actually enjoyed Pluto Nash. Yes it was bad but what did you want from a buddy comedy movie with Eddie Murphy that takes place on the moon? I thought it was hilariously bad. AND it has Pam Greer and John Cleese in it. Is there no appreciation left in the world for a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously?

  6. Will, thank you, for justifying my TNG-era crush on Wesley over the years; this being the latest example of why you were a totally valid crush choice for 12-year-old me.

  7. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the Alamo Drafthouse would produce this with you.
    I don’t know if I’d win the dollars or doughnuts in that bet, but either way I’d take it.

  8. My movie code includes such warnings as, “Starring Nicholas Cage” or “From the makers of ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop'” or anything with Tom Cruise or that started out life as a SNL skit.
    I don’t go to movies much.
    However, your ascot now has Daffy Duck’s voice ringing in my head saying, “Lady Asthabula, the last time we met was at Ascot, was it not? Ascot not?”
    So, thanks!

  9. The PSA would be fucking awesome.
    But even more awesome is the way you so casually incorporated the Doppler Effect into a blog post. Almost sneaked it past those who weren’t paying close enough attention.

  10. Okay, yes, the PSA should be made if only because the scene you set makes me think of Alistair Cookie with “Monsterpiece Theater”.
    Your rules for whether or not to see a movie, those encoded clues – I didn’t realize that I, too, am fluent in reading them and likely see very nearly as few movies as you do.

  11. Hear hear. Perhaps also make mention that the characters in the movie cannot hear you telling them to not enter the room at the end of the creaky hallway.

  12. Oh, quite the contrary. Aliens is the movie that helped me realize that I was a total geek.
    It's a story for its own post, though.

  13. All I know from ascots is my grandfather used to tell a joke where the punchline was something about how lovely some woman looked with her ascot over her shoulder.

  14. Sign me up for that KickStarter. Hellzayeah.
    Unless you can get a brandy company to sponsor it (though I don’t think they’re particularly well known for humor).

  15. Any chance you could throw in something about removing your small children from a PG-13 or R movie because people paid good money and don’t want to hear your baby cry? Because we can hear your baby cry even if you’re pretending you don’t.

  16. If we at least got a “Stupid Cell Phone Video” version of this, it would pretty much make my day. I run previews and such ala ‘proper’ movie theaters before the movies that play on my home theater, and being able to add something like this….well, let’s just say it would bring a big smile to my face every time I hit play.

  17. Don’t forget to remind them that texting does not count as “turning your phone off”.
    Seriously people! It’s a backlit screen in a dark room! And that little thing you do with your other hand so the light from the screen doesn’t bother anybody? It doesn’t work. It doesn’t ever work.

  18. I might actually see a movie in the theater’s again, if it came with this little treat.
    <pedant>Also, volume increase and decrease is merely a side effect of a constant sound at variable distance… The Doppler effect is the increase and subsequent decrease in pitch (or sound frequency, if you insist), not volume! 😛 </pedant>

  19. As the General Manager of a 4 plex I would totally run this PSA before any and all features. Could we get an edited PG/G version that is mildly cutesy with a brightly colored ascot and a juice box instead of brandy. You could switch the expletive to “Fudge” to maintain your classy reputation, or just leave it at “fuck” because lets be honest most of the little fuckers have heard the word by the time they’re 3 these days.

  20. If a Kickstarter begins or it gets made please alert us on one of your 800 internet outlets. So that those who are interested can help get it out there.

  21. The whole time I was reading the blog I was thinking to myself “Alamo would totally do this. Alamo would totally do this.”
    I should have known that Tim would already be on it.
    I’m so glad I live in the MAGNITED STATES OF AMERICA and that I live near an Alamo THE-A-TER.

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