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.