People at the cinema

I enjoy going to the movie theater. Watching shows at home is OK, too, but there’s something about a movie on the big screen that makes even a bad story seem better.

I’ll watch just about any genre, although foreign flicks with subtitles and horror movies are at the bottom of the list.

Maybe my love for movies says something about my psyche; maybe I love to watch stories on film because I’m more interested in the lives of others rather than my day-to-day routine. Or maybe I like watching stories told on a screen because I make a living reading and writing stories myself. Or maybe I’m just too lazy to read books.

Anyway, my usual movie companion is my wife, who has far more limited movie tastes. She absolutely refuses to see a movie if there’s too much drama or blood, although she’s always willing to make what I invariably point out are hypocritical exceptions for movies with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Harrison Ford.

She loves Westerns, which is a pretty limiting characteristic of movies these days. And she refuses to see provocative or sexually suggestive shows, although that prerogative is starting to severely limit what she can watch these days.

So I was surprised when she volunteered to see the latest Chris Rock movie, Top Five. Rock is a funny guy, but he has a sharp edge to his comedy and he’s no stranger to an obscenity-laced monologue. But the previews she saw on David Letterman looked harmless and funny.

So off we went, settling in with two strangers as the only people in the theater. And then it began: Top Five has everything in a movie she hates, except for blood and death. It was crude, obscene, sexually provocative and downright disgusting. It literally made my wife cringe, and I was right there with her.

It’s the kind of movie that, had any of you — or worse, either of our sons — been sitting next to us, I’m not sure there would have been a hole deep enough to crawl into.

I wondered why Rock felt the need to go as far as he did when he could have made his point and told his story just as well in a less-disgusting way.

In fact, why do so many entertainers feel the need to push boundaries in such a way that a viewer like me is almost embarrassed to be seen in the theater?

This movie featured a tampon soaked in generic hot sauce (I guess Tabasco refused to pay product promo fees) rammed up a naked guy’s kiester; I guess it was meant to show that the guy was being a jerk to his girlfriend.

In addition, one of the coming-attractions previews shown prior to the movie showed a naked guy stretched out face down in front of a naked woman, with her holding his legs in wheelbarrow fashion (this is a Vince Vaughan movie, so it’s probably only going to be rated PG-13).

I hate to sound like a prude or someone who can’t take “edgy.” And from a business standpoint, I understand the need to push the envelope a bit to ensure that an idea doesn’t become lost among the millions of other entertainment ideas out there today.

Of course, I have the option to stay home and not spend money supporting “trash” and “filth,” as some describe movies these days.

Maybe I’m being too sensitive. Maybe I’m asking too much. It’s just becoming harder and harder for me to separate things that “sort of” cross the line from those that obliterate it completely.

I don’t ever want to be someone who thinks that, in the middle of a movie purporting to address serious racial issues, a hot sauce-soaked tampon jammed somewhere it shouldn’t be is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

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