Movies I saw for free when I worked at the Lake Theater in the summer of 2004 and what I remember about them
Mean Girls — See, we had to sweep up the auditoriums as the movies were ending. Saw the end credits of certain movies like 400 times, so what I most remember about Tina Fey’s pre-30 Rock teen comedy is that it ended with some shitty pop-punk cover of “Dancing With Myself.” As good a soundtrack as any for the too-dumb-to-even-be-Sisyphean task of marshaling stray popcorn kernels into a dustpan. I guess the deal was this was Heathers with no personality or edge? Someone somewhere in the past couple years has watched this movie and tried to j/o to pre-fame hipster-sweetheart Lizzy Caplan, probably. Remember Tim Meadows? Saw this after school one day.
Saved — Jesus, has anyone on Earth seen this since 2004? Haha, “Jesus,” unintentional, I swear. I refuse to google this movie to remember why it existed, but I recall being pleased with myself for recognizing Martin Donovan playing a priest or whatever (I had been tracking down all the Hal Hartley movies that year, mostly on VHS). Twentysomething Macauly Culkin in a wheelchair, an image that failed to shock a generation reared on Home Alone (or make any impression on any generation). Oh god I just caved and googled it and apparently there’s an exclamation point in the title.
Super Size Me — Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. You know what, no, it’s no laughing matter: we all went to see this movie and we are all complicit in the ascendance of the Spurlock-Industrial Complex.
Fahrenheit 9/11 — I actually typed Fahrenheit 451 first before realizing it looked wrong, so, not sure what that says other than that I’ve seen Truffaut’s Bradbury adaptation more recently than this. God the opening weekend shows were so fucking crowded in our smugly liberal burg. Keep on sweepin’ in the free world—at least Moore ponied up for the Neil Young original.
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story — I remember Abe was furious about Vince Vaughn’s brand of barely-awake non-acting so I guess 2004 was a time when one could feel emotions in response to something Vince Vaughn did. Real talk, I thought this was pretty funny at the time, it made me laugh more than Anchorman which didn’t play at the Lake so I had to pay to see it at the Cinemark in Melrose Park where Abe and I ran into some local stoners if memory serves.
The Terminal — Yeah, the Spielberg auteurists don’t cite this one too much. Harmless though. Saw it with my mom; it’s a good movie to see with your mom. Hanx
The Stepford Wives — Holy shit, who remembers that there was a remake of The Stepford Wives in 2004. Certainly not me until 30 seconds ago when I noticed the title in a Wikipedia “2004 in film” article. But I did see it, I’m pretty sure.
I think that might be it, actually, not counting the many others I saw bits and pieces of while I was on the clock. Among these was Van Helsing, and I swear I walked in on a scene where one of the monsters accused a human of being the real monster, although it’s possible I just made that up to distract myself from the tedium of the job. Also I’d like to point out that Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, now one of my favorite movies, played at the Lake that summer and I didn’t see it because I hadn’t seen Before Sunrise ok really it’s because I was an 18-year-old idiot and had no idea what it even was.
Mostly I was on usher duty (undemanding but the time crawled insufferably slowly) but sometimes I’d be stuck behind the concession stand. I consider it a personal victory that I managed always to avoid the responsibility of cleaning the popcorn machine.