Joe Does the Movies: Accessible movie reviews in Toronto

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50 First Dates

Seen: 2004.02.16   ¶   Reviewed: 2004.07.17

50 First Dates or 51st Dates?

This was a superspecial night out for my Webstandards.TO posse. Given the endless arguments I’d been having with Famous Players (specifically, Silver City Yonge & Eglinton) staff about their perennially-broken equipment and obstreperous, provocative, contemptuous customer service, I wanted a posse with me. Strength in numbers and all that.

I got two: Rudy from my little club and the esteemed colleague who accompanied me to Down with Love. Plus of course Mr. X and Mr. Y. So I guess I indeed did have a posse.

If only they’d played it a bit straighter with this movie. I can accept the improbable or even impossible notion of amnesia that leaves you with a single day’s memory at a time. I can’t deal with vomiting walruses and penis jokes. Also, it’s right on the edge of sexual assault to “marry” a woman who is mentally incapable of remembering courtship, marriage, pregnancy, or childbirth.

On the plus side, Sean Astin is a scream from start to finish as a vain, lisping, doughy steroid-addled bodybuilding yokel. Only straight guys (straight actors) could get away with parading around in mesh tank tops with that kind of body. They were, quite simply, going for it – totally – and it worked. Why doesn’t this character have his own series? Or at least reappear in multiple films, Jay and Silent Bob–style?

Theatre experience

It was a near-disaster at the sign-in desk. But at this theatre, it always is, isn’t it?

Another Spanish-speaking kid tried to force us all to show ID and sign in individually. (He walked over to ask a manager what to do. The manager, barely looking up from his mop, apparently told him to make us all sign in.) I was accompanied by three friends. They signed themselves (and me) in, not necessarily under true names. I later had a long discussion with the theatre’s general manager, who claimed that Famous Players’s publication of a policy on its Web site “authorizes” him to force me to show ID.

Oh, and I also walked smartly away from the desk after refusing to play along. I didn’t sign in (I didn’t have to; everybody else had) and, of course, they got all their equipment back.

There were dark and dead pixels on the caption display.

Caption quality

Early in the film, Rudy chuckled at the descriptions. He also later pushed all the gear aside, pointing out afterward that was hard to follow.

En tout cas:

(mellow Hawaiian style music playing): Needs a hyphen, but that is indeed what’s happening.

HENRY (voice-over): – in this case it really was a voice-over. WILLIS (on TV): – indeed.

(mock crying) and (excessive sobbing): True and accurate.

My son is psychotic.

Well, yeah, but you didn’t tell us his son lisps. So why is he doing it?

Too many spaces: ♪ And we drove up to see Dr. Keats   ♪

Description quality

Lynn Maclean narrates.

“Subtitles: He pounded me like a mallard duck.” Indeed.

“A butch woman enters.” Butch?! Thanks for telling it like it is! “The butch zookeeper” – somebody’s fantasy, shurely?! – “jumps into the pond.” Curiously, Ula’s cloudy left eye is not described. Doesn’t that make her a visually-impaired butch zookeeper? Oh, wait, we do get it later: “A cataract clouds one eye.”

And it gets better: “Nick makes a jerking-off motion with a sink hose.” “Behind her, a man makes a lewd stroking motion.” And – and! – “Nick flips him off.”

“The waitress brings the blonde a plate of waffles.” Brings the blonde what a plate of waffles?

“He sinks the toothpick into her cabin's front door” is an apt description for this antic.

“Henry runs into the Institute.” No, he has to show photo ID and sign in. I mean, I do, so he does too, right?

“Later, outside, Mary-Kate and Ashley perform jumps.” Sometimes description is stranger than fiction.

“A rustic four-by-four heads down a dirt road.” It’s a Land Cruiser. “Now, Lucy drives a weathered, boxy convertible past the rustic four-by-four.” It’s a Volkswagen Thing (Selma Bouvier also drives one), and we already know what the four-by-four is.

“And they smash into a tree”: Not shown, merely implied! That’s a serious breach of protocol, DVS.

Product placement: “uses an eyedropper to add shampoo to a bottle of Suave®.”


No problems.

Exit interview

Rudy didn’t like it, but beyond that, nil.

And indeed, what did he have to say?

Last night I joined Joe and friends to enjoy an “accessible” movie. Joe asked that I write a synopsis of my experience, so here it is.

The evening began with a visit to the “special services” counter, to obtain a headset and reflector, devices intended to assist visually- and aurally-challenged patrons.

The staff at the counter were obviously under management instruction to get a signature and phone number in a lined notebook from everyone requesting such devices, putatively to discourage us from walking out with the devices, which, as Joe pointed out, would work only in specially equipped theatres anyway.

Joe insisted that under (recent?) Privacy legislation he was not required to divulge his identity, and I can certainly see the potential for abuse if the names and phone numbers in that little notebook were divulged to the wrong parties.

I did not notice whether Joe actually signed in, but the guy ahead of me went in as John Hancock, and I as John Q. Public, although I did give my real phone number, and am just dying for somebody to call and ask for Mr. Public.

[...] The reflector must be angled just so, to reflect the words being displayed, in mirror image, on an LED board at the back of the theatre, just above the projection window.

Thus the reflector allows someone hard of hearing to read the dialogue as the movie progresses.

The headset, on the other hand, is for visually-challenged patrons.

The idea of the headset is that while you can hear the movie’s sounds and dialogue, you can’t see what’s happening, so there’s a voice track that explains the action (“now it’s daylight, and Henry is at the aquarium, giving the penguin a bath”).

I found the devices distracting.

The headset was particularly frustrating, because every time I closed my eyes, to see whether the commentary actually helped me visualize the scene, the sound level of the movie itself was invariably too high, and the narrative in the headset was overwhelmed, even set to the maximum level.

The reflector worked well, but definitely takes some getting used to, because I kept trying to watch the actors’ facial expressions, and consequently could not concentrate on reading the words.

I suspect that the different parts of the brain involved in understanding written versus spoken dialogue account for the difficulty.

All in all, an interesting experience, and quite educational.

Oh, and the movie? Puerile, as expected.

But yes, I did laugh in several places.

And Drew Barrymore is a hottie, but you knew that already, eh

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