Mckeithan column

Published 1:00 pm Monday, July 28, 2008

By Staff
Fair warning should be given to clueless men
Movie experience induces gag reflex, lawsuit threatened
With our boys away at camp this week my beautiful wife, Robin and I have experienced a precursor of Empty Nest Syndrome. We don’t like it.
To fill the void — and possibly to avoid having to talk to me for two hours — Robin suggested we go see the movie “Mama Mia.” She caught me at a weak moment. I didn’t know anything about the movie, which was my first mistake.
Hear me now, M.P.A.A.
I propose a new rating guideline for the Motion Pictures Association of America: “CF” for chick flick. I mean no offense by using that term. It is much more concise than saying, “movie-seen-primarily-by-women-and-men-who-have-been-caught-in-a-weak-moment.” It is also an oft-used slang term coined by someone OTHER THAN ME. Is not intended to degrade or alienate, only to serve as common frame of reference. No Sound Off calls, please.
Such a movie has emotional scenes of love and friendship among women and is - by definition - devoid of explosions, car chases, women in bikinis or Sylvester Stallone (in a bikini).
When my proposal is accepted, I can envision this brief conversation in our house:
Uh, what’s it rated Shnookie-Shnookum?
Well, let me check our awesome local paper … hmmm … Hon, I see here that it’s rated CF … why don’t you just go with one of your gal pals?
Notable exception …
Does it mean a macho, tough-guy type like me (picture Chuck Norris without the mustache) will never see a CF movie again? Certainly not. There are circumstances where such decisions are appropriate. During the courting-phase of a relationship, a man can endear himself to the girl he is sweet-upon by knowingly and willingly attending a CF. Of course, he may have ulterior motives, as some men are wont to do. (You can connect those dots yourself. I, on the other hand, shall move along.)
Class action suit being filed:
Join me in suing the M.P.A.A. for the emotional pain and distress endured by most men for not being appropriately warned about movies such as: Beaches, Terms of Endearment, Dirty Dancing, Bridges of Madison County, The Prince of Tides, the “Ya-Ya” movie, The Notebook, Steel Magnolias, The English Patient, Pride and Prejudice and now — Mama Mia.
I am asking for $553,482.56 — the inflation-adjusted lump sum amount that covers past spending on tickets, candy and popcorn (no drink money is necessary — always sneak one in) and for having to watch previews.
Or, I’ll let them completely off the hook if they’ll adopt the new rating system as previously described.
Now, back to the movie:
I knew I was in trouble early in Mama Mia when Meryl Streep started singing an ABBA song. Instantly, my breathing became shallow and my stomach started to seize. It was celluloid Ipecac.
The casting calls and auditions for the movie must have read: “Wanted: marginal actors with poor singing voices willing to risk career and reputation.” How can Hollywood stage the moon landing but can’t make Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice bearable?
Midway through the movie, I said to my wife (among a chorus of “shushes”) in dramatic, stilted Captain Kirk-style dialogue, “stomach’s acting up … must … go … to bathroom … can’t hang on … tell … kids … love them.” I quickly ran-up the aisle holding my stomach and faking “throw-up” sounds. Once clear of the theater, I went to the Batman movie playing on screen six. (Now, THAT’S a great movie. Why? NO SINGING!)
Eventually, I meandered back to my seat and to my beautiful wife who barely noticed I was gone. The Dolby Surround Sound shook the seats with the disco-inflected pulse of ABBA’s “Waterloo.” I had discovered a new definition of Hell not found in any Bible translation I’d seen.
Then, like a painful visit to the dentist, it ended; and I was happy to have survived.
I was very tempted to depart through the fire doors for fear of being spotted leaving the movie. Anticipating my escape plan, the Missus grabbed me by the nape of the neck and dragged me out with approximately 10,000 giggling women; average age — 60. I saw a male friend as we exited the movie. We both swore an oath of mutual silence; like preachers leaving the liquor store.
Despite my negativity, I must admit it was a fun trip to the movies because it put a big smile on Robin’s face, and she deserves it. Attention men: You should do the same for your wife or girlfriend (but park near the fire exit.)