Disclaimer: While the movie was fantastic, this is not a review of The Fault in Our Stars, it is a re-accounting of the movie going experience. Proceed with caution, because there may be some spoilerish content. Also, my interpretation of this experience makes me feel really old.
As so many others, I went to see The Fault in Our Stars with my best friend on Friday. As a general rule, I don't usually attend movies on their opening night, but there was no way I was waiting to see this one. We bought our tickets online, went and had some lunch, then made our way to the movie theater. I honestly do not think I have ever seen so many teenage girls in one place. It was loud, it was giggly, they were tall (when the hell did teenage girls get so darn tall?), and I just kept thinking to myself "please let them all be seeing Maleficent". They were not. The theater was only about half full when we got in, so we were able to find suitable seats quite easily, and since we were early we got to observe teenagers in the wild. Let me set the scene for you a little bit. Apart from Shanon and I, there ended up being only 5 other people in the theater who were over the age of 16 (I say 16 because I assume most of them drove themselves, what with the lack of adults in attendance). There was a middle aged woman handing out movie theater candy boxes with packs of tissues tied to them, to a large group of girls, I assumed she was probably one of their mothers. Of course, I never asked, so she could have just been some lady handing out candy to kids. Then there was a couple that sat a few seats down from me who looked to be in their early 20's, the lady didn't give them any candy or tissues. About five minutes before the lights went down, an elderly couple walked into the theater, I don't think they were expecting so many youngsters, either, but they braved the masses of tall, giggling girls and found some seats. Did I mention the fact that every single teen girl in this theater seemed to know every other teen girl? Well, it was the random shouting of names from across the theater, and the spastic waving that tipped me off. (Sidebar: when did so many young girls start wearing belly shirts?)
So the lights go down and we are treated to somewhere around an hours worth of previews. Some were must sees (If I Stay), others I found to look utterly ridiculous, but they definitely excited the masses (Ouija). Then the movie started, as did the squealing. Things were going okay, I was enjoying the film mostly uninterrupted, and I was starting to feel like it was all going to be okay. Okay. (See what I did there?) Anyway, I had been lulled into my false sense of security and then Hazel bumps into Gus. The theater errupts into teen girl screams. Gus stares at Hazel, squeals abound. Gus continues to stare at Hazel, more squealing. And so on and so forth. From this point forward, every time there was a favorite line from the book, we were treated to screams and squeals. Were teenage girls always this melodramatic? I honestly cannot remember.
Cut to Amsterdam. Gus's hotel room. Sex. The reaction to this scene might have been the most shocking to me, because I was under the apparently mistaken impression that teen girls in general, lead way more inappropriate social lives than I do. But the giggling that ensued when Hazel and Gus began undressing each other, just proved to me that the girls in that theater were probably not ready to have sex if they couldn't watch it without giggling like little girls. Of course, one of them refrained from giggling and instead shouted out "Side boob!". Maturity, folks.
After the sex, and the giggling, we get to the part of the story that we all were dreading. Nobody wants Gus to have this conversation with Hazel, but it's inevitable and we must endure. Some of us more quietly than others. Now, for me, while reading the book this is the part where the sad really started and it didn't let go until after I turned the last page. Turns out, that holds pretty true for the film, as well. Though, for my fellow moviegoers, it was much more devastating. Cue the shuddering sobs, the anguished wails, and the constant sniffling. As we got closer and closer to the end, it was as if these girls were all in competition with one another. The louder they sobbed and wailed, the more it meant they loved the characters on screen. There was a girl, in the row just in front of me, who was sobbing and rocking back and forth in her seat. With the orchestra of tears happening all around me, I was having a hard time not laughing my ass off. Don't get me wrong, I was also having feelings, they were silently streaming down my face. I can't imagine seeing this film and not having an emotional reaction, but I can also keep it in check. Maybe teenage hormones were to blame for all of the crazy happening around us. Maybe science is the reason. Either way, I was doing a pretty good job of having my feelings while not laughing at others forms of expression, but then something happened that started a chain of events that just could not be stopped.
Remember the girl who was rocking back and forth in her seat? Well, during a scene in which our characters are trying to enjoy the time they have left together, she latches on to her friends arm and shouts "I'm not ready. I'm not ready!". Immediately following this, the 20-something female to my right starts chuckling, which then makes it impossible for me to hold it in any longer, and I let out the loudest snort before collapsing into a pile of laughing my ass off. So I'm sitting there, simultaneously laughing and crying, which causes the girl to my right to start laughing harder. At this point, because it's not actually a funny part in the film, I think we have offended the mass of teenagers, but there was just no stopping us. I get myself in check, the girl to my right gets herself in check, and I finish watching the film with my feelings streaming down my cheeks, but also with a huge grin, because our laughing did not deter the crying competition all around us. In fact, I think we may have encouraged them. Either way, the movie ended as the book did. And we all left the theater with our hearts a little heavier and our eyes a little redder.
So that, my friends, is why The Fault in Our Stars may have been the most entertaining movie going experience I have ever had. And it only had some to do with the awesome movie I was seeing. I wonder, have any of you had similar experiences this weekend while seeing the film? I'd love to hear about them :0)