Last night my wife and I went to see Narnia at a movie theater in Logan, Utah. I know it's based on a children's novel so I expected kids to be in the audience, especially at a 4:00 PM matinee. It ended up being one of my all-time worst movie experiences. Several parents brought their 2-year-old kids and let them run around the theater during the movie making all kinds of noise. It's been a while since I lived in Utah, so I need to ask, "Is this normal?"
At this point I should probably mention that I have three kids, and at one time we tried the "Let's all go to the movies together" idea. We went to see Polar Express, and I ended up walking around the theater lobby for an hour and a half with my restless baby. Lesson learned. Last night I watched two parents looking on as their toddlers ran right under the silver screen, yelping and squeaking. The parents finally scooped up their kids and stood in the lower aisle, determined to keep watching the movie. The kids eventually broke free and ran a few more laps around the theater. As a parent with young kids I am used to plenty of ambient noise, and I certainly don't expect any theater to be totally silent, but this was different. There seemed to be several parents who had come to the movie with the intention of letting their small children run and play while they watched a movie. Unbelievable.
I should also mention that I am not normally the type who makes a big deal about these kinds of situations. I usually wait until someone else says something, but the fact that no one was doing anything finally got to me. (Frankly, this little situation was more interesting to me than the movie anyway.) I ended up leaving the movie to talk to the management and ask for my money back. Even though that made me feel a bit better, I was still bothered by what happened. The theater manager said he would send someone to talk to the couple that was allowing their kids to run wild (I didn't see if that really happened). I went back in and watched the second half of the movie, partly just to see what would happen with this situation. The end of the movie wound up being just as noisy as the first half. Kids were still running under the screen with no parent anywhere in sight.
So the main thing I learned from this experience is that a majority Utah/LDS crowd will tolerate kids ANYWHERE. As far as I could tell I was the only one who was bothered enough to request a refund. I also learned that it's NOT a good idea to go to the last matinee of the day. There seem to be quite a few people who want to save a couple bucks on tickets this way. These are apparently the same ones who are too cheap to spend money on a babysitter, even if it means ruining the experience for a few hundred people. Hopefully this wouldn't have happened at a later showing. I don't think it would have been tolerated for an entire movie in any other state. In any event, I found another reason to be confused by "Utah Mormon" culture last night. (I know I am generalizing here, so if this happens in other places/cultures I would like to hear about it. If so, please ignore this last paragraph.)