A lot of people will tell you to see a movie in theaters. They’ll tell you that you need the lights down, the sound up, and to see the scenes as big and as bad as possible. A lot of the time I’d be inclined to agree. There’s something about scale that makes a lot of movies feel strange from across the room curled up on the couch. But I’m here to tell you about why that’s actually secretly amazing.
I didn’t like Avengers: Infinity War very much in theaters. I thought it was an overlong, bloated film that didn’t really even have a contained story or narrative. Everything about it reeked of the prologue to the “real” story. I sat in the darkened theater bored by its bombast and it’s tone. It just takes so long to get through and it doesn’t really go anywhere interesting in all that time.
Then I watched it on my couch and it was brilliant.
It sounds silly but being able to tune out and text or fold laundry actually improves the experience. With a runtime of over 160 minutes you can get a lot done around the house and not feel like any of that time is wasted. There’s no nuance here or subtlety in this movie. They explain what is happening in every scene to the point where I can be in the kitchen with no consequences…and that’s kind of great?
I think if you’re in a theater and on your phone you’re an asshole but do whatever you want in your home. I got the temperature just right in here, took a break in the middle to bake mozzarella sticks, and loudly laughed at its most ridiculous moments. I didn’t have to worry about any sort of public decorum or spend a kings random on snacks.
It’s strange to learn that some movies are best viewed entirely within the soft embrace of your comfort zone. I visited my parents for the holidays and we watched Mission: Impossible Fallout on the couch frequently just leaving to go to the bathroom or get a soda. My mom loudly asked me to explain a plot point. My dad asked if Simon Pegg was in an obscure movie (he was!) and we all actually got to enjoy each other’s company as the movie rolled on.
I think there’s value in public experiences. I’ve written about that value. But I also think we should acknowledge the power of choosing to engage completely on our terms. The constant refrain that big budget action movies should be seen in the biggest screen possible is exhausting, especially when the most notable aspect of a film is its bombast.
There is something special and particular about seeing a movie in large format, particularly in rare formats like 70mm. But let’s not ignore that sometimes the largest format we need is a tablet or a phone while spread out on the couch. Sometimes, some movies, call for it.
Header image: couch from emdot, used under Creative Commons 2.0.