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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dinner and a Movie

            With such an outstanding collection of interviews to share with all of you the last six weeks, I sort of skipped over an event that happened in October. Better late than never I present to you “Dinner and a Movie.”

            My oldest son and I love to go to the movies. It ranks as my most favorite entertainment activity for as long as I can remember. When I think back to the days when I managed a movie theater I don’t think of it as a job – I think of it as a six years of paid vacation. The only opportunity that ranks higher is Movie Critic. I drool, in day-dream induced catatonia, at the prospect of being paid to watch movies and tell people about it.

            Then I wake up to reality and am still pretty happy about having a blog where I can do pretty much the same thing. (Without the financial incentive.)

            I firmly believe that nothing goes better with a movie than sharing a fine dining moment with someone you care about. If you’re lucky enough to live in a gastronomically endowed community you can experience the entire world via your taste buds. Dinner and a movie isn’t just the fall back plan for a date, it’s the perfect combination of recreational possibilities; you pamper your body and then you indulge your mind.

            All of this leads up to my discovery of the latest evolution in entertainment Mecca: One-stop food and film. And I’m not talking about brining home boxed pizza and a rental so you can all picnic in front of the television. (Okay, that’s still a good option.)

            For my birthday, my son took me to AMC so that we could try their new “Dine-In Theater” attraction. Today I’m covering the dining portion of the evening and on Friday I will give my normal movie review for the film we watched.

            This was actually our second attempt to try it. The week previous we were turned away because the only showing of Real Steel was for their premium, adults only version of this experience and one of my minor children were with us.

            The following week the three of us bought tickets for a “Fork and Screen” session of the same movie and had the same experience, sans alcohol. This is where I received my first surprise. I expected to pay a premium price for tickets. We didn’t. These were the standard ticket prices for a movie at AMC.

            Score 1 – AMC.

            We were escorted into the auditorium. There were significantly less seats in the theater than I’m used to. The seats were put in small rows which meant that you were more than likely only going to be sitting next to the people that you arrived with. My oldest son and I were split on how comfortable the seats were. I was impressed with the amount of room they gave you to move around, but he felt they were too stiff and didn’t have enough leg room.

            Score 1/2 – AMC.

            Before the movie started our waiter took our order and explained how we could push the button on our chair for service and to please not holler during the movie for refills or more fries. All of the employees were friendly and courteous throughout our dine-in movie experience. But the real test of something like this is the food and the movie.

            The menu offered appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, a few dinner items, and desserts all with a reasonable amount of variety. I ordered a Blue Max burger, my oldest son had a chicken sandwich and my youngest son had chicken tenders. The chicken tenders were pretty standard children’s fare; meaning they were decent, but not exceptional. My burger was comparable to ones I’ve had at some of the better burger restaurants. According to my oldest son his chicken sandwich was good – not great.

            Overall, I was happy with the quality of the food they served. And on to my second surprise; the prices were competitive with restaurants where we might order similar quality items.

            That should score a point right there. However, I love free refills. When you stop and consider that the price of a meal is only slightly more than what you would spend on popcorn, soda and candy I think it gives this section of the score card a one plus. 

            Score 1 – AMC.

            The final aspect of the experience that I considered was view-ability. How much did the food service disturb my movie watching? Frankly, I expected it to be more distracting. Then again, that comes from someone who is used to three children constantly jockeying for the spot next to dad. Because the seats were so spread out, the impact on me when other patrons were eating or having food served was minimal. However, this is the wrong environment for deeply immersing yourself into a story. Comedy and action are good genres for this combination treat, but I would seek a traditional theater for any film with an engrossing storyline.

            Score ½ - AMC

            Overall, the dinner and a movie experiment was a success. This isn’t going to replace my normal theater habits, but it does provide a nice alternative for those occasions where I feel like I need a bit of a change. It is definitely a nice variant of the normal dinner and movie date routine.

          Randy’s Rating             $$$


  1. That sounds fun!
    I worked in the theaters and it was awesome. Sometimes I still think I'd like to work in the theaters. It was easily one of my favorite jobs. Then I think about the hours and I think...I should probably be home those hours. Maybe when I get old instead of greeting at walmart I'll be popping popcorn and tearing tickets :)

  2. I would love this, what a great idea. It sounds like they've thought it through and are executing it pretty well too.

  3. I've never heard of this but it sounds like it would be fin to try. Thanks for your thoughtful critique!