A few years ago, Loren, Robert, and I headed to the Academy to see The Shape of Things, LaBute's outrageous, button-pushing, emotionally sadistic drama about sexual and gender politics. (Because who doesn't enjoy an outrageous, button-pushing, emotionally sadistic drama from time to time?) When we got up to the counter to buy our tickets, the clerk said, "Um...there's a...group...going to see this movie. Are you sure you want to go to this showing?"
"Is it sold out?" we asked.
"No. It's just that a large group just bought tickets to this show."
We all looked at each other, unsure of what the big deal was. The ticket guy gestured with his head, directing our attention to the group that he was referring to:
Hanging out in the lobby was a large group of retarded teenagers. I am not making this up. There was an adult chaperone or two, overseeing an afternoon field trip with mentally disabled kids.
I glanced over at The Shape of Things poster and recalled everything I knew about the movie. It's R rating was earned because of its profanity and adult themes, it's extremely dialogue-heavy, and LaBute's palette is typically the cinema of emotional abuse. Far be it for me to legislate what people should see, but it is by no means a film that is in any way appropriate for retarded teens. Am I wrong?
We all stood in the lobby for a while, debating whether or not to buy tickets. Robert and Loren can't stand when people even whisper during a loud summer blockbuster, so there was no way that they were going to handle being in that theater without wanting to strangle someone to death, no matter how mentally challenged they were. But would it really be wise to pass up the opportunity to watch a Neil LaBute film with several rows full of retarded kids?
I remember trying to make a strong case for staying. "How many chances are we gonna have to see a movie like this with a bunch of retards?!" Robert and Loren weren't buying it.
I regret our decision today, but we left.
We ended up seeing Finding Nemo. And although we all loved it, in that crowd of children and families, we couldn't help feeling like retarded teenagers. And the world will never know what an amazing experience that afternoon showing of The Shape of Things in Pasadena must have been.
—Reporting From Glendale, California