Or, at least that is my theory, and I’m sticking with it.
There is plenty of evidence to support me- the amount of orphans in cartoons alone is enough to send the hapless eyes of children into a crying frenzy. Um, Bambi anyone? The Lion King? Dead parents and shattered baby animals are not exactly the first thing you think of when you enthusiastically hire the Disney classics collection every Saturday night.
That said, children’s movies are pretty much my favourite kind- right up there next to zombies and psychological thrillers. You can see a pattern here, right? Hint- my favourite movies keep you up at night, too scared to sleep and humming nursery rhymes. More evidence in my court.
No movie more so, however, than Up!
The first time I saw Up was at the cinema in the opening week. I’d recently broken up with my girlfriend, on completely mutual grounds (yeah, right). Despite this, I was feeling the worse for wear and honestly, at a bit of a loss. What does a person do when they’re single? Suddenly traditionally couple-y things seemed far away. People in restaurants look at you oddly when you try to share a spaghetti strand with yourself, or sneak off to the restrooms for a quickie.
I purchased myself a ticket to an early evening session, maxed the credit card on a bucket of popcorn, a bag of peanut m’n’ms, a whole two litres of coke, some peanut brittle and an apple. The last one was a brief nod to my parents – when they asked later, I could say I had an apple to snack on without lying, even while tripping balls on some pretty heavy additives.
With my arsenal of sugar-coated feelings, I sat myself one seat from the end of an aisle. The seat next to me was now overflowing with the candy girl I’d fashioned from my purchases, and I was ready for some luridly bright colours, thick, blunt one-liners and subtle sex jokes for the parents.
Now, you can imagine single people in public on a scale of ‘people you most-to-least want to avoid’. If single diners are the ex-bestie-that-you-smile-at-politely-but-secretly-think-they-let-themselves-go-while-subtly-walking-away-in-an-ever-so slightly-deviated-direction, then single movie goers are the ex-girlfriend-that-tried-to-set-you-on-fire-but-is-now-dating-your-brother-and-even-though-they-are-a-raging-lunatic-you-need-to-grin-and-bear-it. No parent wants their kids next to the stranger with a ton of candy and a fixed expression. They barely want to sit next to that stranger themselves.
Needless to say, the movie theatre filled up quickly, but the seats next to me stayed pretty bare. That is, until the Couple showed up.
Ugh – this couple were the type that make you want to gag. My stash of sugar coated sugar with added sugar suddenly lacked sweetness next to their cutesy canoodling.
They scanned the seats, avoiding my eye desperately. But Up was a pretty popular movie when it first came out. Out of the whole cinema, the only two seats left together were the ones right next to mine. They gave and sat.
This was fine- I mean, I was there to see a sweet cartoon about a flying house, and I really gave less of a shit than I’m making out. I didn’t care. Really I didn’t. Honest.
At this point, the movie starts. I’ve eaten the guts out of my candy girlfriend already, so I’m buzzing. I grinned widely – this movie looked awesome already.
But, have you seen Up? No one warns you, you know. No one says ‘great movie, but the experience can be likened to having you face flayed by salt and acid tears.’
In the first ten minutes, you fall in love with the little couple, who plan epic adventures that are forever delayed, who grow old together, and just as they are about to set off on their dream… the wife dies.
Ten minutes in, it hits me. The seat next to me that was once filled with a real girlfriend was now fifty bucks of binge-eating and regret. I would grow old without her. I would never get to kiss her again. Our adventure was over.
And, I break down.
Like, when you sit and imagine a person crying in a movie, it’s usually a quiet, personal experience. I cry a lot in movies, so I can attest to the usual slow streak of tears as you silently mourn or celebrate the characters.
This is not what this was.
I was a shuddering, heaving, snotty mess. I was curled about myself, sobbing. Loud sobs, where the breath shudders into your lungs and blow bubbles out of your nose because you’re that broken.
Every time the house, the lovely flying house soared its way across the screen, the moans would begin again. ‘It’s a metaphor for heeeer,’ I whispered to myself between trembling lips, cramming another handful of popcorn in through the tears.
The couple next to me started off on a lovely, romantic date. As I descended into myself, and as my wailing rose, I became aware of their increasing uncomfortableness. I’d gone from crazy ex to that homeless crazy man that rants about aliens stealing his children outside the family court every lunch time, the one that everyone avoids and gets taken away by the police. I was THAT person.
By the end of the movie, as the house plummets through the clouds, and the main character lets go of his grief when he realises that the journey of their lives was the adventure his wife had cherished all along, I was beyond recovery. You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that the date going on next to me was dead in the water as well.
My final hiccuping sob echoed through the cinema, my dress was covered in tears, mucus and streaks of makeup, and I’m pretty sure that I’d accidentally wiped a layer of the same mess onto the hand rest that the woman was tapping her impatient fingers against right at that moment.
The credits rolled onwards as I shamefully wiped my face clean, puffed eyes avoiding their accusing gazes as the couple stormed part me.
But, it didn’t stop there.
The drive home, later that night, whenever I see balloons tied to fences, or old men, or couples at the movies, all this triggers a wave of the sads. The memory of salted, damp cheeks and raw eyes hits me and I’m back in the theatre again, being loudly torn to shreds-
Tortured to death by a children’s movie.