The Drafthouse and the Hobbit
by Celia Hayes
You know, there are some ideas which are so logical, simple in concept and satisfactory in execution that you wonder why it hasn’t been done decades ago. I speak of the Alamo Drafthouse, and the whole notion of going to a movie, and having dinner and drinks in the theatre while watching the movie. Yes, you’ve always been able to get candy, drinks, popcorn and nachos and dip, and take them into the theater with you. Back in the day when we were overseas and the movie show time at the AAFES theater was the exact same time that the NCO and O-Clubs served dinner, we would openly carry bags of hamburgers and fries into the theater with us. And there may still exist a movie house in Landstuhl, Germany – the Kino which showed first-run American movies on two or three screens and had a luxurious full bar in the lobby. You could have a couple of drinks beforehand, and carry them into the theater, where there were little tables and a tiny desk-light attached to the back of the seat in front of you – it was all very logical, and very, very civilized. The nearest thing to it in the States back then was a community dinner theater, where indifferent food and indifferent acting combined for your evening’s pleasure.
But it took to the late 1990s for the dinner-drinks-anna-movie concept to spring into being – in Austin, no less – and actually have drinks and a full dinner – appetizers, main course, desert and all – served inside the theater during the movie. What a concept! We were actually rather blown away by the efficiency of it all; waiters coming in and taking our orders before the movie, delivering the food relatively noiselessly, and coming around to settle up the bill in the last half hour. And since the movie involved was Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit – Part One of Three and Oh My Aching Tushie! – some very sustenance was required for the almost three hour running time. The substance provided the other night at the Alamo Drafthouse at Blanco and 410 was pretty darned good, at that – freshly prepared and reasonably priced. You could spend a heck of a lot more at a restaurant, a bar and then at the theater on an evening out and have a worse evening out. The only criticism that I would make about the Drafthouse is that of course, you are eating in the dark … and that the seats are not quite as luxuriously comfortable as at the Palladium IMAX. But the no-talking, texting, unescorted teens and children under six more than makes up for that; Blondie and I cannot count the times that we have been to a movie and had the experience comprehensively wrecked by inconsiderate people of every age being loud.
About The Hobbit itself? Well, aside from the aching tushie at about an hour and 45 minutes – it was all visually gorgeous, but I do think the director could have held himself to a two-part Hobbit and not repeated quite so many tropes from Lord of the Rings, but that’s just me.