Up came out in the United States on May 29, 2009. I had been planning on seeing it in New York City with one group of friends — essentially my core friends at the time — but another group of friends (rather, I believe, a solitary friend) invited me to see it a few days before that. I had heard the movie was pretty good and at the time I had a deep obsession with Pixar, who seemingly never makes a bad movie. I went the first time (I think it was a Tuesday night) and loved it. I mean, have you seen Up? Who wouldn’t love it? I decided to re-see it with my core friends, one of whom had a friend visiting from Florida. This didn’t end well.
The initial viewing, as noted above, had been a Tuesday. The second viewing was slated for a Friday night, at one of the theaters off Times Square. It was a 10pm start — place was packed. It was Friday, June 5, 2009.
Here was the basic problem: at the time, I used to have this whole social thing going where I went out with my co-workers on Friday nights after work and knocked back a few. I wouldn’t say, in hindsight, that this was healthy. Nor would I say the guys I was drinking with necessarily good friends of mine — they were drinking buddies — but at the time I was feeling a little misguided. I had friends, although I had just kind of semi-shifted my friend group and two of my good friends — from this core group — were leaving that summer for grad school.
I figured on this night in question, I’d hit up this bar after work, get 2-3 drinks, and head to see Up.
“… life is what happens when you’re making other plans…”
June 2009 was a transition point at my job then (ESPN) between the team I was on doing Magazine content (first role) into doing Insider/paid content (second role). This shift was cool for a while, although it ultimately probably drove me out of the company.
The night of June 5th was actually the happy hour where that transition took place.
Needless to say, I went over my 2-3 area and was probably in a 5-6 area. One of my co-workers brought her parents, who were in town, and I started talking to her dad about the Red Sox. (Two titles in five years at that point.) One co-worker of mine walked in and said, “Who’s paying for this?” I responded, “I think the bosses are.” He roared back: “TIME TO GO TOP-SHELF ON THEM BITCHES, THEN!”
I was fired up and, let’s be honest, I was drinking too much.
I started getting texts from my friends I was supposed to see Up with at around 7:45pm — we were supposed to grab some food. I had been at the bar since about 5:45pm and I was not sober at this juncture.
My first text reply: “On my way.” (I wasn’t.)
Got another text a while later, and one more drink later. (I had closed out by now, thankfully.) “In a cab.” (I wasn’t.)
Finally got over there, and of course, if you know Times Square, there are two movie theaters across the street from each other. I went into the wrong one. Then I exited, got confused, pondered my existence for a second, and walked into a chain Mexican restaurant. I was a mess.
Get to the right theater, meet my friends, enter.
Like I said, this place was packed. The only place we could grab five seats was right near the front.
Also as I said, I was not sober at this moment.
So the movie begins, and, bear in mind … I’ve seen the movie before. I know everything that’s going to happen.
So I basically start calling shots — “OMG THIS PART IS SO SAD” and “OMG THIS IS SUCH A GREAT SCENE, WATCH WHAT HAPPENS HERE.”
Thing is, I was saying this pretty loud, and I was near the front — so we’re talking about 400 other people in the theater who are dealing with my bullshit. Not a good look, sir.
Eventually I spilled popcorn on my friend’s friend, made loud smacking noises with my jaw, and passed out for a bit (snoring).
There are probably 400 people in and around New York City who saw Up at the end of its first week of release who absolutely despise me. Again, not a good look.
When I tell this story in person, I can make it kind of funny — I mean, I’m some big kid who was basically screaming and snoring in a movie theater, and there’s an element of (buried) humor to it — but it’s not the greatest I’ve ever felt about myself, to be honest.
The next day, I met up with those same friends to watch cricket then horse racing (we are nerds).
First words from one of my friends to me: “Rough night, eh?”
Funny story sidebar here: the girl I spilled popcorn all over is actually pretty good friends with my current wife (at the time of this story, we hadn’t started dating), as are most of the other people in this story. Surprising that stories like this exist and still, people come together. (My mother-in-law has heard this story and laughed, as an additional FYI.)