Dinner and a movie…it sounds like such a good idea, right? A movie theater with a restaurant inside? A place where you can get something a little more substantial than a soggy bag of popcorn and a box of Goobers? Yeah. And let me tell you, you take someone from a town that doesn’t have Denver’s penchant for nightlife amalgamation to a spot that does flicks and food in the same building and they just go apeshit for it. I’ve seen out-of-town friends and relations ball their hands, clench their jaws and literally shake in their seats: “Why doesn’t INSERT NAME OF TOWN HERE have this yet?!”
So yeah, we’re lucky. If you’re feeling all fancy-pants, we’ve got Neighborhood Flix, where you can eat upscale macaroni and cheese and bratwurst off a menu designed by James Mazzio while watching In Bruges (which I did while researching my review of Flix). If a little white-trash entertainment is more your style, there’s Movie Tavern, where you can see some kind of Michael Bay face-melter while cramming your snack hole with Southwest chicken egg rolls, fish-and-chips or an entire three-scoop hot fudge sundae. Awesome, right?
But then there’s the new Landmark theater in Greenwood Village where, sure, the movies are still the movies and the theaters come equipped with all the modern conveniences (like, uh…seats), but the food is just an embarassment.
Last week, I went to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Knowing that this was a Woody Allen movie and knowing how much Woody’s flicks have s-u-c-k-e-d sucked since he fell in love with Scarlett Johansson and started putting her in any movie that might require her to do a love scene, I figured on showing up early and putting down a couple of beers before the film got rolling. And this was where things started going wrong. Nothing but microbrews and Stella Artois, which smells like cold pee.
Two craft beers (and one overpriced shot of tequila) later, I started getting a little peckish. So I looked at the menu.
Pizza from Abo’s.
Breadsticks from Abo’s with sauce from (you guessed it) Abo’s.
Empanadas from some guy -- literally, just the name of some guy who, apparently, specializes in making empanadas for movie theaters.
Sandwiches from Rising Roll—a chain with locations scattered around the American South, and one in Greenwood Village.
Just about everything coming out of the “kitchen” at the new Landmark theater is pre-pack, up-from-frozen, commisary kitchen crap. I ordered breadsticks. The bartender told me it would just be a couple seconds. I thought he was kidding, but no -- about six seconds later (as long as it would take, I’m guessing, to warm them to service temp in an industrial-strength microwave), there were my breadsticks, like he was some kind of bread magician and had just made this whole plate of them appear.
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They tasted exactly like you’d guess pre-made, frozen, shipped and microwaved breadsticks would taste: terrible. Like mouthfuls of kindergarten paste dipped in tomato sauce from a can.
Already, this is what we’ve been reduced to. The dinner/movie trend just hit it big here last year, and now comes the corner-cutting, the cheap-jacking, the dumbing down of a good idea to make it work in spaces where it patently can’t.
No room for a kitchen inside your movie theater? Then don’t serve food in your movie theater. Simple as that. Just show movies. God only knows how I got by for so many years watching flicks without the benefit of Jameson’s Irish and a basket of waffle fries, but I did. And rather than sink again to the depths of the cuisine at Landmark, I gladly will again.
Or at least go back to sneaking in a hip flask and some snacks of my own. – Jason Sheehan