Continuing the geographical tradition of showing movies to the Baton Rouge population on the big screen, Movie Tavern has taken up residence in the Citiplace location on the premise that people would love to eat dinner and watch a movie at the same time.
It makes sense, on paper at least. What could be better than chugging a few beers, inhaling some sliders, and watching the latest movies in the best environment? Seemingly nothing, but the problems arise with the fact that it isn’t a private screening, and that are other moviegoers just as keen on the good times as your party.
Enter the noise complaints.
What may seem like a match made in heaven turns out to be little more than a movie plus a few unnecessary distractions.
The lobby packs more amenities more than your average movie theater lobby, so at least they’ve got that going for them. It’s quite small, but does feature drink specials and dinner options that you can’t find at other theaters. Typical stale popcorn and month-old hotdogs are cast aside for more full fledged options like hamburgers and chicken salads. It’s quite luxurious to order these dishes without stopping for dinner before the show, but ultimately frivolous. Baton Rouge is producing new restaurants by the week, so there really shouldn’t be a huge demand to circumvent those options. Regardless, the food is passable and does the job.
When you’ve finished eating or drinking in the lobby, the next logical step would be to take your seat in the theater and wait for the movie to start, but, that’s not the case. Because patrons have been eating and drinking their whole dinners in the theater just before you, clean up takes longer than at other theaters, resulting in an awkward amount of standing around and waiting to be allowed in.
Once you’ve been allowed to take your assigned seat, it hits your that it takes more than the average amount of space to accommodate the swiveling table and dysfunctional recliner, so seats are generally limited, which, to me, is a checkmark in the pro’s column. The fewer people in the theater with you, the better you would think the atmosphere is. Less noise, chatter, and annoyances can only make the experience better. And it would, if that’s actually what happens. The tradeoff for so few people is that their energy level is actively encouraged by the theater.
The entire process of eating dinner at a restaurant is now happening for you and for everyone around you. People are talking, eating, drinking, and joking while the movie is playing. I know plenty of theaters allow alcohol before a movie starts, but doing so during the flick when “silence is golden” could not be a worse idea. Watching Samuel L. Jackson give his dramatic monologue during “Hateful Eight” while also listening to the hillbilly a few seats down complain about his bill kills any sense of immersion in the movie you may have had.
The nerve it takes this theater to run the “turn of your cell phones because it’s distracting” announcements is unparalleled. If the lights and noises of a typical iPhone is distracting, what would you call the clatter of silverware, waitresses walking in front of the screen every few minutes, and the disgusting sounds of reclining hillbillies scarfing down Coors Light and french fries?
As a theater, the Movie Tavern is fine. The movies play on time, the seat are quite comfortable, and it’s in a location we’re all used to. But, the presence of waiters and waitresses pacing back and forth passing out drinks, dishes and checks is a nuisance, plus the ramped up noise of people ordering and eating make it more trouble than it’s worth. If you can’t stand the idea of eating before or after you watch the movie, this is the place for you. But, for those who like to approach things logically and don’t think you’ll starve to death in those two hours, check the screen times elsewhere.