Monday, June 24, 2002

by Wayne Robins

Sunday I was all pumped up to see "Undercover Brother," and the set up was solid: Both "U.B." and the G-rated animated "Spirit" were playing at 11 AM at our local multiplex. So I'd dig "U.B.", and my all-girl backup group, the Waynettes featuring Mom, would see "Spirit." I was wearing my hand painted pastel colored James Brown t-shirt, though the chance of me fitting into any of my flare pants or bell bottoms from the era are nil to none.

I bought my ticket, and the ticket taker teased me. "I think 'Undercover Brother' is more like an HBO show than a real movie," she says. (For context, it should be pointed out she was a smart, attractive black woman in her late teens or early 20's). "But that was my time!," I said. "I flew with P-Funk during the 'Mothership Connection' tour!"

"Yeah, well," she says, an apparent variation of "whatever..." So I strut into theater four, an imaginary Afro covering the bald spot on the top of my head, and the theater is completely empty. And on the screen is "Lilo and Stitch," itself a bizarre pop culture artifact, a Disney animated 'toon feature starring the music of...Elvis Presley. I'd see this with the kids, but the disconnect at the moment was too much.

I ran screaming...I mean, strutted cooly--to the customer service desk, and explained my problem. See, they were expecting an overflow from the 10:40 AM "Lilo" in theater three, so they also played it in theater four, preempting "Undercover Brother." And they couldn't reconfigure the computer projectors. Anyway, I was welcome to see another movie and get a refund afterwards. The only other thing playing at that starting time was "Bad Company," a Jerry Bruckheimer/Joel Schumaker sit-bomb about a CIA plot to save the world by buying a nuclear device from some Yugo-Russian bad guys that also happens to be a vehicle for a double dose of...Chris Rock, whose twin brother was separated at birth and became an international multimillionaire businessman who does favors for the Agency but who gets killed, so his other identical twin, a ticket-scalping, chess-hustling street guy gets to maybe save the world...Anthony Hopkins, as the CIA agent who has to train the stand-in, never looked so unhappy picking up a paycheck. The only smiles came at the end, when the theater manager not only refunded my ticket price, but that of the Waynettes as well. They loved "Spirit," by the way.

(c) copyright 2002 Wayne Robins. All rights reserved. Comments?

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