Rich Simons | 11th Street
Every month Rich Simons answers readers'
most perplexing questions.
Editors note: In July of this year a revolutionary new movie theatre opened just east of I-5, a palace of splendor rumored to be fit for kings and pharaohs, who recline on couches of silk and summon forth serving wenches with the touch of a button. The movie screen is recessed into a tropical garden, they say, and fountains burble unobtrusively in the background. Between showings, houris dance in the aisles and conjurers produce pigeons from their hats.
To track down this rumor, the Sandpiper elected to dispatch Rich Simons (aka “Dr. Rich”), author of the iconic monograph “Is There Life East of I-5?” (June 2005 issue) to prepare another expedition into the unknown. (For those with lame memories, the answer produced by the previous trip was “no, except for a small anomaly known as “Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza.”)
Dr. Rich reports: With considerable trepidation my significant other agreed to accompany me. The Cinepolis Luxury Cinema exists on the site of the old Ultrastar theatre, just adjacent to the afore-mentioned anomaly. Our first task was to select a movie. The theatre boasts six screens, and the fare offered on most of them was the sort of thing that The New Yorker does not review: blow ‘em ups aimed at the “tennis shoes full of hormones” crowd. We went high end, basically choosing Paul Giamatti over Jack Black.
I made reservations (recommended) days in advance on the Internet, throwing caution to the wind and letting the computer select our seats. Armed with the chit printed out at home, we approached with caution. As you enter, the box office is to your right and a modernistic sort of café to your left which will serve you even if you have been too cheap to purchase a movie ticket (ticket prices vary; we seniors shelled out $18 each; 3D will set you back $22.50).
At the far end of the restaurant is a bar and even at a considerable distance I could make out two top-of-the-line gins, one excellent vodka, an acceptable bourbon and a single-malt scotch. Yes, I thought, I can be happy here. The fare offered at the restaurant is sort of high end pub grub: sliders, sushi and cheese sticks ($7 - $13). The chicken wrap was okay; the teriyaki beef skewer not too bad; the margarita really quite nice. We passed on the popcorn ($7) and the water ($4).
The big WOW feature at this theatre is that you can order up food and beverages from your seat during the movie! However, the management encourages you to arrange your picnic before the feature starts. To provide time for that they play about an hour of those misnamed “trailers” and sponsor a game of musical chairs for your entertainment. The seats are “reserved” but when you arrive at the location on your ticket you will find they are occupied, and the stewardess (oops – flight attendant) will suggest you find another, so you do, then the people who have “reserved” those seats arrive and the game goes on!
The seats are NOT lined in silk but rather a hardy vinyl that I imagine resists nacho sauce well. They recline like Barcaloungers and are quite comfortable. During a really dull movie you could easily fall asleep . . . IF management didn’t have the sound cranked up to about 120 decibels above heavy metal. A tray swings out from somewhere. The screen itself is a huge in-yo-face affair, rather as if you had pulled up a chair about three feet from that wide-screen thing you have at home. The redolence of fried onion rings adds to the ambience.
I wanted the full dining experience so I waited ‘til about mid-movie before pushing the sexy little blue button to summon the nubile serving wench. After a while the goodies nymph arrived, in the form of an out-of-work NBA power forward. Squatting before me as I patiently explained the difference between bourbon and scotch, he totally blocked out the screen. Consequently I missed the critical scene where George Clooney gets stabbed to death (sorry - that may have spoiled the movie for you). In the end, relying on my generous Sandpiper expense account, I ordered up a splash of the Glenlivet ($15).
Dr. Rich’s recommendation: Go ahead – take out that 2nd TD and give Cinepolis a try. Experience the last dying gasp of movie theatres as they yield to Netflix, Redbox and wide-screen home TV. But dine first at that anomaly mentioned previously. I recommend the Caribbean Spicy Chicken Angel Hair, paired with the Stone Levitation Amber Ale.