As Becca, Spike and I were approaching the AMC Hamilton 24 tonight for the 10:30 show of “The Aviator” (it almost ended up being “Phantom”, but that wouldn’t have mattered anyway…), we noticed a huge commotion outside the box office area. As we walked up, we noticed that the crowd was especially noisy, and that there were many police officers in attendance as well. (In my head, I’m hearing “I’ve got a baaaad feeling about this.”) Sure enough, as we get about halfway to the box office, we spot Darren and Stacey walking away from the theater. And my suspicions were confirmed. For the second time in four years, there would be no movie on Christmas, due to rioting. That’s right, rioting.

Prior to the last Xmas riot, the only time I had ever heard of a movie audience losing their shit to this extent was over a decade ago, when “New Jack City” first hit theaters. The last time I checked, “Ali” and “A Beautiful Mind”, the big Xmas movies of 2001, weren’t nearly as controversial as “New Jack” – ditto for this year’s primary selections. So, I’ve just got to ask…what the hell? I don’t know the particulars of this year’s altercation, but were there two groups diametically opposed to the casting in “Phantom”? Or maybe it was an argument on absurdism v. realism stemming from a heated screening of “The Life Aquatic”? Maybe it had to do with the lack of wire-flying sequences in “House of Flying Daggers”? I just don’t get it. And on Christmas, no less. Granted, I’m Jewish, so I don’t get that either, but what about all that “peace on Earth, goodwill toward man” jazz? Or does that go out the window once you’ve paid your $8.50? I would really love for someone to explain this to me.

Anyway, the thought of catching a movie at Marketfair was entertained for a brief moment, until we realized that a) the last show of the night was at 10:30 there as well, and b) a horde of people who couldn’t get in at Hamilton would be going over to Marketfair, and many of them had a head start on us. So we ended up back at Darren’s house to watch “Monsters, Inc.” which, in the end, isn’t a half bad way to spend an evening.

We may have to rethink the Xmas Movie Tradition for future years – the solution may be as simple as “don’t go to AMC Hamilton 24”, although I don’t know how well Darren would take that. (He’s very picky about his moviegoing experience – but I’ve mentioned that before.) It may be that going to an earlier film is the solution (we were delayed slightly by dinner – Becca, Spike and I went to Sunny Garden, and from the look of the place, you’d think that they were the only restaurant open tonight – and every Jew in Mercer County was there for dinner), but given everyone’s various dinner plans, I don’t know how well that could work either. Maybe we need to dump the movie idea and go with a brand new tradition – perhaps an Xmas Poker Classic?