AMC, You’re killing me.

In my Oscar post Saturday, I left an award out (Well, two. A commenter filled in the gap I left for the incredibly obvious ‘Sixth Man’ award for best movie that didn’t get a nomination). I saved the award for ‘Worst Short Form Video of the Year’ for its own post today. My recent movie and Oscar interest only extends so far: to the major categories, that is. So, with all respect to the fine, creative people who are making, I’m sure, truly excellent short films, I have to admit that I don’t even know who’s been nominated for Best Short Film. I haven’t seen a one. I haven’t been to any film festivals. But I’m absolutely sure that I’ve seen the worst short video of the year, several times. There can really only be two choices: ‘Bouncing Red AMC Logo Goes to the Movies’ and ‘Bouncing Red AMC Logo Goes to the Movies 2: The Irritation Grows.’

If you’ve been to an AMC Theater recently, you are familiar with the videos of which I speak, and you probably have your own story of how and when you grew to loathe them. For me, it happened on Christmas Eve, the day Stephanie and I launched our Oscar campaign. A quick scan of the ¬†listings told us that there was a showing of American Hustle timed perfectly for to observe the Housman Christmas Eve tradition of movie-watching and still make it just in time to the Acker Christmas Eve party.

We arrived at the theater at showtime, got some popcorn and soda, and settled into our seats for what we thought would be a few previews and our movie. Instead we endured an endless string of commercials, for cars, TV shows, and entire TV networks. These were apparently the build-up to the first act finale: ‘Bouncing Red AMC Logo Goes to the Movies,’ in which the red dot from the AMC logo becomes a bunch of bouncing balls who fill a massive paper cup with Coke on some sort of rocket launch pad. I don’t know whether it was brilliant or ironic that this video played just about as my own popcorn and soda were pretty much empty. I do know that it was infuriating.

Once ‘Bouncing Red AMC Logo …’ finished playing we moved to previews. We incorrectly took that as a sign that the actual movie we came to see would soon begin. But no. They must have played 17 previews. These previews were all over the map. Romantic comedies. Animated movies. The next Transformers. Anything goes. By the time the previews were done, we had psychological whiplash, and we felt pummeled by the long, relentless attempt to sell us stuff. It’s like we endured a time share pitch, but from a salesperson who kept forgetting what it was they were trying to get us to buy.

After the 17th preview was finished, the room darkened, and we thought that now, finally, our movie was beginning. But, again, no. Instead it was the absolute, perfect nadir to our pre-movie experience: ‘Bouncing Red 2,’ in which the bouncing red AMC logo has a pet, and that pet is also a bouncing red AMC logo, who is a dog on a leash, but not really a dog on a leash but the AMC logo’s cell phone, which Bouncing Red needs to silence before the movie begins. How in the world does this make any sense? How is it necessary? Why couldn’t they just put up a slide that said, ‘Please silence your phones’? And why didn’t they do that 35 minutes ago?

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All told, it was 45 minutes from the listed showtime to the time the movie actually began. We had not budgeted for that. It meant that we spent the last half hour or so of quite a good movie–the movie that we’d actually paid money to see–not relishing the unfolding of the final, delightful scam, but instead hoping it would just end ¬†so that we could get to our Christmas Eve party on time. AMC decided for us that it would be better for us to watch ‘Bouncing Red’ 1 and 2 than to savor the actual movie.

For that, I award ‘Bouncing Red 2′ worst short video of the year. And because of that, I’m spending as much of my moviegoing time as possible at our local independent theaters: The Somerville and The Capitol. The seats aren’t quite as comfortable. But there’s no bouncing ball video, and no commercials. Just a preview or two, and then the movie. And as an extra bonus, both theaters serve beer.

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