The Silent Side Seat Watch

Previews. Reviews. Poster. Stars. Plot. Genre.

So many things that can help you decide if a movie is worth your time. But on airplanes, there is another category of movie decision-maker: The silent side seat watch.

We’ve been doing it for decades. A movie will show in the main cabin on overhead screens. You don’t plug in your headphones or watch it. But every now and then you look up and check out a few moments. For an unfamiliar movie, you have to supply your own explanation on the plot, characters, and dialogue. Sometimes you find yourself watching huge chunks of the movie even though you really don’t know whats going on. Often the more inscrutable, the more you watch. You almost NEVER take out you headphones because you are not watching the movie, of course. But when it is all over you have a decided review of the film from the silent chunks you observed.

Nowadays, there are even more options to silent side seat watch: Inflight entertainment at your seat, laptops, iPads all provide chances to follow along on someone else’s film – silently, occasionally, and perplexingly.

On a recent pair of long flights, I saw a big chunk of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. While I might eventually watch the film, there was nothing in this silent pseudo-historical slayer flick that drew me in despite watching the 16th president take out an occasional vampire. Perhaps hearing Abe talk – a man of excellent words – as he battles the undead will improve the film. Even The Godfather is likely unappealing for a first time viewer too if you lose the dialogue and plot.

Then I watched some scenes from Men in Black III. I’ve seen this film and thought it was lacking plot, dialogue, and interesting characters. So removing all those might improve the movie. But watching selected scenes again from spots in the movie, I was reminded of all the other things I really really didn’t like about it. Same thing with Rock of Ages. On my return flight that was on a seat ahead of me, right in my eye line. The silliness of the movies was only simplified without the singing – all overacting and costumes without the marginal covers of the rock hits.

I wonder if all movies fail in silent side seat watching. Some scenes from People Like Us with Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks looked dreadful. But the movie on has a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, so my brief watching may be accurate.

What films have you side seat watched? Did you think any of them were good? Good enough to watch regularly at  later date? Share in the comments.

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One comment on “The Silent Side Seat Watch

  1. Bill says:

    You raise an interesting topic about in-flight movies. I suspect the airlines pick up the “dogs” for a lower price – hence the frequency with which they are shown. It is hard to avoid them. If you close your eyes the flicker will disturb your slumbers. I have taken to packing a pair of sleep eye covers. No flickering with them.
    The best airlines offer you multiple choices of movies which you select for your personal viewing on the screen on the seat infront of you. I confess I watched the whole series of Lord of the Rings on an overnight flight back to New Zealand. Bill….

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