#545 Watching a movie in the basement with a group of friends

It’s better in the basement.

Give us the stained couches demoted from the family room. Give us those plastic walls full of pink insulation. Give us those cold floors and thin carpets.

Give us that dark cave hidden from the outside world.

Give us a group of friends hanging out.

And give us a screwball comedy.

Yes, it’s time to order that pizza, fall into the squishy couch, pile pillows against each other, and pass the fuzzball blanket. It’s time to enjoy a good movie with a group of friends — ideally featuring several of these characters:

The Waiter. Sure, the host usually covers this job — filling popcorn, pouring Pepsi — but if the gang’s super tight someone else can take it on. If you know your friend’s pantry well and they don’t mind you raccooning around, feel free to take orders and go digging for gold.

The Punchline. This is the person who adds the live DVD commentary from the corner of the couch. He generally tries to top the characters onscreen and his favorite line is “That’s gotta hurt!”

• The Revealer. The Revealer saw this movie already. You find that out the first time they say “Shhh! Good scene, good scene!”

• The Maestro. This is a high pressure role that involves owning the remote control for the entire movie. The Maestro is responsible for determining which bathroom breaks are pause-worthy and when to rewind and rewatch an important scene. Also, they must be comfortable cranking the volume if The Revealer (“Good scene!”) and The Punchline (“Gotta hurt!”) start talking too loudly.

• The CG Judge. Does that plane crash look fake? Do those dinosaurs look real? The CG Judge offers instant analysis on all special effects scenes.

• The Dimmer. This person is obsessed with movie theater atmosphere. Ten seconds into the movie they frantically start on mad dash to turn off every light in the room. This seems like a good idea until someone has to Blind Man’s Bluff their way up the rickety stairs to go to the bathroom.

Now, every group’s got their own cast of characters. It’s good to love them all and it’s good to love those moments.

After all, friends grow up and graduate, some people change and roll on, and life wheels and deals us in all directions. So love those late nights in sixth grade with root beer and double cheese pizzas. Love those 4am Fridays in high school when everyone’s friends and everything’s funny.

Just remember those long nights, strong nights, and staying up till dawn nights. Smile hard at the smiles, laugh loud at the laughs, and always enjoy those basement movie memories … with your basement movie friends.


We’re in the April issue of Reader’s Digest!

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

60 thoughts on “#545 Watching a movie in the basement with a group of friends

  1. You knew I’d be waiting for your next post, Neil.

    Definitely one I can relate to. Movie nights with my friends were exactly like this. My best friend’s girlfriend serving as the host and the dimmer simultaneously (!!!) while he worked as the maestro and the lot of us would all serve as the punchline. We were always the funniest people we knew. However, we never really had a CG critic as much as we had an acting critic or two (or five). Hey, we were theatre kids.

    This takes me back, once again, to the good old days. Expect me to organize a movie night when I get home from school.

    Expect me to invite all of you wonderful people.

    I expect you to arrive on time.

    And we can all expect it to be AWESOME.

    Highest of fives.

  2. This remainds me of 10 years ago when, twice a week, we stood in that little room watching movies… Yeah, it was in the afternoon and we weren’t eating pizzas, but who cares?

    Those were the best years of my life, I swear (for this and much more).

    Thanks for your posts :D

  3. I’m dating myself here but in sixth grade there were no DVDs or CGI, haha! But there was definitely Goonies!

    Also, congrats on making it into Reader’s Digest! What an accomplishment, Neil!

  4. Our tv in the basement was next to the furnace…so in the winter we would ask mom and dad to turn off the furnace (so it would not make noise during the movie) and load up on the blankets!!!

  5. Not to mention the disney movie nights. It’s always a great idea everyone is for, but when it finally comes to the night, you turn on that first disney classic and halfway through everyone it gossiping and throwing food and laughing. It’s a good time but

    I WILL have my disney movie night before I die.

  6. Haha! I guess I’m the Revealer, although I do make sure never to spoil anything for anyone. However, I do admit to saying something along the lines of “Shut up this is the best scene!!”

  7. This post was truly awesome. It brought me back to so many weekends I spent with 4 of the most wonderful women in my life. Filled with laughs, cries and even a few screams (but not many because a few in the group were not fans of the scary movies).

    Thank you Neil for posting this and thank you to the my best girl friends for making these memories possible.

  8. I am not exaggerating when I tell you this is my favourite awesome thing to date. This is my idea of a perfect night. And even though my friends and I can now drive, and drink(not simultaneously of course), and generally go out to do things instead of staying in, we still often call each other up and say “Want to just not go out tonight? Want to just watch a movie?” And those seem to be the nights we get most excited about. I love that my friends are comfortable enough in my house to play the Waiter, while I am busy with my duties as Maestro and Dimmer. Let’s face it, everyone’s the Punchline(and CG Judge). As Cary said, my friends and I consider ourselves pretty hilarious.

    Thank you for this one, it made me smile on a day when I really needed to smile.

  9. Great post. Another classic is “the one who always falls asleep.” That would be me. Even if I like the movie. But the quality of the sleeping action is proportionate to the overzealousness of the dimmer.

    1. Also the one who always cries, even if it’s not a sad film.

      My favourite instance was a friend who teared up at the Adam Sandler film “Big Daddy”.

  10. I haven’t done one of these in a long time and I agree that they’re awesome. And there’s also the person who’s seen the movie so many times he/she can quote from it.

  11. This is essentially my entire high school experience in one post. I practically lived in my friend’s basement!

    The best thing is, this still happens every winter break when everyone’s back from school. When we’ve got nothing to do, we always end back in our old high school haunt.

  12. Wow, that picture of the kids on the couch really got my attention. Look at that gorgeous garden outside! Nice blankie, too.

  13. We didn’t have a basement… but we did have a tv/video in my room, and a couch..those were the days…

  14. So, I was actually in my dorm basement watching Jurassic Park when I checked my email, an lo & behold…

    Either way, it was neat.

  15. Just had one of these last night, except it was in the den and we ate the pizza before the movie. But besides that, it was exactly like this! We all took on roles, although the Punchline was a bit of a shared part. And, since it was an 80s flick, there was pleanty to CGI-critic about!

  16. i do this with my friends every weekend. and each one of us fits these personalitys. good times :)

  17. We used to do this in an attic furnished as a sewing room, but as we grew up, the girl whose attic it was drifted away, but throughout high school and a little beyond, we might as well have lived in that attic. It’s only now that we do this in basements.

  18. I so love watching movies in the basement. I must say I would have to fit as the punchline. I always like to talk during the movies but most people hat it because they just want to sit back and relax and not have to worry with chatter. I find that when you watch movies with someone is about being with them and so I find that as a good enough excuse to say “What why is that happening?, Whoa did you see that, and I can’t believe they made a movie like this!.”

  19. I’m the maestro and the dimmer.

    But I refuse to watch movies with the punchlines and revealers.. I’d be liable to strangle them to death. I take my movies seriously.

  20. I’m about to pass out of school (not even college – SCHOOL school), and everything gets the tears a-flowing these days. This was a great post.

  21. I’m a maestro, dimmer and CG judge – and expect everyone else to be the waiter. Holy moly, I am a terrible person to watch a movie with.

  22. Aww, I feel deprived. Nobody has basements where I live so I have never felt this level of awesome brought to watching movies with friends.

  23. I’m a terrible revealer. Common scenario:

    I walk into a room of movie watchers and recognized the movie.

    Me, unthinkingly: “Oh, that guy’s not dead yet?”

    Me, realizing my mistake, trying to salvage the situation: “Don’t worry, he doesn’t really die! He lives at the end. It’s cool.”

  24. I love this one! We had the basement of all basements too.
    I still have the brown sectional couch my parents bought over 30 years ago in my basement. That couch goes where I go!
    We didn’t have the CG Judge (no CG when I was little), instead we had the skeptic, you know , that person that would say “That’s SO fake!” everytime something cool would happen!
    I was the Scaredy-Cat that hid under the blankets anytime some even remotely scary would happen. The first time I saw Darth Vader and Luke fight with lightsabres it was through the threads of our old Hudson’s Bay blanket.

    1. After going back and reading the other comments, I think it’s safe to say this was THE thing to do with your friends in the 80/early 90’s. Walking to the video store, cruising the aisles, begging mom to splurg on Old Dutch potato chips instead of the No Name brand (it’s a Canadian thing) so you’re friends would be impressed.

  25. You totally know!!! I swear, this is the story of my friends birthday party. You must remember your childhood. I loooooove this website!!! U rock!!!!!!

  26. Seriously, this is every weekend of my senior year perfectly summed up. Few things are greater than a basement movie night.

  27. I’m definitely The Dimmer. I think if you interrupt a movie for bathroom breaks, you ruin the mood. I love the Waiter type (but who doesn’t?)

  28. I’m the CG judge….. And so are my cousins. It’s funny to watch movies with them because someone always cracks a joke that makes us laugh our heads off during not-so-funny scenes. :-D AWESOME!

  29. I miss these days. It was always my house that people came over to because i actually had a basement suite in my house that i had all to myself, and yet no matter how much i had, we all packed on to one couch. I believe that litters of puppies that make less body contact ^__^. I miss being a teenager.

  30. Oh I hate ones like these that only apply to suburban areas! I guess at least I get to experience them through your blog :) But I live in an apartment building and lugging a TV and a couch seven floors downstairs would get a lot of weird looks, as would staying down there and watching a movie. Oh well.

  31. So true.

    Only once, I was at a sleepover with a bunch of my friends. And we were watching a movie…that I didn’t think we were old enough to. O_O.
    Oh well…;) it was fun until they ambushed me with pillows and blanket-capes. :)

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