CHICAGO—Video Station customer Peter Lisowitz expressed annoyance and amusement Monday, when every single person in the video store was overheard saying "the stupidest things imaginable."
"I was wandering up and down the aisles looking for something to rent," Lisowitz said. "During that time, I was privy to some of the most ridiculously idiotic comments ever uttered."
In the 20 minutes Lisowitz browsed the store before deciding to rent Memento, he "actually heard with [his] own two ears" customers saying that Being John Malkovich was really weird and made no sense, Dead Man Walking was depressing and went on way too long, and Frances McDormand is too ugly to be in the movies.
In addition to dismissing movies and actors Lisowitz admires, customers had high praise for those he dislikes.
"Some woman said, 'Keanu Reeves is such a great actor. He just really gets into a role. I wish he'd do a movie with Tom Cruise. That'd be an amazing pairing,'" Lisowitz said. "That's an actual quote."
Adding to Lisowitz's disbelief, a college-aged male held up a Rush Hour box for approval from his girlfriend. She responded by saying, "Ew, I hate foreign films."
"Not only does she think, for some unfathomable reason, that the presence of Jackie Chan makes the movie 'foreign,' but she makes the blanket statement that she hates foreign films—all of them," Lisowitz said. "Yeah, you're right. Foreign films, on the whole, just aren't worth watching. Better stick to high-quality American fare like The Waterboy and Tomcats."
Added Lisowitz: "It's not like I'm some freako movie snob who only watches Fellini and Cassavetes films. I liked Saving Private Ryan and Toy Story 2. And Meet The Parents was pretty good. But these people are complete retards."
According to Lisowitz, when choosing a movie to rent, many customers based their decision on "shit you wouldn't believe," such as the picture on the video's box, the impressive number of copies on the store's shelf, or their memories of the trailer for the film.
"This girl goes, 'I never saw What Women Want, but I remember it looked really funny in the trailer. Mel Gibson shaves his legs and puts on makeup and pantyhose. And there's this scene where he catches Helen Hunt looking at his crotch. We gotta get it,'" he said. "I didn't know whether to laugh or cry."
Continued Lisowitz: "Then, I hear this other guy go, 'I heard Driven was really good.' How? From whom? Who are your friends? Where could you possibly have obtained that information? These people were like aliens from a planet where everyone is a moron and watches bad movies."
Lisowitz said that another customer based his rental decision on a heavily manipulated, ellipses-riddled, exclamation-point-augmented quote from Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers. Reading the back of the box for the critically panned Blow, the unidentified man told his female companion, "The guy from Rolling Stone says it's "full of... visual dazzle! A [wild ride] with... a bravura performance from Depp! Blow delivers!"
"How could anybody be swayed by that?" Lisowitz asked. "It's obvious they had to mangle the hell out of the original review to get that blurb. When have you ever read a movie review that had exclamation points?"
The stupidity, Lisowitz said, was not limited to Video Station customers. Store employees seemed to know little about film, either.
"I asked the store manager if there was an anime section," Lisowitz said. "So he says to me, 'Most of the Disney stuff is in the kids section. Is there a specific cartoon I can help you find?' This is the manager."
Lisowitz insisted that he was not trying to eavesdrop on his fellow customers.
"I swear, I'm not a snoop—you just couldn't avoid hearing them," Lisowitz said. "The aisles were crawling with people saying things like, 'Autumn In New York made me bawl' and 'I've seen American Pie, like, 25 times.' It took every ounce of strength in my body to keep me from punching that guy, like, 25 times."
Though he did not punch anyone, Lisowitz admitted to rolling his eyes several times and emitting the occasional "pfff" sound.