The Origins of Dumb Movie Night


After years of freely opening our home to entertain others, the last few we’ve dwindled down to nearly none of that beyond the once-a-month dinners we feed to young elders who are serving missions for the LDS Church in Minnesota.

We have moved on to a weekly date night instead. But, a small town like ours offers little in the way of entertainment on a Friday night beyond high school football, bowling, movies in an old theater with sticky floors and small screens or dinner in one of the handful of restaurants in town. Not to knock Brainerd—there’s plenty to do and see outside, but what about the other nine months of the year?  To be fair, we have seen some good local concerts and occasional community theater, but why are most of them on Sunday afternoon?

Nothing, though, could prompt us to get back in the business of entertaining at home more than what we saw last Friday. We read in the paper about a traveling photo exhibit of famous nighttime photographers to be hosted at our mall. That sounded like something we could appreciate.

Once we arrived, we expected to find an obvious exhibit in the center court. Nope, just a couple of families eating ice cream at the Dairy Queen.  We wandered around, trying not look look like we were looking for something that wasn’t there. We found a sign on a metal stand advertising the exhibit and noted the dates, which included the week before, that night and the next few days.

Up and down the mall we walked, past ten or twelve retailers and lots of spaces for lease, toward the anchor department store. We felt like we were watching the slow death of the indoor mall—or at least the one in our town. I wanted to cry, but sadly, not for the owners who were losing their livelihood.

We walked past yet another store front with a For Lease sign in it, but this one was lit with big fluorescent lights shining on old carpet and a faux log check-out counter and abandoned dressing rooms. Paul stopped at this empty space. “I think this is it.”

Now, imagine those black-rimmed posters mounted on foam core and covered in cellophane plastic that filled 80’s novelty shops.  Around twenty of these posters rested strategically above eye level on clothes hooks on the walls. While the photography may have been really spectacular, we could not see it through the light that glared on the plastic.

Following this disappointing adventure, we sat in the parking lot of the movie theater, too late to go to the early movie but too early to go to a late movie. There, my husband proposed starting a club in town where adults who don’t drink could just gather on Friday nights to hang out and talk, maybe watch old movies and eat hors d’oeuvres.

Hmm, that sounded an awful lot like our old times of entertaining at our house. Since we’ve outgrown the need to be pretentious and prove our cooking and entertaining ability, he suggested “Dumb Movie Night.” We provide the house one Friday night a month and the popcorn. Our friends bring a dumb movie they’d like to watch.

I hear Godzilla may be showing soon.


  1. Debs
    Sep 30, 2009

    wow sounds like your living in a cute little ghost town, of sorts 🙂

    i love your idea for friday nights, i think non-alocholic/loud/busy places are definitely in short supply… maybe i shoud head on over to yours!! 😉

    anyone for Twilight…again?!!


  2. Raya
    Sep 30, 2009

    wonderful idea, the price is right too.

  3. Rebecca
    Sep 30, 2009

    Sounds like where I grew up. Dumb Movie Night would have kept me out of a lot of trouble in high school!

  4. terena
    Sep 30, 2009

    sounds perfect. Don’t forget Vincent Price. The Pit and the Pendulum is great.

  5. L Jensen
    Oct 2, 2009

    That sounds like fun. We recently went to dinner at the home of friends and then played Dominos Mexican Train. It was arm twisting that got David to play — a movies might have met with less resistance. We did have fun talking, laughing and just being together. Let us all know how the Dumb Movie Night goes over.

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