WENT TO THE movies ("Godfather III") the other night and found it to be an unsettling experience, reaffirming once again why video rentals are going through the roof.
Our first stop was the candy counter, where we agonized over whether to get the grain silo-sized tub of popcorn or the oil drum-sized version, which feeds only 27 and yet does not have to be hauled into the theater itself via a crane.
This is probably showing my age, but I remember when popcorn cost 25 cents and came in these little white paper bags. We used to walk 10 miles to school each day, and on weekends when we weren't working in the sawmill, my old man would toss me a couple of coins and say: "Son, go take in a picture show."
See, back then we used to call them . . . sorry. Didn't mean to flash back quite that far. Makes you a little misty-eyed, though, doesn't it?
Anyway, a medium tub of popcorn, medium Diet Pepsi and M&M's the other night cost me . . . I don't know . . . $27.50.
OK, it was probably closer to six bucks. But, still. Six bucks! Now add that to the $12 price of tickets for two (my wife wouldn't wait in the car) and I'm down 18 bucks even before Andy Garcia chalks up his first stiff.
Speaking of the movie, I don't want to spoil the ending for you, as it will no doubt spoil itself.
But let's put it this way: the Corleones don't exactly link arms and sing "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!" as the credits roll.
What I mean is, the final scene in "Godfather III" is sort of, um, depressing. Unless you find an opera hall littered with corpses uplifting, in which case you should be swaying and speaking in tongues after this one.
Then again, how could the movie be anything but depressing, considering that it's the final chapter on the life of Mr. Gloom and Doom himself, Michael Corleone.
If you're scoring along with us at home, here are a few notable events in Michael's life prior to ''Godfather III'':
* He murdered a police captain.
* He murdered a rival mob boss.
* His father took about 60 slugs in the chest during a failed assassination attempt.
* His first wife was blown up by a car bomb.
* A rival mob family turned his brother Sonny into a pincushion with machine guns.
* He had his brother Fredo killed.
* He had his brother-in-law killed.
* His second wife left him, claiming there was too much violence in his life. (I know, I know . . . where does she get off saying that?)
* He had about 677 other people (although who's counting?) rubbed out in typically charming mob style: bombings, garrotings, stabbings, shotgun blasts, etc. (One sentence you never saw in the coroner's report of a Corleone enemy: "Died of natural causes.")
And you wonder why this guy doesn't smile a whole lot? Me, I'm surprised he can even get out of bed in the morning.
Yet even though Michael's life does not get a whole lot sunnier in "Godfather III," I generally enjoyed the movie, at least the parts I could hear.
I say that because there was a young couple behind us who carried on a rather loud conversation, the gist of which seemed to be that the gunplay scenes in the movie weren't "realistic."
"Hell, a 9mm don't recoil like that," the boy snorted at one point. "Now that sawed-off shotgun . . . recoil on that baby'll take your shoulder off."
He was also apparently an expert on helicopter warfare, surveillance tactics and the mountain terrain of Sicily. (You wonder why the FBI doesn't snap up these people and take advantage of their technical skills, instead of letting them languish behind the deep fryer in Burger Kings all across the country.)
Several times I considered telling young Mr. James Bond to pipe down.
But then I thought of that shootout at a Long Island movie theater, when one gang of teen-age thugs took another gang of teen-age thugs to task for talking too loudly, and pretty soon the aisles looked like Omaha Beach on D-Day.
So I didn't say a word, and was content to sit there munching from my tub of popcorn which, two hours into the movie, was still about two-thirds full.
Not that any of it went to waste. We brought the leftover popcorn home and, after donating a good deal of it to various charitable organizations, still have enough to last out the month. If you're in the neighborhood, feel free to help yourself.
Incidentally, the tub itself makes a fine planter.