Do You Watch Movies Like an Introvert or an Extrovert?
Ask a movie lover whether they prefer to see movies in their home by themselves or with a group of people, and you’ll often get a passionate argument for one or the other. Some argue that watching films with other people is way too distracting, and they can’t really immerse themselves in the movie. Others argue back that the best way to watch a movie is with a full audience, because that’s how the filmmakers intended it to be seen when they made it for theatrical release.
Admittedly, some of this comes down to pure personal preference. I’m intensely introverted and will nearly always prefer solo movie-watching to a group watch, while my more extroverted friends are more likely to round up a group of friends to watch with.
But there is a third side to this debate: The idea that one or the other isn’t better all the time, but rather that each lends itself to certain genres or movie types. Which viewing style is best for which movie style? Here are a few ideas.
Comedy is extremely subjective, and what one person finds funny, someone else may find just dumb. So shouldn’t you watch comedies at home by yourself? Actually, I’d argue it’s way more fun to watch it with others. Laughter begets laughter – that’s why so many TV sitcoms still have laugh tracks. While we’ve become pretty attuned to canned laughter on TV shows, hearing real people laughing around you puts you more in the mood to laugh, too. A comedy you’d never like if you watched on your own can be a fun and enjoyable experience when you watch it with a group.
Verdict: Watch it with a group
When you’re watching a serious drama, nothing is more frustrating than having an emotionally important scene disrupted by someone behind you whispering to their friend or having a coughing fit or giggling for no apparent reason. If the people around you get antsy, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to stay focused on the story and not your surroundings. Additionally, a lot of dramas have people speaking at a low volume, and if you’re in an annoyingly chatty crowd, you may miss key lines. Obviously, “drama” is a very wide category, but for quieter, thoughtful dramas especially, watching with a group doesn’t add much and has the potential to be very distracting.
Verdict: Watch it by yourself
Granted, I don’t watch a lot of action/thrillers, but I can tell you I genuinely have way more fun watching with a group of people – especially a vocal group of people. It can be frustrating when the audience responds to the screen during a drama, but it’s fantastic when they do it during a fast-paced action movie or thriller. My favorite is when everyone is absolutely silent during tension-building scenes and then they erupt into cheering or applause when the characters make it out alive. It’s like you and everyone there bond together in rooting for the protagonists, and it’s easy to get swept along for the ride.
Verdict: Watch it with a group
I am only a mild fan of horror movies, but for some reason I have seen an inordinate amount of them in theaters. While a big screen and a loud sound system can do a lot to pull you into the creepy atmosphere, sitting in a packed theater is just not going to be nearly as effective as watching the same movie home alone by yourself in the middle of the night. All the horror movies that have genuinely scared me were ones I watched by myself in the dark. It’s not quite as easy to get into the right mood sitting in a comfy chair surrounded by people. Certainly not like when you’re all alone watching a scary movie and start hearing noises from the kitchen that might be the fridge
Verdict: Watch it by yourself
Movies You Don’t Think You’ll Like
Sometimes there’s a movie you’re pretty sure you won’t like, but you decide to watch it anyway, for whatever reason. Maybe you’re reviewing it for a blog, or it’s got your favorite actor in it, or a friend have been begging you to see it for forever and you finally give in. Whatever you do, don’t watch this alone. But you don’t necessarily have to watch it in theaters, either. My favorite method for this is gathering a small group of snarky friends and watching it in someone’s home. Generally, one of three things will happen:
- It’ll turn out to be not that bad, you’ll like it, and you’ll have a good time.
- You won’t like it, but the people you’re with do, and watching them be enthusiastic about it will make it slightly more enjoyable than if you’d just watched it on your own.
- You won’t like it, and neither will anyone else, and you’ll all have an awesome time snarking at the movie as it runs, MST3K-style. This is the most likely scenario if you pick your group carefully.
Verdict: Watch it with a small group of snarky friends
There are a ton of great mind-benders out there, whether you’re looking at complicated, twisty sci-fi flicks like Primer or artsy, reality-bending films like Mulholland Drive. All mind-bending movies share a similar trait, however: They can be infuriating to watch with the wrong kind of people. Some will constantly ask what just happened, despite the fact that you have no idea either, while others will complain about “why can’t this dumb movie just be a normal movie.” (I’m looking at you, woman sitting behind me at Birdman.) Even a brief dialogue with a chatty friend can make you miss important scenes and leave you more confused than ever about what’s going on. Half the fun of mind-benders is talking them over with someone afterward, so I wouldn’t say watch these entirely alone… but I would say pick your companions carefully, and maybe only one at a time. That way you can both focus on the story and then trade theories and explanations afterward.
Verdict: Watch it with one other person
What do you guys think? What movies are best to watch with others and what movies are best to watch by yourself? Which do you prefer, in general? And feel free to share stories of audience members that improved or detracted from your movie watching!