Alone in the crowd (for once) — it was interesting, finally seeing Mike Judge’s Office Space for the first time the other week, and I actually talk more about my reaction to the film over on ILE. Here, though, I want to talk about something else — for the most part, the films I’ve seen in theaters in recent years have been ones where I’m already well inculcated in a cult of appreciation or am among others who want to be similarly sold though none of us have seen the film yet (in the case of The Lord of the Rings, we were extremely happy souls). But this was the first time in a LONG time I was what seemed like the only one who didn’t know what was going on among a crowd of true believers.

I’m sure there were others there on the showing this past Wednesday who hadn’t seen it yet, in fact I think there was at least one other in my large group of friends who went. But as soon as we entered the theater with a minute to go and saw the place was just PACKED — none of the films we had seen earlier in this irregular revival series had garnered anywhere near this huge a crowd — it was clear that something was well in place in terms of continual rewatchings and deep and abiding appreciation. I can sympathize, but since I was coming in cold, it was oddly disconcerting nonetheless.

But I enjoyed the trappings all around me — someone had taken the trouble to print up a huge sign that was slightly hanging from the bottom of the screen that said “IS THIS GOOD FOR THE COMPANY?” and I swiftly guessed this was something to do with the film, a guess that proved right. Then there was the giveaway of red Swingline staplers — even I knew what that represented, and those who won were happy as clams. And then of course during the film itself there were the expected breakings out of cascading anticipatory laughter as one setpiece or line or another approached.

In some ways I enjoyed the experience as much as the film, possibly even more so (as I muttered in my post, I liked but didn’t necessarily love the film, though I agree it’s often a treat). It was nice to smile and observe and consider both screen and audience, a handy little object lesson in the workings of what can be meant by the term ‘cult classic.’