VIVISECTING ALEXANDER — Oliver Stone’s purest folly — or at least the one I’ve directly experienced, as I’ve avoided a good slew of his films precisely because I didn’t like the other ones — was never going to be viewed by me as anything other than ridiculousness and the joy that comes with operating on a patient without anaesthetic (if you will). It actually was never going to be viewed by me at all but then I read the cast list and saw some of the promo photos and the historian buff in me was horrified (Alexander himself has been a figure of fascination to me since I was eight or so) but the bad movie fan was thrilled. Ridiculously campy idiocy? The modern Showgirls? Hell, the modern CLEOPATRA? No Taylor and Burton but wasn’t Anthony Hopkins supposed to be the next Burton anyway, even if he wasn’t the lead here?

So having recruited a few friends to join in with me as a Thanksgiving eve treat, we made vague plans to get a bit drunk beforehand and then see all three hours of the damn thing. We didn’t get drunk enough, we realized, and more to the point we had to deal with a crowd. Except it wasn’t much of a crowd, more a half-full (in a VERY tiny theater, considering) assemblage of people who…well, I couldn’t tell what or why they were there, which may seem obvious. Still, they mostly seemed in their forties or older…dedicated Stone fans since Platoon? Colin Farrell fanatics? It all seemed very studious, like a slew of folks who normally only watch the History Channel came to see a movie before going home and then watching Charlie Rose on PBS.

So that left us as the only four people in the theater who, as far as I could tell, came to be entertained. As the movie proved to be a damp squib all around — it wasn’t good, of course, but neither was it scintillatingly bad, with only moments of hysteria rather than a royal procession of same — the four of us whispered and commented and snarled to each other about Stone’s inability to end a scene and Farrell’s dewy-eyed roaring (strange but true) and Jared Leto’s eyeliner. At no point were we told to shut up — nobody was sitting next to us, which helped, but I suspect, based on the groans that escaped from elsewhere during particularly egregiously dumb parts, that they wanted to join in (a feeling confirmed by their post-movie complaints and quick fleeing at the end credits). But I think we felt like we couldn’t be as catcalling as was deserved, as after all we’re all aware that there are limits in a movie theatre and have dealt with obnoxious patrons before. Maybe we should have waited a week or two and then we really would have been the only people in the theatre.