If I could turn back time

Promptness never pays - at least when it comes to the movies.

When I settled into my seat for "Dark Blue" at a local Loews Cinema opening weekend, I arrived at noon, the advertised starting time. But the corrupt-cop drama didn't begin until 12:30 p.m. Instead, we were bombarded with commercials for the online ticket service Fandango, HBO's "Six Feet Under," Celine Dion singing "I Drove All Night" for Chrysler, Turner Classic Movie's "31 Days of Oscar," M&M candy, a reminder to turn off cellphones, and five movie previews.

In between, you could hear many sighs from the audience, who were, to quote singer Fred Durst, "all in agreeance" that it was past time for the show to go on.

To be fair, there was an eight-minute delay because of technical difficulties. But the other 22 minutes is time I could have used to walk my dogs, work on some house projects, or finally finish that biography of Katharine Graham.

One high school teacher, Miriam Fisch, is incensed by those wasted minutes. She says that Loews has stolen four minutes (only four? She got off easy) from her life and she wants them to pay. She has filed a class-action lawsuit in Illinois on behalf of all Loews patrons, claiming the commercials amount to a deceptive business practice, because the ads begin at the advertised movie start time.

No one wants to pay to sit through commercials at a theater, when we can do that for free at home. But is a lawsuit over dancing candy bars really the answer? A better solution might be for Fisch and other patrons just to show up 10 minutes late, or, if they're really annoyed, boycott cinemas that engage in such "commercial creep."

Now, if only I could figure out how to get those 22 minutes back.

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