We finally saw "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" the other night, and I didn't like it much, although I can't say exactly why. My husband could tell I was having problems with the movie when I leaned over and whispered to him, "Yeah, right. Like, where did they get the fire for those torches?"

Apparently the sudden and unexplained appearance of lit torches strained all credibility for me, which is saying something when you consider that this is a movie about giant, dead space aliens with skulls like magnetic Scotty dogs ...

Anyway. I'm not really interested in reviewing the movie (although I thought Cate Blanchett was plenty snappy as a KGB agent with the world's scariest hairdo). I'm more interested in how the audience responded (or didn't respond) to the fact that although there were only 20 of us (complete strangers!) in the theater, we practically sat in each other's laps. No kidding. The theater was virtually empty, and yet we all sat in the same two rows.

So here's the deal. In case you haven't been to The Gateway theaters lately, they tell you where to sit now. It's like we're in seventh-grade English class again. The teacher sizes up the class the first day of school, then promptly makes up a seating chart so that none of the bad kids will sit together.

Actually, you do get more input about where you sit at The Gateway than you did when you were a bad kid in the seventh grade. But still. I'm not used to assigned seats at movie theaters and don't know what I think about them yet.

I will say that assigned seats certainly take the drama out of the moviegoing experience. You don't have to blow through yellow lights on your way to the theater because your husband got home late from work. Again. You don't have to leap out onto the curb while the car is still moving so that you can buy tickets (and hopefully find a pair of seats!) while he's looking for a place to park. You don't have to have a testy exchange when the two of you finally meet up as the house lights go down. No. All you do now is calmly walk into the theater and take your assigned seat moments before the movie begins.

AND WHERE'S THE FUN IN THAT?

Which brings me back to our experience the other night. Apparently we all independently requested seats by each other, even though we had hundreds to choose from. And once the movie started we STAYED in those same assigned seats, even though we were invading each other's personal space. I felt crowded and desperately wanted to change seats, and I'll bet that everyone else there did, too.

But for some reason all of us stayed put. It's like we were afraid that if we did move, the Seating Chart Police would get us.

SEATING CHART POLICE: That's right. It's the Big House for you guys!

Talk about a colossal collective failure of nerve. I'm ashamed of us! When did we Americans turn into a nation of citizens who won't change seats, just because we're afraid of the Seating Chart Police?

Come on, Americans!

When it's time for a change, Don't. Be. Afraid. To. Move.


E-mail: acannon@desnews.com