Life is But a Dream: Abed, Cinemania and the Silver Screen

I like movies. Do you like movies?

I mean do you really, really, really like movies?

The 2002 documentary Cinemania follows days-in-the-life of several New Yorkers who really, really, really like movies.

These moviegoers structure their days around the 3 or 4 movies that they plan to see each day ... every day.

Yes, that's right. Every day.

They haunt multiplexes, art houses and movie festival screenings to see just about every piece of motion picture film ever developed.

As one of the subjects in the documentary suggests, film is a substitute for life, an alternate reality no less real than the flesh and blood world.

Viewing this film is a little like watching the people featured on Hoarders on their day off.

The subjects come off as pathetic and hopeless for a time until you realize that...

(1) they are fulfilled by their obsessive hobby and...

(2, and this is a big 2) their addiction to movies is not that far out of line with average television viewing.

Statistics show that in the US and UK, TV viewers watch an average of 28 hours of television each week.

28 hours!

Thats more than one full day each week sitting in front of the television.

That's 70% of a normal work week in front of the tube.

Maybe we are the maniacs

The Cinemaniac who watches three films a day (and let's assume that the movies are 90 minutes long as was the case for many of the classic flix) doesn't spend much more time watching movies than the average American or Brit does watching TV.

Except for the fact that of those 28 hours of TV viewing, about 9 hours are commercials.

Yeah, that's right. Unless you're zapping through with your DVR, you're spending one full work day each week watching ads.

So maybe the Cinemaniacs aren't so pitiful after all. At least they're doing something they love to do in a way that they love to do it.

Abed the Ultimate Cinemaniac

The character Abed on NBC's excellent comedy Community is indeed a Cinemaniac himself. Film provides an organizing framework for his worldview, his life.

And Danny Pudi, the actor who plays Abed, has an uncanny ability to morph into and out of TV and movie personae.

See him as Mad Men's Don Draper....

And the stereotypical Southern Sheriff in every cop-buddy movie you've ever seen...

Cinemania Postscript:
(The cantankerous yet lovable) Roberta (Hill), died on July 18, 2009 shortly after her 73rd birthday. Roberta was born in Washington, DC to Dorothy Dyar Hill and Robert Lindsay Hill. She was a consummate collector and animal lover. When she moved to New York in 1983, her love of cinema took center stage. She has been a fixture at almost every film festival and movie house in the City ever since, as captured in the film Cinemania (2002). She was a true New York character and will be missed by many.
(From the New York TImes: August 9, 2009)