CONTRARY TO WHAT most people believe, movie premiere parties are not all black-tie functions with more stars than you’d find at Morton’s on a Monday night.
While on the surface they may give off an illusion of glamour and glitz, in reality that’s about all they are — an illusion. There’s usually very little glamour and even less glitz.
One of the biggest drawbacks to premiere parties is how hundreds of people are forced to stand around for hours in extremely tight quarters — usually some restaurant with a capacity of 35 — making complimentary remarks about how great the movie was, when you know they’re lying through their porcelain-capped teeth.
“I thought the story arc of the third act was brilliant,” one captive, who was probably asleep by the second act, will say. “And the dialogue was reminiscent of early George Bernard Shaw.”
“Quite right,” says another who doesn’t know George Bernard Shaw from CNN anchor Bernard Shaw.
So while there isn’t much that can be done about the mindless chatter that runs rampant at these events, someone finally had the good sense to hold one of these gatherings last week at a place that made sense — a furniture store.
And not just any furniture store, mind you, but the Disneyland of furniture stores, Burbank’s Ikea — a place, with its labyrinth of rooms displaying Scandinavian furniture, that seems to occupy more square footage than the state of Montana.
Consider the possibilities. No longer would you be forced to make small talk while standing. You suddenly had the option of doing it on a sleeper sofa, bunk bed, sectional couch or even a crib.
It was all part of Fine Line Features’ attempt to celebrate its soon-to-be-released film, “Bodies, Rest & Motion,” a movie starring Phoebe Cates , Bridget Fonda, Tim Roth and Eric Stoltz as four confused people who look as though they couldn’t afford a plate of Swedish meatballs, let alone laquered bookcases.
MOST PEOPLE THAT NIGHT probably couldn’t quite figure out what Ikea had to do with “Bodies, Rest & Motion,” and why they were standing knee-deep in love seats , dining room sets and pine bookshelves and not eating duck pizza at Spago. Many felt it was definitely an idea whose time had come — like Josh, an inebriated 28-year-old screenwriter who was trying to buy a $ 2,000 green leather couch for his apartment in Santa Monica.
Josh didn’t know that nothing was for sale that night.
“Where do I pay for this and can you deliver it by tomorrow night?” asked Josh, who had obviously had one lingonberry juice and vodka too many. He balanced a plate of Swedish meatballs precariously over the couch. “My parents are coming to visit and I need a couch.”
“We’re not open for business,” an Ikea salesperson, wearing a perky “I Can Help You!” name tag, informed Josh. “This is just a party. You’ll have to come back tomorrow when we’re open.”
“I don’t go outside during the day unless I have a studio meeting,” Josh shot back. “Can’t you make an exception?”
“Sorry, I can’t help you,” the salesperson said. “And don’t stand there with those meatballs.”
With that, a determined Josh stomped off, in search of the manager and another lingonberry juice and vodka.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORE, in another roomful of furniture, a young couple in their early 20s — Paul and Martha — had discovered and were obviously enjoying Ikea’s $ 489 pine bed.
“We’ve got four roommates,” Martha said, while lying on the bed. “This is the first chance we’ve had to be alone in three weeks.”
Asked how they liked the movie, Paul admitted that they missed it, but a friend snuck them into the party.
“You think they’d mind if we spent the night?” Paul asked between sips of beer. “This is a lot more comfortable than our bed at home.”
Meanwhile, Josh, still on his quest for the green couch, had cornered another salesperson and was doing a hard sell. Or a hard buy.
“I want you to sell me a couch tonight,” Josh demanded. “I’m a screenwriter and a friend of the director.”
“I don’t care if you’re Orson Welles, I can’t help you,” the salesperson told him. “Come back tomorrow.”
Once again, Josh went off looking for anybody who might possibly sell him the green sofa.
Several hours later, as the party finally wound down, most everybody made their way back to their cars and limos, while a clean-up crew did their best to get lingonberry stains out of the furniture.
The cleanup crew also evicted Paul and Martha from the $ 489 pine bed.
Unlike the lost characters in “Bodies, Rest & Motion,” who were merely searching for the meaning of life, Josh was still searching for something much more important — someone to let him have the green leather couch.
And another plate of Swedish meatballs.