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Beyond the Megaplex – An Occasional Series – The Laurelhurst Theater

Laurelhurst Theater

2735 East Burnside Street
Portland, OR 97214

(503) 232-5511

Tickets: The price of admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 years old and under. If you show up after 3 pm you better be 21 or older. They will check your ID.

Parking: Parking is difficult especially during matinees of popular movies. Get there early and expect to circle the block. Once you do find a parking spot, the lines for admission can snake down the block so add time for that. There’s no indoor waiting area so bring an umbrella or a coat with a hood.

Movies Played: The Laurelhurst shows second-run, independent, and art-house movies and whatever else they choose. Each month they choose a genre and show movies relevant to that genre. When I visited, January marked the ten year anniversary of the current ownership and it was Viewers Choice Month. The rest of 2010 they are playing cult favorites, sci-fi, action, classics, staff favorites and movies from the 1960’s through the 1980’s.

Who goes here: hipsters, hipster movie lovers, the homeless guy in front of me in line who bought tickets for two movies, non-hipster movie lovers, me.

Food and Drink: You can get the standard movie theater fare like popcorn and candy but if you want something more adventurous, try a slice of freshly made pizza from The New Deal Cafe, wraps, salads and more. Micro brews and wine can be purchased by the glass or pitcher (beer only!) I was most impressed with the beer selection as it wasn’t the usual micro brew selection one finds everywhere around town.  The wine selection is mostly big California producers but it’s there if you want wine. I prefer to drink beer with my popcorn. Which, if you pair it with a small popcorn you only pay $6.50!

Shakers full of salt, brewer’s yeast and oregano are freely available to give your popcorn some flavor. I put yeast and oregano on mine and it was the perfect combination. Two boxes with pumps sit next to the popcorn toppings and at first glance it looks like nacho cheese dispensers. But it is, in fact, containers of salad dressing for that healthy salad you bought instead of popcorn. When I was there the options were ranch or apple vinegar dressing.

The Experience: No drippy Hannah Montana commercials, in fact no commercials at all and only 5 minutes worth of previews. The best part (besides the beer and popcorn) is the Laurelhurst matches the pre-movie music to the movie that’s playing. When I went to see Frida they were playing 1940’s style Mexican ballads and mariachi music. Before Monty Python and the Holy Grail songs from the soundtrack and other Python songs were played. Many of the people in the audience sang along. The audience also yelled out lines from the movie much to the chagrin of the people in the theater who weren’t there to have fun.

The Laurelhurst has three theaters showing second-run movies. The individual theaters themselves hearken back to the 1980’s with the speakers on the walls and very low seats. If you get there late like I did, you’ll want to wait until the screen is bright to find a seat. Some of the rows have tables for your food and beverages and those fill up first. My seat was very low and I had to stretch to get to my food.

For this review I went to the Laurelhurst twice.  The first time I saw Run Lola Run and the second time was The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Both films were great and I enjoyed seeing Run Lola Run in the theater. I had only previously seen it on video (I’m so old) and DVD.  Both times were enjoyable but the staff working there weren’t very personable. I didn’t care. I wasn’t there to chat about popcorn.

I’m Not Ready To Go Home: The theater is centrally located long East Burnside which is lined with everything you need.

Need some vintage clothing? No problem! There are at least three of them within walking distance including SMUT (So Many Unique Treasures) which sells old records, books, and door knobs.  

Bookstores, Starbucks and other coffee shops are within walking distance, or if you’re in the mood for gelato, Staccato Gelato is only two blocks away. If you didn’t drink too much beer during the movie, go to Wine Down for an after dinner drink and nosh. The velvety draped walls and small plates of food will keep you there for hours.

Want some entertainment? Chopsticks, The best karaoke bar/restaurant I’ve ever been to is two blocks away. I once heard a woman sing a Janis Joplin song better than Janis here. Not that it’s really that hard.

The Laurelhurst’s web page has an excellent map pointing out all the places you can go after the movie to buy groceries or plants and keep you away from home even longer.

End Credits: If you want to get out of the rain or just get out of the house for a few hours, catching a movie at the Laurelhurst is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. I hadn’t been to the Laurelhurst for at least a year before this review. Not because I didn’t want to go, but because it’s not very close to my house and I have to make a special trip to attend a movie. Now that we have been reacquainted again, I just might have to become a regular.


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

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