BEST BUDGET MOVIE THEATER - 2003
Between the economic recession and the near-equally depressing state of American movies, it seems like the right time to reinstate this category after several years' absence. (Gawd--had the boom really seduced us into thinking that movies were worth paying upward of eight bucks for?) And yet a cheap ticket isn't of much value if the ticket is for, say, A Walk to Remember. (A year later, we're still trying to forget that long walk home from the Roseville 4.) Which is to say that what we need from a budget theater is cost-consciousness and quality, and that's what you get at the Parkway--one of the last remaining neighborhood theaters, and a cut above the rest in terms of integrity and showmanship. Longtime owner Bill Irvine--besides having a bona fide gift for sincerely enthusiastic recorded messages and print ads--is a die-hard movie lover who clearly cares about the caliber of what he brings to his loyal audience. (His extended run of the regional indie Tully at the start of the year was a paradigmatic Parkway word-of-mouther.) And did we mention the theater's huge screen, its spacious seating area, its peerless popcorn, and its owner's habit of talking turkey with his customers and actually taking requests?