This story is a footnote to Irate Of The Caribbean and further proof there is a conspiracy against me by the Walmart Corporation.
The first movie Natalie and I saw was Ratatouille. We have decided to start a tradition on the anniversary of our first date to go to dinner and (preferably) a (Pixar) cartoon. The past summer it was Wall-E.
So being the movie addict I am, I went to buy a copy like the good moviephile I am. Now part of my personal ritual is to wake up Sunday morning and see what Best Buy, Circuit City and Target have on sale. My favorites are the ever elusive two-disc special editions that are normally $24.99 on sale for a cool $10. Sometimes I’ll replace a movie I already own because someone released a super-duper, steel-belted, now in lemon-scent version of Star Wars, a movie I have purchased five times and am still compelled to buy the new Star Wars: Sith Happens Edition.
So I am in the market for Wall-E. There are three versions of this film. A single-disc DVD edition for the normal people. A Blu-Ray DVD version for the elitists were complaining about the quality of DVD and had to have something that would let them see every hole left by Dr 90210’s Botox injections with a clarity they won’t be happy with until their eyes bleed. And the three-disc special edition DVD for people like me. Now here’s the kick in the ass. The single-disc DVD is $15. The Blu-Ray is $25. The regular DVD… $35.
What the hell?
I check a few more sites and $30 is the cheapest anyone has it for. In fact, some people have it for more. Madness, I tell you. I check the Walmart website and they have for $22 and my blood pressure subsides. On my lunch break I go to the Wally World and there is a giant display with a big cardboard Johnny Five Wall-E and I take one and go to the counter.
ME: I thought these were $22. Are you sure?
I have a policy about express lanes. There should be a sign below them that reads, “Ten Items Or Less – No Checks, No Bitchin’.” You shouldn’t be able to buy newspapers or cigarettes in these lines, either. If the cashier can’t give you what you need by turning 180 degrees without moving her feet then you can’t have it. To complain about pricing and have her call in a manager defeats the purpose of an express lane. It she rings up your carton of Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream for $29.99 you can either pay that for your novelty ice cream or tell her, “No thanks,” and go about your day.
I went about my day.
Well, actually I went back to work and looked it up on their website, printed it and went back later that night. I went to the Customer Service counter and politely asked:
ME: Do you price match web sites?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: It depends.
ME: Do you price match your own site?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: No.
ME: Excuse me?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: We don’t price match our own site.
ME: But I can order stuff from your site and pick it up in the store?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Yes.
ME: So I can’t just come in here and you give it to me for that price instead of registering for a Walmart Online account?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: No. That stuff is sent from a different warehouse. You’ll get an email when you can get it.
ME: So if I want this movie for $22 I have to register on your website, order it, wait for an email and then come back to the store and get it even though there are two hundred of them seventy-five feet to my left.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Yes.
ME: How long does that take?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Usually two weeks.
ME: You’re completely serious.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Sir, I never joke about grown men buying kid’s cartoons from an international conglomerate. I take my job very seriously.
Okay, that last line I made up. So I went home and ordered the damn movie. About a week later I get an email. Now there is this thing they do besides the DVD double-dip (which is releasing the same movie with slightly different features usually to tie in with a newly released sequel or remake (which is about every six minutes)… a practice that works mostly on me). This is weird packaging. The first I remember is my copy of Total Recall which came in a red tin designed to look like Mars (and if you haven’t seen Total Recall let me tell you it has mutants, a three-titted whore and a scene of Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag from the director of Showgirls… run, don’t walk to Blockbuster). My friend Heidi has a copy of Heathers in a tin lunch box. I have a copy of Evil Dead in the Necronomicon, the book of evil written in blood and bound in human flesh… or in this case cheap rubber. I am waiting for someone to release a copy of Boogie Nights where the DVD is is sticky for no good reason. None of this is conducive to being stored on a shelf.
The Wall-E packaging comes in a cardboard case that looks like it should slide out like a slipcover but nooooooo, that would be too easy. Both ends slide out and the fucking thing folds out again. Inside these two folds are the grooves for the DVDs, oh but wait, there is a third disc that just sits there in a paper sleeve, sad because nobody gave it a home.
Now let me tell you about the third DVD.
This is the third time in the last two months I have bough a DVD with the ever elusive “third disc.” Let me tell you what’s on this third disc.
Jim, is it a documentary on the making of the film I will never watch?
Is it trailers for other movies that if I liked Wall-E I should be sure to buy Pocahontas and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame because they are so similar and I’ll surely enjoy them, too?
Wait, is it deleted scenes… from a cartoon… because cartoons characters often flub their lines or they animate extra scenes just for the hell of it?
No. The third disc is the digital copy of the same movie in a lame attempt for me to not pirate their movie and stick it on the Internet. Now follow the logic of this. They want me to pay $35 for a movie that includes a digital copy so I can watch it on my portable device such as Natalie’s iPod or my Zune (because I watch to watch movies on a screen half the size of my palm) when I could just pay $15 for the single-disc version and go to the Internet and steal a version I can watch portably.
So all this and crappy packaging.
Now someone is going to email me and say the whole point to Wall-E was environmental responsibility which is why they have the cardboard packaging to which I call Bullshit! Sell that crap to the tourists because I ain’t buying. This isn’t those flimsy bottles of water they sell as “environmentally friendly.” If that was so important they would sell soda in those crappy-ass bottles or better yes, beer. Do you know how many lives would be saved in barfights with drunk dudes trying to stab each other with plastic bottles? Those bottles are made because people will buy them to feel good about themselves and they cost less to make and they charge you the same money for them.
I didn’t walk off the plantation yesterday.
But do they think I am going to throw my DVD in a landfill? Why is this thing in a cardboard case? I appreciate the theme unlike in 2000 when they made How The Grinch Stole Christmas (which I despise) and merchandised the shit out a movie that was about anti-merchandising or after Finding Nemo when all the pet stores couldn’t keep clown fish in stock because kids aren’t bright enough to comprehend that “All drains lead to the ocean” means you shouldn’t be keeping these fish.
And maybe it’s just odd foreshadowing that I am standing in a Walmart buying a movie about robot built to clean the environment after a large international conglomerate sells me a bunch of stuff that will make me happy.
Then again, I think beer should come in two-liter bottles so what do I know?