It took Dan, a high school English teacher in Iowa, nearly a week to finish Martin Scorsese’s new three-and-a-half-hour blockbuster The Irishman. The 33-year-old father of two says he hasn’t seen a movie without interruption since becoming a dad five years ago, and The Irishman wasn’t going to be an exception.
So when he heard about Martin Scorsese decrying the idea that people would watch the film on their phones, Dan — who opted to use a pseudonym so his students wouldn’t stumble upon what you’re about to read — had some choice words: “Fuck off, Martin. Some of us have families and no reasonable time to enjoy the incredible art of our modern times. Be happy that I made an attempt to experience your white male masterpiece, and let us watch your movie however we please.”
Besides, Dan adds, “we all know there was only one great film that starred both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. It was called Righteous Kill, and it also featured 50 Cent and Rob Dyrdek. But guess who didn’t direct that Oscar snub? Martin Scorsese.” (For the record, it was Jon Avnet, who also directed, of all things, Fried Green Tomatoes.)
Dan’s response to Scorsese’s comments carry the same energy of other dads on social media dunking the 77-year-old director into oblivion:
Sure, the joke might be a bit exaggerated — maybe dads don’t have to hide away in the bathroom — but the sentiment rings true. As Dan puts it, “All entertainment that requires hearing and seeing, and is solely for my own enjoyment, is strictly enjoyed through an intricate series of well-timed breaks throughout my ‘free’ time. Since The Irishman is three and a half hours long, my plan was to break it up like I do with any TV series that lets me pretend like I still have a grip on what’s popular in current entertainment.” That means “10- to 30-minute increments in bed after my kids and wife are asleep.
“When anything becomes this popular on Netflix, as a dad, I finally see an opening to become part of modern, popular society again,” Dan continues. “It’s a golden ticket to the water-cooler conversation. I can pretend like I fit in.”
Kevin, a 33-year-old in Virginia, hasn’t stepped foot into a movie theater since his daughter was born two years ago. “I used to watch a lot of films in theaters and followed some directors in the past,” he says. “But there’s a lot of things I used to do before I had a kid: play music, sit at bars and drink, read books.”
Like Dan, streaming is Kevin’s only access to pop culture. “If [The Irishman] were only in theaters, I would fully intend to see it, but it would never happen,” he tells me. Thus, as with the Cheerios caked into the crevices of his toddler’s highchair, movies must now be consumed in small, manageable bites. “My daughter has been really into me sitting in the rocking chair in her room as she slowly goes to sleep in her crib,” Kevin explains. “So if I remembered to bring headphones, I watched until we both fell asleep. Then, the next night, I’d pick up at whatever point I remember being conscious. I call that letting God decide.”
Dan employs a similar system. Once he and his wife have discussed what’s worth discussing and she drifts off to sleep, he pulls out “the good ol’ AirPods.” “With my AirPods in,” he says, “I prop my phone up against the Hydro Flask on my nightstand, and squeeze in about 30 minutes at a time. Rinse and repeat, my friends. Following that strategy, I was able to finish The Irishman in a week’s time.”
Meanwhile, Nick, a 36-year-old father of two in Chicago, did in fact want to see The Irishman as Scorsese intended — in a theater — but he just didn’t have the free time. Nevertheless, he had a plan: With the holidays coming up, he could squeeze in the movie on the big screen upstairs while his son played with visiting family members. As a bonus, he’d be able to watch it with his Italian father, who “was born and raised in Chicago and was in politics his entire career, so he has firsthand knowledge of the people and events that took place in the film.”
But alas, his dad proved just as impossible of an audience as his kids. “As the movie progressed,” Nick says, “I’d say we stopped at least every 20 minutes for him to tell me that he ‘already knew that was going to happen.’ Or he’d try to explain ‘what really happened.’ Then when they showed a clip of that event, he’d yell, ‘See, told you!’”
Eventually, Nick adds, “He dozed off and started to snore so loud I had to crank up the volume, which made him wake up startled to gun shots and continue his interruptions, as if he never slept. It was actually pretty impressive.”
Still, Nick endured. He powered through all the snoring and interruptions, until toward the end of the movie, when his dad, after watching Al Pacino constantly eat ice cream in the movie, had a hankering for the stuff himself. “So we had to stop and get ice cream,” Nick explains.
But despite it all, Nick loved the movie. “It wasn’t a typical Scorsese film like Casino,” he says. “And even though it made the movie much longer than it already is, the commentary from my dad made it that much better.”