The Bar: Central Cinema started as a theater that offered not only an impressive selection of second-run movies and film classics, but also a variety of beer, wine, and hot food served by quick yet unobtrusive staff. However, not ready to rest on their laurels as merely a one-stop shop for dinner and a movie, Central Cinema has been putting a lot of emphasis on film as a dynamic social event rather than merely something to silently exhibit in the dark.
Raucous viewings of The Room, live presentations by groups like Found Footage Festival or Everything is Terrible, and more casual celebrations like Sunday's Oscar party are all just examples of Central Cinema's diverse and rewarding schedule. When I heard that Central Cinema had finally added a trivia night to their repertoire, I knew that the theater couldn't just hire a list of questions attached to any old disaffected bore. Central Cinema's quiz would need to match both the theater's obvious passion for film as well as its unique, electrifying ways of presenting them. I'm happy to say that MovieCat Trivia did not disappoint in either regard.The Quiz: (Fourth Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m., $5 per person) Apple-inclined Weekly readers might already have heard of MovieCat through the hosts' impressive iPhone/iPad app that combines conventional film trivia with visual puzzles. Much like the app, Central Cinema's pub quiz is naturally focused on film and trivia immediately related to film. If you can get over that, there's a whole lot to like about this "pub" quiz. After all, when Quizmaster Jess comes out in a bulky cardboard cat costume that gives her JUST enough flexibility to banter and awkwardly drink out of a glass of wine, you know you're in for something intrinsically more awesome than arguing over dates at The George and Dragon.
Quizmaster Brian plays straight man to Jess's charming irreverency through two rounds of trivia that each equal approximately 30 questions. Although it's hard and perhaps unfair to compare this trivia night to those which don't take place in a venue literally built for screening movies, MovieCat Trivia was most striking in the way the bulk of these multimedia-heavy questions required extremely little reading on the hosts' part. Whether pictures were put on the big screen to lead into questions, audio clips were played on the theater's sound system to be deciphered, or video clips were played for crowd identification, MovieCat definitely made the best from what they were given (and they were given quite a lot).
If the night weren't ambitious enough, MovieCat is also one of the few remaining quiz nights that grades all the contestants' answers themselves. Unfortunately, this led to the first installment of MovieCat being absurdly long given the Central Cinema's high-capacity seating--a problem the hosts have since amended by bringing in the help of good friend and local 8-bit-inspired musician Leeni to score the sheets.
As big a pain in the ass as grading so many individual quizzes can be, I really hope this quiz doesn't end up with a peer-scoring system like so many other Seattle bars. Even if the hosts themselves don't end up seeing all the answers, this method allows them to at least admire some of the night's more offbeat or snicker-inducing replies. This in turn allows them to share said answers with the rest of the crowd, and the night just becomes that much more tight-knit.
The Host(s): Appropriately enough, quizmasters Brian and Jess met while working at Screenlife, local producers of the hit movie-trivia boardgame Scene It?. While Scene It? seems to have now more or less de-evolved into churning out as many specialty Twilight or Harry Potter editions as humanly possible, Brian and Jess keep trivia at Central Cinema relevant, entertaining and well-rounded. Part of this comes from the wide body of film knowledge shared by Brian, as a founder of FilmWise.com, and Jess, as a videographer, but I'd like to think that a substantial portion of what sets MovieCat apart isn't just a few more bells and whistles than the competition, but also the undeniable chemistry between the two hosts.
The Verdict: With awesome treats like video rounds and Brian's hand-drawn MovieCat picture rounds (as seen above), MovieCat could possibly be the most fun and original trivia night in Seattle. Even if the $5 cover charge turns you off, you should know that money goes directly to a $5 food/drink voucher for Central Cinema's increasingly formidable menu.
Besides only having two shows under its belt, the only real flaw I could find with the quiz is that (as of now) MovieCat Trivia is only a monthly event. However, considering the sheer amount of effort that seems to go into the festivities, I'd be hard-pressed to seriously suggest the hosts spread themselves any more thin. Mark your calendar for March 22; I'll see you there.