SPOTLIGHT: At The Movies: A humorous collection of cinema-inspired essays by Shawn Berman


It’s Hamlet’s third birthday and we’re trying to take his picture so we can celebrate his existence on social media. You tell me that you think Hamlet is sad since my iPhone’s portrait mode doesn’t recognize his little kitty face, saying he just wants beautiful headshots like the rest of us so he can use them for his future acting portfolio. You’re convinced that once agents see his gorgeous blue eyes, no one will be able turn him down.

After ten minutes, Hamlet runs away from this impromptu photoshoot and we’re forced to pick one of the pictures of him that we already have. Scrolling through the pics, I ask you what movie roles this nearly 20 pound cat who sleeps all day would be suitable for. As of right now, I go, he’s not in tip-top shape to be taking any jobs away from The Rock. Perhaps, I say,  if we got him on a strict workout regimen where he did like a buncha pushups and ran around the apartment for a bit, then we could get him an audition for Jumanji 3. But, I doubt Hamlet will be game for that idea and I can’t say I blame ‘em.

We continue to think of films that Hamlet could excel at, rattling off the obvious cat-led ones. You tell me, that under no circumstances, would Hamlet be in any future Lion King movies as the Lion King is the worst Disney Film of all-time. I have heard this rant from you before, how the Lion King is unrealistic, that the lions shouldn’t be friends with other animals, and if the animators had any integrity, Simba would just eat everyone. Even though I’m a bit tired of this rant, I tell you I agree because that’s what a good boyfriend is supposed to do.

In my opinion Hamlet would excel in a rebooted version of Terminator. I run this idea by you and we can’t stop giggling, as the thought of a feline cyborg assassin just lighting up the silver screen is freaking badass. Because this role would optimize lots of CGI, you think Hamlet would be a naturally good fit. After a successful trilogy, I imagine that the Catinator would get tons of merchandising opportunities: toys, shirts, video games, koozies, maybe even Catinator-branded litter boxes. Honestly, the possibilities are endless…and also dangerous.

We realize that the last thing Hamlet needs is a bigger ego. We imagine the fame would go to his head quite quickly. I tell you that I fear he would be that one actor nobody wants to work with, bossing poor assistants around, demanding salmon smoothies, meowing for his cat bed to be fluffed, shit-talking directors on late shows. Tabloids would run stories that Hamlet is a real a-hole and they would say that he only cares about partying with other celebs. Soon, he would be blackballed and he would be crawling back home, apologizing for his behavior, and that would be the end of his short-lived movie career. How embarrassing.

Hamlet waddles back over, manipulatively purring, just being cute to get a treat. Then, outta nowhere, he barfs up the biggest hairball we’ve ever seen. Yeah, this cat’s got no shot to be the next Air Bud, I say. None at all. There goes our dream of being rich cat parents. Maybe we can get him to go viral on TikTok instead. We’ll see.


One of the most appealing things about the Prospect Park Quidditch Club is how it only meets biweekly: just the right amount of commitment an introverted couple like us can handle. We send over the club fee of $20, receive a schedule, and are placed on a team: The Team Who Must Not Be Named. Our logo—a huge, superimposed face of Lord Voldemort—is meant to strike fear in our opponents’ hearts, we assume.

Before our first match, you give me a crash course on the game of Quidditch by playing a 10-minute, best of Harry Potter Quidditch YouTube compilation: chock-full of wizardly trap music and slow motion reverse cuts of Daniel Radcliffe whipping through the air on a broomstick.

When it’s done, I look over at you and go: what if I’m a secret Quidditch phenom and I end up being so good that I grace the cover of EA Sports’ Major League Quidditch 2021? How sick would that be?

You roll your eyes and tell me no chance—not with the way I run.


September 26. Game day. We get to the park 15 minutes early and meet up with our team by the playground area. Our captain Jared—a gangly, pale-skin dude with a stick-and-poke lightning bolt tattoo—quickly goes over the rules and positions. Before walking to midfield to meet the opposing team—Dumbledore’s Army—Jared gives us a pep talk, telling us to have fun and to expecto patronum all the bad vibes away.

Jared then says that we need someone to be the Golden Snitch so he reaches into the sorting hat—which is really just a sweaty biking cap—and rummages around until pulling out a name. My name. Crap.

Jared hands me a tennis ball with a sock tied around it and explains that I need to attach this real-life Snitch to the back of my waist. I also have two important things to remember: (1) If someone manages to grab this from me, game over. And (2) stay away from Mikey C.: he’s the meanest S.O.B this side of the Hudson has ever seen.


The referee blows their whistle and players are off, running around with their broomsticks. I spot Mikey C. halfway across the field with biceps the size of tractor tires. He sees me, puts two fingers to his head like a bull, starts charging, and screams yee-haw, pawt-nah. Scared shitless, I duck under opposing players’ legs, crab walking outta trouble, attempting to hide by the bleachers. If i can just keep this pace for the rest of the match, there’s no way Mikey C. can catch me.

15 minutes in and everything is going fine. I start to get a little cocky that Mikey C. will never find me. I let the autumn air blow through my hair, taking in the sounds: the laughter of people forgetting about their day jobs, forgetting about life, and kids, and wives, and student loans, then—

BAM!! Stars. Glorious stars. Chest hurting. Wheezing. Cracking. More stars.

Mikey C. runs me over and snatches the Golden Snitch from my waist, proceeding to flex over my feeble, semi-unconscious body. My nose is bleeding, I think. Bones probably broken. I’m not sure I can move.

I hear the phrase: better luck next time, ya jabroni!

But there’ll never be a next time.

Mikey C. crushes my dreams of becoming a Quidditch superstar before they even have the chance to fly. Feeling sad that I let everyone down on my team, I walk back to the bench to collect my honor. Back home, I drown my sorrows with a keg of Butterbeer while binge-watching past Inter-House Quidditch highlights on YouTube, mentally replaying what went wrong in my match. So many things I could’ve done differently. Perhaps I should’ve hid better. Maybe I should’ve carbo-loaded on Chocolate Frogs so I had more energy. Suddenly, I come across a random video in the playlist called Potion Making 101, and inspiration strikes. Mikey C. may have killed my desire to be the best Quidditch player ever, but my new and improved dream of being a world-class poitioner is alive and kicking. Take that, Mikey C. You can’t keep me down forever.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s