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“Spider” at the movies: Mequon ticket-taker doles out movie reviews

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MEQUON (WITI) -- If they gave Oscars to movie theater workers, surely Michael Ryan would be nominated. He's known affectionately to Mequon movie-goers simply as "Spider" and he plays the role of ticket-taker brilliantly.

There's an old phrase "everyone's a critic," and at the Marcus North Shore, amidst the sounds of the cinema, there is an "everyman" offering his take on dinner and a movie.

"It is a love affair with movies. I love really great movies.  Again, yea, there are some awful movies, but that's the whole point," Spider said.

"Spider's just one of those characters that's part of the area," Pat Watson said.

Spider's nickname was bestowed by a buddy back in high school.

Spider is now 45 years old -- practically geriatric among the teens who work alongside him.

"He's better than your average 16-year-old because he gives you the lowdown on what you're going to see," one movie-goer said.

However, Spider came close to missing his own second act. Outside the theater, the world can be a cold place, and at age 22, Spider found that out.

Spider suffered a cerebral hemorrhage -- rendering his right arm unusable. Spider says the ordeal left him with a constant reminder to grab life while it's here.

"Other people died, so I'm really glad to be alive," Spider said.

He found a job in a perfect place, and perfected the art of taking tickets using only his left hand. For more than 15 years he has been ripping and then riffing with every customer.

One of the perks of being a ticket taker is there is no one to take your ticket. Spider gets to see movies for free. For movie-goers who ask, Spider will share his favorites.

"My favorite comedy of all time is Raising Arizona. My favorite action film of all time is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just fantastic. Again, I do love Spielberg. Martin Scorsese. Quentin Tarantino. I love Quentin Tarantino's work," Spider said.

Spider loves the cinema -- all of it, the whole thing, or in his words: the whole shebang. It's a phrase he uses often.

Spider serves as the one-sentence critic. His reviews don't give away "the whole shebang," as he would say, but just enough to get a movie-goer thinking or laughing before the curtain goes up.

He then asks movie-goers to check back with him to see if his review was right.

"It's pretty funny, how spot on he is and I'm going to ask him what should I see next time," Susan Bach said.

As he takes tickets, customers take something from him: the belief that every story can have a happy ending.

"I'm always happy," Spider said.

Customers are interested in Spider's Oscar picks. This year, he correctly predicted four of the five top Oscars. The only one he didn't get was Ang Lee for Life of Pi. Spider thought it would be Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.