The movies represent a form of escapism mainly for the character-narrator Tom, who finds no other stimulation in his life. He is bored in his ill-paid job in a shoe factory and exasperated at home by his mother's constant nagging, so he goes to the movies as much as he can. They feed his rich inner life of fantasy, allowing him to imagine himself in all sorts of exciting, indeed lawless, roles.
However Tom is not so wrapped up in the movies that he can't see that they are essentially a form of delusion for the American public at large, who use them for fulfillment instead of actively trying to make a better and more rewarding life for themselves (see his conversation with Jim, scene six). The play suggests that the movies distract people too much from real-life problems, both social and personal, which need to be addressed.