Bad Movie Twins Bad Movie Data Analysis #2

This is the second is a series now where I’ve been breaking down wide-release bad movie data through time. The previous installment can be found here. The conclusion there was that one should split Rotten Tomatoes data at around 1998 since pre-1998 and post-1998 (when Rotten Tomatoes was established) behaved much differently. At the end I suggested I wanted to start looking at more recent trends in bad movie releases. This analysis focuses on whether studios have become better at recognizing bad films and either not releasing them (or releasing them to Video on Demand (VOD), which to us is equivalent) or dumping them into the classic bad movie dump months (January, February, August, etc.).

Once again, let’s briefly describe the data set. I collected every film released to over 600 theaters from Box Office Mojo. I only included films released to more than 600 theaters (“wide” according to Box Office Mojo) in this analysis as that is one of our qualifying metrics. I had collected the Wikipedia, IMDb, and Rotten Tomatoes links for these films prior to the previous analysis. This analysis ended up being the first step in thinking about a model based on this data, a model that could, eventually, tell us things like e.g. “Here is a set of eight films being released this February, which films are most likely to be bad, should we watch one of those films, or should we wait until March.” It could also tell us a “fair yield” for a years worth of bad movies, and eventually help identify VOD films which should qualify according to their properties (e.g. “In 2010 this film would have been released to 2000 theaters, but in 2020 it is released successfully to VOD”).

Initially I was curious about whether there was an identifiable trend (outside of general yearly trends) in bad movie releases by month. My initial prior was: I think it makes sense that classic bad movie dumps like January are getting worse in general, and that previous semi-dump months like February and March and getting better, and thus reinforcing the monthly differences we’ve seen previously. This was based on the recent discovery that zero wide release films received less than forty percent on Rotten Tomatoes during June and July 2018, which makes it extremely likely that 2018 will become the first year since the establishment of Rotten Tomatoes to not release at least 52 films with 40% or lower on Rotten Tomatoes widely (a requirement for the continued existence of BMT for all eternity, naturally).

The first question to be asked though is the above: Are we just seeing less bad movies recently? Are these films just being released to VOD (or not released at all)? I split the released by Rotten Tomatoes score to get a sense of how the groups have been changing in the last 20 years:

RawYearData

So the answer to whether there have actually been a lot less bad released recently is no I think, the number of bad releases in the past ten years has been rather stable, but there are a few crazy things of note in this data. First, that in 2007 there were over 50 wide release films to get below 20%, which is insane. The collapse of the bad movie industry coincides with the financial collapse, which I don’t think is a coincidence, I think that studios making films like Redline with ill-begotten fortunes went out of business in 2008 and simply have not come back. Second, the number of films with Rotten Tomatoes scores above 80% has ballooned. I think that is more likely a case of multiple compounding factors, namely: (1) the MCU and other franchises are now consistently releasing good-to-great films multiple times a year; (2) more consistent wide releases for independent films; and (3) Rotten Tomatoes has become bigger and in general the largest films in a year are getting more and better reviews (as we saw in the last analysis). I do think it is a combination of all of those things. Regardless we can use these films per year numbers to produce adjusted films per year (in order to prevent general year-to-year trends obfuscating the monthly trends I’m interested in):

badMovieAdjustmentFactorSplit

Easy enough. I’m generally interested in three things. First, the average number of films released in a given month in each Rotten Tomatoes category. Second, the trend in these same numbers. And finally, the trend in the bad movie share for a given month. With these three plots I think we can get a clear picture of the traditional bad movie dump months, the trend in those months, and the trend in our bad movie probability in order to better inform our BMT Live! choices in the future.

totalFilmSplit

I just wanted to get an idea of good and bad months traditionally. So this is the average films released across all 20 years in each TomatoMeter category. The dotted lines are the average films released across all five categories, and if you draw a line along the category values you can get a general sense of how much a month released good or bad films. Notably January, February, April, and very slightly August generally release bad films. November and December are the big months for good films. So how has this been changing (adjusting for yearly trends in general)?

adjTotalFilmPercentile

Here it is quite interesting. Most months are in general a wash, specifically from May to September really doesn’t have much of a trend. But it looks like January is getting worse, April is getting better, October is getting slightly worst, November is getting a lot better, and December is getting a lot worse. Perhaps November is become the main month where Oscar films are being pushed, and December is starting to clear out for larger fish (namely Star Wars) leaving bad Christmas kids’ films? April getting worse could also be a product of more summer films getting released in February and March (a la the MCU). Note that these trends are formed using the yearly adjustment factors in the second plot. Interestingly this is getting mighty close to how one would form a Rotten Tomatoes score model, so … that could be coming down the pipe.

All interesting and good things to know. Finally, since it is most important to know which months might be good for BMT I also plotted the “share” of bad movies (the percentage of a year’s worth of bad movies, <40% on Rotten Tomatoes released in a given month) with a trend line:

adjBadFraction

This reinforces some of the things said above: January is, somehow, getting worse with about 12% of the bad movies released in that month; and April and November are both getting much much better in general. Other trends are a little less clear when you look at it this way, specifically with all of the noise it is pretty unclear whether October and December are actually getting worse or not. July is almost definitely a mirage, literally zero bad wide release films came out in July this year so that +41% is going to take a huge hit if I recalculate next year.

All of this is super interesting. If I were to try and fashion some rules it would be:

(1) For the first BMT Live try and get a good January and just run with it, it is very likely to be the best bet; (2) January-March and August-October are prime time for bad movies and we might want to consider doing two good Lives in each of those spans if/when they become available; (3) It seems likely that April-July are going to be very dry forevermore, so it shouldn’t be surprising when 2018 repeats itself (missing the Spring BMT Live! because nothing became available), see rule number 2;

All good guidelines. In a single sentence: We have to get a little loosey goosey with our BMT Live!s because bad movies do seem to be released predominantly during certain months, and the trend seems to be reinforcing itself.

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The Game Plan Preview

Rumors of a giant robot spiders generally travel fast and in little time Patrick and Jamie are hot on its trail. They bicker over the extensive number of MacGuffins they’ve had to collect, almost as if some invisible hand has guided them from task to task. They know that this just has to be the final step, for what else could they be missing? As they round the next corner they see the small cave that an old prospector pointed them to. They take a step towards it but without warning the protective giant robot spider is upon them. They do battle, hoping only to survive. Even with twin powers combined it seems that they are no match for the robotic beast. Finally it turns its laser beam eyes upon them. This is it! It’s the end for our heroes. Patrick suddenly remembers the Obsidian Dongle in his hand and turns it towards the spider as it shoots. The laser beam is absorbed and he feels the Dongle pulsate with energy. The spider cocks its robot head in confusion, but only for a moment as Patrick then blasts it away with the power of the Dongle. “My God,” they say with looks of horror on their faces. It’s a power too great for mankind to possess and they know in that moment that their quest has been righteous. They enter the cave expecting the next MacGuffin or a new riddle, but instead find a small child. She looks upon Jamie and speaks, “Father?” Jamie is confused, but deep down he knows the fact is true. But how can a child… his child… be the key to destroying the Dongle? How can a child be a MacGuffin? That’s right! We’re watching The Game Plan. In an effort to repair the Chain Reaction that Cannonball Run II destroyed we are shifting that film over to the Game section of the cycle (as a Razzie award nominee) and jumping to The Game Plan starring The Rock through Roselyn Sanchez. Phew. What a mess. Thanks IMDb. Let’s go!

The Game Plan (2007) – BMeTric: 25.9

TheGamePlan_BMeT

TheGamePlan_RV

(Quite a low BMeTric compared to other recent films. The interesting thing actually is how the rating just stalls. Been around 6.2 forever, which is basically exactly average for wide release films since 1980. No one will ever see it as anything more or less than that: average.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  Egocentric superstar quarterback (Johnson) becomes a better person – and a better player – after he spends quality time with the 8-year-old daughter (Pettis) he never knew he had. Predictable mix of rib-tickling and heart-tugging elements; this family-friendly comedy sticks close to the rulebook for movies about self-absorbed workaholics suddenly saddled with parental responsibilities.

(First, no way The Rock is a quarterback. Middle Linebacker for sure. Second, love the hyphen and semicolon game here, strong stuff. Finally, “sticks close to the rulebook”? I’m not mad Leonard, I’m just disappointed.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okZ4S4yjvlw

(I had to look it up: apparently you can just put a person’s name on a birth certificate. If you do so knowing the information is false you can be charged with a crime. But in this film I imagine the mother was fairly certain The Rock was the father, so I guess s’all good. That trailer? It was fine. Looks like a kid’s film.)

Directors – Andy Fickman – (Known For: She’s the Man; Race to Witch Mountain; Future BMT: You Again; Parental Guidance; BMT: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2; The Game Plan; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 in 2016; Notes: Is now mainly a producer and has directed over 40 episodes of Kevin James’ show Kevin Can Wait.)

Writers – Nichole Millard and Kathryn Price (screenplay & story) – (Future BMT: Fallen; BMT: The Game Plan; Notes: Both Price and Millard were lawyers. The only difference in their credits is Price wrote for the reality show The Mole, which was a fantastic show.)

Audrey Wells (story) – (Known For: Under the Tuscan Sun; George of the Jungle; Shall We Dance; The Kid; The Truth About Cats & Dogs; Guinevere; BMT: The Game Plan; A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: Busted into the biz as an assistant for novelist and screenwriter Alan Sharp who wrote Rob Roy and Night Moves among other things.)

Actors – Dwayne Johnson – (Known For: Skyscraper; Rampage; Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Moana; Fast & Furious 8; Get Smart; Fast & Furious 7; Central Intelligence; Hercules; San Andreas; Journey 2: The Mysterious Island; Furious 6; The Other Guys; Fast & Furious 5; The Mummy Returns; Pain & Gain; Race to Witch Mountain; Welcome to the Jungle; Snitch; The Scorpion King; Future BMT: Tooth Fairy; Jem and the Holograms; Why Did I Get Married Too?; Southland Tales; You Again; Reno 911!: Miami; Planet 51; Walking Tall; BMT: Doom; Baywatch; Be Cool; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; The Game Plan; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Doom in 2006; Notes: Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? According to news reports he’s cooking the acceptance of animal abuse … by taking his family to an aquarium apparently. Y’all looney animal right activists, aquariums are fun, save the hate for Sea World.)

Kyra Sedgwick – (Known For: The Edge of Seventeen; Born on the Fourth of July; Submission; Secondhand Lions; Kill Your Darlings; The Possession; Singles; Phenomenon; Murder in the First; The Woodsman; Heart and Souls; Cop Car; The Last Act; Time Out of Mind; Mr. & Mrs. Bridge; Critical Care; Personal Velocity: Three Portraits; What’s Cooking?; Future BMT: Something to Talk About; Collection; Loverboy; Big Sky; Man on a Ledge; Tai-Pan; Kansas; BMT: Gamer; The Game Plan; Notes: The Closer. Personally I love her more at Wuntch in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Wuntch time is over! She’s married to Kevin Bacon.)

Madison Pettis – (Known For: Horton Hears a Who!; That’s What I Am; Future BMT: Do You Believe?; BMT: The Game Plan; Notes: Had a few leading roles in television including a number of voice parts. She is now twenty, and I believe attends Tisch.)

Budget/Gross – $22 million / Domestic: $90,648,202 (Worldwide: $147,880,543)

(Huge hit. But probably not something The Rock wanted to continue as he transformed himself into movie star Dwayne Johnson. Also I feel like these types of films rarely get sequels, what with children growing up and stuff.)

#9 for the Comedy – Fish-Out-of-Water Father genre

gameplan_daddyfishoutofwater

(Ah a classic. Cheaper by the Dozen is the most successful one we’ve watched, but it is juuuust beat by Big Daddy which currently has a 39.8% on Rotten Tomatoes, it wasn’t qualifying for the last ten years (!), a bad review was added in March. For some reason there hasn’t been films added to this list in five years.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (29/101): Despite The Rock’s abundant charisma, The Game Plan is just another run-of-the-mill Disney comedy.

(Hmmmm, does not bode well for us. Likely boring, inncuous, laugh-free, heart warming, and hard to hate. Like the Pacifier. Reviewer Highlight: Having tamed one muscled man-child (Vin Diesel in The Pacifier), Disney sets its sights on The Rock. – Scott Brown, Entertainment Weekly (see))

Poster – The Sklog Plan (D+)

game_plan

(A very Disney poster. As you all know I hate posters that are predominantly white in color tone. Feels very empty and messy. Mediocre font and the balance is all off anyway. Weird and generally bad poster here. I do like the poses that the football players in the background are making to show their displeasure at the situation. They all be like “say whaaaaaaa? You got a whaaaaaaa?”)

Tagline(s) – Joe Kingman had the perfect game plan to win the championship… but first, he has to tackle one little problem. (D)

(Hahahahaha. No. It is egregious and insane that that entire thing actually appeared on the poster. No thanks. Give it a D for the puns, but otherwise useless.)

Keyword(s) – tween girl; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.1 Grease 2 (1982); 75.0 Daddy Day Camp (2007); 55.1 The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990); 52.2 Annie (2014); 48.4 Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005); 45.8 Unaccompanied Minors (2006); 39.1 Blue Crush (2002); 38.9 Ladybugs (1992); 36.3 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star (2003); 34.7 Monkey Trouble (1994);

(I cannot wait to see Neverending Story II again, it is just a bonkers film. He’s like loving his memory and shit. I’ve seen Annie (2014) … in theaters … why did I watch that in theaters if it wasn’t for this? I guess The Razzies maybe? Blah.)

Notes – Dwayne Johnson said he came up with the idea for his character to be such a huge Elvis fan, and suggested the idea to the writers, who loved it and added it to the script. Johnson later said that when they asked how he came up with the idea, Johnson responded that he is Elvis’ biggest fan, and much of the Elvis memorabilia his character owns actually belongs to Johnson. (Fun facts. I have a feeling we are going to get a ton of fun facts. This screams: The Rock went on a three week press tour for this film)

Dwayne Johnson has said that this film will be the last film in which he will be credited as “The Rock”. (That makes sense. I’m like 50-50 whether I refer to him as Dwayne Johnson or The Rock at this point, although not to other people I guess)

Two bulldogs, named Tubbs and Tank, shared the role of Spike. (I love dog facts, Tubbs is on IMDb but this is his only credited role)

Dwayne Johnson’s character, Joe Kingman, suffers a separated shoulder that temporarily knocks him out of the big game. In real life, The Rock actually did suffer a season-ending shoulder separation while playing defensive tackle as a freshman at the University of Miami. (Fun fact)

Production was pushed back by several months after Dwayne Johnson suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon injury during a football practice session. (Oh shit. You aren’t getting any younger Dwayne, got to chill on those stunts I guess)

The scene in which “Joe Kingman” (Dwayne Johnson) runs the whole way through the city to the hospital carrying his daughter Peyton resembles Dustin Hoffman doing the same for his son in the movie Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). Also a movie about a father raising a child on his own. (Honestly … I think that is just something stressful fathers could relate to, that helplessness and duty that comes with being a father)

Originally the script called for the football team to be the New England Patriots, but negotiating with the NFL became difficult for producers so they made up the team name instead. (Gross)

The Rebels and New York Dukes stand in for the NFL’s New England Patriots and New York Giants. In the film, the Rebels play the Dukes in the last game of the regular season, and later in the League’s Championship game. The movie was released during the 2007 NFL regular season, and in that season the Patriots played the Giants in both the last game of the Regular season and in Super Bowl XLII (2008). (You know what? Let’s not think about that game)

The football referees were from the Association of New England Football Officials (What’s up with New England being all over this film?)

Wild Wild West Recap

Wicky wicky Wild Wild West. Jim West, desperado, rough rider. No do you don’t want nada. That’s because he is on a mission from the President to stop a conspiracy enacted by former Confederate rebels. Paired with annoying inventor Artemus Gordon can they join their brains and brawn to take down the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Wild Wild West.

Jamie

How?! I contemplated whether I should just write all the lyrics to the song here and leave it at that, but unfortunately the song has nary a mention of a giant mechanical spider. So Jim West (desperado and alleged rough rider) is hot on the trail of a big time gun runner/former confederate general. When he tracks him to a saloon he busts in only to find that another federal agent (and inventor/master of disguise) Artemus Gordon is there already. As a result everything blows up and the baddies get away. Called to DC, West and Gordon find themselves paired up in the service of President Grant to stop whatever grand conspiracy the criminal enterprise is up to. “Go get on that steampunk train I have for some reason,” Grant huffs and off they go. They make their way to New Orleans for a grand party thrown by a former Confederate inventor who had been presumed dead. They are able to get some information about the plans, escape, and pick up the sexy Rita Escobar who is searching for her captive father. They then chase after the baddies as they head to Utah to disrupt the completion of the transcontinental railroad only to have Rita kidnapped and find themselves playing some dangerous (and ultimately useless) technological games set up by the inventor. They again escape and track down the bad guys, who have kidnapped President Grant and are attempting to use him to sign away large swaths of the United States. Luckily Jim West (desperado) is there to dress up like a Middle Eastern belly dancer (for real, it’s crazy) and distract the bad guys. A big fight on a giant mechanical spider (still real) ensues and eventually our heroes beat the baddies. Hoping for a smooch they find that Rita is actually married and they instead ride off together for their next sequel. THE END.

Why?! Jim West (desperado) actually does have an interesting motivation in this film. A bit surprising given that the good guy usually is motivated just by goodness. Of course he and Gordon want to protect the President and the nation, but it’s also revealed that Jim’s parents were killed in a massacre orchestrated by the evil genius antagonist. So it’s personal. The bad guy on the other hand feels betrayed by both the US and the Confederacy so he is attempting to break up the United States and sell it to the highest bidders. He also don’t want nada of any desperados or rough riders that may be about.

What?! I would have done a complete 180 on this film if Will Smith pumped up some Reeboks before jumping onto the giant mechanical spider. But alas, it didn’t happen so there is nothing to talk about for this section. I guess I’ll just reiterate that there was a part of this film where our main bad guy is giving a large presentation about his intricate plot to take down the US only to be distracted by Will Smith dressed as a Middle Eastern belly dancer… it’s INSANE. It’s also the most racist portrayal of Middle Eastern culture we’ve seen since *checks notes* last week.

Who?! Will Smith is one of the ultimate musicians-turned-actors, but I have to give a big shout out to Kevin Kline who played both Artemus Gordon and President Ulysses S. Grant. At one time we had contemplated creating a Hall of Presidents where each time a US President (real or fake) appeared in a BMT film that would serve as his “election” and start his term in office. Thus this would begin the term of Ulysses S. Grant as President of the Sklognited States of America. This would of course be his second term in office having been previously elected for his portrayal in Jonah Hex. Huzzah! Long live President Grant!

Where?! Almost a Road Trip Alert with a plethora of specific locations. Starts in West Virginia, moves to Washington DC, heads next to New Orleans, and finishes in Promontory Summit, Utah for a very special climax set at the laying of the Golden Spike to finish the Transcontinental Railroad. Gotta give that a B+.

When?! Did I mention that the climax was set during the laying of the Golden Spike? That gives us an exact date of May 10th, 1869. That is simply magnifique. Giving that an A- for effort, although not exactly necessary to the action at hand.

Oh boy. I mean, this is right up there with Batman & Robin as one of the most misguided films ever to be created. It is straight up terrible and almost impossible to understand how it went as far down the path of terribleness without being stopped. For some reason they cast Will Smith as Jim West riding a steampunk train and fighting a mechanical spider and then felt the need to inject realism about the social climate at the time. Every character has to express surprise at his appearance and thus Will Smith finds himself making joke after joke after joke about the rampant racism that he would have had to deal with. This includes an entire scene where he attempts to evade a lynching by convincing the crowd that he was just evoking his African heritage in touching a woman’s bosom and that slavery wasn’t that big of a deal in his opinion… it is insane. Add on top of that the sublime overacting performance of Kenneth Branagh and the general nonsense and unfunny jokes that populate the script and we have a true BMT gem. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You’ll have to forgive me, I’m actually recovering from a sickness. I developed a terrible fever and hallucinated that Will Smith was in a sci-fi western with a flying bicycle and a mechanical spider. I saw death at my door … up until I realized I wasn’t sick. I was just watching Wild Wild West (slammed), let’s get into it!

The Good – I very much enjoyed the set pieces. You could tell they had the ability and leeway to put together some really special moments. The brothel in particular was incredible, the multi-tiered almost comic-like take on the classic setting, brightly-lit and colorful in opposition to typical westerns. I also very much enjoyed the assassins hidden in paintings, very well put together. Salma Hayek was fun, Kline was fun, Will Smith did his best I think. People were game is what I’m saying.

P’s View on the Preview – We had seen the film before so there wasn’t much to surprising in the preview. I guess I was most fascinated by how the Wicky Wicky Wild Wild West theme song would be incorporated (it wasn’t), and a bit about Kenneth Branagh who I’ve since seen in The Winter’s Tale on stage in London (with Dame Judi Dench … it was fantastic, and yeah, I’m bragging … it was awesome).

The Bad – I mean … mostly everything? Will Smith might be game, but he’s out of place in this film, he feels like a modern action hero instead of a US Marshal in the Wicky Wicky Wild Wild West. I love Branagh, but he character is very weird and, again, feels out of place (this time by being a little too gross and dark for the comic tone). The last third of the film is just catastrophic from a storytelling perspective, even Will Smith just pops out of nowhere in disguise at one point. The gang of attractive women Dr. Loveless drags around … gives off a problematic impression (so problematic they apparently rewrote the final fight because it was just Will Smith wailing on three women, wowza!). This film is stunning. Like Batman & Robin except dressed up as a cautionary tale about steampunk westerns.

Get Yo Rant On – The writers of this film did Will Smith a huge disservice. I hope I’m not speaking out of turn: but they put him in a position where he’s faux-lynched and is avenging the death of his freed-slave parents … and to serve what? Some strange question as to why a black US Marshal might be out of place for the time? It sure seemed like it. Ignore it! I mean … Kevin Klein’s character invents a genuine self-propelled airplane in 1869, so why is it impossible to believe this weirdly advanced society is colorblind? The film is bad enough as is without making the bad guy an ultra-racist confederate (Dr. Loveless isn’t even a Confederate in the original show, he’s just a (short) man out for revenge!) and explicitly pitting him against Will Smith. Woof. Just very strange to watch twenty years later. End rant.

The BMT – It’s a classic right? I would watch this movie again. I would watch it a bunch of times. As I said, the brothel set piece is actually quite nice looking in the beginning, the painting assassination scene is also pretty fun (middle) and I can laugh all day at the belly dancing scene (end). It really doesn’t quit. Probably the best argument so far for watching some of these films we’ve seen before, I couldn’t have even imagined how crazy this film was without watching it again.

Welcome to Earf – So, Salma Hayek was in Wicky Wicky Wild Wild West and Grown Ups with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino, who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski, who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – This has got credit up to wazoo. It is third for the worst film of 1999 in Rolling Stone, and although the formatting is a bit messed up it was mentioned near the end in this New York Post article. It basically swept the Razzies, and you can find a litany of quotes from everyone involved about how terrible the film is.

So in theory there was a ton of Homework Sklog-signment, because the movie is based on a television program. I did end up watching an episode (season 1 episode 20, the Night of the Whirring Death). Two things: first, luckily I found an episode streaming with Dr. Loveless, who is played by a little person in the television show (Michael Dunn, who I recognize from an episode of the original Star Trek); second, the show is far more serious than the movie they decided to make. It is like Star Trek, quippy or tongue in cheek at times, but also very serious. Old-fashioned. That is what I would have preferred for the film and I’m glad I wasn’t incorrect in my thinking. Welp, better for the eventual Wild Wild West Cinematic Universe (WWWCU) to reboot it anyways.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Wild Wild West Quiz

When you hear Wild Wild West what do you think? That’s right, you think flying bicycles, crossdressing, and giant spiders. Or at least I hope you do, because that is the primary focus of this quiz.

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) The movie opens with Will Smith macking the mack and Kevin Kline singing in a brothel. An impressive fight sequence breaks out as both men end up pursuing the same man. Who?

2) Who is the president of the United States during this film (and actually the original television show which I have never seen)?

3) Our two protagonists then pursue our antagonist, Dr. Loveless, to New Orleans where he is having a kind of “welcome half-of-me back” party. At this party what is Kevin Kline dressed up as? Bonus if you can name what Kevin Kline dressed as in the brothel, and what Will Smith dresses as in the finale of the film as well.

4) Salma Hayek plays a young woman sprung from imprisonment with the eeeeeevil Dr. Loveless. Why does she say she is pursuing the eeeeevil Dr. Lovelace in the first place (and why is she really)?

5) In the finale of the film Jim West dodges a bullet Texas Rangers style and ends up hanging perilously over a desert canyon with Loveless. Loveless dares him to kill them both. What does Jim West do?

Answers

Wild Wild West Preview

When Patrick and Jamie arrive in beautiful Delaware City for the big No Rulez Race they are dismayed to find that their teammate, noted speedster and comic superstar Cheech Marin, has totally ditched them. On top of that he broke the chain on their rad three person tandem bicycle that they were going to use to power their way to victory. They hold the pieces of chain in their hands and vow to mend it, but it’s too late and they still got a race to win. In a stroke of genius they decide to split up into two different teams to give themselves a better chance to win and go off in search of a zany gimmick that will lead to victory.

As Jamie walks down the boardwalk he’s nearly run over by a rollerblader looking super sweet. “Watch where you’re going!” He yells and tries to get a police officer’s attention but he is waved off. Just then he gets an idea: no one stops a rollerblader because they are just too cool. What better way to win the No Rulez Race than to do the thing furthest from rulez: rollerblading. He straps on his blades, jumps into his jorts, and skates his way across America bippin’ and boppin’ to sweet tunez. Other teams totes sabotage each other, but no one minds the dude just blading along. Nearly 1 month later he finally blades his way towards the finish line. Every other competitor has broken down weeks ago, but his blades keep on a-going. He looks to his right…

As Patrick stumbles his way out of the nearest tavern he’s nearly run over by a rollerblader looking like a total asshole. “Hey, watch it bub!” He shouts drunkenly and in a stupor. He’s taken the loss of their three-person tandem bicycle hard and has only found solace in the cool refreshing taste of Zima. He is generally terrible at everything now and decides to give up on life. What better way to show the world that you’ve given up than to strap on some blades and attempt to skate your way across America. Nearly a month later and trailing empty Zima bottles the entire way, Patrick approaches the finish line. Every other competitor has broken down, but Patrick has continued ever forwards, his eyes glazed with hate for the world that has abandoned him and his three-person tandem bicycle. He looks to his left…

… they are shocked to see each other right alongside! Patrick’s legs akimbo, he looks terrible. Like some knock-off terrible version of Jamie’s golden rollerblading god. Yet they finish at the exact same time because they are the best twins ever and demand their prize. The organizer reveals that the prize was supposed to be a golden microphone but he lost it months ago in Bolivia. “Like this one?” They ask, pulling out their karaoke prize. “Yup, guess you had it the whole time and this whole adventure was pretty much useless and not worth going through.” Knowing just what to do we sing together with perfect pitch and the microphone opens to reveal another riddle. Good god. “To the desert you must go, and find the final piece you need. A robot spider is your foe, defeat it with your twinzo speed.” That’s right! We’re watching the only major BMT film with a giant robotic spider, Wild Wild West. A true classic of the BMT genre, I remembering seeing it when it came out in theaters with a packed crowd. I was of an age where films were mostly good and never bad, but I do remember feeling that this one was a very strange film. BTW, the reason Cheech Marin abandoned us in this story is he was used as a Chain Reaction but didn’t actually appear in the film at all. IMDb totally screwed us. Anyway, we’ll mend the chain next week. Let’s go!

Wild Wild West (1999) – BMeTric: 71.5

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(Very stable around 70+ which is in “legendary” territory. Basically the rating is rising as one would expect with the number of votes coming in. This kind of trend is pretty common with really terrible films that came out before Rotten Tomatoes pages started getting archived. You can’t see the start of the graph basically, but by 2004ish it had already been established as one of the worst films ever made.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Rehash of 1960s TV series finds special agents James West (Smith) and inventor Artemus Gordon (Kline) on a special mission for President Grant to capture nefarious bad guy Arliss Loveless (Branagh). Overstuffed with visual gimmickry, but leaden in every way. You can hear the banter landing with a thud every few minutes.

(Sounds about right. Everything you read about this film suggests Will Smith was a major miscast. Is seems to forced a film that should have been westers-sci-fi into a more comedic style. And by doing so things get leaden as Maltin says.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It89i3W-v4s

(Wow. Well, the first half of that trailer actually looked kind of fun. If I was around 13 years old in 1999 and saw that on television I might be excited to see it in theater (hehe … gulp). The second half looks genuinely terrible though, just kind of a mess of bad CGI mostly.)

Directors – Barry Sonnenfeld – (Known For: The Addams Family; Men in Black; Men in Black 3; Addams Family Values; Get Shorty; Big Trouble; Future BMT: R.V.: Runaway Vacation; Men in Black II; The Concierge; BMT: Wild Wild West; Nine Lives; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director for Wild Wild West in 2000; Notes: Has directed for over 20 years. Recently directed ten episodes of the Series of Unfortunate Events television series.)

Writers – Jim Thomas and John Thomas (story) – (Known For: Predator; Predators; Executive Decision; Future BMT: Mission to Mars; Predator 2; BMT: AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem; Wild Wild West; AVP: Alien vs. Predator; Behind Enemy Lines; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Wild Wild West in 2000; Notes: They haven’t done much credited work, mainly they get story credits for the various Predator adaptations and sequels. Jim Thomas did an article in Empire looking back at Predator though, so they are still kicking around it seems.)

S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock (screenplay) – (Known For: Tremors; Short Circuit; *batteries not included; Heart and Souls; Future BMT: Ghost Dad; Short Circuit 2; BMT: Wild Wild West; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Wild Wild West in 2000; Notes: Claimed their original script was more serious and tried to get their names taken off of the credits. Helped found Stampede Entertainment which made the first four films in the Tremors franchise.)

Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman (screenplay) – (Known For: Who Framed Roger Rabbit; Shrek the Third; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Doc Hollywood; Last Holiday; BMT: Wild Wild West; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2001; Notes: Comedy writers presumably brought in to punch up the script after they decided to go the comedy route with this film. Their credited work is punctuated with large gaps in working, and I can’t really find much additional information on them.)

Actors – Will Smith – (Known For: Independence Day; I Am Legend; Men in Black; Focus; The Pursuit of Happyness; Men in Black 3; Bad Boys; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Hancock; I, Robot; Hitch; Enemy of the State; Concussion; Ali; The Legend of Bagger Vance; Six Degrees of Separation; Where the Day Takes You; Future BMT: Made in America; Shark Tale; Suicide Squad; Men in Black II; Bright; Bad Boys II; Collateral Beauty; BMT: After Earth; Wild Wild West; A New York Winter’s Tale; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Y’all know Will Smith. Once a rapper, a television phenom in Fresh Prince, now … he’s bungee jumping over the Grand Canyon on Youtube for his 50th birthday.)

Kevin Kline – (Known For: Beauty and the Beast; No Strings Attached; The Big Chill; A Fish Called Wanda; Definitely, Maybe; Sophie’s Choice; The Hunchback of Notre Dame; The Road to El Dorado; Silverado; Ricki and the Flash; Chaplin; Last Vegas; Cry Freedom; Life as a House; Dave; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Grand Canyon; In & Out; The Conspirator; French Kiss; Future BMT: The Pink Panther; Darling Companion; The January Man; Consenting Adults; Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; The Last of Robin Hood; As You Like It; BMT: Wild Wild West; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Actor, and Worst Supporting Actress for Wild Wild West in 2000; Notes: Y’all know Kevin Kline. His daughter is the musician Frankie Cosmos.)

Kenneth Branagh – (Known For: Avengers: Infinity War; Dunkirk; Murder on the Orient Express; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; Valkyrie; The Boat That Rocked; The Road to El Dorado; My Week with Marilyn; Much Ado About Nothing; Hamlet; Dead Again; Chariots of Fire; Swing Kids; Henry V; Rabbit-Proof Fence; Mindhorn; Celebrity; Othello; Five Children and It; Future BMT: Frankenstein; Sleuth; BMT: Wild Wild West; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Wild Wild West in 2000; Notes: He had a very obscure uncredited cameo in Avengers: Infinity War. Naturally, he is huge in the Shakespeare scene in London, I saw him in Winter’s Tale … it was fantastic.)

Budget/Gross – $170 million / Domestic: $113,804,681 (Worldwide: $222,104,681)

(Some places argue it made back its money overseas. False, this was a write off of probably $100 million from the pure accounting perspective. But it likely made its money back with advertising and tie-ins surrounding the release.)

#17 for the Action – Buddy Comedy genre

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(Barely beaten by the first Ride Along for the highest grossing qualifier we’ve seen, although Men in Black II is actually the most successful qualifying example available (same director as Wild Wild West!). The genre got blown out in the early 90s, but has recovered since.)

#20 for the Adventure – Period genre

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(The Pirates franchise crushes this one for bad films, and the Three Musketeers (Plaaaaanchet) from 2011 is my favorite. I have a feeling with CGI and 3D printing technology that period films are going to see a boom in the near future and it becomes easier and cheaper to create. I guess we’ll see though. You can definitely see CGI helping the genre come into its own in the late 90s.)

#17 for the TV Adaptation (Live Action) genre

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(This is our seventh, and this is by far the most successful bad adaptation we’ve seen, and the most successful qualifying film ever. This kind of marks the end of a giant boom of adaptations. They come out more regularly now (Baywatch and CHiPs are recent examples), but they were just churning them out in the late 90s)

#6 for the Western genre

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(Peak of the western genre actually, highest grossing qualifying film in the genre. The genre is coming back in style in a major way as well after dying in the late-90s. We’ve seen six westerns now, my favorite being (Hall of Fame) Texas Rangers. Although Jonah Hex is also pretty hilarious.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (22/131): Bombastic, manic, and largely laugh-free, Wild Wild West is a bizarre misfire in which greater care was lavished upon the special effects than on the script.

(The argument in the notes seems to be that the script was overwritten once they got Will Smith (mis)cast in order to make it a comedy. Then they didn’t even do that right and had to do a bunch of reshoots to add even more comedy in because audiences didn’t understand why the movie wasn’t really funny. It sounds like a complete disaster. Reviewer Highlight – The elaborate special effects are like watching money burn on the screen – Roger Ebert)

Poster – Wild Wild Sklog (F! F! F!)

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(Whhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Holy shit. Move over The Avengers (1998) there is a new sheriff in town. That has got to be hands down the worst poster I have ever seen for a major motion picture release.)

Tagline(s) – It’s a whole new west. July ’99. (:D)

(Lol, yes please put this on the poster. Make sure you have that year on there in case someone is confused and thinks the movie might come out in July 2000 or July 2001. This smacks of someone being like “this is truly an event people. When children across America hang this on their walls they want to remember exactly when it came out.”)

Keyword(s) – utah; Top Ten by BMeTric: 71.5 Wild Wild West (1999); 55.3 Point Break (2015); 48.6 R.V.: Runaway Vacation (2006); 25.1 Idle Hands (1999); 24.6 Resident Evil: Extinction (2007); 23.9 My 5 Wives (2000); 23.3 Duets (2000); 22.6 Pride and Prejudice (2003); 20.3 The Mountain Between Us (2017); 18.8 Love Me Like You Do (2014);

(I wouldn’t really call Wild Wild West a Utah film unfortunately. The climax takes place there, but the film is kind of roadtrippy in how it moves around. Starts in West Virginia, moves to Washington D.C., goes to New Orleans (for an extended segment), and then they railroad it to Utah pretty directly. But it definitely takes place across a number of different settings. Still, pretty surprising we’ve not seen any of the others on this list.)

Notes – Will Smith turned down the lead role in The Matrix (1999) to star in this movie, being a fan of the television series. He later said this was the worst decision he made in his career. (It was. Although you can’t really say Keanu somehow because I giant star after The Matrix, and Will Smith was slightly more famous than him at that point … but Wild Wild West definitely quickened the pace of Will Smith’s box office downfall)

The film underwent costly re-shoots in an attempt to inject some humor after it was found that test audiences weren’t sure if it was supposed to be a comedy. (It shouldn’t have been)

Though a box-office failure in the U.S. (it managed to turn a profit overseas), it’s commonly joked that the only reason the film earned any money at all is because unaccompanied minors would buy tickets to this film, then use them to sneak into screenings of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) and American Pie (1999). (HA)

Will Smith said that he knew the movie wasn’t any good and he was embarrassed when it earned almost fifty million dollars in its opening weekend. Years later, Smith apologized publicly to Robert Conrad (star of the original television series) and said now that he was older and more experienced, he understood Conrad’s anger and criticism of the film version, as well as Conrad’s refusal to make a cameo appearance in it. (Conrad should have had more input, although maybe he just was opposed to any movie being made)

When Kenneth Branagh was in an articulated metal platform as Dr. Loveless, he actually was seated in the device in a kneeling position. He would have to get up every few minutes and walk around to get the circulation back in his legs, as they would constantly go numb from being in that position for an extended period of time.

When this film swept the 20th Annual Razzie Awards, winning five statuettes including Worst Picture, Robert Conrad, who played James West in the original 1960s television series, accepted three of the awards in person, as his way of expressing his low opinion of what had been done with his source material. (HA, good on Robert Conrad)

Robert Conrad was initially approached by Barry Sonnenfeld to make a cameo appearance as President Ulysses S. Grant. He turned down the offer after reading the script, due to what he felt was its poor quality and lack of loyalty for the original series, on which it was based. (YOU SHOULD HAVE DEMANDED TO BE SCRIPT SUPERVISOR)

The characters of “Spike Guy” and “Knife Guy” were added to the movie and inserted into the climax after test audiences found the heroes fighting only Loveless’ beauties to be very odd. (Ahahahahahahhaha these notes are gold)

Mel Gibson was set to star as James West, and Richard Donner (who had directed three episodes of The Wild Wild West (1965)) was set to direct, with a script by Shane Black, back when Warner Bros. announced the plans to make the movie in 1992. However, they both dropped out and went on to do Maverick (1994). After Gibson dropped out, Tom Cruise was attached to star, before dropping out to star in Mission: Impossible (1996). (Wow, what a journey this had to the screen. Maverick is better … although still a very odd Western)

Belle was originally cast with, and filmed with British actress Phina Oruche. Reportedly, the chemistry needed for the bathtub love scene wasn’t there. The scene was recast and re-shot with Garcelle Beauvais. However, Oruche was not told, and found out she was no longer in the film at the premiere in Los Angeles. (Oh no!)

Kevin Smith has said that the giant spider was producer Jon Peters’ idea for the later-abandoned “Superman Lives” project with Nicolas Cage and Tim Burton. (Yup, a very famous story on podcasts. The entire thing sound so absurd as to be … extremely plausible)

Barry Sonnenfeld, Kevin Kline, Salma Hayek, Will Smith, and in fact half the staff at Warner Bros. hate this film. Hayek in particular thought she was being underused, while Kline considered himself too good of an actor for the finished product. (Kline is too good of an actor for the finished product. So is Branagh actually)

This is the second movie in which Kevin Kline plays both the President of the United States and the man impersonating the President. The first was Dave (1993). (That didn’t even occur to me as I watched the film)

When Will Smith asked his mother what she thought of the film, she replied “You’ve done better, baby”. (Oh no! These notes are amazing)

There was a recurring villain on the television series named Dr. Loveless, but he was a dwarf rather than an amputee, and his first name was Miguelito, not Arliss. (Huh, fun fact)

Ted Levine grew up watching the original television series. Levine said he enjoyed working on the film, but because there were so many writers revising the script, there was no center, causing the story to be all over the place. He attributed that to the film’s failure, as well as Will Smith’s miscasting. (Uh … fair)

According to screenwriters S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, their original script was rewritten almost entirely from their draft. The duo, who have worked on several films together, claimed their script was heavily rewritten by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman, with further rewrites by an uncredited Jim Kouf, in an attempt to add more action and comedy to a script that was a mostly serious, dialog-driven mystery western. Entire additions, such as the villain, most of the jokes and action scenes, and the entire 3rd act involving the giant spider, were new without their input. Wilson and Braddock tried to get their names taken off from the film after seeing the final product, and they have since refused to work with a major studio because of the experience. (Yeah, the first script sounds much better sadly. Although I’m not sure how much I buy it, Maddock himself claims he tends to drive scripts towards comedy, but perhaps they mean it would be more like Tremors and less like … this.)

At an official 150 million dollars (unofficial 170 million dollars) it stands as the most expensive movie produced by Warner Bros. and the most expensive movie released in 1999.

In 1997, writer Gilbert Ralston sued Warner Bros. over the upcoming motion picture based on the series. Ralston helped create The Wild Wild West (1965) television series, and scripted the pilot episode, The Wild Wild West: The Night of the Inferno (1965). In a deposition, Ralston explained that in 1964 he was approached by producer Michael Garrison who ‘”said he had an idea for a series, good commercial idea, and wanted to know if I could glue the idea of a western hero and a James Bond type together in the same show.” Ralston said he then created the Civil War characters, the format, the story outline and nine drafts of the script that was the basis for the television series. It was his idea, for example, to have a secret agent named Jim West who would perform secret missions for a bumbling Ulysses S. Grant. Ralston’s experience brought to light a common Hollywood practice of the 1950s and 1960s, when television writers, who helped create popular series, allowed producers or studios to take credit for a show, thus cheating the writers out of millions of dollars in royalties. Ralston died in 1999, before his suit was settled. Warner Bros. ended up paying his family between 600,000 and 1.5 million dollars. (Hollywood accounting at its best. Go get your money Ralston)

The locomotive in the film (#25 William Mason) was previously used in The Great Locomotive Chase (1956). “Chase” also featured Virginia & Truckee Railroad #22 “Inyo”, which was used in The Wild Wild West television series. (Train facts! Awesome)

The sequences on both Artemus Gordon’s and Dr. Loveless’ trains interiors were shot on sets at Warner Bros. The train exteriors were shot in Idaho on the Camas Prairie Railroad. The Wanderer is portrayed by the Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 No. 25, one of the oldest operating steam locomotives in the U.S. Built in 1856 at the Mason Machine Works in Taunton, Massachusetts, it was later renamed The “William Mason” in honor of its manufacturer. During pre-production the engine was sent to the steam shops at the Strasburg Railroad for restoration and repainting. The locomotive is brought out for the B&O; Train Museum in Baltimore’s “Steam Days”. (Tauton Mass. what what)

In the movie, the Central Pacific’s Jupiter was played by the J.W. Bowker (Virginia & Truckee #21). Now displayed at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California. The Union Pacific’s 119 was played by the Reno (Virginia & Truckee #11). Now displayed at Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, Arizona. (I. Love. Train facts!)

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2000)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Kevin Kline, Will Smith, 2000)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2000)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Jim Thomas, John Thomas, S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, 2000)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Stevie Wonder, Kool Moe Dee, Will Smith, 2000)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kevin Kline, 2000)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Kenneth Branagh, 2000)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Salma Hayek, 2000)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Kevin Kline, 2000)

Cannonball Run II Recap

Jamie

Remember those bozos from the last movie? Well they’re back, Jack! And ready to ride their way to victory in a cross country road race. When the Sheik is kidnapped by some mobsters the cannonballers gotta pull out all the stops to help him. Will they free the racist caricature (and perhaps win the big race) before it’s too late? Find out in… Cannonball Run II.

How?! The Sheik is pretty embarrassed about losing the last race due to an unforeseen plot hole so he sets up a second one to prove his worth. While everyone is gathering, however, it is revealed that the goofball son of the Mafia don has gotten in deep with a rival mob. He comes to collect from Jamie and Morris (the priests from first film) and they point to the Sheik as a way to get the cash. A plan is in motion to kidnap the Sheik and ransom him for the large sum that the rival mob is asking for. If this sounds terrible and in no way related to a film about car racing you are correct. Anyway they all get new gimmicks. J.J. and Victor are now impersonating Army generals, Jackie Chan is back with a new robot car, the drunk priests are now impersonating cops, the hot ladies are still just hot ladies, and the good ol’ boys are back except now one of them is Tony Danza and they have a car driven by a orangutan… yeeeeessh. Basically nothing happens for a while except J.J. and Victor pick up a couple of actresses dressed as nuns and Jackie Chan’s car goes into a lake and turns into a submarine (best scene of the film). Eventually the Sheik is kidnapped and our heroes hatch a plan with Frank Sinatra to infiltrate the Mafia’s hideout and get him back. This culminates in a big fight which they win. They then finish the race off screen and we are treated to seeing the orangutan declared the winner. THE END.

Why?! More like Whhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyy??!!! Amirite? The motivations are the same. J.J. and Victor want glory and fame, the priests/cops are in it to clear their gambling debts, the hot ladies just want to go fast, Jackie Chan is back to prove the superiority of Japanese racing technology and talent, and the good ol’ boys just want to have a good time (but the orangutan sure is making it tough)… god, writing about this is making me sad.

What?! Someone switched sponsors! Last film everyone was crushing Budweiser. This film? Miller High Life (the champagne of beers) is in everyone’s hands. Also want to note that back in 2011 there was a lot of buzz for a remake of The Cannonball Run series starring Brad Pitt which was supposed to birth a new generation of product placement as it was funded by GM. It never came to fruition and now the remake seems to be in the works sans Pitt and GM.

Who?! Victor played by Dom DeLuise is probably the best example of a Planchet we’ve seen in quite some time. The man is generally a good guy, a great friend, and a bumbling chubby idiot at the same time. So of course J.J. treats him like shit. He is always hitting him and calling him names. Congrats Victor, you are a very good BMT thing coming out of a truly terrible film. Frank Sinatra makes one of his final screen appearances in a bizarre set of scenes where it’s obvious that he was never in the room with any of the other actors. On top of that they all more or less grovel at the feet of Blue Eyes. Joe Theismann followed in Bradshaw’s shoes and appeared in this film. Finally I have to give a big shoutout to Don Knotts who made a cameo appearance here as a highway patrolman who gets attacked by an orangutan (this is real).

Where?! Road Trip Alert! Still a roadtrip movie, but no nearly as good as the last film. It starts in Redondo Beach, California, but then almost immediately spends most of its time hanging around Las Vegas. It finally jumps to CT at the end. So not a great road trip but better focus on a single place. B-.

When?! Better chance this time to see an actual date as there were fliers for the race, but I couldn’t make out the date on any of them. Maybe if I had an original print of the film or happened upon a large cache of props. Until then… F.

This movie is terrible, terrible, terrible. It is just a knock-off of the first one with a lot of the good stuff removed. It’s barely even a racing movie anymore as they mire themselves in a Las Vegas mobster plot that is real tedious to get through. It’s amazing that both the first one and the second one were so bad considering their success, but this one makes the first one look like a masterpiece. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Oh snap, you remember that crappy movie you made a few years ago on a shoestring budget? It made boatloads. A sequel is going to be easy. I mean … the jokes write themselves! Well, actually, if we do it right the jokes are literally already written … Let’s get into it!

The Good – Oof. Uh … Jackie Chan’s story is a bit better this time around. I was mentally prepared for watching this trash because I had seen the first one. That’s it.

P’s View on the Preview – Now having watched the original I knew what I was getting into. The first was garbage. The second is considered worse so … double garbage, all the way, oh my gosh. Otherwise I guess I was most interested in seeing Frank Sinatra play himself a bit? I wasn’t looking forward to watching this to say the least.

The Bad – This film is totally and utterly unnecessary. They don’t even do a cross country race. They go from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (an afternoon jaunt) and then animate the entire thing at the end! It is crazy. Burt Reynolds and DeLuise are particularly bad in this one, I’m skeptical they even had a script. If they did it said “Burt and Dom improv for 15 minutes, end scene” at times, I guarantee it.

Get Yo Rant On – In the previous recap I talked about Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise’s comic stylings. This time let’s get a little shout out for everyone else involved. Jamie Farr plays a truly racist caricature (and not in a “the times they are a-changin” kind of way, he’s in blackface in 1984). In back-to-back films they inexplicably cast Terry Bradshaw and Joe Theismann. The main pair of ladies basically just show their breasts the entire time. Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin … the less said the better. And … who knows I can’t remember anyone else. Like an orangutan. These characters are neither interesting or funny and on most occasions offensive. So congrats Cannonball Run II, you managed to make a not-funny film even less funny and more offensive.

The BMT – Now this! This is a real Razzies-Calendar-Smellements film, it ticks the games off like crazy. It is one of those classic bad movies we just had to watch. Would I want to watch it again? Never. But maybe just show the opening scene and turn to whomever you are talking with and say “You see? You see this garbage? Do you want more of this? Didn’t think so” and shut it off.

Welcome to Earf – Not surprisingly The Cannonball Run and its sequel have the same chain: Burt Reynolds was in Cannonball Run II and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – At one point in time Gene Siskel suggested this film was the worst film ever made. There aren’t many lists from the time, but do yourself a favor and watch the Siskel and Ebert review:

They absolutely destroy Burt Reynolds, that man had a family! Presumably, I don’t know. I think it would be a few years before he got married and adopted his son.

Besides the BONUS of The Cannonball Run there was no homework. Turns out that despite Speed Zone being referred to as Cannonball Run III in the literature, it is not in fact a sequel. Good for me since I’m not sure I could have watched a third version of this trash.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Cannonball Run Recap

Jamie

A bunch of bozos get together for the annual (?) Cannonball Run, a cross country road race where rules are not coolz. They all have their gimmicks and celebs galore as they race for the coveted cup. Can [insert favorite character] win the race before it’s too late? Find out in… The Cannonball Run.

How?! In the flimsiest of plots our heroes, J.J. and Victor, enter The Cannonball Run disguised as ambulance drivers in an attempt to evade police suspicion. Added to the mix are: some hot women, a gambler and a washed up race car driver turned drunk disguised as priests, Jackie Chan in a Japanese robot car, good ol’ boy Terry Bradshaw, a Roger Moore lookalike played by Roger Moore, and a very racist depiction of a Middle Eastern Sheik. There are others but those are the major players. Anyway, J.J. and Victor kidnap a photographer lady and have a rivalry with the priests, but otherwise it’s just zany antic after zany antic for our heroes. The whole time there is an attempt by a politician to shut down the race, but that comes to nothing except sadness for the politician. The film culminates with a fight at a gas station where all the cars end up stuck waiting for construction to clear. We get some Jackie Chan moves and Victor becomes a weird superhero or whatever and it’s obviously hilarious. They then all sprint for the finish line (even though it was a staggered start) ending with the hot ladies winning the prize. THE END.

Why?! It is interesting to think about the motivations for the characters. J.J. and Victor want money and fame, the priests placed a large wager on themselves, the ladies seem to just want to go fast, Roger Moore is for the thrill of it, Terry Bradshaw wants to whoop it up and have fun, Jackie Chan wants to show the superiority of Japanese technology, and the Sheik doesn’t want to bring shame to his family’s name. I think that’s pretty accurate.

What?! There are certainly product placements to note (like Terry Bradshaw crushing Budweisers left and right), but I’m gonna take the rare opportunity to note a rare plot hole in this film. Plot holes are hard to spot, but in this case it’s pretty clear that the creators of this film just didn’t care. It’s explained that the race is run using time cards. Each team punches their card in a staggered start and then whoever has their timecard show the lowest elapsed time is the winner of the race… and yet the film finishes with all the major teams in the film running to the finish line to try to cross first. The time card is never mentioned, nor is it noted that the declared winners (the hot ladies) started earlier than several of the teams shown and should have lost to them. Congrats. That is truly terrible writing.

Who?! There is a classic Planchet in this film, but I’ll use the recap of the second film to discuss that. Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin are in both films and both had major singing careers. Peter Fonda has a cameo as the head of a biker gang in a nod to Easy Rider. Football player Terry Bradshaw is a character in the film. Finally, Jamie Farr plays the Sheik in arab-face which is problematic to say the least. It’s pretty offensive in a very they-made-this-in-the-80s kind of way.

Where?! We get another Road Trip Alert! The Cannonball Run starts in Darien, CT (confirmed by several signs). We get scenes in New Jersey, Ohio, and Missouri in the very least (probably more could be definitively determined). It ends in Redondo Beach, California. Not as good as Crossroads, but solid. B.

When?! My guess would be that the film takes place in the Spring, but it’s not something that I could figure out for sure. Maybe it’s noted somewhere in the film but I sure in hell ain’t going back and watching it again to find out. F.

This movie is surprisingly terrible and useless for being one of the biggest hits of 1981. Let me count the ways. The production is ramshackle, exemplified by the plane stunt where cameras and police barricades are clearly visible. The Middle Eastern character is one of the most racist depictions I’ve seen in a BMT film… his name is Sheik Abdul ben Falafel! Even though I can to appreciate the charm of Dom DeLuise, the film is just not funny. Finally, it has one of the most glaring plot holes I’ve ever witnessed on film. It is just not a good film… and yet America seemed to not be able to get enough. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Time to pack up your ambulance, grab a disgusting doctor character, and unleash your inner Captain Chaos, because The Cannonball Run is starting. Mad antics like this just haaaave to be funny, right? … Right? Let’s get into it!

The Good – If you like cars, Burt Reynolds, or both this film might just be for you. Farrah Fawcett is like … super attractive. The fact that this is as true to the original race as you’ll see is pretty fun. Some of the others are funny in their own way, Jackie Chan and Roger Moore in particular are fine.

P’s View on the Preview – I told Jamie that I wondered if this would be like Anaconda. If this is one of those films which have bad reviews now, but didn’t really back then (at least not as bad) and that once I watched it I would think it wasn’t nearly as bad as the rating suggests. He told me to watch the movie. But you can kind of see my mindset going into the film. I expected it to be a cult-classic (which was always my perception of it). Boy howdy was I wrong.

The Bad – This movie isn’t funny. Seeing Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin doing … this, just isn’t a good look. The movie is just not funny, not a single moment of it. It is a totally mess from a storytelling perspective, less of a three act structure and more of the loosey goosey meandering scripts from the decades before. There is some complicated sexual assault / drugging / disgusting garbage behavior played for laughs which you just couldn’t get away with now. The movie just isn’t funny, it is boring.

Get Yo Rant On – For the first film’s rant I choose to highlight the interactions between Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in particular. Specifically the way they fake laugh with each other and Burt’s kind of … odd improvisational stylings. Perhaps it is my pre-1980 bias showing, but was this normal? Or was it a product of a very quick and very tight shooting schedule. Did Hal Needham just trust Reynolds to get the comic timing correct, or is this a fundamental disaster. I will say: Burt Reynolds doesn’t really come across as funny in the film. He comes across as a very smooth ladies man and straight man playing off of DeLuise’s comedy … but DeLuise isn’t funny either. No one is funny in this film … I don’t get it, am I taking crazy pills? Rant over.

The BMT – Weirdly … I do think this has legs. Cannonball Run films are a very strange as specific sub-genre. Almost exclusively comedies (interestingly enough). I wonder if there is an example of a serious version of Cannonball Run? And if not, why not? I guess it was all played for jokes at the time, but someone who really needs the money or someone who needs to stop another person from getting the money seems like a decent action premise. My point is, completing the Cannonball Run genre will be a thing and this will be part of it. I will never watch this film again if I can help it though.

Welcome to Earf – Shockingly easy in light on last week’s run. Burt Reynolds was in The Cannonball Run and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – This one doesn’t have much beyond most respectable critics at the time ragging on it. In particular Siskel and Ebert seemed to think this was a particularly egregious example of lazy filmmaking. Maybe Lennon and Garant can fix it the next time around …

Phew, one Cannonball Run down, one to go. The second couldn’t possibly be as bad as this right? … Right?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs