I feel like if The Golden Child were to have aired on Comedy Central during my childhood I would have come away with very fond memories of it. It had all the things that I loved as a kid: the occasional joke, some mystical shit, and interesting exotic settings. It’s like a really shitty Indiana Jones… except my child brain wouldn’t have recognized the “shitty” part and would have just thought it was “like Indiana Jones.” Unfortunately that’s really the only particularly good thing about it: that I might have liked it as a child. Even the things I would have liked are things that my adult brain recognizes as being incredibly strange. These include a surreal dream sequence, an opening montage that better fit a music video than an actual film, monster-human characters straight out of Masters of the Universe, and a part-animated finale. Just weird shit. The weirdest thing though is a scene where the main villain totally flubs a line and they chose to leave it in the film. I couldn’t tell why. It’s not even a funny flub. He just stumbles over a line and they kept it in. It’s a BMysTery that will probably never be solved: why is there a blooper left in the final cut of The Golden Child. The world will never know. Funny enough I don’t think all the weird stuff even sunk the film at the time (it was the 80s after all). I think it just wasn’t that funny. It reads as one of those films that had a serious script with random [Eddie Improvises] notes throughout. Like Beverly Hills III. Just hope that a not funny movie can be made funny enough… and it wasn’t.
Settings 101! Settings 101! It’s become a staple of the first part of the email (along with Audio Sklog-entary, when applicable) to the point where it really isn’t even a game at this point. It’s simply part of life. The Golden Child was pretty sweet for Settings. Not really because the main setting was super important, but rather because the secondary locations (Nepal and Tibet) are rare enough that this would fit nicely into an international mapl.de.map (whenever we choose to start that). As for the main location, it was established in quick order that Eddie Murphy lives and operates in Los Angeles. How do we know? In the opening of the film there is a crazytown montage of Murphy carousing around LA. There are flashes of major landmarks (Pink’s, Randy’s Donuts, and a triple take of the Hollywood sign), along with mentions of Hollywood, California license plates, and LA addresses. Also Eddie Murphy works closely with the LAPD. Basically there is as much conversing about LA as a setting as possible, without explicitly acknowledging the setting to the audience directly. On top of this, there is nothing about the setting that makes it important to the film. Could have very easily been San Fran and nothing really would have changed. I believe this is a clear C+ film, and I love it for it.
‘Ello everyone! The Golden Child? More like Cold and Mild! Amirite? Because I mean … this movie is weird. Like just … let’s get into it.
- The Good – 80’s Murphy is charming in almost any circumstance. He is incredibly charming in this movie. The storyline is vaguely interesting, especially how they go hard sci fi / fantasy throughout.
- The Bad – The movie is boring. It also just kind of meanders around. And bar none this is one of the worst endings to a movie in the history of BMT. Spoiler Alert! Murphy’s love interest dies and everyone is just like “go get the Golden Child, he can cure her”. So he’s like “okay” then drives around LA for like 10 minutes, see a Tibetan bird, and is like sweet. Upon arriving at the hideout he then just kind of scoops the kid up and the bad guy becomes a stop-motion animated demon and just kind of pesters them on their drive to save the lady. It was nonsense and kind of ruined a somewhat pleasant if boring diversion otherwise.
- The BMT – It is kind of strange to me that this is so crazy derided among critics. A BOMB Leonard? Really? Not even the Murphy charm adds a little half star there? It seems like they were aiming at Beverly Hills Buddha or something along those lines, where a ton of the humor is just Murphy using his street wiles in a fish out of water type situation. And I can appreciate it. I could see myself using the endings in bad movie examples going forward, but to me it was below average for BMT as a whole. It is just boring, not bad in any tangible way.
I’m going to introduce a new series to the email that, like Jamie’s Settings 101, can be done each time. This I’m calling Sklog-trospective. Basically I record a thought before the film, something I was particularly interested in from the last preview, and then explain it and any thoughts in the recap. This time what I was particularly interested in was the director of The Golden Child, Michael Ritchie. The Golden Child was interesting because of its success and large budget to an extent, but I personally found the director to be an enigma. Critics specifically mention how scattershot his directing choices are. He goes from weird niche horror, to pageant mockumentary, to the Fletch series. He worked consistently, but only really met with middling success. It is a strange story, one that I couldn’t quite cut through in my research. After watching the film … the man is an experimentalist at heart. The beginning to The Golden Child is a sight to behold. A frenetic portrayal of LA mixed with repeated clips of Murphy laughing or putting up signs or ogling ladies. And it was a precursor to the film. Stop motion animation is used twice. A very strange dream sequence introduces Murphy to the bad guys. The entire movie kind of makes no sense and is barely held together by Murphy’s improvisation alone. The direction in this film is a major issue, and it only makes me more fascinated by Ritchie. I’ve seen almost none of his films, but I might have to check out a few others just to see what they are like.