Shaft (2019) Preview

Adam Banks, the producer of the latest Rich and Poe film, sits sweating as he watches Jamie and Patrick rant and rave around his office. Having already relented in allowing them to star in the film, he is shocked to hear that they now want to do their own stunts too. These stunts involve jumping between two helicopter cruise ships hovering over the blue waters of the French Riviera and Banks just isn’t sure he can insure it. He’s also not sure helicopter cruise ships exists. “Then invent one,” Jamie screams, “how much did our last film make?” He remarks with crossed arms waiting silently for a response. Banks mumbles the well known 2.3 billion dollar figure. “Then use is,” Jamie snidely remarks. There have been grumblings at the studio that this is some elaborate scheme set up by the auteurs to get out of there 20 film contract early, but Banks isn’t so sure. It seems to him that they have simply gone insane. Finally he relents and orders the helicopter cruise ships to be constructed. Once Jamie and Patrick are safely on the corporate jet back to the French Riviera he buzzes his secretary to set up a meeting ASAP. A few hours later Banks sits with a man dressed in dark glasses and a leather duster. “Rod, I need your help. I’ve got a delicate matter that needs some… discretion.” The man smiles, “Well Banks, you know that there’s only one thing I do better than discretion,” Banks nods and Rod finishes, “Sex is what I’m referring to.” And Banks nods again, “great well, really just discretion needed on this one.” At that they rise and shake hands. “You know, Rod, you really are one bad mother…” But Rod interrupts him “shut you’re fucking mouth.” That’s right! We are watching the 2019 entry in the Shaft saga that we were all scrambling for. Everywhere we went all we heard was “gee whiz I sure do hope we get a Shaft for a new generation.” Well we asked, they delivered in a neat BMT package. Gives us a chance to watch the original and the Samuel L. Jackson 2000 entry to get uptodate on the franchise, which is exciting. Let’s go!

Shaft (2019) – BMeTric: 19.6; Notability: 31

ShaftIMDb_BMeT

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(Genuinely strange. Usually things go the other way. Usually fans of the film come in hot with above average ratings during the initial theatrical run, and then it drops afterwards. This time people seeing it in theaters seem to hate it, but then it has stood steady at a pretty above average 6.4. I don’t really know what to make of that. Probably just need to wait a little longer for things to clarify.)

RogerEbert.com – 0.5 stars –  This movie is “ruin your childhood” bad, right down to the hideous auto-tuned end credits song they chose to use instead of the original “Theme From Shaft.” I say this flick Shaft is a bad movie. Shut yo’ mouth.

(Somehow this review is a lot kinder than I imagined it would be. Most reviews can be boiled down to “Ok, Boomer”. Mainly because whole scenes are (apparently) devoted to women lusting over Shaft shooting a bunch of people and making fun of Millenials … so just ruining your childhood seems like a step up in that context.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD41XdWcmbY/

(Sigh. So I know someone who’s seen this and he describes it as Boomer Humor. Now, I don’t hold prejudices against any movie. I’m happy to watch any film no matter how far from the intended audience I am. As Shaft says, I’m an equal opportunity stare-in-stony-silence-at-not-funny-films … person. But so far that guy seems right, so this is going to be one long film. Sigh.)

Directors – Tim Story – (Known For: Think Like a Man; Barbershop; Future BMT: Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Fantastic Four; Think Like a Man Too; BMT: Taxi; Ride Along 2; Ride Along; Shaft; Notes: He kind of has an amazing career. Everything from small indie films, to giant comic book blockbusters, and now he’s attached to Tom & Jerry, Ride Along 3, and Monopoly in the next few years! I look forward to watching many Tim Story films for the next decade to come.)

Writers – Kenya Barris (written by) – (Known For: Girls Trip; Barbershop: A Fresh Cut; BMT: Shaft; Notes: Childhood friend of Tyra Banks, he created the whole Black-ish series.)

Alex Barnow (written by) – (BMT: Shaft; Notes: A television writer almost exclusively. He wrote for a ton of shows including Family Guy and The Goldbergs.)

Ernest Tidyman (based upon the character John Shaft from the novel by) – (Known For: Shaft; The French Connection; High Plains Drifter; Shaft; Shaft in Africa; Shaft’s Big Score!; BMT: Shaft; Notes: I … did not realize it was a book series. He wrote seven Shaft novels between 1970 and 1975.)

Actors – Samuel L. Jackson – (Known For: Avengers: Endgame; Spider-Man: Far from Home; Pulp Fiction; Avengers: Infinity War; Captain Marvel; Goodfellas; Jurassic Park; Inglourious Basterds; Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace; Django Unchained; Kong: Skull Island; The Hateful Eight; Coming to America; Kingsman: The Secret Service; Avengers: Age of Ultron; Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith; Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children; Avengers Assemble; Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones; Unbreakable; Future BMT: Cell; The Spirit; Freedomland; Kite; Barely Lethal; Meeting Evil; Oldboy; Reasonable Doubt; Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Home of the Brave; The Samaritan; No Good Deed; Sphere; Amos & Andrew; Cleaner; The Legend of Tarzan; Loaded Weapon 1; Zambezia; The Exterminator; The 51st State; Rules of Engagement; Johnny Suede; Basic; Strictly Business; Glass; Country of My Skull; One Eight Seven; Life Itself; Gospel Hill; BMT: xXx²: The Next Level; Twisted; Jumper; Shaft; Notes: Still going strong at 70. He’s only a little younger than Richard Roundtree who plays his father in the film. He’s starring in a film called The Banker this year as well which will get a limited theatrical release in December.)

Jessie T. Usher – (Known For: Almost Christmas; Beautiful Boy; Future BMT: InAPPropriate Comedy; When the Game Stands Tall; BMT: Independence Day: Resurgence; Shaft; Notes: Kind of came up with guest spots in television, and then broke out with Independence Day: Resurgence. Also starred in the critically acclaimed The Boys television show this year.)

Richard Roundtree – (Known For: Seven; What Men Want; Brick; George of the Jungle; Shaft; Speed Racer; Shaft; Maniac Cop; Q; Shaft in Africa; Original Gangstas; Shaft’s Big Score!; Man Friday; Once Upon a Time… When We Were Colored; Future BMT: Boat Trip; Corky Romano; City Heat; Earthquake; Antitrust; Inchon; BMT: Steel; Theodore Rex; Shaft; Notes: There was a Shaft television “show” from 1973-1974 as well which he starred in. In actuality they were seven television movies, which is rather intriguing.)

Budget/Gross – $30–35 million / Domestic: $21,360,215 (Worldwide: $21,360,215)

(That isn’t good. But it released internationally on Netflix which was probably worth a few million … I don’t know, I’m not in the business. I guess I’m saying this probably lost money, but just not that much.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (38/119): Decades removed from the original, this multi-generational Shaft struggles to keep its characters interesting — or anything other than uncomfortably outdated.

(“Uncomfortably outdated”. That right there is 100% the reason we are watching this film. I am very intrigued by the reactions people have had to this film, it is all over the place. Reviewer Highlight: Ultimately, the only truly retro thing about this weirdly reactionary potboiler is its politics. – Keith Watson, Slate Magazine)

Poster – One Bad Mothersklogger (B)

shaft

(I like how artistic it is down the font and coloring. A little weird that they are apparently introducing a new generation of shaft but he’s pushed all the way off to the side. I also deduct it some points for an inordinate amount of whitespace. Looks odd.)

Tagline(s) – More Shaft than you can handle. (B+)

(I do appreciate a dick joke, particularly when used to advertise a multimillion dollar product. Really elevating the medium of dick jokes. Otherwise it is fine… better than average.)

Keyword – surname as title

Shaft_surname as title

Top 10: Hook (1991), Shaft (2019), Tolkien (2019), Constantine (2005), Snowden (2016), Lincoln (2012), Rambo (2008), Winchester (2018), Zoolander (2001), Salt (2010);

 Future BMT: 47.2 Winchester (2018), 34.1 Sgt. Bilko (1996), 22.6 Youngblood (1986), 14.7 Hook (1991); 

BMT: Shaft (2019), Rambo (2008), Gigli (2003), Jobs (2013)

(Nothing super big pops out in the graph, but the keyword kind of tickled me. I did it for Rambo as well, but not with the new expanded keywords section. Shocking that there are only eight examples. You can’t even make a cycle yet, but you are actually shockingly close if the Transitions and Chain Reaction films lined up.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Samuel L. Jackson is No. 1 billed in Shaft and No. 3 billed in Jumper, which also stars Michael Rooker (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 4 billed) => 1 + 3 + 5 + 4 = 13. If we were to watch Amos & Andrew we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – There is only a 6 year age difference between Richard Roundtree (Shaft I) and Samuel L. Jackson (Shaft II). This is humorously acknowledged in the film when Roundtree rhetorically asks, “How come you look 20 years older than my gray ass?”

This film will be released on Netflix streaming services internationally.

In Shaft (2000), Richard Roundtree’s John Shaft I was referred to as John Shaft II (Samuel L. Jackson)’s uncle. In the 2019 movie, John Shaft I is John Shaft II’s father.

At one point in the film Samuel L. Jackson tells his son that he got a real Super Bowl ring from L.T., referring to former NFL player Lawrence Taylor. This is also likely a reference to the previous Shaft (2000) in which Taylor appeared, although he was not playing himself but an actual character in the film.

At the time of the film’s release the main three actors ages are as follows: Roundtree 76, Jackson 70, and Usher 27.

In 2019, as the trailer made clear, all three generations of the family members named John Shaft exist in the Warner Bros-New Line Cinema-Netflix sequel confusingly also entitled “Shaft”. Further to add confusion, with three lead characters sharing the same name, from the original MGM version, the family tree relationships are broken down as; Richard Rountree as (uncle/great-uncle) John Shaft, Samuel L Jackson as (nephew/father) John Shaft (Senior/II from RR version), and Usher as (great-nephew/son) John Shaft (Junior/II from SLJ version/III from RR version).

The Hustle Recap

Jamie

Josephine Chesterfield is a conwoman extraordinaire living it up in the south of France. But when a less refined conwoman, Penny Rust, strolls into town they decide their isn’t room for both of them. They set up a contest to con a bumbling tech entrepreneur out of money, winner takes France. Can they con (or be conned?) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Hustle.

How?! Setting: French Riviera, Objective: Deception. That’s what life is all about for Josephine who, with the help of a local policewoman, takes monetary advantage of the many wealthy men who pass through her world. Unfortunately that world is about to be rocked by Penny Rust, a loud Australian bore whose rough exterior hides a cunning ability to dupe unsuspecting men. Josephine first tries to get rid of Penny by steering her to a different resort town. When that doesn’t work she gets her arrested and plays hero by freeing her and getting her on a one way ticket out of town. Finally, she takes Penny under her wing and mentors her in a game whereby they trick a man into proposing to Josephine only to have Penny, dressed as some kind of insane monster woman, scare them away, leaving behind the engagement ring. But when she insists that Penny go unpaid she leaves in a huff and everything seems great, right? Wrong! That’s because Penny is still hanging around cramping Josephine’s style. Only one thing left to do: a con-off. They pick a bumbling young entrepreneur, Thomas, as the mark and off they go. Zany adventures abound as Penny pretends to be blind and Josephine a prominent doctor. Oh boy oh boy. It sure is zany. Long story short it all predictably ends with Josephine and Penny becoming the marks (what a twist!) as Thomas turns the tables on them and steal their money out from under them. They are all angry until Thomas returns to rope them into joining up with him for even bigger better schemes (in the sequel? No? OK). THE END. Big Question: Did Thomas actually invent the app YaBurnt that Penny gushes over… because she clearly implies it’s real… so did he invent a popular app as part of a small potatoes con scheme?

Why?! Cash money, baby. Somewhere in the middle of the film Josephine makes some argument about how it’s really about using the fact that men underestimate women against them, but really everyone is just in it for the lettuce. The green. The cheddar. Dollah dollah bills y’all.

Who?! I love when there is a little story with a credit. Here we have a Special Thanks for Christian Louboutin and you’re all like ‘the shoes?’ Yes, apparently he got a Thanks credit for providing the shoes that Anne Hathaway wore for the film. I like that.

What?! There is quite a bit of product placement in this film, mostly regarding the fashion mentioned above (you want to buy Anne Hathaway’s shoes? Too late). But easily the most prominent is how Anne Hathway organizes her life with a variety of Apple products. You too can orchestrate elaborate cons with the help of an iPad!

Where?! Like the original film this is very French Riviera centric. In particular Beaumont-sur-Mer. We get those sites, we get those sounds, and really I don’t think this could be set anywhere else given the original.

When?! We got rescued by a last minute intertitle. Right after Thomas offers to partner with our leading ladies we flash forward “6 months later” where we see the end of a three-person caper they are pulling off in London. What do we see in that scene? A large Christmas decoration on the bank of the Thames. Last second Secret Holiday buzzerbeater! B.

I’m not sure I understand why this exists. It’s almost a shot-for-shot remake of a classic comedy… except every change they made (and there weren’t many) was for the worst, in particular a plot hole the size of the French Riviera. As mentioned in my big question I just can’t figure how it’s possible for Thomas to orchestrate a con which involves pretending to be a tech entrepreneur of a wildly popular app. The inventor of the app would be featured somewhere in the news… or have his picture somewhere on the internet, particularly since Penny estimates that the popularity of the app would make him immensely rich. Do they do no research? Not even a double check that the guy is who they think he is before going full bore on an all out con job of the dude? It’s leads to only one conclusion: they are in fact terrible con artists… or I guess two conclusions: this is a terrible film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are fully into the 2019 cycle now watching a critically panned comedy, The Hustle. It is I who will be conned by this movie? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – A remake of a classic 80s comedy is always foreboding, but this maybe could work? I mean, it obviously didn’t since we’re watching it for BMT, but there was an original movie, Bedtime Story starring Marlon Brando, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels seems to just be that, but with 80s comedy … so why not Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with 2010s comedy? I don’t really see why not. Plus with the gender swap you can sidestep comparisons with Steve Martin. What are my expectations? A not-funny, lazy, cynical piece of garbage. Why? Because there is no explanations for why a film that is mainly comedians pretending to be overly posh should be a disaster otherwise. It can only be because it isn’t funny and makes people sad.

The Good – I like Anne Hatheway a lot, I think the character she created here works very well, specifically the accent which she specifically designed to make you wonder if she was just an American pretending to be British. There is a single laugh in the film (Train Bitch) which I guess is above average? The vistas! How could I almost forget the vistas! There are wonderful vistas. I also think it is genuinely well directed. Evokes a bit of the old 60s British model work (but with CGI) I think … I think that makes sense.

The Bad – It is a lazy piece of garbage. Every single beat of the film is incredibly predictable AND is it just a shot for shot remake of the original! The biggest offender being that you can’t help but immediately know the tech millionaire is just another con man, which then kind of ruins the film. Saves me from saying Alex Sharp is bad since he is kind of supposed to be acting that way? He’s far more entertaining in the brief bit at the end where he is an exotic animal smuggler from Texas. It also somewhat loses the thread at points. Probably the weirdest bit is that set up a training montage and a Lord of the Rings grift (which is pretty fun to be honest) but all of that takes maybe 15 minutes? The rest of the film ends up kind of drowning in setting up the “big” tech grift which itself is a giant plot hole. Like … did Alex Sharp actually invent the app or did Hatheway just not do any research into him? I’m sure Jamie will get into that more.

The BMT – I will forget about this film in about 15 seconds, and blessedly there is little chance it’ll get the sequel it was desperate to set up at the end of the film. This film, The Intruder, and Countdown is giving me a sense of dread about bad movies. All of them seem to be … overly workshopped? That’s what it feels like at least. Like they reshot, recut, and re-edited everything 100 times via studio intervention and what you get is passively entertaining (at least not really boring or laughably bad), but mostly shiny garbage. Did it meet my expectations? Sigh, yeah. You can’t open a box marked A Shiny Piece of Cynical Garbage and be surprised when inside there is a shiny piece of cynical garbage. Cynical is probably not the right word … just worthless vaguely entertaining studio nonsense? Whatever, I can’t even be bothered to think this through further.

Roast-radamus – Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for the French Riviera, a classic of the original as well. Some very minor Product Placement (What?) as well with some Apple computer tech stuff floating around. Obviously Worst Twist (How?) for the final twist that Alex Sharp somehow invented an app worth billions and is also the grandson of the most famous grifter in the world. That’s wild. It will in contention mostly for Live!, but unlikely to be considered for the other tree awards.

StreetCreditReport.com – Again, it is a bit too early for all of the lists to be complete, but it did get a shoutout on this Looper article. And also this very strange looking iDaily article. It’ll probably win a few Razzies because it is a pretty high profile target in the end. And it is somewhere among the worst con-man films as well (actually as noted in the preview it is probably the worst film that is actually primarily about con-men).

You Just Got Schooled – You know I had to do it, because I had somehow managed to never see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in my life. And I’m glad I did, because I lost a looooot of respect for The Hustle after watching it. The film isn’t just a remake, it is a carbon copy of the original! It makes no sense to do it this way because you are now competing with Steve Martin toe-to-toe on comedy chops alone. And you’ll lose that every time. The movie is an A+, just watch that instead of The Hustle. How would I have done The Hustle? I would have made the two leads Bill Hader and Anne Hatheway. Keep Hatheway’s character of the rich con woman who resent men for thinking they are smarter than her. And give Hader Steve Martin’s character’s attitude than it was about time men got a chance to take money from rich women. And have the battle be applied to a rich couple. No con man twist at the end, just then make them realize they kind of fancy each other instead (and they also get twice the money, since they got to con both the husband and the wife). Close with them in Morocco performing a con that sounds suspiciously like the plot of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Big bang boom, flawless Jimmy Stewart impression by Hader (in case you were wondering why I cast him). Call me in the morning Netflix, I’m done.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Hustle Quiz

So I was pulling off this sweet con when all of a sudden I slipped on a slippery floor, crashed into the wall, and a vase bopped me right on the ol’ noggin’. Long story short I think I have a massive concussion, because I don’t remember a thing about The Hustle. Do you?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Prior to becoming Hatheway’s protege, Wilson is seen committed three cons. What are they? What is Hatheway’s con when we are introduced to her?

2) What big con do Hatheway and Wilson pull off together (i.e. what are both of their parts, and what is the code name for the con)?

3) What was the app that Alex Sharp invented called / what did it do?

4) When trying to con Alex, Wilson pretends to have what affliction? How does Hatheway butt into the con?

5) In the end how much money does Alex Sharp steal from both of them? Also what is his relationship with Medusa, the extremely famous female con artist?

Answers

The Hustle Preview

Jamie and Patrick watch as Square HQ burns to the ground. “There’s no way Sticks and Stones got out, right?” Jamie asks, but even he can’t get his hopes up. A part of him knows that though they totally crushed Sticks and Stones’ groins rendering them seemingly incapacitated, they will be back to haunt them again. It was not their time to die. With that they thank the Rambos and turn to go. Jamie reaches out to the power in Patrick and *boop* they’re back in their apartment in Brooklyn. They discuss the future of the Rich and Poe project and how they now realize that they can only accomplish their goals together. “But you know what, making the bad Rich and Poe film can wait,” Patrick says, “this adventure through space and time to defeat Sticks and Stones shall be our final Rich and Poe masterpiece.” With studios knocking down their doors for the next Rich and Poe installment it’s not hard to get a meeting with all the big names in town, but when they finally sit down and are about to sign on the dotted line they hesitate. Is this film not their magnum opus? The film that will detail their life and passion? Be their legacy? Will they just let some big shot actors stroll in and again tie for the Best Actor Oscar? No! “We have one demand,” they say and the studio head chuckles. The franchise is a worldwide phenomenon and they will give them anything: gold. Yachts. Gold yachts. Name it. “We want to star,” Jamie and Patrick state to the shock of the studio head. He hesitates, “star? For real? Are you… are you hustling me?” That’s right! We’re watching the 2019 remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Hustle starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. I only know one thing about this film: it’s always playing on about 50% of the video screens on airplanes. People can’t get enough of The Hustle when they have very few other options. Let’s go!

The Hustle (2019) – BMeTric: 48.1; Notability: 25

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(You know … first the BMeTric is very high for a film that came out so recently. Could just be weirdo Dirty-Rotten-Scoundrel fans kicking off online, who knows. But the notability is really low I feel like. Big comedies should typically have big guest stars … this is why I need to do some genre analyses for notability. I have no feel for the metric yet. I like it though, very interesting stuff.)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars –  “The Hustle,” a con comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, is light and slight and utterly forgettable as soon as it’s over. It is the kind of movie you watch on an airplane—perhaps on the way to someplace luxurious and relaxing like the South of France, the film’s setting—while falling in and out of naps.

(So pretty meh. Hmmmmmm, was there really not a better more interesting comedy to watch here. Quickly checking my notes suggests it was Madea or this so … well at least with this I have an excuse to watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j5hwooOHVE/

(I don’t know, that seems kind of like fun. I do need to watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels though. I’ll be missing something if I don’t at the very least watch that one (if not the original as well))

Directors – Chris Addison – (BMT: The Hustle; Notes: Was a main cast member of The Thick of It, which in the US was semi-adapted into Veep (which he produced and also directed 13 episodes of).)

Writers – Stanley Shapiro (screenplay by & story by) – (Known For: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Operation Petticoat; Pillow Talk; That Touch of Mink; Lover Come Back; Come September; For Pete’s Sake; BMT: The Hustle; Notes: Died in 1990, has the credit via Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He won an Oscar for Pillow Talk.)

Paul Henning (screenplay by & story by) – (Known For: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Lover Come Back; BMT: The Beverly Hillbillies; The Hustle; Notes: Died in 2005, also has the credit via Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He was nominated for an Oscar for Lover Come Back.)

Dale Launer (screenplay by & story by) – (Known For: My Cousin Vinny; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; Ruthless People; Future BMT: Eddie; Love Potion No. 9; Blind Date; BMT: The Hustle; Notes: Son of actor S. John Launer. He claims to have written the line “dead on balls accurate” for Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny. Appears to have been retired since the mid-90s.)

Jac Schaeffer (screenplay by) – (Known For: TiMER; BMT: The Hustle; Notes: A writer on the upcoming Black Widow film and WandaVision Disney+ television show. Appears to maybe be the only original writer credited for the film.)

Actors – Anne Hathaway – (Known For: The Dark Knight Rises; Interstellar; Les Misérables; Ocean’s Eight; The Devil Wears Prada; Brokeback Mountain; Alice in Wonderland; Love & Other Drugs; The Princess Diaries; Don Jon; Colossal; The Intern; Get Smart; Rio; Ella Enchanted; Rio 2; Rachel Getting Married; Becoming Jane; Havoc; Neko no ongaeshi; Future BMT: Serenity; The Princess Diaries 2; Passengers; Song One; Alice Through the Looking Glass; Don Peyote; The Other Side of Heaven; BMT: Bride Wars; The Hustle; Valentine’s Day; Notes: Married to Adam Shulman, and is expecting their second child relatively soon.)

Rebel Wilson – (Known For: Jojo Rabbit; Isn’t It Romantic; Pitch Perfect; Bridesmaids; Pain & Gain; Pitch Perfect 2; How to Be Single; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Bachelorette; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie; Future BMT: Pitch Perfect 3; A Few Best Men; Grimsby; Small Apartments; Struck by Lightning; Ice Age: Continental Drift; BMT: Ghost Rider; The Hustle; What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Notes: Her two sisters appear to have competed in The Amazing Race Australia at some point, which is fun. Although they only managed two episodes.)

Alex Sharp – (Known For: To the Bone; How to Talk to Girls at Parties; BMT: The Hustle; Notes: Won a Tony in 2015 for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.)

Budget/Gross – $21 million / Domestic: $35,417,038 (Worldwide: $95,017,038)

(That is actually probably pretty good. Although I’m sure the expectation was higher, you’d maybe want $50 for a comedy, but worldwide that isn’t horrible.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 14% (21/149): The Hustle’s stars might make an effective comedy team in a different setting, but this gender-flipped remake of a remake adds little beyond its feminine twist.

(Hmmmm that doesn’t sound great. Neither does all the reviews suggesting it feels super long because it is boring. Like this one … Reviewer Highlight: Even with a running time of 93 minutes, The Hustle felt about an hour too long. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times.)

Poster – The Hustle and Bustle (B-)

hustle

(Striking poster. Truly awful font. And a classic case of really just using the stars for the marketing and not really needing the poster to tell a story. Obviously smart, when that’s your strength. Bumping it up because the color really does draw the eye. Very memorable.)

Tagline(s) – They’re giving Dirty Rotten Men a run for their Money. (D)

(God damn it. Why? Why would you willingly draw even more comparisons to the classic comedy that you are remaking? Also, is that really the audience you are trying to draw in? People who know what Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is? Don’t you want young people or something? I just really hate self-referential taglines.)

Keyword – con-artist;

TheHustle_con-artist

Top 10: Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019), A Simple Favour (2018), The Big Lebowski (1998), The Hustle (2019), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), Ocean’s Eight (2018), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Now You See Me (2013), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Zootropolis (2016); 

Future BMT: 87.9 Street Fighter (1994), 44.8 The Pest (1997), 43.0 Dunston Checks In (1996), 41.0 Boiling Point (1993), 40.1 What’s the Worst That Could Happen? (2001), 38.3 The Nut Job (2014), 36.8 The Brothers Grimm (2005), 36.5 House Party 2 (1991), 35.2 Duplex (2003), 34.4 My Best Friend’s Girl (2008); 

BMT: The Hustle (2019), The Three Musketeers (2011), Striptease (1996), Maximum Overdrive (1986), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993)

(The lull from around 2004 to 2014 is interesting. 2014 is basically Focus and Now You See Me. The early 2000s is basically Ocean’s Eleven and its various knock-offs. I think out of all of the future BMT The Pest is probably the weirdest and most interesting since against all odds I’ve already seen that film. Looking at the BMT list this is the first movie where a con is front and center to the plot of the film. Looking back at the future options, those do seem rare.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Anne Hathaway is No. 1 billed in The Hustle and No. 1 billed in Bride Wars, which also stars Kate Hudson (No. 2 billed) who is in Mother’s Day (No. 3 billed), which also stars Jennifer Aniston (No. 1 billed) who is in Just Go With It (No. 2 billed), which also stars Adam Sandler (No. 1 billed) who is in Jack and Jill (No. 1 billed), which also stars Al Pacino (No. 3 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 20. If we were to watch Serenity, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 10.

Notes – Because the film’s PG-13 rating was originally an “R,” Rebel Wilson had to go out and argue with the board that the film was no raunchier than similar comedies that had received PG-13 ratings featuring male actors. Her efforts prevailed.

Anne Hathaway said in an interview on Good Morning America (aired on 5/7/19) that she avoided performing a traditional English accent for this film. She said that audiences know she’s American and could potentially scoff at her numerous English characters. So, because her character Josephine is a con artist, Hathaway performed as if maybe Josephine is not actually English at all but speaks in an English accent as another con.

On the Stephen Colbert show Anne Hathaway revealed that her ad lib line “Well that was unexpected” was based on a time when her father was given the wrong medicine and had to sleep it off in her apartment. He slipped and fell in the bathroom and hit his head. While she was alarmed and asking if he was all right, said “Well that was unexpected.”

Filmed in Mallorca.

The airport scene is filmed at Farnborough Airport in front of the terminal building. (That’s in London BTW, for private jets basically)

This is advertised as a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) starring Steve Martin, Michael Caine and Glenne Headly. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is actually a remake of Bedtime Story (1964) with Marlon Brando, David Niven and Shirley Jones. (Interesting, I’ll want to watch both of those I imagine, sigh)

Alex Gaumond, the actor playing the Waiter on the Train featured at the beginning of the official movie trailer, is an Olivier Award nominated actor who starred in the stage adaptation of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at the Savoy Theatre, in London’s West End. In the stage production, he starred opposite Robert Lindsay and played the role of Freddy Benson, which was played by Steve Martin in the original 1988 movie Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), and by Rebel Wilson in this remake.

Countdown Recap

Jamie

Quinn is just a nurse looking to do a good job, but when a creepy new app tells her she’s going to die in two days (and she has reasons to believe it just might be true) she has to pull out all the stops to save herself and her sister from it’s technohorror devices. Can she stop this real spooooky app from killing her? Find out in… Countdown.

How?! There a new app out there that’s all the rage with the kiddies. That’s because it tells you when you’re gonna die, and guess what? It’s kinda right. Oh no! So when Quinn hears about this from one of her patients she can’t help but check it out herself and finds to her horror that she only has three days left to live. Double oh no! Realizing that it says she’ll die on a family outing to her mother’s grave she cancels only to have the phone say she broke the user agreement for the app. Soon she’s getting all haunted by demons and her phone is acting all crazy and the doctor at the hospital is sexually harassing her and she blamed herself for her mom’s death and her sister also opens the app and finds out that she’s going to die at the same time as Quinn. Gah! What’s a girl to do in this crazy world? While trying to get a new phone without the app she meets Matt, a cute guy who is in the same predicament. They go on a quest to solve their problem. First stop: a kooky priest who tells them that it’s all a curse that can be broken by causing or preventing someone’s death. Second stop: the phone store guy who totes hacks the app and confirms that it’s indeed a curse. Third stop: her sister’s house so they can form a power trio ready to rock and roll. Unfortunately Matt immediately dies on their first attempt to break the curse. Oooops. Uh, so I guess Quinn better go kill that creepy doctor instead. Vigilante justice! But the demon itself gets in the action and stops them. Only one thing left to do: grab some drugs and overdose, thus distracting the demon and saving your sister. Then smash open that Chekhov’s narcan and be revived to live a long fulfilling life… or will they. Bum bum bum. Big Question: the classic, how long did it take for the demon to code his app? The film actually nicely sidesteps this by totally ignoring it… correct choice.

Why?! Not to die, duh. As for the bad guy (a literal demon), well it’s also pretty boring in that way. He’s a demon! Really the most interesting question is why it uses an app for its evil scheme. Perhaps it realizes the scary truth: that the demon itself isn’t the most horrifying aspect of life… it’s our addiction to our phones. Yah dig?

Who?! It’s been a while since we had a solid uncredited performance. But Countdown did have one that popped out. That’s because Austin Zajur, who is the wisecracking kid in the opening scene of the film, went uncredited here. None of the other kids did and he probably had the most lines of any of them… so why? Why uncredited? A true curiosity.

What?! There are some mild product placements in here (doordash is one mentioned off hand I think). But everything is harder with a LIVE film. Instead I will reiterate the heavy-handedness of the Chekhov’s Narcan. Whoever decided that they needed to set up the narcan scene by explicitly establishing its use on screen in an earlier scene made a huge mistake. It just made everything that followed that much more obvious and predictable.

Where?! I’m sure this is clear if I could stop the film during the showing and really inspect a few things. But alas, it’s hard to do that LIVE. I’m gonna give this an incomplete. There is a chance that it’s more than obvious when we rewatch the film in prep for Countdown2.0.

When?! This I actually did catch. At the end of the film we see Quinn visiting the grave of her mother. They read a newspaper regarding events surrounding the creepy doctor, so it all points to it being not that long after the end of the film. We see the grave, April 2nd if I’m remembering correctly, and Quinn says “Happy birthday mom.” So I think this takes place in early Spring. But don’t hold me to this, C+.

I generally enjoy horror films. Even the bad ones we watch for BMT. This is definitely not the worst we’ve endured. It’s biggest issue is how predictable it is. We get a random scene in the beginning of the film of Quinn helping revive someone from an overdose using narcan and I’m sitting there being like “why in the hell did the filmmakers think the film needed this sce…ohhhhhhhh.” And so I sat there waiting for her to use narcan in some way to survive. The same goes for the sexual harassment storyline. Even if you don’t watch horror films this all is obvious… it’s more like “screenwriting 101” going on. As they say, if you see narcan in the first act, it better be used in the second act. Chekhov’s narcan. But on the positive side, I felt like they did a good job with the creepiness of the visuals and monster design. It actually looked good, which isn’t always the case, even when the film as a whole isn’t that scary. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! As has become tradition we ventured out into the crisp autumn air to watch a not-scary horror film with a bunch of teenagers. Literally, it is one of the things I look forward to the most each year, which is demented. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – This film looked ultra dumb. An app that kills you? That is like a parody horror film trailer from SNL or something. And when it turned out that for real, it’s an app that kills you? I’m in. I will gladly watch the shitty jump scares (probably) wash over me as they set up their sequel that is never going to be made. Let’s do it. What are my expectations – Absolute best case scenario is The Bye Bye Man where there is some evil thing that looks ridiculous and makes you laugh. Worst case is Flatliners where it is just kind of eerie, shiny, and cynically made. Let’s hope for that best case.

The Good – I actually appreciate the construction of the film more than I would expect. While I disliked the idea of the priest character, I did appreciate that they tried to lampshade it a bit (like … why would almost any priest know anything about demons in reality? They wouldn’t, and they go to quite the length to explain that to the audience). I burst out laughing when they set up Countdown 2.0 at the end, the sheer gall of it made me actually love the idea. Bring it on, I’ll go see the Countdown franchise’s latest garbage horror film every year, why not? As for the one non-ironic thing I liked about it: I liked the creature design in the end. It is hard to create a creature that is scary, unique, and doesn’t look like shit, but they mostly managed to do that which is cool.

The Bad – The entire film is a predictable mess. In order to use the anti-narcotics drugs in the end to save Quinn they felt the need to create a whole scene showing it being used. In order to legitimatize Quinn trying to kill Dr. Rape (not his name, although that would have been appropriate heyyyyooo) they had to explain quite clearly (twice) that the curse is broken if someone dies earlier than expected. Beyond that it also isn’t that scary, although credit where it is due, the opening kill was well done. I also think there were far too few kills in the film. Thinking on it the answer is what? Three? Three actual kills in the film (this doesn’t count the main character watching someone die in a YouTube video). That’s pretty weak.

The BMT – It is an annual tradition, the bad horror film. I would put this above Slender Man (which was boring) and below The Bye Bye Man (which was hilarious). Something like Rings is a decent comp maybe? A film which is obviously not good, but there are kernels of good ideas in it so I’m glad I watched it. Did it meet my expectations? Not entirely, but I did enjoy enough of it, as I said, that I’m not upset I spent the money to see it in theaters. See you next year not-scary-horror-film.

Roast-radamus – Hmmm, I presume the film is set in Los Angeles, but I didn’t actually catch it. I will give a small non-award shoutout to the temporal setting which is fairly unique: it literally gives you a running clock such that you know precisely when every event takes place. Do we give awards for Chekov’s Blank (What?)? I think we do, and Chekov’s Narcan is waaaaaay up there. And I’ll give it a Worst Twist (How?) nod for it just telling you multiple times how the entire movie is going to operate. The actual twist is that she kills herself with a massive dose of morphine (I assume) and then can be brought back to life right after. And it’ll be in the running for the Live! Award as well.

StreetCreditReport.com – It would be tough for it to get on any lists since it just came out, but it did find a place at the bottom of this rundown. Other than that we can only wait. I doubt it’ll get many awards as people will effectively forget about it in a week or so (plus it is a box office success which isn’t very fun to poke fun at in the end). But I would imagine it’ll end up in some top 5 worst horror films of 2019 lists eventually, I bet genre fans hate it.

BMT Live Theater Review – Ah, back to Vue, this time in the very posh Westfield shopping center. They showed this in a very intimate 30-40 person theater on the top floor of the mall, which actually worked very well. I got one of the last tickets for the 5PM showing (phew) and the theater was packed with teenagers looking for thrills. And scream and gasp they did, much to my delight (it was fun hearing people squirm and shriek at times). The highlight of the showing? When the main character very clearly explains “Hey, I’m trying to kill this guy because it’ll break the curse, remember? Remember when the priest character told us that before?” and the entire theater just gasps with a loud “Ohhhhhhhhhh, yeah” … what movie are you watching?! They’ve explained this like four times. It definitely made me wonder a bit about how people actually watch movies, it just seems crazy one could pay so little attention to not get that without it being explained. B+, loved the small theater with the packed audience, but Vue Westfield is also pricey with about 30 minutes of ads before the showing. Hurts the viewing experience IMO.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Countdown Quiz

Well, it is a classic story. I downloaded an app which said I would forget everything about the movie I was watching in three minutes. Obviously, I laughed at it … but now I’m a bit freaked out, I really can’t remember what happened in Countdown! Do you?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Our hero Quinn is a smart lady with a lot to live for and a lot to celebrate. At the beginning of the film the creepy doctor throws her a little party and wants to take her on a completely professional date. What are they celebrating?

2) After the killer app takes control of Quinn’s life she tries to delete it at a phone help desk where she meets Matt, a young man with a haunted past. Who is haunting him and why?

3) How many people die from the killer app during the course of the film?

4) Of the five people whose fates we know about, how were they all supposed to originally die and how did they break Countdown’s user agreement?

5) Why does Quinn and her sister individually blame themselves for their mother’s death?

Answers

Countdown Preview

As Jamie and Patrick turn the corner of Square HQ with the intruder alarm blaring they are forced to come to a stop. At the end of the hallway Sticks and Stones stand. They flip the switch on some heavy-duty weaponry attached to their backs and immediately flex glistening muscles. “This is where this has always led. To us. We are the rightful champions. We are relegated to the Z-universe no more. Once you die we will be BMT,” they scream in challenge. But Jamie and Patrick aren’t cowed. Not now when their mission is so clear and their twin powers so strong. They fist bump and immediately fly into a choreographed fight dance. Legs flying, abs shimmering in the light, they backflip over Sticks and Stones, who are momentarily stunned by the pure beauty of the movements. Using that hesitation to their advantage Jamie and Patrick use a couple of patented Twin Chops to disable the weapon packs. “Noooooo,” Sticks and Stones scream, “This can’t be happening.” But it is and they stand no chance against the Bad Movie Twins. Using a triple deke maneuver, they fake out Sticks and Stones and render them vulnerable to a final double kick to their groins. Falling to their knees an alarm begins to blare and a countdown begins, “10… 9…” They must have had some kind of self-destruct trigger on their persons in case of just such an ass-whooping. Looking at each other Jamie and Patrick curse and flee the building leaving Sticks and Stone quivering on the floor holding their battered groins. They will never be able to get out before the building explodes and are certain to die… or will they? Bum bum bum! That’s right! We’re finishing up the final BMT Live of the year just in time for the start of the 2019 cycle by watching the newly released horror film Countdown. Excellent. And just in time for Halloween! Let’s go!

Countdown (2019) – BMeTric: 16.1; Notability: 20

(It isn’t worth posting the plot this early, but this is sitting well below 6.0 on IMDb, which is rather below average. Having said that, horror films tend to have fans who are, in general, critical of the genre they love. Which is good. But it isn’t a surprise a bad horror film opens that low. The hardcore fans watching this film are just the people who will be quick to rate it low online. Notability is a new metric which I will write about soon, but it is basically just the number of people involved in the project (from IMDb) who have a wikipedia page. That’s it. For horror 20 I think is not uncommon, but you’ll see all the way up into the 200s for the big releases of the year. I think it is an interesting proxy for basically budget / theatrical release without being subject to the whims of 3rd party data sources. So stay tuned for upcoming analyses related to that.)

RogerEbert.com – 0.5 stars –  “Countdown” pretty much fails on every level that a horror film can—the characters are uninteresting dullards, the story is idiotic, and the scares are nonexistent.

(Absolutely eviscerating review there. Unfortunately horror without scares is usually boring, so I’m not sure I’m going to be super into it, but I like that someone who appreciates horror (clearly) just hated this film. It is promising.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqvWtC2ae3M/

(Genuinely looks terrible. Terrible concept, and even the scares look cheesy and weird. Usually horror film trailers get to be quite well because I find horror films spooky scary, but this just looks dumb … I’m excited.)

Directors – Justin Dec – (BMT: Countdown; Notes: His first feature directing job. Was a second second assistant director on Bart Got a Room, which is a film I’ve heard of.)

Writers – Justin Dec (screenplay) – (BMT: Countdown; Notes: Also his first major writing job. He wrote all of the shorts he directed to some acclaim, and otherwise was a production assistant for years.)

Actors – Elizabeth Lail – (BMT: Countdown; Notes: Somewhat notably was Anna in Once Upon a Time, and starred in You which also stars the guy from Gossip Girl. Was considered for the role of Supergirl.)

Jordan Calloway – (BMT: Countdown; Notes: Was in Riverdale and Black Lightning. When he was young he starred in the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous.)

Talitha Eliana Bateman – (Known For: Robert the Bruce; Annabelle: Creation; Love, Simon; So B. It; BMT: The 5th Wave; Geostorm; Nine Lives; Countdown; Notes: She has eight siblings, of which Leah and Gabriel are both fairly well-established actors. Appeared in Hart of Dixie.)

Budget/Gross – $6,500,000 / Domestic: $18,102,635 (Worldwide: $21,802,635)

(Not this is as of the 6th of November, 2019. Obviously, releasing a horror film is like printing money at this point. People love watching horror films in theaters, and you can make them for nothing. It is incredible.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 24% (13/55)

(Again, as of November 6th, 2019. The consensus appears to be: rote thriller which relies too heavily on jump scares. You’ll feel cheated despite the two excellent lead actors. Reviewer Highlight: Rather than screaming for them to go the other way, you’ll be urging them to accept fate and die instead. – Benjamin Lee, Guardian)

Poster – Killer App (C+)

countdown_ver2

(I like the font. I like the red to highlight the zeroes of the countdown. But everything else is just a little clean. Looks a little cheap and not artistic enough. But fine.)

Tagline(s) – Death? There’s an app for that. (FFFFF—-)

(Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. This is the worst! The worst tagline of all time! I want to hide from it. It’s scarier than the movie is (probably).)

Countdown_characters-killed-one-by-one

Keyword – characters-killed-one-by-one

Top 10: Countdown (2019), Halloween (2007), The Cabin in the Woods (2011), Child’s Play (2019), Scream 2 (1997), Happy Death Day (2017), The Thing (1982), House of 1000 Corpses (2003), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Happy Death Day 2U (2019); 

Future BMT: 82.4 Prom Night (2008), 77.8 Shark Night 3D (2011), 69.0 Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), 68.0 The Darkest Hour (2011), 65.0 Seed of Chucky (2004), 60.5 The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), 60.0 Pet Sematary II (1992), 56.5 See No Evil (2006), 54.4 Sorority Row (2009), 46.7 Saw 3D (2010); 

BMT: Countdown (2019), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Ghost Ship (2002), Truth or Dare (2018), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), Anaconda (1997), Ouija (2014), AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004), I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998), Sabotage (2014)

(This is the new and improved keywords section. Brought to you by: Box Office Mojo eliminated their genres section. I’ll be messing around with the process over the next few weeks, but I’m hoping to focus on keywords which are narrow (100-1000 films), but also illustrative of the films they represent (here, mostly horror films). Notability will be explained more in another post, but basically it is just the number of people involved in the film with a wikipedia page. A major release in the 2010s tends to have around 80-120 notability last time I checked. The data is windowed and weighted, so if the notability is something like 300 it could be because there are two very notable films released on the same weekend, or a lot of films released within a single year. One small bit on this particular keyword: I think you can basically see how horror films have gone from major releases (large notability) to smaller releases (small notability) from 2000-2020.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 26) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Tichina Arnold is No. 6 billed in Countdown and No. 11 billed in Wild Hogs, which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 6 + 11 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 26. If we were to watch Supernova, The Watcher, Hardball, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 20.