The Avengers (1998) Preview

I gotta tell you that I’m pretty excited for this next film. I remember when it came out and even as a middle schooler I was like “WTF mate.” It’s been bandied about for BMT before and its time in the sun is finally here. That’s right, we are watching The Avengers! Before you gasp and retire to your fainting couch let me make clear that this is not Marvel’s The Avengers. It is the 1998 adaptation of the 1960’s television show The Avengers. By all accounts the entire post-production for the film was a disaster and resulted in an incomprehensible mess. Released on August 14th (in the midst of the dump months) it is easily the worst film released on that day. Other than The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, it’s really the only qualifying movie for August 14th period.

The Avengers (1998) – BMeTric: 78.4

Avengers_BMeT

(As usual with these types of things it just has gone up and up since IMDb became big-ish. Curiously, the rating has increased a bit over the time period. I have no idea why. Who was just clamoring to go to IMDb to give this a four or whatever? No one.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Retread of the popular British TV show of the ‘60s about two saucy secret agents tries in vain to capture its stylishness and insouciance – but Fiennes is woefully miscast, Connery gives a one-note performance as a bad guy who wants to control the Earth’s weather, and a fine supporting cast is wasted. Thurman is likable enough, but the film is utterly flat.

(Insouciance – noun – casual lack of concern; indifference. Thanks Mr. Maltin, I’ve learned a new word that I would struggle to use in any context. Funny enough he destroyed this movie on his podcast, so where the hell does two stars come from? Also this sounds boring.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgTiFsCMCo4

(Ugh. This trailers insouciance is offensive. You can almost tell they were trying their best to make a trailer out of what is definitely going to be a movie almost entirely constructed from cutting room scraps. This could either be our greatest triumph or literally the most boring moving on the planet.)

Directors – Jeremiah S. Chechik – (Known For: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; Benny & Joon; Tall Tale; BMT: The Avengers; Diabolique; The Right Kind of Wrong; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Director for The Avengers. Weirdly sparse bio for such a oddly impressive short directing career. Has stuck to tv for about twenty years now.)

Writers – Sydney Newman (television series The Avengers) – (BMT: The Avengers; Notes: Extremely influential titan of British television including heading the the BBC for several years. Sadly passed away within a year of this movie coming out.)

Don MacPherson (written by) – (Known For: Absolute Beginners; BMT: The Avengers; The Gunman; Crossing the Line; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Screenplay for The Avengers. What a strange guy. Wrote Crossing the Line in 1990, this in 1998 and then the Gunman in 2015 … nothing much else officially credited. According to wikipedia though it seems like he is the script doctor on a ton of movies and series.)

Actors – Ralph Fiennes – (Known For: The Harry Potter Series, Hail, Caesar!; Spectre; A Bigger Splash; Schindler’s List; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Skyfall; The Hurt Locker; In Bruges; Red Dragon; The Prince of Egypt; The English Patient; The Reader; Maid in Manhattan; The Constant Gardener; Great Expectations; The Duchess; Nanny McPhee Returns; Strange Days; Coriolanus; The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; The Invisible Woman; Quiz Show; BMT: The Avengers; Clash of the Titans; Wrath of the Titans; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Actor and Screen Couple  for The Avengers. Probably most famous for his roles in Schindler’s List, The English Patient and as Voldemort in Harry Potter. Incredible British stage and screen performer with the absolutely incredible real name of Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes)

Uma Thurman – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Nymphomaniac: Vol. I; Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief; Gattaca; Kill Bill: Vol. 2; Beautiful Girls; Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind; Dangerous Liaisons; The Producers; Les Misérables; Henry & June; The Adventures of Baron Munchausen; My Super Ex-Girlfriend; BMT: Batman & Robin; Movie 43; The Avengers; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; Johnny Be Good; Bel Ami; Be Cool; Motherhood; Playing for Keeps; Paycheck; Chelsea Walls; Jennifer 8; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1999 for Worst Actress and Screen Couple for The Avengers, Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1998 for Worst Supporting Actress for Batman & Robin, Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1995 for Worst Actress for Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Very famous for her involvement with Tarantino films, her career has been somewhat winding. Once married to Ethan Hawke and Gary Oldman as well.)

Also stars Sean Connery

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $23,384,939

(Enormous, ridiculous, astounding bomb. So bad that it was the keystone to what is widely considered to be one of the worst summers in hollywood history, the summer of 1998.)

#49 for the Action Heroine genre (Just below BMT classic Elektra)

#64 for the TV Adaptation (Live Action) genre (That is a ridiculous ranking coming in below recent bomb Entourage)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (4/82): A TV spinoff that lacks enough energy to spin, The Avengers is an ineptly written, woefully miscast disaster.

(Low energy. A foreboding statement indeed. Everything about these descriptions makes this sound dull. This best have crazy BMstreeT Cred)

Poster – The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen (F)

avengers

(This is literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to posters. If (when?) I teach a class on bad movie posters and taglines this will be used as the example for when everything goes wrong. An insane person made this.)

Tagline(s) – Two amazing secret agents. One diabolical madman. Conditions are dark. The forecast is deadly. Tea, anyone? (F, what the hell?)

Saving the World in Style (B-)

(Alright, so I guess both kind of try and get the insouciance across. The first is just … it is the longest tagline. It was like I was reading it forever. At one point I think I fell asleep while reading it, then woke up, made breakfast, and I was still reading it. The second is okay but somewhat meaningless. I mean … I get the insouciance, but not much else.)

Notes – The film’s critical and commercial failure, along with the equally unsuccessful and equally maligned The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), was partly responsible for Sean Connery’s decision to retire from the film business. (As The Cat in the Hat would say: Ohhhh Yeaaaahhhhhhhh!)

Peter Bart’s book “The Gross” covered the film’s unfolding disaster in great detail. Among other facts: Warner Brothers greenlit the film largely on the strength of a star-packed cast and their appreciation of Jeremiah Chechik’s work on Diabolique (1996) and were horrified when seeing what the first cut was like. The first screening took place in front of a “largely Spanish-speaking, working class” audience in Phoenix, AZ who hated the film; the studio then forced Chechik to cut many of his favorite scenes and conduct reshoots; and the final cut went from 115 to 89 minutes and was completely incoherent. The studio even refused to hold further test screenings, or to have an official premiere before the film’s August 1998 release. (holy shit, yes!)

Speaking at the 2006 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Eddie Izzard said that he took a role in the film in order to meet Sean Connery. (ha!)

In the original script the part of Sir August was much smaller but when Sir Sean Connery joined the project he asked for the part to expanded. (Reminds me a little of Bulletproof Monk, where the role of The Bulletproof Monk was nonexistent in the material, but since Chow Yun-Fat was attached it became a main role)

At one point, David Fincher was interested in writing and directing the film with Charles Dance starring as John Steed. (If only there were alternate universes where we could see such a thing)

Producer Jerry Weintraub had hopes for sequels to the film, having spent around a decade trying to get the project green-lit. (Will be interesting to see whether the ending sets up for a sequel)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Ralph Fiennes)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Uma Thurman)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Sean Connery)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Jeremiah S. Chechik)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Don MacPherson)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Storm

 sounds like a Bond opening)

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Taxi Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Taxi? More like Lacks Glee (I honestly am shocked I pulled an okay one out of that). Huh, a surprisingly high BMeTric? A genuinely interesting choice at director? Queen Latifah paired with Jimmy Fallon? I kind of knew this movie has the potential to confound … but I didn’t know quite to what degree. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – There were moments that were genuinely funny. Queen Latifah was actually quite good. I appreciated the way it inverted tropes (and was rather effective at it). The director knew his limitations and managed the action comedy admirably. Everyone seemed on board and the film was far more coherent than I could have ever expected.
  • The Bad – And yet it is a terrible movie. Boring, not funny. The music is terrible. Fallon is no good and also too bumbling to be admired or appreciated. The entire thing ends up just kind of falling apart in slow motion. And the movie is 15 minutes too long.
  • The BMT – This is a 40-50 BMeTric film for sure. But I wouldn’t watch it again unless it just happened to be on television. It isn’t entertaining or unintentionally funny enough to sustain the runtime, but it does have some cred that bumps it up. Specifically Fallon and Bunchen buoy this otherwise lifeless BMT dud. The end.

I got into it. You know what time it is … Audio Sklog-entary. That’s right, we are on a roll. This one was with the director Tim Story all by his lonesome. Things I appreciated: he was very open about his own failings as a director, and very open about how rushed this production was. That side of things was incredibly interesting. But a single person just lacks the same dynamism that a duo has by being able to play off each other. Verdict: B-.

Jamie

Not since Phone Booth have we had a film so quickly become irrelevant. Now this film would be remade and called Uber (not really, they would get sued), about a ride-sharing, racecar-driving wannabe helping out a down-on-his-luck cop. Instead, since this was made when there was no such thing as Uber, we got a complete carbon copy of the French film it was based on. And I’m not exaggerating. This film was almost shot-for-shot the same film (particularly the beginning and end), to the point where the trick at the end is just replicated. Not even a neat twist. I guess they assumed the general American audience wouldn’t watch the original like me (cause I’m insane). Even the changes that were made were all surface. The mom was just a mom in the original? Let’s make her an alcoholic. German bank robbers? Make them Brazilian super model bank robbers. The bank robbers use a cleaning service to pick up the money after the heist? Make it a garbage truck. Just slight changes for the sake of changing something. Actually made watching the film a bit dull. One of the unfortunate byproducts of obsessively consuming all related materials to the movies we watch.

The way I’ve been thinking about the commentaries is trying to sum up the main idea in a single sentence or word. In this case the word was: rushed. It sounded like he had a super short casting window and even purposefully hired a music video cinematographer because he knew the shooting schedule was tight. Probably why the movie is so similar to the French original. Easier to plan and shoot a direct remake rather than make major changes.

Going back to the BMTsolutions well for my game. Taxi is certainly not based on a book (it’s based on a French film, duh. I was literally just talking about it), but if it were, it would go… a little something… like this. Queen Latifah (yes the book also stars Queen Latifah) is a NASCAR driver. She’s on the rise and feeling super sweet. Unfortunately she gets in a terrible accident that leaves her shaken and confused. Falshforward a year after her recovery and she’s now a taxi driver, obeying the laws of the street, but longing for the race track. She hangs around the local speedway on the weekends and notices something kinda odd. A car that some of the new guys have been using have fancy tires on them that prevents blowouts. Tires that are only sold in Germany. And didn’t she see those same tires in some of the bank robbery footage on the news? She runs to the police to let them know. They, of course, think nothing of it. Who is this crazy lady who thinks she can identify thieves by their tires? Leave the police work to the police. But one officer recognizes her from her racing days and doesn’t think she’s crazy at all. In fact, he’s sure that she’s the only one that can catch these bank robbers in the act. They team up to catch the crooks. Feel the adrenaline of… TAXI.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Taxi Preview

Alright, this week we transition fully to the Calendar rotation and start in with a comedy. The Calendar is pretty good for BMT street cred, as each film is more or less the worst film released on the day in question. Because of this there is a chance that we will be able to watch a number of 70+ BMeTric films (which is an amazing score). So starting it off right, we dive into the 70.2 BMeTric rated film Taxi starring Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah. This is the worst film released on October 6th. Other notable films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Employee of the Month, and Assassins. All solid BMT, but not 70.2 BMeTric solid.

Taxi (2004) – BMeTric: 70.2

Taxi_BMeT

(Boom. Right out the gate a disaster. Barely sticking above that 70 threshold though. Really depends on the rating now (those fits and starts in the trajectory are it jumping between ratings). I was genuinely shocked at this btw. I didn’t really imagine that this film could be this reviled, I barely remember it exists on the good day.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Hotshot cabbie teams up with an incompetent hot-dog cop in this weak action-comedy. Latifah and Fallon are strangers-turned-buddies out to catch a team of bank robbers (who happen to look like supermodels). Not a good showcase for the Queen or for former Saturday Night Live member Fallon. Produced by Luc Besson, based on the 1998 French film of the same name, which he wrote and coproduced. Extended version runs 112m.

(Leonard is a little familiar with Latifah, just calling her “the Queen.” Weird. I don’t really recall that being a common thing people called her. I do like the pairing of “hotshot” and “hot-dog” that Leonard uses here. Could be used for most every buddy-cop film.)

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

(Huh. Having already watched the French version of this film I can tell you that about 30% of the scenes they showed are from the climax of the film. Including three that are from the very last stunt where they catch the bad guys. Oh shit, spoiler alert. Guess I shouldn’t have revealed that Fallon and Latifah catch them at the end. My bad. Now you won’t be surprised.)

Directors – Tim Story – (Known For: Barbershop; Think Like a Man; BMT: Taxi; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Fantastic Four; Think Like a Man Too; Ride Along 2; Ride Along; Notes: The top grossing African-American director of all time (domestic at least, not sure about worldwide). Actually just retook the top spot from Tyler Perry with Ride Along 2.)

Writers – Luc Besson (earlier screenplay) – (Known For: Lucy; Léon: The Professional; The Fifth Element; Taken; The Transporter; Point of No Return; Transporter 2; La Femme Nikita; The Big Blue; Unleashed; District B13; District 13: Ultimatum; BMT: Taxi; The Transporter Refueled; Brick Mansions; Taken 3; Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard; Transporter 3; Lockout; Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds; Arthur and the Invisibles; 3 Days to Kill; Taken 2; The Family; Fanfan; Colombiana; The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc; From Paris with Love; Revolver; Notes: Very influential French filmmaker. Founder of EuropaCorp, a major studio in France.)

Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (screenplay) – (Known For: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Night at the Museum; Mr. Peabody & Sherman; Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian; Herbie Fully Loaded; BMT:Taxi; Balls of Fury; The Pacifier; Hell Baby; Jessabelle; Reno 911!: Miami; Let’s Go to Prison; Notes: Never nominated for a Razzie, which is a bit of a surprise. Seems lately that Garant has been writing more independent of Lennon. Perhaps because Lennon is busy with the CBS show The Odd Couple. Or should I say the CBS smash-hit The Odd Couple.)

Jim Kouf (screenplay) – (Known For: Rush Hour; National Treasure; Gang Related; Stakeout; BMT: Taxi; Snow Dogs; Operation Dumbo Drop; Another Stakeout; Class; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Notes: Recently in the news after a Puerto Rican film Vasos de Papel was pulled from theaters for being a blatant copy of a film he wrote called Secret Admirer.)

Actors – Queen Latifah – (Known For: Miracles from Heaven; 22 Jump Street; Barbershop 2: Back in Business; Hairspray; Chicago; Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs; Stranger Than Fiction; Ice Age: The Meltdown; The Secret Life of Bees; Juice; Jungle Fever; Bringing Out the Dead; Last Holiday; Set It Off; Brown Sugar; Just Wright; BMT: Taxi; The Dilemma; Scary Movie 3; Pinocchio; Bringing Down the House; Valentine’s Day; The Country Bears; Beauty Shop; The Cookout; The Perfect Holiday; Sphere; House Party 2; Mad Money; What Happens in Vegas; Joyful Noise; Ice Age: Continental Drift; The Bone Collector; Notes: Rapper/hip-hop artist/singer/actress. Has won a Grammy, Emmy, and nominated for an Oscar (Chicago). She’s set up pretty well for potentially completing an EGOT before her career is over.)

Jimmy Fallon – (Known For: Jurassic World; Almost Famous; Whip It; Fever Pitch; Anything Else; BMT: Taxi; Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star; Doogal; Jem and the Holograms; Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard; Get Hard; Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds; Arthur and the Invisibles; Factory Girl; Notes: Who would have thought that over a decade after making this film together, Gisele would go on The Tonight Show and teach Jimmy how to walk the runway? I wonder if they reminisced about Taxi backstage.)

With a rare appearance from Gisele Bündchen!

Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $36,611,066 (Worldwide: $68,895,435 Worldwide)

#14 for the Remake – French genre

(There really aren’t any bad movies on the list besides this one. The more interesting thing is just how far down this is. Below 1989 Three Fugitives? Yeeeeeesh. Wasn’t even really a bomb either, but they must have been planning on more than $36 million domestic)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (11/105): Silly and unfunny remake of a French movie of the same name.

(Wow. RT got real serious on this one. Those are certainly the facts of the matter.)

Poster – Taxi Tilt (C-)

taxi

(Likes: Bright yellow base, integration of the title into the scene (clever), and actually provides a lot of visual info about the plot in the scene. Dislikes: Tilt, terrible font and block coloring for all the words on the poster, too basic/not artistic, and the weird foggy background is… not good. Almost a D+, but juuussssst better than that.)

Tagline(s) – He’s armed, but she’s dangerous. (A)

(Out of nowhere Taxi hits on a nearly perfect tagline. Short and sweet? Yup. Clever in some way? Yup. Gives an idea of the plot? Yup. Three for three.)

Notes – Ingrid Vandebosch, one of the female robbers in this film, is married to Jeff Gordon, who has an uncredited cameo in this film. (Athlete film!)

Kevin Bray was originally set to direct, but dropped out. (director of potential BMT films Walking Tall and All About the Benjamins)

Cat in the Hat Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Cat in the Hat?! More like Cat that Falls Flat! (ooooooooooooooof that’s some rough stuff, but I ain’t no Dr. Seuss). Wowzers. Cat in the Hat is a legendary bad movie, it’s got street cred out the wazoo for sure. Mainly because people were already uneasy with the Ron Howard Grinch adaptation and then were met with this cat-astrophe (nailed it).  It delivered. Let’s get to the BMT Breakdown!

  • The Good – Some of the production design is stunning. For what was demanded of them Baldwin and Fanning did a solid job. There is something ahead of its time and irreverent here. I put that in the good column despite …
  • The Bad – The irreverent adult humor has absolutely no place in a Dr. Seuss adaptation. Myers delivered on being the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, straight horror movie shit. The storyline makes no sense in the context of even the most basic telling of the children’s book. Myers catchphrase (Oh yeeeeeeeah! He says it like 40 times) and the way he walks is …. It profoundly upsets me.
  • The BMT – This is certainly a rare one. This has somewhere close to an 80 on the BMeTric (one of the worst movies according to that ever made). And … yes, that is appropriate. If someone asked me “I need a movie for a bad movie night, I’ve seen most things though, what you got?” I would say Cat in the Hat would blow a lot of people’s minds even though it is a child’s movie.

Yet another Audio Sklog-entary. This time with director Bo Welch and Alex Baldwin. I love commentaries with more than one person because there is some banter and prompting and overall a lot more interesting anecdotes. Without Alec this would have been a trainwreck with just Bo. But Alec (1) Keeps on referring to Kelly Preston as “my girl” and whispering creepily about her outfit every time she is on screen. (2) Does a really solid 5 minute impression of a hollywood producer trying to invite him to a party in Aspen which made me laugh more than the actual movie did. (3) Has a strange thread throughout the commentary about how pressed he was for time because he was always running around trying to see his daughter. Interesting because this was right at the time in 2003 when, allegedly, Kim Basinger was intentionally preventing him from seeing his daughter and actively trying to turn her against him (culminating, a few years later, in the notorious voicemail incident). Sure you learn some stuff about the film, but this commentary is genuinely amazing just for the little time capsule it creates around Bo and Alec. Verdict: B+. although I reserve the right to increase it after listening to more of these and realizing most are probably boring.

Jamie

I’m glad Patrick commented on the commentary so I didn’t have to. Baldwin just seemed to have a ball doing it and kinda made it worth listening to.

It’s going to be hard to express my feelings about The Cat in the Hat. Mostly because it’s hard to interpret and convey feelings when your brain has melted. I swear that there is a part of me that believes that if this were any other movie (perhaps one starring Tom Green), I would be sitting here talking about how, ‘you won’t believe it, but this film is NOT THAT BAD and AHEAD OF ITS TIME.’ Except I can’t. I can’t sit here and say that the atrocity committed against the Dr. Suess material was anything but that. An atrocity. But if you took that out of it and said to yourself, ‘This is not a children’s film, this is not an adaptation of a beloved children’s story,’ you start to realize that the film is essentially a stoner film. Jokes on jokes on non sequiturs on jokes. A mile a minute, looking snazzy, with a ridiculous monster-cat Mike Myers literally bouncing off the walls. It’s Adventure Time before that existed. It’s Rick and Morty a decade too early. It’s a spoof of the material that they were supposed to be actually adapting. If it aired on Adult Swim at 3 AM, it would fit right in (outside of the first 15 minutes or so, before Mike Myers shows up). But because it was a children’s film and because it was an adaptation of a beloved children’s story, it was horrifying in the most absurd and ridiculous way. Was it BMT, you ask? Uh, cha.

The Cat in the Hat is obviously based on a beloved children’s story, but I won’t discuss that because it is an abomination (or more like an Obamanation, emirite?). Instead I’m going to Sklogify it. Instead of being an actual adaptation of The Cat and the Hat, Patrick and I would produce a film called The Dog in the Coat. The main character is a child left alone at home by his mom on a rainy day. He is totally fine spending the day with his nose in a book, but a terrifying anthropomorphic dog appears and insists on taking him on an interstate crime spree. The boy spends the day in a state of heightened anxiety as he gets The Dog in the Coat (aided and abetted by his unsettling crony Dr. Whatzit, played by Danny DeVito) out of the increasingly dangerous and irresponsible jams. At the end of the day The Dog in the Coat reveals that since he “learned some lessons or whatever” he will help the kid clean up the house before his mom comes home. Instead he gets drunk and falls asleep and the kid has to clean up the mess himself. This film would transition to a television show where each week The Dog in the Coat ruins the child’s life in a new and creative way. By the way, that’s pretty much what the actual Cat in the Hat film was.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Cat in the Hat Preview

The Cat in the Hat (2003) – BMeTric: 77.9

CatInTheHat_BMeT

(Woof. Just a blast off right from the start. This movie should remain in the pantheon of bad movies for ever more. I doubt many films drop below 4.0 on IMDb and yet have over 35 thousand votes, it makes almost no logical sense.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  A brother and sister spend an eventful day in the company of a magical cat while their single mom is off at work. Brightly colored adaptation of the beloved rhyming book for young children is a betrayal of everything that Dr. Suess ever stood for, injecting potty humor and adult (wink-wink) jokes into its mixture of heavy-handed slapstick and silliness. Hayes also provides the voice of The Fish. Officially known as Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat, which is an official insult.

(I’m going to play a little game of “find the half star.” Where does Leonard find a half star to give this “official insult” and “betrayal of everything that Dr. Suess ever stood for”? Is it in the bright colors? Is it Sean Hayes? I just don’t see how this isn’t a BOMB review.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OSStCz6EdY

(Welp, this is going to be the worst. Great.)

Directors – Bo Welch – (BMT: The Cat in the Hat; With BMeT: (77.9) The Cat in the Hat; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2004 for Worst Director (The Cat in the Hat). Four time Oscar nominee in Production Design for The Color Purple, The Little Princess, The Birdcage, and Men in Black.)

Writers – Dr. Seuss (book) – (Known For: How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Horton Hears a Who!; The Lorax; The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; Notes: Gained some traction in Hollywood after writing the Oscar winning animated short Gerald McBoing-Boing. Following that he created his only original screenplay, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, which came in at a startling 1200-pages.)

Alec Berg (screenplay) – (Known For: The Dictator; EuroTrip; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; Shark Tale)

David Mandel (screenplay) – (Known For: The Dictator; EuroTrip; BMT: The Cat in the Hat)

Jeff Schaffer (screenplay) – (Known For: The Dictator; EuroTrip; Brüno; BMT: The Cat in the Hat; Shark Tale)

Combine Notes for Berg, Mandel and Schaffer – Got the gig after doing punch-up work on the Grinch film. Won the 2004 Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Cat in the Hat). These three are pretty much responsible for assuring that no other Seuss books were ever adapted into live-action films because Dr. Seuss’ widow was so offended by the non-family friendly nature of the film. Not wonder, look at their filmography! Additionally they are still all heavily involved in television. Berg is the exec producer of Silicon Valley, Mandel is exec producer of Veep, and Schaffer is the creator of The League.

Actors – Mike Myers – (Known For: Inglourious Basterds; Shrek; Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery; Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me; Shrek 2; Wayne’s World; Shrek the Third; Austin Powers in Goldmember; Shrek Forever After; Wayne’s World 2; So I Married an Axe Murderer; BMT: The Love Guru; The Cat in the Hat; View from the Top; 54; Mystery, Alaska; Notes: Wow, interesting how few bad movies he actually ever made. It just seems like he made a lot because The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru were so reviled.)

Mike Myers Razzie Notes – Nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor of the Decade (The Cat in the Hat and The Love Guru), Won the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Actor (The Love Guru), Won the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Screenplay (The Love Guru), Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2004 for Worst Actor (The Cat in the Hat), Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2004 for Worst Screen Couple (The Cat in the Hat)

Also stars Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning

Budget/Gross – $109 million / Domestic: $101,149,285 (Worldwide: $133,960,541)

(That looks like a gigantic bomb to me. They were deceived by How the Grinch Stole Christmas methinks, whose success is probably more down to the holiday connection than anything else.)

#28 for the Family – Children’s Book Adaptation genre

(This is more of a massive bomb because of its budget if nothing else. Look at Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, a bomb because it cost $140 million (!). But below Cat in the Hat is Jumanji which was nothing but a resounding financial success because it only cost $60 million. This category is a fascinating hodge podge).

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (16/157): Filled with double entendres and potty humor, this Cat falls flat.

(Did you really have to end the consensus with “this Cat falls flat”? That is giving me chills at just how bad that is. Why did you do that?)

Poster – Sklog and the Dog (D+)

cat_in_the_hat_ver3

(Too much going on. Too many colors. The font would probably only trip up Patrick for a moment if he spoofed the poster (I would make it “The Sklog and the Dog” and it would be him and his dog. Nailed it). And as for the tagline…)

Tagline(s) – Cats with hats only! (F)

(Oh no! Oh deary me, no! Sweet summer child. That… that is meaningless. Interestingly, imdb posts several taglines including “The ultimate game of cat and house,” which I would have probably scored a B. Kinda clever, kinda fun, not totally sensical, but sensical enough. It just seems to be a phrase said in the trailer and not really used anywhere else.)

Notes – Mike Myers was unaware that a piece of the house would fall behind him near the end of the film. His reaction was real. (cooooooooooool)

As a result of this film, Audrey Geisel, the widow of Dr. Seuss decided to reject any future live-action adaptations of her husband’s work claiming that this film differed from her late husband’s Family Friendly Material. (As mentioned in the note above)

According to Mike Myers, less than a month before the film was released, the producers had already begun plans for a sequel based on The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Because of the film’s negative reception, it was abandoned. (Sounds about right, also probably wouldn’t have been able to secure the rights even if they thought they could fix the issues)

Tim Allen was originally cast as the title role, but couldn’t do it because he was filming The Santa Clause 2 (2002) (Also starring Spencer Breslin, what?! Were you busier than him, Tim? Oh you were …)

Awards – Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst ‘Comedy’ of Our First 25 Years

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Excuse for an Actual Movie (All Concept/No Content!)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Mike Myers)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Alec Baldwin)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Kelly Preston)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Bo Welch)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer)

Harlem Nights Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Harlem Nights? More like Meh, Alright! This movie is so weird, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – I liked the style. The music, costumes, opening credits, feel of it was genuine. It didn’t feel like a bunch of comedians wandering around in costumes looking like idiots. Very very ambitious. There are moments when vintage Eddie Murphy shines through.
  • The Bad – He wasn’t bad, but Pryor just sleepwalks through this. Too often profanity it used as a stand in for actual jokes. The storyline is just kind of boring. It is like noir films, when you hit it it is amazing, but when you miss it just seems like you’ve seen all the twists elsewhere. I was joking throughout the film that it felt like I had been watching it for years. It is so slow it does feel like it takes three hours to get through everything.
  • The BMT – This is a rare one: Nope! Too slow. Too boring. Not enough street cred to warrant wasting your time unless you are an Oscar / Razzie / Eddie Murphy completionist. I would say like 10. Maybe 15 on the BMeTric. But maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

No game this week because I performed a little installment of what I call BMT:CSI:SVU (we’re the special victims!). This is generally data science work about bad movies and is what ultimately resulted in the BMeTric all those months ago. The first installment can be found here, and in general our bad movie musings (quantitative and qualitative) will be held in The Bad Movie Institute of Technology (BMIT), found here.

Jamie

I really have very little to say about Harlem Nights. I actually thought there was a lot of things done right in the film. The music was great (shout-out to Herbie Hancock), costumes were bomb, and it generally looked nice. The whole story was a mess, though. Just slow and bizarre. So bizarre, it’s hard even to say whether it was a good or bad film in the end… it just was. If you had to try to compare it to something else from that era the obvious choice would be Nothing but Trouble, the Dan Aykroyd disaster. Just like Murphy, Aykroyd was given complete creative control of every aspect of his film. In the case of Nothing but Trouble this resulted in a monumentally unpleasant film that borders on unwatchable. In the case of Harlem Nights it resulted in an ambitious period piece that looks beautiful, but misses badly with an underdeveloped storyline. Clearly one is better than the other. Congrats, Harlem Nights.

Harlem Nights is not based on a book. I would have loved to read that book though. Nice slow, character-driven burn. But I don’t care to talk about a fake book this time. Instead I’ll do a classic Prequel, Sequel, or Remake and I have to say: I think a solid remake could be great, especially if they move fully away from comedy. Cast? Michael B. Jordan in Murphy’s role, Denzel Washington in Pryor’s role, and Danny Glover in Foxx’s role. That would get me pretty excited. Give the film a darker tone, with the major heist at the end cut together with the concurrent boxing match and you got gold I tells yah. Let’s get on the horn, Patrick, and take this train to Oscar town. Of course, the only person who would actually end up getting nominated for an Oscar would be Christopher Walken playing the crooked cop because… well you know why.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

BMeTric Live! #1: MPAA Ratings

[This is an ongoing series concerning the development of a new bad movie metric actively being researched by Patrick. This is installment #1]

The MPAA Rating Factor

To quote a famous bad movie researcher:

[The major flaw with the BMeTric is that it] is ever changing. As the current movie vote/rating data changes so does the baseline. And as a movie’s vote/rating changes its BMeTric changes.

Patrick, Distinguished Professor of the Bad Movie Science and Technology, badmovietwins.com (February 2016)

This flaw also makes calculating the BMeTric of a film prior to release impossible due to its reliance on temporal data. Specifically, the number of votes and rating on IMDb is non-existant prior to release and unreliable until such time as the vote count reaches a relative steady-state. This project hopes to remedy this difficulty by forming a time-independent BMeTric, or BMeTric Live!

To start, it is important to identify some of the parameters we might look at in a time-independent BMeTric. A good starting point is looking at the available data from omdbapi. The parameters from that are: title, year, rating, runtime, genre, release date, director, writer, cast, Metacritic score, IMDb rating, IMDb votes, poster, plot, language, country, awards, tomatoMeter, RT reviews, RT fresh reviews, RT rotten reviews, RT consensus, RT userMeter, RT userRating, RT userReviews, box office gross, production company.

Most of these can be immediately eliminated. Specifically, because they are temporal: Metacritic score, tomatoMeter, IMDb rating, IMDb votes, awards, RT reviews, RT fresh reviews, RT rotten reviews, RT userMeter, RT userRating, RT userReviews, RT consensus, and box office gross are all gone. Analysis of the title, plot, or poster is also rather difficult so throw those guys out for now. The year is rather useless since it will only be applied to upcoming releases, and country and language as well because we tend to watch US releases in English exclusively. That leaves a rather svelte initial set: MPAA Rating, runtime, genre, release date, director, writer, cast, production company. That list honestly look really good to me, kind of exactly what I would hope to incorporate into a time-independent BMeTric.

So let’s quickly look to the first one just to see what we can see. MPAA rating. First and foremost: Only consider movies with a MPAA rating of G, PG, PG-13 and R. Simple rule. To quickly point out: the G, PG, PG-13 and R cover all movies we’d likely consider for the time-independent BMeTric And as far as backtesting and fitting are concerned all movies (except maybe Showgirls?) also fit into those four major categories. There might be some bias because PG-13 was introduced in 1984, but besides the rare few borderline cases (Gremlins, Temple of Doom, etc.) I personally don’t think it will effect the data all that much. Films prior to 1980 are rarely considered by BMT so any excluded because they don’t have an MPAA rating shouldn’t throw things off too much.

So to start, a hypothesis: I think G will have a lower BMeTric in general and PG-13 will have a higher BMeTric in general. This is because I think G-rated films will just generally have less votes, and PG-13 rated films will cover films appealing to a “wide base” of viewers (more votes and lower rating).

Initial results: Here, all I wanted to look at basically is the mean, median and major quantiles (25 and 75) of the rated groups relative to the the wider population (all rated films). Box and whisker is pretty standard (although I went sans-whisker which is typically 5 and 95 percentiles. For those interested it is because the BMeTric is constrained to be between 0 and 100 and is more exponentially shaped than normally shaped, so the 5th percentile is pretty much zero and the 95th is around 85 for every rating and just makes the graph look dumb while providing no information), and guess what?

RatingAnalysis

Totally nailed it! If this isn’t obvious from this incredibly information dense figure, long-story short: G-rated is lower, PG-13 is higher, the other two a enigmatic. I put error bars on the mean (the dot) and then error bars on the median (the red line) and the 25th and 75th percentile (bottom and top of the box respectively) all via bootstrap (although the data isn’t much different using a central limit theorem approach, I checked, it was just easier to subsequently get error bars on the factors). As a first pass we can generate a factor for each rating:

RatingFactors

Rating Mean Factor 25th Percentile Factor Median Factor 75th Percentile Factor
G 0.73 0.43 0.54 0.64
PG 1.00 0.67 0.83 1.01
PG-13 1.26 1.25 1.35 1.34
R 0.91 1.07 0.97 0.90

Pretty much in line with what would be expected. Note that the PG and R are a little mixed up. It is basically because the R rating tend to have a more narrow distribution (higher 25th percentile, lower 75th percentile), and PG-rated movies are the opposite. It is something I want to make sure to account for in the future if possible so I listed all of them. If I were to make a metric right now though I would take the easy way out and just adjust the mean, that’s it. I was also surprised at how definitive it all was. The error bars kind of leave no doubt: PG-13 rated movies have a higher BMeTric in general, and G-rated movies have a lower BMeTric in general. Nailing it all day over at BMIT (natch)!

What contributed to the upgrades and downgrades? Looking to the votes and ratings individually:

  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.34 / 3.93 (Total)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.61 / 3.81 (G)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.37 / 3.85 (PG)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.28 / 4.14 (PG-13)
  • IMDB Rating / log(Votes): 6.33 / 3.88 (R)

Basically, G-rated films have the highest ratings and lowest number of votes, and PG-13 movies tend to have the highest number of votes and lowest ratings. I guess people don’t like to just go onto IMDb and slam kids’ movies? Otherwise pretty much exactly my hypothesis. Interesting stuff. I’m also kind of impressed with the BMeTric’s ability to cut through the noise. Look at the rating/votes number and then the BMeTric numbers and it seems to me that the BMeTric is pretty good at not only reducing the dimensionality of the data, but also its combination amplifies the numbers as well. It is nice.

How might we use this to help determine BMT Live!? To give an example maybe we need to choose between two movies. On Apirl 29 2016, for example, maybe you are struggling to choose between Garry Marshall instant classic Mother’s Day and the video game adaptation Ratchet and Clank. You don’t know anything about the films except that Mother’s Day is PG-13 and Ratchet and Clank is PG. This analysis would suggest that Mother’s Day would be the better bet (and I would agree). But I’m also willing to bet that this won’t end up being a hugely important factor, how we mix these factors will come at the end of the study. I am liking the path we are on at the moment though, I am a bit more confident that a metric with some value might come of this analysis.