Ben-Hur (2016) Recap

Jamie

Even when you first saw the trailers for Ben-Hur (2016) you couldn’t help but think “that seems like a mistake.” The 1959 film version was the Titanic of its time and has mostly endured unscathed. So imagine the year is 2050 and you see a trailer for Titanic starring ZDawg (the biggest star on ZippyZapp, the only way people watch TV in the future). It’s 69 minutes long and was created using an AI system they’ve dubbed Camera-On. It took four and a half hours to make and ZDawg never shot a scene, he just said the Gettysburg Address into a microphone and they generated his performance from that. Would you go see it? The answer is of course, yes. That sounds amazing. Besides, I’ve heard ZDawg’s performance is transcendent. He’s a front runner for the Zoscar (the new name for the Oscars) and I can’t wait for his next film ZDawg Presents: ZDawg: The Story of ZDawg.

Alright, let’s get into it. Ben-Hur is the classic story of Ben-Hur, a prince in Jerusalem, and his adopted Roman brother Messala. Messala has got the hots for Ben-Hur’s sister and Ben-Hur’s mom is not into that idea at all. Messala decides the best course of action is to join the Roman army and become so hot that they’ll have to say yes. Flash forward years later and Messala returns as the head of the army in Jerusalem. Pontius Pilate is coming to town so Messala asks Ben-Hur to tell everyone to cool it so that he doesn’t look like a dope. Ben-Hur is kinda like whatever, but that doesn’t work out so well when a zealot attempts to assassinate Pilate from his house. Oops. Messala is quite peeved and sentences his family to death and Messala to salvery on a Roman ship. During a battle his ship ends up crashing and Ben-Hur is able to make it to land. There he encounters a chariot racer, Ilderim, who recognizes that Ben-Hur is the best he’s ever seen. Like the Michael Jordan of chariot racing. They head off to Jerusalem where Ilderim sets up a race between Mesalla and Ben-Hur. In the big climactic race, Ben-Hur is a master of disaster and crushes Mesalla, both figuratively and literally. Afterwards, Ben-Hur is still a big ol’ saddo cause he life kinda sucks but then he sees Jesus and witnesses his death on the cross and his family turns out not to be dead (and also are miraculously healed of leprosy) and he reconciles with Mesalla and they all leave Jerusalem together as a fambly. THE END.

Uhhhh, I mean, what can you say about a wholly unnecessary film? At no point was this ever going to get good reviews. Impossible. You can’t remake a classic film as a CGI centric action film and get rewarded. You must be punished and BMT is your ultimate punishment. All that being said, it’s not like this is the worst thing in the world. I didn’t mind 90% of the film and they didn’t botch the chariot race, which is the most important bit. I didn’t love that they chose to change how Ben-Hur gets in trouble with Messala. Rather than have it truly be an accident (a tile from his roof falls off at such a moment to foster a false accusation of attempted assassination) they switched it to where Ben-Hur harbors a fugitive zealot who ends up trying to assassinate Pilate for real. Messes a little with the plot. Also they had to condense the plot down to two hours, which really makes for a rushed middle act about Ben-Hur’s time at sea. Otherwise I think it got dinged more for what it represented than what it actually was. As for The New Gladiators, it’s important that we watch some of the foreign films that dominated low budget action films of the time. This included Filipino and, like The New Gladiators, Italian films. But we might have to give it another college try, cause I didn’t think The New Gladiators was all that good. It’s just too low budget. Really looks super duper cheap. Some of the acting was fun, but when a 1984 film looks like it’s from the 60’s my brain starts to tune out. I want some visual invention with my low budget film and this had literally zero.

Hot Take Clam Bake! You would come away from this film thinking, ‘boy, Ben-Hur’s natural athleticism clearly shows him to be the superior chariot racer.’ I wouldn’t blame you for being totally wrong like a dumb wrong person. That’s cause they never let us see Messala cook. It’s one race! Messala has clearly won thousands (perhaps millions?) of chariot races. He is the undisputed champ. You might be like, ‘but surely now Ben-Hur is going to go on a championship run that Messala could only dream of.” You wish! First of all, Ben-Hur was driven almost entirely by revenge. You think he’s going to have the competitive fire burning after that? Hardly. He’s going let things loose, put on a few pounds and his career will be done in a couple years. Messala was fueled by imagined slights. All he needed was a tile falling near him to be like “if you die, you die.” He’ll be back. Sure he’s been catastrophically injured, but he’s been through wars before and come back full strength. In total his career will far outstrip Ben-Hur. Hot Take Temperature: Spicy Garlic. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Ben-Hur? More like Ben-Huh?! Amirite? A remake of a four hour epic in a svelte 120 minutes? It’s a choice. Let’s go!

  • I’ve seen the 1959 Ben-Hur but not the original or read the book. I don’t think that matters ultimately though. This isn’t the 1959 film. That film is an oddly beautiful epic with a whole subplot that is, effectively, just Sunday School: The Movie. It is weird, but also, again, incredible in its scale.
  • This film is small potatoes. It is no wonder critics seemed to be perplexed. When comparing it to the epic scale of the 1959 film what are you supposed to think? This film is garbage when you consider that!
  • On the other hand I liked the acting well enough, and I think there were a lot of interesting ideas, specifically the idea of forgiveness between the antagonist and protagonist in the end. It necessitated the odd decision to make Pontius Pilate the bad guy … I’m pretty sure he’s not even in the original film, so that was either invented whole cloth or is from the book or something.
  • Morgan Freeman sleep walks through this though. Didn’t care for his part too much.
  • And I could have used a bit more chariot racing given that they were already cutting a huge amount of the Jesus stuff. Flesh out Ben-Hur’s natural elite athleticism a bit!
  • Oh, I should also mention that in this they show Jesus’ face which is a pretty big let down. One of the cool things from the 1959 film is that they never do, almost like the glory of his image is too much to film. Here he’s just some goober.
  • You like that very non-epic review of this very non-epic film? Sorry, not sorry.
  • I wish there was some sweet chariot product placement, but alas. Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Israel. How about this for a Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the original Easter baby! I think this is BMT, it is an amusing bomb of a film, but also eminently watchable given its runtime.
  • This week we also watched The New Gladiators, a weirdo Italian film about … well, new Gladiators. After their television show about people on motorcycles killing each other ends, the television executives at Murder TV think up a new awesome show: “people on motorcycle kill each other, but this time in the newly renovated dystopian Colosseum.” There are some very fun Clockwork Orange-like scenes, and a lot of Italian actors dubbed over in English. Overall it is mostly just cool to finally watch one of these films, a film that was made for video release in a foreign country with mostly foreign actors (and one or two token Americans of intermediate fame) and then dubbed over. Wouldn’t recommend it though, just a little too much of a nothing film. D.

Check out the sequel idea in the Quiz: Ben-Hur: Back to the Minors. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Advertisement

Ben-Hur (2016) Quiz

So get this. I’m a pretty good chariot racing, NBD. And I was expecting to get like second or third in the big chariot race. But then this chariot savant Ben-Hurd (or something) comes in and crashes me the fuck out! Needless to say I was trampled by my horses (again) and now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Ben-Hur (2016)?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Ben-Hur and his bestie Messala are living it up in Rome. Well, that is, until Messala enlists in the Roman army. Why does he enlist?

2) Now Messala’s back, Jack! And he just, you know … needs some info from Ben-Hur for his buddy Pontius Pilate. Do a guy a solid, right, Ben-Hur? What does Messala want to know?

3) Whoops, Ben-Hur kind of maybe almost got the like … president of Jerusalem killed or whatever. You’re a slave now Ben-Hur, you done fucked up! After escaping during a battle though, Morgan Freeman finds him. What convinces Freeman to allow Ben-Hur to stick with his gang of elite chariot racers?

4) And now Ben-Hur is back, Jack! But, huh, rumor is his mother and love might just still be alive. Where are they and in … uh, what condition are they?

5) Time for the chariot race. What is the result?

Bonus Question: In the mid-credits scene a messenger interrupts the Ben-Hur fambly dinner to deliver an urgent message. What is it?

Answers

Ben-Hur (2016) Preview

Patrick walks through campus deep in thought. Where do you go when you are Sly Stallone in 1989? He said ‘school’ so that’s where he went. People point and gawk at the sad lonely walk of a Sly Stallone. A crowd forms and soon he’s surrounded by looky loos. “Sly! Flex for us,” one shouts. “Yo, Adrian! Where’s Adrian?” another chides playfully. In a sudden panic he tries to escape the taunts, but he can’t break through. He cocks back his arm, ready to use his age-appropriate muscles crafted from years of exercise and eating well. Before he can pulverize an innocent fan he feels a tiny hand on his arm and a quiet voice asking “Sly, sir, may I get an autograph?” He looks down to see a child, no more than three or four. He’s dressed in the colors of the college, ready to root on his favorite team, “Gladiators” splashed across his chest. Patrick’s eyes widen. “Kyle?” he gasps.

Jamie walks through campus deep in thought. Frankie Jr. is popping b-gum (as the kids now call it) and strutting around the school. “Yo, pops, you’re cramping my style.” Jamie just murmurs sorry and continues to think. If he’s here, where is Patrick? Who is Patrick? He looks around in panic, suddenly gripped by paranoia. Who is anyone? He grabs a nearby student and screams, “Who are you?” much to the horror of Frankie Jr. He feels a hand on his shoulder and turns around, his arm cocked back, old skin drooping down from years of hard living. The principal stands in front of him, an old man with gray hair and beard. He’s dressed in the colors of the school, “The New Gladiators” splashes across his chest. Jamie’s eyes widen. “Kyle?” he gasps.

That’s right! It’s a double gladiator week as we catch the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur and pair it with an Italian sci-fi picture, The New Gladiators. Remaking Ben-Hur was always a mistake. It’s also appropriate we catch at least one Italian film in this cycle as they played such a big role in the type of future/action genre of the times. Let’s go!

Ben-Hur (2016) – BMeTric: 41.2; Notability: 61

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 16.4%; Notability: top 4.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 20.4%; Higher BMeT: Fifty Shades of Black, Zoolander 2, Cell, The Forest, Exposed, Yoga Hosers, Meet the Blacks, Cabin Fever, Max Steel, The Darkness, Dark Crimes, Blair Witch, Independence Day: Resurgence, The 5th Wave, Urge, Shut In, Boo! A Madea Halloween, Gods of Egypt, Get a Job, The Assignment, and 21 more; Higher Notability: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Zoolander 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Brothers Grimsby, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Warcraft, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Allegiant, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Ice Age: Collision Course; Lower RT: Cabin Fever, Dark Crimes, Term Life, Urge, Max Steel, Amateur Night, The Darkness, Fifty Shades of Black, Shut In, Misconduct, Mother’s Day, Exposed, The Do-Over, Get a Job, I.T., Dirty Grandpa, The Forest, Cell, Allegiant, The Choice, and 30 more; Notes: The notability is off the hook here. It’s 2016, so obviously there are going to be huge ones coming out around then, but it is near The Huntsman sequel? That’s big.

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – Does the movie radically re-arrange both its source material and that material’s most famous adaptation? It sure as hell does. But I doubt that many contemporary viewers consider either of those as holy writ. This is a “Ben-Hur” of and for its time, but also a little better than its time, it turns out. I’m not qualified to say whether it’s an effective delivery system for its Christian message, but I think I can credibly pronounce it a good popcorn movie.

(My God. One of the big pluses for this film according to this review is: it’s shorter than the previous 4 hour epic. Alright. For the record I liked the previous adaptation. It is long, but has some really interesting stuff in it. Somehow I still doubt this stands up.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLJdzky63BA/

(Wow, the hard rock soundtrack is an interesting take. Also, absolutely nothing about Jesus in the whole trailer? Just hard core chariot action? I would be down if that were the case. Unfortunately, it is not.)

DirectorsTimur Bekmambetov – ( Known For: Wanted; Profile; Night Watch; Day Watch; V2. Escape from Hell; The Arena; The Irony of Fate 2; Yolki 5; Six Degrees of Celebration; Yolki 1914; Peshawar Waltz; Future BMT: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; BMT: Ben-Hur; Notes: He was born in what is now Kazakhstan. Night Watch and Day Watch are a series about vampires that made him famous.)

WritersLew Wallace – ( Known For: Ben-Hur; Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ; BMT: Ben-Hur; Notes: He’s the author of the original book. He died in 1905. He was also the governor of the New Mexico Territory and later minister to Turkey besides being an author.)

Keith R. Clarke – ( Known For: The Way Back; BMT: Ben-Hur; Notes: Not much about him. He has an upcoming movie which sounds like Catch-22 but concerning redeployment to Afghanistan.)

John Ridley – ( Known For: 12 Years a Slave; Three Kings; U Turn; Needle in a Timestack; Red Tails; Undercover Brother; Jimi: All Is by My Side; Cold Around the Heart; BMT: Ben-Hur; Notes: He won an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave. He wrote a draft for Beverly Hills Cop 4 which apparently was rejected.)

ActorsJack Huston – ( Known For: House of Gucci; The Irishman; American Hustle; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; Hail, Caesar!; Their Finest; Antebellum; Above Suspicion; Kill Your Darlings; Outlander; Factory Girl; Earthquake Bird; Shrink; Night Train to Lisbon; Shrooms; The Yellow Birds; Boogie Woogie; Not Fade Away; Mr. Nice; Future BMT: The Longest Ride; BMT: Ben-Hur; Notes: For a while I was convinced this was Jack Heston, as in a stunt cast to cast Charlton Heston’s son. Nope, this is Anjelica Huston’s nephew and thus John Huston’s grandson. Heston does have a son, he directed the box office bomb Alaska.)

Toby Kebbell – ( Known For: RocknRolla; Kong: Skull Island; War for the Planet of the Apes; Match Point; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Gold; Dead Man’s Shoes; A Monster Calls; War Horse; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Destroyer; Control; The East; The Conspirator; Chéri; The Angel; The Hurricane Heist; Held for Ransom; Wilderness; Becoming; Future BMT: Alexander; Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; The Counselor; Wrath of the Titans; BMT: Fantastic Four; Warcraft; Bloodshot; Ben-Hur; Notes: He’s English and was nominated as a Rising Star at the BAFTAs.)

Rodrigo Santoro – ( Known For: 300; Love Actually; Focus; 300: Rise of an Empire; Rio; Project Power; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; 7 Prisoners; The Last Stand; Rio 2; I Love You Phillip Morris; The 33; Jane Got a Gun; Pele: Birth of a Legend; Redbelt; Carandiru; There Be Dragons; Rio, I Love You; Last Call; Monica and Friends: Bonds; Future BMT: Post Grad; BMT: What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Ben-Hur; Notes: From Brazil, and most notable for his role in Westworld. He also was the voice of Stuart Little in the Brazilian dubbed version of both movies.)

Budget/Gross – $100,000,000 / Domestic: $26,410,477 (Worldwide: $94,061,311)

(My god, what a bomb. I’m telling you, they should have got James Cameron to do it. That would have been the way to make a Ben-Hur film.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (47/191): How do you fight an idea? By filming a remake that has too few of its own, and tries to cover it up with choppy editing and CGI.

(Jamie had to point out to me that “how do you fight an idea” is a big part of the previous Ben-Hur film. I’ve seen that film. But I didn’t remember the quote. The Rotten Tomatoes consensus hitting that up hard in a tongue in cheek manner is weird, but at least now it makes sense to my brain instead of sounding like actual gibberish.)

Reviewer Highlight: Very rarely does it try to impress us, or overwhelm us, shock us, move us. – K. Austin Collins, The Ringer

Poster – Jesus: The Movie

(It’s an exciting picture from the film, but not exactly poster material. Nice font, though. Comes out just about even. C.)

Tagline(s) – Brother against brother. Slave against empire. (B)

(I can’t fault it for passing up the rule of three. Would have gotten pretty long if you tried to add another one. But needs something more to get to the next level. “Crime against God” doesn’t work, but that’s the kind of clever third entry they could have tried. Just merely good as it is.)

Keyword(s) – past

Top 10: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Django Unchained (2012), Gladiator (2000), Inglourious Basterds (2009), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Schindler’s List (1993), The Prestige (2006), Shutter Island (2010)

Future BMT: 88.6 BloodRayne (2005), 72.9 The Unborn (2009), 70.3 Texas Chainsaw (2013), 70.1 Black Christmas (2006), 69.7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 65.8 The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (2014), 64.5 The Final Destination (2009), 62.1 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 59.7 Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), 59.0 Apollo 18 (2011)

BMT: Epic Movie (2007), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), The Fog (2005), Movie 43 (2013), Super Mario Bros. (1993), Glitter (2001), Holmes & Watson (2018), The Master of Disguise (2002), The Legend of Hercules (2014), Grease 2 (1982), The Bye Bye Man (2017), Jonah Hex (2010), Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991), Wild Wild West (1999), Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994), The Ridiculous 6 (2015), Highlander: Endgame (2000), Black Knight (2001), Chernobyl Diaries (2012), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), Cool World (1992), The Musketeer (2001), An American Haunting (2005), Ishtar (1987), The Nun (2018), The Curse of La Llorona (2019), Pinocchio (2002), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Bones (2001), Shanghai Surprise (1986), House of Wax (2005), Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991), Season of the Witch (2011), The Tuxedo (2002), Mannequin: On the Move (1991), Pompeii (2014), Ghost Ship (2002), Assassin’s Creed (2016), The Scarlet Letter (1995), Timeline (2003), Dolittle (2020), The Quest (1996), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019), Wagons East (1994), The Three Musketeers (2011), Diana (2013), Ben-Hur (2016), Rambo III (1988), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), The Blue Lagoon (1980), Cutthroat Island (1995), Texas Rangers (2001), Sucker Punch (2011), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), Jobs (2013), Universal Soldier (1992), Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Original Sin (2001), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), American Outlaws (2001), Winter’s Tale (2014), Harlem Nights (1989), The Identical (2014), I Dreamed of Africa (2000), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Chamber (1996), The Marrying Man (1991), Wild Bill (1995), In Love and War (1996), Sleepaway Camp (1983), Gods and Generals (2003), The Lone Ranger (2013), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Halloween II (1981), September Dawn (2007), Young Guns II (1990), Oscar (1991), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Evening (2007), The 13th Warrior (1999), White Comanche (1968), Gangster Squad (2013), Now and Then (1995), A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Best Options (Action): 88.6 BloodRayne (2005), 69.7 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 64.5 The Final Destination (2009), 62.1 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 56.7 Robin Hood (2018), 53.7 Spy Hard (1996), 50.1 The Last Legion (2007), 48.2 You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), 48.0 Alexander (2004), 47.9 King Solomon’s Mines (1985), 47.7 The Dark Tower (2017), 47.1 Bad Girls (1994), 45.9 Samson (2018), 45.5 Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), 45.3 Red Scorpion (1988), 44.6 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), 43.6 Top Dog (1995), 43.5 Missing in Action (1984), 43.3 The Kitchen (2019), 43.2 Iron Eagle (1986), 42.5 Pan (2015), 41.3 Ben-Hur (2016), 40.9 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), 40.3 End of Days (1999), 40.2 The Delta Force (1986), (and many more)

(We went far down here, but actually really like … look at the options. The only other one I could have maybe went for was the other notorious bomb, Alexander. There are just so many films sent in the past that are terrible.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 18) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Morgan Freeman is No. 4 billed in Ben-Hur and No. 1 billed in Kiss the Girls, which also stars Ashley Judd (No. 2 billed) who is in The Identical (No. 2 billed) which also stars Ray Liotta (No. 3 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 2 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (4 + 1) + (2 + 2) + (3 + 2) + (3 + 1) = 18. If we were to watch Just Getting Started we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – Director Timur Bekmambetov insisted that the chariot circus be built for real, and be realized with as little computer graphics imagery as possible. He felt it was absolutely necessary to make the chariot race look and feel realistic.

This version of the story is 87 minutes shorter than the previous version, Ben-Hur (1959).

Timur Bekmambetov explained the film’s adaptation in an interview with “Collider”: “When we say ‘original “Ben-Hur”,’ we have to be very concrete about which original version we are talking about. There were two big-screen versions made, in 1925 [Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)] and 1959 [Ben-Hur (1959)]. These are the two most famous ones. There was also a Broadway stage version at the beginning of the 20th century. There have been a lot of television versions. The Ben-Hur story reminds me of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘Hamlet’ and any story written by [Anton Chekhov]. It is timeless, so every new generation wants to go back to it in order to adapt it for the new world. The screen version made in 1959 runs for four hours, and there [are] only a small number of people who can actually stay through the whole movie. It is about people different from us. And it’s normal, because people used to be different. The audience was different, too, as well as the cinema language the film was made in. The 1959 movie was about revenge, not about forgiveness. For me that was the main problem, as I think that the novel is mainly about forgiveness, about the fact that a human being learned how to forgive. I got so excited about the project when I read John Ridley’s script. I understood that John’s vision of the story has so much light to it, and that he shares the same thoughts about certain morals as I do. We talked with him about our modern world, which actually reminds me very much of a huge Roman Empire. In the Roman Empire the most important values were pride, rivalry, power, strength, the dictatorship of power and self-love. This kind of world does not have any prospects today. Humanity has to learn how to love and forgive. This would be our only solution.”

The film was originally set for release on February 26, 2016. In October 2015 it was pushed back to August 12, 2016.

Sleepless Recap

Jamie

I vividly remember when the Sleepless trailer came out. Why? Because I recall thinking, “are they releasing that to theaters?” I also remember thinking, “boy, that’s a lot of Las Vegas crammed into a single trailer.” So obviously, being obsessive about film settings I was already all in on Sleepless. Even though it felt like a Netflix film or something, I was a bit thrilled that it was getting a wide release. Like 21 Bridges, I just enjoy these types of small thrillers. So the more they can come out and do reasonably well, the more likely another one will come down the pike. Alas, this didn’t do all that well, but at least it (allegedly) existed. And I gotta say, this easily cleared that standard. I can confirm, Sleepless is a film that exists. Mission accomplished.

To recap, Jamie Foxx is a real crooked cop. He’s stealing drugs. He’s killing people. He’s a real bad dude, for sure. Except, wait, he’s also tracking all the drug dealers in Las Vegas in his empty apartment? I’m intrigued. When it turns out that the drugs he stole were actually destined for the biggest and most ruthless drug dealer in the city he’s a little concerned. He’s even more concerned when his son is kidnapped and held for ransom. Gathering up all the drugs, he attempts to deliver it back to the bad guys. Kind of like, “whoopsies” and hope things go OK. But they don’t. That’s because Internal Affairs is tracking him and stole back the drugs. Double whoopsies. Jamie Foxx is able to trick the drug dealers for a little bit, but soon realizes that one of the IA agents is the real corrupt cop. Foxx is able to escape with his son and, after being cornered by the drug dealers, ends up killing them in a bloody shootout (duh). With a last gasp effort he is able to alert the clean IA agent of the dastardly deeds of her partner. The day is saved, the good guys survive, and Vegas is still… Sleepless.

I didn’t mind this film in a throwaway thriller kind of way. Which I think puts it a peg above a normal BMT film. There are certainly things to critique. Like large portions of the plot are driven forwards by coincidence and incompetence on the part of Foxx. The film could have ended any number of times if he just didn’t do something real boneheaded. You could maybe chalk it up to him ultimately wanting to catch/kill the real insane baddie, but… uh… then he’s a pretty awful dad. The ultimate bad dad cop dad. But beyond that it has some fun stuff going on and doesn’t waste time. 

Hot Take Clam Bake up in here. Jamie Foxx 100% percent does not get his family back. Sure he and his ex-wife are having a moment. He just brought down the biggest drug lord in Vegas, saved their son, all while looking dope. Some feelings are boiling back to the surface. Maybe the next day Jamie Foxx drops by and they have a pleasant brunch as a family. But Gabrielle Union’s girlfriends aren’t gonna let that fly. He was undercover for years? What kind of husband and father does that? Was he even thinking of the effect that might have on them? He pretty much ruined his son’s life and almost got him killed. Guess who didn’t do that? Dave. Dave’s been the rock of the family. Dave did everything right. Sure, maybe Dave’s job as an accountant isn’t flashy, but he’s a pretty damn good accountant, ayight. And so a couple weeks later Jamie Foxx is back on the job, feeling like supercop and sniffing around the latest homicide. By the time he looks up Gabrielle Union is posting pics on Insta from Hawaii with Dave. Sorry, bro. You snooze, you lose. Hot Take Temperature: Teriyaki.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sleepless? Not if you watch this movie you aren’t! Haha, got you. The title just walks right into that one. Let’s go!

  • The film’s biggest crime is that it is rote. Which is the opposite of the original. So it is weird that they took all the interesting ambiguity out of the French film and instead thought “but what if we like … told people what was actually happening explicitly. Then could we set up for a bad sequel idea that will never happen?”
  • Yeah, they set up for a sequel in which the big bad drug dealer dad comes back to Vegas and guess whaaaaaaaat? He’s got the DEA on the payroll. I bet that is going to cause some issues for our boy Foxx … if the sequel ever happened that is. Instead we have a bizarre happy ending in which (presumably) the nice new fiance of Foxx’s ex is dumped unceremoniously because Foxx is now out of deep cover. Horrible.
  • Foxx is good in it, but both Mulroney and McNairy seem seriously miscast. Mulroney doesn’t seem sleazy (you should see the French version, sleaze up the wazoo on that guy) and McNairy doesn’t seem threatening.
  • I might as well just go into why the original is so good. In the original there is no hint that maybe the main character is undercover. Throughout the film it is only mentioned once, when the main character off hand mentions it to the female internal affairs office, but at the time it does actually seem like he might just be lying to get her off his back for a second. In the end he helps her, but that might be just to protect his family. I do ultimately think that he was undercover, but it isn’t wild to think that he wasn’t, that was a lie, and in the end you are in fact watching a bad person get trapped and then do anything to save his family (to the point of potentially getting killed). The film ends with him going to the hospital, and it is unknown whether he survives. It is frenetic and intense and throughout, again, you don’t know whether this person is just the best of a group of bad people or an undercover police officer trying to resolve a complicated situation.
  • This film throws that directly into the trash and decided to make Taken.
  • An incredibly sweaty Setting as a Character (Where?) for Vegas, which honestly is a bit too shiny for what the original was going for, a decrepit Atlantic City would have made more sense, but whatever. Borderline MacGuffin (Why?) for the bad of drugs, but I’ve kind of given up on the idea that a MacGuffin needs to be mysterious, so I think this counts. And horrible Worst Twist (How?) candidate for the sequel tease concerning corrupt DEA agents talking to drug dealers. I think this is closest to BMT, it is an amusing and entertaining watch, but cheesy and dumb at the same time, I liked watching it, but it is definitely a bad film.

Read about the sequel Sleepless 2: Good Night’s Rest in the Quiz. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sleepless Quiz

Oh man, so get this. I was totes like stealing this drug dealer’s stuff, when he ripped off my mask and bopped me right on the head! Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Sleepless?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Why does Scoot McNairy need the 20 kilos of cocaine from Dermot Mulroney?

2) For his part in the above issue with the cocaine what part of his cousin’s body does Scoot McNairy cut off?

3) In the beginning of the film Monaghan is just coming back from leave. Why was she on leave?

4) The middle part of the film is mostly Foxx running around trying to avoid the bad guys. But for a bit the bad guys are off his back. How does Foxx briefly trick the drug dealers into leaving?

5) At the end everything comes together. Why was Foxx undercover in the end?

Bonus Question: Uh oh, in the mid-credits scene there’s a call for Foxx in the hospital. Who could it be?

Answers

Sleepless Preview

Another sleepless night, Patrick drags himself into the BMTHQ offices. “You look like trash barrels, my man,” chides Jamie, Reebok Pumps kicked up on his desk. Patrick smiles. “Six kids will do that to yah. This latest one seems determined to make sure I don’t sleep ever again.” He yawns and looks down pensively. “Jamie… do you ever wonder if there is more to life than bad movies?” Jamie is shocked and frankly disturbed by this line of thinking. But how to delicately head off where this conversation is heading? “You wanna fight about it?” he blurts out much to Patrick’s frustration. “You wanna fight about it, bro?” he repeats, ripping off his denim t-shirt for emphasis. Patrick shakes his head. This is exactly what he had been afraid of. The company was on solid footing, their worldwide fame unshakeable. But every time he even broached the subject of a little time off Jamie would end up screaming at him shirtless. He turns away shaking his head in dismay. Realizing he perhaps crossed the line this time, Jamie offers a compromise. “Hey man, you know, we could always cut down dance class to three half days a week… and, uh, maybe we could go on that European backpacking trip you always wanted to go on.” At that Patrick perks up.

“Oh, no no no,” Patrick mutters from his perch far up on the roof of the building next door to BMTHQ. “They’ve already agreed to go on the trip.” Jamie and Patrick are back in 2017, the genesis of the European backpacking trip that first brought them into contact with the Obsidian Dongle. “You really did look like shit,” Jamie says chuckling as he peers through the binoculars. “Maybe you just needed a good night’s rest.” A lightbulb goes off. That’s right! We hit up another remake of a French film with Sleepless starring Jamie Foxx. It’s got a grade A Las Vegas setting and a grade C everything else. Let’s go!

Sleepless (2017) – BMeTric: 43.0; Notability: 25

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 13.2%; Notability: top 18.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 14.5%; Higher BMeT: The Emoji Movie, Fifty Shades Darker, Death Note, Jeepers Creepers III, Rings, The Bye Bye Man, Snatched, The Snowman, Transformers: The Last Knight, The Layover, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Leatherface, Amityville: The Awakening, Flatliners, Geostorm, Wish Upon, The Circle, The Mummy, Unforgettable, Baywatch, and 13 more; Higher Notability: Transformers: The Last Knight, Justice League, Sandy Wexler, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, The Mummy, The Emoji Movie, Geostorm, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Current War, Bright, Tulip Fever, Suburbicon, American Assassin, Baywatch, The Dark Tower, CHIPS, Fifty Shades Darker, Pitch Perfect 3, The House, The Snowman, and 26 more; Lower RT: The Layover, Naked, Flatliners, Hangman, The Emoji Movie, The Snowman, Rings, Tulip Fever, Fifty Shades Darker, The Vanishing of Sidney Hall, First Kill, The Dark Tower, The Circle, The Mummy, Transformers: The Last Knight, The Space Between Us, Jeepers Creepers III, Father Figures, Baywatch, Geostorm, and 15 more; Notes: I would say that Amityville: The Awakening is the most intriguing of the Higher BMeT films. It is a bit of a blind spot that I’ve never seen a single Amityville film, and there are a bajillion (mostly non-qualifying) films at this point.

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – “Sleepless” is one of those movies that needed to be a lot better or a lot worse to make much of an impression. This story of a Las Vegas police officer trying to recover his kidnapped son from bad guys is frustratingly not-terrible. The action sequences, the characterizations, the performances, all could have come together to form a dandy example of what used to be a called a B-movie: a genre film that doesn’t have much money to play with but compensates with ingenuity and style. And yet “Sleepless” somehow quite never gets to that level. Its rare moments of quality only make the rest of the movie—a mishmash of conspiratorial plotting and close-quarters fistfights and gunfights—seem lamer. As directed by Baran bo Odar (2010’s “The Silence”) and scripted by “World Trade Center” writer Andrea Berloff, this remake of the 2011 French film “Sleepless Night” is funny sometimes but not funny enough, exciting sometimes but never exciting enough, and inherently emotional (mainly due to the hero’s anguished desire to save his son) yet never willing to run with the emotionalism and turn into a full-blown action melodrama.

(I feel like if Ebert wrote this he might have been slightly more dour about it. He loved his “good for what it is” films, but this is “bad for what it is” and that is when you really need to destroy a film. Anyways, he also wouldn’t have used the word “lamer” I feel like.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA7JW9Zj2-g/

(Wowza is that intense. Here’s the thing, in the original Sleepless they barely indicate that the cop is undercover. It is more like they suggest it as a possibility and then leave it up to the viewer to decide whether it is believable. Here? It is a giant part of the trailer! That’s crazy. This just looks like a generic action film at this point.)

DirectorsBaran bo Odar – ( Known For: Who Am I; The Silence; BMT: Sleepless; Notes: He directed the German television show Dark! Bar none one of the greatest sci-fi television shows ever created. It is great.)

WritersAndrea Berloff – ( Known For: Straight Outta Compton; Blood Father; World Trade Center; Future BMT: The Kitchen; BMT: Sleepless; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Straight Outta Compton.)

Frédéric Jardin – ( Known For: Thoongaavanam; Sleepless Night; Cravate club; BMT: Sleepless; Notes: He wrote and directed the original film, Sleepless Night. His father was a major French screenwriter in the 60s.)

Nicolas Saada – ( Known For: Sleepless Night; My Golden Days; Taj Mahal; En jouant ‘Dans la compagnie des hommes’; BMT: Sleepless; Notes: French, and has a credit here for helping to write Sleepless Night.)

Olivier Douyère – ( Known For: Sleepless Night; Secret Agents; Scènes de crimes; BMT: Sleepless; Notes: Same, has a credit for Sleepless Night, which was also his last actual credit on IMDb. There is nothing else about him.)

ActorsJamie Foxx – ( Known For: Spider-Man: No Way Home; Django Unchained; Collateral; Baby Driver; The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Soul; Miami Vice; Horrible Bosses; White House Down; Just Mercy; Rio; Jarhead; Project Power; Ray; Any Given Sunday; Rio 2; Dreamgirls; Ali; The Kingdom; I’m Still Here; Future BMT: Law Abiding Citizen; A Million Ways to Die in the West; Robin Hood; Annie; Due Date; Horrible Bosses 2; The Players Club; Booty Call; Bait; Held Up; Breakin’ All the Rules; BMT: Valentine’s Day; Stealth; Sleepless; Toys; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Robin Hood in 2019; Notes: He was nominated for two oscars in 2005 for Ray and Collateral and won for Ray. His birth name is Eric Bishop. He just had a film come out called Day Shift.)

Michelle Monaghan – ( Known For: Mission: Impossible – Fallout; Constantine; Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol; Unfaithful; Mission: Impossible III; Gone Baby Gone; The Bourne Supremacy; Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Source Code; Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; Black Site; The Craft: Legacy; Patriots Day; Every Breath You Take; North Country; Machine Gun Preacher; Somewhere; The Vanishing of Sidney Hall; Playing It Cool; Nanny; Future BMT: The Best of Me; The Heartbreak Kid; Due Date; Eagle Eye; It Runs in the Family; BMT: Pixels; Made of Honor; Sleepless; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Pixels in 2016; Notes: Still going strong. Her “big” movie this year is Blacksite which also stars BMT superstar Jai Courtney.)

Dermot Mulroney – ( Known For: Along for the Ride; Zodiac; Stoker; Gone in the Night; Young Guns; Burn After Reading; August: Osage County; My Best Friend’s Wedding; Careful What You Wish For; The Grey; Agent Game; Insidious: Chapter 3; Deadly Illusions; J. Edgar; Copycat; About Schmidt; The Family Stone; Point of No Return; The Thing Called Love; Jolene; Future BMT: Career Opportunities; Angels in the Outfield; Umma; The Mountain Between Us; The Wedding Date; Bad Girls; Must Love Dogs; Sunset; Goodbye Lover; BMT: Dirty Grandpa; Abduction; Georgia Rule; Jobs; Sleepless; Notes: It feels like he actually might mainly be famous for being the titular best friend in My Best Friend’s Wedding. He was in a film called Cats and I was like what?! But nope, different film called Cats somehow.)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $20,783,704 (Worldwide: $32,917,353)

(Yeah not what you want. This is the type of film which if it was any good would have done maybe $60 million at the box office, but then it would have done big business late on television and streaming. And that sequel they teased would have also definitely been made.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (15/61): Sleepless wastes a talented cast — and solid source material — on a tired crime drama whose clichés rapidly outnumber its thrills.

(Sounds about right. It does seem like a very cliche “sweaty” crime thriller. It seems impossible to be comfortable running around in trousers in Las Vegas. Unless you are in a casino all day which I guess Jamie Foxx is.)

Reviewer Highlight: We get muttering and glowering from Mr. Foxx, a story that can’t manage enough twists to tie a shoelace, and set pieces that have been done better in other movies. – A.O. Scott, New York Times

Poster – Sheeples

(Striking. I gotta say I kinda dig it for a “big star” style poster. Stylish up top and then pops at the bottom with Las Vegas lights. Couple quibbles. The font is horrific of course. Also, the glove he’s wearing is distracting. B.)

Tagline(s) – Don’t judge a cop by his cover. (A+++)

(Ooooooohhhhhhh shit. Clear out the way cause Sleepless is driving down the lane for a windmill dunk. With no regard for human life. This is what I live for! Don’t judge a cop by his cover. I have chills. My word.)

Keyword(s) – European Remake

Top 10: 12 Monkeys (1995), The Italian Job (2003), Insomnia (2002), Scent of a Woman (1992), Clash of the Titans (2010), Some Like It Hot (1959), Vanilla Sky (2001), True Lies (1994), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Tourist (2010)

Future BMT: 54.5 Eye of the Beholder (1999), 54.0 Downhill (2020), 49.2 The Omen (2006), 47.1 Nine Months (1995), 44.8 Catch That Kid (2004), 44.4 Brick Mansions (2014), 43.1 Diabolique (1996), 43.0 Village of the Damned (1995), 41.8 I Think I Love My Wife (2007), 41.2 Clash of the Titans (2010)

BMT: The Wicker Man (2006), Taxi (2004), The Haunting (1999), Get Carter (2000), Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), Pathfinder (2007), Fathers’ Day (1997), The Big Wedding (2013), Sleepless (2017), The Blue Lagoon (1980), School for Scoundrels (2006), Blame It on Rio (1984), Vanilla Sky (2001)

Best Options (Action): 44.8 Catch That Kid (2004), 44.4 Brick Mansions (2014), 43.1 Sleepless (2017), 41.2 Clash of the Titans (2010), 34.2 The Tourist (2010), 32.9 Memory (2022), 21.6 The Jackal (1997), 20.6 Three Fugitives (1989)

(So we aren’t doing Catch That Kid, which would have been a good choice in general. But we are doing Brick Mansions soon, it ended up being a very rare future-set European remake. Cruising along. It is kind of amazing we aren’t doing Eye of the Beholder this cycle (we were very close, but chose a different thriller.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jamie Foxx is No. 1 billed in Sleepless and No. 2 billed in Toys, which also stars LL Cool J (No. 6 billed) who is in Rollerball (No. 2 billed) which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => (1 + 2) + (6 + 2) + (1 + 2) = 14. If we were to watch Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – In an interview on 5/23/17 The Howard Stern Show SiriusXm. Howard Stern asks Jamie which film of his is hardest for him to watch. Jamie recognizes that (Sleepless 2017) as the hardest film for him to watch. Jamie Fox: “Sleepless was a motherfu**a.”

Remake of the French-Belgian movie Sleepless Night (2011) (“Sleepless Night”).

English-language debut of Swiss director Baran bo Odar.

Reindeer Games Recap

Jamie

You know you’ve struck gold when at the very end of the film the twist is revealed and the main character doesn’t crumble in disbelief at how he was had by such an intricate and beautiful plot. Instead he stares blankly at the other characters and mentions off-hand at how ludicrous and unlikely it all was. To which the antagonists go, “Well, you ever heard of a longshot?” You could feel the screenwriter patting you on the head and going, “shhh, shhhh, don’t you worry your little head about this. Everything is going to be OK. Just understand… all these characters are real big dumbos. Like the biggest idiots. None of this made any sense because they are stupid and set up a plot that shouldn’t have worked… but somehow it almost did (which is why I wrote a movie about it). Merry Christmas.”

Just to briefly recap the plot, Rudy is in prison where mere days before he and his cellmate Nick are set to be released he is attacked and Nick is killed. When he leaves prison he sees Ashley, the woman Nick has been communicating with, and impulsively lets her believe he’s actually Nick. They begin a torrid love affair, only for Ashely’s brother, Gabriel, and his trucker gang to show up and demand he help them with a heist of a casino that Nick used to work at. Facing death, Rudy agrees. During the heist everything goes sideways and only Ashley, Gabriel, and Rudy survive. But uh oh! Turns out Nick is alive and it was all a long con (WHAT A DOUBLE TWIST!!!). Too bad for Ashley and Nick, though, because Rudy is able to kill them both and gives away all the money. Merry Christmas. It’s actually kind of a fun 90’s heist film other than the fact that the twist-em-ups are so dumbo supreme that you could never actually claim it was a good film with a straight face. But that gets me to my Hot Take Clam Bake: the plan should have worked!

Hear me out. So the set up is that Nick and Ashley are long time lovers who concoct an intricate plan after Nick lands himself in jail. He’s gonna tell his cellmate everything about a casino that’s easy to rob. Meanwhile Ashley will fall in with a trucker gang where she plants the seed of an idea whereby she would write to an inmate to find a target for a heist. From there Nick will fake his death, paying off numerous prison employees, and let the cellmate fall into the hands of the truckers who will demand the heist go forward. From there they are in the clear until the heist is finished. That is as long as the cellmate does in fact impersonate Nick… and the truckers don’t figure out that he’s not Nick and just kill him. Sure it’s a longshot, but fortunately everyone is super dumb. So it all should have worked. The fatal flaw? Hubris, my friends. Classic hubris. Nick can’t help but reveal himself to Rudy. It’s actually really bad considering the whole plan is to protect Nick and Ashley as much as possible from being involved in the plot. So why not let Gabriel, a more adept murderer, actually murder Rudy and then quickly murder Gabriel. It doesn’t make sense and is the only reason it wasn’t actually a perfect twist… other than the twist being totally insane.

That hot take is scored as a Chilled Eggnog. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Reindeer Games? More like Drains my Brains! Amirite? Are you ready for a real twist-’em’up? Will you better be, because there ain’t no way there aren’t like seventeen twists in this thing. Let’s go!

  • Oooooooo doggy, that twist! I mean like … the second twist. Or maybe the third. Well whatever, the last twist is the craziest. Like “oh man it turns out Theron set Affleck up … wait, she’s dating Sinese? Oh, I see it is like a real set up … oh wait, Nick is still alive! That plan seems … unlikely to work.” That is my train of thought throughout the film.
  • Don’t worry they lampshade the whole plan thing saying they just kind of hoped it would work or something, it’s dumb.
  • Sinese and Theron are both good, but Affleck feels a bit out of his element. It was early in his career, and he’s very charming, but he comes across as a bad actor.
  • As far as a heist film is concerned this is pretty fun even if it is a bit frustrating trying to figure out what Affleck knows, when he knows it, and what his motivations might be in pretending he doesn’t know it, you know? I’m pretty sure he knew everything they were asking of him, but he was always withholding as much as possible as a ploy to get away at various times, but it was confusing. But he knew about the Powwow Safe (and you can see so did Theron who tries to dissuade her co-conspirators from going after it when it is opened), so he must have known about everything in a way.
  • A great great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Northern Michigan where, oh boy, is it a-snowing. Great Holiday Film (When?) for it being set at Christmas specifically and dressing up everyone as Santa Claus. I’m going to give it a MacGuffin (Why?) for the casino, kind of, but mostly for the Powwow Safe which is a big thing that constantly gets mentioned and ultimately has a huge payoff for what is in it. And finally this might be the stone cold winner of Worst Twist (How?) for the ultimate twist that Nick was alive all along and manipulating Rudy to get him to rob the casino for him. I think this is very much closest to Good, it is kind of a good movie if you ignore all the twist-em-ups.
  • Oh man, Live Free or Die Hardcopy is back jack! So in this one we really only have two special features and in reality it is just one special feature. There is a Set Visit, which is mostly people explaining how they wanted to work with Frankenheimer and then Frankenheimer saying a bunch of stuff that is also in the commentary (C+, fun to see how a movie is made at least). And then a commentary … which is just Frankenheimer explaining stuff (D, interesting if you care about direction, but this is absolutely the epitome of “one person is not enough for a commentary.” The whole thing just draaaaaaaaaaags). I might stop listening to commentaries with just the director, they are almost always terrible.

And of course I outlined my sequel to Reindeer Games called Reindeer Games: Independence Day in the Quiz. Cheerios, and back to you Jamie!

Reindeer Games Quiz

Oh wow, so get this. After getting out of prison I was tricked into helping a gang commit a robbery! Well, obviously the “trick” was “hitting me in the head a whole bunch” which, indeed, convinced me to help. Bad news though, I got a massive concussion and now don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Reindeer Games?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We meet our hero Rudy and his best friend Nick the day before they’re to get out of prison (and mere days before Christmas too!). What are they both in jail for?

2) Whoops, well Nick died. But you know that his prison correspondence girlfriend will be heartbroken about that. Why does she claim that she was corresponding with Nick when she’s … you know, Charlize Theron?

3) Double whoops, turns out it was all maybe a trick to get Rudy … er, I mean Nick, to help out the sadistic trucker Sinese with a job. What is the job and why do they need Rudy … er, I mean Nick, to help them out?

4) In the end Rudy … er, I mean Nick, helps them out. Throughout this series of twists (including the “reveal” that Theron is actually Sinese’s girlfriend, not his sister) Rudy … er, I mean Nick insists that there is something called the Powwow Safe that the gang just need to get their hands on. What does he claim is in it? What is actually in it?

5) Triple Whoops everyone is dead. So … what was the final twist’em’up? Who was the mastermind of the whole affair?

Bonus Question: Well looks like Rudy makes it home in time for Christmas. But uh-oh a blast from the past visits him in the mid-credits scene. Who and why?

Answers

Reindeer Games Preview

“This is why we’re here?” Jamie asks incredulously. “No, we’re here because dumb bum Ty over there jumped in the time machine and overloaded the time imputation processor (not to get too technical about it). We need to fix the machine and get home because we don’t know what freak dimension this is.” LePumice nods vigorously in agreement. Even a trained time cop never considered the possibility of an interdimensional time jump and he can barely hide the terror in his eyes. But Patrick has a little smirk on his face as he listens to them fret. “Oh really,” he says, “well how ‘bout you check this out.” With that he turns to face Bongo and Mash. “Officers, I think you’ll find we present to you a tidy solution. Our teeny-bopper friend Ty here will accompany your daughters to the Fourth of July bash. No need to be jealous, friendos.” With that he winks at Jasper and Kelley. But Bongo and Mash only stare blankly at him. “Fourth of July?” Mash says confused. “Are you OK, son? Our daughters aren’t going to the Fourth of July bash with anyone. Certainly not a couple of bozos who arrived a second ago in our town, breaking our rules, and looking like you done come from some dumb terminator future. Now beat it before we arrest you for disorderly conduct.” Bongo and Mash turn back to Jasper and Kelley, who are now looking at Jamie and Patrick suspiciously. Patrick is at a loss. “I… uh… wait, are you sure?” Bongo and Mash sigh and quickly whip around to slap cuffs on Jamie and Patrick. “Alright, I didn’t want to have to do this fellas,” Mash says sternly, “but you forced my hand. Have fun spending Christmas Eve sobering up in jail.” Christmas Eve?! That’s right! It’s time for some fun and games… some reindeer fun and games. Because we’re watching Reindeer Games if you didn’t get that. Feels like this Affleck vehicle has been on the table forever and a bit of a shocker we never watched it. Let’s go!  

Reindeer Games (2000) – BMeTric: 37.6; Notability: 60

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 16.8%; Notability: top 3.6%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 25.2%; Higher BMeT: Battlefield Earth, Dungeons & Dragons, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Urban Legends: Final Cut, 102 Dalmatians, Highlander: Endgame, Dracula 2000, Supernova, Big Momma’s House, Get Carter, The Next Best Thing, Little Nicky, Down to You, Hanging Up, Lost Souls, Bless the Child, The Crow: Salvation, Fortress 2: Re-Entry, and 22 more; Higher Notability: Little Nicky, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, Coyote Ugly, Mission to Mars, Ready to Rumble, Lost Souls, Proof of Life, Rules of Engagement; Lower RT: 3 Strikes, Fortress 2: Re-Entry, My 5 Wives, The in Crowd, Battlefield Earth, Bless the Child, Down to You, Lost Souls, Turn It Up, Circus, The Skulls, Urban Legends: Final Cut, Dungeons & Dragons, Supernova, I Dreamed of Africa, Ed Gein, Screwed, The Watcher, Boys and Girls, The Ladies Man, and 39 more; Notes: Notability is the name of the game here I suppose. I think one of the surprises there is Coyote Ugly having a 60+ notability. That’s a lot of notable people in that film I think a lot of people would have forgotten about.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – “Reindeer Games” is the first All Talking Killer picture. After the setup, it consists mostly of characters explaining their actions to one another. I wish I’d had a stopwatch, to clock how many minutes are spent while one character holds a gun to another character’s head and gabs. Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise between them explain so much they reminded me of Gertrude Stein’s line about Ezra Pound: “He was a village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.” Just a nudge, and the movie would fall over into self-parody, and maybe work better. But I fear it is essentially serious, or as serious as such goofiness can be.

(I wonder if this is the only reference to Ezra Pound related to Reindeer Games. What a ref. Legendary. I do know what I like most in my action films is talking.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0856Uv4QmtI/

(Incredible. The entire trailer kind of covers up the main conceit of the film. Because you see … Ben Affleck isn’t “Nick”. He isn’t the one who wrote letters to Theron or worked in the casino. That was his cellmate. But Senise doesn’t believe that, and things go awry. Funny that the movie actually seems a bit more fun without that conceit in the end.)

DirectorsJohn Frankenheimer – ( Known For: Ronin; Prophecy; The Manchurian Candidate; The Train; Seconds; Grand Prix; Black Sunday; 52 Pick-Up; Seven Days in May; French Connection II; Birdman of Alcatraz; I Walk the Line; The Holcroft Covenant; The Iceman Cometh; The Gypsy Moths; The Challenge; The Fixer; The Young Savages; 99 and 44/100% Dead!; All Fall Down; Future BMT: Dead Bang; Year of the Gun; BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau; Reindeer Games; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1997; Notes: Was a legendary director and received an honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. He also won four Emmys for four miniseries he directed in the 90s. I’m actually a bit surprised he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for some of his films from the 60s. This was his last film, he died a few years later.)

WritersEhren Kruger – ( Known For: The Ring; Ghost in the Shell; Scream 3; Dumbo; Arlington Road; New World Disorder; Future BMT: Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; The Skeleton Key; The Brothers Grimm; Impostor; Blood and Chocolate; BMT: Transformers: Age of Extinction; The Ring Two; Reindeer Games; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2010; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 2012 for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; and in 2015 for Transformers: Age of Extinction; Notes: Just wrote the new Top Gun film. Cut his teeth via a ton of collaborations with Michael Bay.)

ActorsBen Affleck – ( Known For: Deep Water; The Last Duel; Zack Snyder’s Justice League; Dazed and Confused; Gone Girl; Good Will Hunting; Argo; The Town; Triple Frontier; The Tender Bar; Daredevil; The Accountant; He’s Just Not That Into You; Shakespeare in Love; Field of Dreams; Dogma; Jay and Silent Bob Reboot; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; Mallrats; The Sum of All Fears; Future BMT: Suicide Squad; Justice League; Pearl Harbor; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Smokin’ Aces; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Live by Night; 200 Cigarettes; Surviving Christmas; BMT: Armageddon; Paycheck; Runner Runner; Gigli; Reindeer Games; Phantoms; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor in 2004 for Daredevil, Gigli, and Paycheck; Winner for Worst Screen Combo for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2017; Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Gigli in 2004; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2005 for Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas; and in 2017 for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Last Duel in 2022; Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Pearl Harbor, and Surviving Christmas; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; and in 2005 for Jersey Girl; Notes: Y’all know Ben Affleck. Publicly struggled with alcohol and other personal matters, but he seems to have maybe found his … Way Back, heyooooooooooooooo.)

Gary Sinise – ( Known For: Forrest Gump; The Green Mile; The Quick and the Dead; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Apollo 13; Joe Bell; Of Mice and Men; Snake Eyes; Ransom; I Still Believe; Open Season; The Human Stain; The Big Bounce; Albino Alligator; A Midnight Clear; A Wedding; SGT. Will Gardner; Bruno; All the Rage; Future BMT: Mission to Mars; The Forgotten; Impostor; Jack the Bear; BMT: Reindeer Games; Notes: Definitely most well known for his starring role in CSI: NY … wait, no, I think it might be for Forrest Gump, which is was nominated for an Oscar. He won an Emmy for his role in Frankenheimer’s miniseries George Wallace.)

Charlize Theron – ( Known For: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness; F9: The Fast Saga; Mad Max: Fury Road; Prometheus; The Devil’s Advocate; Monster; The Old Guard; Bombshell; That Thing You Do!; The Italian Job; Snow White and the Huntsman; Atomic Blonde; The Road; The Fate of the Furious; Long Shot; Young Adult; 2 Days in the Valley; Hancock; The Cider House Rules; North Country; Future BMT: A Million Ways to Die in the West; The Huntsman: Winter’s War; The Addams Family 2; Trapped; Sweet November; 15 Minutes; BMT: The Astronaut’s Wife; Æon Flux; Reindeer Games; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress, and Worst Screen Combo for A Million Ways to Die in the West in 2015; and Nominee for Worst Actress for Sweet November in 2002; Notes: Won an Oscar for Monster and nominated for two others (for Bombshell and North Country). Is set up for three sequels, Atomic Blonde 2, The Old Guard 2, and Fast X.)

Budget/Gross – $42,000,000 / Domestic: $23,368,995 (Worldwide: $32,168,970)

(A definitive bust. Not that surprising, it got terrible reviews at a time when that definitely mattered.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (23/90): Despite a decent cast, subpar acting and a contrived plot disappointed reviewers.

(Yeah, sounds about right. But here’s the thing … I like contrived plots. They are often turn-off-your-brain hilarious.)

Reviewer Highlight: Reindeer Games is basically a test of your ability to accept a slushpile of implausible twisteroos and Tarantino-style conceits. – Desson Thomson, Washington Post

Poster – Lame-deer Games

(One the one hand I respect it, cause it’s classic and the orange pops (although not all that Chirstmas-y). On the other the font is bad and I’d be thoroughly confused by the little scene they put in the upper right corner. I’d be like, wait… a bunch of Santas and a Casino… I guess I don’t know why that’s so important that we have to see it on the poster. C-.)

Tagline(s) – The trap is set. The game is on. (B-)

(How many movies could this be the tagline for? Answer: hundreds. How many board games could this be the tagline for? Answer: one, Mousetrap. Otherwise not the worst tagline. Short and got some cadence.)

Keyword(s) – dimension

Top 10: Sin City (2005), Spectre (2015), The Others (2001), Scream (1996), Equilibrium (2002), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), The Mist (2007), Death Proof (2007), 1408 (2007), Scary Movie (2000)

Future BMT: 86.5 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), 82.8 Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011), 77.4 Who’s Your Caddy? (2007), 76.9 Superhero Movie (2008), 70.6 Halloween II (2009), 70.1 Black Christmas (2006), 68.6 Pulse (2006), 66.9 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 64.9 Scary Movie 4 (2006), 61.8 Cursed (2005)

BMT: Scary Movie V (2013), Halloween: Resurrection (2002), Highlander: The Final Dimension (1994), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), My Boss’s Daughter (2003), Highlander: Endgame (2000), Dracula 2000 (2000), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998), Phantoms (1998), Texas Rangers (2001), Reindeer Games (2000), Mindhunters (2004)

Best Options (Action): 86.5 The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), 82.8 Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011), 76.9 Superhero Movie (2008), 66.9 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 37.6 Reindeer Games (2000), 37.0 The Brothers Grimm (2005), 33.0 Fortress (1992), 30.5 Gunmen (1993)

(Looking at this, am I disappointed that we didn’t have this algorithm to tell us The Crow: City of Angels was probably our best option? A little. But I also think Reindeer Games was a long time coming for BMT so ultimately I think I’m fine with it. Crushing dat early-2000s Dimension I have to say.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ben Affleck is No. 1 billed in Reindeer Games and No. 1 billed in Gigli, which also stars Al Pacino (No. 7 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) + (7 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 14. If we were to watch Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 8.

Notes – In October 2007, Charlize Theron said in an interview in Esquire magazine that “Reindeer Games” was her least favorite of all her films. She said: “That was a bad, bad, bad movie. But I got to work with John Frankenheimer. I wasn’t lying to myself – that’s why I did it.”

The film was cut by over twenty minutes before its original theatrical release date of December 1999 because of both a poor test screening and the MPAA’s objections over the infamous dart torture scene. John Frankenheimer’s preferred version was dark, gritty, and sexier. The film was released in Feburary 2000 in its shorter 104 minute version. Frankenheimer’s original version was released a year later with the twenty minutes restored on DVD as his “Director’s Cut”.

The character names Rudy and Nick are an allusion to the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from which this movie takes its title. Nick (St. Nicholas) orchestrates the entire plan, only to have Rudy (Rudolph) lead it.

At the time of shooting, Gary Sinise was romantically involved with Charlize Theron.

In the scene where Dana Stubblefield stabs Ben Affleck, Stubbie accidentally knocked Affleck down, causing a concussion. Filming had to be halted while Affleck recovered.

John Frankenheimer’s last feature-length, theatrically distributed film.

Alan Silvestri was hired in late 1999 to score the film after replacing Jerry Goldsmith, who left due to creative differences. Silvestri had only a month to score the film, with the music being recorded in early January 2000.

Originally planned for a Christmas 1999 release, but delayed until February 2000 after a poor test screening in mid 1999.

The music that plays during the scene where all of the Santas, including Ben Affleck, appear together at the poker table is “Sleigh Bells”, which is a tip off for the impending robbery.

Ashton Kutcher: as the man with whom Rudy (Ben Affleck) switches clothes, in the bathroom.

Mindhunters Quiz

Oh man, so get this. I was on my normal Spring retreat with my FBI serial killer profiler buddies, when I was guzzling some drugged coffee and fell asleep. I don’t remember a thing now! Do you remember what happened in Mindhunters?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film we see two of our profilers enter a super creepy house. How do they know this is the house they are looking for, and why do they go in without backup?

2) LL Cool J is a detective who is going to observe the exercise on the island. Where does he work and why is he going along? 

3) What is the MO of the fictional (?) killer The Puppeteer? And how does Christian Slater die? 

4) There are a few more deaths. How did they occur? As many as you can.

5) It gets a bit confusing now, but who was the killer and why?

Bonus Question: In a mid-credits tease for a sequel we see Sara Moore back home recovering from her ordeals when she receives a call. From whom?

Answers