The Game Plan Recap

Jamie

Joe Kingman is the star QB the Boston Rebels still in search of a championship. He’s selfish and arrogant, two things that don’t go very well with having a kid. Luckily he doesn’t… or so he thinks! That’s right! His daughter shows up and totes turns his life upside down. Can he learn to laugh and love (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Game Plan.

How?! ‘Never Say No’ Joe Kingman is the star QB of the NOT NFL pining for a NOT Super Bowl. Nothing will get in his way because he is selfish and arrogant and that’s a winning combination in his book. His arrogant selfish world is turned upside down, though, when the daughter he didn’t know he had shows up at his doorstep. All of a sudden he can’t have dates with terrible actresses pretending to be Russian, watch the big Celtics games with his bros, or open flashy restaurants with his celeb friends. Instead it is all ballet, dressing his macho dog in a dress, and sleeping on the couch for this dude. Pretty lame, right? Not so fast. Through it all he finds that perhaps the winning ingredient for his life wasn’t arrogance or selfishness, but was in fact… love. Awwww. He learns this valuable lesson and wins his way to the NOT Super Bowl, only to have his daughter taken away due to custody issues. Dismayed he plays like shit in the big game until his daughter shows up and is like “I don’t care if you’re injured. You better win or else I won’t be proud of you.” Or something to this effect. He storms back, wins the big game, wins the hearts of his fans and daughter and also her ballet teacher. Duh. THE END.

Why?! Now Joe Kingman thinks all he want in life is a championship because winning is everything and he’s an arrogant asshole. But he soon finds out that having a family is super important too awwwwww. His daughter just wants the love of a father… oh and also really wants him to win. Stop being such a wimp, Joe, and get back in that game. Your daughter is skeptical about the severity of your shoulder injury.

What?! Nary a product placement to be seen. Psych! This is more or less an extended commercial for ESPN and all of ESPN’s favorite personalities. It was great and terrible at the same time. Throw in some clips from our favorite Disney shows and people smashing Dasani’s left and right and you got a product placement classic.

Who?! God do I have to? There is almost too many cameos to list. Boomer Esiason and Marv Albert announce all the games in the film and Stuart Scott (and other ESPN personalities) are shown in clips throughout. A large number of sports reporters are seen in a press conference scene including John Clayton. Finally, Joe open a restaurant in the middle of the film which features most of the Celtics at the time (including Paul Pierce), the Maloof Brothers (weird), and other athletes like Eddie George. Oh and Joe’s bulldog is played by Tubbs. Awwwww.

Where?! It’s hard to remember a film more set in the Boston than this one. It is Boston 100% all the time. I wouldn’t typically give this an A because technically he could have also been playing for the *gasp* New York Dukes (say it ain’t so, Joe). Not required by the plot that it take place in Boston but… I’m gonna relent. This is a solid A setting.

When?! A little Secret Holiday Alert for this one as we open the film with the Boston Rebels making the playoffs and celebrating with a New Year’s Eve celebration. The rest of the movie takes place during the month of January as Joe pursues a Not Super Bowl. This is despite showing clips from a Celtics-Trailblazers game that took place on November 10th, 2004 (a buzzer beater by Pierce). So I guess in The Game Plan alternate universe this exact same game took place in January of 2007. A.

While this movie is perfectly fine as a bit of light family fun, and I’m sure Patrick will reiterate that point, I do have one major point to make: Is this not the exact same movie as Old Dogs? The very same movie that was one of the most absurd, great, and horrible things we’ve gotten to watch?  It’s pretty crazy how similar the plots are. A professional associated with the business of sports finds out he has a kid that he didn’t know existed and has to take care of her in a bachelor pad while his agent (friend) who thinks of the kid only as a hindrance attempts to help out. There are even specific details that seems crazy similar like how the mother of the kids in Old Dogs is going to jail for a little while protesting as an environmental activist, while the aunt of the kid in The Game Plan is flying off to the Sudan to bring fresh water to villages. They are both in this pickle not because they are bad but are in fact doing something noble? How strange. Is it possible that The Game Plan was some ripoff of a treatment for Old Dogs? I’m not going to speculate, but also that’s my speculation. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You know what most fish-out-of-water family comedies are missing these days? A sinister underlying social commentary about the link between sub-concussive blows to the head and long-term brain disease … Let’s get into it!

The Good – One of the best kid actors we’ve seen I think. She was preeeeeetty precocious. Dwayne Johnson, excluding the one time he tried to sing, was pretty okay as well. My heart was sufficiently warmed. Honestly, if you ignore all of the football stuff the film was actually not half bad.

Ps View on the Preview – This film is basically Old Dogs … but Old Dogs is crazy. Like super entertainingly bad. Somehow I knew it was impossible this could ever live up to that, but the parallels are ridiculous: A fish-out-of-water father needs to suddenly care for the child(ren) he never knew existed, but his high flying life in the sports entertainment industry just keeps on getting in the way! What a Fish Out of Water!!

The Bad – The football part of this film is at once ridiculous (the best is Dwayne Johnson just wandering onto the field in the middle of play forcing his coach to suddenly take an impromptu timeout in order to avoid a too many men penalty, presumably. Keep your head in the game Joe!) and also ludicrously entertaining. There is zero chance though that they would allow the star QB of the Boston Rebels (currently participating in the NFL playoffs) to just star in a Boston Ballet school performance. Mostly the film just felt pointless, a family comedy that just kind of doesn’t exist anymore.

Get Yo Rant On! – You can basically figure out the entire playoff bracket from this film. The Boston Rebels make the playoffs as a Wild Card in the AFC. They defeat Denver in Denver to start the playoffs. I think the most likely scenario is that the Rebels were the sixth seed because they (1) locked up their playoff spot in week 17 which is very late, and (2) the Steelers had just won as a sixth seed for the first time ever in 2005, so it makes sense that this might reflect on that a bit. This makes Denver the 3 seed having won the West. The Rebels then play the number one seed Indianapolis (who is helmed by Peyton Manning who exists in this universe), and then … and here’s the rant: it is extremely unclear who they play in the AFC Championship game. Online it says Baltimore … which I think makes sense only from a Baltimore-as-the-two-seed-from-the-North makes sense given the bracket, but still. You have to give me more! Who won the East for godsake!! You give me so much, and yet it only leaves me wanting more Game Plan!

The BMT – It could only really have a legacy by standing next to Old Dogs to prove that that films is as absurd as we think it is. The Game Plan is the same story but told in a reasonably coherent way, whereas Old Dogs is pure distilled lunacy. I think that is fun … but unlikely I’ll ever watch this again.

Welcome to Earf! – This is easy. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in this and Be Cool with John Travolta who was in Old Dogs with Robin Williams who was in Big Wedding with Robert De Niro who was in Righteous Kill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in  Here on Earth! Welcome to Earf!

StreetCreditReport.com – Of course this doesn’t have much street cred. I did find a list of The Rock films ranked from worst to best and this was 16th on that list. Interestingly they suggest Dwayne Johnson wore a tutu in the film. He did not, once again proving that most of the bad movie media is a vicious lie. Only trust The Bad Movie Twins for all of your Bad Movie Media needs.

No homework luckily, so I’ll leave it there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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The Game Plan Preview

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

The Game Plan (2007) – BMeTric: 25.9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poster – The Sklog Plan (D+)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Underclassman Recap

Jamie

Tre Stokes is a young cop hoping to make detective and sees his chance in an undercover gig at a local high school investigating the death of a student. Can he solve the crime, win the big streetball competition (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Underclassman.

What?! Tre Stokes don’t play by anybody’s rulez and that means he ain’t doing paperwork, he ain’t calling for backup, and he ain’t letting go of an investigation. When a new undercover gig comes about investigating the death of a teenager, Tre knows it’s his big chance at a break. He heads to an upper class, predominantly white high school posing as a student and almost immediately butts heads with the cool jocks. To ingratiate himself he helps take their premier streetball team straight to the top (not joking) and defends the main cool dude in a fight (writing this back it does sound a bit stereotypical). When he flubs a chance to take down a local drug dealer and then gets the police chief’s car stolen in a bungled sting operation, he is promptly fired. Despite this he never gives up and eventually tracks it all back to his cool kid friends who are part of a Fast & Furious style streetball/car stealing gang. Except in a twist it turns out they are being blackmailed by the principal who is stealing cars and dealing drugs to make quick cash (what a twist!). In a climactic boat chase scene Tre ends up totally murdering the guy and then totes makes out with his Spanish teacher… oh did I not mention that he and his Spanish teacher totally flirt the whole time in a weirdly inappropriate manner? Well they do. THE END.

Why?! Tre just wants to make his Pops proud by becoming a detective in the LAPD like he was. Unfortunately he hasn’t yet learned that rules=coolz (trademark, BMT Entertainment) so he’s pretty much the worst. As for the bad guy, he’s just a lowly principal of a prestigious urban private high school teaching the snobby kids of rich people. Guess what? It’s his time to make some sweet cash by dealing drugs and stealing cars. No chance this will backfire and totally end with him exploding.

What?! As Patrick mentioned there was a baby blue Chevy Corvette Stingray that is probably the most obvious products that we see in the film. I may have missed something though as I had tears streaming down my face following a truly glorious jetski, rugby, streetball, and paintball sports scenes combo. It was beautiful.

Who?! We get a brief shot of a house party near the beginning of the film where a band is playing. This must be some mega famous band to be featured in person in such a major motion picture, right? Nope. It’s a band called The Actual and the song they’re singing is so small that I couldn’t even find it on the internet to listen to. It is digitally unavailable. Interestingly the lead singer is the son of Nora Ephron… small world.

Where?! Califfooorrrnia Loo-ooove. Baaah-da-da-buh-buh-buh-buh. It’s apparently a law that films that take place in LA are required to play 2Pac’s California Love. We almost certainly could make an entire cycle of films that feature that song… you know if we hadn’t already watched like 5000 terrible movies. The setting is very prominent, but not necessary. B+.

When?! Uh… Autumn probably. We know the car shown being stolen in an opening scene was taken in October, so I would guess that this all took place in November. Not sure we could get any more specific than that. D+.

This film is like every cliche wrapped into one giant ball of garbage and rolled down the aisle of a movie theater (where I’m also rolling around at this point). I actually can’t believe people created it unironically. Like… Nick Cannon goes undercover at a prestigious, predominantly white high school where he immediately a) make a big splash on the school’s streetball team (?) and b) begins to romance the smoking hot Spanish teacher which is… problematic. But not according to Nick Cannon who when interviewed about the ethics of a teacher romancing a student, particularly in the case where “they’re 16 or younger, 17 I guess makes them legal, if they’re 16 I guess they’re a minor?” to which he responded, “Realistically I don’t personally, I don’t personally, as me – young guy got game. He can’t help it. Put it on the teacher, that’s every guy’s wish. I didn’t have any sexy teachers at my school.” Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. What? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! As a producer I wonder how many times you ultimately get a soft reboot of 21 Jump Street rejected. Once or twice, right? You have to throw it in there when a deadline approaches and you are out of ideas. Well guess what … someone actually made one in 2005! Let’s get into it.

The Good – The basketball scenes look reasonable enough. Like, I can believe Nick Cannon dunked a few times, and there are a few clear shots of actors hitting three point shots. Don’t ask me to guess how high the hoop was or whether they repainted the three point line though. That, sadly, is it. Well, besides this movie being bonkers and reviving my love for bad high school comedies that is!

P’s View on the Preview – I had to make a choice with this film. The wiki page was start class, but sorely lacking. A very unprofessional and short plot summary, and missing references. Do I close watch the film and fix it? Or do I just focus on BMT and ignore my growing passion for wiki film stubs? You betta belieb I close watched the shit out of this film. You’re looking at the foremost expert on Underclassman right here. Did you know Captain Delgado’s prized car was a 1965 Chevy Corvette Stingray named Juanita? Did you want to know that? Did you want to know that I knew that? Didn’t think so.

The Bad – The existence of this film is an enigma. Nick Cannon is just not suited for the role. The headmaster twist is telegraphed. Cannon macking the Spanish teacher is creepy. The reaction of Captain Delgado is off the chain (he at one point suggests Cannon should have shot a high school student in order to stop a carjacking … that is insane). Streetball. Rugby. Paintball. Jet skis. Boat chases. A designer drug called Bliss. A baby blue Chevy Corvette Stingray named Juanita … the movie is gloriously terrible. A glorious absurdity.

Get Yo Rant On – There is something profoundly creepy about the gall the producers in the mid-2000s had with the romantic lead in the film. Why? Why not make Tre fall in love with the Kelly Hu character or something, his undercover handler? Why a teacher? It is a profoundly disturbing statement about our society not even that long ago … although I think I would have still be creeped out in 2005 to be honest. It is just so weird. Why do this to me Underclassman? I loved you so much besides this one thing! Rant over.

Welcome to Earf – I am pretty sure this would have been impossible for me to do off the top of my head … except that the film was in our Chain Reaction category. So Keith Dallas was in both this film and I Spy starring Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews who was in Blended with Adam Sandler who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf!

The BMT – This so far is actually one of the top films for the first half of the year. Really silly enough to show to someone and they’ll immediately get why I love it. Trey goes undercover at an affluent predominantly white high school, joins the school street ball team and single-handedly wins several rounds. C’mon now!

StreetCreditReport.com – None, which I guess isn’t surprising. Given his limited filmography this even shows up on Nick Cannon’s best-of lists! It does get a random shoutout for being one of several films starting with “un” that year though.

No homework, but I wish there was a multi-season adaptation of this film into a television show. I can’t get enough. I don’t know what is wrong with me.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Underclassman Preview

Pacing the room and slamming Mountain Dew, Patrick and I brainstorm our barnburner of a film. Chris Klein has already signed on and our mind is on action (and plenty of it, you betta believe). However, when we open the door for our old bag of a stenographer we are taken aback. She’s no old bag at all! Quite the contrary! Did the company not see where we wrote “old bag” in the comment section? Oh well, being consummate professionals we get right to work. She’s efficient and hardworking and together we make quick work of the script. We shake hands with her and provide a glowing review to her temp agency. We offer each other some honest feedback for future improvement. Where boundaries may have been crossed in the name of romance, instead a beautiful professional relationship built on mutual respect had bloomed. After she departs we look at the script. It reads Rich & Poe and boy howdy do these hard-boiled detectives get into some deep undercover action in this action flick. That’s right! We’re watching Underclassman, the Nick Cannon 21 Jump Street knock-off where he’s a cop that has to infiltrate a high school. No doubt we’re gonna have some sweet inappropriate jokes about underage girls and teachers sleeping with students. Can’t wait. Let’s go!

Underclassman (2005) – BMeTric: 51.1

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(Wow that started amazingly low. Its creeped up to where I think maybe it should be (mid-4.0s, which is basically really fucking bad … but not so bad you’d have heard of it for being bad). Kind of amazing how hated it is though, I would have imagined this would have just gotten forgotten. Maybe because it was released just as IMDb was coming into their own? You can even see this plot starts basically right when the movie was released which is pretty stunning for a 2005 release. Look at the first scrape!)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Pause here for a Jack Webb “uh-huh”: Instead of being canned when he precipitates half a mile’s worth of car-chase damage, barely-literate cop Cannon is assigned to pose incognito as a student at a swanky prep school that’s been victimized by a car-theft ring. Few clichés are missed, including Cannon’s inevitable yen for the campus Spanish instructor (Sanchez). Script is in serious stupor, as if it has spent a month in a locked room with some of Cheech’s old stash.

(Jack Webb was in Dragnet which Leonard is kind of cryptically referencing. This is a very weird review, especially the end. I think Leonard just hates lazy cliché ridden garbage? There is almost no reason this is a BOMB considering some of the other passes he tends to dole out for simple nonsense.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB3rqT7X4Bw

(Ooooof, that looks absolutely terrible. Terrible race jokes. Terrible sex-with-the-teacher insinuations. Terrible sports scenes. Oh wait, did I say terrible? I meant I am very excited for this film.)

Directors – Marcos Siega – (Future BMT: Chaos Theory; Pretty Persuasion; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: He’s pretty exclusively a television producer/director. He directed a ton of The Following, Dexter, and Vampire Diaries among others. He’s also made quite a few television movies as well.)

Writers – Brent Goldberg (story & screenplay) and David Wagner (story) (as David T. Wagner & screenplay) (as David T. Wagner) – (Known For: The Girl Next Door; Future BMT: Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj; My Baby’s Daddy; Van Wilder: Party Liaison; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: These guys killed it in the early 2000s. They really dropped off the radar in 2005 though, here’s an interview concerning their collaboration from 2004.)

Nick Cannon (story) – (BMT: Underclassman; Notes: He actually has a ton of writing credits, but they are either on concert/music projects or the movies he’s been involved with don’t have enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I wish there was a way to know the level of involvement with the “story” Nick Cannon had though.)

Actors – Nick Cannon – (Known For: Chi-Raq; Monster House; Drumline; Bobby; Shall We Dance; Roll Bounce; The Killing Room; King of the Dancehall; American Son; Future BMT: Garfield; Love Don’t Cost a Thing; Whatever It Takes; Goal II: Living the Dream; Men in Black II; Even Money; Weapons; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: Was married to Mariah Carey for eight years, they had a pair of twins (heyyyyyoooo) in 2011.)

Shawn Ashmore – (Known For: X-Men: Days of Future Past; X-Men; X-Men: The Last Stand; X-Men 2; The Ruins; Mother’s Day; Frozen; Strike!; Mariachi Gringo; Future BMT: The Day; Hatchet II; Acts of Violence; Breaking the Girls; The Quiet; BMT: Underclassman; Notes: Played the Iceman in X-Men. Has a twin brother who has mostly been on television, including five episodes of Veronica Mars.)

Kelly Hu – (Known For: X-Men 2; The Scorpion King; The Doors; Strange Days; Americanese; Future BMT: Surf Ninjas; Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man; Wo zhi nv ren xin; BMT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Underclassman; Cradle 2 the Grave; Notes: Was a Miss Teen USA, born in Hawaii.)

Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $5,655,459 (Worldwide: $5,879,555)

(A complete and utter disaster. Kind of a wonder they released it at all. It was apparently delayed from 2004, so they certainly could have pushed it out onto cable. Although … I suppose the movie does skew a bit old for the Nick Cannon demographic. What a strange strange movie.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (5/83): Despite the appealing presence of Nick Cannon, Underclassman is a shopworn Beverly Hills Cop/ 21 Jump Street knockoff.

(Single digits baby. Nearly one hundred reviews as well, which is nothing to sniff at. That time, around 2005, was a weird time huh? Uwe Boll films, and Nick Cannon in actual movies. Wild. Reviewer Highlight: Almost comically unambitious, Underclassman seldom tries to be funny, and never even attempts to be original. – Nathan Rabin, AV Club)

Poster – UnderSklogins (D)

underclassman

(I find it incredibly weird that he’s holding his gun like that in the poster… he’s like casually pointing it at the audience. Put that away! You’re scaring the children! I kid because I love… how terrible this all is. Woof.)

Tagline(s) – A Comedy About Upholding The Law And Disturbing The Peace (C-)

Get Ready To Be Schooled (A-)

(Both are on the poster, both are getting judged. First one is terrible. Too long and self-referential like it’s from the old days or something. “A Comedy About…” really? Just do the joke you’re aiming for. Upholding the law and disturbing the peace… Underclassman. Boom. Easy. Second one is better. Clever, hints at the plot, short and sweet. I like it.)

Keyword(s) – undercover; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.3 Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994); 82.2 Barb Wire (1996); 81.1 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992); 74.9 Taxi (I) (2004); 73.6 Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993); 71.8 Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011); 70.4 Big Momma’s House 2 (2006); 70.3 On Deadly Ground (1994); 67.8 Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006); 65.5 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005);

(Big Momma Like Father Like Son best be there. We’ll probably hit all of these, although the Cable Guy movies will get a bit dicey. There are some things that kind of make you wonder “why am I doing this?” and I have a feeling watching the Larry the Cable Guy movies would be one of those things. Although, I have to admit … he was fine in Madea Christmas, so what do I know?)

Movie Stub – Underclassman (Start-class) – So when I got to this webpage the critical reception and box office response was jammed together. Also the entire thing sounded “non-encyclopedia” and it was suggested that the entire article be rewritten. I wouldn’t go so far, it had the proper structure, it was just a little loosey goosey with the lingo. Finally, I expanded the plot summary to a comfortable 410 words, and re-submitted the article for review. Viola, now that is a start-class wiki page! Actually, I think it is borderline C-class according to the quality guidelines, although some notes about production I think would be needed to put it over the top.

Notes – Originally set for a US theatrical release in 2004. Then two massive waves of layoffs were sustained at Miramax and Dimension, and the infamous Disney and Miramax split reached its height. This film thus remained in the Miramax vaults unreleased during this time of uncertainty. When the Disney and Miramax divorce was finally completed, numerous films under the Miramax and Dimension label were finally released theatrically. (I do love production issues, usually explains a lot)

The scene where Trey shoots Murdock and eventually tackles an undercover DEA agent which results in him explaining that Murdock can’t be a murder suspect because he was out of town on that date is extremely reminiscent of an exact same scene from Point Break (1991) where Tom Sizemore is the DEA agent. (fun fact?)

I Spy Recap

Substandard secret agent Alex Scott is paired with cocky boxing champ Kelly Robinson to recover a missing government weapon known as The Switchblade. Can they recover the weapon, stop the baddies, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… I Spy. Also test your super-spy powers with the quiz!)

Jamie

What?! Alex Scott is a bumbling stumbling spy ready to make his mark (a real Patrick type character). When a secret government weapon called The Switchblade is stolen, Alex is teamed with a cocky boxing champ with an oversized ego, Kelly Robinson (a real Jamie type character). With this Jamie and Patrick type team of super spies assembled they head to Hungary where it’s rumored that a terrorist baddy is trying to sell the weapon (a real Tolstoy type character). Through the fame of Kelly Robinson they are able to infiltrate the bad guy’s hideout and plant a tracking device on the terrorist, but nearly get caught and have to escape. The next morning they track the terrorist to a turkish bath, but it turns out to be a trap (oh no!) and Alex’s lady love is tragically killed. Angry and despondent, Kelly Robinson heads to his boxing match while Alex continues to track the weapon. He is able to find it hidden in plain sight through advanced cloaking technology, but is captured in the showdown with the terrorists (classic Patrick). In a giant twist it turns out his lady love didn’t actually die but was a traitor in league with the bad guy (what a twist!). When all seems lost Kelly Robinson (in a real Jamie move) comes to rescue and they are able to recover the weapon, albeit in the most stumbly bumbly way possible. Credits roll and we are promised a spy franchise to laugh and cry with for the next decade. THE END.

Why?! I mean… I guess it’s just Alex’s job so he has to try to stop the terrorist. He does have some hang ups about being considered a second rate spy and feels like he has something to prove in order to get with the lady spy he’s crushing on. As for Kelly he’s mostly just an egomaniac that wants a parade. Finally, the bad guy wants to sell The Switchblade for cash monies plain and simple. In fact, even after being informed that the weapon will be used by its buyer to drop a bomb on Washington DC he kinda just shrugs. He don’t care as long as he gets that cash.

What?! MacGuffin alert! The entire conceit of the film is the recovery of a super secret government plane nicknamed The Switchblade. It also has a cloaking device that makes it nearly invisible to the naked eye. While it is unclear why a plane would need that given they are detected with everything but the naked eye, the bad guys still seem pretty jazzed for it, so must be good and definitely not dumb.

Who?! I could talk about all the boxing related celebs that had cameos in this film, such as Sugar Ray Leonard, but I’m much more interested in the fact that the actual Mayor of Budapest made an uncredited appearance in this film. That is so perfect I feel like I should already give this film an A+ for setting. Oh, and the IMDb trivia claims Will Ferrell voiced a faux George W. Bush in a scene, but he is not credited or uncredited anywhere that I can find… so is it real? Can’t say.

Where?! Hungary, duh. 80% of the film takes place there and some major landmarks take center stage. A perfect grade A setting. Even more interesting are some of the minor settings such as our recently departed Monte Carlo and an opening that takes place in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is so rare that it’s very tempting just to use this film for that location too.

When?! I feel like some of our recent films has shaken my belief that the full setting for films are likely attainable as long as they aren’t purposefully obscured (a la The Tuxedo). But this film pulled me right back in. While there isn’t a huge amount of information available to place it, there is a newspaper where an article states that the baseball season has just opened and that the “three-time champ Yankees take up where they left off – winning.” This would place the events of the film around April 2, 2001. C+ as exact but obviously very hard to place.

Try to think of a film where you really liked the performances, but everything else in the film is cliched garbage. That’s this film. This was on the cusp of Eddie Murphy’s decline in Hollywood, but you still get a pretty solid, funny performance here (minus a couple politically incorrect jokes). Owen Wilson was really on the rise and certainly hits his comedic notes. Their dynamic worked and I think this film would have been successful if it weren’t for the fact that it was terrible. The plot is just bad and proceeds in a mundane, predictable way throughout. It seems almost like they thought “we have two superstars, don’t think too hard about the plot”… which is so on the nose I would actually believe that it happened. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I Spy is a film that dreams big, planning and yearning for that series, a new Shanghai Noon for us Owen Wilson-heads to revel in. Sadly, the American people are idiots who can’t even bother to appreciate the gifts bestowed upon them. Pshaw, sad. Let’s get into it!

The Good – This is probably one of the later films in the Eddie Murphy filmography where his kind of arrogant charm works. And Owen Wilson is an equal delight. It makes the film go along at a solid enough clip, and Budapest is indeed rather beautiful. And Eddie Murphy boxing is … shockingly believable.

P’s View on the Preview – This was a settings film through and through, half the notes were about how they wanted to film in Budapest because you never see Budapest in films. And this is very Budapest, all the way down to the final scene on the Chain Bridge. The only other thing of interest to me was the television angle, but I didn’t get a chance to do the homework to watch an episode of the old series, so it is basically impossible to comment.

The Bad – Despite all of the good I’ve said thus far I, uh, … did not like this film. It is a zero laugh comedy. It doesn’t really use Famke Janssen well, and the entire thing feels like an episode of a television show, and not a particularly good one. The film just washes off of me like water off of a duck’s back … I’ll probably forget we watched it in a couple of weeks.

Welcome to Earf – I’m still trying to figure out where I want to put this, but since I don’t have much to talk about concerning this film well … at least I’ll explain it. Like Jamie’s Phantom Zone from his Submersion podcast, the intent is to go from I Spy to Here on Earth, but I want to do it from memory, and only going from BMT films. For I Spy you can got to (1) Norbit via Eddie Murphy to (2) Blended via Terry Crews to (3) Jack and Jill via Adam Sandler to (4) 88 Minutes starring Al Pacino to (5) Here on Earth starring Leelee Sobieski. Welcome to Earf I Spy!

The BMT – Blah. The film is basically boring. It has a television angle, a buddy cop angle, Eddie Murphy, it is a ports film, and a war film, and a spy film … and it isn’t really a good-bad movie for any of them. It doesn’t have the legs beyond being yet another piece in the eventual complete Eddie Murphy BMT filmography project.

StreetCreditReport.com – Didn’t get much notice in the 2002 lists, but I did find it on a list of the 30 worst spy films where it got 13th. We need to step up our game because on this excellent list we’ve only seen seven films, which is a shame.

As I said above I didn’t get to the homework (again). I do promise I’ll get better, this month is just a tad bit hectic. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

I Spy Preview

While relaxing on the sun-soaked beaches of Monte Carlo, we are finally enjoying the fruits of their long backpacking trip through Europe. My open wound inflicted by the mutants is starting to burn and I have a taste for blood, but let’s not tell Patrick that (Why spoil the vacation?). While I contemplate my newly developed bloodlust, we are approached by a couple of G-Men that look like they mean business. “We have an urgent matter of national security. The President needs you to infiltrate the top secret meeting of high level terrorists in Budapest.” “Why us?” We ask. The G-Men smirk. “Because it’s known that the terrorist organizer is a huge fan of your website and work. He won’t be able to resist letting you into the party.” We both look at each other and know what has to be done, “We are not doing that. That sounds real dangerous.” But after they offer us $10 million dollars we find ourselves hiking to Budapest as newly minted agents of the United States government. That’s right! We’re watching I Spy this week. The Eddie Murphy/Owen Wilson vehicle is the Chain Reaction entry in the cycle jumping from Marmaduke through Owen Wilson. I think everyone forgot this film existed, which is almost a requirement of a BMT film. Let’s go!

I Spy (2002) – BMeTric: 51.3

ISpy_BMeT

ISpy_RV

(Very nice. Since I, Spy came out relatively long ago (relative to the internet archive at least) the most interesting thing to look at was probably whether the rating was still trending towards the mean with extra votes … not. This is a below-average film through and through. Nothing super special (sub-5.0), but decidedly below average.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  In-name-only reincarnation of the smart 1960s TV show (which starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby). Here, Wilson is an inept NSA operative who uses socky prizefighter Murphy as his cover to locate a secret weapon in Budapest. An object lesson in bad screenwriting, with an incoherent story and characters that make no sense; only the occasional comic riffs by Murphy and Wilson keep this from a complete disaster.

(TIL the difference between “object lesson” and “abject lesson”, good to know. Great semi-colon game by Leonard (as usual). I’m quite excited to see the “inept” NSA operative. These says that trope has been replaced by the bumbling pro. See: Brooklyn 99 where the very un-serious Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) seems bumbling, but is in fact an excellent detective. So will be nice to harken back to the bumbling fool paradigm.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma53Kps06cM

 

(Hmmm … even the trailer looks dull. I kind of like the style though. Murphy really did have a strange sort of arrogant charm back in the day, and despite the early 2000s terrible styles it still kind of looks cool in a weird way. The CGI looks dumb though.)

Directors – Betty Thomas – (Known For: Private Parts; The Brady Bunch Movie; Doctor Dolittle; Future BMT: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; John Tucker Must Die; 28 Days; BMT: I Spy; Notes: Part of Second City she was a regular on Hill Street Blues back in the day. She’s done a bunch of television movies more recently.)

Writers – Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin (characters) (as Morton Fine) – (Known For: The Pawnbroker; BMT: I Spy; Notes: Original writers for the original show. Both have been dead for nearly 30 years.)

Marianne Wibberley and Cormac Wibberley (story & screenplay) – (Known For: National Treasure; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; The 6th Day; Future BMT: The Shaggy Dog; G-Force; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Bad Boys II; BMT: I Spy; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle in 2004; Notes: Married writing team. Cormac is the son of Leonard Wibberley who wrote the Mouse That Roared and its subsequent sequels two of which were made into rather cooky British films in the 60s)

Jay Scherick and David Ronn (screenplay) – (Known For: Guess Who; Future BMT: The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Serving Sara; National Security; BMT: Norbit; Zookeeper; I Spy; Baywatch; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 2008 for Norbit; and in 2018 for Baywatch; Notes: Were at one point producers and writers on Spin City. Otherwise they are on quite the recent streak of films. Good for them, go get yo money.)

Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Mulan; Coming to America; Shrek; Shrek 2; Beverly Hills Cop; Trading Places; Tower Heist; Shrek the Third; Shrek Forever After; Life; 48 Hrs.; Dreamgirls; The Nutty Professor; Beverly Hills Cop II; Bowfinger; Doctor Dolittle; Boomerang; Imagine That; Dr. Dolittle 2; Future BMT: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps; Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man; Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; The Distinguished Gentleman; BMT: Norbit; Pluto Nash; I Spy; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child; A Thousand Words; Harlem Nights; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Harlem Nights in 1990; Winner for Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Supporting Actress for Norbit in 2008; Winner for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for I Spy, Imagine That, Meet Dave, Norbit, Showtime, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash; Nominee for Worst Director for Harlem Nights in 1990; Nominee for Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Couple for Norbit in 2008; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2003 for I Spy, Showtime, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash; in 2009 for Meet Dave; in 2010 for Imagine That; and in 2013 for A Thousand Words; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 2003 for I Spy, Showtime, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash; and in 2009 for Meet Dave; Notes: Recent reports put him as the third triplet in the Twins sequel that has been announced. Hopefully Arnold’s recent health issues won’t waylay this.)

Owen Wilson – (Known For: Wonder; Cars 3; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Cars; The Royal Tenenbaums; Inherent Vice; Wedding Crashers; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; The Darjeeling Limited; Midnight in Paris; Zoolander; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Meet the Parents; Night at the Museum; Bottle Rocket; Night at the Museum 2; No Escape; Marley & Me; The Cable Guy; Future BMT: Anaconda; Breakfast of Champions; Little Fockers; How Do You Know; You, Me and Dupree; Are You Here; Drillbit Taylor; Masterminds; Hall Pass; Father Figures; Free Birds; Cars 2; Meet the Fockers; The Internship; Behind Enemy Lines; Armageddon; BMT: Zoolander 2; The Haunting; Marmaduke; I Spy; Around the World in 80 Days; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for Zoolander 2 in 2017; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 2003 for I Spy; Notes: There were some question recently about why he isn’t in the new Wes Anderson film, but I never really heard the whole story. Can’t wait to see Father Figures though.)

Famke Janssen – (Known For: X-Men: Days of Future Past; X-Men; The Wolverine; X-Men 2; Taken; GoldenEye; X-Men: The Last Stand; The Faculty; Rounders; Lord of Illusions; Celebrity; Jack of the Red Hearts; The Wackness; Love & Sex; Made; The Gingerbread Man; City of Industry; Down the Shore; Turn the River; Noose; Future BMT: The Ten; Once Upon a Time in Venice; House on Haunted Hill; Hide and Seek; Taken 3; Deep Rising; Taken 2; Don’t Say a Word; This Is Your Death; Circus; The Chameleon; BMT: I Spy; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Notes: She’s a big animal rights activist. She was also very critical about her character of Jean Grey being recast for the new X-Men films, annoyed by them allowing Jackman and Stewart to appear and age gracefully while tending to replace women … kind of a fair criticism to be honest.)

Budget/Gross – $70 million / Domestic: $33,561,137 (Worldwide: $50,732,945)

(Bomb. $70 million … actually makes sense. This was right around when Murphy’s salary would have been sinking films that could have otherwise pulled in a modest return. This film should have had a $50 million budget maybe, considering the action sequences.)

#54 for the Action – Buddy Comedy genre

ispy_actionbuddycomedy

(Ha. Really right at the peak of the genre. The Tuxedo came out almost at the exact same time as well, along with Shanghai Knights the next year. Jackie Chan bringeth the genre up, and then it promptly crashed. Go figure. The highest grossing film we’ve seen for BMT is Another 48 hrs.)

#18 for the Comedy – Spy genre

ispy_spycomedy

(They killed this genre. It also probably also didn’t help that Bond went on a hiatus in 2002. With the rise of Bourne (a less … humorous spy thriller) the comedy possibilities probably went out of the window. Get Smart and then Spy probably brought the genre back … but I think it is dead again. I just don’t really see why a spy based comedy would be interesting at the moment.)

#67 for the Spy genre

ispy_spy

(Again completely died with the (terrible) Die Another Day. People like the Mission Impossible films at the moment, they kind of have that ridiculous Fast & the Furious vibe to it with the charismatic Tom Cruise lending it a bit more cred than, say, Transformers in the Action genre. The Tuxedo is, amazingly, the highest grossing BMT film in the series. Although high grossing spy films don’t tend to be terrible.)

#62 for the TV Adaptation (Live Action) genre

ispy_basedontv

(After the initial 90s swell (with BMT classics like The Beverly Hillbillies) this has been reduced to a kind of dull background noise in the releases every year. Baywatch and CHiPs are recent examples, and The Avengers made just about the same amount of money … rough.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 16% (21/133): Insipid and mirthless, I-Spy bares little resemblance to the TV series that inspired it.

(Big worgs Rotten Tomatoes. Mirthless is the name of the game in bad comedies though, and I’ve heard this is basically laugh free. Reviewer Highlight: As inept as big-screen remakes of The Avengers and The Wild Wild West. – Mark Rahner (Seattle Times) … fat chance, that is impossible.)

Poster – I Sklog (B+)

i_spy

(While I like the artistic spacing, font, and how they’ve used colors to wash out the “human” color palette, I find something about it a little cheap. Like I could have made this poster in my free time.)

Tagline(s) – Attitude meets espionage (B)

(Hmmmm, attitude meets espionage… is this a play on something? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get from mashing these two words together. Seems like a potential classic, sounds-like-a-tagline tagline… that isn’t really a tagline. But it is short and sweet and does what it meant to do.)

Keyword(s) – stealth; Top Ten by BMeTric: 64.8 10,000 BC (2008); 64.4 Stealth (2005); 51.3 I Spy (2002); 47.3 American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987); 46.8 American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1990); 46.6 Beverly Hills Ninja (1997); 22.1 Secret in Their Eyes (2015); 21.3 Surviving the Game (1994); 19.2 Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); 18.4 Act of Valor (2012);

(So … the entire American Ninja series? Tomorrow Never Dies, sadly, doesn’t qualify. But it would be nice to see some shitty ninja films. I feel like we still don’t do enough martial arts and western films)

Notes – At the request of director Betty Thomas, actor Darren Shahlavi lost thirty pounds so as to be the same size as Eddie Murphy during the boxing scenes. (what)

Actor-comedian Will Ferrell was the voice of American President George W. Bush when speaking to Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) over the telephone. (That makes sense, given the SNL connection)

The original / earlier draft(s) of the movie’s screenplay had the character of Kelly Robinson, who was later cast with Eddie Murphy, as a basketball player, but due to Murphy’s film industry stature, it was decided to change the character’s sport to boxing, and the character to a boxer. However, the dialogue interchange about the Harlem Globetrotters remained in the script and the finished film. (Wow, that … seems like an oversight)

Initially, star Owen Wilson admitted he was a little nervous about performing opposite comedy legend Eddie Murphy, who was one of his comic idols. Wilson said: “This is the first time I’ve had to work with someone who is so incredible at improvisation. At first, it was difficult to keep up with Eddie. But slowly I started playing off his riffs. I don’t know if that’s what people mean by on-screen chemistry. To me it’s a feeling that you are really in a groove with what the other guy is doing.” (This is an anecdote from a late night appearance for sure)

The characters from the I Spy (1965) source TV series are reversed in this movie version. In the original television series, Kelly Robinson (not Alexander Scott) was the white guy and the athlete, while Alexander Scott was the black guy and the non-athlete. However, in both cases though, the Bill Cosby / Eddie Murphy character was a less experienced spy than the Robert Culp / Owen Wilson character.

The palace of Malcolm McDowell’s character Arnold Gundars, is actually the “Hungarian Royal Palace”, which is also sometimes known as “The Buda Castle”, it having being for centuries home to a number of generations of the royalty of Hungary. (I’ve been there)

The canine in the final scene was actually Famke Janssen’s dog who had the name of “Licorice”. (Great dog name)

Like actor Owen Wilson, actress Famke Janssen got to spar with comedy star Eddie Murphy on screen, a process Janssen, like Wilson, also found daunting at the outset. She said: “There’s a scene in which Eddie and I first meet and he just kept tossing lines at me and I kept going with it. It was really scary, but once I got used to it, a lot of fun as well.” (Whoever was filling up this notes section had just seen or read a giant profile on the film)

The acronym “BNS” stood for The Bureau of National Security. (coooool, I do love facts though)

[NOTE: There are a bunch of notes here which is basically a long profile on the production … just go read the IMDb notes or, better yet, find the source article if you want to learn about it]

In the source I Spy (1965) television series, Bill Cosby portrayed a tennis pro and, for a time, the filmmakers considered making the character of Kelly Robinson in this movie version an international tennis champion. Basketball was also considered, though producer Jenno Topping considered both sports too visually confining for the purposes of a big screen story on an international scale. It was star Eddie Murphy who suggested that his character of Kelly Robinson be a championship boxer, a sport to which he was well suited. Murphy said at the time: “I’ve done some boxing and my father was a boxer, so I already had a background in the sport.” Murphy trained in boxing for several months prior to this picture’s production. Director Betty Thomas said: “Having an actor with a natural ability for a sport was a real asset. It opened up the film in a much more exciting way than tennis or basketball. Having Eddie getting the blows and making the hits had a lot more impact than creating shots in which I would have to rely on stunt doubles.” Stunt Co-ordinator Brent Woolsey added: “Eddie was so coordinated that it made the boxing sequences much easier to execute.” (I left this in though. Pretty interesting that Murphy was boxing at the time).

Principal photography began on 12th September 2001, in Budapest, Hungary. Taking a cue from the original I Spy (1965) television series, producer Andrew G. Vajna decided that this movie version should be set in an “exotic location to create a sense of real excitement in the audience”. Vajna added: “We haven’t seen Eastern Europe used much in action films, especially Hungary. Budapest has been used in movies before, but never as Budapest. It has generally been used as a substitute for Paris or some other European capital. So for the audience it was an entirely new experience. And it just so happens that Hungary is my home.” (Awesome, I do love this fact as well. I’m learning so much about this film … why can’t all of the notes be like this actually? This is super interesting stuff).

The grounds of the Buda Castle were so extensive that the production’s first and second units were filming on either side of the castle at the same time. Producer Mario Kassar said: “It was an amazing feat. In some ways it was surprising that we didn’t trip over each other. Action is taking place on one side, and on the other [director] Betty [Thomas] is tackling all the great character stuff.” (It is enormous … did I mention I’ve been there? Oh I did? Well I went there and just wanted to say I agree with the above statement).

No stunt or acting doubles were used in the scenes where Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) is seen boxing.

First Assistant Director Richard Graves engineered the prototype model of the Switchblade fighter plane from piecing together bits and parts from his son’s plastic jet model kits.

According to the IFC website, “the movie was originally supposed to take place in Prague [in the Czech Republic]. Instead, the movie shot on location in Budapest, Hungary, because the film’s producer, Andrew G. Vajna, lived there” and “was eager to use her hometown as the setting because she had never seen it depicted in a Hollywood movie before.” (Prague would have worked as well. It is pretty rare in films it turns out, no big bad films are explicitly set there as far as we can tell).

It was Eddie Murphy’s idea to sing Marvin Gaye’s famous song “Sexual Healing” for the romantic scene where Special Agent Alex Scott (Owen Wilson) romances Special Agent Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen). In this sequence, Murphy vocally coaches Wilson the words like in the classic story “Cyrano de Bergerac”.

The four short DVD behind the scenes documentaries about the making of this motion picture are entitled: I Spy: The Slugafest (2003); I Spy: Cloak & Camouflage (2003); I Spy: Gadgets & Gizmos (2003); and I Spy: Schematics & Blueprints (2003). (Which is where I assume all of these notes came from)

The name of the title that boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) held was “Super Middleweight Champion”. (These guys have so many facts on here)

The name of the stolen military fighter-plane which had a cloaking device was the “Switchblade”.

The name of the sporting tournament league that boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) competed in was the “Global Boxing League”.

Reportedly, the ending was re-shot Monte Carlo after test audiences stated that they wanted to know what happened to Special Agent Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen) after she betrayed both Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) and Special Agent Alex Scott (Owen Wilson). (Perfecto. We get to literally go from Monte Carlo to Budapest).

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Eddie Murphy, Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel

Marmaduke Recap

Jamie

It’s a big dog in a new city when Marmaduke moves from Kansas to LA. Can this dog navigate the cliques at the local dog park, help his owner get the bg marketing deal done, and maybe get the girl? Find out in… Marmaduke.

How?! Marmaduke is loving life in Kansas with his family, the Winslow’s. How do we know? Why he talks directly to the camera of course. Great! When the patriarch of the family, Phil, gets a new high-powered marketing job offer in Cali the family is pretty skeptical, Marmaduke most of all, but takes the risk anyway. Phil is tasked with getting a big deal done with Petco to market an organic dog food nationwide and is pretty stressed. Meanwhile Marmaduke finds himself relegated to the “mutt” clique at the dog park and is harassed relentlessly by the alpha dog Bosco and crushing hard on the local hottie Jezebel. With the help of his friend Mazie, a rad dog surfing competition, and a staged fight with his cat friend Carlos, Marmaduke breaks through with the cool crowd. Hooray! At the same time Phil continues to struggle with his work-life balance. This is further thrown out of kilter when Marmaduke throws a huge rager and ruins the house. Sent to the back yard as punishment Marmaduke runs away thinking he’s just a bad dog  and no one loves him anymore. A distraught Winslow family goes off in search (his garbage plot point of a job be damned) only to find Mazie and Marmaduke sucked into a sinkhole (for real). Jumping in after him (like an idiot), Phil almost dies but I guess it’s cool because he doesn’t and saves Marmaduke instead. A video of Phil saving Marmaduke goes viral, Petco loves it and gives him the big deal, and everyone lives happily ever after. THE END.

Why?! At its essence the film is a high school comedy (about a giant gangly dog that literally doesn’t fit anywhere) meaning that the motivation is primarily to fit in. Marmaduke wants to be part of the cool crowd and most of the plot centers on how he goes about accomplishing that. Only at the end does he realize that friends are what truly matters, not being cool. The rest of the plot and motivations are meaningless kids film garbage to the highest degree.

What?! The obvious candidate is Petco, which is the name brand associated with Phil’s big marketing deal all the kids can’t wait to hear more about. Enough with the cute talking puppies! How will Phil figure out how to expand a regional brand to the middle of the country?! Gah!

Who?! The film is Fergalicious… what’s Fergalicious? Well apparently its definition is “make them boys go loco.” I certainly went loco once I found out that Fergie from our beloved Black Eyed Peas voiced the temporary love interest of Marmaduke. Not sure why the rest of Black Eyed Peas weren’t represented in the voice cast. I was less loco about that.

Where?! Caaaalllifffoorrrnia. Early contender for Location as a Character award for next year’s Smaddies Baddies. This is about California all day and every day and even has a scene where Marmaduke watches an episode of The OC in preparation for his big move… it was terrible but also reminded me how much I liked The OC so I was OK with that. A.

When?! I believe Marmaduke exists outside of time. Really there were few spots to even look for a date as we were mostly dealing with dogs that have little use for time. I didn’t see one, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one. Still, it currently stands at an F.

Not unexpectedly this movie is a pile of trash meant to get kids in the theater (but who cares what they think or care after than. Also welcome to hell, parents.). Much like Nine Lives, this boasts a ridiculous storyline that aims to interest kids in… pet food marketing? It really begs the question why kids films often have plots that are more boring than a car commercial. What isn’t questioned is our wisdom in bringing kids films back in the BMT fold. They are ridiculous and good for a bunch of bad movie tropes that I sorely missed: 1. Fart jokes 2. People getting hit in the balls 3. Inexplicable music videos 4. Things that are mildly racist. Children are basically a bunch of terrible people laughing at the misfortune of others and it can be fun sometimes to harken back to when we too were blissfully ignorant of how terrible we are as people. Not so fun when the film is Marmaduke though. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Oh what a life I live. A wonderful family, a good job, and, of course, a fun and exciting hobby to keep me occupied. Watching bad movies is a breeze. I wonder what we are watching today … Marmaduke? … Welp, it was a good run boys, pack it in. Sigh, why can’t I quit you BMT? Let’s get into it.

The Good – I liked Judy Greer, and William H. Macy in this. And the voice cast is off the chain. Other than that this movie is a big pile of dog poo shoved forcefully into my face. So, no, I refuse to discuss anything else “good” about this film. As somewhat of a departure I’m actually going to skip a game here so that I can write a longer remake in the next section.

The Bad (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Pheeeew giant doggie. Let’s see, the story line is a classic A/B kid’s combo. The A story is that of Marmaduke, a dog from the Midwest just trying to find a place in his new home of Los Angeles. The B is that of a man trying to build a better life for his family as the marketing director for a dog food company. Why kids would have any interest in B I have no idea. The animated animals look terrible, like really bad. The jokes aren’t funny. The story makes little sense. The film ends with an aggravating sequence of Lee Pace saving Marmaduke and everyone living happily ever after. But I have to Remake it. I have to. In my remake the fundamental storyline is roughly the same, Lee Pace is a marketing director for a dog food brand who is trying to woo Midwestern customers. He loves his dog Marmaduke, despite the fact that he never listens to him, and within the inner monologue it is revealed that Marmaduke is basically afraid of everything and that is why he never listens to his owner. This also makes him an outcast at the dog park: he is a gentle giant who tends towards fear, and that gets him bullied. But Lee Pace’s new client loves Marmaduke: he is so goofily large. They insist that Marmaduke be in the commercial. This interferes with Marmaduke’s social status because the alpha dog in the park is the top dog actor in Los Angeles. Combine this with the fact that Marmaduke runs wild after trying to be coaxed into a trick during the commercial shoot and this dooms Lee Pace’s chance at making a good impression with his boss. Marmaduke, sad about his owner being mad at him and his friends all feeling betrayed by his sudden celebrity, decides to run away. When Marmaduke sees his friend-dog get swept away in a river he jumps after her realizing only his bravery can help his friend. Stuck in the roiling river Marmaduke is afraid and doesn’t know what to do, but there is his owner yelling for Marmaduke to trust him and to “come”. Marmaduke loves his owner, and takes the plunge, trusting that following his orders will save his life, which it does. Lee Pace convinces the dog food company that featuring “real” dogs in their ads is what will convince Midwestern owners to buy their food. The dog park rejoices because now all of the dogs, not just the beautiful purebreds, get to share in the Hollywood dream. The End.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This piles in with things like Furry Vengeance, Nine Lives, and Dudley Do-Right for sure. It is probably best paired with Nine Lives because of how they use a very not-kid friendly B-plot to propel the story illogically forward. Someday I think we’ll kind of cut through our issues with kids’ films and really get to dig into them a bit, and Marmaduke, being objectively bad and having that B-plot adults can latch onto, would be right up there as some of the best-worst we’ve seen. As for street cred, I think kids’ films can kind of duck under the fray a bit. But Marmaduke did make the AV Club list for the year, so that is actually pretty impressive all things considered.

As far as adaptations I’m not sure what to say. The original strip is just kind of about a big dog … so they nailed that I think. Not to toot my own horn, but I think the remake I proposed would have done a bit better job at least highlighting Marmaduke being too big and uncooperative for the owner to handle, which … is kind of all the strip is about really. I would give the adaptation a C-, it is fine, it is passing, but it doesn’t even really get the one thing it needed to get right right, so I have to punish it for that.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs