Eraser Recap

Jamie

John Kruger is The Eraser tasked with protecting Lee Cullen from a vast conspiracy of eeevil weapons developers, arms dealers, and *gasp* maybe even his own colleagues in the witness protection agency (spoiler alert). Can he stop all the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Eraser.

How?! John Kruger is a witness protection agent who is all about protecting the good guys and erasing the bad guys. In this case the good guys include Lee Cullen, a whistleblower at a defense contractor who blows the whistle about an experimental rail gun that may or may not be being sold to a big time arms dealer. When she makes off with a copy of the plans all the evildoers get after her real quick. But John won’t let that happen and despite lightspeed bullets flying around is able to get Lee out of there. Erasing her identity, John helps Lee get to a safe house in NYC while he goes off to try to figure out what’s going on. Returning to WITSEC, his friend and colleague Robert tells him their witnesses have been compromised by a mole and they go off to protect them. Little does John know that Robert is in on the conspiracy (what a twist!) and he gets drugged, but not before sending an alert to Lee. Waking up on the plane as it heads into NYC, John is able to get himself and parachute and chute his way out of there. Running off to the Central Park Zoo, where he told Lee to go in case of emergency, he is able to kill a bunch of baddies and get Lee out of there. With the help of one of John’s other witnesses they infiltrate Lee’s workplace where they are able to hack the mainframe and reveal that the big gun deal is going on that night in Baltimore! Luckily they got an in at the docks and they infiltrate the deal. They take down the bad guys in a big climactic scene and bust the conspiracy! But that’s not all, they also kill the guys at the top just when it seems like they might get away with it all. Hooray. THE END.

Why?! I think how Arnold explained it was that they needed a weapon that audiences would understand is real scary. Enter the EM rail gun that totally, definitely shoots aluminum bullets the speed of light… like for sure. The bad guys want to sell it for money. John and Lee want to stop them cause it’s scary (and I get that). Thanks, Arnold.

Who?! While I’d like to make the case that this is the best portrayal of the Deputy Secretary of Defense ever put to film, I think the obvious primary note here is that Vanessa Williams was really a musician-turned-actress. Her debut album was a giant hit and she continued to make music for decades. She didn’t really make her big acting splash until the 90’s.

What?! I feel like Pepsi has been crushing it in the BMT product placements lately. This is a pretty good one too cause it kinda plays into the plot. You see, James Caan hands Arnold a water and he’s all like “oh, thanks.” Then another guy, suddenly feeling parched and liking Arnold’s water drinking moves, swoops in for a bottle of his own and Caan is like no, no, no have this refreshing Pepsi instead. And that’s how the audience knows something dastardly is afoot. More interesting than this rail gun prop, right?

Where?! We jet around a little. Most of the action takes place in Washington D.C. and nearby locations, including Virginia and Baltimore. We get a few scenes in NYC, highlighted by a romp through the zoo. Overall it’s really not bad given the high level advanced weaponry and corruption that is at the heart of the plot. Does feel like D.C. is at least somewhat vital. B+. 

When?! Sometimes you get a sense that it’s not worth pursuing the temporal setting of a film. When I saw that Arnold typed in the command for a computer to tell him when a weapons deal was going to occur and the computer responded “TODAY,” that’s a clue that I need to call it a day on figuring this film out. F… for now.

This movie is real dumbo for sure… but also kind of fine in a big dumb way. Like everything about it is pretty much the stupidest thing you could imagine. To the point where you start to think they were in on the joke. But then you watch an interview with the director and he seems pretty serious about it all. The fact that it was unironically made is incredible and kind of beautiful. The last vestiges of the 80’s crossing the finish line before things started to get a bit tongue in cheek. So thank you Eraser. You are a beautiful masterpiece that the world needs more of… no wait, I’m not finished. Arnold seriously delivers one-liner after one-liner and no one is rolling their eyes at him. I saw Jungle Cruise recently and The Rock does the same thing except everyone has to comment on how bad the lines are. No thank you, give me this pristine piece of unspoilt art. Big fan of Eraser. As for Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe? Hugely disappointed. I was really anticipating this movie but it comes off pretty cheap and while Jesse Ventura is indeed insane, it’s got a whiff of White Comanche about it. Just a one trick pony centered around a robotic, rattail wearing Jesse Ventura. Everything else is just… a cheap movie. Not even a single laser beam shot out of his eye either. Sigh. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Arnold! With got magic lightspeed rail guns! We got a conspiracy that goes right to the … Under Secretary of Defense? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – It is pretty stunning that I had never seen this film. With the enthusiastic review of “super dumb film” by Jamie it was time to pop some popcorn, pop in Eraser, and go on a datenight! Sorry boo, it’s my birthday and we are watching Eraser tonight! What were my expectations? The dumbest movie of all time, but outside of that Arnold being Arnold and flexing and shooting people and making me laugh.

The Good – Arnold flexed, and quipped, and was an American hero, and stopped the lightspeed guns from getting in the Bad Guys’ hands. The second film in a month where someone falls out of an airplane without a parachute and survives. Bad CGI Alligators. A conspiracy. Plausibly offensive caricatures of Italian Americans. Did I mention magic lightspeed guns … at one point I swear to god the person mentions the gun speeds up bullets to nearly the speed of light. THE SPEED OF LIGHT! I think if that were true the Earth’s atmosphere would instantly ignite when it was shot. I’m not joking. Back of the envelope, even pushing the definition of “nearly” and using a normal sized bullet the result would be a large nuclear explosion if the bullet hit the Earth. That’s a bad gun Arnold, you better stop it! Best Bit: Lightspeed guns which somehow don’t destroy all life on Earth in an instant.

The Bad – Nothing, did you read the previous paragraph? This movie is perfection. But I guess if I haaaaaaave to say something bad about the film. The CGI alligators, in addition to being rad and having major ‘tudes, look terrible, and some people might say that that is bad. And yeah, fine, the whole “let’s kidnap the damsel in distress just to make sure the good guy HAS to come and stop us for sure” is a terrible plan. And yes, the idea that the Under Secretary of Defense wants to sell magic guns which can kill instantly at range to literal terrorists … I mean, how could that possible bite the US in the ass, right? In other words, fine … this is the dumbest film of all time. But is that actually bad? Fatal Flaw: You will lose IQ points watching this film, but sacrifices must be made in the name of art.

The BMT – The film is extremely amusing, and quintessentially 90s action schlock. In that sense it is great. In another sense it definitely makes you think “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” And in a final sense, I miss vintage Arnold, we really don’t get action stars like him and Sly anymore, pumping out ridiculous one-off hits on their personal brand. It’s great. Did it meet my expectations? Exceeded them. I think it helps that the film isn’t actually that bad. Even critically it was pretty well received. It is just exceedingly dumb. But that’s fine. I’m pretty convinced this movie would get in the 50s or 60s on Rotten Tomatoes today. People had higher standards for films back then.

Roast-radamus – Literally wall to wall Product Placement (What?) with AT&T, Pepsi, and multiple random water companies, which was really some wild stuff. Unfortunately this is practically a roadtrip film. I would have liked it to get a good DC setting, but it doesn’t really qualify in that regard. Same goes with the MacGuffin, if they had kept the guns a secret instead of busting it out early it would have worked better. I will give a Worst Twist (How?) nod for the reveal of James Caan as the bad US Marshal. BMT for sure.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – We have to do it, it’s a BMT Crossover Episode! Sasha Petrosevitch is in trouble, he might be half past dead, but he would really like to not be whole past dead after he witnesses the murder of the President of the United States by the Vice President himself! Well, here comes Anold and Vanessa to save the day! They put Sasha into witness protection … in future Alcatraz! Whoa, deja vu! But Arnold then learns that the Vice President has put out a black market full amnesty for anyone who can kill Sasha, which means it is an all out war among the death row inmates to kill Sasha first! Arnold and Vanessa need to infiltrate the island prison a la The Rock, and meanwhile Sasha needs to survive a prison riot a la Half Past Dead 2! At the end of the film they take down the president and Sasha reveals that Arnold and Vanessa are half past dead due to the exploits of Eraser, and they become the Erasers for the crew. Half Past Erased: Back to the Rock. I have to start compiling this into a set of films, because in reality once I hit around 23 I’m going to pitch it as a television series to CBS.

Bring a Friend Analysis – A pretty interesting one it would seem with Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. It stars Jesse Ventura who is absolutely awwwwwwwwful in the film. I was shocked, because wasn’t he in other actual films like Predator? I don’t remember thinking he was especially bad in the beginning of that. But here he may have already crossed the rubicon to insanity, because his choices in this film are not the choices of a normal human being. The film is surprisingly low budget for what I had imagined prior to watching. And in the end it is a simplistic Terminator knock-off. There is really not much to it. The cameo by Belushi (who was married to the star of the film) is off the wall, he plays a principal who is very insensitive while trying to pull the mute child out of school because people are bullying him … okaaaaay. That is pretty much how we thought of things in the 90s huh? Fun Christmas film though, and slightly amusing to watch Ventura “act”. C+. Mostly it suffers by not living up to expectations. How can Jesse Ventura and Arnold’s stunt double both be so bad at acting?

You Just Got Schooled – Incredibly this film doesn’t have a television remake. Even more incredibly it does have a really really bad Full Motion Video rail shooter released in 1998 that barely works! It’s called Eraser – Turnabout, and once again I had to obtain cd iso rips from the original game. This time I had to very specifically get a Pentium MMX chip, and also (and this is important) turn off the DirectX hardware acceleration! It took me ages to figure that out. It doesn’t break the game, but it does make the images/movies flash weirdly and makes the game very unpleasant to play. Well … the game is always unpleasant to play. There are a series of different bits to the game. It starts off a little like a standard arcade shooter, but then moves into a rail shooter (more like Area 51 if you remember that game). Very much like the Virus game for the Playstation it is mindbending that anything like this would have ever been made. Who is the audience? People who can be tricked into buying it by accident? It only ever got reviewed in German magazines, so maybe it was literally just a fake tie-in to leverage the mega-stardom of Arnold in second markets … but he isn’t even in it? F. Would not recommend it on any level (unless you are trying to teach yourself about emulating old-school PCs from the late 90s).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Eraser Quiz

Oh man, so here’s the thing. I went into witness protection, which was great because I have this really fun handler named John Kruger. He’s great. But then some high up government people broke into my house and bopped me right on the head! Now I can’t remember a thing … my memory has been erased! Wait, is that why they call this movie Eraser? I honestly can’t remember. Do you remember what happened in Eraser?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams) is working with the FBI to take down Cyrez, a defense contractor. What weapon has Cyrez developed and what illegal thing are they doing with it?

2) John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzeneggar) is a U.S. Marshal for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC). Where does Kruger stash Lee, and where are they to meet if something bad happens?

3) Welp, something bad happened! A bunch of witnesses are getting killed across the country. Why, and who is doing it?

4) Why do Lee and Kruger have to break back into Cyrez and how do they do it?

5) The final showdown is in what city, and how does the witness Johnny Casteleone help Kruger to take down the bad guys? What ultimately happens to the bad guys?

Bonus Question: Where does Lee end up after the final testimony in the treason trial against the Under Secretary of Defense?

Answers

Eraser Preview

“I shouldn’t have wasted time talking to you,” says the woman cat burglar, “I should have listened to my mama and never talked to strangers.” Clutch smiles to himself, great minds. “Well, lady,” he says, holding out his hand, “the name is Clutch. Clutch Guthrie. See? Now we’re not strangers.” The cat burglar smirks and takes his hand, “Katherine Lattimore, but I still think my mama would tell me to steer clear of you.” Suddenly they hear a soft cough and they turn to see the Wishmaster waiting impatiently. “If you two are done with your introductions I’d appreciate it if you grant me one wish: hand over the gold,” he says with a sneer. Kat and Clutch look at each other and nod, turning their handshake smoothly into a spinning flying double scissor kick. “Oh no! Not a spinning flying double scissor kick! The only thing that can stop my wishes!” screeches The Wishmaster.

Patrick looks at the last passage and feels like it doesn’t seem exactly right. Has he given The Wishmaster enough backstory for the reader to understand why a spinning flying double scissor kick would be the only logical thing to defeat his wish power? Being a professional writer who writes very professional passages like the one above, these are the types of questions that can take hours to answer. Everything must be tight. He reaches for his eraser but pauses. Does he have time? At this very moment that piece of shit hack Manfred Long is also writing his story. But when he looks at Manfred he’s still deep into his Quickening brought on by his use of the Obsidian Dongle. His page is also curiously blank. Patrick shrugs and grabs the eraser. Now what needs to be modified to get his point across? That’s right! We are doing the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Eraser. We weren’t quite at the tail end of the Arnold heyday, but we were on the verge. This is part of the chain going through John Snyder. Let’s go!

Jamie swoops down on his hang glider towards the hack jack port. A cyborg flies in to intercept, but Kyle knocks him out of the way and winks his classic Kyle wink. Hack jacking his way like the jack master he is, Jamie enters Party Town, USA… the world where he and Kyle make the rules and are guardians of the universe. That’s right! We are pairing Eraser with Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe starring Jesse Ventura… but also featuring Jim Belushi, star of K-9. Pretty great. Let’s go!

Eraser (1996) – BMeTric: 30.2; Notability: 103

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 21.2%; Notability: top 0.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 36.6%; Higher BMeT: Barb Wire, Kazaam, Striptease, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Bio-Dome, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, Ed, The Crow: City of Angels, The Stupids, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Poison Ivy II, Solo, Jingle All the Way, The Glimmer Man, Eddie, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Maximum Risk, and 33 more; Lower RT: The Dentist, Ed, Big Bully, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, Ripe, Bio-Dome, Kazaam, Faithful, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Bulletproof, Eye for an Eye, Solo, Celtic Pride, House Arrest, Mrs. Winterbourne, Larger Than Life, Two If by Sea, The Glimmer Man, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, and 66 more; Notes: I’m pretty surprised this is even as low as a 6.1 on IMDb, I would have thought it would have been mid-6 for sure. That notability is gaudy.

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – It helps to have a short attention span while watching “Eraser,” the new Arnold Schwarzenegger picture. … “Eraser” is more or less what you expect, two hours of mindless nonstop high-tech action, with preposterous situations, a body count in the dozens, and Arnold introducing a new trademark line of dialogue (it’s supposed to be “Trust me,” but I think “You’re luggage” will win on points). Thinking back over the film, I can only praise the director’s restraint in leaving out the canary.

(I’m liking the sound of that. A big dumb Arnold actioner that I’ve somehow ever seen? You know those are an endangered species unfortunately.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYfiV8rb3fA/

(The trailer not explaining the magic gun while showing the magic bullet-time shots is hilarious. And once they basically bust out the Prodigy techno in the trailer is also incredible.)

DirectorsChuck Russell – (Known For: The Mask; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors; The Scorpion King; The Blob; I Am Wrath; Junglee; BMT: Eraser; Bless the Child; Notes: His directorial efforts are few and far between these days, although he is tapped for three films at the moment the crappy looking Bruce Willis feature seems like the most likely to actually get made by him.)

WritersTony Puryear – (BMT: Eraser; Notes: An artist as well, he created the campaign poster for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign which is now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.)

Walon Green – (Known For: WarGames; Dinosaur; The Wild Bunch; Sorcerer; The Border; The Brink’s Job; The Hi-Lo Country; Morituri; Crusoe; BMT: Solarbabies; RoboCop 2; Eraser; Notes: Wrote and produced a ton of Law & Order over the years. Was nominated for an oscar for The Wild Bunch, and won for his documentary The Hellstrom Chronicle)

Michael S. Chernuchin – (BMT: Eraser; Notes: Wrote and produced  a bunch of the Law & Order series, including being nominated for 4 Emmys in connection with the series.)

ActorsArnold Schwarzenegger – (Known For: Predator; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Terminator: Dark Fate; Total Recall; The Terminator; True Lies; Conan the Barbarian; Commando; The Expendables; Last Action Hero; The Running Man; Escape Plan; Kindergarten Cop; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; The Expendables 2; Twins; The Long Goodbye; Iron Mask; The Last Stand; The Rundown; Future BMT: Terminator Genisys; End of Days; Collateral Damage; Junior; BMT: Batman & Robin; The Expendables 3; Red Sonja; Conan the Destroyer; Around the World in 80 Days; Eraser; Raw Deal; Sabotage; Jingle All the Way; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 1983 for Conan the Barbarian; in 1994 for Last Action Hero; in 2000 for End of Days; and in 2001 for The 6th Day; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 1998 for Batman & Robin; in 2001 for The 6th Day; in 2005 for Around the World in 80 Days; in 2015 for The Expendables 3; and in 2021 for Tayna pechati drakona; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The 6th Day in 2001; Notes: Y’all know Arnold. He’s slated to be in a new Twins film and a new Conan film which is exciting. Mr. Olympia from Austria and one of the biggest blockbuster actors ever.)

Vanessa Williams – (Known For: Hannah Montana: The Movie; Shaft; When Marnie Was There; Bad Hair; Soul Food; The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland; The Man from Earth: Holocene; Dance with Me; The Pick-up Artist; Hoodlum; Delhi Safari; He’s Way More Famous Than You; The Legend of Hallowaiian; My Brother; And Then Came Love; Future BMT: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man; Johnson Family Vacation; Another You; Light It Up; BMT: Eraser; Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor; Notes: Was the first African American Miss America. Nominated for three Emmys for Ugly Betty, and famously married to NBA star (and sometimes actor) Rick Fox.)

James Caan – (Known For: The Godfather; The Godfather: Part II; Rollerball; Misery; Elf; Dogville; Dick Tracy; Get Smart; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; Queen Bees; El Dorado; Detachment; A Bridge Too Far; Thief; Bottle Rocket; 1941; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2; The Tale of The Princess Kaguya; The Program; Henry’s Crime; Future BMT: Bulletproof; BMT: That’s My Boy; Eraser; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for The Godfather. Apparently he lived in the Playboy mansion in the 70s … which is crazy.)

Budget/Gross – $100,000,000 / Domestic: $101,295,562 (Worldwide: $242,295,562)

(Decent return, although I would have expected more domestically. But apparently this is kind of the last hurrah of the classic Arnold blockbusters, so maybe his power was already fading.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (19/50): Eraser’s shoot-’em-up action might show off some cutting edge weaponry, but its rote story is embarrassingly obsolete.

(Hmmmm, so old news … but what is old is new again these days I imagine. As NBC used to say, if you haven’t seen it it’s new to you!)

Reviewer Highlight: The advanced weaponry and nifty scopes notwithstanding, most of the gunplay is pretty standard-issue, with most of the victims being anonymous targets present just to be picked off. – Todd McCarthy, Variety

Poster – Eraser? I Barely Know Her

(Is it weird that I kinda like this? It’s got that subtle green of a security camera, which gives me Enemy of the State vibes, which I like. It’s kind of artistic and I like the green glow behind the otherwise boring font. I don’t know. This is not nearly as bad as it should be. B)

Tagline(s) – He will erase your past to protect your future. (B+)

(A little strange to use the name of the title in the tagline, but it is effective. Nice cadence and pairing of past-future. I find the use of the word “your” mildly amusing… who? Little ol’ me? Anyway, it’s pretty good.)

Keyword(s) – witness-protection

Top 10: Goodfellas (1990), Heat (1995), The Mule (2018), The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017), Legend (2015), The Incredibles (2004), Bad Boys (1995), Game Night (2018), Donnie Brasco (1997), A History of Violence (2005)

Future BMT: 52.0 Madea’s Witness Protection (2012), 42.0 Domestic Disturbance (2001), 38.3 See Spot Run (2001), 31.5 Bird on a Wire (1990), 28.8 15 Minutes (2001), 24.3 The Family (2013), 14.6 Smokin’ Aces (2006), 10.8 Hiding Out (1987)

BMT: Cobra (1986), Eraser (1996), Raw Deal (1986), Hot Pursuit (2015), Mercury Rising (1998), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)

Matches: Smokin’ Aces (2006), The Family (2013), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Eraser (1996), Hit and Run (2012), My Blue Heaven (1990), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), Route 666 (2001), Night of the Sicario (2021), F/X (1986), Killshot (2008), See Spot Run (2001), Hide in Plain Sight (1980), Nowhere Land (1998), The Secret Pact (1999)

(Kind of amusing that there really aren’t that many true matches that are “good”. The top 10 have some bangers though. And my god, Domestic Disturbance is something to look forward to.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 15) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Arnold Schwarzenegger is No. 1 billed in Eraser and No. 1 billed in Red Sonja, which also stars Brigitte Nielsen (No. 2 billed) who is in Cobra (No. 2 billed) which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in The Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed) which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (1 + 1) + (2 + 2) + (1 + 1) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 15. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The company name “Cyrez” was originally “Cyrex”, but the real-life company Cyrix complained. The movie had been shot, but all dialogue was dubbed and company logos were digitally altered during post-production. In one scene where Kruger and Lee review the files on the disc in Donohue’s office, some of the files have names beginning with CYX, indicating Cyrex.

Arnold Schwarzenegger really did free-fall for about sixty-five feet. He was harnessed into a piece of stunt technology called a descender rig. Directly afterwards, Chuck Russell told Schwarzenegger that there had been something wrong with the camera, and the scene had to be repeated. However, this was immediately revealed to be a prank, as to not upset Schwarzenegger any further.

Director Chuck Russell and producer Arnold Kopelson had a rocky relationship during the entire production. The only reason the film was able to go forward and ultimately be completed was that Arnold Schwarzenegger got along with each man separately, and was able to negotiate schedules and logistics at a point where the two men refused to speak to each other.

Cinematographer Adam Greenberg was personally chosen for the job by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had worked with him on the first two Terminator movies. Schwarzenegger assured the production that if they wanted an experienced, professional cameraman who could capture the action on the film’s hectic schedule that Greenberg was the man for the job.

Arnold Schwarzenegger premiered the film at the Olympic Village in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1996 Summer Games. The Goo Goo Dolls performed a live concert before the film was shown.

Frank Darabont and William Wisher were brought in mid production to revise the screenplay. Wisher co-wrote The Terminator & Terminator 2 Judgement Day.

The movie was mostly filmed on hand-held cameras, to make the audience feel closer to the action. Adam Greenberg sometimes used up to seven cameras at one time.

John Milius did multiple re-writes as a favor to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Vanessa Williams performed the song “Where Do We Go From Here”, which is heard during the end credits.

At the premiere, Vanessa Williams walked the red carpet puffing one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature cigars.

The movie has a sequel in the form of a video game, an FMV rail shooter with some adventure elements called Eraser – Turnabout (1996).

Two walk-on parts went for $4,500 each at a Planet Hollywood auction in 1995.

A novelization of the film by Robert Tine was published by Signet on August 29, 1996, the 5 year anniversary of Judgement Day from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) the day that SKYnet took over the earth.

Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman, 1997)

K-9 Recap

Jamie

Dooley is a cop that doesn’t play by nobody’s rules. He pulls out all the stops and takes charge of a police dog, Jerry Lee, to go after a major drug kingpin. But danger is around every corner as the kingpin goes after Dooley, the people he loves, and even *gasp* Jerry Lee. Can they stop the baddie before it’s too late? Find out in… K-9.

How?! Dooley is a cop that doesn’t play by nobody’s rules… did I mention that already? Anyway, he’s starting to think the drug kingpin he’s after, Lyman, is getting wind of his investigation. How? Well, Lyman blew up his car using a helicopter. Man he wants this bust so bad, but his captain says he needs a partner and Dooley’s like “I don’t play well with others, man.” But seeing as he’s got a drug kingpin to bust he gets a pretty sweet idea: drug sniffing dog. How hard could it be to handle a K-9? Pretty hard when that K-9 unit is Jerry Lee, a dog that don’t take no guff from nobody. Dooley and Jerry Lee are a pretty potent combination, both rude, crude, and full of ‘tude and Dooley ain’t liking it. He’s always fighting the dog (like physically), but also Jerry Lee is getting him out of jams and stuff too so there forms a begrudging respect. Just as he’s on the verge of the big bust (oh man, he wants it so baaad) Dooley is shocked and horrified to find that Lyman has kidnapped his girlfriend. Oh no! Dooley, playing by no rules and taking no guff, barges in on a big party at Lyman’s house and starts to act super crazy. But it’s all a ruse! After getting arrested, Dooley and Jerry Lee steal the police car and make their way to bust the big shipment, just knowing that Lyman won’t miss a chance to move his stuff while Dooley is (allegedly) in jail. He’s right and Dooley and Jerry Lee (but mostly Jerry Lee) chase down and steal the truck carrying the drugs. They drive it to the meet up with Lyman and a shootout occurs during which Lyman is killed and Jerry Lee is shot! Double oh no! Dooley and his girlfriend rush him to the hospital (like a human hospital) where he is saved and everyone is super happy. THE END.

Why?! I’ll have to think of the BMT term for this type of film. Where there is a higher concept to the film itself (human-dog buddy cop film) that has almost nothing to do with the motivations (wanting to bust a ruthless drug kingpin). It’s the A plot that’s really a B plot. Cause who gives a shit why Dooley ends up with a dog partner? Who really cares what Lyman’s up to? Not a single person. They just want that dog to make Dooley crazy with his dog antics. It’s the main storyline of the film that slips off the mind the instant you step out of the theater and could have been replaced with thousands of other storylines. There is a multiverse of possibilities for the plot and motivations of K-9.

Who?! Big time shout out to the dog who portrayed Jerry Lee. He also played Jerry Lee in the short lived TV series in 1991, which was also sadly when he passed away. Although this is all disputed. Some places say the dog was Koton, an actual K-9 officer from Kansas City that continued to work and was killed in the line of duty in 1991. Other places are like ‘not so fast,’ he was actually Rando, a dog from Germany with a much less interesting history. The latter seems like the truth.

What?! I want to note that Dooley’s house is a Diet Pepsi house as further evidence for his clinical insanity. Beyond that it’s super fun when video games (such an up and coming industry) make appearances in the 80’s and 90’s. In this case Dooley is always playing around with a Game and Watch from 1983. It’s version 2 of a game called Manhole.

Where?! This is the best of the categories for sure as it quickly becomes clear that Dooley lives and works in San Diego. It makes some sense with the drug running storyline and it’s a bit refreshing given that San Diego isn’t as common as one would think given proximity to LA. I’m going to give it a B+.

When?! Do I think there might be some hint in this film for when it takes place? Possibly, although I didn’t find any. It seems hot… like maybe summer hot and we do know it’s near the beginning of a month cause of a schedule in the police station. But these are just things I notice when I don’t have anything else to say. F.

The juxtaposition of a rather straight buddy cop storyline with a totally insane cop-dog relationship has to be seen to be believed. Jim Belushi literally gets in a fist fight with the dog. And you might be thinking I’m employing the modern usage of the term ‘literally.’ Nope. Jim Belushi, fed up with Jerry Lee butting in on his love life, takes the dog out and begins to fist fight him. And it’s not even the only time you wonder whether they found a buddy cop script lying around and just searched the name of Belushi’s partner and replaced it with the word ‘dog.’ The dog seems to be written more like a human than a dog. But honestly I didn’t mind all that. Cause the dog was kinda dope. What I did mind was the police investigation storyline, which paints Belushi as both dangerously incompetent and a menace to those he claims to love. For the sake of the citizens of San Diego the mad man should have been stopped long ago. Thank god he delivers not one, but two mega human-to-dog MonoSklogs the likes of which we’ve never seen. Overall, I think I would describe the film as quietly insane. If you can get past the general concept of a human-dog buddy cop film I think you could watch this and be like “OK, that was fine,” but it’s not fine if you think about it for even a minute and that helps make it an OK BMT film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’ve got drug dealers! We’ve got a police officer who don’t play by no one’s rules! We have a police dog who also don’t play by no one’s rules! It’s K-9! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Was there a time in the late-80’s/early-90’s where critics were like “for real, just cut the shit with the dogs already!”? It sure seems like it. Coming out around the same time as Turner & Hooch, the critics eviscerated this film seemingly for no other reason than it was yet another human-dog buddy-[blank] film and they were sick of it. What were my expectations? There is a problem here. If I’m right about the critical thing then the film should be underrated because it was dunked on for its genre and not genuine quality. But … Jim Belushi isn’t funny or a good actor, so it seems unlikely to be true. So which will it be? I hope it is genuinely awful because that would be more interesting.

The Good –  I do love a good animal actor, and while this one isn’t as good as the dog in The Mask, he is still pretty good. Solid tricks including a silly drinking-from-a-straw trick. I also appreciated that they chose to treat the dog almost as an unruly human partner instead of a dog. At times Belushi gives random commands as if this thing is magical and will intuit that it needs to do. “Go get a search warrant and then get drugs and any firearms you find from this warehouse” might as well have been a command. The movie is at its best when there are a few people being charming with a dog. Best Bit: Doggies.

The Bad – The issue comes in with the A-story which a la 48 Hrs. or Beverly Hills Cop is a far more serious affair that you might expect from a comedy. Belushi is out of control. He goes so far beyond “I don’t have time for rulez” that he basically destroys his own investigation leaving the only option to be to get into a firefight and hope the bad guy dies in the process. He almost gets killed multiple times, and ultimately everyone he loves gets kidnapped or shot. And I just don’t see how he ends up not losing his job, he fired his weapon within a citizen’s house, escaped custody, stole a cop car, and then ended up in an altercation where three people died. In what universe would they just be like “well, got’em bud, our bad” at the end of that? Fatal Flaw: The main character hates rulez so much he might as well have murdered the bad guy in cold blood and called it a day.

The BMT – I’ll be up there in best bad dog-cop films (but surely Top Dog is worse right?). It sits as a nice introduction to leading-man Belushi who we will see again. It is a legendary San Diego film to be sure. But the police investigation is so absurd that it sinks the film. You simultaneously have to take it seriously for the film to work and can’t take it seriously because Belushi’s character makes no sense. It is a tough circle to square. Did it meet my expectations? I can definitely see a reason why critics might have hated this film since it makes no sense … but I do think it was underrated to a degree. A BOMB seems harsh from Leonard without specifically calling out the silliness of the police story.

Roast-radamus – I kind of love the Product Placement (What?) for of all things Game & Watch which plays a pivotal role in the climax of the film. A legendary Setting as a Character (Where?) for San Diego, which must be a pretty rare movie setting with LA just up the coast. And we have a MacGuffin (Why?) option for The Big Bust that Belushi is pursuing throughout. Closest to BMT I think, the police story is that weird.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Do I dare? … I do, we are going BMT Crossover Episode yet again, I’m going to do it until it isn’t funny anymore. Sasha Petrosevitch now runs the Half Past Dead division of the FBI where agents who have gone beyond death use their new found knowledge for law enforcement purposes. And guess who else is half past dead? That’s right, Jerry Lee! Sasha needs a drug dog to sniff out the culprits behind a drug running operation which is running drugs up and down the California coast. And guess who is behind it all? That’s right, Chad, the pilot from the first film. He is, in fact, an international drug smuggler using his pilot’s license and connections to get that sweet uncut snow into San Diego and up the California coast. Naturally, Sasha takes him down and gets a new doggie friend in the process. K-10: All Dogs Go to Heaven.

You Just Got Schooled – And do I dare? I do. I watched the television movie K-9000 which, according to wikipedia, is an attempted soft pilot for a television series based on this film … I somehow doubt it. First, it was made by a completely different production company (Fox instead of Universal). Second, no one involved in the film is involved in the series. Third, it is a sci-fi film about a guy who accidentally gets implanted with a microchip that allows him to talk to a super smart police dog. The film is pretty brutal, but a one season series could have been fun. It just ends up being overly long and the dog doesn’t even show up until 40 minutes into the film. Has that cheap sheen of made-for-syndication television of the early 90s, and is as boring as you would expect … but it does make me wonder why exactly people think it is based on K-9. I listened to a podcast on it that is one of two wikipedia sources for it being an adaptation and they suggest K-9000 was written in 1989 and shelved which is just more evidence that it definitely isn’t based on K-9, no way they make this weird adaptation the same year as the movie, right? It really really (really) seems like it isn’t. D. Not enough doggies and boring to boot.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

K-9 Quiz

So here I was trying to make the big bust with my new K-9 partner Jerry Lee, when wham! I get bopped on the head by my dog who is quite the rascal. Anyways, I can’t remember a thing since I sustained a pretty serious concussion. Do you remember what happened in K-9?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Dooley is a cop with a ‘tude, and he needs a new car. Why does he need a new car and under what condition will he get one?

2) And Dooley needs a car because he’s going to get a big bust. And to get the big bust he needs a dog. But under what condition can Dooley get a dog from Ed O’Neill?

3) Dooley and his new pal Jerry Lee head out to the port to check out the bad guy’s warehouse where oh shit! They are going to find some drugs. What do they find though?

4) So what is the big deal going down, what big plan is Dooley chasing with the big bad guy?

5) What is Belushi’s big plan to nab the bad guy and get his girl back?

Bonus Question: What big case landed on Dooley’s desk just as Jerry Lee recovered from his gunshot wound?

Answers

1) Well, his car was blown up by the bad guys because he was getting too close to their operation. So a helicopter came through and blew up his car, tough luck. But he’ll only get a car from the department if he takes a partner, which he doesn’t want to do. I have a feeling he’s going to get one anyways.

2) Ah, Dooley has to handle the dog himself. You see, Ed O’Neill is all out of K-9 unit handlers, he can’t spare a handler. So Dooley will have to command the dog himself for the big bust. I’m sure that’ll work out fine without any issues at all.

3) Well … they do find some drugs. The issue is that it is some guy smoking a joint in a back room instead of a giant cache of cocaine or whatever. But Dooley is going to be back, you can swear by that!

4) Well, there is a big shipment of drugs coming in, but it isn’t going to the streetz of San Diego. Nope, it is going to a single person, which Dooley, it turns out, ends up finding and chasing down at the beach. He’s really on the trail now!

5) Well, he waits for the transport to go by because he knows where the drugs are coming from, and he ultimately hijacks it with the help of Jerry Lee. He then pretends to make an exchange pretending his little Game & Watch is a bomb trigger, and when it goes off a big firefight ensues where ultimately the bad dude is killed. Much like Dooley’s general attitude towards law enforcement, the plan is a bit half-baked.

Bonus Answer: You have to follow the Beverly Hills Cop route so the second film should be about police corruption. I mean, in the first film the bad guy was all but openly discussing all of the drugs he was running and people he was murdering so there must have been loads of corruption. Dooley is handed a notice from those bums down in internal affairs who drag him into a secure interrogation room. He has a choice, help them root out corruption in the department, or go to jail for all the shit he pulled in the last investigation. Using his contacts (and Jerry Lee of course) Dooley rolls into the San Diego red light district to hit up the strip joint that is frequented by the SDPD brass. Dooley long suspected it was a front for more nefarious police-endorsed business. Instead of investigating though he just releases Jerry Lee on the terrified patrons and unloads multiple rounds into the ceiling (f rulez amirite?). Well, … that doesn’t work out, he’s arrested and internal affairs is pretty displeased by how much he hates rulez. After three years in prison he is released, moves to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, and becomes a school teacher (and now he loves rulez). The end.

It’s a prequel to Dangerous Minds obviously. Jim Belushi is basically George Dzundza in the film. It actually makes a ton of sense that former marine Louanne Johnson would know a former San Diego police officer as there is a big naval base there.

K-9 Preview

Jamie, Patrick and Kyle (aka Three of a Kind (aka The Three Amigos)), fresh out of the hospital and with baby in tow, look over a ridge at the towering skyscraper that is Rotten Tomatoes HQ. Despite racking their brains for at least several minutes, they can’t figure out how they are going to get into the impenetrable fortress. Just then they hear a cough and notice that Rachel the Pretzel Girl has rejoined the gang. “Kinda forgot about you,” mumbles Jamie, ashamed, “sorry.” But Rachel doesn’t seem to hear him as she says a quiet hello to Kyle, who turns crimson red in response. Jamie and Patrick narrow their eyes at the pair and quickly snap their fingers. “Hellllo, we got an HQ to infiltrate, Rachel. You can talk to our ex-con BFF later,” Patrick huffs. But Rachel just waves them off and smirks in a way that lets them know that she’s got a plan and it’s going to work. We see a montage of them going over some blueprints and nodding their heads (“This just might work,” Patrick says). They try on some blond mullet wigs and moustaches (“We’ll pretend to be cameramen for a big time movie review show. Brilliant,” Jamie adds). They work on their hang gliders and high five (“Perfect way to get onto the roof undetected,” Kyle replies). Suddenly they all look at each other in confusion. If they are all cameramen from Hang Gliders Monthly, then who’s the reporter?! Suddenly another lady appears out of the bushes. “Lindsey Appleton!” Jamie exclaims, recognizing the hardscrabble investigative reporter from St. Mary’s Church. “That’s right,” she says smoothly, “I’ve been hard at work tracking your every move and I can get you into HQ. There’s just one problem… the RTHQ dogs.” That’s right! We are jumping into a classic with K-9, taking the chain from Problem Child 2 using Alan Blumenfeld. This falls into the microgenre of buddy cop films featuring dogs, which still continues to today (just look at Show Dogs). Interestingly, very few other animals have ever been a buddy cop… maybe even just Theodore Rex. Let’s go!

K-9 (1989) – BMeTric: 30.5; Notability: 38

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 12.8%; Notability: top 28.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 16.8% Higher BMeT: Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Cyborg, The Karate Kid Part III, The Fly II, No Holds Barred, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Cutting Class, Nightmare Vacation 3, Shocker, Pink Cadillac, DeepStar Six, The Punisher, Leviathan, The January Man; Higher Notability: Troop Beverly Hills, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child, Fletch Lives, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Harlem Nights, Leviathan, Pink Cadillac, Lock Up, Three Fugitives, Dead Bang, Renegades, Let It Ride, Millennium, Slaves of New York, The Karate Kid Part III, Who’s Harry Crumb?; Lower RT: Wired, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, DeepStar Six, No Holds Barred, Rooftops, She’s Out of Control, Millennium, Winter People, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, The Karate Kid Part III, The Salute of the Jugger, Chattahoochee, Nightmare Vacation 3, The Lemon Sisters, Three Fugitives, Troop Beverly Hills, Cookie, Her Alibi, Cyborg, Rude Awakening and 4 more; Notes: All the way up to 6.0 on IMDb, so pretty much in that “people kind of don’t think this is that bad” territory. Pretty weak overall. We clearly have a ton of bad 1989 films to go, I’m probably most excited for DeepStar Six.

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Cop Belushi teams with a German shepherd (Jerry Lee) to crack a drug case. Dubbing this one a dog would be much too kind. Followed by two direct-to-video sequels.

(Kind of a weird review. First, there is no way the capitalization in “German shepherd” is correct right? According to wikipedia it is not, but who knows? The second bit is that Jerry Lee is the name of the dog in the film I’m pretty sure. The film credits Jerry Lee and Jerry Lee as well, but the dog was actually named Rando so I find that weird. But what can you do, right?)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCRZBon82Qw/

(I don’t mind the fake out at the beginning. It kind of works in this case, which is surprising. The rest looks aggressively dumb, although I kind of like that Belushi seems to be playing it like the dog is just a human partner. That is kind of funny in its own way.)

Directors – Rod Daniel – (Known For: Teen Wolf; Future BMT: Beethoven’s 2nd; The Super; BMT: K-9; Notes: Nominated for three Emmys for WKRP in Cincinnati. Retired from filmmaking in 2010 to focus on photography.)

Writers – Steven Siegel (written by) – (BMT: K-9; Notes: Most of his credits are related to this series. K-9000 is maybe the most interesting, a 1991 television movie spin-off that was meant to be a pilot for a potential television series. In the series the main character has an implanted microchip which allows him to talk with his dog partner.)

Scott Myers (written by) – (Known For: Trojan War; Future BMT: Alaska; BMT: K-9; Notes: Seems to have moved on to production in some degree as he was an executive producer of a reality television program in the mid-2000s.)

Actors – Jim Belushi – (Known For: Last Action Hero; Trading Places; The Little Shop of Horrors; The Whole Truth; Thief; Wonder Wheel; The Ghost; About Last Night…; Red Heat; Hoodwinked; Wag the Dog; The Fury; Return to Me; Salvador; Home Sweet Hell; Thunderstruck; Only the Lonely; Canadian Bacon; The Man with One Red Shoe; Cougars Inc.; Future BMT: Underdog; Snow Dogs; The Wild; Joe Somebody; Destiny Turns on the Radio; Curly Sue; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Who’s Harry Crumb?; The Pebble and the Penguin; Race the Sun; Once Upon a Crime…; Mr. Destiny; Filofax; BMT: Pinocchio; Jingle All The Way; New Year’s Eve; Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return; K-9; Notes: Brother of John Belushi, he was a genuinely big comedy star in the late-80s/early-90s. Does a lot of television now including the recent Twin Peaks series.)

Mel Harris – (Known For: Raising Cain; Imagine That; Suture; The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie; Hangman’s Curse; The Lodger; Cameron’s Closet; Sonic Impact; Purple Heart; Future BMT: The Pagemaster; Wanted: Dead or Alive; BMT: K-9; Notes: Was married to the official White House photographer for Gerald Ford in the 80s, at which time she also won a decent amount of money on $10,000 Pyramid.)

Kevin Tighe – (Known For: Yours, Mine and Ours; What’s Eating Gilbert Grape; The Graduate; My Bloody Valentine; School Ties; Geronimo: An American Legend; Eight Men Out; Shadow Makers; Matewan; Mumford; Men of War; The Road Home; City of Hope; The Deal; Bright Angel; I Love a Man in Uniform; Future BMT: Race the Sun; Newsies; BMT: Jade; Another 48 Hrs.; K-9; Road House; Notes: I know him mostly as John Locke’s con-man father from Lost. His daughter Jennifer Tighe is also an actor, mostly in television.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $43,247,647 (Worldwide: $78,247,647)

(That seems like a lot of money. I’m pretty surprised they only managed to get a few direct-to-video sequels out of it. But maybe dealing with a co-star dog is just terrible enough that you have to make a ton of money to make it worthwhile.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 22% (2/9)

(My consensus: Only amusing to the most ardent dog fans. Tom Hanks’ dog film wasn’t good, so why should this be any different? Reviewer Highlight: We start with a standard drug movie and end up with so many monologues to the dog that the dialogue coach must have needed a pooper scooper. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Tango & Patch

(That’s the name of the Tango & Cash sequel starring a dog named Patch after Cash has run off with Tango’s sister. Anyway, when a poster like this comes along I like to imagine what would happen if I saw something like this hanging in a movie theater as a coming attraction. I might faint. It does almost everything wrong. Bad color scheme. Bad font. But it does tell a story and it’s oddly pleasing despite being bad. So maybe a C-.)

Tagline(s) – Meet the two toughest cops in town. One’s just a little smarter than the other. (C-)

(I don’t really get this tagline. It’s long, so you would hope it gets where it needs to go… but does it? Like what does the second sentence have to do with the first? What does them being tough have to do with one being smarter than the other? On the other hand it is a nice little implied hit… that the dog is smarter than this big ol’ dumbo haha. So I can see what they wanted, they just reached too far for it. Double C-’s on this one.)

Keyword – dog movie

Top 10: Turner & Hooch (1989), Scooby-Doo (2002), 101 Dalmatians (1996), The Secret Life of Pets (2016), Isle of Dogs (2018), Alpha (2018), Bolt (2008), Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993), Beethoven (1992)

Future BMT: 68.8 The Shaggy Dog (2006), 67.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 66.0 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010), 64.6 102 Dalmatians (2000), 64.0 Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), 63.9 Underdog (2007), 62.0 Beethoven’s 2nd (1993), 56.5 Snow Dogs (2002), 45.9 Beethoven (1992), 39.5 Top Dog (1995);

BMT: A Dog’s Purpose (2017), K-9 (1989), Marmaduke (2010), Show Dogs (2018), Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998)

(Lame plot, but great look at how few of these we’ve actually watched. I’m looking forward to none of these, although running through the Beethoven series could be fun. The first two are the only theatrical releases, but I spy an animated television series from 1994! That’s fun.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 18) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ed O’Neill is No. 4 billed in K-9 and No. 1 billed in Dutch, which also stars JoBeth Williams (No. 3 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 3 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 4 + 1 + 3 + 3 + 6 + 1 = 18. If we were to watch The Pebble and the Penguin we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – Jerry Lee was played by Rando, a 3-year-old German Shepherd from West Germany. A year-long search was held to find the right dog for the role. Over 40 dogs were considered but none of the American German Shepherds were deemed suitable. Rando trained for 3 months with Karl Lewis Miller and learned to understand commands in English.

At the dinner party given by the gangster, there is a butler walking across a room behind a doorway. The butler is Michael John Robert Gill who was working with the catering staff hired for the film. After the filming, he actually served the food used in the scene to the cast and crew. Gill was not an actor but was actually a real English butler, and for seven years he was butler to British actor Laurence Harvey, prior to his death.

The game played by Dooley in his car is a Game and Watch from Nintendo. The game is called “Manhole” second version released in 1983.

Contrary to the claim made by Jim Belushi’s character that his car is a classic 1965 Mustang, the only ’65 mustang in the movie is the one at the end when they are driving to Vegas. Any others used in the movie are ’66 models.

Rando faking being dead or asleep after he is brought out of surgery into the recovery room wasn’t in the script. When the crew saw Rando doing it while filming, the camera crew was in a perfect position to capture him being sneaky in one take.

Two versions of Lyman’s death scene have been broadcast. In the first, when running towards a helicopter, he shoots Jerry Lee and is subsequently shot by Dooley. In the second, he shoots Jerry Lee and is then shot by the escaping helicopter crew.

Problem Child 2 Recap

Jamie

Junior is back, Jack! And boy is he still a problem. After moving with his dad, Ben, to the divorce capital of the world, Junior is distressed to find his daddio is the object of affection for the villainess Lawanda. Teaming up with frenemy (and fellow problem child) Trixie, can Junior stop the potential wedding between Ben and Lawanda before it’s too late? Find out in… Problem Child 2.

How?! Junior and his dad, Ben, just need a change of scenery. Enter the Divorcee Capital of the US (Orlando?) where Ben is not just in demand, but literally an indescribable hunk. To make matters worse his grandpa shows up having lost everything in a bum business deal and is super lame. Junior is not happy about this unlikely turn of events and begins to act out again. He ruins a lemonade stand, he blows up a barbeque, and hypnotizes Grandpa’s dog, etc. etc. etc. As each of his dad’s hot dates show up, Junior finds creative, and often dangerous, ways to get them out of the picture. Little does he know that a storm is a-brewin’ in the form of the local bank owner. Oft-married (and oft-divorced) Lawanda has her eyes on the prize that is Ben Healy and will destroy all in her path to get him. Turns out Ben likes being waited on hand and foot by a rich, beautiful lady, and they get engaged. Even Grandpa is thrilled with the potential financial windfall that is heading the family’s way. Despondent, Junior finds a kindred spirit in another problem child, Trixie, and is excited to find that her mom is pretty dope and should probably be with his dad instead. They team up to ruin the wedding in a variety of ways. When this doesn’t work they instead just roll a giant boulder down the aisle and squash Lawanda, but not before she reveals her true colors to Ben. Ben is like “phew, thank god I didn’t marry that lady before a boulder squashed her,” and instead smooches Trixie’s mom. Then, realizing an opening when he sees one, Grandpa swoops in and starts smooching Lawanda. Finally (and this is real, so prepare yourselves), Trixie and Junior light a firecracker, shoot it into the wedding cake, it proceeds to fly up into the air and land on Grandpa and Lawanda, who then are shocked to find that Grandpa’s dog has made a giant poop. THE END. 

Why?! That sweet cash, baaabbbbbyyyy. This sequel has no purpose other than to make money for everyone involved with no regard for human life or decency. I guess Ben Healy wants to get married again so that Junior has a mom, but Junior just wants fun dad time with the World’s Best Dad. In the end they split the difference and seemingly live happily ever after.

Who?! Twin film alert! There are not one, but two sets of twins in the film. Junior has a set of twins as neighbors named Dolly and Madison, which appears to be a joke on the Hostess brand of food. Either than or a joke about the First Lady of the US. There is also a brief commercial shown where Grandpa is in a hot tub with twins. Those actresses actually have appeared in a number of BMT qualifying films so look forward to seeing them again.

What?! I think the obvious winner here is the Love Rock, which is like a meteorite or something that crashed near the town and has a heart shaped, red-colored indentation on it. People make wishes on it. Unfortunately this is not a prop I’m seeing for sale, nor did they decide to make it a permanent fixture in Orlando, so presumably it was destroyed. I would have never let that happen.

Where?! It’s odd to encounter these films that have very clear settings sprinkled throughout the internet that are impossible to identify in the actual films. In this case, Problem Child 2 is apparently set in Oregon… that would be mystifying to anyone that actually watches the movie. It’s clearly shot in Orlando and Patrick astutely pointed me to some places (e.g. a phone book) where this is confirmed… so isn’t this set in Orlando? Usually when this happens it’s because in an interview the creators said it was set in Oregon, or the script sets it in Oregon, or someone one time thought it was set in Oregon, or a slight chance it’s actually set in Oregon and we missed it. But I don’t think so. I think this is set in Orlando. C-.

When?! I don’t recall seeing a specific time for the film, but it appears to be set right at the beginning of school. At least when Junior shows up at school and is skipped a few grades he ends up in class where the teacher is going around the classroom finding out what level everyone is operating at as if it’s just off of summer vacation. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. C+.

Oooooooooooof. This is dog poo in my face. In fact it’s the giant dog poo at the end of the film right in my face. It is bizarre to an extreme degree, which at times can be fun. Like the carnival scene which descends into an absurd amount of puke flying around the screen on par with an SNL sketch. Otherwise, they destroyed every single spark of charm that remained from the first one and the actor playing Junior regressed to near unwatchability (presumably due to a combination of a bad script and a poorly chosen director). Add in a good dose of toilet humor and this is just no fun and somehow, despite dropping the problematic aspects of the first film, feels way more gross and unpleasant. You can really just watch the very end of the film (described above) to get the full picture of what this terrible, terrible film is all about. I honestly wonder how John Ritter got through it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Problem Child was the surprise smash hit comedy sensation of 1990. Run it back!!!!! We’re going again. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I’m 90% sure we owned Problem Child on VHS when we were growing up. Problem Child 2 on the other hand … I think I just saw it several times when it was on cable. I’ve definitely seen it that way, because I also know that they cut out the two scenes involving comically large piles of dog shit. What were my expectations? Well I was hoping for it to be a surrealist delight like the first film. I fully expected it to be an unfunny surrealist nightmare though. I didn’t even like this film as a kid I don’t think.

The Good – Not much. I think the acting is still pretty solid given all the material they are working with. On occasion you get whiffs of the same charming weirdness from the first film (the scene with the animal control officers is amusingly odd for example). The film is worse in every respect compared to its predecessor though so it is difficult to point to anything as actually good with that comparison available. Best Bit: John Ritter.

The Bad – The film is grotesque in precisely the way that critics slammed the first one for (incorrectly I think). There is literally people drinking piss, the aforementioned giant piles of dog shit, a scene with so much vomit that the joke is merely the sheer volume of vomit in the scene, medical mutilation, and animal cruelty. The film is aggressively unfunny, so much so that it mostly ruins the scant charm of the lead child actor in the process. And obviously, when asking for a sequel, it was necessary to revert all character growth as well which is a shame. The whole thing feels like exactly what the film critics thought the first Problem Child was, when in fact they hadn’t seen anything yet. Fatal Flaw: Grotesque body humor.

The BMT – A marvel of our childhood at the very least, I’m quite glad I finally got to see these films back-to-back. They compliment each other very well. The first is a somewhat misunderstood not-really-kids’ movie. The second is the monstrosity that happens when you mix that formula with a cynical cash grab. They are beautiful in a way. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, although I wish the second film was less gross. I would never dare to watch the film again just because it is just so gross to watch. No so with the first.

Roast-radamus – Maybe our first Twin Film (Who?) of the year for the neighbor twin girls that Junior antagonizes. Some decent Product Placement (What?) for things like Uhaul throughout. And a minor Setting as a Character (Where?) for Florida as the phonebook prominently suggests that they are, in fact, in the Orlando area. Wait a second, is that why there are so many divorcees and cougars around? I just got that. Closest to Bad I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Since we are going to ignore the direct-to-video third film, let’s go with a Sequel. Junior is all grown up, thirty, and divorced. He worked for his ex-wife’s father so obviously his insurance career is in shambles as well. Adrift he is moping around when who shows up? His step-grandmother Lawanda, with his 9-year-old uncle Ben in tow. It turns out his grandfather, now 90, had left Lawanda for a younger woman and with the kid. Well, like nephew-like-uncle I suppose, because the kid is a nightmare! He terrorizes the neighborhood, wreaking havoc on Junior’s life as he tries to win his wife back. Through Ben, Junior meets a well meaning teacher at the local elementary school and they hit it off. Vengeance on his father-in-law is had, lessons are learned, and Junior and Ben decide to have a go at being a family with Junior officially adopting Ben from Lawanda. Problem Child Generations. Exclusively released to local libraries on VHS.

You Just Got Schooled – I was thinking I would skip this part, but what the hey, I decided to watch The Bad Seed (1956) which the writers of Problem Child claimed the film was vaguely based on (but as a comedy). It is hard to assess old films, this one in particular is two hours, but in reality is a neat 90-minute film where they decided to tell-not-show a bunch of stuff that would have been left unsaid in a a film made in the 80s or 90s. The film is a weird inspiration because the child is the polar opposite of Junior. In The Bad Seed Rhoda is an 8-year-old girl who has a severe temper, appears older and wiser than her age, and is a compulsive liar. A textbook sociopath (given the definition at the time I assume). Junior on the other hand delights in telling you that not only did he do the things he’s accused of, he laughs uncontrollable about it and would do it again with glee. Junior I think would be considered precocious more than anything else. Rhoda is a monster. I liked the movie, but it is slow going, and you’ll get the idea they are going after about 2/3rds of the way through. B, a solid 50s “horror” film in the end.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Problem Child Recap

Jamie

Junior is a child and also is a problem. As a result he keeps getting returned to the orphanage. That is until Ben and Flo Healy show up looking to enter the exclusive parental club. While Junior wreaks havoc across the land, driving everyone around him crazy, Ben keep on killing him with love and kindness. Can Ben help Junior feel loved and change his ways before it’s too late? Find out in… Problem Child. 

How?! Junior spent his childhood shuttled from home to home until ending up in an orphanage where his troublesome ways continued. The nuns have been driven insane and just when it seems like Junior will be all alone forever, in walks Ben Healy and his wife Flo. They are a couple desperate for a child, Ben so he can be the perfect all-American dad, Flo so that they can start getting invited to the exclusive parties, dinners, and trips that other families partake in. Junior seems like a quick and easy fix to all of their problems, right? Wrong. Junior continues his terrible ways as he ruins camping trips, birthday parties, burns down his room, injures his grandpa, etc. etc. etc. It all comes to a head when Junior injures a multitude of children during a baseball game and our boy Ben realizes that maybe, just maybe, Junior is bad news. When they confront the manager of the orphanage they are appalled to find that Junior has been returned over and over from other families. Unlike Flo, though, Ben is more appalled at himself. How could he, all-American dad, be unable to give the love necessary to help Junior? But when he goes out to tell Junior that they won’t be taking him back, Junior doesn’t believe them and drives away in the family car, destroying his grandpa’s business in the process. Suffering a mental breakdown, Ben doesn’t realize that things have gone from bad to far far worse when a serial killer that Junior has been corresponding with shows up at the front door. Thinking he’s Junior’s uncle, Flo woos him as a way to try to take Junior (or maybe just her) away with him. Waking up to find Junior and Flo gone and a ransom note scrawled on the wall Ben snaps out of it just in time to race to the circus (for real) and attempt to pay the ransom and get Junior back. The serial killer attempts to escape, but not so fast! Ben and Junior super team chase down the serial killer and stop him just in time. Now best buds, the father and son super team head off into the sunset together. THE END. 

Why?! Probably the sweetest thing about the film is Ben Healy and just how desperately he wants to be the bestest dad in the world ever. The implication is that his own father is cold and distant (despite selling sporting equipment geared to the father-son experience) and Ben is determined that his own son will never lack for love. This unerring love for his son ultimately wins out and saves Junior. Probably we could drill pretty deep into the root of Junior’s behavioral issues. Despite the implication at the beginning of the film that he is evil from the get go, we get the sense that a lot of his behavior is more about the feeling that he is unlovable.

Who?! Dennis Dugan has a long history of BMT films. Not surprising as he’s one of Adam Sandler’s favorites. This was his feature directing debut and as a result the first of many cameos he made in films he’s directed. I think we’ve done about eight of his films and I believe he made cameos in all of them. Impressive.

What?! Smiley Pies obviously has a very, very prominent product placement (in my memories at least). Patrick points out Pepsi as the actual most prominent product placement, but for me the product that stands the test of time is Penn tennis balls as there is a scene where a car crashes into a giant display case of tennis balls and it’s burned there forever… actually every moment of this film is indelibly burned into my memory.

Where?! Very clearly takes place in Illinois in a town called Cold River, which is obviously made up. Impressive number of signs and posters for the location given that it’s not real. Not in the least bit relevant to the plot, but it is prominent. B+.

When?! Patrick pointed out to me that this could be one of the few Fake Holiday Film Alerts we’ll come across. The baseball scene occurs during Founder’s Day in Cold River, which being a fake place must mean it’s a fake holiday. Which is bizarre in a great way. Really there are a large number of dates thrown around in the film via newspaper, but the most solid seems to be from the poster advertising the Circus which would place the film at the end of June or beginning of July, which tracks with the camping trip, baseball, etc. B+

Problem Child is everything I remember it is. It is just nonstop one liners and gags by a small child. It makes me wonder if I maybe underrate Dennis Dugan as a director given how much I loathe some of his films (looking at you Grown Ups(es)). The fact is that he took a kid that basically never acted before and spun some really entertaining gold. He obviously was helped by a very game John Ritter who is actually amazing in this film. He’s just so goddamn likeable that you basically ignore a pretty problematic concept (but weren’t they all back in the day). I have to acknowledge that the film’s basic plot is dark in a pretty gross way. The opening scene is shocking as we see Junior shuttled from home to home before being unceremoniously dropped at an orphanage. And throughout the film there is a stigmatization of adoption that is unacceptable by today’s standards. But all this doesn’t change that it basically lived up to my memories. It is quite entertaining and the sheer number of memorable quotes is impressive. I think the first Problem Child is actually… not that bad. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Smiley Pies!? I haven’t had one of these in FIF-teen years! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I think I could have written the preview from memory, I’ve seen the film so many times. I looked up the kid actor who played Junior and really not very involved in acting after the films themselves. He is a great actor though given the part, but I’ll get to that later. What were my expectations? A blast from the past. I’m not joking when I say I’ve seen the film at least a dozen times. Which is kind of weird, as this simultaneously feels like a kids’ film which has become completely forgotten at this point.

The Good – The actor who plays Junior is really good considering the part was written for Macauley Culkin. He does a decent facsimile of the wiser-than-his-years mischief for a not-very-well-known child actor. The acting top-to-bottom is actually really good. And the surreal nature of the whole film is also just … it makes it really unique. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but as mean-spirited and weird as the film can get, there is an undeniably interesting point-of-view to it all. A comedic Bad Seed, as the screenwriters say, which I would say they nailed. Best Bit: Junior and John Ritter.

The Bad – Now, I say a comedic Bad Seed is interesting, but that doesn’t necessarily make it good. It is a very weird film, and almost definitely not a kids’ film … and yet it operated under the guise of a kids’ film. Which makes it unsurprising that critics thought it was abhorrent and that everyone involved thought it would bomb. The film isn’t really funny in any capacity, and Junior’s behavior at times is, indeed, abhorrent and unpleasant to watch. Fatal Flaw: Pushes things too far.

The BMT – On one hand I would say that they could have easily edited and reigned by Junior’s behavior and created a more tolerable mainstream hit I think. But then, Problem Child wouldn’t be the bizarre boundaries-pushing masterpiece that it is. I would argue though that this first one is actually really good, as long as you buy into the surreal weirdness of the cartoon world the screenwriters create. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, it is always odd to watch a film I watched constantly as a kid in BMT. I was pleasantly surprised with this one and I very much enjoyed watching it again.

Roast-radamus – A solid Product Placement (What?) for Pepsi throughout the film, not least of which prominently displayed during the baseball game (which, despite taking place on Founder’s Day, is not a secret holiday, more like a fake holiday). A really really good Setting as a Character (Where?) for Cold Water, Illinois. This film is really really Illinois which is excellent, but then also there is a giant statue of the founder Carl Coldwater outside of the adoption agency which is awesome. This is somehow closest to Good, don’t argue it just it, sue me I like the film.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Seeing as there are already multiple sequels and a television cartoon there is only one way to go, backwards! The Prequel goes full period piece, it is the late 50s, and Big and Little Ben are amoral travelling salesmen who will do whatever to earn a buck. The story centers around the arrival of the Healy’s in Cold Water. Big Ben places Little Ben in the local orphanage and gets him adopted out to a rich childless family where he begins to terrorize the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Big Ben reenters town pretending to be a local returning from war to find his young wife dead and only son adopted. The plan is for Little Ben to terrorize the couple into un-adopting him, and then Big Ben would exploit the shame and humiliation to blackmail them. In the end Little Ben realizes that they (gasp!) love him, and no matter what he does they will always love him! He runs away to the local circus where a friendly clown tells him that all families are different and he shouldn’t hate his father for their life of crime, that the best he can do is grow up, have a son, and love him as much as he can. Little Ben returns to town where Big Ben promptly turns him over to the rich couple for the reward money they’ve offered for his safe return. They are touched by the young family, unadopt Little Ben, and let Big Ben keep the money. He uses it to start his sports store and they settle down to a normal life. The End. Cold Water Grifters: A Problem Child Story.

You Just Got Schooled – Now what are the chances Problem Child had some weird cartoon series … 100% it turns out! I watched the first episode of Problem Child, the early 90s cartoon series. The episode is called Toys Will Be Toys. This cartoon is, first of all, terrible. But even besides that it has nothing to do with the movie it claims to be an adaptation of. Junior doesn’t seem to be an orphan, his father has the same red hair as him. Junior has a weird mutant possum pet, and a best friend who’s a girl not-named Trixie. His grandfather is the mayor, which very specifically didn’t happen in the films. And his father is a cop. Oddly the writers of the films did make the show, although I think it was drawn by a Spanish company which maybe explains it getting a bit lost in translation. The episode itself is pretty silly, Junior wants a toy bazooka, and scrimps and saves to buy the toy, only for it to turn out to all be elaborate false advertising. The episode ends with Junior getting revenge on the toy company president. D. Actually, maybe the worst adapted cartoon series I’ve seen. The Back to the Future show is way way better.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Problem Child 2 Quiz

Man, so the last thing I remember I was on a carnival ride when it started going super fast, I vomited everywhere, then I bopped my head, sustained a massive concussion and don’t remember anything after that. Do you remember what happened in Problem Child 2?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Why is Junior skipped three grades to the sixth grade? 

2) How does Junior stop Ben’s first date? And what about his second? And the third?

3) Where did the Mortville love rock come from?

4) At one point in the movie Big Ben’s dog Nippy goes into a weird coma. What caused the coma, and what snaps him out of it?

5) What causes Ben to call off the wedding?

Bonus Question: How long did Lawanda and Big Ben’s marriage last?

Answers

Problem Child Quiz

Man, the last thing I remember I was dipping and dodging from a car slamming into Big Ben’s Sports store. I sustained a pretty bad concussion though. Do you remember what happened in Problem Child?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) How does Junior end up getting acquainted with the Bow Tie Killer?

2) Why isn’t Little Ben’s father Big Ben handing the company over to Ben and who is he selling to instead?

3) How does the Bow Tie Killer escape prison?

4) What convinces Ben to return Junior to the orphanage … and then what convinces him that that is a terrible idea?

5) How much does the Bow Tie Killer want as ransom for Junior and Flo?

Bonus Question: What ever happened to Flo?

Answers