Perfect Recap

Jamie

Adam is a journalist looking for a story. What he doesn’t expect to find is love (awww). While writing a puff piece about LA gym culture, he encounters an aerobics instructor, Jessie, and immediately falls in love. Can he get the bog scoop (and still get the girl) before it’s too late and he ruins it by being an asshole? Find out in… Perfect.

How?! Act I: Adam is a journalist. But just not any journalist. He’s got integrity up the wazoo. He’s got a big ol’ story in the works and it might even be a book… but while he waits to find out if he can score the big interview he decides to start his next story: a sexy puff piece about young singles who frequent the gym. Sexy. Act II: Adam arrives in LA and is immediately like “woah, who’s that?” about Jessie, the top aerobics instructor (in the world? Probably). As a result, a funny thing happens on the way to writing the story when he totes falls in love and realizes that he actually wants to write about how gyms are the next philosophical frontier (you dig?) as society attempts to take responsibility for oneself and become… perfect. Unfortunately this all crashes and burns when despite scoring the big interview he needed he also inadvertently ruins what he has with Jessie. Act III: Under pressure from lawyers regarding the big interview and also suffering heartbreak, Adam decides to write the original puff piece anyway. This ends up double backfiring when Jessie attempt to reconcile but discovers what he’s done. Attempting to make up for it, Adam writes the Emersonian version of the piece, but his editors are like “this is clearly the writings of a pompous asshole” and write an even worse version of his original story. Even worse he’s heading to jail for contempt of court for not giving up his notes from the original story. Gah! Lucky for him, though, Jessie is a first amendment fanatic and they reconcile upon his release. THE END. 

Why?! It’s pure journalism, baby. Adam is just all about that first amendment and won’t compromise on anything. Whether it’s writing about financial crimes or the Emersonian nature of the gym, he is a totally uncompromising asshole. It’s only when Jessie realizes that he’s only an asshole because of the first amendment that she can be like “oh, I love him.” Her motivation is like… life, man. She just wants to win and be the best and be… perfect.

Who?! Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner played himself as did Carly Simon in a cameo. I believe there are a number of other cameos in the film, including thanks given to Mick Jagger who allowed photos of himself to be used in the film. There are some notable special thanks as well including Kathryn Bigelow. I still can’t figure out how she was involved in Perfect in any way.

What?! Every once in a while we get a film that is basically just a long commercial for something. Here it’s Rolling Stone, which is depicted as more than just a music magazine… it’s got journalistic integrity for days. Look at all that goddamn journalistic integrity! It’s oozing off John Travolta’s body like sweat.

Where?! There is a fun minor setting of Morocco late in the film, but this is a NYC-LA production with a slight edge to LA because that’s really where the sexiness and love occur. That’s actually a big part of my grading: how sexy is the setting. I think this is an A-. Both NYC and LA are pretty indispensable for the plot… perhaps only Miami could have swooped in and ruined it. 

When?! Near the end of the film they set up the exact time frame. Takes place over a number of months culminating in the publishing of the article and portions of the final trial at the end of July. They give an exact date for a few of these times. It’s actually pretty solid. B+.

I’m not sure what to even say about this film. It felt like the longest movie in the world. Took me at least three full days to watch and yet the clock told me it was only two hours. There are long stretches of just male and female hips thrusting in your face for reasons unknown… probably to convey how people would easily see this and think “new singles bar of the 80’s” but this would be wrong. They are Emersonian philosophers, duh. Beyond the length, I think the biggest crime is the self-serving, pompous attitude of how journalism is depicted. Gets really tired as the film drags on to see Travolta stand up six or twelve times to declare his journalistic integrity. The only positive, weirdly, is that I genuinely think Travolta and Curtis had *gulp* sexual chemistry. That seems weird to say. As for To the Limit, that film may in fact be the single most confusing thing Patrick and I have watched. We tried to recap exactly what happened in the film to each other and it is simply put absolute nonsense. Throw in Anna Nicole Smith barely acting in a monotone voice and several playboy level sex scenes and we got something that’s… well… it exists I guess. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! As I sculpted my Perfect bod I thought of Emerson and the pursuit of man’s true physical potential. Also I thought about beating up dweebs. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had only heard of this film via How Did This Get Made? basically. I knew it was about aerobics and that it is supposed to be terrible. The connection between Stallone and the director seemed interesting. What were my expectations? I just hoped it was just in your face aerobics sexy action. Without that why am I even watching this film?

The Good – There is wall-to-wall aerobics action … which I’m going to say is good. Jamie Lee Curtis I thought was great. And in a different universe where the aerobics story didn’t exist, the trial that occurs during the film could have been an interesting story. Instead it comes out as absurd, but the idea is a kind of in the weeds interesting story. Quite a thin section this week, but the film is very weird and hard to “enjoy” in traditional terms.

The Bad – The acting. Travolta is only the most high profile offender. The Rolling Stone founder plays himself and he is straight up terrible at acting. They just hired a load of aerobics instructors as actors and it shows, all of them are incredibly stilted and distracting. There are very very very long aerobics scenes, they last forever, it is crazy. The entire thing comes across as just the most snobbish trash. It really seems like the guy wrote a story where he nobly goes to jail for his craft (magazine writer), and nobly stands up for the dignity of subjects … give me a break. The entire thing just seems like a giant pat on his own back from a writer who really thinks he does things that are important … and people should know it.

The BMT – Yeah. It is a very unique film. About a sport (arguably) which really doesn’t have another film made about it. Made about a profession (magazine journalist) which gets overshadowed by their newspaper peers and thus doesn’t feature in films very often. And the acting is almost second-to-none terrible. I was intrigued by the film and would definitely watch it again with someone. Did it meet my expectations? More than I could have imagined. There is a crazy number of aerobic scenes with those full body suits that have thongs, and guys gyrating their hips. It is great. Highly recommend those scenes, they last forever.

Roast-radamus – This is actually a really good example of Product Placement (What?) … since the entire movie is a placement for a product: Rolling Stone magazine. They fight for the truth! Decent argument for Setting as a Character (Where?) since the strangeness of Los Angeles plays a huge role in the story. Outside shot at BMT, otherwise I don’t think it really has much of anything. I would have went with a specific temporal setting (since the magazine article was published specifically on June 6, 1983), but that is kind of unconfirmed, and also we have enough holiday films that that would never actually be nominated this year.

StreetCreditReport.com – Amazingly this has two giant pieces of cred. First, it is on Siskel and Ebert’s worst of list of 1985 which is obviously enough in and of itself. And then second it was features on How Did This Get Made? which is a rubber stamp for amusingly bad movies. I have to imagine this is the worst film ever made about aerobics or about a magazine journalist as well, although I have no proof of that.

Bring a Friend Analysis – With any John Travolta film we obviously have to watch a Joey Travolta film. To this end we watched the Anna Nicole Smith feature from 1995 called To the Limit. Full disclosure: I barely remember this film. Like, I straight up don’t understand what happened. I think it is because the movie was written strangely. It is like they had a plot sketched out on a napkin (A man’s wife is killed and friend murdered because of a mysterious CD-ROM. His friend’s wife, secretly a CIA agent, helps him to take down those responsible while keeping the disc safe), and then thought “that is too straightforward … let’s add some twists.” But then … they only do half twists because they don’t really know how to adapt their story (oh no, a girl is kidnapped! Oh wait, she just ran away and is back now. And then our main character is kidnapped! Oh no, he just ran away and is back now. And Anna Nicole Smith is a bad guy! Nope nevermind she isn’t). Anna Nicole Smith is a marvel to behold and kind of makes the whole thing worthwhile. The film is soft-core porn though which was just sad and gross. I’m going to give it a C+. I wouldn’t want to watch it again or anything like it because it is 90s pornography. But Anna Nicole Smith’s acting is just insane enough to legitimize the initial viewing.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Perfect Quiz

Let’s see, one minute I was in my daily jazzercise / aerobics class with a sexy instructor, and the next I got kicked in the head during a particularly jazzy 80s guitar riff. I do not remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in the movie Perfect?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) During the course of the film John Travolta works on two stories. One of them is about the trial of a businessman named MacKenzie. What was he arrested for, and what big scoop does Travolta get from him?

2) What is Jamie Lee Curtis’ nickname at the health club?

3) What was Jamie Lee Curtis’ previous career and why doesn’t Jamie Lee Curtis trust journalists?

4) Ultimately what story does John Travolta write about the gym? What was the original story?

5) In the end why does Travolta go to prison?

Answers

Perfect Preview

As Patrick completes his sensual solo twin dance within the confines of the semi he notices that the evil lady has tears in her eyes. He stops and wipes them from her face, “what’s wrong?” he asks, “isn’t this sensual dance to your liking?” But she shakes her head. “It’s great, but… but it’s like watching Hall without Oates, you know?… it’s just not that smooth Hall & Oates sound.” Patrick nods, “No, you’re right. So wise. This is a dance I used to do with my brother… but it’s not the same without him. I’m sorry.” She shushes him with a finger to his lips. “No,” she says, “I’m the one who should be apologizing. I’ve helped put a beautiful bald eagle into a cage. A cage where you can’t spread your wings. And now I need to set you free.” With that she opens the back of the truck, still speeding along. “Now fly, my beautiful bird. Find your Oates,” and with a swift quick Patrick is sent rolling along the highway. Bloodied and gravely injured Patrick comes to a stop on the side of the road. “Perfect,” he whispers from his broken face, congratulating himself on a job well done. That’s right! We are watching Perfect starring John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a film about a journalist and aerobics instructor falling in love to the rhythm and dance of sexy aerobics. Hooooooo weeeeee, gonna be sexy. Let’s go!

“Rad!” Jamie yells in glee zooming about on his souped up hang glider with the man in black. “Is that New Angeles?” Jamie yells and the man in black nods. He points to the tallest building in the skyline and tells Jamie that it’s too dangerous to fly too close. They’ll have to go around. But that’s all that Jamie needs to here as he zooms away laughing, this bozo doesn’t know who he’s dealing with. He’s gonna take these hang gliders to the limit. But the man in black just smirks in satisfaction. That’s right! We’re also watching To The Limit starring Joey Travolta and Anna Nicole Smith. Yes, this is not only Travolta’s brother, but also a woman who goes by a three-part name is the co-star. Spooky stuff. Oh, this is about some mob or assassin shit. I don’t know. Looks real dumb. Let’s go!

Perfect (1985) – BMeTric: 43.5 

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PerfectIMDb_RV

(Still really low. How did this get made did this film as a live show in 2015. I don’t see much evidence of a bump in extra votes, but perhaps that is the reason it is climbing in the ratings a bit … but probably not, that seems like classic regression to the mean.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Rolling Stone reporter Travolta is writing an exposé of L.A. health clubs but finds himself attracted to aerobics instructor Curtis, whom he’s about the trash in print. A smug, overlong, misguided, miscast movie, with hints of intelligent intentions; written by Bridges and reporter Aaron Latham. Real-life Rolling Stones editor Wenner plays himself. Wait till you hear John and Jamie Lee expound on Emersonian values!

(I. Can’t. Wait. To hear Travolta talk about Emersonian values! Great semi-colon game as usual, plus an actual genuine accent on exposé. I’m loving it.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd7tVAIOWjI/

(Dance Tunes the movie! I’m excited to see all these hot bods. Hip Thrust the movie. Scream While Exercising the movie. I’m so amped.)

Directors – James Bridges – (Known For: Urban Cowboy; The China Syndrome; Bright Lights, Big City; The Paper Chase; BMT: Perfect; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Perfect in 1986; Notes: He died of cancer in 1993. Started out writing screenplays including one for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.)

Writers – Aaron Latham (story “Looking for Mr. Goodbody – Health Clubs: The New Singles Bars” & screenplay) – (Known For: Urban Cowboy; The Program; BMT: Perfect; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Perfect in 1986; Notes: He wrote the article, Mr. Goodbody, for Rolling Stone that inspired the film. Weirdly he also wrote an article that inspire Urban Cowboy.)

James Bridges (screenplay) – (Known For: Urban Cowboy; The China Syndrome; Colossus: The Forbin Project; The Paper Chase; White Hunter Black Heart; BMT: Perfect; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Perfect in 1986; Notes: Nominated for two Oscars for his writing for The China Syndrome and The Paper Chase.)

Actors – John Travolta – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Grease; Carrie; The Taking of Pelham 123; The Thin Red Line; Face/Off; Savages; Hairspray; Austin Powers in Goldmember; Saturday Night Fever; Bolt; Urban Cowboy; Broken Arrow; Blow Out; In a Valley of Violence; Get Shorty; Look Who’s Talking; Ladder 49; Phenomenon; Lonely Hearts; Future BMT: Look Who’s Talking Now; Look Who’s Talking Too; Staying Alive; Gotti; Killing Season; Lucky Numbers; Domestic Disturbance; I Am Wrath; Michael; Two of a Kind; Eye for an Eye; Life on the Line; White Man’s Burden; The Forger; The Devil’s Rain; The Fanatic; The General’s Daughter; The Punisher; Mad City; From Paris with Love; Trading Paint; Basic; BMT: Battlefield Earth; Old Dogs; Be Cool; Perfect; Wild Hogs; Swordfish; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for Battlefield Earth in 2001; Winner for Worst Actor for Lucky Numbers in 2001; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1984 for Staying Alive, and Two of a Kind; in 1986 for Perfect; in 2002 for Domestic Disturbance, and Swordfish; in 2010 for Old Dogs; and in 2019 for Gotti; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Shout in 1992; Nominee for Worst Screen Combo for Gotti in 2019; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 1990 for Perfect, Staying Alive, The Experts, and Two of a Kind; and in 2010 for Battlefield Earth, Domestic Disturbance, Lucky Numbers, Old Dogs, and Swordfish; Notes: On a very not good run as of late in his career. I think he’s been in something like 5 films in a row with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes prior to the release of The Fanatic later this year (18% on Rotten Tomatoes).)

Jamie Lee Curtis – (Known For: Knives Out; Halloween; Halloween; Trading Places; Veronica Mars; My Girl; True Lies; Escape from New York; A Fish Called Wanda; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Freaky Friday; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; The Fog; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Forever Young; Prom Night; The Tailor of Panama; From Up on Poppy Hill; Beverly Hills Chihuahua; Blue Steel; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Virus; My Girl 2; You Again; Drowning Mona; House Arrest; Terror Train; Halloween II; Queens Logic; BMT: Christmas with the Kranks; Perfect; Notes: One of the original Scream Queens. The daughter of Tony Curtis of Some Like it Hot fame.)

Jann Wenner – (Known For: Almost Famous; Jerry Maguire; Future BMT: Perfect; Notes: The actual co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine. He effectively plays himself in this film.)

Budget/Gross – $20 million / Domestic: $12,918,858

(That is very very not good. Who would have thought a weird movie about a journalist creating a hard hitting story about (checks notes) … gyms / dating? Well who would have thought that wouldn’t be a smash hit … these guys apparently.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 19% (3/16)

(Let’s do a consensus: Smug and manipulative. Ends up as a muddled mess that comes across as unintentionally hilarious more than anything else. Reviewer Highlight: Perfect is too superficially knowing to be a camp classic, but it’s an unintentionally hilarious mixture of muddled moralizing and all-too-contemporary self-promotion. – Vincent Canby, New York Times)

Poster – Perfecto (C+)

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(I think it’s clever and that’s something. Slightly embarrassing… but clever. Usually I’d say too many words, but makes some sense here. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I think the lighting / color on my face in the fake poster is off, but if you don’t have the actual poster right next to it it looks better. I decided just to do some swaps instead of making up new headlines because fonts are hard. Stay tuned for more shallow fakes!)

Tagline(s) – Reporter Adam Lawrence ignites two hot stories. One leads to love. The other could lead to jail. (C+)

The perfection of the body and the senses mean RHYTHM! JOHN TRAVOLTA and JAMIE LEE CURTIS in a one-hundred-thousand-volt Dance Ecstasy! (A++++)

(From the poster it’s clear the first one is the actual tagline. Too long, but it has some flow. I have no idea where the second one comes from but I love it so much that I kept it.)

Keyword(s) – aerobics; Top Ten by BMeTric: 86.5 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987); 49.1 Repossessed (1990); 43.5 Perfect (1985); 41.1 C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud (1989); 38.9 Club Dread (2004); 37.8 Private Resort (1985); 35.0 Meatballs Part II (1984); 31.7 Armed and Dangerous (1986); 29.1 Blood Diner (1987); 27.6 Legally Blonde (2001);

(Wow, really? We got to get that sweat going! We are slacking on our workout films.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: John Travolta is No. 1 billed in Perfect and No. 2 billed in Wild Hogs, which also stars Ray Liotta (No. 5 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 3 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 5 + 3 + 4 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – Based on the famous Sports Connection (a giant up-scale athletic facility in West Los Angeles that also contains a restaurant and bar), which was known in the late 1970s and 1980s for its singles scene. (Weird!)

Jamie Lee Curtis trained for several months before shooting began. All the scenes that show her leading classes were filmed first, with the narrative and dramatic sequences shot next. The last sequence filmed was the closing credits workout. It is noticeable that Curtis had lost 10 pounds of muscle since the workout scenes had been filmed. She also filmed a music video with Jermaine Jackson to promote the movie. (Ah interesting. That makes a ton of sense actually)

This film is listed among The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE. (Terrible book … but having watched it now he ain’t wrong)

Even though the film was a major box-office failure and temporarily derailed John Travolta’s A-list career, he claims he doesn’t regret doing it, mostly due to his friendships with the cast and the chance to work again with James Bridges. (So it really was about the friends he made along the way … huh)

Debut cinema movie of Rolling Stone magazine’s then real editor, publisher, and co-founder Jann Wenner who portrayed Rolling Stone magazine editor-in-chief Mark Roth in the film. Wenner said: “I think the film shows Rolling Stone as it really is. I think that the movie will explain Rolling Stone to a lot of people who may have misconceptions about what it is. The magazine covers a lot of arenas in addition to music-politics, cultural affairs, sociology, movies”. Wenner was actually cast in “Perfect” following a full screen test opposite actor John Travolta. How realistic did Wenner find the film? Wenner reported: “Dead-on accurate. There are naturally some liberties taken, but Jim’s movies are all somewhat journalistic in that they look at a scene and report it accurately. Jim [James Bridges] would frequently ask me, ‘Would you really do something like this?’ or ‘Would the magazine really do something like that?’.” (He is absolutely awful in the film, but so are a ton of people so I guess it didn’t make much of a difference)

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis was eager to be in the movie: Curtis once explained: “I’m an athletic person, a minor sort of closet jock. Whenever I would take an exercise class, I would imagine myself giving one. But while I was certainly intrigued by the story, I was mostly excited about working with these people”. (Good enough reason)

The “Linda” character is based on Leslie Borkin aka Leslie Suzanne Borkin (now known as Leslie Suzan) who was referenced in a June 9, 1983 article from Rolling Stone magazine and was portrayed as a “sleaze.” The production notes for the film describe the “Linda” character as “one of the more promiscuous women at the Sports Connection” health club.

John Travolta and Marilu Henner were in a relationship at the time this movie was released. The picture was the first of two that the former couple have made together, the other being Chains of Gold (1990). (Fun)

Quentin Tarantino in a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone magazine said that this film was “greatly under-appreciated due to Curtis’ very tight performance”. Tarantino worked with John Travolta on 1994’s Pulp Fiction (1994). (I can’t tell if he’s saying that it is a good or bad performance … tight as in “effectively to the point” like a tight script? Or tight as in nervous? She’s honestly the best actor in the entire film so hopefully the latter)

The cover page of the main edition of Rolling Stone magazine in the movie that related to the film’s fitness center story had the same cover photo and headline “Looking for Mr. Goodbody – Health Clubs: The New Singles Bars” as the real-life one used as an inspiration for the movie. The two are practically the same, bar the byline for the writers, Adam Lawrence (played by actor John Travolta) in the fake one, and Aaron Latham (Rolling Stone journalist and the film’s screenwriter) in the real one, which was published in real life on June 9, 1983, two years before this film came out.

After this film, John Travolta would not appear in another one for four years, until The Experts (1989) and Look Who’s Talking (1989). (Interesting)

According to trade paper Variety, John Travolta’s character “is a semi-autobiographical version of writer Aaron Latham, who based the script on a searing story he originally wrote for Rolling Stone”. (Ugh)

The newspaper photo of Jamie Lee Curtis’ character with her swim coach is from Love Letters (1983). (Oh, fun!)

The movie’s screenwriter Aaron Latham said of this picture: “Part of the film is about what’s wrong with journalism”. Latham wrote “Perfect” with director James Bridges, based in part upon articles Latham had written for Rolling Stone magazine. And indeed, the reporter in the film approaches his health club piece with a lack of objectivity, having more interest in getting his story than in how it affects his subjects. Latham added: “But the other half of the story is about what’s right about journalism”. (Nonsense)

Since it was impractical to shoot the film’s Rolling Stone sequences at the magazine’s headquarters in New York, an almost identical, two-story duplicate of those offices was built on a pair of sound stages at Laird International Studios in Los Angeles.

“Sports Connection” health club scenes were filmed in the actual real-life “Sports Connection” fitness center in West Los Angeles.

Like the two earlier John Travolta pictures, Urban Cowboy (1980) and Saturday Night Fever (1977), this Travolta movie’s screenplay was based on a magazine article. These earlier film’s source magazine articles were called “The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy” and “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” respectively. For Perfect (1985), the source material article was entitled “Looking for Mr. Goodbody – Health Clubs: The New Singles Bars”. (What the fuck? There was actually a time when Travolta was in like three straight films adapted from magazine articles. What a bizarre and, frankly, terrible idea)

The “Looking for Mr. Goodbody” title of the Rolling Stone article in the film’s story referenced the earlier 1977 Mr. Goodbar (1977), based on the Judith Rossner novel which was about the singles bar scene, whereas this film is about the singles health club scene. (Hmmm, do I need to read a book)

On the media aspects of the movie’s storyline, screenwriter Aaron Latham offered: “Back in the 1930s and 1940s, you had this stream of newspaper writers who came to Hollywood and made these wonderful old newspaper movies. Well, there’s a ’40s newspaper drama embedded in this 1980s movie, only now he’s a magazine reporter covering health clubs. But nonetheless, it’s the story about a reporter who falls in love with his subject”. (Ugh, just a terrible idea. You can make the film about a magazine writer … just don’t make it about yourself as some noble magazine writer)

The movie’s “Perfect” title logo was designed in the same fashion as the font typeface of the cover masthead of magazine ‘Rolling Stone”. (I love font facts, that’s a fact)

The approach that director James Bridges suggested to writer Aaron Latham, was to make the Rolling Stone journalist the central character in the movie. The film, which Bridges went on to produce and direct from the screenplay he wrote with Latham, then was sculptured to take a look at both contemporary journalism and modern sexual mores. (Bad move Bridges, I think it makes it feel pretentious)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (John Travolta, 1986)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Marilu Henner, 1986)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Aaron Latham, James Bridges, 1986)

Summer Catch Recap

Jamie

Ryan Dunne has all the talent needed to make the Big Leagues, but a temper that has always gotten in the way. When his hometown Cape Cod League team gives him one last shot, will he finally have it all come together (and get the girl (or perhaps because he got the girl))? Find out in… Summer Catch.

How?! Ryan Dunne is on his last chance. After getting kicked off the baseball teams at Boston College and Framingham State, he’s been stuck mowing lawns with his dad. But this summer he’s getting to play with the Chatham A’s, his hometown Cape Cod League baseball team that could actually get him recognized by scouts. That is if his bad temper and personal troubles don’t get in the way. First, he’s pretty much always at odds with his dad and brother. Bummer. Second, he’s totally into a summer girl, Tenley, who is also totally into him. Sounds great, except her snobby dad is being a real snob and is trying his damndest to get him out of the picture. Double Bummer. Third, he keeps on blowing games… which actually seems like the biggest issue. Mix into this a whole bunch of shenanigans by Ryan’s teammates, including his best bud Matthew Lillard, and we got ourselves a game. But most of that is fairly trivial. That’s because we are super invested in this love story. Can’t get enough of it. Forget baseball, give me more of those sweet, sweet Ryan-Tenley (RyLey?) scenes. Near the end of the season, and after he’s been benched, Ryan saves the star pitcher of the team from a burning building. This results in the star pitcher being sent home and Ryan starting The Big Game and getting One Last Chance. Meanwhile, Tenley is ready to listen to her father and say goodbye to Ryan forever. While she heads off to the airport Ryan is pitching the game of his life and is on the verge of a no-hitter. Suddenly in the ninth inning he realizes that it’s all about love (and I’m not talking about the love of the game) and ditches the no-hitter and stops Tenley before she leaves. But that’s not all! He still gets a contract with the Phillies (yay!). They smooch and everyone is like ‘fuck baseball, right?’ THE END. 

Why?! Love. Duh. Both the love between Tenley and Ryan and the love that each have for their passions (his passion for throwing heat and her passion for being an architect and probably… like… designing a real eco-friendly building or something). Everyone else just wants to get laaaaaiiiidddd. Nice. *high five*

Who?! Check out them cameos. I personally enjoyed Ken Griffey Jr.’s cameo at the end the best, but Hank Aaron randomly showing up as a scout is pretty astonishing. But this all pales in comparison to John C. McGinley being uncredited in the film. He has numerous lines in the film, all of which are done in what might be the worst accent I have ever seen put to film. Every once in a while a role this big goes uncredited (Kathy Bates in Rumor Has It… comes to mind) and it’s always a little bit of a mystery to me. Interestingly Beverly D’Angelo also went unbilled in a slightly smaller part… starting to look like a trend.

What?! My word. A full Chatham A’s uniform went on sale last year and allegedly was sold for $50… I say allegedly because, seeing as I do not currently possess said uniform, I do not believe such a thing could have occurred. We also had a large number of product placements here including, but not limited to, Coca-Cola, Life cereal, Sam Adams, Bass, etc. etc. etc. They almost came so fast and furious that I couldn’t keep up.

Where?! The sheer number of times the town of Chatham’s name is invoked might in fact be a Settings record. We even have Biel’s sister trying to figure out the best Chatham mascot that really evokes the true spirit of Chatham. Turns out that’s a drunk sailor. Gonna give this an A because the large setting of Cape Cod is indeed irreplaceable.

When?! It should be a crime that there wasn’t a brief July 4th Jamboree scene in the middle of the film. Perhaps our boy Freddie is going to scope out the chicks at the Jamboree with his teammates, but also kinda knows that Biel will be there. And then when he meets up with her he’s like let’s go grab an ice cream cone and they go up in the ferris wheel. And then maybe it gets stuck and it’s cute and they joke around. And then her boyfriend shows up and he gets drunk and dances with cows and gets thrown into a drum set… you know, classic July 4th Jamboree shenanigans. Anyway, this is obviously an A+ summer flick. It lives summer.

This really hits a lot of marks for a classic BMT film. We’ve got audio flashbacks and cameos up the wazoo. We’ve got some big hysterical acting choices by the adults in the room (John C. McGinley being the biggest culprit… no wonder he went uncredited). And we’ve got what is essentially Here on Earth level rom com schlock mixed with semi-competent sports movie (with a dash of insulting locker room talk). It all should have worked out to be a HoF contender… except that like 40% of the film is actually an OK baseball film. It really did boggle the mind. I can only assume that the film was written as a straight baseball film, but then was turned into a rom com in rewrites. It just has to be… right? RIGHT?! I still kinda loved it for BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Boys of Summah! Boys of Summah! Boys of Summah! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Give me that Lillard / Freddy duo. They are best buds and I needed them to show it. Also I want to see how bad they all probably are at baseball. Finally, since I grew up on Cape Cod, the setting is naturally rather intriguing. My expectations for the film: I had seen this film before, so it is a little tough to get my expectations up. If the setting was solid, the romance was steamy, and the boys of summer looked terrible trying to play baseball the film would have went far beyond any reasonable expectations. I hoped for at least two of those three.

The Good – I actually thought they did a good job developing and showcasing the different types of players one might see in the Cape Cod League. The local decent player, the guy just looking to boost his bargaining power, the college player looking for some experience between semesters, etc. And surprisingly the baseball often didn’t look half bad (as long as an actor wasn’t actually hitting a ball). Good balance between baseball and non-baseball as well.

The Bad – Which is actually weird, because they go all in on the locker room talk in the baseball scenes. Lillard in particular is just disgusting. And they are balancing those gross male-dominated scenes with … maybe the cheesiest romance ever filmed? So while the time allotted to each subject is balanced, somehow the entire film is off-balance because of it. North Carolina doesn’t really look like the Cape even if Hollywood wants you to believe it does. The acting is atrocious, basically top-to-bottom (Fred Ward is maybe an exception). Even people who are good, like John C. McGinley, are just horrible. And with the film ending with audio and visual flashbacks galore, and maybe like four cheesy monologues that go on for days … I have a feeling the director specifically was overwhelmed by the project, and was probably giving McGinley directions like “just play it like an old timey scout you know? Like ‘Hey, Ryan, you really got the stuff, you see? Just toss it like a real bag of beans, you see?’, and then snap your suspenders”.

The BMT – Hmmmm, it is a decent question. Like, is this a top ten worst sports movie? It is a quintessential sports rom-com. Fever Pitch and Playing For Keeps come to mind. But bad ones are surprisingly rare. Sports comedies you have things like Juwanna Mann, Caddyshack 2, Benchwarmers, Rookie of the Year, etc. … I don’t know. I think this is just one of many. It’s best bet is in a compilation of Freddy Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard bromance films. That’s really where it shines. Did it meet my expectations?: I think so. While it kind of missed on the markers I set out in the preview, the thing I wasn’t really expecting was how poorly directed it was going to be. This is Audio Flashback: The Movie, and that saves it a bit. I wrote a lot of notes, which means I wasn’t bored, it was just a different experience than I was preparing myself for which threw things off.

Roast-radamus – I think the Sam Adams alone is crazy enough to warrant consideration for Worst Product Placement (What?). And we definitely get Setting as a Character (Where?) with Chatham, Massachusetts, which is deep Cape Cod. The film is all about Cape Cod and what it is like living on a set in North Carolina that is supposed to look like it. Is this a labor day film? Nope, looking at the schedule the entire film likely takes place in June and July. I’m surprised that there wasn’t a little Fourth of Juuuuuuuuly celebration though, great opportunity for some canoodling. Could have a shot at BMT maybe, but I doubt it.

StreetCreditReport.com – While I can find a few worst baseball films lists with this included naturally, I don’t feel the need to link them since they are of questionable quality. It managed to make a surprising appearance on this top 50 worst rom coms list. Which seems appropriate. And then is manages an astonishing 12th on this top 20 worst sports movies list. Impressive cred. That last review is spot on as well … why even bother with the baseball when the relationship dramas dominate most of the storylines anyways?

You Just Got Schooled – This is starting to look like a Good Movie Twins section. This week I decided to look around for a baseball documentary. I would have watched the Ken Burns doc, but it is like … 20 hours long or something. Instead I watched Netflix’s Battered Bastards of Baseball about the Portland Mavericks owned by Bing Russell, Kurt Russell’s father. The first half of this film is super interesting, kind of showing how the death of independent baseball in the US really did leave behind a weird amount of talent, and how a guy who cared for the game could harness that for good. The second half ends up less interesting, but overall it certainly is a cool tale. I used to live right near the Saint Paul Saints stadium in Saint Paul, and their games were a blast despite the fact that they were independent, and teams do end up getting talent from those types of leagues a lot more often these days. Very good doc to go with Summer Catch, even if I think it would have worked better as a 40 minute 30 for 30 or something.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Summer Catch Quiz

Huh, the last thing I remember I was playing catch with my best bro Bru and then I got knocked in the head with a baseball and I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Summer Catch?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) When Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) first sees Jessica Biel, besides his eyes popping out of his head like a cartoon wolf, what two things does he do wrong with his landscaping duties? Wowza!

2) This is Ryan’s last chance to make it big. Where did he play his college ball, and why was he thrown off of the team?

3) Well we all know what Ryan wants to do with his life, but what does Jessica Biel’s character want to do with her life?

4) Well Ryan sucks at baseball it turns out and is relegated to the bullpen. That’s a bummer. But what luck! The star pitcher just burned down the pressbox and was thrown off of the team. Great. How did the fire start?

5) In the final game of the season Ryan (almost) throws a no hitter, but guess what? He’s got to go see about a girl (at the airport). But it isn’t too late! John C. McGinley is there to tell him he’s being called up to single A! Which Major League team is he involved with and where is he going to play?

BONUS: Who hit a home run off of Ryan in his first at bat in his major league debut?

Answers

Summer Catch Preview

Rich, Poe, and Blaze sit in the stands at swim practice watching the swim team do laps. In mere weeks they had progressed from fist bumps to bro hugs and had just received an invite to the captain Bryce’s latest pre-meet bash. Poe was feeling pretty good about their progress, but Rich was clearly getting antsy. He even almost forgot to pop the second collar on his polo later that evening when they were getting ready for the party. “Bro,” Blaze chastises, “you’re gonna blow up our spot.” But Rich is just excited because he knows that this is the night. Tomorrow all the scouts are gonna be there to see Bryce swim and see if he will be the Olympic champion gold medalist. So tonight he was sure to use the tech Gruber was after. When they get to the party everything is going swimmingly. They are just jamming to tunes and posting pics and vids to Insta and TikTok or some shit. Suddenly they see Bryce go into a back room. “It’s hammer time,” Rich says as they bust into the room. But instead of sweet tech Bryce is just taking boring ol’ steroid. Rich is incensed, “Steroids?! You serious, bro? You go to Seattle Tech. You can’t do better than that?!” But Bryce just shakily asks whether they’re going to turn him in to the Olympic gold medal committee. At that Poe sees an opportunity, “Not if you help us find some sweet tech we’re looking for.” Hope blooms in Bryce’s eyes, “yes, yes. I can help you. I know where to find this tech. The baseball team. They’ve hacked the Gibson and they know how to mathematically win. It’s boring, bro. Real boring… because of the tech.” Blaze, Poe, and Rich look at each other and nod, “looks like we’re playing a little catch.” That’s right! We’re watching Summer Catch, the Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard (of Hackers fame), and Jessica Biel classic as the Girl’s Night entry in the cycle. I recall watching this film, but also don’t remember a thing about it. That’s a good sign, right? Let’s go!

Summer Catch (2001) – BMeTric: 53.9 

SummerCatchIMDb_BMeT

SummerCatchIMDb_RV

(Two in a row! Just like Swimfan this started at a completely astonishing 4.0ish, and has since recovered a bit to barely get to 5.0. I think that is kind of the “bad but normal” range for films that are specifically targeting young women.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Substandard comedy/romance/coming-of-age story set in Cape Cod, with underprivileged baseball player Prinze falling for local rich girl, then having to deal with her snobby father, while tending his budding career. Takes itself too seriously, though Lillard adds welcome comedy relief. Beverly D’Angelo and John C. McGinley appear unbilled.

(Love the shout out for Lillard. His career has made a marked turn around in the last 5 years or so, including The Descendants and a pretty crazy appearance in the revival of Twin Peaks.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dub5wacnpDU

(Alright, so we’ve confirmed babes, bros, and baseball. I’ll be looking for burgers, beers, and any number of other very important bro-tastic B-words.)

Directors – Michael Tollin – (Future BMT: Radio; BMT: Summer Catch; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for a documentary about Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. Writes and directs all sports stuff, but produces a ton of television including the All That revival this year.)

Writers – Kevin Falls (story & screenplay) – (Future BMT: The Temp; BMT: Summer Catch; Notes: Wrote a good number of West Wing episodes with Aaron Sorkin in the first three seasons. More recently he produced This is Us.)

John Gatins (screenplay) – (Known For: Power Rangers; Kong: Skull Island; Flight; Real Steel; Coach Carter; Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story; Future BMT: Hardball; BMT: Summer Catch; Need for Speed; Notes: Also kind of an actor including in the BMT Hall of Fame film Norbit. He was in Leprechaun 3 and has had a lot more success as a writer.)

Actors – Freddie Prinze Jr. – (Known For: She’s All That; The House of Yes; Brooklyn Rules; Future BMT: Scooby-Doo; Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Happily N’Ever After; Boys and Girls; Head Over Heels; Delgo; To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday; Jack and Jill vs. the World; BMT: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer; Wing Commander; Summer Catch; Down to You; I Know What You Did Last Summer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Scooby-Doo in 2003; Notes: Was kind of a movie star for a while, but after that (and his own show, Freddie) I would say he’s best known for his voice work and his podcast Prinze and the Wolf. Weirdly wrote for WWE for a season.)

Jessica Biel – (Known For: The A-Team; The Rules of Attraction; The Illusionist; Cellular; Hitchcock; The Tall Man; Easy Virtue; Ulee’s Gold; Future BMT: Accidental Love; Blade: Trinity; I’ll Be Home for Christmas; A Kind of Murder; Home of the Brave; Planet 51; Next; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; Total Recall; The Truth About Emanuel; Elizabethtown; Powder Blue; Shock and Awe; Spark: A Space Tail; The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; London; BMT: Stealth; Summer Catch; Valentine’s Day; New Year’s Eve; Playing for Keeps; I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress in 2008 for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, and Next; and in 2013 for Playing for Keeps, and Total Recall; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry in 2008; Notes: Married to Justin Timberlake. She has a new show coming out called Limetown which is based on a podcast and premiering on Facebook Watch …)

Fred Ward – (Known For: Tremors; Road Trip; The Right Stuff; Escape from Alcatraz; 2 Guns; Silkwood; 30 Minutes or Less; Henry & June; The Player; Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult; Dangerous Beauty; Short Cuts; Southern Comfort; Big Business; Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous; Armoured; Uncommon Valor; Catchfire; Thunderheart; Bob Roberts; Future BMT: Corky Romano; Abandon; The Crow: Salvation; Chain Reaction; Enough; Joe Dirt; Masked and Anonymous; Best Men; Circus; Feast of Love; Equinox; Secret Admirer; BMT: Summer Catch; Sweet Home Alabama; Notes: He was “not Kevin Bacon” in Tremors if you were wondering. A character actor, he’s apparently good friends with Ed Harris.)

Budget/Gross – $34 million / Domestic: $19,753,553 (Worldwide: $19,772,447)

(That is straight up terrible. My God! No wonder we didn’t get Summer Catch 2: Up to the Majors)

#203 for the Romantic Comedy genre

summercatch_romanticcomedy

(Naturally on the low end of the many many many Romantic Comedies we’ve seen, around the Down to You … also starring Freddy Prinze Jr. Go figure. This came right as the genre reached maturity, and more recently while the profits still exist the screens the films are released to just aren’t available. But the genre lives on on VOD, with Always Be My Maybe being a recent example.)

#39 for the Sports Comedy genre

summercatch_sportscomedy

(There really is a strange boom in the 2000s for this genre, which this somewhat predates. This is actually much more akin to classics like Bull Durham, but just mix in the high school romance films of the period, basically. The later ones are like … Wimbledon and Mr. 3000. Maybe people were just itching to rent out stadiums in the 2000s?)

#32 for the Teen Romance genre

summercatch_teenromance

(Beastly is somehow the highest grossing for this category … the big profit in the 2000s is Twilight. And really, this is the one true teen rom com boom. The genre is still going strong somehow, in and out of theaters, with Netflix releasing smash hits like The Kissing Booth as well.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 8% (7/91): A cliched and predictable sports comedy that’s mostly devoid of excitement or laughs, Summer Catch is strictly bush-league.

(Get that garbage pun out of here. They play in a summer league, it is already bush-league. Astonishingly low review score considering the genre shouldn’t have been overstaying its welcome yet … you’d think more people would at least tolerate it as a change of pace. Reviewer Highlight: Stars Freddie Prinze Jr. (strike one), features more male virgins trying to lose it (strike two) and disses the legendary baseball league in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, by filming this mess in North Carolina (strike three). – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Poster – Bros, Babes, and Baseball (D+)

summer_catch_ver1

(This is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Why… why did this happen. It’s very similar to Swimfan but like a thousand times worse. I could have made this.. Wait… did I make this? Did I make this as an example of a terrible terrible poster? The only good thing is that title font. You can always get me with some solid font work and that’s some solid font work.)

Tagline(s) – Are you game? (D)

(Jesus, that’s all you got? It’s got all the aspects of a good tagline, but it’s just so boring and generic. I can’t reward that. It makes me think that this film will also be boring, which I just don’t think is true. This has Matthew Lillard and Freddie Prinze Jr. in it. It might be super lame, but it won’t be boring.)

Keyword(s) – baseball; Top Ten by BMeTric: 86.8 Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004); 86.5 Troll 2 (1990); 86.5 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987); 78.8 Little Man (III) (2006); 73.6 Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003); 73.4 Species II (1998); 68.6 The Ridiculous 6 (2015); 67.7 Poltergeist (2015); 66.0 Envy (2004); 65.2 Ed (1996);

(I mean. Ed? Yes please. I don’t know why Legally Blonde 2 would have baseball in it, I haven’t seen it. But I suppose we’ll have to remedy that. Maybe it has to do with the big case.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jessica Biel is No. 2 billed in Summer Catch and No. 2 billed in Valentine’s Day, which also stars Jessica Alba (No. 1 billed) who is in Mechanic: Resurrection (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 14. If we were to watch Wicker Park we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Marc Blucas’ character can be seen wearing a Wake Forest basketball cap early in the movie. It is black with a yellow “WF” on the front. Blucas actually attended and played basketball on a full scholarship to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem North Carolina. He started along with Tim Duncan there. (Cool)

Wilmer Valderrama’s film debut.

The batter at home plate when the camera pans Veterans Field (Chatham’s real home field on Cape Cod) is Hyannis’s Brendan Harris, who made his major league debut in 2004 with the Chicago Cubs.

John Schiffner is the real life coach and manager of the Chatham A’s.

Curt Gowdy and Hank Aaron both make appearances in this film. Gowdy was the NBC play-by-play announcer in the booth when Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 to pass Babe Ruth on April 8th, 1974 in what was then known as Atlanta Stadium (later named Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium). Real-life baseball player, Christopher Rosado (a Boston College graduate), appears briefly as the left-fielder on Ryan Dunne’s team. (This is going to be chockablock full of cameos, I love it)

This marks the third film out of five that Matthew Lillard and Freddie Prinze Jr. have worked on together. The other films are Wing Commander (1999), She’s All That (1999), Scooby-Doo (2002) and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004). (They are best buds)

John McGinley plays a scout for the Phillies named Hugh Alexander. There really was a scout named Hugh Alexander who signed many future MLB all-stars while working for multiple teams during a 64-year career including the Phillies for 16 years. (What are these next-level refs?!)

A pseudo/quasi premier was held in Seattle at the now-defunct theater chain “General Cinemas Pacific Place” in order to coincide with that year’s all-star game. Which happened to be Cal Ripken Jr’s last game/retirement game. (Ooooooo fun fact)

Swimfan Recap

Ben Cronin is a swimming god with a totally dope girlfriend so what could go wrong? How ‘bout a new girl in town ready to turn his life upside down. When it turns out that she’s totally cray he’s like WTF and tries to bounce. But, uh oh! She’s like, now way and gets even crazier. Can he kill her (seriously, that’s what happens) before it’s too late? Find out in… Swimfan.

How?! Ben Cronin is the man. He can swim like he’s in the Olympics, he has a gf that’s totally into him, and he’s got cargo pants for days. Nothing can ruin him life now, especially with Stanford scouts coming to town for the big meet, right? Wrong. He meets the new girl in town, Madison, and is immediately intrigued. He’s like “maybe I can just hang out with her and definitely not bone her in the pool.” This turns out to be a mistake because they definitely immediately bone in the pool. Realizing that that wasn’t the best move in the world he tries to distance himself from Madison, but she ain’t having it. But instead of revealing the dirtbag move to his girlfriend, Madison is unfortunately insane and begins to ruin his life piece by piece. After she gets him to fail a drug test, kills his best frenemy, and runs his girlfriend off the road (in an attempt to frame him for her murder), Ben decides that enough is enough. He tricks her into confessing on camera and gets her arrested. Phew. That must be the end. But not so fast, the edge of your seat is about to get a bit more worn, because Madison escapes from the police and kidnaps Ben’s girlfriend. He tracks her to the pool where she attempts to murder his girlfriend, but instead inadvertently falls into the pool. In a stroke of irony, despite her well known swim fandom, she never learned to swim and ends up drowning while Ben saves his girlfriend. Realizing that she’s all that he really wants, Ben leaves the world of competitive swimming behind… or does he? Bum bum bum… he does. THE END. 

Why?! The question we all are asking. Ben is on the verge of getting a swimming scholarship to Stanford and his girlfriend (who along with swimming he credits with saving him from a life of drugs and crime) is ready to join him. Life seems pretty sweet, but we get a hint that he’s not so sure he really wants his girlfriend following him to college. Now this is somewhat reasonable. Perhaps he’s just not sure that such a drastic move is prudent given their age. Or perhaps he fears she’s sacrificing her dreams just to be close and feels bad about that. Regardless, we don’t really get much clarity on this other than that he must feel really strongly about it because he immediately goes off and bangs the new girl in the pool in a stunning act of self-sabotage. Normally this would just result in him losing his girlfriend and perhaps a lackluster performance in the pool (swimming, not sexual obviously. That seemed to go… swimmingly), but unfortunately Madison’s motivation is that she’s a crazy swimfan (née baseballfan).

Who?! No less than 25 Special Thanks credits given out on this film. There must have been a massive rewrite or reshoot on this because there are composers, writers, producers, editors, etc. that get Special Thanks on this. So perhaps they had a cut where they really explored Ben’s motivation but then they were like “It’s called Swimfan, not CharacterDevelopmentFan, OK?” and got rid of that shit.

What?! It is actually mentioned in a book about product placement as a target for some newer sources (outside of the typical beverages, cars, clothing, etc.). That included some Apple products (which hadn’t previously done a lot of placement) and a mention of Viagra (a rare pharmaceutical product placement). I really dug into that because I assumed there wouldn’t be any Swimfan props for sale. Boy was I wrong. Anyone want to dress as Jesse Bradford at his hospital job wearing his bronze swimming medal? Yeah me neither, totally unrealistic. Ben Cronin don’t get third.

Where?! Fun New Jersey setting. Very specific and with license plates everywhere. Not vital to the plot other than to make Stanford seem very far away and I guess maybe to have NYC close enough to make Madison seem somewhat big city exotic (with a boyfriend drafted by the Mets to boot). But still a solid B+.

When?! Hard work always pays off and originally I didn’t think you get an exact date on this one. Wrong! When Ben is casually browsing world record swim times on the interweb just before he gets the first of many creepy messages from swimfan85 we see that the website was updated on May 7th, 2001. Assuming that our boy Ben is only using the best resources to check up on his world record aspirations we can assume that the film takes place around that time. B+ because I love it so much.

I was pretty jazzed for this film. Who wouldn’t be? And while I enjoyed it for its complete devotion to the swimfan aspect of it (and the lack of interest in exploring the characters in any other way) it was otherwise pretty formulaic. She is crazy almost immediately and we proceed almost straight to her getting murdered in a pool (or maybe murder isn’t the right word. He just kinda lets her drown in the pool while saving his girlfriend… so it’s more a tragic accident, I guess). If I had to point to something that I really liked about it I think I would say pretty much everything that Jesse Bradford wears in the film. There were multiple times where I stopped the movie and was just like “what is he wearing?” So many baggy jeans, a cargo pants sighting, and some ill-fitting leather jacket ensembles… it’s almost impossible to pick my favorite of the bunch. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Daaaaaaaaaaaang, I got all into swimming shape and now I have this scary swimfan stalking me. Whoops! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Jesse Bradford. I needed to know exactly how dreamy his eyes are. More seriously though it occurred to me while watching the trailer that this was a weird time where they were making erotic thrillers … but for like teenagers? That seems like a bad look. But Cruel Intentions (and its straight-to-DVD sequels) and this are an intriguing trend. My expectations for the film: I had to think long and hard about what would make me love this film. I decided that it needed to be over the top crazy. Jesse needed to think he was going insane, and they needed to dial the thrills up to 11. He had to kill her at the end of the film, he had to be forced to kill her in order to get his life back! I was all in at this point and ready to be sorely disappointed.

The Good – They definitely had some thrills. And they definitely ruined Bradford’s life and made him think that he was going crazy. The film is ludicrous enough that I was engaged throughout and it ultimately worked for me. The woman who played the girlfriend was solid, really plays the good girlfriend type well. And they gave a lot more depth to Bradford’s character than I expected, I was actually getting a little worked up about his life getting ruined.

The Bad – Which is also kind of my biggest problem with the film. The formula for an erotic thriller like this is pretty simple: have a kind of trashy guy attract a femme fatale, his life gets mixed up, he is convinced he is going to die or go to prison, and then … the psycho dies and everything is going to be okay. With a teenager though? His life is pretty irreversibly screwed (at least tangibly worse) the instant he is doped with steroids. I doubt a serious college program would consider him (despite his dope times, because they would think they were dope doped times). And that upset me. If things were a little more minor, or they gave him a less melancholy ending I think this would be a personal favorite. But with the stress I was under it brings it down a notch. Also the acting is pretty rough with only the exception of the girlfriend. Also, no offense, but the femme fatale is not hot enough to warrent the craze all the dudes have for her … seriously no offense, but she should have been like insane hot. Even like … a teacher maybe? Whatever, you can see by how much I’ve written just how much I care about this film. It is tearing me up inside!

The BMT – I think this is a fine BMT, as a matter of fact I think this will be looked upon fondly as a starting point for me differentiating the very specific teen erotic thriller as a minor genre of the late 90s and early 00s. There are plenty of things I wish it had done better to really push it over the top, but all of those are forgivable in the face of Jesse Bradford’s dreamy eyes. Today, we are all swimfans. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but only half way. As I’ve said, I think I underestimated how unpleasant it felt to see a young person ruin their lives rather than an adult who mostly has it coming (hoisted by their own petard as it is). But the thrills were cranked up, and he thought he was going crazy, and he did kill her in the end, so it did check all of the boxes.

Roastradamus – The only product placement I can remember was the fact that Bradford very obviously drives a Ford truck. It is only set in New Jersey in a very minor sense. Is the Stanford swimming scout a MacGuffin? … no not really. I will say that Worst Twist (How?) is a credible option with Bradford (and friends) entrapping Madison Bell with the ol’ secret video tape trick. But much like everything about this film … it kind of half asses all of the categories and is unlikely to earn any of them. It does have a good shot at BMT as a nominee though, that is probably the best bet.

StreetCreditReport.com – I am genuinely shocked. I couldn’t find a single yearly list that includes it. I couldn’t find a worst of sports list that includes it. The only list I could find was a Buzzfeed article about unintentionally hilarious teen films. If you could make a list of worst ever swimming films it should probably make it … but it also might be the only film on the list. Very surprising, I figured some sports film list would include it due to its trashiness.

You Just Got Schooled – And how could I watch Swimfan without watching the original classic, Fatal Attraction? This movie was 100 times better than Swimfan. It is a true thriller. I was thrilled throughout, on tenterhooks during every slow pan as tension built. It is one of the best films I’ve ever seen to bridge the thriller / horror gap, as I often found myself horrified (in contrast to most creature features which are vanilla thrillers in my opinion). Dougles, Close and Archer are all amazing, and unlike Swimfan it manages to build the story without just ruining Douglas’ life which I appreciated. I think this finally made me understand why Swimfan just got dunked on by critics, they must have looked at Swimfan and been like “oh, so it’s Fatal Attraction except with bad acting and 100x worse and a garbage story? One star”. As a kind-of adaptation Swimfan is officially an F, it doesn’t even deserve to be in the conversation with Fatal Attraction. Oh no … do I hate Swimfan now? No, never! I will always love you Swimfan with your sexy downtrodden Jesse Bradford!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs