Down to You Recap

Jamie

Was there some fad in the early 2000s that I don’t remember where romance films eschewed the typical “meet cute” device in favor of a super earnest “we were always meant for each other even if we didn’t always know it but we still kinda knew it” device? Why do I ask? Because Down to You and Here on Earth are essentially the same movie and were released within weeks of each other. I’m not saying that Down to You is as good a BMT film as Here on Earth. That would be impossible. Here on Earth is a unique star in the BMTverse that shines with no comparison. But it feels the same. So if there wasn’t some earnest teen romance film fad, then I like to think they this is some bizarre example of a twin film scenario. Like Deep Impact and Armageddon or White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. As if Miramax heard that Fox was putting Here on Earth into production and Harvey screamed at his assistant, “Get Freddie on the phone, we’re making a movie,” while dusting off an old script of Here on Earth he had lying around and grabbing the closest intern to be the director. They even play the same god damned song in the middle of the movie! You know, the song that plays when Chris Klein is dancing in the barn before drunkenly crashing the fair… what am I saying, obviously you remember it. That’s all my mind was able to focus on while watching the film… it was just so similar. And yet, it wasn’t nearly the BMT film that Here on Earth was. Felt a little in on the joke… which makes sense, it’s a comedy after all.

Quick game for me. This film was not based on a book. Strangely, though, Stiles is a book cover artist in the film and in the end gives Freddie a book called Down to You that she illustrated. So what was that book about? My guess? It’s the story of an endless love between a girl and a boy who always and forever knew they were meant for each other. Life gets in the way, but they always find their way through. Yeah, she cheats on him and he can’t handle their drifting apart, but when all’s said and done they recognize their own faults and how they make each other better… Oh, and the book also stars Chris Klein and is the best and is actually called Here on Earth: the Book and it won the Pulitzer. Perfect.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Down to You? More like Down on This Movie! And I was, let’s get into it.

  • The Good – I think I’ve said this every week in our one and done director cycle, but passion. The writer-director here had a vision (I think). He wasn’t that successful, but I appreciate it. See below for more details. I did appreciate that they shot it in NYC though. It was obviously NYC. It was so NYC it hurt.
  • The Bad – I don’t think I appreciated how not-good Freddie Prinze Jr. was as an actor until this movie. The movie was really kind of gross-weird in a gross-weird kind of way (you know?). The fact that the characters talk directly to the camera was just a horrible horrible (horrible) decision.
  • The BMT – What? Yes. I would give it a 50 on the BMeTric which is where it was really. It is a poor man’s Here on Earth. But who would be shocked? Freddie Prinze Jr. is a poor man’s Chris Klein (in BMT terms). Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Not sure.

One last thought on the film. Basically, I have the distinct feeling this movie was the director’s passion project. It is extremely reminiscent of Cusack films like One Crazy Summer. A little bit more drama (so maybe throw in a bit of Hughes for good measure), The main characters talked directly to the camera, it felt like a person telling their own story of their one great college romance (and how fleeting that can be and feel), and there is a strange surreal storyline woven throughout the film with Zak Orth as a porn auteur. And yet … the film kind of falls flat on its face throughout. Who to blame? Impossible to know. Perhaps seeing a young writer-director’s singular vision of a film just slo-motion explode is punishment enough, I don’t know. I think I’ll have to come back to this movie someday (ugh), just to really sort through things ….

Quick Sequel Prequel Remake, Sequel duh. Fast forward 16 years, the movie is called Down to Earth (I’m already excited about the potential Here on Earth, Down to Earth, Down to You trilogy!) and shows our protagonists struggling to rekindle the romance after ten years of marriage and two kids later. Hard drama. Revolutionary Road style, it comes out to rave reviews and snags both leading actor awards at the Oscars. One reviewer notes the “real pain behind Freddie Prinze Jr’s revelatory performance, … demanding your attention and admiration all at once”. First time writer-director Patrick Smadbeck was shut out of all major awards much to his chagrin. Bah, now I’m angry.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Down to You Preview

Alrighty girls, time to settle down with your boo and bust out that bottle of wine, because this week is a romantic … comedy? Drama? I actually can’t tell. Teen Romance. There it is, that is a genre, right? Anywho, BMT legend Freddie Prinze Jr., teen star legend Julia Stiles, and a one-off writer-director once got together and made what is apparently a truly baffling movie. There is a story here, I know there is!

Down to You (2000) – BMeTric: 46.7

DownToYou_BMeT

(Nice. Looking like it will just stay a shade under 50 BMeT for all of time. Congrats Down to You, you did it! Otherwise a pretty standard chart at this point. I am genuinely surprised at how high the BMeT is though, 45+ is still incredible.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Prinza and Stiles futilely try chumming us up by speaking directly into the camera, explaining how their once-idyllic college romance went bust (though not as bust as the movie). Somehow, this manages to find room for subplots about a TV cooking show (hosted by Winkler as Prinze’s dad) and a buddy who dabbles as an adult-movie entrepreneur with a kind of bohemian/intellectual porn actress. Numbingly inept comedy.

(Holy cow Maltin, BRUTAL. Buzzed right past passive aggressive and slid face first into straight-up aggressive! This movie is straight busted. The irony is just dripping off of that “somehow”, dirty. And the closer. So succinct and just soul destroying. I’m obsessed with this review for some reason, he just murders this film.)

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

(That looks like the 90s alright. Really just sickly sweet stuff. Cannot wait to sit down with my boo and watch that. I hope they get together in the end!)

Directors – Kris Isacsson – (BMT: Down to You; Notes: see below)

Writers – Kris Isacsson (written by) – (BMT: Down to You; Notes: one-time director and writer? Uh, yes please. He is also an anomaly in that I can find very very little information about him. I think I found his twitter (~100 tweets, mostly retweets) and his instagram (~100 posts, nothing interesting). I don’t really know what happened to him. He did a few tv movies up through 2008, but nothing else on IMDb. There is a story here … [Jamie’s Note: Here’s a little bit of his background. Also here is a link to the short film he did that won a Sundance award.])

Actors – Freddie Prinze Jr. – (Known For: The House of Yes; Brooklyn Rules; BMT: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer; Scooby-Doo; Wing Commander (BMT); Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Happily N’Ever After; Summer Catch; Down to You; I Know What You Did Last Summer; Boys and Girls; Head Over Heels; She’s All That; Delgo; Notes: Best buds with BMT darling Matthew Lillard (in my dreams). Only son of late comedian Freddie Prinze. Now more known for his voice acting work, and was heavily involved with WWE for years. Nominated Razzie Award 2003 Worst Supporting Actor Scooby-Doo)

Julia Stiles – (Known For: 10 Things I Hate About You; Silver Linings Playbook; The Bourne Identity; The Bourne Ultimatum; The Bourne Supremacy; Save the Last Dance; O; Closed Circuit; State and Main; Hamlet; It’s a Disaster; Edmond; I Love You, I Love You Not; The Business of Strangers; BMT: Down to You; The Omen; A Guy Thing; The Prince and Me (BMT); Out of the Dark; Girl Most Likely; The Devil’s Own; Misconduct; Mona Lisa Smile; Notes: We saw her last in Prince and Me. Her filmography is incredible considering she hasn’t been a leading lady for years. A former vegan.)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $20,069,008 (Worldwide: $24,419,914 Worldwide)

#28 for Teen Romance (right above another Prinze gem, Summer Catch)

(Ooooooooof. First, how could this movie cost that much? I guess maybe the NYC setting and actors? And yes, this was actually shot in NYC according to IMDb. I suppose you expect a Prinze/Stiles film to do better, but first time writer-director? There is a story here, I feel it.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 3% (2/59): Down to You is ruined by a bland, by-the-numbers plot and an awful script.

(That is a spectacularly low score. Also, everything about this film screams “This person had no idea how to write or direct a film and yet was somehow given total control”. The question is why and how? My guess … we’ll never know.)

Poster – Hideous Purple Background (D-)

DownToYou

(I have a confession to make: I hate this poster. I hate how they are just kind of cut into it. I hate the background color and pattern. I hate the font and how easy it would be for me to change this into Down to Sklog with me and my dog Tolstoy hugging (and no, I didn’t do it … I was too busy, otherwise you’d be looking at my fake poster right this minute). Why isn’t it an F? Because I like Prinze and Stiles, so there.)

Tagline(s) – A new comedy about giving first love a second chance. (B-)

(Above average, you heard me right. First love. Second chance. I hate the “new comedy” bit, but I like the idea. And hey, as far as taglines goes there are far far far far far worse. Change that to “Sometimes first love needs a second chance” and you got a solid B.)

Notes – First time that Shawn Hatosy and Julia Stiles worked together. Later they would both join the cast of Dexter during Season 5. (cooooooooooool)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Recap

Jamie

First, my (BMTsolution) thoughts on the book What to Expect When You’re Expecting. They actually did a strangely good job at adapting an instructional book on pregnancy into a film. I read three chapters of the book (Chapters 1 and 2, which were preparing for pregnancy and questions about early pregnancy, and the chapter for expectant dads). In each chapter there are kind of key ideas, like how dads can gain weight during pregnancy too, how hormones can affect women in totally opposite ways, and how women who are pregnant have a lot of non-glamorous things going on with their bodies (forgetfulness, etc.). Many of these key points are pointedly mentioned during the film. Often it almost seemed like they were reciting passages word-for-word (i.e. “Hey, it’s not weird that I’m gaining weight. In fact, it’s quite common for dads-to-be to gain weight through stress or sympathy”).

So good on the writers for incorporating large swaths of a non-narrative book into a narrative medium… still wasn’t great. I’d say like Valentine’s Day > What to Expect When You’re Expecting > New Year’s Eve… so like middle of the shitty pack. Was it the same in jolly ole England, Patrick?


Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Introducing Patrick’s Bad Movie Shortform Recap (PBMSR):

The GoodIt was actually funnier that I thought it would be. I liked the Brooklyn Decker / Dennis Quaid storyline. It is better than New Year’s Eve as far an ensemble features go (slightly worse than Valentine’s Day).

The Bad Jennifer Lopez was terrible and her storyline was terrible. The Dude’s Group wasn’t funny despite being filled with amazing comedians. I disliked the Dude’s Group immensely but also realized that without it we’d be left with no movie. Literally nothing. Too little D-Wade for my tastes.

BMT? Hell’s yeah. Actually a better BMT than I expected. To remind you the BMeTric gives this a 36.7, which is really good. That number is generous. This is more like a 20-25 level movie. Borderline, but definitively BMT.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

P.S. Check out the 3rd Annual Smaddies Baddies. This recap was produced on the fifth anniversary of BMT, an amazing (?) achievement indeed.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Preview

Alright, so there are many BMT weeks where as Thursday approaches I wait in anticipation for the day to finally arrive. Where I have an inkling that I’m about to watch a film that will go down in the anals of BMT history (pun most definitely intended). This is not one of those weeks. This is more like a week where Patrick and I try desperately to replace the film that we’ve foisted upon ourselves through our strict combination of genre/cycle and ultimately fail. In this case finding a pro athlete featured in a bad chick flick that we haven’t already seen produced only one (!) viable choice. That choice is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Apparently Dwyane Wade is featured as … something… in the film. I really don’t care. I hate that we have to watch this film and I have to read (?) the book for my BMTsolution. Damn it! Let’s go!

What to Expect When You Might be Expecting (2012) – BMeTric: 36.7

WhatToExpect_BMeT.png

(Decently stable. Nothing really interesting except that it seems like it should stay in the 35-40 range. Definitively BMT.)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars – Overlong, multi-character comedy about the pressures and problem of pregnancy, adoption, and impending parenthood featuring a likeable (and exceptionally attractive) cast. Rings hollow at first but gains traction as the script eschews cheap laughs and hews closer to real-life, relatable experiences. “Inspired by” the best-selling nonfiction book of the same name by Heidi Murkoff.

(Eschews and hews in the same sentence?! Not to mention a stellar “p” alliteration run at the start. Leonard was really indulging himself. I’m really glad that he put “Inspired by” in quotes. Because I definitely “read” this book in preparation for BMT.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wuIltIHQXY

(Huh… well that wasn’t as unpleasant as I thought it would be. I like a lot of the people in the cast and the guy group had some funny lines. Looks like it could be a better version of Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.)

Director(s) – Kirk Jones – (Known For: Everybody’s Fine; Nanny McPhee; Waking Ned Devine; BMT: What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Notes: An accomplished commercial director, he won the Silver Lion at Cannes in 1996 for his Heinz advertising campaign. Going to be the director of the upcoming Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.)

Writer(s) – Heidi Murkoff (books) – (BMT: What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Notes: I genuinely cannot believe she actually has a credit. The book is considered one of the most influential books of the last 25 years)

Shauna Cross (screenplay) – (Known For: Whip It; BMT: If I Stay; What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Notes: Former roller derby participant, she wrote the book (and screenplay) for Whip It. Is credited for writing Bad Santa 2.)

Heather Hach (screenplay) – (Known For: Freaky Friday; BMT: What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Notes: Has won multiple awards for Freaky Friday and the musical adaptation of Legally Blond. Wikipedia claims her daughter’s name is HarperCollins, also the publishing company which published her novel Freaky Monday (a sequel to Freaky Friday).)

Actors – Cameron Diaz – (Known For: The Mask; There’s Something About Mary; The Holiday; Bad Teacher; Shrek; Being John Malkovich; Gangs of New York; Shrek 2; Charlie’s Angels – Full Throttle; The Box; Knight & Day; My Sister’s Keeper; Charlie’s Angels; Vanilla Sky; Shrek the Third; BMT: What Happens in Vegas; The Other Woman (BMT); What to Expect When You’re Expecting; The Sweetest Thing (BMT); Sex Tape (BMT); A Life Less Ordinary; Gambit; Annie (BMT); Feeling Minnesota; The Invisible Circus; Slackers; Keys to Tulsa; The Counselor; Notes: Won for Worst Actress, The Other Woman / Sex Tape (2014); Nominated for Worst Actress, What Happens in Vegas (2008), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003); Nominated for Worst Supporting Actress, Annie (2014))

Budget/Gross: $40 million / $41,152,203 ($84,384,002 Worldwide)

(Solid hit. I love when Box Office Mojo has a niche genre that you can look through. This is the ninth highest grossing “Pregnancy” film of all time. The lowest grossing wide-release film in the genre? The Brothers Solomon. As if there was ever a doubt.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 21% (29/132), The cast is stocked with likable performers, but What to Expect When You’re Expecting is too disjointed — and too reliant on stock rom-com cliches — to live up to its distinguished literary namesake.

(Uh oh. Disjointed is exactly what you don’t want with a movie based on a pregnancy information guide. A bit surprising though considering the movie only has two main screenwriters. It isn’t like 15 scripts were (necessarily) smashed together into a monster script. I’m ready to devour rom-com cliches though.)

Poster – There are Fifteen People on this Poster

what_to_expect_when_youre_expecting_ver8Poster

(Disorienting, too many colors, I like that the letters are slanted because it would make Patrick’s job harder if he spoofed the poster, but that’s about it. Also, there are like three too many pregnancy puns going on. Speaking of…)

Tagline(s) – It’s too late to pull out now. (Uh… … … wot?)

(Egad! That’s… unexpected. Don’t get me wrong, the tagline is fantastic. It’s short. It’s clever. It tells you a little about the plot using a solid double entendre. But it feels like it might be a bit at odds with the target audience and the sentiment of the film. Just a tad. [My wife’s take: “That’s too crude. I don’t like it.” Told yah.])

Notes – Elizabeth Banks and Jennifer Lopez are the only actresses cast as pregnant women who have children in real life; Lopez gave birth to twins, Banks has two sons via a surrogate. Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, and Brooklyn Decker have never had children. (While I personally don’t care, it is a weird casting move I feel like)

Based on the popular series of pregnancy guides by the same name. As of 2011, more than 14.5 million books have been sold.

Razzie Awards 2013: Brooklyn Decker (also for Battleship) and Jennifer Lopez each Nominated for Worst Supporting Actress

Hot Pursuit Preview

Moving on to this week’s film, we had to grab a Girls Night Out where we could. Honestly, like Horror films, it can be a bit of a crapshoot whether your favorite Rom-Com or Rom-Dram makes it into the field. My favorite from last year? Endless Love obviously. And yet that was just a delicious long list treat for me and Patrick. Didn’t make it as a nominee for anything. The only true Girls Night Out film that got a nomination was The Other Woman, which was part of a combo nomination for Cameron Diaz. And besides, I saw that shit in theaters outside of BMT (I am unashamed. I will literally watch anything in the theaters. Good film? Great. Bad film? Even better). So what is a girl to do? Obviously we had to stretch it a bit and take a straight comedy and label it a Girls Night Out film just because it starred two ladies. That’s right. This week is Hot Pursuit! I remember this film coming out and feeling kind of sad. Here was a film starring two high profile actresses as the leading roles and yet it was releasing in a not high profile release window to terrible, terrible reviews. One would have hoped they could have done a bit better with it. I guess we’ll see. Let’s go!

Hot Pursuit (2015) – 52.9 BMeTric (March 13, 2016)

HotPursuit_BMeT

(Produced March 13, 2016. Sweet graph, look at that DVD release bump. Also incredible that this is a 50+ BMeTric film. I am looking forward to getting enough pre/post-DVD plateaus so I can start to try and figure out found final BMeTrics based on the initial plateau.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – As a movie, “Hot Pursuit” can barely be said to exist. It is slackly constructed, unattractively shot, indifferently edited; its action scenes are very poorly staged; its storyline—a kind of hybrid of “The Gauntlet” and “Thelma and Louise” with scraps from several very lesser movies thrown in (“Due Date,” anyone?) is so rote that it even seems bored with itself. But as a delivery system for a newly minted and reasonably engaging if not always laugh-out-loud comedy team—Reese Witherspoon and Sophie Vergara—“Hot Pursuit” works, arguably, as well as it has to for much of its brisk hour-and-a-half.

(“Barely said to exist”?! Yes please. This review is funny. Long story short: everything is shit, but hey, why not? Really the only positive in the end is that it’s short and does what it set out to do. It’s like every review for Jurassic World. “It had dinosaurs didn’t it? What am I to complain about? Good enough.”)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUeOBdxSjc8

(This really, really, really feels like one of those trailers where every single joke was included because they didn’t have enough good parts in the film. We’ll find out.)

Director(s) – Anne Fletcher – (Known For: The Proposal; 27 Dresses. BMT: Step Up; The Guilt Trip; Hot Pursuit. Notes: Choreographer on a shitload of BMT favs such as Monkeybone, Dudley Do-Right, The Master of Disguise, and none other than Catwoman.)

Writer(s) – David Feeney (written by) – (BMT: Hot Pursuit; Notes: Been almost exclusively a TV writer and producer. Most notably on New Girl.)

John Quaintance (written by) – (Known For: Aquamarine; BMT: Hot Pursuit; Material Girls; Notes: Also a TV guy. It would seem that he and Feeney met writing for the TV show Ben and Kate.)

Actors – Reese Witherspoon – (Known For: Legally Blonde; Monsters vs. Aliens; Water for Elephants; Walk the Line; Just Like Heaven; Wild; Pleasantville; Cruel Intentions; American Psycho; Election; Mud; Rendition; Freeway; Vanity Fair; The Good Lie; The Man in the Moon; Inherent Vice. BMT: This Means War; Sweet Home Alabama; How Do You Know; Hot Pursuit; Four Christmases; Fear; Devil’s Knot; Legally Blonde 2 – Red White & Blonde. Notes: Won an Oscar for Walk the Line and nominated for Wild.)

Sofía Vergara – (Known For: Chef; Four Brothers; Happy Feet Two; Fading Gigolo; The Three Stooges; Big Trouble; Lords of Dogtown; BMT: The Smurfs; Wild Card; Hot Pursuit; Machete Kills; New Year’s Eve; Madea Goes to Jail; Soul Plane; The Smurfs 2; Escape From Planet Earth. Notes: Currently engaged to Joe Manganiello, who we know from his BMT work in Sabotage.)

Budget/Gross: $35 million / $34,580,201 ($51,380,201 Worldwide)

(Not nearly as bad as I would have thought. I thought this was an absolute disaster, but it was really pushed in the theaters (3000+) and had a relatively modest budget for the release size (although still more than I would have expected). Nevertheless it landed as the 119th worst ever opening for a supersaturated release, coming in just ahead of BMT fav Red Riding Hood.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 7% (11/146), Critics Consensus: Shrill and unfunny, Hot Pursuit bungles what should have been an easy opportunity to showcase Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara’s likable odd-couple chemistry.

(Wait… how do we know that Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara have likable odd-couple chemistry? The consensus makes it seem like it’s a foregone conclusion that they would have chemistry and that the only reason they don’t in this case is because it was bungled. Doesn’t really seem like a slam dunk to me. Seems more like it might end up being shrill and unfunny.)

Poster – Hot Dutch Angle (C-)

hot_pursuit_ver2

(No, no, and no. Don’t like when people are too prominent on posters (they don’t have consistent coloring), don’t like that a Dutch angle is used on the poster, and the symmetry is way off. Only thing I like is the font in the title and tagline. I like when they have their own font. Would make it hard for Patrick to produce a spoof poster called Sklog Pursuit… do it, Patrick… do it.)

Tagline(s) – Armed and sort of dangerous. (A)

(Hahaha, maybe I’m dumb or am in a good mood, but that tagline is actually making me chuckle. It’s cute in its simplicity. And nicely informative of the derogatory way that Witherspoon’s character is thought of in the film. I like it a lot.)

Notes – The film takes place in Texas but was filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The film’s original title was Don’t Mess with Texas. (would have been wonderful for mapl.de.map. Great when the title even tells you the state.)

A Thousand Acres Recap

Jamie

It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! Every once in a while we at BMTHQ stumble across a film that, for whatever reason, was underappreciated at the time. This doesn’t mean that the films were good by any means (looking at you Freddy Got Fingered), just that it seems odd that they got such bad reviews. A Thousand Acres is one of those films. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was based on a beloved (at the time) book or maybe it was because there was a bit of drama in the pre- and postproduction stages of the film. I don’t know. All I know is that this was essentially a straight adaption of a book I loved (read: good story) which some really good acting. Could it have been better? Sure, there is a bit of a tonal problem when the film seems to set out to be a family film (or at least a film about families) and then shift into the realm of incest. But despite that shortcoming the rest of the film seemed perfectly reasonable. At the very least it shouldn’t have ended up at 23% on RT. That seems ridiculous.

Alright, it’s been a little bit since our last MonoSklog so you can thank A Thousand Acres for providing a gem for this week. I call it Mi Hermana [EDITOR’S NOTE: Link to video has been removed for rights reasons] (I don’t think we used that one yet). That is some serious staring-at-each-other-and-crying action. I can’t wait to use that in my regional theater auditions and shush the casting director if he doesn’t let me stare and cry long enough at the end. “It says 40 seconds of staring and crying God damn it and that’s what I’m going to do! Geez! Can’t an artist get a break in this town!”

Before I throw it to Patrick I would like to note that this is not the first film involving incest that we’ve watched for BMT. Not even the first on the map. That would be Georgia Rule, set in the great state of Idaho. And thinking about it, that film also suffered from a significant tonal problem as it vacillated between a family comedy and incest… And with that I’m out.

Patrick

It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! ‘Ello everyone. A Thousand Acres wasn’t that bad:

  • Actually, I rather enjoyed it. Sure some of the complex ideas from the book seemed to have been slightly lost in translation, but the performances were, dare I say, excellent?
  • I had two (minor) complaints. First, a little boring. It isn’t the most exciting movie you’ll ever watch. Second, Colin Firth’s character probably played a bigger role in the book, but in the movie the character just kind of melts away after the climax of the film. I understand the point of the character, but the movie as written kind of doesn’t need him.

That’s it! That’s the complaints. I’m not sure why it got such a poor reception at the time. I think a few years later and this guy does just fine. Whatever, not my problem, and a poor poor (but necessary addition) to the map (for another example, see this week). Since this is so short let’s get really into some BMT:CSI:SVU, non-Thousand Acres addition.

[NOTE: The following discussion was fleshed out in later posts, and then collected into this Institute post. I’ve removed the plots because, for the most part they are old and non representative of the ultimate analysis, but left as mch of the discussion as possible for archival reasons. Enjoy!]

So in the past few months I’ve become more and more fascinated by IMDB user ratings. The value is enigmatic, but I can’t get over how useful a measure of “popularity” is in assessing potential BMT candidates. The thing is it can’t be used for 2015 films because films gain a ton of their lifetime votes in their first year of release. So, using the way back machine (the internet archive) I’ve been collecting the IMDB vote and rating trajectories from the past. Rough, but kind of fascinating.

But … there is something weird. Baiscally there is an inflection point in 2011, so what is happening? That inflection point is often there regardless of the age of the movie. At first I thought it was a cult-film thing with Grandma’s Boy … but Big Momma’s House isn’t a cult film. Then I thought maybe it was something to do with non-US users, but the proportion of votes coming from outside the US has been steadily rising since the early 2000s, no weird bump in 2011. Then I thought maybe bots. It could be bots, but you’d think since they have to “trick” bots into thinking they are voting by actually recording (but ignoring) their votes that you’d see a larger and larger discrepancy between the calculated rating and real rating, but nope, nothing special in 2011.

I’m now convinced the answer is simple: 2011 marks a point in time in which smartphones became effectively universal, and a point in time in which IMDB upgraded their site, the iOS app was launched, etc. A point in which IMDB went from auseful tool (for people who knew about it), to basically the first resource people access. Looking at Google trends for IMDB you do see this weird bump around 2011. It is subtle, but it is there. It appears to coincide, indeed, with their app going “universal”. So then, if you look at a films which have been pretty stable over time it still seems to get the same bump!

Phew … Cheerios,

The Sklogs

A Thousand Acres Preview

Well we continue our march to mapl.de.map history. This week is girls’ night out and we get to watch a little classic known as A Thousand Acres… what’s that? No one actually knows what that is? Well it’s based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Jane Smiley (which I read, obvs) about a family of farmers in Northern Iowa. The plot loosely follows that of King Lear and the book was excellent. Apparently the movie was not as excellent. We’ll see though. This obviously takes the Iowa spot on the map, which I’m saving to update in the near future. Let’s go!

A Thousand Acres (1997) – BMeTric: 14.2 (November 13, 2016)

athousandacres_bmet

athousandacres_rv

(Pretty classic older movie plot. Votes go up, rating regresses to the mean, BMeTric reaches a plateau. The votes are so low that the BMeTric is generally below average for a bad movie. Expected. Commentary generated on November 13, 2016)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – When a stubborn, single-minded widowed father decides to relinquish ownership of his farm to his three daughters, a family is abruptly torn apart, and long-held secrets come out of the closet. The only thing missing from this melodrama is character motivation, which presumably did exist in Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, a variation on King Lear. A hollow film notable only for the strong performances of the two leading ladies (whose companies jointly produced the film).

(Well, having read the novel I will admit that the character motivations are a bit hazy but mostly because everything is told from a particular point of view. The character who tells the story is naive and a bit too optimistic, so she is generally blind to the underlying motives of several of the major characters… you know, to be totally serious and analytical about this whole thing. Long story short: don’t talk about things you don’t know anything about Leonard.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGH5iZZxFBg

(“A story of family…” wait, wot? This is coming off a bit too ‘gee whiz, guys we can work this out cause we’re FAMILY’ (you know, like Furious 7), when the novel is not that… definitely not that. What a weird trailer.)

Director(s) – Jocelyn Moorhouse – (Known For: How to Make an American Quilt; Proof. BMT: A Thousand Acres; Unconditional Love. Notes: Her imdb picture is of her reading A Thousand Acres. She hasn’t done anything in film since this movie, but is returning to writing and directing this year with the release of The Dressmaker staring Kate Winslet. Wow.)

Writer(s) – Laura Jones (screenplay) – (Known For: Angela’s Ashes; Possession; The Portrait of a Lady; Oscar and Lucinda; An Angel at My Table; Brick Lane; The Well; High Tide. BMT: A Thousand Acres. Notes: Has mostly worked on literary adaptations to mostly great results.)

Actors – Michelle Pfeiffer – (Known For: Scarface; What Lies Beneath; Batman Returns; Hairspray; One Fine Day; Stardust; Wolf; The Age of Innocence; Dangerous Liaisons; Ladyhawke; I Could Never Be Your Woman; White Oleander; The Witches of Eastwick; Love Field; The Fabulous Baker Boys. BMT: I Am Sam; The Family; Dangerous Minds; Dark Shadows; Grease 2; The Story of Us; Up Close & Personal; New Year’s Eve (BMT); A Thousand Acres. Notes: Nominated for three Oscars (Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Love Field))

Jessica Lange – (Known For: Big Fish; Cape Fear; Tootsie; Rob Roy; The Gambler; Broken Flowers; All That Jazz; Titus; The Postman Always Rings Twice; King Kong; Frances; Blue Sky; Music Box; Losing Isaiah; Grey Gardens. BMT: The Vow; Hush; Prozac Nation; A Thousand Acres; Everybody’s All-American. Notes: Nominated for Worst Actress Razzie for Hush. Nominated for six Oscars, winning two (Tootsie and Blue Sky).)

Also stars Jason Robards.

Budget/Gross: $23 million/$8 million

(I knew this was a big bomb because it was noted everywhere that Pfeiffer spent five years trying to get it made only to have it bomb at the box office, which predictably bummed her out. Not her worst performance at the box office though, that would be Into the Night.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 22% (11/48), Critics Consensus: A Thousand Acres makes disappointingly sudsy stuff out of the source material, but benefits from solid performances by a strong cast.

(Surprising number of reviews for a film that came out in 1997 to little fanfare. Also fortuitously bad reviews as far as mapl.de.map is concerned. Not the typical film to drop all the way down to 22%, especially when the performances are noted everywhere as being great. I feel like if this came out now it would put up August: Osage County types of numbers.)

Poster – A Thousand Sklogs (B)

thousand_acres

(I like this poster quite a bit. Like the symmetry of the sisters hugging above the stark Iowa farmhouse. Would have rather had Lange and Pfeiffer colorized to match the rest of the poster and would have loved for the poster to be more yellow (like the farm land, this is a bit too dark) but this is still good.)

Keyword(s) – iowa; Top Ten by BMeTric: 38.8 Children of the Corn (1984); 38.7 Unaccompanied Minors (2006); 35.4 Michael (1996); 29.5 I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998); 23.2 Sleeping with the Enemy (1991); 20.2 Fraternity Vacation (1985); 19.1 The Puppet Masters (1994); 17.5 Butter (2011); 16.6 Burlesque (I) (2010); 15.7 Whiteboyz (1999);

(They are missing one: I believe Bucky Larson Born to be a Star began in Iowa and if Burlesque counts then so should that. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen. I’m impressed by how few of these films I’ve seen. Fly over country indeed.)

Tagline(s) – Best friends. Bitter rivals. Sisters. (C)

(Ha, how poorly this goes with the simple random addition of the word “sisters”. “Best friends. Biter rivals.” is a pretty good tagline… this? Not as much.)

Notes – Michelle Pfeiffer, who produced the film, wanted Paul Newman to play patriarch Larry Cook, but he turned down the role.

According to an article in Premiere Magazine 1997, all extras in the film had to sign an agreement promising not to attempt to approach/speak to actresses Michelle Pfeiffer or Jessica Lange. (haha, what?)

Lange battled with producers during the editing phase of the film, during which it through extensive re-editing. When released, Lange stated that the only thing about the film which worked were the performances.

Jocelyn Moorhouse reportedly tried to take her name off the picture after her first cut of the film didn’t sit well with test audiences. (wow, this gets worse and worse. This would have been a super funny Alan Smithee film.)