Marmaduke Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Advertisements

The Women (2008) Recap

Jamie

When her perfect world seems to crumble all at once with the loss of her job, husband, and best friend, Mary Haines has to figure out what it means to be her (what it means to be a woman?) to help put back the pieces. Can she do it before it’s too late? Find out in… The Women.

How?! Mary Haines has the seemingly perfect life. A good job working in fashion for her father, a super successful husband, a wonderful daughter, and a group of supportive best friends. But when this all goes down the tubes with the discovery of her husband’s infidelity with a curvaceous aspiring actress and the loss of her job, she finds herself lost in the woods. Wallowing in self-pity and undecided on how to proceed in her once happy marriage, she eventually discovers that maybe she needs to figure out what she wants out of life before any of these things can be fixed. She starts a new company, rediscovers the meaning of being a mother and best friend, and finds happiness. Only then can she attempt to fix what had fallen apart with her husband. This very simple and straightforward story is of course told over two hours, which seems impossible. Oh and not a single male actor is seen or heard from in the entirety of the film… which is bonkers and actually pretty deftly done.   

Why?! Interesting question. Mary’s motivation throughout the film is her struggle to decide what to do about her husband’s infidelity. She starts out trying to ignore it (the advice given to her by several older women in the film), then she kinda gives up on everything, and finally on the advice of a (randomly and conveniently placed) successful independent women she starts her own company and sets out on her own. In this she realizes that the underlying reason for her husband’s infidelity may not totally be his fault. By not really knowing who she was herself, and thus not being able to give all of herself over to her husband, how could they have built a truly successful marriage? And so she is able to make a decision in the end: give it a shot with him and if he can love her true self then perhaps they can find true happiness in a second chance.

What?! We are on a role in terms of major product placements. This film is a walking advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue. Almost the entire first half of the film takes place in the store. This all hits a crescendo when a character leans and very seriously tells a child that “no one hates Saks.” Gotta say, that line itself got me mighty close to hating Saks. The film is also heavily sponsored by Dove. We get some noticeably placed hand creams throughout along with a postcredits advertisement for a short film “The Women Behind The Women” which was part of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.

Who?! While we’ve been on a role in terms of major product placements, I can’t even remember the last Planchet we’ve had. Doesn’t change here. Do want to point out that Mick Jagger apparently was a producer on this film, which seems weird. It’s only made weirder that IMDb also claims he’s a producer on a 2004 short film titled The Women… alright Mick. We get it.

Where?! This is basically as close to being an A+ film without having the title be The New York City Women or like, I don’t know, Sex and the City or something. It’s all about Saks Fifth Avenue and as such is all about living it up in the cit-ay. A.

When?! All times forever really. The story jump from summer to fall to Halloween (which plays an unexpectedly large role in the plot) and finished on Xmas. I hesitate to say that it’s a Secret Holiday Film Alert because this film kinda flows through time as if time is not a concept that it understands, but it’s still pretty solid. B.

Will I do it? Can I say it?… This film is just not that bad (It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!). I think it suffered through some rough directing by a novice filmmaker that they unfortunately tried to patch over with some weird choices in post, but this film had something to say and had interesting people saying it. It occasionally got lost in some extracurricular screwball elements (looking at you random birth scene at the end), but I did not mind this film and I thought it did a nice job telling a story of the complications of love and marriage in the age of successful women. Here’s hoping our next film is similarly good. Let’s see, that would be… Marmaduke… … … alright. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bust out that gallon jug of white wine, time for Patrick and Jamie to have a girls night in. With nary a man to be seen, we’re dishing on life, love, work, and play. Ain’t nothing going to stop us from travelling with Meg Ryan and the gang as they teach us what it really means to be …  The Women! Let’s go!

The Good (Sklognalogy) – The first hour or so of this film, I thought, was quite good. I liked all of the characters, I liked the story they were going after: when infidelity strikes a perfect (upper-class …) life, what is the expectations of a modern woman? The film gets lost in the middle, but the conceit of not once showing a male (non-newborn-baby) character works super well in the context of this film. I’m pretty shocked with how this film was treated by the critics, and I can now totally understand Ebert’s review where he gave it three stars. This is a 2.5 / 4 film, just not that bad (it’s not that bad! Except for the whole part in the middle where it was). A natural Sklognalogy is the other ensemble piece that came out that year: Sex and the City. One could forget that the original actually got okay reviews and the show that preceded it was at the time cutting edge. This is more familiar and comfortable than that, but I think both illustrate where we were at with movies directed towards women at this point in time.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) The film has a sequence that appears to take place over the span of several months where Meg Ryan is going to like a canoeing retreat, and her daughter is dressing up … all of that doesn’t work. The film gets seriously lost in the woods after they blow up the question of how the modern family woman is expected to act in the face of infidelity, an interesting question in the context of a film being a remake of a film/play from the early 20th century. There is also something fascinating about romantic comedies where they almost need to function in a world where monetary problems don’t exist. All of the characters in this film are fabulously wealthy. Thus all of the problems focus solely on their relationships. I’m going to try my best to fashion Sklog-cabulary Quiz about this:

Ab Initio Genre (n.) – A genre reduced to first principles, stripping out all characteristics that distract you from the purpose or function the genre serves

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a real thing, but it is like how you can have a comedy where the focus is really only on the jokes (not even concerned with making sense), or an action film where the action itself is the focus, no romantic lead, no comedy. Hard Sci-Fi csan fall into the category as well. The Ab Initio Romance film takes every other problem out of the film: no money problems, no personal crises, all relationship, all the time. And for romance the ab initio approach seems quite popular … we’ve seen like three “upper-class Manhattanites falling in love” romance films in the last year. It is pretty amusing. They might as well be called Rich People Problems.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this film is much of anything as far as bad movies go (perhaps something with the large female cast? The issue is it really isn’t that bad!). It could make an appearance in the beginning of 2019 if I remember that I actually liked the film for the Smaddies Baddies film that wasn’t that bad award. Considering how strong of a bad movie year 2008 it isn’t a terrible surprise there isn’t much as far as StreetCreditReport.com, although it did get a small mention in this Vulture poll. The first Sex and the City film came out the same year as The Women which is pretty bizarre.

I ain’t reading a play, and I’ve been too busy to watch the original The Women from the 30s (the films from that era are always like two and a half hours long). I know I’m failing you guys in the adaptations cycle. I promise to be better as the year goes on. I promise. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ouija Recap

Jamie

Laine Morris is struggling with the apparent suicide of her closest friend and ropes a group of teens into attempting to contact her through a mysterious ouija board. Instead they unintentionally awaken an evil spirit. Can they subdue the spooky ghost before it’s too late? Find out in… Ouija.

How?! When Laine Morris’ BFF forever Debbie dies in an apparent suicide she is shocked. Laine is tormented by the fact that she didn’t get to say goodbye, so when a mysterious Ouija board shows up she decides to communicate with Debbie one last time. Her friends and her gather together in Debbie’s house and think they’ve contacted her, only to realize too late that they’ve instead communicated with an evil spirit (Disclaimer: Hasbro does not support the use of its board games for communicating with evil spirits). Oh no! While the spirit kills them off one by one and grows stronger they race to solve the mystery. The find out that the spirit was a little girl murdered by her mother and they need to find her body and free her spirit to put her to rest. In a totally original twist that we definitely didn’t just see in the Ring franchise, it turns out that this was all a trick and they actually make the spirit even stronger. Double oh no! In a final confrontation Laine does battle with the spirit over a rousing game of Ouija while her sister is able to destroy the body. Phew. They did it… or did they? Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! The impetus for a bunch of high schoolers to gather together and play a little Ouija is entirely due to Laine wanting to have one last goodbye with her best pal Debbie. All the other teens are basically like “We’re only doing this because you are clearly struggling to process this tragedy and we’re here to help you.” Unfortunately this empathy gets them all killed. The spirit is just evil, having been driven mad through being used as a medium in seances. The spirits she communicated with told her to do terrible things and boy howdy does she.

What?! You mean besides the lame board game that this is a (really bad) advertisement for? Doesn’t seem like a super fun addition to game night. That is unless you awaken a spooky ghost who’s tormented only by its own enthusiasm for board games.

Who?! The editor Ken Blackwell makes an appearance in the film as Internet Expert… whatever that is. I don’t remember why there would have been an Internet Expert in the film. It also seems unnecessarily cruel that he had to show up on set and do a scene when they were also giving him a pile of useless film and making him edit it over and over with different stories and reshoots added in. Almost like the film was created as a form of torture for Ken Blackwell.

Where?! This film is set in California. It just obviously is. However I couldn’t make out the license plate clearly on my burn of the film so technically unknown. My theory is bolstered by the fact that the prequel, set in the same house as this film, is very explicitly set in Los Angeles. D.

When?! With how closely they seemed to keep the setting hidden (or more likely just didn’t care much about it), I thought for sure I would have to do without any inkling of when this took place. Not the case! In the age of cell phones you can always count on the possibility that a character looks at a spooky text and the date and time are in full view. That is the case here where we are informed that it is in fact March 8th. The cell phone date is the temporal setting equivalent to a license plate. Weak but precise. B-

You can tell by how little I wrote for the recap that the film is very basic. Pretty much as basic a ghost story as you can get. Take The Ring and strip away everything of substance and you might end up with something like this. It is also incredibly poorly made. Clearly taken apart, reshot, and put back together you can see where characters were inserted or changed throughout the story. It is actually so bad that it makes The Bye Bye Man look like a masterpiece in comparison. And that’s quite the feat since Bye Bye Man was hilarious. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Hasbro wants those Marvel bucks (who doesn’t?) but their big greed is now your big problem. They need a hit to start their board game universe off right! Well … horror films are easy peasy and cheap as shit. Call up the cheapest director available, what could possibly go wrong? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – Uh … the movie is better than you would expect of a cut-to-shit horror film based on a board game. That is really really really it. For the good version of Sequel / Prequel / Remake I kind of want to highlight Ouija: Origin of Evil. So, the entire underlying story of Ouija (a mother dabbles in channelling ghosts, but her daughter succumbs to the evil they find in their dark magic) was completely invented during reshoots. You can kind of tell the movie knows that the background story is interesting, but they can’t really do much with it because they just didn’t have the material to fill the space. So, after the modest success of the film, they just made the obviously more interesting prequel. And it worked! The movie got 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and is apparently great! That’s crazy impressive stuff. I cannot wait to watch that film and see what they did with it, I’ll try and report back when I do.

The Bad (Tril-Oh-Jeez) – The acting is quite bad, all the way down to bad horror film all-star Douglas Smith from recent BMT The Bye Bye Man. The kills look silly and cheap. There is not a single moment in the film that is scary. The twist is obvious (don’t help the ghost girl idiots, you just got Ringed!), and it is clear it only comes about because the movie was cut to pieces desperately trying to get something other than an F cinemascore. As for the Tril-Oh-Jeez how about the don’t-help-the-little-girl-ghost trilogy with Rings, One Missed Call, and Ouija. Can we talk about these dummies and how they deal with ghosts. For reals … don’t help the ghosts. Oh, you have to help the child! You have to help her stop the mother! No. No you don’t. The mother hasn’t done shit for the last like 60 years. Why do you think all of a sudden it is your job to solve all this anyways? Obviously, helping the girl is what it wants. Obviously she is going to ouija your ass the instant you help her out. Y’all dumb. Don’t help the ghosts! … don’t help the ghosts!!

The BMT (StreetCreditReport.com) – Paired with The Bye Bye Man in close proximity the film has that Douglas Smith one-two punch. The brand of so-not-scary-it-is-actually-funny horror film would have probably bored me a year ago, but I find them somewhat fascinating now. Like … how do you manufacture a scare from a disparate set of not-scary shots I wonder. It has to be just impossible. Like … a loud sound and shake the camera a bit? Brutal. As for StreetCreditReport.com … amazingly there is nothing. You have a bunch of horror nerds complaining about how terrible the film is, but there is a somewhat surprising lack of acknowledgement in the media. I remember even we balked at bothering with the film at the time. Our mistake.

As far as the Adaptation is concerned? I mean … Ouija isn’t a board game. It is barely a board. So what can you really do with that? Honestly, if I were to give one decent compliment to the film, I would say they did a pretty good job making Ouija seem like a thing people do and think about. I could have done with a bit more ghost conjuring perhaps, a few more potent Ouija scenes, but otherwise as far as adapting Ouija is concerned … this was a good start. And they ended up making a very good sequel apparently! So I’ll give it a B. Solid prep for what ended up being a surprisingly adept adaptation in the prequel all for something that had no business being adapted into a movie in the first place.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Max Payne Recap

Jamie

Max Payne is a detective with pain deep in his heart due to the pain caused by the painful deaths of his wife and baby. Forever searching for those responsible, can he track down their killers before it’s too late? Find out in… Max Payne.

How?! We are introduced to our titular character May Payne, an unstable detective broken by the murder of his wife and child and relegated to the cold case squad. Convinced that drug addicts were responsible for their deaths he spends his free time kicking ass and taking names of those on the periphery of the drug trade. One night he’s introduced to Natasha, sister of a Russian mobster who is involved in a new street drug Max is investigating. After she leaves his apartment she is brutally murdered, throwing suspicion on Max. Max don’t give a shit because he’s a crazy person and only cares about two things: solving crimes and chewing gum and guess what? Gum doesn’t exist in Max Payne (neither does sunshine and laughter apparently, this film is grim). But when his ex-partner is also killed for investigating Natasha’s murder, he suspects he’s getting close to something explosive. After finding that some work documents of his wife’s have been stolen he tortures one of her coworkers and finds out she was involved in the development of a military drug. Tracing this all back to a homicidal maniac named Lupino, Max confront him and is nearly killed, only to be saved by the real killer of his wife: his good friend BB. BB throws Max into the frozen Hudson River but Max survives by consuming some of the drug. Transformed into a super soldier he goes after BB and kills him… now read all that back and see if it makes any sense. I actually had to rewatch parts of this film because I couldn’t piece together the film’s plot. It’s nonsense. THE END.

Why?! Max Payne mostly just wants to chew bubblegum in peace, but since that doesn’t exist he is obsessed with solving the murders of his wife and child. Pretty boring and straightforward. The bad guy on the other hand is much more interesting. He used to be a police officer, but took over security at the pharmaceutical company Max’s wife worked at. After the failure of the trials of the super soldier drug he started dealing it on the streetz for profit. Max’s wife got wind of it so she had to go. Weirdly the police don’t seem suspicious that a bunch of super soldier drug is being sold. You even see the logo of the pharma company on the vials… now that I think about it Max Payne is a really bad cop. Should have been obvious.

What?! Mila Kunis certainly liked her Maserati in the film, but my favorite by far is from the post credit sequence (setting up a sequel that never came to fruition… yet). In it Max meets up with Mila Kunis’ character at a bar to discuss things. He goes to the bartender and grabs two nice cold refreshing bud lights. Hardly any product placement in the entire film and then this shows up at the end. I’m convinced Wahlberg must have something in his contract requiring it. Seeing how Bud Light will be incorporated into the plot is the best part of his Transformers films.

Who?! Apparently the voice actor for Max Payne appears uncredited as a background actor in a scene… but that’s not confirmed by imdb. Better than that is while scrolling through the cast list I saw that Nelly Furtado, famous singer and bird enthusiast, appears as the wife of Max Payne’s former partner. She appears for one second, says a line, and isn’t visually recognizable for me to have noticed until now. Weird and wild stuff.

Where?! NYC Babbbbyyyyyy! At first I thought maybe we were in Generic Big City, but then the police cars all had NYPD on them and the game is explicitly set there so why wouldn’t they. Pretty obvious but not essential. B-.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! Everything is bleak, cold, and snowy in the film so my setting sense was a-tingling. Could we be looking at an Xmas film. Unfortunately no. But this seems to end on New Years Eve. Right in the beginning we are told that the events of the final showdown occur a week before the start of the film. At some point in the beginning of the film Max’s buddy is reviewing a case file which is listed as being transferred to him on 12/28/2008. This would seem to indicate almost exactly that the we are being treated to a super secret New Year’s Eve film. A wonder we didn’t see Max watch the ball drop after totally murdering a bunch of people. That’s a pretty nice B.

This film is nonsense which seemed to aim squarely at style rather than substance (and succeeded at having almost no substance at all). Felt a little Zach Snyder-ish, with parts that looked good but when you drill down there is just fluff there. In reality if you think about it this film is not too different than Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li other than it looks a lot better. The plot is just as hilariously bad. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Max Payne was what you’ll be in if you watch this movie, aaaaayyyyyyyyyoooooooooo, hit it Jamie! Ah, but I should probably talk about the movie a bit … fine, let’s get into it.

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I like Mark Wahlberg, I can’t help it. I barely even know why at this point given how he has betrayed me with the Transformers franchise. The film kind of looked cool at times. The story was kind of interesting at times. I even kind of liked it at times. Those times were just too few and far between. Obviously I would want a Remake. Video game films are having a moment. People are trying all kind of new things with them. Young directors. Serious stories. Higher budgets. Nothing seems to help, they still kind of suck. I think, and this might be an unpopular opinion, part of the problem is fanservice. With comic books you have limitless material to draw on, thousands upon thousands of pages of Batman has slowly made his character beloved and authentic feeling stories are fairly simple to develop out of the archetype. Max Payne though? You have a few games, and honestly, the stories in video games are rarely good. Just make this a revenge cop drama. Don’t worry about the fanservice. If you make it good the fans will come back to it and it will become Max Payne (not the other way around). Maybe it works, maybe people slam it for not being an “adaptation” as they expect it. But it is better than having stupid goat transformation scenes in Warcraft, I’m telling you that much. Rant over.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This film is a little too stylized. The story is very generic, so much so that you sit there and think “well obviously that guy is the bad guy! Haven’t I seen this somewhere else?”. It also, and I’ll get into this a little below, kind of betrays the game it is adapted from. It is kind of fun, but mostly it is drab, dreary, and sad. The Sklognalogy I think has to be Sucker Punch in a way. I feel like it and Sin City 2 and 300 2 (I haven’t seen either of those) all suffer from the same thing: it missed the boat on a style, but went ahead and did it anyways. The style gets boring though after you’ve seen it once or twice. You might think making a Matrix knock-off would be cool, but it probably would just look stupid these days and make people think “ugh, this is a knock off of the Matrix”. Same thing here.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I do think Max Payne has a legacy, mostly in an unyielding march towards watching all video game adaptations (almost all of them qualify after all). This isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but it came out at a time when people were sure video game adaptations were going to happen. They didn’t. The same people are sure this year is the year as well … welp, the new Lara Croft trailer doesn’t look so good to me, but we’ll see. They’ll figure it out someday. There isn’t much for being the worst of 2008, but it fourth on a list of worst Mark Wahlberg films by Rolling Stone. And made a list of the 15 worst video game films by Screen Rant. Pretty solid.

I’ll keep the adaptation analysis short because I haven’t played the game. But, based on the outcry by the developers themselves it is clear that the hallucinations that Mark Wahlberg sees, a major plot point in the movie, either play very little or no part in the film. I wish I had the time to play through the game to give a better analysis, and someday I’m sure I will, but that day is not today. This seems to be mid-level though as far as staying true to the game itself, so let’s give it a C with an option for extra credit later to bump up that grade.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

CHIPS Recap

Jamie

Jon Baker and Ponch are partners on the California Highway Patrol. While Jon sees CHIPS as a way to earn back the love of his estranged wife, Ponch is actually an undercover FBI agent looking for corrupt cops involved in a series of highway robberies. Can they take down the baddies and get the girl(s) before it’s too late? FInd out in… CHIPS.

How?! FBI agent Castillo is a risk-taking super cop who don’t play by nobody’s rule (natch). In the process of breaking rules and taking names, Castillo gets in hot water and is sent undercover as ‘Ponch,’ an officer in the California Highway Patrol. Meanwhile Jon Baker is one of the worst candidates for CHP there is, but with his motorbike racing pedigree and a sob story about his estranged wife he finagles his way onto the force. As a team, they start investigating a series of highway robberies suspected of being an inside job, all the while battling Jon’s addiction to painkillers, Ponch’s addiction to masturbating, and questions about their own sexuality that seem to send them into panic. This is all very upsetting, but apparently is supposed to make me laugh… I guess because it’s funny that Ponch is a step away from being a sex criminal. Hilarious! Through a series of high speed chases Ponch and Jon eventually catch up with the ringleader’s son, who is killed. Due to all his rule-breaking, risk-taking, and name-taking Ponch is fired from the FBI. Unwilling to stop their investigation and goaded by the kidnapping of Jon’s estranged wife, Ponch and Jon confront the ringleader, a fellow CHP officer. With the help of the full CHP force they take down the corrupt cops and save the day. THE END.

Why?! Jon wants to earn back the love and respect of his estranged wife, who by all accounts is a terrible person. Ponch on the other hand seems to have no motivations other than to solve crimes and masturbate while doing so. This combination of buddy cops turns out to be weird, sad, and disturbing. Great! As for the bad guy, he’s trying to get enough money to get his son into rehab… also very sad. A total bummer of a film even without all the gay panic content.

What?! An incredible product placement movie. From the start Ponch is using Dove moisturizer to convey his pretty boy persona and Jon is washing his pain pills down with Red Bull to convey his X-treme persona. These aren’t just product placement, these product placement are being used to define characters. Add on top that throughout the film our hateable heroes are stopping at every LA-centric restaurant under the sun, from Pink’s to Tommy’s Burgers, and we’ve got something special.

Who?! A number of uncredited roles in this one, including Erik Estrada’s cameo. Stark difference from Baywatch where Hasselhoff and Pam Anderson got laughably high billing. Also Josh Duhamel and Maya Rudolph have minor roles that went uncredited. They must have jumped in for funsies.

Where?! A+ Settings Alert! CHIPS stands for California Highway Patrol and that’s enough for me. This is also an early contender for the 2018 Setting as Character Smaddies Baddie as every LA centric restaurant in the city is featured and even Dax gave an interview asserting that the real star of the film was Southern California. Boom. That’s an A+ if I’ve ever seen one.

When?! There are two spots where a date could be found. One is on Ponch’s phone in the opening scene where it seems like it says that it’s November 2nd. However, a few scenes later, when Ponch is being introduced at CHP the blackboard says that “all 415’s have to be in by September 1,” so you would think everything would take place in August or something. Maybe they just don’t erase that blackboard all that often or (hear me out) perhaps they didn’t put as much effort into the exact temporal setting as I do in trying to find it. Disappointing. D.

This film WAS… WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WAS!… AND WE LET IT OFF THE HOOK! Basically, everything that we presumed and feared from the trailer came true. This is a poorly made film rife with jokes that play mostly on sadness. It’s certainly different than Baywatch and the Jump Street films, which is a credit to the creators I guess, but Baywatch is just a better film (which is kinda crazy to say). While I would endure a Baywatch sequel, I wouldn’t even enjoy a CHIPS 2. Even on a Fifty Shades Freed, staring into the abyss kind of a way… I think I’m just realizing that I really didn’t enjoy this film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Alright, so you’re a producer and maybe your frustration with not getting invited to the 21 Jump Street cast party made you act a bit rashly. Baywatch … was not sweet IP. But this time you definitely got some sweet IP. CHiPs! Everyone liked CHiPs. Erik Estrada and … like motorcycles. Maybe you won’t get to meet The Rock, but Dax Shepard is … pretty close. Sweet IP Money Train here I come! What could go wrong? Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The storyline is actually a lot more coherent and focused than you would expect. Also, I tend to enjoy it when characters who would have been incompetent if they were in a film from, say, the 90s, are now written as super competent. What’s that? It sounds like a Sklog-cabulary Quiz!

Gross Competence (n.) – Behavior that appears to be erratic and incompetent, but is nevertheless quite effective at getting a particular job done. Characters exhibiting gross competence often appear to be savants in their particular occupation.

Zac Efron in Baywatch, or Andy Samberg in Brooklyn 99 I think are at least close to this definition as well. Basically the professionals here often come across as foolish or bumbling, but ultimately, against all odds, their actions are exactly what is needed to get the job done. I like this trope in television and film. For me, rooting for a competent hero is far preferable to rooting for an incompetent one. And it was nice to see Dax Shepard’s character not come across as an idiot. Well … not a total idiot at least.

The Bad (Sklognalysis) – The film is gross. They spend a good amount of one scene talking about eating butts … yup. It is upsetting that the gay panic stuff from the trailer was such a big part of the film. And this film has way too much unneeded nudity. Comes across as exploitative. By giving up the bad guy early it makes the mystery basically worthless. And finally, all supporting characters are so undeveloped that when they do occasionally wander into a scene it just doesn’t work because their motivations and abilities are never established. So … yeah, a ton of not so great stuff here. Question for our Sklognalysis: If you lampshade blatant gay panic humor by having the main character state that he thinks someone is homophobic if they don’t want to touch dicks when hugging … does that help or hurt? Answer: neither, trick question. It is still gay panic, and it is still gross.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think paired with Baywatch CHIPS could have an interesting legacy. If we further collect more television adaptations in the future we could have quite the expertise on the niche genre. The films got the cred though, number 7 on the AV Club’s worst-of list for 2017. Didn’t make an appearance in Rolling Stone’s or Variety’s lists, but it does get a few shout outs. It has the cred.

I feel a bit like we are dropping the ball on the adaptation cycle by not watching the original sources. Can’t really watch many CHiPs though, and even if I did the early season is different than late season, etc. Thinking back on Baywatch and even 21 Jump Street though I feel like these adaptations aren’t actually very “good”. They are modern action comedies fashioned out of literally the most basic plot elements from 80s television shows. I would be interested to see if/when someone decides to set a movie like this in the 80s and go for the kind of funny nostalgia of it all.  Wait … did I just describe the terrible Starsky & Hutch adaptation? For now I give the adaptation a C+ with the caveat that if I ever do watch some CHiPs (I won’t) I’ll update the grade. Something like 21 Jump Street I think reaches in the B-range. Not a great adaptation, but the quality of the film makes up for it.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Emoji Movie Recap

Patrick

There is a world within your phone where emoji’s live and work. Each emoji has a job to do and must never deviate. No so for Gene, a ‘meh’ who feels all kinds of complex things. When Gene ruins an important text for his user he runs away trying to find a way to fix his defect. Can he fix the trouble he’s caused before it’s too late? Find out in… The Emoji Movie.

How!? Remember all those other animated films about secret communities of things that us humans think are inanimate objects. Toy Story? Lego Movie? Inside Out? Yup, this is exactly the same except the corporate sellout version of it. Gene is a ‘meh’ emoji. He really wants to start work making emoji magic in Textopolis, but on his very first day he ends up ruining a very important text for his owner Alex! Oh no! He is sentenced to die because he’s defective (naturally) so he runs away with the help of the thumbs up emoji in search of Jailbreak, who knows how to hack the cloud and fix Gene’s defect. Fearing the consequences of his defect the denizens of Textopolis send killer bots in pursuit. At the same time Alex decides he’s going to get his phone wiped and rebooted in order to fix the problem. After finding Jailbreak, Gene and his gang of misfits run through Just Dance, Candy Crush, Instagram, and Spotify in search of the Dropbox app (it actually hurts me to write that sentence) while overcoming some difficulties or whatever. When they get there Gene and Jailbreak decide that they like him just the way he is, but just then Gene is captured by the killer bots. Thumbs up and Jailbreak hop on a Twitter bird (ugh) and race to save him. At the very last moment before the phone is erased Gene uses his special ability to mimic complex feelings to send a unique emoji to Alex’s crush. Thrilled that his phone might lead to him getting paid and laid, Alex stops the phone wipe and Gene becomes a hero. THE END.

Why?! Why did we watch this garbage? Because we had to. Why does anything else happen in the movie? Mostly because Gene feels like an outsider. Everyone in Textopolis is content doing their job and only their job, while Gene likes to smile or cry or laugh and all that jazz. Think the exact same motivations as Lego Movie… and the same characters really. In fact it’s pretty much just the Lego Movie remix… if it was remixed with dog poo.

What?! Not since our last Adam Sandler film did we get so much product placement in a film. And at least in the Sandler film it’s him sitting around a Hooters wearing a Dick’s Sporting Goods shirt and you can laugh at the absurdity. Here it just felt sad. Popping into Instagram and Spotify for a little adventure without the shame to call it InstaPost or MusicSpot to keep it imaginary garbage. When they entered Dropbox as if it was literally fucking heaven I think this officially took the cake for the worst product placement in the history of BMT.

Who?! We had a couple cameos here with singer Christina Aguilera making an appearance along with celebrity chef Rachael Ray. There is also a special thanks credit to Constance Buccafurri. She seems to be an artist but also runs a big data film analytics company… so I wonder if she got her thanks for work in that arena. She has a pretty crazy list of blockbusters on which she got a special thanks credit so I would be interested to know what exactly she does for all of them.

Where?! Textopolis, duh. 95% of the film takes place in a phone, so that’s pretty much the best we can do. Makes me wonder how many fictional settings we’ve encountered in BMT. Ehb in In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Alagaesia in Eragon, Izmir in Dungeons & Dragons, etc. It’s in good company. Good company of getting an Incomplete. “Keep your head out of the clouds and in the real world,” writes Mr. Sklog.

When?! Textopolis obviously has no sense of time. They gotta be popping night and day, 24/7/365. So… F, I guess. You’re in my world now, Emoji Movie. My world is one of pain and ultimate grade deflation. Enjoy your F.

This movie sucks and kinda made me sad watching it. It starts out as a ripoff of Lego Movie and then proceeds into a series of commercials for apps. At least with the Lego Movie you had the idea that Legos help children be creative. This basically had the message that emoji are not good and in fact have to be different in order to better convey the emotions of the user. Only when Gene can do things that no emoji can actually do does Alex successfully talk to the girl he likes… maybe don’t use emojis then dope. In terms of where this places in the world of adaptations (a true BMT favorite), The Emoji Movie is kind of alone in the wilderness here. In fact if we started to see more of these we might have to shut down Hollywood. Imagine if we looked to 2018 and saw The Great SpaceX Adventure or Lyft Life on the schedule… would almost be as terrifying as seeing Fifty Shades Freer. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! It is super tempting to fill this space with a bunch of emojis or whatever, but my emoji game is not great. Not rusty, because that would suggest it was good at some point. My emoji game has always been weak … Anyways, let’s get into it!

The Good (Sklognalogy) – Honestly, the only really good thing I can say about it is that it is mostly an innocuous kids’ movie. It sends a decent message (be yourself!), it gives a decent message to the girls (you can do computer things!), and it looks … fine. The Sklognalogy? I’m sending out a flier: The Wizard of Oz. That’s right. The basic storylines are the same. The protagonist needs something that can only be obtained from a powerful entity, so he/she sets out on the road collecting a rag-tag team of misfits. Travelling through a series of magical places, combating the minions of an evil witch, the team comes together, learns lessons, and realizes what they needed was actually inside them the whole time. Ah, perfection … except for the part where this is a derivative piece of garbage.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – Too long, unfunny, boring, ugly, you name it it has it. It sets a record for product placements which made me feel a bit ill while watching it … corporate propaganda amirite? The movie is very lazy. I am kind of convinced it is a new paradigm for cheap animated films. Basically the idea is: here are three characters. They will travel from A to B. But to get from A to B they have to go through little areas. These areas are totally independent of one another. The key? Parallelization:

Parallel Plotting (n.) – A plot which can be filmed / produced a piece at a time by many different teams, and then combined together again at the end to get the correct result.

This seems trivial maybe, but while most (all?) movies achieve this to a degree, a film like The Emoji Movie takes it to the next level. They could give a single idea to a animation team: The three protagonists are in Candy Crush. The three protagonists are in Just Dance. Etc. And after each you return to the same place you were before (the wallpaper) with no obvious side effects (they don’t even discuss where they were before!). No wonder it set records for speed in its production.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think it has the legacy. It isn’t a shoddily made animated film, not like FoodFight! or Doogal. It is more like … a condemnation of culture in general. But that ain’t our business now is it? I have watched over 400 terrible movies in 7 years, so, that tells you everything you need to know about how I lead my life. Street cred up the wazoo though. It will get countless Razzie nominations this year (it is known). It is number 3 on the AV Club worst of list. It is number 2 on the Variety worst of list. And it is number 10 on the Rolling Stone list. I imagine it will easily get Worst Picture.

Given we are in the adaptations cycle I might as well make a brief note about whether this was a good / bad adaptation. This was a bad one. I think. The only analogue is You’ve Got Mail, but in that case it painted AOL (and the attached messenger / email features) in a charming, even romantic, light. It brought two people together. Emojis … I get them, but I still don’t really get them you know? I don’t think the movie gives a good case for emojis in general is what I’m saying … doesn’t help that the movie is garbage. D+ adaptation.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Table 19 Recap

Just dumped by the Best Man, Eloise decides to go to the wedding of her best friend anyway. Relegated to the far reaches of the reception, she and her table of misfits band together to have the time of their live. Can they find closure to the issues that brought them to this wedding in the first place before it’s too late? Find out in… Table 19.

How?! After a long debate with herself Eloise decides to attend the wedding of her best friend despite having just been dumped by the Best Man. Once the Maid of Honor, she has now been placed at Table 19, the table for those who should have known not to come. This table is full of people with secrets like the bride’s childhood nanny (who also is terminally ill), the bride’s cousin (who is also a white collar criminal), a couple who knows the groom’s father from work (who are also having marital issues), and the son of a family friend (who is skipping his prom to attend). It’s no different for Eloise who has a secret of her own: she’s pregnant. This revelation leads to a fight with her ex which culminates in the destruction of the wedding cake. Totally bummed (much like the audience watching the film) the group goes off to smoke some weed and crash the other wedding happening at the resort. This is a massive failure when Eloise realizes that a guy she was flirting with and kissed earlier in the film is actually the groom of the other wedding. Guys suck, emirite?! They decide to steal the wedding cake from that wedding, thus saving the day, and come to find that Eloise’s ex is actually a sweet guy and their relationship is worth saving. The table rouses Eloise from her melancholia and pushes her to make a grand gesture to her ex, which results in their happily ever after. THE END.

Why?! The motivations in this are all hazy. You get a sense that Eloise and her boyfriend broke up from the stress of the unexpected pregnancy but from there it’s a bit of an unreliable narrator. They both have different stories of what happened. Certainly her motivation for attending the wedding is to get him back… which she does. Everyone else is just kind of sad and finding friends in Table 19 bring them back hope in an otherwise hopeless world. Very much a Duplass film.

 

What?! Not much product placement in this guy. Maybe I’ll just point out the similarity this film has to The Breakfast Club. A group of misfits are thrust together. They have assumptions about each other but also secrets about themselves. They end up finding that these misfits are the first people that they can be honest with and everything turns out peachy. The Breakfast Club for the Millennial generation… so much worse and barely released.

Who?! A bunch of interesting “The producers wish to thank” credits. The obvious one is Helen Mirren who presumably gave the film permission to use her name and image as part of a joke. After that Anthony Jeselnik, Keegan-Michael Key, and Lennon Parham also get special thanks, but for what? It’s anyone’s guess. Maybe they were connected to the film before the Duplass brothers stepped back from directing? Impossible to tell.

Where?! Takes place on an imaginary island in “Lake Alma” in Michigan. You can tell from the address sent for the wedding invites that this is likely the case. They then seem to go to some trouble not to be very specific after that. Probably since it was actually filmed in Atlanta. B-

When?! The only hint we get of when the film takes place is that the high school student Rezno is skipping his spring prom to go to the wedding (because his mom thinks he has a better chance of meeting a girl there than at the dance). So this is probably set in May or something. Not super specific. D+

Overall this is a really tiny film. I thought it was crazy that it got such a big release and that seems even crazier after seeing the film. A bit paint-by-numbers, but not Waiting for Forever crazy weirdness, so overall just a film that exists in the BMTverse. Not much different than something like What Goes Up… you know, except actually released to theaters. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! For those just following along at home you are probably stunned at our ability to pick bad movies. Like … we pick the worst of the worst quite well it would seem. Do we ever miss the mark?! You must be wondering that … well wonder no more! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sklognalogy) – This film has genuine heart, it has an interesting structure (with the emotional climax occurring in the middle of the film blowing up the relatively uninteresting suitcase plot they were setting up), and has several quality actors involved (Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, and Craig Robinson are all quite good). I’m … actually not sure why people were so hard on the film. Seems like a fairly straightforward mumblecore awkward-fest. What Goes Up would be a perfect analogy maybe (although I didn’t like that as much as this one), but for the Sklognalogy I’m going to look back to our 1986 cycle from last year to the movie No Mercy starring Richard Gere. There are things wrong with it, it is a bit rote and dull at times, but ultimately it is just kind of crazy that people are so hard on the film. There are so many trite cop thrillers (and coming-of-age dramas in this case) it blows my mind when everyone decides to hate one of them for being “standard fare”.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – Mostly it is just dull. And the actor playing opposite of Anna Kendrick lacks context or fleshing out. This is likely intentional (to play up an unreliability to Kendrick’s narration), but it still comes across as kind of lazy. At least one character is totally unnecessary (the kid skipping his prom), and the film would have seems more sincere without him, although I wouldn’t say that is why the film got destroyed by critics. Probably the biggest Crime Against BMT-anity in the film though is the way they ultimately did exposition in the film. Craig Robinson at one point just says that he love detective novels and is very good at spotting things. This is somewhat amusingly contrasted with him not being able to spot that his wife intended on using the wedding to cheat on him with a business associate / old friend (who ultimately no-shows the wedding). But then, throughout the film, every character takes a movie cliche and uses it to deduce major plot points that move everything along briskly. Kendrick vomits at the table? She’s pregnant. The old lady has a bunch of weed? She has cancer. Etc. Lazy lampshading with a dumb detective novel device that is mainly unnecessary.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – A rare dud in the BMT filmography I think. Like What Goes Up or like … Evening, the film just seems destined to be forgotten … well except for being the only film with the number 19 in the title. That is awesome. I’m going to declare no street cred here as well. I can see it on a few lists (like pop sugar), but I think that is because it had a relatively bad Rotten Tomatoes score and those are fake algorithmically derived articles. Given that places like the AV Club included The Space Between Us, somehow this movie managed to be so small that it will fly under the radar completely.

Congrats to us to filling in a new spot on the Periodic Table of Smellements for the first time in quite a while. The number 19 is sufficiently rare that I don’t think there will be another movie for it … ever? Bully for us.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs