Ride Along 2 Recap

Jamie

What?! Ben is on the force and marrying Angela, but James is not sure he can cut it as an officer. To prove it he takes him down to Miami for a routine pickup to show him he doesn’t have what it takes. On this ride along Ben needs to prove his stuff or lose his badge. Ride Along 2!

Why?! Ben wants to be a detective. James doesn’t want him to be a detective. It’s the same story as last time except switch out Angela for a career in law enforcement.

How?! After screwing up a major operation, Ben is on thin ice with the Lieutenant, so he clearly thinks sailing smoothly through an easy operation will help him out. For whatever reason, though, James thinks that even on this routine pickup in Miami Ben will screw it up to the point that he’s fired. In some senses he’s right (since they bumble and stumble their way to the edge of unemployment), but there is little reason to think that he will. Unfortunately though, once again this routine “ride along” uncovers a massive criminal enterprise that Ben eventually takes down. Really fortuitous… although I guess that’s why they made these documentaries about him.

Who?! Can’t believe I’m going to say this but I kinda have to give a little shoutout to Ken Jeong (famed star of Furry Vengeance), who played the computer hacker James and Ben went to pick up. I generally have not found any character he has played funny, but in this case I didn’t mind him. There was a level of self-deprecation that I think worked for the character. He kinda sucked, kinda knew it, but couldn’t help himself.

Where?! Miami playa. Gotta get out of the hometown for this one and Miami was the primo spot. This one edged up into the B range, not only because the location was a little more necessary to the plot (needed to be close enough to Atlanta to drive), but also because the film used a “Miami” intertitle to alert the audience to the new locale. Next up for Ride Along 3? I say international (Cuba, Rio, China?) or Los Angeles (bring it home for Cube).

When?! I bet you’re all like, “Uh uh, no way does Jamie get another exact date for this film. Impossible. Only a master of disaster could do that.” Well, that’s Dr. Master of Disaster to you. That’s because 25 minutes into the film our main bad guy holds up a giant check that he’s giving to the Miami PD. Date on the check? March 13th. Boom. Takes place in present day so you can only assume a current year. I call that an exact date (years are dumb unless we’re in the past or the future. At best current years can be mildly interesting). B again.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Ride Along 2? More like Way Too Long Too! (Not really, it was a fine length I think). Let’s get into in quickly, I’ve already spent too much time watching and thinking about these movies:

  • The Good – I liked Ken Jeong in this, his character was less grating somehow than the ones he is often cast as. I also thought Benjamin Bratt was a good bad guy. Good use of the Miami setting. It actually got me excited to see where they might take the odd couple next.
  • The Bad – Olivia Munn, but she didn’t have much to work with. As a matter of fact this film was a little bit less … kind to the female cast. Tika Sumpter’s only major scene saw her dress up as a sexy police officer, and Olivia Munn showed up in simply ludicrous costumes. The cast exploded Lethal Weapon style except in one movie instead of across three sequels. There were more “bad” scenes, like a particularly dire short scene of Kevin Hart pointlessly emerging from the water Predator-style, and a really bad CGI crocodile.
  • The BMT – But still nope. I don’t mind these films. They aren’t not-that-bad, but they aren’t really that bad either. You just have to buy into Kevin Hart and some of Story’s weirder choices (the video game car chase comes to mind). I wouldn’t recommend sinking four hours into watching the series, but if you’re looking for something dumb that will give you a chuckle or two they might work. Does not supplant Dirty Grandpa as worse comedy of the year for me.

Final game and we are home free, this time we have a new Audio Sklogentary! This is the second Tim Story audio commentary I’ve listened to (the first being Taxi), and the review is basically the same: (1) Commentaries are always worse when it is only one person. (2) But you can do a lot worse than Tim Story for a solo directoral commentary. He has funny anecdotes, he tells you a lot about the filming (the bar was a courthouse! The police station a nice hotel lobby!! The bikini shop was a very wealthy man’s foyer!!!), and generally just has glowing things to say about everyone and everything. Pleasant. I would give it a B.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Random Hearts Recap

Patrick

Guten Tag, allerseits! I was in Vienna this weekend, so we are still a little behind on things so I’ll try and make this quick. We watched Random Hearts (more like Not So Smarts! You have to give me a break on that, for some reason my mind was pulling me to “farts” rhyming with hearts which, while hilarious, seems below me, you know?), and I have to say: what? Seriously, I don’t understand. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – Some of the performances were quite good. If you are a fan of the 80s style political / crime drama this probably has a place deep within Netflix where you go “I’ve never heard of The Falcon and The Snowman, I guess I might as well watch that, it isn’t like I’m doing anything else …” you know? There are large swaths of this movie which from a writing perspective seem effective and well done. In fact, the only notable thing about the audio commentary by director Sydney Pollack was his intense love for the script.
  • The Bad – Whoever had the job of waking up Harrison Ford so that he could stumble onto set and deliver lines in a monotone did a poor job. Hard to watch. The entire B storyline involving a crooked cop and Ford’s job would make you go “oh yeah, I forgot this was part of the story … why do I care about this again”. Incredibly little payoff overall in the movie. The entire thing meanders around for like 2 hours before reaching the “climax” and then I looked at my watch and said to myself: “There is only 20 minutes left … that is not nearly enough time to untangle this story.” And it was not.
  • The BMT – Weird weird weird. My gut says no. I would never watch this again. I would only ever recommend this to a political / cop drama enthusiast looking for a movie recommendation (not as a bad movie) and it would be in the context of “want to see what happens when someone tried to make an 80s style drama in the late 90s? Seems super weird right?”. The blunt answer is no. I think this movie is merely bad. In a boring way. Not BMT. Sorry.

See what I mean? Weird. I will note that since we’ve gone through Ford before in Chain Reaction (Firewall and Hollywood Homicide) this makes the third Ford focused ( … see what I did there, I’m the best) Chain Reaction film. And I look forward to more in the future. I would have done an audio commentary review, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead I’m going to a quick career BMTrospective for Harrison Ford to look forward to his prospects and where he might land in the BMT pantheon. So here are his BMT films with respective BMeTrics:

(47.6) Hollywood Homicide; (47.2) Random Hearts; (38.2) Six Days Seven Nights; (34.1) Paranoia; (33.9) Firewall; (26.6) The Expendables 3; (24.2) More American Graffiti; (23.9) The Devil’s Own; (10.8) Extraordinary Measures; (7.1) Crossing Over; (3.6) Getting Straight;

So first, Getting Straight (only 6 reviews on rotten tomatoes) and Crossing Over (released to only 42 theaters) I don’t think qualify. Extraordinary Measures I think will be done, but on a very special occasion. I’m personally too busy for it, some might say I already work around the clock. Out of them all Six Days Seven Nights might end up being a keystone in a certain number game Jamie might just be outlining below, so I think it is a definite. And More American Graffiti seems poised for a sweet Bad Sequel cycle. I think 3 more Ford films will find their way into BMT then to make a total of seven (plus Paranoia which was done on our own as a Razzie nominee I think). For such a long career that is a pretty solid hit rate to be honest, to only have those handful of duds available. That’s your life Harrison Ford. Auf wiedersehen, and back to you Jamie.

Jamie

Random Hearts is the perfect Chain Reaction film for this cycle. Is it a thriller? Is it a romance? Is it a political drama? Or is it a political-thriller-rom-dram? Whatever it is it hardly fits into a standard category and provides something a little different than our typical fare. Patrick expounded on the weirdness of this film, even without the baggage of the book. Why? Because the book is exponentially weirder. Even though the book has some of the political angle of the film, there is no doubt that it aims to be a straight romantic drama. The only problem is that there is nothing romantic about the book in the least. The story starts essentially the same as the film: two people find out their spouses were having an affair after they turn up in a plane crash sitting next to each other under false names. Good plot. It then deviates into the super philosophical about the nature of love and what it means. The characters feed off each others’ crazed neuroses brought on by their anger and grief. They throw everything they own out, they sell their houses, Vivien give her son to her parents and implies that she’s never coming back, and she gets rid of her dog all because they believe that if their love wasn’t real then nothing else they had was too (including her son!). He then loses his job and so they spend their days shacked up in an apartment together obsessing over finding the secret love nest that their spouses kept, having sex, and talking endlessly about their nihilistic view of love and how nothing can ever be promised or built because love has no future or past. It is depressing and horribly unromantic. You might wonder how this was ever adapted into a film. Well, when you have a simple nugget of a plot so good (the plane crash aspect) it not hard to see the desire to take that and turn it into a totally different film, which is what they did here. Other than that particular crux of the story very little of the film has any relation to the book, which was a relief. 

We got a great Settings 101 film in Random Hearts. The film is very specifically set in Washington D.C. with Harrison Ford being a part of the D.C. police department and Kristin Scott Thomas being a state representative from New Hampshire. We get a jogging scene in front of the National Mall, a jaunt to New Hampshire, Miami, and Maryland through the film (I like when there are specific secondary settings in a film, adds to the fun), and the major event in the film (the plane crash) is explicitly detailed as a flight from D.C. to Miami that crashes into the Potomac. You have to give it an A-. Why the minus? The setting plays a major role in the plot, but not in a particularly fun way. Has all the elements of an A settings film, but could have been set elsewhere without much of a hiccup (other than changing the occupation of Thomas).

Next up is the Sci Fi category in our Based on a Book cycle. Cheers,

The Sklogs

Get Carter Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Get Carter? More like Retched Art, Huh?! (Holy shit, that’s the worst I’ve done, bar none). Anywho, we went to crazy town and absorbed way too much information about this film. I’ll let Jamie cover the book, let’s get into a bit about the movie (and by extension its predecessor)!

  • The Good – I’m going to be honest, not much. Rourke worked for the character they were going for. With their tone choice (see below) I didn’t mind how they twisted the story to fit the tone so much. Jeez, yep.
  • The Bad – Sigh. It’s not like I loved the original, it was just an interestingly dark drama with one of the most profoundly detestable main characters you might see as your anti-hero of choice. This movie though softens it so much in favor of a lighter tone it kind of manages to destroy whatever it had going for it in adapting the source material a second time. Sly mumbles the entire time, it is way too flashy, the Alan Cumming character is nonsense. The entire thing leaves a sour taste in your mouth and isn’t even very interesting to boot because, to be honest, the lighter tone doesn’t work. Give me Sly as a drunk thug out for revenge, not some pinnacle of Family First nonsense we know and love from Fast and Furious. As I said, sigh. I might not be as jazzed as Jamie about it, but it really is rather detestable when you sit back and look at it.
  • The BMT – Yep, you could teach a master class on it. The only thing that doesn’t kick this up a notch to the legendary range is that Sly is at least somewhat competent. You put someone who is also just way out of his league in there and you got a stew going.

I’ll leave it there and close with a very abridged Audio Sklog-entary. This was yet another Director-only commentary with Stephen Key and I quit after thirty minutes. The only thing of remote interest is hearing Kay talk vaguely (although surprisingly frankly) about how intimidated he was by the project and by extension explaining a little of where things seemed to go a little wrong. But it is boring, filled with not-very-interesting factoids, technical nonsense (you can see at one point that they had to add a filler shot and so the gatekeeper transforms into an old man! Coooool), and no funny or interesting anecdotes. I stopped. I couldn’t do it. I have better things to listen to. F. An aggressive unyielding F. Although I’m willing to listen to someone if they tell me the last hour of the commentary is decent.

Jamie 

In many ways the Get Carter remake exemplifies the spirit of BMT. The film contains MonoSklogs, a prominent and specific setting (Seattle/Las Vegas), a horrifically bad side character (John C. McGinley), a horrifically bad bad guy (Alan Cumming), mirrors featured as metaphor (a la I Know Who Killed Me), Sly Stallone having a weird character quirk (OCD), Sly Stallone mumblemouth, randomly taking place during Christmas, dutch angles, Hollywood badass bars, Chekov’s guns (or in this case a Chekov’s cookie jar), etc. etc. etc. etc. All things that we have harped on over the years. Add on top of that the fact that there is waaaaaay too much source material to deal with (a book, two previous adaptations, and a commentary) and it’s like Hollywood asked us to make a film for BMT (although in our Get Carter adaptation John C. McGinley’s character is played by Chris Klein). If it was more fun in its badness it would probably be a BMTHoF candidate. As it stands it’s simply a case study. A film that would be taught in BMT lecture halls across the world, but just doesn’t go to the extreme in any one particular area to be pushed to the next level. Still fun to watch though.

As hinted above Get Carter was a masterpiece of source material. I read the book, watched the previous adaptation, and watched the new one and have to say: remarkable how similar they all are. The original film is ridiculously true to the book. Almost Pinocchio-esque. Most changes made were minor except for the final twist in the film which is more substantially changed (I’ll get to that later). The remake is much more divergent. They really softened everything up. To be true to the source Stallone’s character would have had to been an alcoholic rage monster that kills both men and women with no regard (which is exactly what Michael Caine is in the original film). Who can blame them for balking at that and instead making him an estranged uncle looking to forge a familial bond with his niece. So how do they all rank? Well you can kinda tell the quality by simply looking at how the ending twist was handled. Alright, so in all three cases the story ends with Carter confronting the man who killed his brother (Eddie in the book). In the book the main character is about to kill Eddie but lets his rage get the best of him. Eddie gains the upper hand, stabs Carter, and takes his gun (an antique rifle Carter and his brother bought as kids). When Eddie tries to shoot Carter it blows up in his face killing him instantly (remember it was an antique). Carter dies in the forest from the stab wound while still fulfilling his task of revenge. Great ending. Shocking and satisfying. Carter was an asshole, but you also wanted him to get revenge. Perfect. In the original film they weirdly chose to have Carter succeed in killing Eddie, only to be shot by a sniper sent by the mobsters a moment later. Really an odd choice. A tad too Deus Ex Machina for my taste. Not as satisfying for that reason. Finally in the remake the studio clearly didn’t want to kill Stallone so he kills his nemesis and then goes on the run, but not before imparting some valuable life lessons to his niece. Blech. So you see: book best, original film OK, remake terrible. Just have to look at that ending.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

Basic Instinct 2 Recap

Jamie

Basic Instinct 2 is horrific. A truly bad film. It’s probably not memorable or interesting enough to be considered in the pantheon of straight dog poo films, but it had aspects that set it apart somewhat. First and foremost, Sharon Stone competes for the title of Worst Acting Performance Ever Seen in a BMT Film. She smirked after every deadpanned line as if to wink at the audience and say “remember this character? Isn’t this fun?” No it was not. I dreaded when she would appear on screen. On top of that this provides a perfect example of one of the main ways that a truly bad BMT film is created: the vanity project. I’ve said before that I feel like BMT films have to be made organically because they are rooted in delusion. If you set out to make a bad film you by definition lack delusion (you are obviously aware that you are making something bad), and so you will not succeed in making a BMT film. Alternately, the vanity project is a product of delusion. This was Stone’s vanity project. No one really cared and they let her drive it into the ground. This will all be detailed in my upcoming books (set for a June, 2054 release): The Seven Deadly Sins of Hollywood: How Bad Films get Made. The Greed chapter would be loooooong. I’m not sure what would be in the Gluttony chapter of the book… The Island of Dr. Moreau?

I’ll just have a quick game to go through our Settings 101 for Basic Instinct 2. This is easily a solid B+. Very, very, very clearly takes place in London. It even opens with a high speed car ride through London with a professional Footballer riding shotgun with Stone. They talk about London and the police investigation is performed by the British police. But what really pushes it to a high B is the fact that David Morrissey’s office is purportedly in the Gherkin, which is the glass egg-like building in the middle of London. Perfect. Only way it could have been an A is if Stone killed someone in London Tower, Big Ben, or Parliament and it was called Basic London. An additional small note: The original Basic Instinct is also a B+ for its clear San Francisco setting. Wonderful.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Basic Instinct 2?! More like this Bullshit Stinks Too! Booooooom. To preface this discussion of the movie we have to get a bit into the original Basic Instinct which I watched for the first time in preparation. My feeling? It is like looking at the erotic thriller genre with fresh new eyes. Sharon Stone is amazing, Douglas is amazing (deep V in the original Hollywood badass bar included. The bar was so luxuriously not-crowded, you could get a drink at the drop of a hat, solid stuff). The story could have been an entire HBO series and it would have murdered all 10 hours of it. It almost has an anti-pattern of a twist as well, I found it revelatory. Like what the Thing is for sci-fi horror or Halloween for slasher films, it feels quintessential. And yet I still have two legs to the Michael Douglas erotic thriller trilogy (Fatal Attraction and Disclosure being the other two, also the three highest grossing erotic thrillers in history). So yeah, I’m excited. But not as excited as I was to see how Basic Instinct 2 butchered the original’s legacy, let’s go!

  • The Good – The story, while very similar in beats to the original, is at least somewhat interesting. Moving the film to London does give it something of an exotic and novel feeling when directly compared to the original. And that is honestly it, because …
  • The Bad – Sharon Stone is a straight up parody of herself, I don’t understand how the woman I saw acting in the original became this shadow of herself in only 15 years. The main actor couldn’t keep up with anyone else in this film. The pacing for the movie was a crawl. The directing was lazy, the writing wasn’t nearly as sharp as it needed to be, and the ending is ludicrous. It is a genuinely terrible movie made only more so by the competence of its predecessor.
  • The BMT – Yes. 70? Sure, but only given what came before. I think it is a solid 50 (40 if you don’t like films that are more on the boring side) regardless, but given how incredible the original is this is a genuinely incredible film. It didn’t kill the erotic thriller, but it may have killed the erotic thriller sequel genre before it even got started.

Phew! I’m going to do a quick Audio Sklog-entary for the solo director commentary for Basic Instinct. There is only one thing I would recommend about this commentary, and it is those brief moments where the director awakens from his slumber and just tears into the film. At one point he exclaims “This isn’t the cure for cancer!” and “If you didn’t like the film, I don’t care”. It is stunning. Besides that, a lot of rote directoral details and discussion of London as a setting. D, this is why you don’t get just one person for commentary, especially a non-enthusiastic technical person. Boring.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Recap

Jamie

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is not the first time we’ve watched two films in a series separately for BMT, but it does kind of fly in the face of some of the measures that Patrick and I have taken in constructing BMT. We have slowly built up to consuming all relevant media when watching a film. So for Endless Love I read the book, watched the original film, and watched the 2011 film. For Paul Blart we watched the original as a bonus film when tackling Paul Blart 2. So this is a bit of a relic of yore. Now we probably would have watched both films at the same time (and read the book and watched the original film and…) but instead we are just watching this film a year later trying to remember what we thought of the first one. As I remember it I found the first to be a thoroughly depressing adaptation of a very good book with OK acting. Unsurprisingly the second film is a not quite as depressing but infinitely shoddier version of the first film. Lower the stakes and up the physical comedy and voila. Not particularly satisfying.

Patrick and I have been workshopping the Settings 101 class. Really trying to hammer out the details on what make a good setting for a film. For Cheaper by the Dozen 2 we get a surprisingly solid settings film. Now, it’s not as good as the first film. In the first film the crux of the plot is the family moving from Midland, Indiana to Evanston, Illinois to coach at the imaginary Illinois Polytechnic University. Look at those settings! It screams ‘Illinois!’ at the audience. That’s probably an A- (we’re tough graders). In the second film the family is still living in Illinois and decides that they have to go to the lake house in Wisconsin. While kudos to them for going all in on a specific setting again, it wasn’t as clear this time exactly where they were going. In fact I kind of missed it until later in the film when the oldest son and Jaime King talked about moving to Wisconsin to pursue their dreams. So I kinda have to give it a C+. It would have gotten into the B or B+ range if they had been clearer. Maybe passing a “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign when driving to the lake or just printing it on the screen. I call that a meta-acknowledgement. Where the film itself nods to the audience and says “in case you didn’t know where we were.”

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Cheaper by the Dozen Two?! More like Sequel Repercussions, Boo! (does that make sense? It felt good writing it). We went full on BMTquel, a very rare double BMT delight (Grown Ups and Growns Ups 2 come to mind for sure, not sure about other sequels). Let’s get into it!

  • The Good – I do think the “family comedy” genre is necessary for the world. I for one enjoyed things like The Great Outdoors growing up even though that movie is objectively terrible in retrospect, but I was like eight, why worry about movies like this? The tom-boy girl was fantastic in this film as well. Maybe the best kid actor in BMT history.
  • The Bad – It is a movie that you can kind of see the seams of its movie costume in. It doesn’t feel like a real movie. It is like a producer was like “What? The stupid remake of Cheaper by the Dozen made money, shit … I guess make another one. I have this script for The Great Outdoors 2 which makes no sense and stars the ghost of John Candy, can you rewrite this?” The movie legit stars 25 different people and is excruciating for 95% of the runtime. I really didn’t enjoy this film for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it just felt like a throwaway.
  • The BMT – Yes! I’m actually surprised it isn’t higher than the 40 something that it was. It is a kids movie, but again, it is kind of the worst the genre has to offer in a way. I should have put Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt in the good category to a degree, they clearly ad-libbed all of their lines, and they are solid as rocks, but still, the movie is super weak and I didn’t like it at all.

Boom. Audio Sklog-entary review. So this one was again just the director. This guy was pretty funny and had some good anecdotes … but was also kind of hilariously down on the movie. Everything seemed rushed, he was wrangling 20 kids at all times, and in addition to that he had to deal with the fact that Tom Welling, Hilary Duff and the twin boys (who were on Desperate Housewives at the time) were almost literally not on set all together at any given time. The guy did admirably (and was also weirdly obsessed with the noises his stomach was making throughout), but still not as good as if there was a second person to get the stories out of him. B. One of the better single person commentaries I’ve listened to thus far.

BTW I want to Reboot Cheaper by the Dozen haaaaard. Just to make Steve Martin a competent football coach / father. Example: Tom Welling is meandering around like a weirdo in both films at this point. Why not make him become the assistant coach? Why not show Steve Martin do something with his family? He talked about kids being “hardwired”, but seriously, his son liked football, he didn’t hate it, it makes no sense that all of a sudden he’s opening a garage in rural Wisconsin. One of the more frustrating storyline issues with both movies in this series. I’ll do the remake for a dime. No joke.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Material Girls Recap

Jamie

I’ll let Patrick sum up Material Girls. The film is small enough that probably just one perspective is needed. I’ll keep my notes limited to a comparison between this film and Sense and Sensibility (on which it is “based”).

So technically Material Girls is based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (so Book Review obvs). I did indeed read the book to make sure I got the full Material Girls experience. I can tell you… not necessary. If you squint you can map the characters between the book and the film (Elinor is Hilary Duff, Marianne is Haylie Duff, Edward is Tommy, Willoughby is Rick, and Colonel Brandon is Henry). Besides that there is literally no resemblance. I amused myself while watching the film by imagining what Sense and Sensibility would be like if its plot actually did resemble the plot of Material Girls. And it would go… a little something… like this: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are heirs to their father’s corset empire. Unfortunately upon his passing they learn that his corsets are dangerous and has led to the permanent deformation of its wearers. It can’t be! In order to clear their names, get their beaus and receive the inheritance they rightfully deserve, they must infiltrate the dances of their rivals to uncover the dastardly conspiracy to defame them. Along the way they learn that money isn’t everything and love can’t be bought. Boom. That would be the worst book. This reminds me of an idea I had (that would also be the worst) which is writing books-films-are-based-on… not books-based-on-films. Rather than just adapting the film directly into a book, you take the film and reimagine it as a book that it could have been based on. Get it? There’s a subtle difference… nevermind, it’s not important.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone? Material Girls, more like Makes Me Hurl! (oof, my wife had to help with that one). So you know how some movies feel like they aren’t real movies? No? Well this one was barely a movie. But I know the question on everyone’s mind: was it dog poo in my face? You’ll have to wait and see, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – I did not think Haylie Duff was substantially worse as an actress compared to the actors surrounding her, the story was surprisingly interesting, and what should have been a really terrible Erin Brockovich reference ended up being the best part of the movie.
  • The Bad – Data from Star Trek was not so good. Lukas Haas was straight dog poo in my face, more on that later. This is barely a movie, and so clearly involved (1) a studio trying to salvage a Olsen Twins movie gone wrong, and (2) was only released because someone in production (probably the director) had connections in the industry and got distribution.
  • The BMT – Yes! But I would put it at 30-40 just because of the size of the film. It was not straight up dog poo in my face because in its small way it was charming. I would never watch this film again exclusively because Haylie Duff and Lukas Haas have the single most excruciating romance in the history of cinema.

Alrighty. Quick hot take on the commentary, a mini Audio Sklog-entary, this was exclusively the director and confirmed for me that a single person commentary is necessarily inferior to multiple people. Also, while I know the director is well meaning, it comes across as kind of a shoddily put together film. The entire commentary is just about how they were trying to explain the story from A to Z, nothing really super interesting here beyond the fact that apparently the director herself convinced a very tentative Lukas Haas to act like a weirdo in a comedic role and it came out horribly, no joke. D+. I can imagine less interesting commentaries, but they’d be trainwrecks.

It looks like Jamie is doing a little Sense and Sensibility review, so I might as well rock a Settings 101. Am I allowed to? I’m not sure, but this movie was very much set in LA, complete with “hilarious” LA-has-terrible-public-transportation jokes. I think I give it a C+. It’s story doesn’t require the film to be set in LA necessarily, but they use the setting to solid effect in the end (the aforementioned bus gag, the boyfriend is a star on an OC-like show, a couple gift bag gags). Maybe Jamie can chime in on the scale and some examples of what is an A – D setting. Obviously an F setting is one which just doesn’t have a setting, like Trespass starring Nic Cage.

Taxi Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Taxi? More like Lacks Glee (I honestly am shocked I pulled an okay one out of that). Huh, a surprisingly high BMeTric? A genuinely interesting choice at director? Queen Latifah paired with Jimmy Fallon? I kind of knew this movie has the potential to confound … but I didn’t know quite to what degree. Let’s get into it.

  • The Good – There were moments that were genuinely funny. Queen Latifah was actually quite good. I appreciated the way it inverted tropes (and was rather effective at it). The director knew his limitations and managed the action comedy admirably. Everyone seemed on board and the film was far more coherent than I could have ever expected.
  • The Bad – And yet it is a terrible movie. Boring, not funny. The music is terrible. Fallon is no good and also too bumbling to be admired or appreciated. The entire thing ends up just kind of falling apart in slow motion. And the movie is 15 minutes too long.
  • The BMT – This is a 40-50 BMeTric film for sure. But I wouldn’t watch it again unless it just happened to be on television. It isn’t entertaining or unintentionally funny enough to sustain the runtime, but it does have some cred that bumps it up. Specifically Fallon and Bunchen buoy this otherwise lifeless BMT dud. The end.

I got into it. You know what time it is … Audio Sklog-entary. That’s right, we are on a roll. This one was with the director Tim Story all by his lonesome. Things I appreciated: he was very open about his own failings as a director, and very open about how rushed this production was. That side of things was incredibly interesting. But a single person just lacks the same dynamism that a duo has by being able to play off each other. Verdict: B-.

Jamie

Not since Phone Booth have we had a film so quickly become irrelevant. Now this film would be remade and called Uber (not really, they would get sued), about a ride-sharing, racecar-driving wannabe helping out a down-on-his-luck cop. Instead, since this was made when there was no such thing as Uber, we got a complete carbon copy of the French film it was based on. And I’m not exaggerating. This film was almost shot-for-shot the same film (particularly the beginning and end), to the point where the trick at the end is just replicated. Not even a neat twist. I guess they assumed the general American audience wouldn’t watch the original like me (cause I’m insane). Even the changes that were made were all surface. The mom was just a mom in the original? Let’s make her an alcoholic. German bank robbers? Make them Brazilian super model bank robbers. The bank robbers use a cleaning service to pick up the money after the heist? Make it a garbage truck. Just slight changes for the sake of changing something. Actually made watching the film a bit dull. One of the unfortunate byproducts of obsessively consuming all related materials to the movies we watch.

The way I’ve been thinking about the commentaries is trying to sum up the main idea in a single sentence or word. In this case the word was: rushed. It sounded like he had a super short casting window and even purposefully hired a music video cinematographer because he knew the shooting schedule was tight. Probably why the movie is so similar to the French original. Easier to plan and shoot a direct remake rather than make major changes.

Going back to the BMTsolutions well for my game. Taxi is certainly not based on a book (it’s based on a French film, duh. I was literally just talking about it), but if it were, it would go… a little something… like this. Queen Latifah (yes the book also stars Queen Latifah) is a NASCAR driver. She’s on the rise and feeling super sweet. Unfortunately she gets in a terrible accident that leaves her shaken and confused. Falshforward a year after her recovery and she’s now a taxi driver, obeying the laws of the street, but longing for the race track. She hangs around the local speedway on the weekends and notices something kinda odd. A car that some of the new guys have been using have fancy tires on them that prevents blowouts. Tires that are only sold in Germany. And didn’t she see those same tires in some of the bank robbery footage on the news? She runs to the police to let them know. They, of course, think nothing of it. Who is this crazy lady who thinks she can identify thieves by their tires? Leave the police work to the police. But one officer recognizes her from her racing days and doesn’t think she’s crazy at all. In fact, he’s sure that she’s the only one that can catch these bank robbers in the act. They team up to catch the crooks. Feel the adrenaline of… TAXI.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cat in the Hat Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Cat in the Hat?! More like Cat that Falls Flat! (ooooooooooooooof that’s some rough stuff, but I ain’t no Dr. Seuss). Wowzers. Cat in the Hat is a legendary bad movie, it’s got street cred out the wazoo for sure. Mainly because people were already uneasy with the Ron Howard Grinch adaptation and then were met with this cat-astrophe (nailed it).  It delivered. Let’s get to the BMT Breakdown!

  • The Good – Some of the production design is stunning. For what was demanded of them Baldwin and Fanning did a solid job. There is something ahead of its time and irreverent here. I put that in the good column despite …
  • The Bad – The irreverent adult humor has absolutely no place in a Dr. Seuss adaptation. Myers delivered on being the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen, straight horror movie shit. The storyline makes no sense in the context of even the most basic telling of the children’s book. Myers catchphrase (Oh yeeeeeeeah! He says it like 40 times) and the way he walks is …. It profoundly upsets me.
  • The BMT – This is certainly a rare one. This has somewhere close to an 80 on the BMeTric (one of the worst movies according to that ever made). And … yes, that is appropriate. If someone asked me “I need a movie for a bad movie night, I’ve seen most things though, what you got?” I would say Cat in the Hat would blow a lot of people’s minds even though it is a child’s movie.

Yet another Audio Sklog-entary. This time with director Bo Welch and Alex Baldwin. I love commentaries with more than one person because there is some banter and prompting and overall a lot more interesting anecdotes. Without Alec this would have been a trainwreck with just Bo. But Alec (1) Keeps on referring to Kelly Preston as “my girl” and whispering creepily about her outfit every time she is on screen. (2) Does a really solid 5 minute impression of a hollywood producer trying to invite him to a party in Aspen which made me laugh more than the actual movie did. (3) Has a strange thread throughout the commentary about how pressed he was for time because he was always running around trying to see his daughter. Interesting because this was right at the time in 2003 when, allegedly, Kim Basinger was intentionally preventing him from seeing his daughter and actively trying to turn her against him (culminating, a few years later, in the notorious voicemail incident). Sure you learn some stuff about the film, but this commentary is genuinely amazing just for the little time capsule it creates around Bo and Alec. Verdict: B+. although I reserve the right to increase it after listening to more of these and realizing most are probably boring.

Jamie

I’m glad Patrick commented on the commentary so I didn’t have to. Baldwin just seemed to have a ball doing it and kinda made it worth listening to.

It’s going to be hard to express my feelings about The Cat in the Hat. Mostly because it’s hard to interpret and convey feelings when your brain has melted. I swear that there is a part of me that believes that if this were any other movie (perhaps one starring Tom Green), I would be sitting here talking about how, ‘you won’t believe it, but this film is NOT THAT BAD and AHEAD OF ITS TIME.’ Except I can’t. I can’t sit here and say that the atrocity committed against the Dr. Suess material was anything but that. An atrocity. But if you took that out of it and said to yourself, ‘This is not a children’s film, this is not an adaptation of a beloved children’s story,’ you start to realize that the film is essentially a stoner film. Jokes on jokes on non sequiturs on jokes. A mile a minute, looking snazzy, with a ridiculous monster-cat Mike Myers literally bouncing off the walls. It’s Adventure Time before that existed. It’s Rick and Morty a decade too early. It’s a spoof of the material that they were supposed to be actually adapting. If it aired on Adult Swim at 3 AM, it would fit right in (outside of the first 15 minutes or so, before Mike Myers shows up). But because it was a children’s film and because it was an adaptation of a beloved children’s story, it was horrifying in the most absurd and ridiculous way. Was it BMT, you ask? Uh, cha.

The Cat in the Hat is obviously based on a beloved children’s story, but I won’t discuss that because it is an abomination (or more like an Obamanation, emirite?). Instead I’m going to Sklogify it. Instead of being an actual adaptation of The Cat and the Hat, Patrick and I would produce a film called The Dog in the Coat. The main character is a child left alone at home by his mom on a rainy day. He is totally fine spending the day with his nose in a book, but a terrifying anthropomorphic dog appears and insists on taking him on an interstate crime spree. The boy spends the day in a state of heightened anxiety as he gets The Dog in the Coat (aided and abetted by his unsettling crony Dr. Whatzit, played by Danny DeVito) out of the increasingly dangerous and irresponsible jams. At the end of the day The Dog in the Coat reveals that since he “learned some lessons or whatever” he will help the kid clean up the house before his mom comes home. Instead he gets drunk and falls asleep and the kid has to clean up the mess himself. This film would transition to a television show where each week The Dog in the Coat ruins the child’s life in a new and creative way. By the way, that’s pretty much what the actual Cat in the Hat film was.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Eragon Recap

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Eragon? More like Era-Don’t! (I could think of something that actually rhymed, this was honestly the best I could do). Oh, I get to tell you guys the story of Eragon, what an absolute pleasure (I guess sarcasm is the main place that an email like this fails where a podcast would succeed, but such is life):

  • The Good – The landscapes were beautiful. The CGI was amazing (especially for the time). I’ve seen worse swords-and-sorcery movies. Jeremy Irons was solid. The story itself has something there, I can feel it. It’s just that …
  • The Bad – The story is so tired and the way it is told is so cookie-cutter and the overall result is just banal from top to bottom. As is usual when you get a bunch of professional actors together dress them up in ridiculous costumes and tell them to do what you want the performances were … spotty. The absolute reliance on this being a trilogy (eventual tetralogy) is kind of nuts.
  • The BMT – The more I think about it the more the movie kind of comes apart at the seams. It is kind of lower-mid table as far as its genre, so maybe 30/100 on our bad movie scale. Above average, but nothing special. The fact that it has a 60+ right now is a testament to just how angry fans of the book series got about it.

Audio Sklog-entary! Listened to the director commentary. The guy seems like a really solid visual effects supervisor. He was obsessed with sets and CGI and knew his stuff. But holy shit, he was just putting a movie together like it was a puzzle. Paint-by-numbers movie, what time is it? Can I talk to my CGI artists in Germany yet? Explains a bit I think. Seems like he probably just had no interest in directing a movie after the reception Eragon got.

Sequel/Prequel/Remake I’m going to go with Prequel. Tell me more about Bron the dragonrider and his adventures with the mad king Galbatorix! All real words. I’ll keep it short, because Jamie’s review is loooooong.

Jamie

Eragon fits nicely into the relatively rare subgenre of Sword and Sorcery and as BMT progresses we get a nice broader picture of these small subgenres. We can start to rank and put films into a bit of a hierarchy. I would say that we’ve watched five films that would fit the genre: Conan the Destroyer, Seventh Son, Eragon, Dungeons & Dragons, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (I love writing out its full title). I’m sure you’re all gnashing your teeth and rending your clothes at the fact that I’ve left off Highlander II: The Quickening and The Legend of Hercules, but playa please. We’re talking true, blue Sword and Sorcery, not a film that takes place on Earth. I want imaginary worlds and made up bullshit, thank you very much.  So where do these five films fit in our BMT Sword and Sorcery landscape? Like a beautiful Bob Ross painting, Seventh Son is the happy little mountains in our fantasy realm. Eragon is a happy little tree off to the side and Conan the Destroyer is a happy little lake from which happy deer drink happily to sate their thirst. Dungeons & Dragons is unfortunately a happy little castle that Bob accidentally painted pink and couldn’t change it cause it was too late and besides he only has thirty minutes to paint this and the viewers probably won’t notice anyway… right? As for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Well that is the happy little toxic waste spill that poisons our happy little lake and ends up wiping out the entire happy little deer population in the valley. It’s poison leaks into the ground water destroying the ecosystem in the area for generations to come and causing widespread illness among the populous in our happy little valley. Oh woe are those in our Sword and Sorcery Valley. Woe indeed. Oh! And if you didn’t follow the metaphor: Seventh Son > Conan the Destroyer = Eragon > Dungeons & Dragons >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.

Obviously for my game I’ll be doing my BMTsolution. Eragon was definitely adapted from a book and I, of course, read it. It’s a *gulp* 500 page young adult novel following the adventures of our titular hero as he discovers he’s super lame (oh, and a dragon rider too). Probably the funniest thing about the book is just how similar it is to Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, except replace Edward/Christian Grey with a dragon and Bella/Anastasia with Eragon (no, I didn’t make a mistake in how I classified the characters). Eragon is super headstrong. He’s always getting into trouble and subsequently getting saved by his dragon. The dragon is always like, “I can’t handle you being in danger, you have to stay with me all the time so you can be safe,” and Eragon has to fight for his independence while also being like, “I love you so much dragon. It flips my world upside down. I was an ordinary boy a second ago and now you make me feel so special with your love.” Then if you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, Eragon rides his dragon for the first time and it hurts him badly. He is then resistant to riding the dragon again, for he is afraid of how much it hurt him the first time they did it. But the dragon is reassuring and wants him to ride her because that is how they are meant to be. Then when he finally plucks up the courage he realizes that flying doesn’t have to hurt and in fact is wonderful and they can look through each other’s eyes and souls while they fly together. Oh it’s beautiful! How it feels to fly with a dragon you feel so connected to!… … … Incredibly uncomfortable stuff. The whole time I was like, “He’s basically having sex with this dragon… and it’s weird as fuck.” Besides that, the book is a blatant rip-off of Wheel of Time (not Star Wars like the reviewers claimed for some reason), and so I probably would have loved if it came out when I was in 6th grade. Who am I kidding, I didn’t mind reading it now and I’m an adult(ish).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs