NOTE: This was an original recap from 2012 for the film Here on Earth. In a way it started the modern BMT recap, although it would still be another year before our email recap was more than a few notes. It originally included a good number of self-hosted video bits, but I’ve removed them to avoid any possibility of legal issues, and tried my best to get across the intent of each of them. But … just look at how long it is! Yeah, I had a job back then and everything. I think I wrote this in an hour long manic state of ecstasy. Enjoy!
Well boys and girls, it is with sadness that I have to report that Bad Movie Thursday has ended. What you all didn’t know was that BMT was just a pretense for me and Jamie’s search for the perfect movie, the one movie to unite the world in peace. That search ended last Thursday when we watched Here on Earth, nay! When it allowed us to view its beauty, its majesty … its message. Guided by LudaChris Klein himself we walked the shores of heaven and laughed in childlike wonder as he gently explained how the world can be, how it will be, once we pass along his message to the unconverted. Robert Frost said it best when …
Now that that is over, BMT has not ended, but it might as well have because all others can only hope to be a shadow of its greatness. It had everything, a soundtrack that reads like Best of the 90s: Vol 12, constant unnecessary slo-mo, a rich versus poor dynamic that never quits, and some of the absolute worst (read: best) performances put forth by Chris Klein and Leelee Sobieski. Meanwhile, Josh Harnett acts circles around everyone involved and they close by (spoiler alert!) Notebooking us with a surprise cancer diagnosis and death. Holy shit, needless to say it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of days. Buckle your seatbelts, and if you didn’t watch it they you should pencil in some time.
So we open with a little acoustic guitar riff and shots of a sweet car getting driven through the quaint town of Putnam, Massachusetts. You immediately know the dynamic of the town because as it passes through poorville Sobieski’s says: “somebody’s lost” because none of us Poory McPoors are buying a car like that. Rolston is a prep school that is, on the other hand, extremely wealthy as one can see from the fact that people row there.
The car arrives are Rolston and whoooooweeee is the principal mad. He tries to relate to Chris Klein because his father isn’t coming to graduation, but Chris goes all screw-you-old-man-you-don’t-know-me and pretends he doesn’t care because his father is making mad stacks of cash for him. He also puts down his whole class by calling them whining children. They conclude with Klein strutting about and riffing with his friends about how many ladies they’d all get with his car. With a flourish he reveals that he stole his car keys from the principal and they are going to take a little joy ride that night.
This is where things get interesting. Klein decides they’re all going to Mable’s Table where all the townies are hanging out. For some reason all the Rolston kids are terrified of going into this diner. Reminds me of my home town where all of the tourists are afraid to come to the local bar because the townies will beat the shit out of them. You know what I’m talking about Jamie. Leelee’s there with Hartnett and his friend (dubbed Mathew Lillard Jr. for his sweet bleach blonde hair and extreme sidekickness). Leelee basically tells Hartnett that it’s ovah babyyyyyy by not writing their name on the Lover’s Wall and instead takes over for her sister waiting tables. Her fear of commitment is disconcerting to Hartnett, but he’s in high school so he rolls with it.
Klein and his friends enter and Klein proceeds to verbally accost poor Leelee. Like no joke he pretty much sexually assaults her. She immediately falls in love with him (natch). We are later led to believe that Leelee falls in love with his heart, in reality we can read between the lines and I think she just kind of likes assholes and Hartnett was just too nice for her. Plus just hear these smoove lines by Klein: “What’s good here besides the help?” “Do you really make your own ice cream” “How does one make you own ice cream” Note the accent on cream in those last two. I thought Klein was just saying it weird … now I’m wondering whether it is sexual innuendo. If it is that is supremely creepy. Harnett conducts his first acting lesson of the night and Chris Klein responds by calling all the townies poor. It is quite a speech. But hey guys …. He has a good heart.
A scuffle ensues and Klein basically tells Hartnett his girlfriend is probably going to dream of him tonight. The actual word is “fantasy file” which isn’t a real phrase. Klein speeds off and Hartnett, on principle, decides to race him. This inevitably results in a huge explosion that destroys Mabel’s (no one is hurt). It would have been a much different movie if someone had died, like Sleepers style. Klein and Hartnett go to prison. They are enemies, but for survival they become reluctant allies and then friends. I’m going to call it Shawshank Redemption 2: Rich and Poe. In this version of the script Klein’s character is ironically called Poe and Harnett’s is ironically called Rich. This may also be a Fox Family series in which Poe is forced to move in with Rich and comedy ensues, they’re such an odd couple!
Anyways. Now we get to see how justice is really served in small town USA … the same way as everywhere else, in a courtroom. Klein has Nerd Alert McGee as his lawyer (complete with bow tie) who’s all like: “excuse me, but can’t my client just pay everyone a ton of money and we can lay this matter to rest?” And the judge basically responds “what world do you live in where what you said makes any sense?” Regardless, the judge decides that they’re going to have to do something different with these boys and makes them rebuild Mabel’s Table and thus Klein must live in Hartnett’s house! Everyone seems satisfied although it does seem to dawn on them that Mabel’s Table is one of the dumbest restaurant names they’ve ever heard in their life.
As an aside: the movie would have been better if Hartnett put his and Leelee’s name on the Love Wall. In the movie Leelee just kind of gets all grumpy and starts cheating on Hartnett with Klein and generally acts pretty terribly towards him. In my version Hartnett tries to make up with her and when he claims they’re on the Love Wall she can say “you burned the Love Wall down.” I never got the sense she drifted from Hartnett because of that incident (which would have made more sense), but rather out of boredom making her intentions, while perhaps more real, a bit muddied. Whatevs.
Klein moves into Hartnett’s house and his disgust with the poor accommodations is palpable. He sees a rat and everything and we feel for him because of the sheer poorness of the house. Hartnett tries to make Klein milk some cows but Klein doesn’t do peasant work and walks out. Good call by Klein, if his servants every found out he milked a cow they would probably demand wages and whatnot. Meanwhile, Leelee has inexplicably made up with Hartnett because he fails adorably at making noises with a blade of grass and then a mysterious knee injury is revealed. Afterward we get some sermon from a priest and Matthew Lillard Jr. grosses everyone out by making out with his girlfriend who runs her hands through his frosted tips never realizing how much she will regret her high school choices in the future.
And then we get it. Chris Klein monologue #1. I think it is in his contract that he gets at least 2.5 monologues a movie, so the director made up a valedictorian speech he had to miss because he’s a dipshit. It is … well it’s just Birches by Robert Frost basically. Are you kidding me? How did I not know about this when I graduated high school, this would have definitely been my speech, and no one would have been the wiser (although I would have been booed off stage …. Worth it). Leelee sees the whole thing and is intrigued to say the least.
Leelee macks the mack by bringing Klein a sandwich, everyone enjoys some solid 90s Yo Mother jokes, and then Hartnett and Klein get into a scuffle. You know it is a movie because Hartnett, who sports some sweet bird arms and is built like a scarecrow, defeats Klein, who appears to have just finished up a really worthwhile cycle of anabolic steroids. Hartnett has a heart to heart with his mother who points out that Klein might as well be an orphan so cut him some slack. In this scene Hartnett “plays” the piano. In reality piano noises just play during a close up shot of his face. It’s pretty funny how little they tried here, but if Hartnett can actually play the piano they did him a disservice.
And then we get two amazing scenes in a row. First, Leelee pretty much jumps Klein. This flirty banter is amazing. Two notes. One, Klein is shirtless which was inevitable. Two, the beginning of that scene was ridiculous. Leelee stares lustily at Klein’s bod and says “I’m hot … … … … … I’m going to get something to drink.” It sounds like she’s drunk. It actually reminds me of that video of the Brady Bunch where the one kid was stoned for a scene. The scene is similar to how me and my wife met. I was working hard during college orientation (shirtless, natch). She came over to get a drink and that was all the opening I needed. Hook-line-and-sinker. I call that move the Charlie Nash Interpol because it makes the girls go crazy.
The second scene is then their date, which is also amazing. It’s in a ballpark and they pretend to play baseball and stuff. Sobieski is the worst and also cannot even fake throw a baseball which is hilarious. They talk about life and love and then make out. Klein’s clinching line is the inexplicable: “I was just wondering if there was mustard or …” referring to the sandwich she gave him hours ago. Oscar snub that year for sure. Since my wife doesn’t read these recaps she doesn’t know that this is happening, this is going to be a date we have. And I’ll force her to read lines with me and reenact the whole thing. We’ll break up for a bit, but she’ll forgive me. I’ve trapped her.
We move quickly from here. Leelee’s family is super concerned Klein is a hit-it-and-quit it guy from Rolston. Ironically, after they do have sex, it is Leelee who ends up dying almost immediately after. Sobieski breaks it to Harnett that … well nothing really. Not great life choices here for m’girl Leelee. Poor Hartnett is just getting dragged along. This is followed by a revolting scene in which Klein kisses a bunch of Leelee’s body parts (a creepy focus is on the feet) and calls them states. Florida is her feet, North and South Carolina the knees. The belly button is Maryland. And, because he’s a classy guy, he skips over New York and New Jersey, her breasts, for New England, her face. The closing line “Massachusetts welcomes you” by Leelee completed the amazing performance.
The following scene gives us our first glimpse of Sobieski running which she is somehow worse at than throwing fake baseballs. Upon seeing this Klein’s response should have been “Are you sure you were a track athlete? Didn’t focus on the ‘field’ aspect of those sports?” Sobieski then explains to Klein that she’s going to the dance with Hartnett. Klein naturally doesn’t understand, and neither do we. There is a very confusing schedule outlined here as well: The dance has fireworks. Klein wants to meet up after but Sobieski is going to Cape Cod. So let me get this straight. The fireworks, which probably start around 9pm, will end and then Sobieski will immediately drive to the Cape from Western Massachusetts …. Yeah that isn’t happening. Lucky for everyone this plan is never mentioned ever again. Regardless, it is assumed by everyone that Leelee is attracted to Hartnett’s superior acting skills because anyone could see that Klein is objectively more attractive.
Klein is upset about this development, but accepts his fate gracefully … Oh wait … nevermind. Instead he gets shitfaced and dances with a bunch of cows. The dance sequence could only be trumped by Sobieski trying to dance, but they wouldn’t let that happen would they? Klein goes to the dance drunk and gets wrecked by Hartnett. Classic. This time the fight is a bit more fair since Klein is absolutely falling-down drunk at this point. Klein instantaneously sobers up and decides to pack it in and leave. He asks Leelee to go with him. She practically burst out laughing, but he saves it by tacking “for the weekend” onto the end. Sobieski is mulling it over when Hartnett shows up. She makes the unfortunate decision to break the news in this fashion “I can’t go … *Hartnett looks happy, 3 more beats* … With you [Hartnett]” Hartnett then bursts into tears. After this particular scene everyone should have stopped filming because Hartnett is too good. He is a legit actor. Leelee and Klein should have felt embarrassed and just called off the rest of the shoot while they recast the leads. Sobieski then hops on the bus and drives off to Boston.
At the Klein Estate Sobieski pokes fun at Klein by asking about the Butler. Klein nonchalantly explains that it is Fourth of July so he’s not here. No joke, just kind of says Jeeves got the night off. Klein wants to see if there is food in the house (there obviously is … you live in a mansion), but Sobieski runs off to embarrass herself by lying in Klein’s mother’s suicide tub. Lucky for the world that action results in this monologue which I call “Mi Mama”. It is a heartfelt display by a very alone and all but abandoned young man. I’m all in now, you’ve hooked me finally. There is only one thing you could do to screw this up, but you wouldn’t do that, right? WRONG. Sobieski dance sequence to bumping 90s tunes. They have a nice fake rain going in the monologue scene. You can always tell a good fake rain, it comes in weird sheets. Must have only had the mansion for the night.
And now for the conclusion, Klein’s absentee father returns and tells him to get his act together before he heads off to Princeton. Princeton alums shake their head in shame. MIT gets Buschemi from Armageddon and Nic Cage from National Treasure, Princeton gets ………. Chris Klein in Here on Earth. Leelee arrives home and they find out she’s been hiding doctor appointments. Leelee meets up with Klein and challenges him to a race. In the real world Klein would defeat her easily, in this movie she takes a substantial lead (there is evidently something magically efficient about swinging her arms wildly from side to side). All of a sudden the movie goes into slo mo and she falls. Klein carries her back and she gets the surprise cancer diagnosis. Klein accuses her of quitting when she can’t get treatment. “You’re just going to die?” Her response of “I’m going to live …. Just not as long as you” doesn’t help.
Hartnett tells Klein to get it together (I agree). We get a sweet montage with Sobieski dying, and Klein looking forlornly at some roses and a picture of Sobieski. We finally conclude at the grand opening of Mable’s Table where Klein shows up, sweeps Sobieski off her feet, and carves their name on the new Lover’s Wall. As Jamie pointed out, it would have been much better if he instead carved in “Fuck Cancer”, but it dawned on me later that I don’t think the movie was intended to be a comedy. Klein gets to give the eulogy. I think he just ended up giving his graduation speech, but it was hard to tell.
What is there left to say. This goes into the pantheon for sure. Chris Klein once again showed himself to be worthy of the Nic Cage Jr. crown. All he needs is an Oscar so that he’ll be able to get jobs for the rest of his life. Sobieski plays a character who is most notable for making poor life choices and getting cancer … they could have given her a bit more to work with in my opinion. Josh Hartnett was amazingly good, didn’t really falter despite having Chris Klein chewing the scenery during every take. There really isn’t anything else to say. Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, Battlefield Earth, Here on Earth. Those are now my top three of BMT history. ‘Nuff said.