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

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The Women (2008) Preview

Usually I start off the preview for a film by talking about how excited I am to watch it. Not this time! For the Girls Night Out section we jumped to an adaptation of a play. While we had a number of terrible musicals to choose from we at the BMT Media Empire HQ are always looking to buck trends. That’s right! We’re watching The Women… you know, that dramedy you definitely know came out starring Meg Ryan and an ensemble of women living it up in the Greater New York City Area. It’s based on the 1936 play by Clare Booth Luce, which ran on Broadway for a number of years and has been revived and adapted for the screen many times over. This is the latest such adaptation and the critics were less than thrilled. I’m less than thrilled to watch it. Thank god it’s only… 2 hours long! Gah! Let’s go!

The Women (2008) – BMeTric: 58.9

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TheWomen_RV

(This movie actually has a bit more votes than I would expect, and the number seems to just keep on growing. That initial rise is somewhat interesting, why would the early viewers hate on this movie so? Especially when the thousands of viewers that voted subsequently seem to agree with is about a ~5/10 film. I’m going to go ahead a assume it is a case of Early Viewers Are Fans syndrome, and that they tend towards hating what fails to meet expectations. But … who would have expectations about The Women? God … I hope this isn’t a The Internet Hates Things Aimed At Women thing. I really do.)

Roger Ebert – 3 stars –  “The Women” isn’t a great movie, but how could it be? Too many characters and too much melodrama for that, and the comedy has to be somewhat muted to make the characters semi-believable. But as a well-crafted, well-written and well-acted entertainment, it drew me in and got its job done.

(Wowza, is that two in a row? Very interesting take ultimately. I think he admired the actresses so much (as almost pitch perfect for the movie they were creating) he got a little blinded that the movie was in fact (as he even admits) just not good. We’ll see though. Maybe we’ve discovered a hidden gem.)

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

(I have to say… that didn’t look like the most boring thing in the world for one reason: literally everyone in the trailer is a woman. Even the extras and shit. It’s actually amazing and might make the film at least visually interesting to look at.)

Directors – Diane English – (BMT: The Women; Notes: Effectively her one-and-done directorial project. There is another movie called Timbuktu but it seems like it was never released.)

Writers – Diane English (screenplay) – (BMT: The Women; Notes: Well known as a writer for Murphy Brown. The Women was her only writing gig after that series went off the air. But guess what? There is going to be a new season of Murphy Brown (with Candice Bergen) this year, 20 years after its last season!)

Clare Boothe Luce (play) – (Known For: The Women; BMT: The Women; Notes: Was the U.S. Ambassador to Italy under Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

Anita Loos (1939 screenplay) – (Known For: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; The Women; San Francisco; Babes in Arms; Strange Cargo; BMT: The Women; Notes: An early screenwriter in Hollywood (her first screenplay was for a Griffith film in 1912). Her brother created the Blue Cross health insurance company.)

Jane Murfin (1939 screenplay) – (Known For: Pride and Prejudice; The Women; Come and Get It; BMT: The Women; Notes: She brought Strongheart the dog, Hollywood’s first canine film star, to the U.S. in the 20s.)

Actors – Meg Ryan – (Known For: Top Gun; You’ve Got Mail; Anastasia; When Harry Met Sally…; Sleepless in Seattle; Innerspace; The Doors; In the Land of Women; Kate & Leopold; Addicted to Love; City of Angels; Proof of Life; Courage Under Fire; French Kiss; When a Man Loves a Woman; Restoration; Joe Versus the Volcano; The Presidio; I.Q.; Flesh and Bone; Future BMT: Hanging Up; Amityville 3-D; In the Cut; Against the Ropes; Serious Moonlight; Armed and Dangerous; Ithaca; BMT: The Women; Notes: Mostly known for co-starring with Tom Hanks as love interests in three separate movies: Sleepless in Seattle, Joe Versus the Volcano, and You’ve Got Mail. She was married to Dennis Quaid for about 10 years.)

Eva Mendes – (Known For: Training Day; The Place Beyond the Pines; Fast & Furious 5; The Other Guys; Hitch; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; Stuck on You; Last Night; Out of Time; We Own the Night; Holy Motors; Bad Lieutenant; The Wendell Baker Story; Live!; Future BMT: The Spirit; Urban Legends: Final Cut; Exit Wounds; Lost River; Trust the Man; All About the Benjamins; Girl in Progress; Cleaner; A Night at the Roxbury; BMT: Ghost Rider; The Women; 2 Fast 2 Furious; Notes: Cuban-American, she’s the only one in her family to have been born in the U.S., her three siblings were born in Cuba.)

Annette Bening – (Known For: American Beauty; 20th Century Women; Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool; Mars Attacks!; Open Range; Rules Don’t Apply; The American President; The Great Outdoors; Ruby Sparks; The Kids Are All Right; Danny Collins; The Grifters; Bugsy; The Siege; Valmont; Regarding Henry; Postcards from the Edge; Ginger & Rosa; Richard III; What Planet Are You From?; Future BMT: In Dreams; Girl Most Likely; Running with Scissors; Love Affair; BMT: The Women; Notes: She was the original choice for Catwoman in Batman Returns, but had to drop out when she became pregnant. She’s been married to Warren Beatty for nearly 30 years.)

Budget/Gross – $16 million / $26,902,075 ($50,007,546 Worldwide)

(Eh, below what it probably expected. For a film like this you’d kind of want to double those numbers I would think. Not a bomb, but not really raking in much cash … unless The Women talk over their problems with a refreshing ice-cold Bud Light at one point that is.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (19/146): The Women is a toothless remake of the 1939 classic, lacking the charm, wit and compelling protagonists of the original.

(Again, thank you RT. I guess this consensus is old enough to actually be useful. This is a brutal score for a film like this. I can only assume it is disastrously boring, which doesn’t bode well for me staying awake watching it on a plane. Reviewer Highlight: One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.” – Richard Schickel, Time Magazine)

Poster – The Sklogettes (F)

women_ver2

(Nooooooooooooooooo. Why does this keep happening. Look at all the people! Look at the basic white color of it. Dear god, look at the spacing. Even the font is shit.)

Tagline(s) – It’s all about… (F)

(Lol. Wot? I mean I get it… it’s all about The Women but still… lol. Wot?)

Keyword(s) – divorce; Top Ten by BMeTric: 81.9 Kazaam (1996); 78.8 Striptease (1996); 77.7 Bratz (2007); 64.2 Dr. T & the Women (2000); 63.1 North (1994); 63.1 Beethoven’s 2nd (1993); 63.1 Ben & Arthur (2002); 62.1 Sliver (1993); 58.9 Mr. Woodcock (2007); 58.9 The Women (I) (2008);

(Oh shit, Kazaam. I’ve seen this movie (well, the first half of it …) so many times. Dr. T weirdly doesn’t qualify for BMT actually, so looks like we’ll never complete this list. My favorite movie with divorce? Why not Mrs. Doubtfire, great stuff.)

Notes – Tanya the manicurist (Debi Mazar) talks about meeting Madonna. Mazar and Madonna are long-time friends; Mazar appeared in four Madonna music videos: “True Blue” and “Papa Don’t Preach” (1986), “Deeper and Deeper” (1992) and “Music” (2000).

Like the 1939 version, the film has an all-female cast. (noice)

While the project was being put together in Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan were set to star. The production stalled because Roberts and Ryan ended up wanting the same role.

The painting in the restaurant scene features Courtney Love and Anna Nicole Smith.

In The Women (1939) the only scene in color was the fashion show sequence. In this version the fashion show begins with all-black and white clothes, and the scene before it takes place in a black-and-white room.

In the late 1970’s a remake of the 1939 classic was proposed to star Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, and Faye Dunaway, but it was not made. (That sounds like this could have been fun)

Blythe Danner, Marisa Tomei, Queen Latifah, Whitney Houston, Ashley Judd and Sandra Bullock were all in the running for various parts in the film.

For scenes planned on being shot in the Boston Public Library, it was suggested that all the portraits and busts of men to be replaced with those of women. However, the scene was never shot. (Excuuuuuuse me? You talking ‘bout the Boston Public Library? Why would you not shoot that?)

There is an abundance of the use of the color green, from the color of the sets, props, costumes, in almost every scene throughout the movie. In the final fashion show, except for the models, almost every guest is wearing green.

Candice Bergen previously played Meg Ryan’s mother in Rich and Famous (1981).

Edie’s (Debra Messing) daughters are called January, April, May and June. The last three are the names of Daisy Duck’s nieces (counterparts to Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie).

Before development was put on hold in 2006, Annette Bening and Uma Thurman were rumored to have been considered for the roles of Mary Haines and Crystal Allen respectively. Also Lisa Kudrow and Anne Hathaway were in talks for the roles of Mirian Aarons and Peggy Day, but the roles were cut out of the final script.

According to Diane English, the project was in development, from the first draft to the final green light, for fifteen years. (Jesus. No wonder it ended up being a mess)

The original Broadway production opened on 7 September 1937 and had 666 performances at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York. (666? How does that happen I wonder. I would think with how superstitious theater operators are that they would have avoided it)

“The Women’s” screenwriter Anita Loos who wrote this film’s original 1939 screenplay, started her writing career in 1912 with her first full film screenplay The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) starring Lillian Gish for the American Mutoscope & Biograph Co. which is still in existence today. After writing many scripts for Biograph, Loos went on to write such other films such as Saratoga (1937), Another Thin Man (1939), San Francisco (1936), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

Except for the newly-born baby boy in the final scene, there are no male characters in the entire film, not even the extras in wide shots. (That is actually quite cool)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Meg Ryan)

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

Ouija Preview

Oh boy. I am pretty excited for this week’s film. It’s not just because Horror/Thriller has turned into my favorite section of the cycle, but also because this film in particular looked so misguided and awful when it was released that it piqued my curiosity. That’s right! We are watching Ouija, the horror film based on the Hasbro spirit board game and one of the many horror films produced by Michael Bay over the years (he’s a noted enthusiast). Seems like an obvious choice to make an adaptation out of. It’s already about spirits and spooky ghosts so as long as it’s not totally unoriginal and terrible you should be fine. Easy, right? Wrong. Let’s go!

Ouija (2014) – BMeTric: 75.7

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(Pretty good. A film in the 4.0’s staying strong and not rising as votes are added is a very very good sign. This is a case of what I will call Arrested Regression. The film should be regressing to the mean (the mean being that of films with around the same number of votes), but it isn’t. This is because it is in actuality as terrible as it initially seemed, so people seemingly are choosing to see the film despite knowing that it is terrible.)

RogerEbert.com – 3 stars –  Though I admit 16-year old me enjoyed the hell out of “Witchboard,” I didn’t think I’d have fun at “Ouija.” But I did, and assisting me were actors who gave their paper thin teenage types a little humor and character, and the film’s look. Shot by veteran camera operator, David Emmerichs, “Ouija” is a glossy hoot, showing more flair than a throwback to the 80’s horror movie should. As a lifelong horror movie viewer, I wasn’t scared by the film, but I dug the many ways it tried to goose me.

(Wowza! Three stars?! The review reads a little oddly, admitting he basically had a soft spot for the nostalgia the film evoked, but it is an interesting take I suppose. Not very many people agree to say the least.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBLmBdn2QF8

(Classic case where the less you show the better. Definitely parts that make me think it’ll be spooky scary. But then all the parts that they actually show the ghost or have someone flossing with their mouth stitched shut is just… not.)

Directors – Stiles White – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Started in the industry in special effects before launching his career in screenwriting with his writing partner/wife Juliet Snowden.)

Writers – Juliet Snowden (written by) – (Known For: Ouija: Origin of Evil; The Possession; Future BMT: Boogeyman; Knowing; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Married to Stiles White. Also executive producer on the film.)

Stiles White (written by) – (Known For: Ouija: Origin of Evil; The Possession; Future BMT: Boogeyman; Knowing; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Apparently they are both attached to a remake of a German film called Du Hast Es Versprochen. Hoping it works out as well as this one did.)

Actors – Olivia Cooke – (Known For: The Limehouse Golem; Thoroughbreds; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; The Signal; Katie Says Goodbye; Future BMT: The Quiet Ones; BMT: Ouija; Notes: Notably starring in the upcoming blockbuster release Ready Player One. Also in the new Amazon adaptation of Vanity Fair.)

Ana Coto – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Really hasn’t done anything much since Ouija. Weirdly was just in a Logan Paul film released exclusively to Shudder called Can’t Take It Back which is coincidentally about putting something on the internet that you can’t take back… must not have been much of an acting stretch for Logan.)

Daren Kagasoff – (BMT: Ouija; Notes: Probably best known as one of the leads of the show The Secret Life of the American Teenager.)

Budget/Gross – $5 million / Domestic: $50,856,010 (Worldwide: $103,590,271)

(Obviously a colossal hit. They all are aren’t they? These small budget horror films. It is quite the phenomenon that they can effectively print money with these types of movies.)

#39 for the Horror – Supernatural genre

ouija_supernaturalhorror

(Comes is right around The Devil Inside which isn’t a good look. Being a major money-maker for cheap horror means it has been growing in power throughout the 2000s, although it looks like maybe it is reaching its saturation point now. BMT: The Ring Series, The Devil Inside, Silent Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, Ghost Ship, The Fog, Bless the Child, The Forest, The Gallows, and  The Bye Bye Man)

#13 for the Toy Adaptation genre

ouija_toyadaptation

(They are desperately trying to make this a thing. It looks like it has so far resisted moving beyond a few big budget franchises into faller fair. I feel like this is going to stay in the realm on animated films for the most part though, they’re all adapted from cartoons basically, so Transformers is really the odd-man out, no the other way around. BMT: The Transformer series, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Bratz)

Rotten Tomatoes – 6% (5/79): Slowly, steadily, although no one seems to be moving it in that direction, the Ouija planchette points to NO.

(I wish someone at RT would tell them that no one wants a joke consensus. Just tell me the actual consensus of the critics, which is kinda the point of your website. This tells me nothing other than you spent too much time trying to think up something clever.)

Poster – Sklog-ja (B-)

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(I can dig this. Bold choice with some interesting font. Decidedly not scary though. Literally just a ouija board… why would I be scared of that?)

Tagline(s) – Keep telling yourself it’s just a game (B)

(I think this is good. Sometimes I have to say it a few times to make sure it isn’t nonsense. But this is short enough and gives a hint of the spooky scary concept. Wish it was a bit more clever.)

Keyword(s) – ghost; Top Ten by BMeTric: 84.8 The Fog (2005); 80.2 One Missed Call (2008); 78.9 Feardotcom (2002); 76.9 Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977); 75.7 Ouija (II) (2014); 73.2 Zoolander 2 (2016); 72.8 The Apparition (2012); 70.7 The Gallows (2015); 68.7 The Haunting (1999); 67.5 Pulse (I) (2006);

(We are killing this list. The Fog is by far the best one there. Although The Haunting is a pretty special viewing experience as well.)

Notes – The name can either be pronounced ‘wee-ja’ or ‘wee-gee’. Charles Kennard, founder of the company manufacturing the boards, claimed he learned the name “Ouija” from asking the board what it wanted to be called. (My god)

Far from being ancient, the Ouija Board was patented on May 28, 1890. (Well … yeah, that isn’t a surprise)

Hasbro Studios first horror film. (Probably last? Oh wait, they made (a pretty good) sequel to this film.)

According to costume designer Mary Jane Fort, the cast and crew would often take breaks between shooting and use the Ouija board to jokingly predict the box office opening weekend numbers. (Z-E-R-O D-O-L-L-A-R-S … you know what this is stupid)

The film’s tagline, “Keep telling yourself it’s just a game,” was used for several years as the advertising slogan for the Ouija board game.

Though there are many other horror movies about Ouija boards – some with the same title – this film is not officially a remake of any of them and tells its own story revolving around the titular game. (Well yeah, it is a Hasbro production)

None of the actors portraying teenagers in the film were actually in their teens. The youngest actor was Olivia Cooke who was 21 at the time of filming.

When re-shoots went underway, in the process of drastically changing Doris Zander’s backstory, two new characters were created including her sister and mother. Lin Shaye, who plays Paulina Zander, was not in the original version of the film and was cast for the re-shot footage.

The location where Laine goes to visit Paulina Zander is also known as Eichen House in MTV’s hit TV show, Teen Wolf (2011), where Shelley Hennig, who plays Debbie, stars as Malia Tate/Hale.

Although this is the first film theatrically released starring Shelley Hennig, she filmed this after completing her work on Unfriended (2014) which was previously released as Cybernatural making it her proper film debut (technically). It would be theatrically released about 6 months after the release of this film.

Some cast members are said to have experienced supernatural occurrences since the production of the film Ouija ended. It is said to be influenced by the making of the film.

In the original unaltered version of the film, Doris Zander had a much different look to her. In the original cut she took the appearance of a young girl with half of her face burnt while always carrying a doll. The re-shoots version is a rotting girl with sewn lips. (What? Changing the fundamental look, and thus backstory, of a character like that seems like an odd decision)

Erin Moriarty was cast in the film in an undisclosed role though she does not appear in the finished project. Her scenes were deleted when the film was reshot.

Another theory of where the name of the Ouija Board comes from is that it is the French and German for “Yes”: Oui-ja. The Board has Yes and No answers as well as the alphabet. (No that seems much more plausible)

Film debut of actors Ana Coto, Darren Kagasoff, Bianca A. Santos, and (technically) Shelley Hennig.

Directorial debut of Stiles White.

Although Sarah Morris is supposed to be Laine’s younger sister in the film, in real-life the actress Ana Coto is actually 3 years older than Olivia Cooke, who plays Laine.

The first trailer for the film was released with the theatrical release of The Fault in our Stars (2014) containing alternate footage. A new trailer was released in the summer containing new scenes. In an interview, Olivia Cooke stated that about 50% of the film was reshot due to a negative reaction from test audiences, as a result Universal ordered a week’s worth of re-shoots during the summer 4 months before its theatrical release which drastically altered the original plot. The original cut contained a different assortment of footage including an alternate death scene for Debbie where she instead falls to her death instead of hanging herself (which is why the chandelier is swinging when Pete sees it because she struck it while falling) along with the most advertised scene where Sarah’s eyes roll back and she says “it’s not even real okay? It’s just a game”. Nona was also supposed to have a more prominent role in the film as it implied she becomes possessed in the promotional material. (Wow … this is going to be a mess)

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

Max Payne Preview

Alright so we’ve covered an adaptation of a tech product and a TV show. Time to get down to real business because this week for our Action entry is the always reliable video game adaptation. There have been numerous adaptations over the years and none (NONE!) have actually achieved a fresh RT score. In fact, it’s incredibly rare for a video game adaptation to escape qualification for BMT (Angry Birds being the most recent). So we had a lot to choose from and went for a film that’s been on our BMT radar for years. That’s right! We’re nabbing the Mark Wahlberg classic Max Payne. There was a moment in time where it looked like Wahlberg’s career might be headed to a dark place. Just two years after getting an Oscar nomination for The Departed he did The Happening and Max Payne in the same year! Incredible. Of course he rallied and is now one of the biggest movie stars on the planet so good for him. Keep making those Transformers for us. Let’s go!

Max Payne (2008) – BMeTric: 54.5

MaxPayne_BMeT

MaxPayne_RV

(Always a good sign when the rating is unchanged for years on end effectively. And that’s a lotta votes. Definitely a popular below average rated film if I’ve ever seen one.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  A Dirty Harry-like homicide cop (Wahlberg) seeks revenge against the killers of his loved ones. Good-looking film falls flat dramatically. There’s plenty of gore, though it’s not graphic enough to earn this an R rating. Based on a popular video game.

(Loving the hyphen game as usual from Leonard. The visual style certainly looks unique, along the lines of Sin City and 300. That can be hit or miss, and is certainly isn’t particularly popular at the moment.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2jAEoBz6RY

(Oooooof the voice over start. And jesus this could not be more stylized with the music and the visual design. I remember the visual of the guy getting pulled out of the building from when this trailer came out … I was unimpressed then. The trailer kind of makes the film look like crap.)

Directors – John Moore – (Future BMT: The Omen; I.T.; Flight of the Phoenix; Behind Enemy Lines; BMT: A Good Day to Die Hard; Max Payne; Notes: Irish. He started in commercials and got his big break after creating the launch add for the Sega Dreamcast (RIP). It was apparently “so visually impressive” that they offered him a $40 million action film. While I don’t buy that, I do love commercial directors making films.)

Writers – Beau Thorne (screenplay) – (BMT: Max Payne; Notes: What are the odds of two Beaus involved in the same movie, I wonder if him and Beau Bridges hung out. He is apparently best friends with Bryan Bertino a writer-producer of horror films.)

Sam Lake (video game by Remedy Entertainment and 3-D Realms Entertainment) – (BMT: Max Payne; Notes: Finnish, he wrote the screenplay for many Remedy Entertainment video games around that time as he is good friends with the founder Petri Järvilehto. His real name is Sami Järvi, Järvi is Finnish for Lake.)

Actors – Mark Wahlberg – (Known For: All the Money in the World; The Departed; Deepwater Horizon; Patriots Day; Ted 2; Boogie Nights; Ted; Shooter; Planet of the Apes; Lone Survivor; The Italian Job; The Other Guys; Pain & Gain; 2 Guns; The Fighter; Four Brothers; Rock Star; Date Night; Three Kings; The Basketball Diaries; Future BMT: The Truth About Charlie; Daddy’s Home; Mojave; Broken City; Fear; Renaissance Man; Daddy’s Home 2; Entourage; The Lovely Bones; BMT: The Happening; Transformers: The Last Knight; Max Payne; Transformers: Age of Extinction; Notes: Bomb, just watched him in yet another Transformers film. We need to get our hands on his fitness documentary Creating Form… Focus… Fitness, the Marky Mark Workout from 1993. That shit is def bananas.)

Mila Kunis – (Known For: Bad Moms; Black Swan; Ted; Friends with Benefits; Oz the Great and Powerful; The Book of Eli; Forgetting Sarah Marshall; Date Night; Blood Ties; Get Over It; Extract; Piranha; Future BMT: Annie; Krippendorf’s Tribe; The Angriest Man in Brooklyn; Moving McAllister; A Bad Moms Christmas; The Color of Time; Third Person; BMT: Jupiter Ascending; Max Payne; Notes: Married to Ashton Kutcher now. She had to lie about her age in order to get her big break in That 70s Show, which she started on when she was 15 (gross). In the first episode Kutcher (who was 20) was making out with a 15-year-old on camera … g-g-g-gross)

Beau Bridges – (Known For: The Mountain Between Us; Jerry Maguire; The Descendants; Charlotte’s Web; The Ballad of Jack and Rose; Hit and Run; The Tale of the Princess Kaguya; From Up on Poppy Hill; The Fabulous Baker Boys; Eden; The Hotel New Hampshire; Norma Rae; The Landlord; Heart Like a Wheel; Force of Evil; The Incident; The Runner Stumbles; For Love of Ivy; Gaily, Gaily; Hammersmith Is Out; Future BMT: Sidekicks; Village of the Giants; The Good German; The Wizard; RocketMan; Spinning Into Butter; Two-Minute Warning; Rushlights; BMT: Max Payne; Notes: The older brother of actor Jeff Bridges. He is nearly 80. Fun facts about this dude: he was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1969. He is only 5’ 10’’ but played basketball for UCLA in probably like 1959. His father is Lloyd Bridges from Airplane!)

Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $40,689,393 (Worldwide: $85,416,905)

(That isn’t great, considering it is an action film you would hope you’d get to $100 million at least. The domestic total also isn’t very impressive, especially at the time. But I also wouldn’t necessarily call it a bomb. One Bud Light ad and you’re good to go.)

#16 for the Video Game Adaptation genre

maxpayne_videogameadaptation

(During the 2000s they were trying so hard to make video game films a thing. They’ve never really done well though. Famously, there has never been a “fresh” video game adaptation on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve seen Warcraft, Silent Hill, Silent Hill: Revelations, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Need for Speed, Hitman, Hitman: Agent 47, Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, Doom, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Wing Commander, … YIKES.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 16% (21/134): While it boasts some stylish action, Max Payne suffers severely from an illogical plot and overdirection.

(Yiiiiiiiiiiis. Over direction and illogical plots are my jam. A very impressive critical bomb, probably among the worst of the major released in 2008. Finally getting that street cred going.)

Poster – Max Sklog (B)

Camp C Eng (Page 1)

(Give it props for bold choices, most of them good. Feels a little empty and amateurish, but maybe just because it’s different than most posters. Also never a huge fan of black as a primary color, but better than white.)

Tagline(s) – None! (F——)

(Oh fuck you, Max Payne. You too good for a tagline? Is that what it is? I’m sure you could have whipped up an OK pun on the name Payne.)

Keyword(s) – based on video game; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.1 Alone in the Dark (2005); 88.6 House of the Dead (2003); 88.5 Street Fighter (1994); 87.4 BloodRayne (2005); 86.4 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997); 85.8 In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007); 83.9 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 79.0 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009); 72.6 Far Cry (2008); 69.6 Wing Commander (1999);

(Just because we refuse to do all of the Uwe Boll films, we kind of get screwed here. BTW, check out last week’s Hall of Fame inductee: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale! It is straight garbage juice.)

Notes – The game designers at 3D-Realms were apparently unimpressed by the motion picture adaptation. (literally no game design stoudio has ever been impressed with a film adaptation)

The extra scene after the end credits was supposed to set the stage for a sequel. But due to the film’s poor performance at the box-office, 20th Century Fox decided to abandon plans for a sequel.

James McCaffrey, the voice of Max Payne in the video game franchise, makes a cameo as the FBI Agent that Lieutenant Jim Bravura introduces to the “real” police officer. He also shows up near the end of the film, asking if Bravura is alright, before calling in Division One over the radio. (cool)

Due to the PG-13 rating that the studio wanted, John Moore filmed two versions of the two biggest action sequences in the film, a) The Aesir Swat Building Shoot-out, and b) Max Payne’s attack on the Aesir building starting from the parking garage scene. John Moore filmed a version with impact squibs (seen in the PG-13 cut) and one with bloody wound squibs. Moore also stated that the parking garage scene during the filming of using the blood wound squibs was “one of the bloodiest shootouts he has ever filmed”.

In the film, Valkyries are shown as male. In Norse Mythology, all Valkyries are female. They are also referred to as “Odin’s Girls” for the same reason. (What is this? A fourth grade Norse Mythology Unit?)

Early in the film, Max beats up three thugs in the Roscoe Street subway station. This fictitious station is the setting of one of the first levels in the video game, where DEA Agent Alex Balder (upon whom the film’s Detective Alex Balder is based) is murdered.

Mark Wahlberg reportedly never played the video game, as he didn’t want to become addicted, and felt the script connected him to the story enough. (We have something in common then)

Very little of the movie was actually shot on greenscreen. Instead, Director John Moore opted to shoot in Toronto during the night, in order to add extra reality to his actors’ reactions.

The name of the club is RAGLAN AND BROCK. Some of the letters are burned out and it makes the sign look like it reads RAG NA ROCK. (Cool Norse mythology shit)

Olga Kurylenko’s second movie based on a video game. The first was Hitman (2007). (Noice)

Voted online as “One of the worst movies ever made”.(Not so noice)

Max keeps most of the stuff from his old house in a shipping container at a place called Gognitti’s Self-Storage. The place is named after Mafia Lieutenant Vinnie Gognitti, one of the video game’s minor villains.

The trailer for Max Payne is seen playing on a television in the background of Ari Gold’s office in Entourage (2004) – a show produced by Mark Wahlberg. (Gross)

John Moore has said that he tried to please fan requests as much and frequently as possible. (Almost always a mistake)

In the post-credits scene, as Max Payne walks into the bar, a marquee across the street reading “Forgotten Rebels” and “The 3Tards” is visible. Visual Effects Supervisor Jeff Campbell is the guitarist for the punk band Forgotten Rebels. “The 3Tards” is a shout-out to the fellow Ontario-born punk band (both have played shows together, including during post-production of “Max Payne”). (The 3tards is one of the worst names for a band I’ve ever seen)

This is the second video game adaptation Olga Kurylenko appears in, the other being Hitman (2007). Coincidentally they both feature former Prison Break (2005) actors as antagonists. (Everyone knows I love me some Prison Break)

Awards – Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Mark Wahlberg)

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