Oh man, so I was invited to this island which promised to fulfill all my dreams, but then all these bad things popped out, chased me, and I fell down and bopped by head. Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened on Fantasy Island?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) We meet our heroes (?) as they arrive on the island. There is brooding Melanie (Lucy Hale), brothers Brax and JD (Jimmy Yang and Ryan Hansen), businesswoman Gwen (Maggie Q), and police officer Patrick (Austin Stowell). Why are they all there?
2) And what are all of their (apparent) fantasies?
3) Gwen and Patrick both ultimately believe they could change events in the past via the magic of the island, what three events in their past do they almost or want to change?
4) Why and how is Mr. Rourke doing all of this?
5) Ultimately what is the actual fantasy the island is trying to fulfill? And how do they stop it?
“Quick, follow me,” Mr. Big says, pulling Poe through a trapdoor with the gray ninjas close on their heels. “To the plane, the plane,” he says urgently, quickly taking off. Behind them, the gray ninjas have procured a dirigible of some sort and are in hot pursuit. Gunfire crackles around the hull of the small biplane and Poe can tell that Mr. Big is nervous. The little plane can’t take much more heat. He hands the book over to Poe, opens the side window and begins to futilely fire a handgun at the approaching blimp. Finally he sighs and collapses in the pilot’s seat. “We have protected this book for generations. It’s up to you know,” he says somberly, handing Poe the only parachute, “but it’s important to tell you that in reality…” with a whistle, a bullet shatters the side window of the plane and kills Mr. Big. “Noooooo,” Poe screams. His best friend! The blimp sidles up the plane and the gray ninjas reveal themselves as Rich and the gang (duh). “We saved you!” Rich exclaims happily, “and you got the book!” But Poe is not talking to him right now because of the whole killing his best friend business. “What’s that smell?” Rich asks suddenly, wrinkling his nose at the stench. they both look up and see the blimp, sagging sadly, losing air through a small hole in the middle of the giant “G” that spells out its name: The Great Nut. “Huh,” notes Rich before looking down to where they are about to crash land, “looks like we are heading for that island. If we can get across it then it’s just a short trek back to Nic. Should be no prob,” he says cheerily. But that sounds like a fantasy to Poe. That’s right! We’re watching one of the few major 2020 BMT theatrical releases in Fantasy Island. A rare Blumhouse flub, it’s no wonder since they turned a mild 70’s fantasy show into a horror movie for some reason. It should be obvious why we chose the Bring a Friend 2020 nonqualifying film to be paired with Fantasy Island. That’s right, we’re watching the 2020 straight-to-streaming sequel to JCVD’s Sudden Death called Welcome to Sudden Death for some reason. I’m excited. Let’s go!
Fantasy Island (2020) – BMeTric: 64.8; Notability: 25
(Shockingly low IMDb rating which is surprising. I know horror fans are quite harsh no bad examples of the genre, but it is so close to being a horror comedy I’m a little surprised there weren’t more people some of the silliness. High notability I feel like for a Blumhouse film, but maybe that’s the IP effect.)
RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – So yes, “Fantasy Island” is a terrible movie—this probably won’t come as a shock to most people—but more than that, it seems to have been made with absolutely no one in mind. Anyone who might have actually wanted to see a straight-up adaptation of the show will be put off by the way that it lurches into more ostensibly horrific areas. Those in the mood for a horror film will be annoyed by the pedestrian scares and its pilfering from other examples of the genre. Fans of actors like Michael Pena, Maggie Q and Lucy Hale (who is hereby advised to let any further calls from Wadlow go directly to voicemail) will be put out with how thoroughly they are wasted here. Look, I am no “Fantasy Island” fanatic by any means—I’ve only seen two episodes in my life, both of them featuring Michelle Phillips as one of the guest stars, strangely enough—but even it deserved better than this brainless product that’s no sane person’s fantasy of a half-decent movie.
(Yeah, it does seem that it was mostly just incredibly confusing as to why this was chosen to be the adaptation. Once they tacked so far away from the original premise, why not just make it original? It feels like it would have been easy to do. I guess you still want that sweet IP street cred.)
(Pretty good trailer. Still feels weird that this is the direction they decided to take the property. It feels like an empty sci-fi horror film, and very unlikely to satisfy anyone familiar with the property.)
Directors – Jeff Wadlow – (Future BMT: Cry Wolf; True Memoirs of an International Assassin; Kick-Ass 2; Never Back Down; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Like with a lot of Blumhouse stuff he also is a producer on the film. That is typically by design as his salary is probably largely determined by the box office return.)
Writers – Jeff Wadlow (written by) – (Future BMT: Prey; Cry Wolf; True Memoirs of an International Assassin; Kick-Ass 2; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Bloodshot; Notes: Oh, he wrote two of our 2020 films, that’s impressive. Katie Couric’s nephew, he got his start writing and directing short films.)
Christopher Roach (written by) (as Chris Roach) – (Known For: Non-Stop; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was an executive producer on multiple series of Big Brother, among other unscripted television series. It is interesting that he’s made the leap to scripted films.)
Jillian Jacobs (written by) – (BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was a producer on Big Brother, so I imagine she is operating as a writing partner with Roach in some capacity.)
Gene Levitt (based upon the television series created by) – (BMT: Fantasy Island; Notes: Created fantasy island, and while he was a writer on a ton of television in the 50s and 60s this was the only one he created and he seemed to have retired right after. He died in 1999.)
Actors – Michael Peña – (Known For: The Martian; The Mule; Fury; American Hustle; Ant-Man; Crash; The Lincoln Lawyer; Dora and the Lost City of Gold; Ant-Man and the Wasp; Million Dollar Baby; Shooter; Tower Heist; End of Watch; 12 Strong; Babel; A Wrinkle in Time; Turbo; The Lego Ninjago Movie; My Little Pony; 30 Minutes or Less; Future BMT: The Vatican Tapes; Extinction; Hell and Back; Vacation; The Calcium Kid; Lions for Lambs; Jexi; Collateral Beauty; Star Maps; Cesar Chavez; The Lucky Ones; The United States of Leland; BMT: Fantasy Island; Battle: Los Angeles; CHIPS; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Gangster Squad; Notes: Born in Chicago, and has starred in character roles in film and on television across the years, like Eastbound & Down. Apparently plays bass guitar, hopefully he starts a band.)
Maggie Q – (Known For: Divergent; Die Hard 4.0; Mission: Impossible III; Rush Hour 2; The Argument; Rogues Gallery; Future BMT: Balls of Fury; The Con Is On; Priest; Allegiant; Slumber; Death of Me; Deception; Insurgent; New York, I Love You; Jekyll Island; BMT: Fantasy Island; Around the World in 80 Days; Notes: Played the lead role in the Nikita remake. Grew up in Hawaii, but ended up becoming a huge star in Hong Kong before breaking out in Hollywood.)
Lucy Hale – (Known For: Scream 4; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2; The Unicorn; TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; Future BMT: A Nice Girl Like You; BMT: Fantasy Island; Truth or Dare; Notes: Was part of the band American Juniors which was assembled on a reality series. Amazingly appeared in The O.C. way back in the day, but most well-known for her leading role in Pretty Little Liars.)
(Still an incredible return on investment. Blum really can’t lose with these things. I wonder if they’ll think about doing another? I mean, in theory they could do the whole again with a new group. Could be a fun franchise if they fix whatever issues it had.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 7% (8/107): Fantasy Island tries to show audiences the dark side of wish fulfillment, but mainly serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of exhuming long-dead franchises.
(“Who is this film for?” seems to be the common question. Not horror fans. Not Fantasy Island fans … so Blumhouse fans? Probably not that either. Reviewer Highlight: Contrived and loony, it feels like someone planted about a half-dozen different scripts all over this Fantasy Island. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)
(Clever. I think that’s a really good poster. Give me a little more on the font front and it might even be a perfect poster. Really artistic and beautiful. Too bad something so nice isn’t associated with a better film. Despite the font I’ll still give it an A. Just not an A+.)
Tagline(s) – Anything you desire. Everything you fear. (A)
(Blumhouse is good at what they do and despite flubbing a bit with the film as a whole you can still see that they know what’s up. Good poster, good tagline. This has the cadence, the length, and the specificity to the film at hand. I like it.)
Top 10: Fantasy Island (2020), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Charlie’s Angels (2019), Star Trek (2009), Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), Baywatch (2017), Addams Family Values (1993), Serenity (2005), State of Play (2009)
Future BMT: 83.1 Inspector Gadget (1999), 79.3 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (2000), 75.9 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), 71.8 Bewitched (2005), 69.4 The Flintstones (1994), 67.3 Scooby-Doo (2002), 66.8 Thunderbirds (2004), 66.4 Yogi Bear (2010), 66.2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 65.0 Max Steel (2016);
BMT: Fantasy Island (2020), Baywatch (2017), The Last Airbender (2010), Masters of the Universe (1987), CHIPS (2017), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), The Lone Ranger (2013), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Wild Wild West (1999), Lost in Space (1998), Sex and the City 2 (2010), Æon Flux (2005), The Avengers (1998), Garfield (2004), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), I Spy (2002), Garfield 2 (2006), Marmaduke (2010), Dudley Do-Right (1999), Car 54, Where Are You? (1994)
(My God, we’ve watched so many. And we still have so many to go. And again, no need to remake television series anymore, you can just you know … make the television series again on Netflix or whatever. So it is no wonder it is dying as a mini-genre.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Michael Rooker is No. 8 billed in Fantasy Island and No. 4 billed in Here on Earth => 8 + 4 = 12. There is no shorter path at the moment.
Notes – Jason Blum wanted Nicolas Cage to play Mr. Roarke but Cage passed on the role.
The movie is a reimagining of Fantasy Island (1977) in a horror genre, inspired by The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and Westworld (2016).
Principal photography on the film began in January 2019 in Fiji.In October 2018, Michael Peña, Jimmy O. Yang, Dave Bautista and Lucy Hale joined the cast. In November 2018, during an interview, Jeff Wadlow disclosed that Maggie Q, Portia Doubleday and Ryan Hansen had joined the cast, as well as suggesting Bautista may no longer be able to appear in the film. (Huh … I wonder who Bautista would have been. I guess maybe the Rooker role? Or many the army captain)
Dr. Karen Ross has one aim: get some sweet blue diamonds and save her ex-fiance from the Congo. Dr. Peter Eliot has one aim: get his beloved talking gorilla Amy back to the Congo. These aims run headlong into each other just as a volcano is erupting… in adventure. Can they get in and out of the Congo before it’s too late? Find out in… Congo.
How?! Just when TravisCom gets in contact with their employees deep in the jungles of the Congo (and in possession of extremely valuable and powerful blue diamonds) they are horrified to find that they have been killed by some mysterious gorilla-like beasts. Dr. Karen Ross agrees to go in so that she can find out whether the leader of the group (and her ex-fiance) are still alive. Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Eliot has secured funding from a sketchy dude with a deep, fake-sounding accent to bring his special gorilla Amy back to the Congo. Amy can talk with the help of a sign language machine, but has suffered severe nightmares that Peter thinks is connected to the place she was born. When the sketchy funding falls through, Karen makes up the difference and joins the group, using it as a front to get into the war torn country before the borders close. Using all her connections they are able to bribe their way onto a plane and barely escape the army by parachuting over the border. As they trek across the Congo they encounter all kinds of adventures like with leeches and hippos and many more animal friends. On the way they also encounter a member of the previous TraviCom group who dies instantaneously of fright upon seeing Amy (bum bum bum). When they finally arrive they realize that Amy has led them to the lost city of Zinj, the legendary location of King Solomon’s Mines. Almost immediately though they are attacked by horrifying and aggressive grey gorillas and learn that they are descendents of the trained animal guards of the mine which eventually overthrew their trainers and destroyed the city. As their group is slowly picked off one by one and the volcano near the city becomes more active, it becomes a matter of simply surviving as the gorillas attack their camp. Before they can leave, though, they end up trapped deep in the mines with the gorillas and volcano looming. Enter: laser beams. Using the blue diamonds Karen is able to power a laser and blast those gray gorillas no prob. They manage to barely escape with the lava hot on their heels (I swear this is real). Realizing her employer only cared about money, Karen destroys his satellite with the laser beam and they all hop in a hot air balloon to escape, while waving goodbye to Amy who has joined her gorilla brethren… like for real. THE END. This might be my favorite recap of all time.
Why?! I guess I already told you in the recap. Peter wants to return Amy to the Congo, while Karen wants to see if her ex-fiance is still alive and, secondarily, complete the job of getting the special blue diamonds. Tim Curry also has the added motivation of discovering the Lost City of Zinj, but really he’s just a kooky guy who’s destined to have his face ripped off by a crazed gary gorilla. So who cares.
Who?! Delroy Lindo has a substantial speaking role and goes uncredited. Not sure why (although his accent is crazy so that might give a hint). The more interesting thing is that as I mentioned Crichton sold the rights to the film before writing it and eventually delivered a crazy techno-ape-thriller. By the time they actually got the production figured out he was distanced from the project and didn’t even get a screenplay credit on the film. Just a “based on” credit.
What?! Solid MacGuffin here in the blue diamonds which hold such amazing powers that if TraviCom can get their hands on even a few it will produce a money-making laser that will save the company. That’s all well and good but when one of Amy’s paintings is on sale online you start to get your hopes up that her nintendo power glove might be out there too *stares wistfully into the distance* alas, no such luck.
Where?! A+ setting alert! Congo all up in there. Can’t imagine this is ever dethroned for the Congo mapl.de.map. That is until Patrick and I make Congo 2: Double Trouble where it turns out that after the volcano erupted there were only two gray gorillas left alive… twins. The evil gorilla is set on revenge and sets off to California to hunt down Peter, while the good twin gorilla attempts to stop him. Eventually they find common ground through their discovery of McDonald’s and the twin gorillas reconcile with Peter and get power gloves of their own… although the movie I just described isn’t really set in Congo… primarily set in a California McDonald’s. Wouldn’t even win the McDonald’s entry for mapl.de.map as Mac and Me has a stranglehold on that spot.
When?! It’s a beautiful thing when a film delivers an easy and precise way to track the time when it’s set. Periodically the explorers check in with TraviCom and the video feed has a handy dandy date right in the corner. So we know that the entire film takes place from October 16-22, 1994. Should have really hammered it home by having the characters jam out to I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz II Men… although probably needed to cut that scene to avoid an NC-17 rating.
Congo is really saved by an absolutely crazy ending where gorillas are mowed down by laser beams while another one speaks using a computer nintendo glove and a volcano erupts around them. Leading up to that point, though, it’s a much more standard adventure tale that is only betrayed a little by some fake looking gorillas and Tim Curry putting on a deep, deep accent. But if you can take out a forty minute chunk of a film and say “check this shit out,” then you’re in a pretty good spot when it comes to BMT. It just makes it a little harder to recommend the film to people. I actually read the book a little while back (when we previously thought we were going to watch it for BMT) and it’s a pretty close adaptation. What it lacks, and why I enjoyed the book quite a bit, was the Crichton-esque mix of deep science/technology and narrative. The book was super long though and by the end I was pretty sure it was unadaptable. Not only would you lose that unique narrative structure, but all you would be left with was all kinds of monster ape and diamonds and volcanoes and stuff. Easier to write than to put to screen with a straight face. What’s interesting is that he sold the film rights before writing the book… so he basically sold a studio a film and then wrote a nutso, unadaptable book for them to adapt. No wonder it took like 15 years for them to make it. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Laser beams and talking apes is all I really needed to hear before watching Congo. Let’s go!
P’s View of the Preview – I’ve seen this film before and it is great. There’s a talking gorilla, there is a laser gun, and … wait yeah, not only is that all I remember, that is also all I care about, and that is also all you need to know. This is a film where a gorilla named Amy talks and they cut gorillas apart with a laser gun at the end. Boom. What were my expectations? Seriously? I just told you: talking gorillas and laser beams. Let’s gooooooooooooo!
The Good – Hmmmmm, I’m trying to think through this without falling into the trap of thinking something that is ironically good is actually good, you know? The film is a fun adventure film, and as far as a poor man’s Jurassic Park it does an interesting job at being just that. I loved Laura Linney and Ernie Hudson in their roles, as very specific Crichton archetypes (the suave adventurer and the corporate scientist / CIA agent). And the ultimate payoff in the Lost City of Zinj was just enough to satisfy (although they really closed the book on the franchise huh? No Lost World: Congo 2 was going to happen after the conclusion I would think). Best Bit: Laura Linney and Ernie Hudson.
The Bad – I could have done without the main character (who, no offense to him, came across as Steve Guttenberg but not as good). I understand he was a necessary bit of getting Amy the gorilla into the situation, but you definitely needed a better actor in the role to pull it off. The effects were incredibly subpar. The final scenes are so laughably bad it somehow makes the film better, but, again, that is ironically and shouldn’t be confused with the film actually being good. I love seeing people blast some evil white gorillas apart with a laser beam, but that doesn’t mean it is a good movie. I’ll also just through out that the entire bit about getting into the Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely troublesome if you know anything about the political issues colonization caused that country, all the way down to the poorly names “Hotel Leopold” they have to bribe their way out of. Fatal Flaw: Laughable effects.
The BMT – This is an incredibly hilarious film. It’ll be slow going for a bit, but then the laser beams and evil gorillas will pop up and all of your concern about the film will just melt away. It is one of those films where you’ll be like “you should watch this, it is hilarious” to someone, and they’ll sit down and for the first hour be like “what was this guy going on about again?” And then the laser beams and gorillas will show up and it’ll all make more sense. BMT Hall of Fame level hilariousness? Maybe, maybe no, we’ll see five years from now, but it certainly earns its BMeTric in my opinion. Did it meet my expectations? Given that I had seen the film before how could it not? And in reality, yes, there were indeed gorillas and laser beams, so … there it is.
Roast-radamus – I’m going to give a shout out to our Pseudo-Planchet (Who?) played by Grant Heslov who just really really really wishes he wasn’t in The Democratic Republic of Congo throughout the film. Hugely great A+ Setting as a Character (Where?) for The Democratic Republic of Congo, and a pretty rare Africa setting in general. A legendary (literally) MacGuffin (Why?) concerning the Lost City of Zinj filled with eeeeeevil guardian gorillas. I think this is a great BMT film in the end.
StreetCreditReport.com – The cred for Congo was off the hook. With an 50+ BeMetric and 80+ Notability it is one of the largest releases of 1995. Top 3% in BMeTric and Notability among the top 250 of that year, the only film with a higher BMeTric and Notability is Batman Forever. That’s the level of cred we are looking at here. Two things stand out in the connection on IMDb. First is the Sega Saturn game Congo the Movie: The Lost City of Zinj. I should have really watched a playthrough of that for the You Got Schooled section, but such is life. The other is that in the 2018 episode of the show A.P. Bio the kids have a Congo themed school dance complete with Amy the talking gorilla. Now that is cred, still getting dem sweet refs 23 years later!
You Just Got Schooled – Instead of watching a playthrough of a bad Doom clone, I instead went for another bad gorilla bash in Rampage. I had resisted Rampage mostly because I watched Skyscraper on a plane and it was awful, and if that was the expectations of a Dwayne Johnson film then hard pass. Having watched it though, Rampage isn’t necessarily awful. It has a lot of heart and The Rock, as usual, has an incredible amount of charisma which saves the film. The action is mostly Transformers level and your brain shuts off eventually. I suppose the only daring thing about it is that they really don’t mince words: like hundreds of people die during the film. That’s an interesting strategy, especially when one of the heroes (George the giant ape) is one of the animals doing all that killing. Regardless, much better than Skyscraper, and what more could I really ask for? C. Still not a good video game film, sorry.
Oh man, so as usual I was on my way to The Democratic Republic of Congo to return my ape friend to the wild, when out popped with white gorilla and bopped me on the head! Now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Congo?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) What is the company looking for in Congo? Why is the primatologist going? And why is Tim Curry going?
2) When they arrive in Central Africa they are initially detained outside of The Democratic Republic of Congo. Why?
3) Once in the Democratic Republic of Congo why must they hurry to the laser pack signal?
4) During the trek the group meets a tribe. Who are they and what do they want?
5) In the end they do find what they are looking for, but there is something spooky guarding it. What? Also what does the ubiquitous eye symbol mean?
Poe describes the beautiful road trip that he and Mr. Big would take, bonding over their shared interests of Tetherball and early 20th century Bildungsroman literature. Starting in Sacramento, California (for obvious reasons) they would proceed north through Idaho and continue straight on to Saskatoon. “Would we be able to stop at the Western Development Museum?” Mr. Big asks dreamily. Poe nods, “Darn tootin’. Wouldn’t be a trip to Saskatoon without it and we might even splurge for one of those old timey photos where we dress up in old western clothes.” Mr. Big frowns. He knows that Poe is really just saying these things because he wants to get the Book of Secrets… but he can’t help but tell him meekly to continue describing the road trip. “You’d think we’d be heading straight to Winnipeg at this point… but you’d be wrong. Cause we’re continuing east,” Poe explains. “No,” whispers Mr. Big, “you don’t mean…” but Poe nods, “The ‘Ware.” Mr. Big looks at him startled, “You’d take me to… Delaware?” And Poe shrugs his shoulders, “it seems only appropriate after you were so kind to let me into The Skulls.” With tears in his eyes Mr. Big walks over to Nic Cage’s Journal (all rights reserved). He picks it up, kisses it and brings it over to Poe. “I thought this,” he says waving to the large ornate chamber, “was The Skulls,” his voice cracking with emotion, “but today you proved that The Skulls… was inside you the whole time.” Just as he is about to hand the book over they are surrounded by people in gray ninja gear and lasers. “Give us the book,” one of them says. Poe, realizing what is happening, begins to speak up but it’s too late… the laser beams start a-flyin’. That’s right! If I mention laser beams there is only one film I’m thinking about. “Entrapment?” you ask… OK, two films. The other is Congo. The major film release where a lady mows down grey gorillas with a laser. Celebrate for us on this very momentus 25th anniversary of the release of Laser Gorillas aka Congo. Let’s go!
Congo (1995) – BMeTric: 54.3; Notability: 81
(It has a really low IMDb rating. It used to have a BMeTric of like 65 too! And a notability of 81? My god, when was the last time we had a film with that high of a Notability? I just checked and we haven’t done an 80+ since 2019 (where we actually did quite a few of them). I am very much looking forward to just how big of a disappointment this must have been.)
RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – “Congo” is a splendid example of a genre no longer much in fashion, the jungle adventure story. Perhaps aware that its material was already dated when Stewart Granger made “King Solomon’s Mines” in 1950, the filmmakers have cheerfully turned it into an action comedy, and the actors have gone a step further, treating it like one of those movies like “Beat the Devil” that is a put-on of itself. The result is not a movie that is very good, exactly, but it’s entertaining and funny. False sophisticates will scorn it. Real sophisticates will relish it.
(Shots fired at the end. This feels like right around when Ebert started to consider things “good for what they are” and became a bit less pretentious (to use a loaded term) about things. This is pretty soon after Arachnophobia which is, by all accounts, a genuine horror comedy, so I could definitely see Marshall going back to the tongue-in-cheek creature feature well.)
(The thing I remember from the trailer was the guy stumbling down the stairs. It made me think it was a horror film. It isn’t a horror film and you barely see the gorillas in the end. Good trailer though regardless, even shows off the laser weapon.)
Directors – Frank Marshall – (Known For: Alive; Eight Below; Arachnophobia; BMT: Congo; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Congo in 1996; Notes: Married to Kathlene Kennedy he has an interesting career having worked as a producer for LucasArts before leaving to form his own production company (with his wife) and begin directing.)
Writers – Michael Crichton (novel) – (Known For: Jurassic Park; Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; Jurassic World; Twister; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Jurassic Park III; Westworld; Disclosure; Runaway; The First Great Train Robbery; The Andromeda Strain; Coma; The Terminal Man; Future BMT: Sphere; Rising Sun; Looker; BMT: Congo; Timeline; The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Twister in 1997; Notes: Almost 6’9’’, and married 5 times. He famously submitted an essay written by George Orwell in graduate school where he studied English which got a B-, and he quit soon after. He also trained to be a doctor and quit right after qualifying.)
John Patrick Shanley (screenplay) – (Known For: Moonstruck; Doubt; Alive; Joe Versus the Volcano; The Thief and the Cobbler; Five Corners; Future BMT: The January Man; We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story; BMT: Congo; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Congo in 1996; Notes: Won an Oscar for Moonstruck and a Tony for Doubt. He also was nominated for an Emmy for Live From Baghdad. No apparently Grammy aspirations so his EGOT hopes are probably non-existent.)
Actors – Laura Linney – (Known For: Love Actually; The Truman Show; Nocturnal Animals; Primal Fear; Mystic River; Arthur Christmas; Sully: Miracle on the Hudson; Falling; Searching for Bobby Fischer; The Exorcism of Emily Rose; The Squid and the Whale; Dave; Absolute Power; Genius; The Mothman Prophecies; Kinsey; The Roads Not Taken; Mr. Holmes; Breach; You Can Count on Me; Future BMT: The Other Man; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows; Hyde Park on Hudson; The Nanny Diaries; The Fifth Estate; Man of the Year; Sympathy for Delicious; The Hottest State; The City of Your Final Destination; Maze; Lush; The Life of David Gale; BMT: Congo; Notes: Nominated three times for an Oscar (You Can Count on Me, Kinsey, and The Savages). Also the star of The Big C which she won an Emmy for.)
Tim Curry – (Known For: The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Clue; The Hunt for Red October; Annie; Charlie’s Angels; Times Square; FernGully: The Last Rainforest; Kinsey; The Cat Returns; Muppet Treasure Island; The Rugrats Movie; Rugrats in Paris; The Wild Thornberrys Movie; The Shout; Future BMT: Scary Movie 2; McHale’s Navy; Fly Me to the Moon; Valiant; Rugrats Go Wild; Christmas in Wonderland; The Shadow; The Pebble and the Penguin; Loaded Weapon 1; Ritual; Burke and Hare; The Secret of Moonacre; The Three Musketeers; Legend; Oscar; Bailey’s Billion$; Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; Passed Away; BMT: Garfield 2; Congo; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Congo in 1996; Notes: Was nominated for three Tony awards and an Emmy in his career. Had a stroke a few years ago and is now confined to a wheelchair, but he has started doing voiceover work again which is something he had become very famous for in his career.)
Dylan Walsh – (Known For: We Were Soldiers; Nobody’s Fool; Secretariat; Loverboy; Blood Work; Edmond; Betsy’s Wedding; Future BMT: The Stepfather; Authors Anonymous; Where the Heart Is; BMT: Congo; The Lake House; Notes: Ended up as a big name television actor starring in Nip/Tuck and Unforgettable and now does short stints on things like Blue Bloods and Law & Order.)
Budget/Gross – $50 million / Domestic: $81,022,101 (Worldwide: $152,022,101)
(That’s actually a decent amount of money, although they were obviously looking for that Jurassic Park money. So in that sense maybe less of a bomb and more of a disappointment as expected.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 22% (11/51): Mired in campy visual effects and charmless characters, Congo is a suspenseless adventure that betrays little curiosity about the scientific concepts it purports to care about.
(I’m not sure what scientific concepts they are referring to here. Is it the giant diamonds from King Solomon’s Mind which illogically are the only things that can produce a laser weapon? Or perhaps the killer ape guardsmen? Or the sign language gorilla robot arm? Reviewer Highlight: The entire tone of the book has been transformed from tension to tongue-in-cheek with dismal results. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)
(The poster already tells you the film’s gonna be nuts. It’s just a giant fake gorilla face with a bunch of computer code on it and the dutchest of all dutch angle titles. I’m not sure what I would even think if I saw this in a movie theater. It’s bold, that’s for sure. But probably not in a good way. C)
Tagline(s) – Where you are the endangered species (B+)
(But this is solid. Congo… where you are the endangered species. Yeah that’s kinda nice. Flipping things around on you with the image of the gorilla. Telling you that you’re in for an adventure of derring-do. I dig it.)
Top 10: Red Sparrow (2018), Dolittle (2020), Green Book (2018), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), 2012 (2009), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Sing (2016), Zookeeper (2011), King Kong (2005), Trading Places (1983)
Future BMT: 72.1 The Last Exorcism Part II (2013), 54.8 Evan Almighty (2007), 48.9 The Omen (2006), 40.4 Hollow Man (2000), 34.1 The Tourist (2010), 28.8 Buddy (1997), 28.4 Baby’s Day Out (1994), 27.5 The Legend of Tarzan (2016), 27.1 The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), 21.9 Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995);
BMT: Dolittle (2020), 2012 (2009), Zookeeper (2011), Congo (1995), Old Dogs (2009), King Kong Lives (1986)
(There weren’t very good keywords this time for some reason. I have seen most of these, which maybe Ace Ventura 2 being the one I’m most excited for. The plot doesn’t tell me much except maybe that in the 2000s with CGI technology it became a lot easier to put gorillas in films.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 23) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ernie Hudson is No. 3 billed in Congo and No. 6 billed in Miss Congeniality 2 Armed and Fabulous, which also stars Sandra Bullock (No. 1 billed) who is in Demolition Man (No. 3 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 6 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 23. If we were to watch The Nanny Diaries, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 10.
Notes – Ernie Hudson stated that playing the character “Captain Munroe Kelly” is his personal favorite from his career. (He does seem to have a great time with it)
Executive producer and director Frank Marshall originally intended to use the computer work pioneered on Jurassic Park (1993) for the gorillas, but opted for models, as the computers weren’t capable of reproducing hair. (Yeah, it was a bit too early for that)
The “diamonds” used for the scenes during the climax of the movie were actually Herkimer Diamonds borrowed from the Herkimer Diamond Mines of Middleville, New York. They are doubly-terminated (two-ended) quartz crystals that are found in only two places in the world. They were the only gems that would look enough like diamonds and be that large. As a kind of tribute, Tim Curry’s character’s first name is “Herkermer” (his character does not appear in the Michael Crichton novel upon which the movie was based). (Wait … he isn’t in the book?! What a crazy character to add)
The part of the 727 pilot was played by musician and pop icon Jimmy Buffett. (huh)
Executive producer Frank Yablans had been involved in this project since its inception. Michael Crichton had pitched his idea for a modern-day King Solomon’s Mines to him, before he had even written the novel. Yablans liked the idea so much that, without Crichton’s authorization, he sold the movie rights to Twentieth Century Fox in 1979, a year before the book was published. The technology to create the apes was not available at the time, however, and the project never materialized. During the production of Jurassic Park (1993), Crichton was impressed with the dinosaurs that Stan Winston’s studio had created. Producer Kathleen Kennedy (who produced both movies) suggested using Winston again for the apes, and suggested the project itself to her husband, executive producer and director Frank Marshall, and Crichton agreed. This resulted in Yablans, Marshall, and Kennedy collaborating on this movie.
Although the movie mentions King Solomon’s Mines, it bears several key points in common with “Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar”, the book and movies based on it.
There are rumors of a deleted scene where one of the gorillas, in a pivotal scene in the movie, wields a laser gun. Nobody is sure if these rumored scenes exist, but YouTube channel Funhaus has started an investigation after discussing it on their movie podcast. (This feels like a dumb Mandela Effect thing. People who say this 25 years ago probably has smushed Amy fending off the evil gorillas using her sign language translator, with Laura Linney shooting lasers at them right after)
Composer Jerry Goldsmith was originally brought on-board when this movie was being conceived in the 1980s. When it went into production again in the 1990s, James Newton Howard was hired to write the score. Howard composed the tribal chant used in this movie, but had to back out of the project. Goldsmith was then brought back on-board.
In addition to Amy, Stan Winston Studio created twelve genetically mutated gray gorillas for Congo, eight of which were built as fully articulated hero heads and suits. To initiate the design of the twelve grays, Chris Swift rendered a series of drawings. Stan Winston then gave key artists at the studio the opportunity to design and sculpt one unique character each. Because the grays were a fictional, mutant breed of gorillas, the sculptors enjoyed a lot of creative freedom in devising their designs.
Rather than re-create the features of a mountain gorilla, the studio had instructions to design Amy so that she would more closely resemble the ‘cuter’ lowland gorilla.
Stan Winston’s crew lifecast the main Amy performer, Lorene Noh, at the studio, then sculpted Amy over her lifecast. From that sculpture, the crew created a ‘hero’ Amy head that was covered in silicone skin and hand-tied hair. It was one of the first times the studio would use these new silicone formulas, rather than foam latex, for a character.
Fred Thompson turned down a key role. (Ha, definitely the eeeeevil corporate telecom CEO)
Problems with the grays in the design stage only intensified when the characters started shooting. The mine in which the Grays’ scenes were set was essentially a large, empty cavern of red rock. There was no foliage of any kind, and without it, director of photography Allen Daviau was unable to justify the kind of dappled lighting that would have gone a long way in making the grays look more authentic. “In any kind of creature work,” Stan Winston commented, “so much of its success depends on the lighting and setting those characters are in. I wasn’t at all happy with the Grays’ environment. That big red cave didn’t allow for interesting or dramatic lighting at all.”
One of the most critical elements for bringing Congo’s gorillas to life was the performances of the actors and actresses inside the suits. Under the direction of veteran gorilla performer Peter Elliott, it took approximately six months of intensive rehearsal for Lorene Noh and Misty Rosas to become Amy, and for the gray gorilla actors to become mutant primates.
Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Kathleen Kennedy, Sam Mercer, 1996)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Tim Curry, 1996)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (1996)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Frank Marshall, 1996)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley, 1996)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (1996)
Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Jerry Goldsmith, Lebo M., 1996)
On the eve of TGivs, Natalie finds out that her asshole ex-husband has cancelled plans with their son, Doyle. Devastated, Doyle refuses to come home. Being the good guy that he is, Natalie’s new beau Dutch offers to bring him home, using the road trip as a way to bond. But can he overcome the brat’s hijinks and get him home before it’s too late? Find out in… Dutch.
How?! Dutch is just a man’s man. Someone who knows that if you spend some time with him, say on a long road trip, you will end the trip being friends. So when his new girlfriend, Natalie, is upset that her uber-rich asshole ex-husband broke Thanksgiving plans with their son, Dutch knows exactly what to do. He hops a plane to George and gets ready to take Doyle back home on a good old fashioned road trip. Things start out rocky when Doyle, finding a strange man in his room, assaults Dutch and is ultimately compelled to join the road trip by force. Things keep going from bad to worse as Dutch finds that Doyle isn’t just unwilling to participate in the road trip, but is an insufferable rich boy to boot. Dutch tries to show Doyle a good time with some fireworks but is eventually rewarded with a cigar in his crotch for his efforts. Trying to teach Doyle a lesson he kicks him out of the car and forces him to walk the rest of the way to the motel. When he arrives Doyle is so enraged that he steals the car and sets it up to be destroyed by a semi. Dutch is terrified for Doyle’s safety, but is horrified when he finds out that it was a stunt. Hoping to really teach him a lesson about life he pretends like they have no more money left and that they must beg the rest of the way home. They get a ride with a couple of prostitutes who steal their luggage and money, now really leaving them with no way to get home, and things are on the verge of falling apart. That is until Doyle calls his dad and finds out that he lied about being busy for TGivs. Seeing the good in Dutch, they hit the road together and find their way to a homeless shelter in Indiana, where Doyle shows how much he’s learned through his kindness for others. Finally making it home just in time for Thanksgiving, Doyle finds his dad there, but tells him off. He and his mother and Dutch then have a TGivs celebration complete with continued hijinks. THE END.
Why?! The motivations are actually pretty deep. Dutch loves Natalie and knows that he should have a good relationship with her son Doyle, especially given what a giant dick his dad is. Natalie just wants to be able to be with her son cause she knows her ex will ultimately disappoint him. And in the end it turns out that Doyle just wants a family. He’s hurting from his parent’s divorce and blames his mother for the breakup. But as we see it’s a TGivs miracle as everyone gets what they want out of the holiday.
Who?! Sometimes this section can also be for people who aren’t in the film. For some reason the wikipedia for this film claims that Arnold Palmer is in it as “himself.” I… I don’t think that’s true. That is not a credit on imdb and the only reference I can find to that online seems to come from the wikipedia article itself. I wonder if maybe he was in the background of the party at the beginning? Or maybe someone just made it up and put it on wikipedia. Hard to say.
What?! Not much to say here. The road trip itself avoids normal product placement as Dutch takes “the scenic route” on purpose so he and Doyle can get to know each other. And not nearly a notable enough film to warrant props for sale. So I’ll just point out that the car they drive for the beginning of the film is a Lincoln Town Car, which was the Motor Trend Car of the Year for 1990. It was a pretty popular car at the time and very in line for the car that Dutch would rent.
Where?! Road Trip alert! This is a notable road trip because a piece of trivia from the production is that the director, writer, and producer actually took the proposed road trip together and included places that they liked in the final product. It does give the trip a “real” feel. And it’s fun to note that the fireworks place they stop at is actually in Tennessee and would make sense as a place they might stop to grab gas.
When?! (Not so Secret) Holiday Film Alert! This is obviously a TGivs film set in the week leading up the holiday. The trip appears to take three nights (the first one when Doyle destroys the car, then they fall asleep in the car with the prostitutes, and finally they sleep in the homeless shelter) meaning that Dutch arrived to pick up Doyle on Monday and arrived back in Chicago just in time on Thursday. Pretty crazy for a 10-12 hour drive.
Certainly an interesting rewatch. As a kid there was so much that I remember loving in this film. The fireworks, the nudie cards, the begging for rides, etc. Those are still there, but it’s kind of mixed in with some very long stretches of Doyle being pretty insufferable and some half edgy/half saccharine holiday stuff. It’s still a very pleasant road trip all in all and I think watching it now I kind of appreciate things that I didn’t when I was younger (like that the road trip feels real… like it really does feel like they traveled specifically from Georgia to Illinois). Also Ed O’Neill is very charming in it and his character comes across with a lot more depth and nuance than it may seem at first glance. Through all ways that he tries to teach Doyle lessons, even when he takes it a little far, you do get a sense that it comes from a genuine place. So yeah, maybe not the continual laugh riot I remember as a kid, but it’s got its charm and certainly works well in teaching the meaning of TGivs. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I watched Dutch like 20 times as a kid. It was a quintessential TGivs movie. Well, it turns out it is a bad movie, who knew?! I didn’t. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I might as well mention what I remember from the film. I remember the fireworks scene obviously, as a kid that is hilarious. And I remember the dirty playing cards, because on television they cut away before you even get to see the not-really-nudity, and as a kid you don’t really even know that films were cut for television (beyond obvious dubbing). And I remember the film being great. It is always fun to watch films I’ve seen a bunch because guess what? I don’t really care what critics think, mostly I still like them. And it’s fun to watch films I actually like for BMT. What were my expectations? A TGivs miracle, a film I enjoy watching during the TGivs break.
The Good – Ed O’Neill is great as one would expect given they needed him to carry the entire film on his back. They didn’t exactly discover a new Macaulay Culkin in Ethan Embry, so really the film had to rely on Dutch to provide 100% of the humor and heart. And I think he does a good job there. I like it as a TGivs film, and I like it as a road trip film. As a vague follow up to Trains, Planes, and Automobiles it could have been a lot worse. I still enjoyed watching it. Best Bit: Ed O’Neill.
The Bad – I think as an adult the behavior of Dutch is a lot more questionable. As a kid the idea that anyone was ever in real danger is non-existent. It’s a movie, and the stakes can remain low because the shocking death of Doyle 20 minutes into the movie is understandably out of the question. But my God, he leaves him on the highway miles from a motel, he could have easily been struck by a car! They hitch rides home like lunatics, and literally get the shit kicked out of them by cops at one point! It is all pure lunacy, and not in a funny Uncle Buck sort of way, in a much more harrowing sort of way. I think you can see why critics didn’t enjoy the film, it was a paint-by-numbers Hughes film with a lot of questionable decisions from a writing standpoint, and an annoying kid who got his redemption far too late into the runtime. Fatal Flaw: Lazy writing.
The BMT – We knocked off one of the two major TGivs films, the other being Son-in-Law which I’ve also seen like 20 times … I’m starting to think that someone in Hollywood really screwed up by not making more TGivs films. I probably saw these two films twice each around TGivs for ten years straight. There seems to be a ton of money left on the table with this mini-genre. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. I can understand the criticisms of the film a lot more after watching Dutch as an adult. But I still liked it, which is about what I expected I think.
Roast-radamus – I’m loving this as a Road Trip Film (Where?) for the trip from Atlanta, through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana to Chicago for TGivs. And obviously, by design, a solid Not-Very-Secret Holiday Film (When?) as this is very explicitly a very TGivs film. And as such there is obviously a (kind of) MacGuffin (Why?) as the ultimate prize at the end of the film is the delicious TGivs dinner they are all going to enjoy as a family. And an inevitable Worst Twist (How?) for Doyle’s change of heart, his realization that his father is a jerk, and his mother is the one who truly loves him and is all he needs. Definitely closest to Good.
StreetCreditReport.com – I think with the news that the entire WB slate for 2021 is going direct to home video we might be nearing a reckoning with BMT. And with that I’ll try to make this section a bit more focused on what exactly cred means. Typically I’ll first look at lists, but those are rare and I don’t really like using them anymore. Second, I’ll check the connections page on IMDb. This shows us that Dutch was featured on In the Movies the week it came out in 1991, that’s actual genuine cred. Otherwise we can look at things about the year the film came out. For example, for Notability and BMeTric if you take the top 200 films on IMDb released in 1991, this film is top 27% in Notability, top 46.5% in BMeTric, top 7.5% in IMDb popularity, and top 5.5% in Rotten Tomatoes Rotten percentage. I guess we’ll see. It does seem to be that we’ll have to adapt in the next few years to significantly less potentially qualifying films getting wide releases.
You Just Got Schooled – For this one I went in search for another road trip film. Given that most of the Vacation films qualify for BMT, I went for a not-quite comedy in Thelma & Louise which I had never seen. And it is a great movie, naturally. The critical reviews from the time I think nail the top line interest in the story, it is a feminist plot that also leaves the gunplay to two women breaking bad. It is also another road trip film which is focused on what might be considered more back roads areas of the U.S. taking place off the beaten track in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and finally Arizona. It makes me think you could plot the rough course of a lot of these films, and get a pretty fun map where you (maybe) hit all of the states. Some might be tough, but this and Dutch immediately give you ten at the very least. It helps that both films, in my opinion, are enjoyable in their own right. Oh, and this ended up being my fourth Christopher McDonald film I’ve seen in like two months which is wild. An easy A from me.
Oh boy, you wouldn’t believe this. So I was picking up my new lady friend’s son at his elite prep school for TGivs, and you wouldn’t believe what a jerk he is! Well, I’m a people person, so I tried to relate to him, but then he just kicked me right in the face when I got there! I have a pretty severe concussion and can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Dutch?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) In the beginning we get the whole story of Doyle’s family. So where did his parents meet and where does Doyle’s father say he has to go for TGivs, throwing Doyle’s plans in disarray?
2) Well, in rolls Dutch to save the day, he’ll go and pick up Doyle and they’ll take a father(ish)-son road trip across Americana. Where is Doyle’s school, and where are they driving to?
3) As the boys travel they progressively get more and more destitute. How does Dutch lose his coat? How do they lose their car? How does Doyle lose his shoes? And finally, how does Dutch lose all of his money?
4) During the final push towards home they end up sleeping one last night in a homeless shelter. Who do they meet there that helps them get home just in time for TGivs?
5) What thing does Dutch “owe” Doyle that is hanging over his head throughout the movie? Does he ever get what he’s owed?
Poe is led through the dank twisty turns of a stone passageway. He shivers, lamenting that he didn’t bring his ermine stole. Suddenly he is thrust into the light of an overly elaborate crypt. A ring of men and women stand above him. His breath catches, in the middle of the room is a book, but before he can grab it and backflip his way out of there, he feels a hand on his shoulder. “My fellow members of the most exclusive of dance clubs, The Skulls,” says Mr. Big, an evil look crossing his face, “We have a traitor in our midst. This is no foxy lady with legs for days. It’s a police officer in disguise!” And with that he tears off Poe’s dress to reveal his full detective uniform. A gasp rises from the room. How did he know? Poe’s got to think quickly. “No… no…” he sputters backing away from the dangerous mob of rich clubgoers, “you see I used to be a police officer… but they didn’t approve of my sweet beats and smooth rhythm.” The members stop in shock. How dare the police question sweet beats and smooth rhythm. But Mr. Big is suspicious and insists he, “prove it.” Wiping sweat from his brow, Poe pulls his emergency flute from ankle holster and begins to lay down the bangingest tune that anyone has ever heard. People are straight jamming to the phat flute beats. Suddenly Mr. Big shouts for everyone to stop. “That may have been the phattest beats I’ve ever heard,” he says enraged, “but that doesn’t mean you’re a Skulls.” Poe puts a hand on his shoulder and whispers urgently, “then let me prove it to you. Let’s take a little Thanksgiving road trip together… a road trip through our imagination.” That’s right! We’re doing a TGivs special with a true holiday classic, Dutch starring Ed O’Neill. I’ve seen this countless times and loved it as a child watching it on Comedy Central and now it’s time to see if it stands the test of time as our special 2020 BMT Live(ish) Thanksgiving Spectacular. Let’s go!
Dutch (1991) – BMeTric: 14.2; Notability: 42
(If you are on reddit movies at all you’ll know that this film has become something of a cult classic. People unironically are declaring this as one of the very best TGivs films, on roughly the same level as Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This happened around 2014, and it likely fueled by people in their early 30s who watched this film multiple times on cable in the late 90s. If you were like 10 in 1998 you would have seen this film a ton on television around this time of year.)
RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – You’ve got to give John Hughes a certain amount of credit. At least when he makes a formula picture, he’s following his own formula. Hughes is the poet of the colorful domestic crisis, of the movie where typical Americans do typical things in typical places while learning to be better people than they were at the beginning of the film. Hughes has written, directed and/or produced so many of these films by now that perhaps we can even forgive him for beginning to repeat himself.
(Yeah, so the criticism at the time was definitely along the lines of: been there done that. This film is almost explicitly a mash-up of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (an odd couple travelling across the country for TGivs), Uncle Buck (the working class Joe interacting with the more upper class children), and National Lampoon’s Vacation (as it being a designed road trip for bonding purposes). It was so much so that Hughes didn’t want to direct because he thought he would get shit for just making Planes, Trains, and Automobiles again.)
(I feel like this is not really the message that comes through in the actual film. I’m actually a bit perplexed by the “he’s just a big kid” message on all of the advertising surrounding it. What I remember is the he is mostly a grumpy dude, perplexed by this uptight rich kid … the end. He tried to get him to loosen up, but it isn’t like Dutch is an arrested development loser or anything. I’ll guess we’ll see.)
Directors – Peter Faiman – (Known For: Crocodile Dundee; BMT: Dutch; Notes: A really weird choice. Was one of the creators of the Crocodile Dundee character, and this is his only genuine American feature (Crocodile Dundee was mostly filmed in Australia). Given just how explicitly American it is, it feels weird to go for a very Australian director.)
Writers – John Hughes (written by) – (Known For: Home Alone; National Lampoon’s Winter Holiday; National Lampoon’s Vacation; Planes, Trains & Automobiles; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; The Breakfast Club; Weird Science; Pretty in Pink; Uncle Buck; Sixteen Candles; Miracle on 34th Street; 101 Dalmatians; Some Kind of Wonderful; The Great Outdoors; Mr. Mum; She’s Having a Baby; Future BMT: Home Alone 3; Beethoven’s 2nd; Flubber; Maid in Manhattan; Dennis the Menace; Beethoven; Drillbit Taylor; Just Visiting; Curly Sue; Vacation; Baby’s Day Out; Career Opportunities; Class Reunion; National Lampoon’s European Vacation; Home Alone 2: Lost in New York; Savage Islands; Reach the Rock; BMT: Dutch; Notes: Started by selling jokes to comedians, then moved into television advertising, and ended up working for Mad Magazine as a result. National Lampoon’s Vacation was based on one of his magazine stories. He would spend the late 90s making kid films and writing under pseudonyms. Notoriously prolific writer, and is considered the quintessential voice of 80s teen films.)
Actors – Ed O’Neill – (Known For: Ralph Breaks the Internet; Finding Dory; Wreck-It Ralph; Wayne’s World; Cruising; Wayne’s World 2; The Last Shift; The Spanish Prisoner; Spartan; The Dogs of War; Sun Dogs; Redbelt; Prefontaine; Disorganised Crime; Future BMT: Lucky Numbers; K-9; Sibling Rivalry; Blue Chips; Little Giants; Entourage; The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; The Bone Collector; Nobody’s Baby; BMT: Dutch; Notes: Was hired based on his character of Al Bundy, the father on Married … With Children. He was nominated twice for Golden Globes for that role, and three times for an Emmy for his role on Modern Family.)
Ethan Embry – (Known For: The Guest; First Man; Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies; That Thing You Do!; Can’t Hardly Wait; Blindspotting; Vacancy; White Squall; Late Phases; The Devil’s Candy; Defending Your Life; Cheap Thrills; A Far Off Place; Dancer, Texas Pop. 81; The Independent; Future BMT: They; Disturbing Behavior; Vegas Vacation; The Reunion; All I Want for Christmas; Standing Still; Eagle Eye; War on the Range; Empire Records; Pizza; BMT: Timeline; Sweet Home Alabama; Dutch; Notes: Ended up starring alongside Ed O’Neill in the Dragnet remake in 2003. He is mostly a television actor now, starring in shows like Grace and Frankie.)
JoBeth Williams – (Known For: Poltergeist; Kramer vs. Kramer; The Big Chill; Wyatt Earp; The Big Year; Stir Crazy; The Perfect Catch; In the Land of Women; Teachers; The Dogs of War; Timer; Barracuda; Desert Bloom; Just Write; Future BMT: Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Switch; SGT. Will Gardner; American Dreamer; BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Jungle 2 Jungle; Dutch; Notes: Apparently the role of Murphy Brown was created for her, but she ultimately turned it down.)
(That is a terrible return. Here’s the thing though: I bet it ultimately made money just by selling the rights to show this film every year around TGivs for the last 30 years. It is one of the best TGivs films by virtue of there just not being that many of them.)
(The consensus here is really easy: As if made in a John Hughes factory via assembly line, this is not the worst he’s made, but far from his best effort. Reviewer Highlight: If a film like this is to be funny at all, it had better work when the warring principals still hate each other, before the rich boy is shown to be a sweet kid and the whole story turns to mush. – Janey Maslin, The New York Times.)
(Interesting poster. Obviously the font is amazing. Patrick needs to immediately get a print of his name where that’s the “T”. Otherwise it’s just OK. Ed O’Neill must have really been riding that Married… with Children high. )
Tagline(s) – Can a big kid bring out the child in a little jerk? (C)
(I can’t decide whether this is totally mediocre or slightly good. I get the idea and I think they just ran into a stumbling block when it came to “jerk” at the end. Doesn’t really make sense and can’t save the long tagline.)
Top 10: Deadpool (2016), The Santa Clause (1994), The Mule (2018), Prisoners (2013), Boyz n the Hood (1991), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Spider-Man (2002), Contagion (2011), American Gangster (2007), Lady Bird (2017)
Future BMT: 78.6 Superhero Movie (2008), 67.9 College Road Trip (2008), 53.1 Hanging Up (2000), 44.6 Baggage Claim (2013), 33.2 Must Love Dogs (2005), 32.9 Son in Law (1993), 31.6 Free Birds (2013), 27.4 The Comedian (2016), 23.0 Don’t Say a Word (2001), 19.7 Art School Confidential (2006);
BMT: Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), The Prince & Me (2004), The Roommate (2011), The Intruder (2019), Dutch (1991), Deadly Friend (1986)
(We’ve seen quite a few real TGivs films. Paul Blart and The Intruder for example, are real TGivs-centric films. Son in Law is easily the best of the remaining BMT films available. It is so good that it is the other TGivs film on the Calendar challenge.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: JoBeth Williams is No. 3 billed in Dutch and No. 3 billed in Jungle 2 Jungle, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 3 + 6 + 1 = 13. There is no shorter path at the moment.
Notes – The film was mentioned in passing in an episode of Married with Children (1987) during an in-flight to London, as a joke to the film’s failure. Ed O’Neill was the star of the series.
John Candy was the first choice to play Dutch Dooley. (I think he comes across as too nice, although … in that version he would have probably been Uncle Buck which would have probably been fine)
There were plans to do a sequel, which never materialized. (What could the sequel have possibly involved? Just another roadtrip?)
Prior to filming, Director Peter Faiman, Writer and co-Producer John Hughes, and Producer Richard Vane took a road trip throughout Georgia, The Carolinas (North and South), Mississippi, and Tennessee to scout the route of the film’s characters, Dutch Dooley and Doyle would take to drive back home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Faiman liked most of the places that he’d seen during the trip, and they ended up in final film. (I’ll have to watch closely what the actual idea is. So the kid goes to school in Georgia? And why is Dutch there to pick him up then if they all live in Chicago?)
If you pause it just right when Dutch is going through his wallet in the motel room, you can get a clear shot of his drivers license showing his address and name, which reads “David Dooley.” Which means “Dutch” must be a nickname. There’s never an actual mention of “David” in the film. (I love these fun facts)
At one point, Writer/Director/Producer John Hughes considered directing the film but then reconsidered because of the films’ similarities to his other hit film, “Planes, Trains And Automobiles” which revolved around two characters who at first really didn’t like each other and go on a road trip to get back Chicago after having a bunch of setbacks (which included a destroyed/burnt car, being robbed, etc.) for Thanksgiving with a happy resolution.
The surname of Doyle and his family is “Standish”, this name was also used in another John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club (1985), for Molly Ringwald’s character Claire Standish.
Released under the title “Driving Me Crazy” in the UK and Australia.
The large double doors, out of which Dutch bursts, are supposed to be the doors of Doyle’s dormitory. In reality, these doors are the main entrance to Hermann Hall, the administration building at Berry College, where the school scenes were filmed.
This was one of four films that was written, produced or directed by the late John Hughes in 1991. The others were Career Opportunities, this film, Only The Lonely (in which he produced and was Directed by Home Alone’s Chris Columbus) and his final film as director, Curly Sue. They all take place in Chicago, his hometown.
In the restroom at the bus station, the old man bathing in the sink is wearing the same shoes as Doyle after his were stolen on the bus.
There are similarities between the Dutch Dooley character and that of Al Bundy from “Married With Children” in which Writer/Producer John Hughes felt that Ed O’Neill was the right choice for the role.
JoBeth Williams full characters’ name is Natalie Wojejowsky Standish in which she mentions as she introduces herself to other women at Reed’s party early at the beginning of the film.
This was the first and only film that Director Peter Faiman ever directed in the US. He had directed the surprise hit, “Crocodile” Dundee in 1986, in which part of the film took part in New York City but the majority of it was filmed in Australia.
The film is essentially a remake of three other John Hughes films which he also wrote which are “Uncle Buck”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “Planes, Trains And Automobiles”. (That sounds about right actually)
The shoes that Doyle is left with after having his own stolen on the bus are the same as the homeless man’s who he meets in the bus station restroom
At one time in the movie, a billboard is shown, showing that Dutch is actually the owner of a very successful trucking company.
Luke McNamara just wants to become a lawyer despite his humble origins. With the help of his crew prowess he gets a chance to join the elite and secretive Yale club called The Skulls. Soon, though, his friend is dead and he realizes that maybe the club is not just bad, but dangerous. Can he stop The Skulls (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Skulls.
How?! Luke is a rad dude who can win any crew meet with one oar tied behind his back. But really his main goal is to make it out of the ranks of the New Haven townies and into the ranks of successful lawyers without debt up the wazoo. The key? The Skulls, a Yale club that rumor has it will pay your entire tuition. His friends, roommate Will and love interest Chloe, don’t understand his obsession and are a little shocked when he indeed gets the invitation and accepts. Suddenly they are feeling a little left out as Luke and his new BFF Caleb are palling around and keeping secrets. One night while working late, Luke goes to talk to Will and is distressed to find him dead. Knowing it doesn’t make sense he searches around and finds that Will was working on a news story about The Skulls. Confronting Caleb he admits that Will didn’t commit suicide, but actually died from a fall in the Skull’s building, but insists it was all an accident. Luke doesn’t entirely believe him and so following this lead and with the help of his genius (and somewhat criminal) townie friends, Luke gets his hands on the security tape from the club. Watching them he sees that while Will’s fall was accidental, he was still alive afterwards… that is until the Provost of Yale, acting on the order of Caleb’s high powered father, snaps his neck! Luke tries to get help from upper level club members before going to the police, but is stymied and the tape is switched before he can bring it in. The Skulls get Luke committed, but Chloe helps break him out. On the run they are nearly taken out by the Provost, but a sympathetic police officer kills him and lets them go. Knowing his only chance is some real coolz rulez, Luke confronts Caleb and challenges him to a duel and by the club’s coolz duelz rulez he must accept. During the duel Luke tells Caleb that he knows it was all an accident and that his father actually killed Will and a dismayed Caleb shoots his own father. When he tries to take his own life, Luke stops him. Luke then withdraws from The Skulls because he’s gonna be pretty busy smooching Chloe. THE END.
Why?! Luke just wants a rad life of lawyering and had already put his lean muscles and endurance for days to work getting into Yale. Now he needs The Skulls to finish the job. Unfortunately their only motivation is power and will stop at nothing to keep it. Particularly that damn Provost of Yale.
Who?! I personally think they should give Caleb’s father a pass on the whole murder misunderstanding because he was in line for a Supreme Court seat and it would be a pity to miss out on that for this section. Still, we do have a Senator and, of course… the Provost of Yale… or at least he was before he was killed following his participation in a murder.
What?! There is a slew of cars shown off in this film because that’s one of the clear perks to being in The Skulls: a super rad car that lets everyone know “I’m in a secret society, but shhhh it’s secret.” The one that’s most involved in the plot is Luke’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird, which he gives to his townie friends in exchange for their help.
Where?! This is a really really good Connecticut film. Set very hard in New Haven, CT (did I mention the Provost of Yale murders someone?) it’s not a great look for Yale. Then again, The Skulls is a perfect 10/10 film so maybe it is a good look despite all the murder cults involved. Obviously not an A+ like A Haunting in Connecticut but it’s an A+ in my heart (but really it’s an A).
When?! Don’t be tricked! There is a scene in The Skulls where Judge Mandrake is all like “come to TGivs with me and my disappointing son” and you’d be tempted to be all like Secret Holiday Alert. But hold the phone! Leaves on the trees? Light jackets? A race that’s a leadup to the goddamn Ivy Sprints (guess they couldn’t get past the trademark for Eastern Sprints)? It’s clearly Spring so Judge Mandrake is really getting ahead on his TGivs planning. C
I unabashedly loved watching this movie. It is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. The Provost of Yale is running around with a gun trying to kill the school’s star rower. The Provost! They should be making these films 24/7 to air on Netflix because this proves that no matter how ludicrously stupid they get I still cannot get enough of them. Like Swimfan before it they can just churn this stuff out. Where are the Jesse Bradfords and Jashua Jacksons of this generation to take on the newest aquatic sport and start cooking up the thrills? Even when they by accident make an Abduction starring Taylor Lautner they still at least made something dumb and unintentionally hilarious. This is dumb, unintentionally hilarious, and great. I loved it so much I even almost watched The Skulls 2… almost. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Do you ever wish you were in some secret society where people literally die and weird old people buy you prostitutes and stuff? No? Huh, then why was The Skulls written that way? Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t need no preview for this! I’ve seen this movie multiple times in my youth, and am obviously rather excited to give it a rewatch years after I could have been in a secret society myself. I could talk about what I remember, which is the opening scene where Charlie from The Mighty Ducks wins a crew race with one less rower than the other teams … yeah, that’s ain’t happening man. What were my expectations? Much like that opening crew race I expected the film to be absurd. Front to back, just absurdity that melts my mind, but in a good way.
The Good – This film is absurd and melts my mind in a good way. It is juuuuuuust dumb enough to be funny, but also it has that conspiracy at the core which you just can’t wait to unravel. It is like The O.C. in movie form, the perfect level of teen melodrama, but as a thriller. This film is far from good. This film is far from even being adequate. But it is also a delight that continues to beg questions weeks after viewing. Like … how do they explain that the provost of Yale got shot in the back by a New Haven police detective on some abandoned stretch of railroad? That combined with multiple Yale alumni getting shot or having dark secrets revealed in the same week in November at least one person would be like “wait a tick … is all this connected?” This though is in fact a good thing, I love it. Best Bit: Pure teen melodramatic lunacy.
The Bad – I would say the acting isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I like Joshua Jackson well enough, I grew up with him in The Mighty Ducks and Dawson’s Creek, but he wasn’t great in the end. I think the conspiracy at the core of the film is troublesome. It might seem strange to say it … but killing Hill Harper’s character makes no sense. He was trespassing, the fall was a total accident (complete with video evidence), and he didn’t actually learn anything terrible about the Skulls. That’s the issue with the film: it really makes no sense. Why would the head of the skulls keep the video of this crime around? It seems easy enough for them to destroy it if they wanted. Why does Joshua Jackson even join The Skulls if he wants to do “real” legal work for the common man? The Skulls will make him so indebted to these powerful people he’ll almost definitely have no choice but to become a corporate lawyer in Washington D.C. or something. It is just poorly written … but again, in a great way that I love. Fatal Flaw: The film makes no sense.
The BMT – I love these types of films. Swimfan is the closest, but something like Hackers or even I Still Know What You Did Last Summer are similar in style. Crank up that lunacy, give me some drama, and spin a conspiracy that makes no sense, and I’m in. I have a lot of trouble finding lists of films like this … I might need to start thinking of a discovery method for something where I have two BMT films and I want a third that is similar in style … hmmm. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them. I imagined it would just be a cheesy teen thriller, but it is a lot closer to something like Hackers in its absurdity.
Roast-radamus – A very high falutin Product Placement (What?) with each member of The Skulls getting branded on the wrist (dumb) and then getting a Breitling Old Navitimer to cover it up. Probably around $10K these days. A pretty great Setting as a Character (Where?) for New Haven, Connecticut and Yale University specifically. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that, indeed, the sneaky U.S. Senator played by William Petersen was pulling the strings all along to become the chairman of The Skulls or whatever. Definitely closest to BMT.
StreetCreditReport.com – As usual finding actual lists is difficult, and I’ve been searching for things to do in this section that veers away from using those. IMDb lists it as number 8 on its top 10 Fraternities and Sororities films, and number 6 on its Secret Society films. Watching the video it is rather interesting that The Skull and Bones society at Yale plays a prominent role in two films. This, and The Good Shepherd. That is because that film is about the establishment of the CIA, which was apparently established within The Skull and Bones around World War II. I think a huge amount of cred comes from it being one of the worst Secret Society films.
You Just Got Schooled – I couldn’t quite decide on the right angle for this one, especially since a lot of secret society films suck. And I certainly didn’t want to waste my time with the straight-to-DVD sequels (I’ll save that for a Bring a Friend in the future). In the end I went with the conspiracy angle and watched Oliver Stone’s JFK. One of the premiere ensemble casts in film history this controversial film was ultimately lauded as an epic political thriller and nominated for Best Picture (among other awards). The three hour runtime stretches one’s patience, especially near the end of act two where you could be forgiven for losing the thread on exactly who is doing what where. Shockingly watchable though all things considered, and if you didn’t know about the controversy (Stone does more than merely suggest Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for the assassination of JFK) then the movie makes a compelling case for the deep state cover up, especially in the minutes long monologue by Costner that ends the film. Knowing that Stone is credibly accused of stretching the truth beyond recognition unfortunately leaves it in a tier below more true-to-life political thrillers like All the President’s Men. A-. The best thing about the film in the end is the cast, and it definitely gets you interested in reading up on the mystery surrounding the JFK assassination.
Oh man. So here’s what happened, I was in this insane induction ceremony at Yale (because I’m great at rowing, natch). We were all drugged and put into coffins, you know, normal induction stuff. Well when I woke up I sat up in m’coffin and bopped my head! And now I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in The Skulls?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) Luke McNamara is just a normal New Haven townie who through guts and grit managed to make his way into Yale. But as a gross townie, why is he considered for the elite of the elite secret societies, The Skulls?
2) Describe the induction ceremony for The Skulls. It has three parts occurring on three different days.
3) How does Will Beckford (Harper Hill) die? And what initially tips Luke off that everything is not how it seems about his suicide?
4) Name three of the gifts Luke receives as part of being a part of The Skulls.
5) What was Ames Levritt’s (William Peterson) plan to take over The Skulls in the end and how/why did it involve Luke?