Oh boy, I am in some serious debt. So serious in fact that to even bear to look at my bills I had to get mega-drunk and now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Confessions of a Shopaholic?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) At the beginning of the film they go through Rebecca Bloomwood’s debts. Approximately how much does she owe?
2) What magazine does Rebecca originally work for? And what magazine does she go to work for and why?
3) Where does Rebecca say she is from (and is fluent in the language of) multiple times during the course of the film and why?
4) Throughout the film Rebecca is trying to avoid Derek Smeath, a debt collector. Who does she tell people he is?
5) How much does Luke buy the green scarf for at the end of the film?
Bonus Question: How long does it say that Luke’s business, Brandon Communications, last?
With bated breath Jamie and Patrick slowly turn to page 473 in the book. This could be the key to confronting their cyborg doppelgangers and saving Rich and Poe. They lean in close to read the all important words: “Fuck you, dweebs.” Gah! The only words on the page and they leave them just where they started. “I don’t get it,” Jamie says slowly, “what’s so important about calling us a couple of dweebs? Cause we aren’t… we aren’t dweebs.” Patrick assures him they aren’t and looks past page 473 for any clue. The half-cyborg terminator has finished bible class for the day and is walking with Mary out of the church.
“Oh, Cyborg, you’re so handsome and cool,” sighs Mary, “We just need to find you a nice lady to keep your mind off all those dweebs that need crushing.” The half-cyborg shakes his head, embarrassed. No woman would like a ¾ man like him… could she? He dares to dream. He imagines meeting a sweet gal who shares many of his passions. They crush dweebs together, but also crush cans of Diet Crush during their down time. She would be a rising star at the salt mines while he wrangled bounties in the Pit Station of Zaal. They would raise a couple of ⅜ boys and… sigh… but no. “Beep boop clothes,” he says sadly motioning towards his ratty battle armor. Mary laughs, “You know what? I’ll set up a hot date with Rachel down at the Pretzel Stand and then I’ll help you improve your style. And you know what that means.” Cyborg smiles, “beep boop shopping.”
Shopping? What does that help? “That’s funny,” says Jamie, “I used to know a Rachel down at the Pretzel Stand.” Suddenly Patrick knows exactly what to do. That’s right! We’re watching Confessions of a Shopaholic. You may be wondering why we are doing that. Well, against all odds it was the only BMT qualifying film we could find to connect back to The Skulls in the Chain Reaction. So congrats. Let’s get shopping. Let’s go!
Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) – BMeTric: 36.2; Notability: 56
StreetCreditReport.com –BMeTric: top 29.6%; Notability: top 12.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 22.2% Higher BMeT: Dragonball Evolution, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, S. Darko, Stan Helsing, Dance Flick, Year One, The Unborn, All About Steve, Halloween II, Bitch Slap, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Obsessed, The Final Destination, Madea Goes to Jail, G-Force, Survival of the Dead, Sorority Row, Miss March, and 27 more; Higher Notability: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, 2012, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Angels & Demons, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Fast & Furious, The Lovely Bones, Terminator Salvation, Nine, Halloween II, Surrogates, G-Force, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Land of the Lost; Lower RT: Old Dogs, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Miss March, All About Steve, Whiteout, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Echelon Conspiracy, Post Grad, Driving Aphrodite, Malice in Wonderland, The Unborn, Couples Retreat, Bride Wars, The Stepfather, The Pink Panther 2, S. Darko, I Love You, Beth Cooper, The Ugly Truth, Stan Helsing, Year One and 27 more; Notes: That notability is amazingly high. I guess that is what happens when you create a film chock-a-block with high fashion product placement? An IMDb of 5.9 is basically exactly what I would have expected of this.
RogerEbert.com – 2.5 stars – Look. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is no masterpiece. But it’s funny, Isla Fisher is a joy, and — of supreme importance — it is more entertaining to a viewer with absolutely no eagerness to see it (like me) than “Sex and the City” was. Also, no movie can be all bad where the heroine attends a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting and meets a former Chicago Bulls star.
(Spoilees. We are on an interesting streak of films here. 3.0, 2.0, 2.5 stars by Ebert in the last three. This is the second one he seemed to genuinely enjoy. He seemed lukewarm on Message in a Bottle, but he liked The Rite and this it seemed. Nice to hear Isla Fisher was good in it though.)
(Her fashion is so in your face and crazy. Not at all what is in fashion now. Seems like an easy breezy comedy … so basically it is going to turn out that it is aggressively not-funny right? The only possibility sadly.)
Directors – P.J. Hogan – (Known For: Peter Pan; My Best Friend’s Wedding; Muriel’s Wedding; Unconditional Love; Mental; The Humpty Dumpty Man; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Australian. Was nominated for a BAFTA for Muriel’s Wedding which he also wrote.)
Writers – Tracey Jackson (screenplay) – (Known For: The Guru; The Other End of the Line; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Created the series Babes for Fox in 1990 which is kind of wild. Seems to have made multiple Bollywood inspired films in the 00s.)
Tim Firth (screenplay) – (Known For: Kinky Boots; Calendar Girls; Blackball; The Wedding Video; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Pretty big name in British theatre, he won an Olivier award in 2003 and has made a few productions which have been nominated as well. Kinky Boots itself became a huge British musical.)
Kayla Alpert (screenplay) – (BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Mostly a producer, producing Ally McBeal and LAX among other shows. A good number of television writing credits as well.)
Sophie Kinsella (books) – (Known For: Can You Keep a Secret?; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Her sister is also a novelist. Both credits are for adaptations of her books.)
Actors – Isla Fisher – (Known For: Blithe Spirit; Tag; The Great Gatsby; Nocturnal Animals; Now You See Me; Godmothered; Rango; Greed; Wedding Crashers; Rise of the Guardians; Horton Hears a Who!; The Beach Bum; Definitely, Maybe; I Heart Huckabees; London; Bachelorette; The Lookout; Life of Crime; Wedding Daze; Burke and Hare; Future BMT: Scooby-Doo; Grimsby; Hot Rod; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Scottish, but born in Oman and raised in Australia, she considers herself Australian. Has been Married to Sasha Baron Cohen for ten years.)
Hugh Dancy – (Known For: Martha Marcy May Marlene; Black Hawk Down; Ella Enchanted; Our Idiot Brother; Late Night; Savage Grace; Hysteria; The Jane Austen Book Club; The Sleeping Dictionary; Adam; Shooting Dogs; Tempo; Future BMT: Blood & Chocolate; King Arthur; BMT: Basic Instinct 2; Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return; Confessions of a Shopaholic; Evening; Notes: British. For me at least he’s most famous for playing Will Graham in the Hannibal series which is quite good if a bit gross.)
Krysten Ritter – (Known For: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie; 27 Dresses; She’s Out of My League; Big Eyes; Margaret; Search Party; Veronica Mars; The Hero; Vamps; Animal Attraction; Killing Bono; Listen Up Philip; L!fe Happens; How to Make Love to a Woman; Frost; Asthma; Refuge; Slingshot; Heavy Petting; Future BMT: Mona Lisa Smile; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: The B in apartment 23 and Jessica Jones. She was also in Breaking Bad for a bit.)
Budget/Gross – $55 million / Domestic: $44,277,350 (Worldwide: $108,394,089)
(Not bad. I imagine they were, as usual, hoping for that unlikely $100 million hit. Didn’t get it, but I bet it came out even.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (44/169): This middling romantic comedy underutilizes a talented cast and delivers muddled messages on materialism and conspicuous consumption.
(Uh oh. Middling. So unfunny and kind of boring. But maybe we’ll get some hilarious 2009-level “whoops, we made this gross materialistic film as the economy is falling apart, sorry” storylines going. Reviewer Highlight: Not only is it an unfunny movie shrilly told, it probably is the most ill-timed and appallingly insulting movie in recent memory. – Claudia Puig, USA Today)
(I like the artistic leap they took on this one, even if it doesn’t entirely work. I hate white space on posters, so I wish they could have avoided that, and the font on the bag is real boring. But gotta give credit when they take a risk. B.)
Tagline(s) – All she ever wanted was a little credit… (A-)
(I do like this. It’s clever in that special tagline type of way. The biggest problem with it is that the double meaning doesn’t totally work with the film itself. I wouldn’t describe her character as someone who doesn’t get the credit she deserves… but that’s besides the point really. It’s solid.)
Top 10: Wonder Woman (2017), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Prisoners (2013), Superbad (2007), Ocean’s Eight (2018), Baby Driver (2017), Love Actually (2003), Suicide Squad (2016), The Terminator (1984), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Future BMT: 60.4 Maid in Manhattan (2002), 49.3 Mannequin: On the Move (1991), 46.1 Sleepover (2004), 44.7 Simply Irresistible (1999), 41.3 I Think I Love My Wife (2007), 38.2 Masterminds (2016), 35.6 Indecent Proposal (1993), 34.5 Suicide Squad (2016), 32.8 Mannequin (1987), 31.9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991);
BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016), Left Behind (2014), The Darkest Hour (2011), The Women (2008), Proud Mary (2018)
(Probably follows the growth-collapse of the department store through time. This film didn’t have very many good keywords in my opinion. Mannequin: On the Move is definitely the pinnacle of department store film.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kristin Scott Thomas is No. 7 billed in Confessions of a Shopaholic and No. 2 billed in Random Hearts, which also stars Harrison Ford (No. 1 billed) who is in Hollywood Homicide (No. 1 billed), which also stars Josh Hartnett (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 3 billed) => 7 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 16. If we were to watch Toys, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 15.
Notes – At the end, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) pays off her entire debt in coins, saying that she was doing it in the most inconvenient way possible. In real life, Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton) could have refused to accept it. While coins are legal tender within the Federal Reserve System, no law requires a merchant or anyone else to accept them. However, if he had refused payment, the debt would legally be considered paid off. (So … he couldn’t have refused? If the debt is paid off if he refuses or not what is the point in refusing?)
The novel is set in London. The movie changed it to New York City to connect with an American audience. Following the success of Sex and the City (1998), New York City was seen as a selling point to female audiences.
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas revealed in 2014 that she didn’t like the experience of filming. “I thought it would be quite good fun. But I spent my entire time waiting. I hated it, hated it, hated it, and I said that I wouldn’t do another one. Funnily enough, I haven’t been asked to.” (I don’t know what this means … she didn’t direct it or anything. She’s been in plenty of films prior and since. Weird.)
Isla Fisher researched her role by visiting some overspend/under earner groups, people whose lives have essentially become unmanageable because of their compulsive shopping.
Isla Fisher wore five-inch stilettos during filming.
Isla Fisher is only fourteen years younger than Joan Cusack, who played her mother.
In the book Rebecca Bloomwood wishes she was ‘someone really cool like Kristen Scott Thomas’ who stars in the film. (Fun)
When Theresa finds a message in a bottle with a beautifully sad love note in it, it piques her interest in the writer. She tracks down Garrett, a widower and boat restorer and they embark on their own love story. But Garrett’s inability to move on from the death of his wife threatens to end it all in tragedy. Will they find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Message in a Bottle.
How?! It’s a message in a bottle, baby. Come… come… come on and let it out. And that’s exactly what divorcee Theresa does when she finds such a bottle on a Cape Cod beach. Inside is a beautiful and yet sad love note to a long lost love. Theresa brings it back to her Chicago newspaper office and her boss subsequently publishes it in his column. Initially angered by this, the response to the letter and the fact that it results in the discovery of two other letters by the same writer make Theresa all the more excited to find the author. Tracking him down to North Carolina, she heads there and meets Garrett, a soft spoken widower who lost his wife three years prior. Taking care of his alcoholic father, Garrett’s life has stalled as he has attempted to preserve the memory of his wife in every aspect. But sparks fly when he meets Theresa and suddenly he’s taking her sailing and doing all kinds of things that he would have thought impossible. When Theresa heads back to Chicago she fears it’s the end of the affair, only to be surprised when Garrett decides to visit. They have a wonderful time, particularly in regards to Garrett’s ability to relate to her young son, but on their final night together he discovers the copies of his letters in her nightstand. He is shocked and wonders whether this was all a scheme by a journalist to get a story, but is even more shocked when it’s revealed that there are three letters… he only wrote two! The other was the final note written by his wife before her death. With this closure he is able to move on with his life and finish building a sailing boat that he designed for her. After seeing him complete the boat, Theresa tells him to call her when and if he feels ready to move on. Shortly thereafter he writes a final letter to his wife telling her he’s ready to move on with Theresa and heads out into a storm. Before turning back, though, he finds another boat in distress and tragically dies attempting to rescue the sailors. Theresa and everyone, including the viewer, are real sad because this is Sad Love by Nicholas Sparks. THE END.
Why?! Love… or more accurately getting over love. Both Theresa and Garrett are getting over lost loves in different ways. Theresa has recently divorced, while Garrett lost his wife. Now they kind of have to heal each other with the power of love. Unfortunately for them this is also a Nicholas Sparks novel so death is always right around the corner to snatch that sad love away.
Who?! There are a couple great little casting tidbits in this guy. First off there is a kinda nerdy looking dude that a friend of Theresa’s is like “yo, girl get on that accountant… he’s a real successful accountant or something,” and Theresa is like thanks but no thanks. That guy is the Director of Photography, Caleb Deschanel… yes, that Caleb Deschanel. The father of Zooey and Bones. Then the little girl that Garrett saves from the sinking boat at the end (before tragically dying) was played by a young Hayden Panettiere.
What?! This is a Budweiser film. Full Stop. Paul Newman plays Garrett’s father and he’s a recovering alcoholic who is allowed a beer a day. His beer of choice: Bud, of course. They are so delicious and refreshing that Garrett has to count them daily and pay the local kids to watch his father so he doesn’t slake his thirst a little too much.
Where?! North Carolina meet Chicago, cause we get some pretty sweet settings in this guy, particularly in the many sights and sounds of Chicago. Funny because the novel had Theresa based in Boston, which makes a little more sense in her finding the bottle, but I think I get why they made the change… it seems a bit odd in the book that Garrett seems totally unwilling to move to Massachusetts. It’s not that different from North Carolina given his passion in life is sailing. B+
When?! I couldn’t really find a specific date for this one, although I think it runs similar to the book. She discovers the message in the bottle during the summer when her son is off with his father during summer break. Then she heads down to NC at the tail end of summer. After that it’s a couple months of distance dating before sometime in the winter he launches the boat. We know from his note that he launched “on the 25th.” I presume January as Theresa’s first article in the paper appears next to a couple articles from early January 1998… so it’s tenuous, but that’s where I place it. C-.
Saaad Love. I guess I appreciate the fact that the film didn’t pull the punch of the book and have Garrett live or something. But it is pretty rough stuff to have the whole book be like “isn’t love grand… until it’s shattered by death?” and then expect the reader to be like “but at least she loved, right?” I don’t know… still pretty sad. The book was fine and the film was fine. I guess I wish there was more to it than that. I thought Robin Wright was pretty good and charming, but Kevin Costner probably needed to give me a bit more than mumbling along and looking like he’s carved out of wood. Make me feel that Draft Day Jennifer Garner spark, Kevin Costner. Anyway, Nicholas Sparks was just starting out and didn’t yet have the clout to throw around his “yes, there is a ghost in Safe Haven and we’re keeping it in the film” weight. So pretty straight forward. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! He’s a message in a bottle baby, come on and let Kevin Costner out. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – The OG Sparks, it is a little stunning to realize that basically every Nicholas Sparks adaptation has gotten bad reviews besides The Notebook (and even that only got 53% on Rotten Tomatoes). We’ve seen his most recent for BMT already as well, The Choice. He seems to have slowed down with writing, he only wrote two novels since 2016. Can’t have bad adaptations if you don’t write novels I suppose, real 3D chess moves. What were my expectations? It is a bit weird, because prior to watching the trailer I legit thought the film was just about a lonely dude who threw bottles in the ocean. But it is about a broken dude who just needs that one special lady to mend his broken heart. Awwwwwww. I expected to weep uncontrollably in my living room.
The Good – I’ve seen quite a few Kevin Costner films over the past few months and years, both good and bad. And unlike something like Wyatt Earp (where his acting is almost a joke, especially as “young” Wyatt Earp), I feel like Message in a Bottle is directly in his wheelhouse. You can moan about the writing and ridiculous situations good actors are put into, but the actors themselves I think are doing their best with what they are given. The vistas are nice, always love a good Cape Cod / NC crossover, real Dawson’s Creek vibes. Best Bit: Setting.
The Bad – I can see why critics hated this film. It is a total waste of a decent story and some decent actors with situations and a plot which gives them nothing to really work with, and at worst (like in the end) launches itself into pure melodrama. I know they need to be like “I’m sad and forever broken, vague allegories about religion and forever love” because it is a Nicholas Sparks novel, but, again, I think the critics are mostly right in that the ending of the book and thus film let down what is otherwise a decent story. I will say that the “man’s man who never speaks and is so broken he lives with the ghost of his dead wife” doesn’t age well. The guy doesn’t need love, he needs a therapist and to actually work through his feelings instead of bottling them up (and throwing them in the ocean). Fatal Flaw: Poor ending.
The BMT – We’ll work through all the Nicholas Sparks novels, even if they are done one Based on a Book cycle at a time. There is also something about Kevin Costner here. Something magical about just how 90s his stardom was. You can watch him anchor a three hour epic in JFK and be completely lost in his character come to life, and then watch Wyatt Earp and be like “what the hell is he doing with his mouth … is he wearing fake teeth, what is happening?” Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I found Costner’s character so closed off and broken that I actually started to become concerned about his mental state. Surely this is just a changing mentality towards depression over the past 25 years, but still, it made it difficult to fully invest in the tragic love story which was so obviously being force fed to me. I didn’t shed a single tear. Now, that’s a tragedy.
Roast-radamus – Big Product Placement (What?) energy as both Costner and Newman guzzle Budweiser while giving each other haircuts and whatnot. That’s how you know Kevin Costner was made in America, he drinks all-American delicious Budweiser. Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Chicago (where Robin Wright lives), Cape Cod (where she finds the bottle), and North Carolina (where every Nicholas Sparks book is contractually obligated to be set). At least part of this film is secretly during July 4, but nary a firework is to be seen. Disappointing. Closest to Good.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – This is an easy Netflix series. The first four episodes are from two different periods of time. Flashbacks to the two years prior and two years after Catherine’s death in North Carolina. And simultaneously the discovery of the first bottle, and then hunt for the other two bottles he sent out dealing with his love and loss of Catherine. Then the trip to North Carolina and a recap of that last year of his life mid-season. The final six episodes are then effectively the movie. The meet cute, dating in North Carolina, the trip to Chicago, one episode which is just the sex scene over and over in black and white (this is directed by David Lynch) … fine it is the big dramatic blow up about the story, the big dramatic finale, and then a closing episode wrapping things up. Boom, beautiful. Why aren’t there more Nicholas Sparks television shows? They seem really easy and cheap to make overall.
You Just Got Schooled – We are still working through the Hall of Fame. This week? Oooooooo Endless Luuuuuuuuuurv (the 2014 one, but of course I rewatched the 1981 one as well, get right on outta here!).
Oh man, so I was running on the beach (usual Sunday, natch) and I found this bottle. Wouldn’t you know it, it was from a lonely heart writing to his lost love awwwwwww. Then a rock was dropped on my head by a seagull and I got a horrible concussion and I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Message in a Bottle?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) Why does Robin Wright go on vacation and where?
2) On the day of their sailing trip Costner gets into a fight with someone in the diner. Why?
3) How did Catherine die?
4) How many letters did Costner write?
5) What gift does Costner give Wright and her son when he visits Chicago? What gift does Wright give Costner on the day he christens his boat Catherine?
Bonus Question: So … why did Kevin Costner fake his own death?
Jamie and Patrick stride down the street towards St. Mary’s Church, Jamie’s nose still buried deep in the book. “Why are we going anywhere?” whines Jamie, “This book is really heating up, the cyborg just took Communion.” Patrick ignored him. For all its lack of literary merit, the book does seem to be giving them clues. Taking a deep breath Patrick busts into the church, half expecting a couple of cyborgs ready for some hand-to-hand combat. Instead a lone priest stands shocked in the middle of the empty nave. His eyes become wide and he starts to stumble backwards. “Los diablos… los robots,” he is able to sputter before turning and fleeing out a side entrance. Well, they certainly seem to be on the right track. “Ahem,” they hear and wheel around, hands ready for karate. A woman leans back lazily in one of the pews. “So I guess it’s true,” she says, a smirk on her face, “los diablos came back looking for a fight. Don’t worry, I’m not here to fight you, so relax. I’m here to find out what the hell is going on with the Bad Movie Twins. The name’s Lindsey Appleton, hardscrabble investigative reporter… and I presume you two aren’t los diablos.” Jamie and Patrick shake their heads. When they ask what she’s found out so far, Lindsey shrugs and tosses them an object. “This was here when I arrived, but it’s addressed to you, so I assume you better be the ones to read it.” Jamie and Patrick look at what they hold in their hands… a bottle. But not just any bottle. This bottle has a message in it. When they pull it free it just has two words on it, “page 473,” and Jamie’s already flipping to that place in the book. That’s right! With a based-on-a-book series comes great responsibility… but also mostly reading Nicholas Sparks novels. We still have quite a number of them to get through so we thought we should start at the beginning. Not his first book but the first one that got adapted, Message in a Bottle. Let’s go!
Message in a Bottle (1999) – BMeTric: 22.4; Notability: 40
StreetCreditReport.com –BMeTric: top 30.4%; Notability: top 34.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 32.6% Higher BMeT: Baby Geniuses, Inspector Gadget, Universal Soldier: The Return, Wing Commander, Wild Wild West, The Haunting, Dudley Do-Right, Bats, The Rage: Carrie 2, Virus, The Mod Squad, The Bachelor, Breakfast of Champions, The Astronaut’s Wife, Eye of the Beholder, Superstar, My Favorite Martian, Random Hearts, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Simply Irresistible, and 32 more; Higher Notability: Wild Wild West, Inspector Gadget, The 13th Warrior, End of Days, My Favorite Martian, Snow Falling on Cedars, Idle Hands, Joan of Arc, The Haunting, The Story of Us, The Out-of-Towners, Crazy in Alabama, Double Jeopardy, Random Hearts, Instinct, Stigmata, Dudley Do-Right, In Too Deep, The General’s Daughter, The Other Sister, and 9 more; Lower RT: Baby Geniuses, The Mod Squad, Universal Soldier: The Return, Friends & Lovers, The Bachelor, Eye of the Beholder, Wing Commander, Chill Factor, Virus, Body Shots, End of Days, Jawbreaker, My Favorite Martian, The King and I, Lost & Found, Molly, Gloria, Idle Hands, Random Hearts, The Astronaut’s Wife and 42 more; Notes: Low BMeTric, but a surprisingly high Notability, especially since this is the first Nicholas Sparks film. Looking at this list mostly reminds me that we have a ton to do still as far as 1999 is concerned.
RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – “Message in a Bottle” is a tearjerker that strolls from crisis to crisis. It’s curiously muted, as if it fears that passion would tear its delicate fabric; even the fights are more in sorrow than in anger, and when there’s a fistfight, it doesn’t feel like a real fistfight–it feels more like someone thought the movie needed a fistfight ’round about then.
(That is pretty brutal. Ebert mentions later in the review that he hadn’t read the book, so indeed, he wouldn’t really know whether all of this makes sense with regards to the book, not like that really matters.)
(I remember when this movie came out … and yet I don’t remember this trailer. Because I feel like I thought this was some Sleepless in Seattle, “lonely heart looking for love, going to do some silliness with a message in a bottle” story. But this is like “my wife died and I’m real sad, can you fix me, I’m a brooding and broken man” type story … somehow that is far less interesting than a story about a weirdo who thinks bottles in the ocean are a dating app or whatever.)
Directors – Luis Mandoki – (Known For: When a Man Loves a Woman; White Palace; Voces inocentes; La vida precoz y breve de Sabina Rivas; Gaby: A True Story; Future BMT: Angel Eyes; Born Yesterday; Trapped; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Gaby: A True Story was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. From Mexico City, he’s also made a few Documentaries, particularly about the 2006 election in Mexico.)
Writers – Nicholas Sparks (novel) – (Known For: The Notebook; Future BMT: The Last Song; Nights in Rodanthe; Dear John; The Lucky One; The Best of Me; The Longest Ride; BMT: Message in a Bottle; The Choice; Safe Haven; A Walk to Remember; Notes: It is just an incredible number of books he’s had made into films. Has twin daughters.)
Gerald Di Pego (screenplay) (as Gerald DiPego) – (Known For: Sharky’s Machine; Phenomenon; Words and Pictures; Little Murder; W; Future BMT: Angel Eyes; The Forgotten; Instinct; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Almost exclusively wrote television. Including an episode of Murder, She Wrote where Jessica probes a 20-year-old unsolved murder after attending the funeral of a New Orleans jazz great.)
Actors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: Let Him Go; Hidden Figures; Man of Steel; Molly’s Game; Dances with Wolves; The Untouchables; The Highwaymen; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Waterworld; JFK; No Way Out; Mr. Brooks; Field of Dreams; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; The Art of Racing in the Rain; Silverado; Open Range; Tin Cup; Draft Day; The Big Chill; Future BMT: Play It to the Bone; Dragonfly; 3 Days to Kill; Swing Vote; The Bodyguard; Criminal; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Revenge; Black or White; The War; BMT: Rumor Has It…; 3000 Miles to Graceland; The Postman; Message in a Bottle; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for The Postman in 1998; Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Remake or Sequel for Wyatt Earp in 1995; Winner for Worst Actor for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1992; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1993 for The Bodyguard; in 1996 for Waterworld; in 2000 for For Love of the Game, and Message in a Bottle; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Wyatt Earp; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Century in 2000 for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Postman, The Postman, Waterworld, Waterworld, Wyatt Earp, and Wyatt Earp; Notes: Rumors are swirling that he might be leaving Yellowstone! I’ve never seen it, but I am always intrigued by westerns.)
Robin Wright – (Known For: Wonder Woman 1984; Wonder Woman; Forrest Gump; Blade Runner 2049; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Princess Bride; Everest; Moneyball; State of Play; Unbreakable; Adore; Beowulf; A Most Wanted Man; The Pledge; The Last Castle; White Oleander; A Christmas Carol; New York, I Love You; The Conspirator; State of Grace; Future BMT: Toys; Justice League; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Won a Golden Globe for House of Cards. Her career started on the Soap Opera Santa Barbara. Was married to Sean Penn for nearly 15 years.)
Paul Newman – (Known For: Cars; Cool Hand Luke; Road to Perdition; The Towering Inferno; The Sting; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Slap Shot; The Verdict; The Color of Money; Nobody’s Fool; The Hustler; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Hud; The Hudsucker Proxy; Exodus; Twilight; Hombre; What a Way to Go!; Torn Curtain; Silent Movie; Future BMT: When Time Ran Out…; Harry & Son; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Was married to his second wife for 50 years prior to his death. Won an Oscar for The Color of Money, and then started a salad dressing company which was non-profit and donated all profits to charity. It has apparently raised over $550 million for charity.)
(Amazingly terrible performance if the budget is to be believed. I guess a Kevin Costner rom com would have been looking for $100 million at the time? So yeah, it didn’t really do great overall I guess.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (12/38): Handsome-looking but dramatically inert, Message in a Bottle maroons a formidable cast in a trite romance that lacks spark.
(But it doesn’t lack Nicholas Sparks (da dum chhhhhh). Reviewer Highlight: Adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ 1998 best-seller, ”Message in a Bottle” isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s a true all-stops-out gusher, the sort of solemn contemporary hankie-fest in which a sweet, smart, lonely-at-the-core professional woman … proceeds to fall for the Last Romantic Man. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)
(I mean, that poster is getting butts in seats, let’s not get it twisted. It does its job and I suspect it does it well. But couldn’t get a little better with the font? I’m gonna come in at a B. Like the overall sunset orange color tone as well.)
Tagline(s) – A story of love lost and found. (B-)
(I can see what they were going for. Not totally terrible, weaving in “Lost and Found” into the tagline along with “Love Lost”. So kind of a twist of two common phrases. Not clever enough though and a little clunky.)
Top 10: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Goodfellas (1990), Forrest Gump (1994), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Jojo Rabbit (2019), Emma. (2020), Homefront (2013), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), The Invisible Man (2020)
Future BMT: 72.2 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), 47.5 The Dark Tower (2017), 43.8 Priest (2011), 43.6 Allegiant (2016), 43.4 The Rhythm Section (2020), 42.2 Pan (2015), 41.3 Addicted (2014), 40.8 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), 40.8 Ben-Hur (2016), 39.7 Eat Pray Love (2010);
BMT: After (2019), Dolittle (2020), Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), Hunter Killer (2018), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Fifty Shades Freed (2018), The 5th Wave (2016), The Three Musketeers (2011), Striptease (1996), The Circle (2017), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Fifty Shades Darker (2017), Death Wish (2018), A Walk to Remember (2002), The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), The Choice (2016), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Kiss the Girls (1997), Jumper (2008), The Snowman (2017), The Host (2013), Something Borrowed (2011), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Mortdecai (2015), Eragon (2006), I Am Number Four (2011), Vampire Academy (2014), Dragonball Evolution (2009), The 13th Warrior (1999), Poseidon (2006), Seventh Son (2014), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), The Postman (1997), The Haunting (1999)
(Looks to be in that last little wave of the 90s just prior to when they started making a ton of YA adaptations and things like Harry Potter, and instead they were harkening back to when you picked a wall-liked book and made a straight adaptation from the material (without sequels in mind).)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kevin Costner is No. 1 billed in Message in a Bottle and No. 2 billed in 3000 Miles to Graceland, which also stars Kurt Russell (No. 1 billed) who is in Tango and Cash (No. 2 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) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Toys, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.
Notes – After the scene where Kevin Costner gets involved in a fight, his lip is bleeding. He puts his hand to it and looks at the blood. This was not part of the script. Another actor, Steve Mellor (Man on Dock) was scripted to pull Costner away from the fight from behind. When Mellor’s arms came around, he accidentally gave Costner a bloody lip. After the take, Mellor apologized to Costner for the accident. Costner said not to worry about it; that he ended up turning it into something. And, in fact, the director ended up using that shot. (fun fact)
This is the 1st film adaptation from a Nicholas Sparks novel.
The sites that were finally chosen for most of the shooting of the scenes of Garret’s hometown were Northport and Popham Beach, Maine. Over $250,000. of renovations were done to the seasonal home in Popham that became Garret’s house, including the addition of the room which held Catherine’s artwork and the adjacent living room with fireplace (faux). At the end of filming the owner of the house demanded that it be returned to its original state costing the production company nearly as much to undo. (Ha!)
The producers originally planned to film on Tangier Island, Virginia, USA, but some members of the town council objected to the drinking, cursing and sex in the movie and demanded script revisions in exchange for shooting permission. Warner Brothers then tried Martha’s Vineyard near Chilmark, Massachusetts, USA, but the Chilmark Conservation Commission turned down a request to build a temporary 3,000-square-foot house on stilts in the dunes near Chilmark Pond. (They would, that is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do. Think about the poor Piping Plovers you lunatics!!)
This movie is set in North Carolina, but at the end of the movie when Dodge is brought to Garrets boat the Game Wardens sleeve patches have the state of Maine Logo. (Huuuuuuuge error!)
The painting in Catherine’s studio that Dodge carried outside during Garrett’s encounter with Catherine’s brother is “Girl With Lantern” by the American impressionist painter Helen Maria Turner. The painting, which was produced in 1904, is housed in the Greenville Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.
Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kevin Costner, 2000)
Michael is a soon-to-be priest sent to Rome to study exorcism. He’s at a crossroads of his faith, but soon after starting to witness exorcisms under Father Lucas he begins to question his nonbelief in the devil. This comes to a head when he and Father Lucas are both confronted with possession. Can Michael stop the demon before it’s too late? Find out in… The Rite.
How?! Michael never really even wanted to be a priest. But it was either that or helping run his father’s funeral home, so celibacy it was. While he excels at the academics of the seminary, his profound skepticism about his own faith put him on the road to failure. But after witnessing Michael provide relief at the site of an accident, one of his teachers decides that maybe Michael is meant for something bigger. Enter exorcism school (note to self: write Exorcism School). He’s sent to Rome to study exorcism and due this skepticism is sent to study under Father Lucas. Suffice to say he starts to see some crazy shit, most pointedly in the exorcisms of a pregnant woman who seems to be in particular distress. One night, upon returning from an exorcism, they hear that the young woman is in the hospital and when they get there she is in the midst of a powerful possession. Later that night she and her baby die and Father Lucas is despondent. Michael, meanwhile, is dealing with his own tragedy as he gets word that his father has died. He attempts to head home but his travels are disrupted. Returning to Rome amidst a plethora of supernatural phenomena, Michael finds Father Lucas in full on DEFCON 1 level possession. Unable to get a hold of anyone else, Michael is forced to perform the exorcism himself and totally nails it because guess what: he does believe. And like Dumbo before him, the power was within himself the whole time. Hooray. THE END.
Why?! God. I thought about just leaving it at that, but I’ll elaborate. The whole film can be summed up in the overused quote: the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. It’s all about belief, brotha. Once you get past that point apparently Baal ain’t got shit on you.
Who?! Literally this is so boring that there aren’t even characters to be like “wow, isn’t that an interesting character.” The least they could have done is throw me a pope. The best I can come up with is the fact that the demon depicted here is specifically Baal. So if we ever want to do an angels and demons challenge then… I guess we can mark Baal off the list. Let’s see apparently he is the commander in chief of the armies of Hell and *puts on glasses* Grand Cross of the Order of the Fly. Well then.
What?! You’re probably thinking, “a ‘serious’ film about exorcism? There is no way we have a rock solid product placement… it’s not like they would have him walking the streets of Rome, fresh from seeing demonic possession, and have him espy a McD’s. A gleam would hit his eye as he remembers the fresh taste of a McCafe coffee, the taste of home. They couldn’t do that, right?… RIGHT?!” Wrong, actually. That’s exactly what happens.
Where?! I’m not sure where in America the first part of the film is supposed to take place. In the book it was California, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case here. Looked more like Jersey or Pennsylvania or something. Regardless, this film is a Rome/The Vatican film through and through. Not the first exorcism film we’ve seen in BMT where people fly to The Vatican to learn more about the process… it’s like the place is used as currency: you know things are for serious with exorcism because The Vatican teaches it… so it must be true. A-.
When?! Patrick noted in the quiz for the film that this has one of the craziest temporal settings we can remember. When Michael gets the news that his father has had a stroke and he attempts to get home, his plans are foiled by an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which would place that point in the film on April 15th, 2010 when air travel was first disrupted. Now that in itself isn’t too crazy for a setting, but given the context of the film there is only one conclusion that the viewer can possibly make: some force made that volcano erupt so that he couldn’t get home. Maybe Baal wanted Michael to stick around so that he could also possess him… or maybe God was forcing Michael back to Rome to help Father Lucas. Either way we can rest assured that that volcanic eruption in 2010 was unnatural. The Rite told us so. B+.
I did not like watching this movie. It was boring. It just kinda meanders along with our main character being like “I just can’t believe it” even as a girl throws up black liquid that turns into nails and a horse looks at him with gleaming red eyes. Man… either you believe in this shit or you are going crazy. It’s one of the two. Somehow Anthony Hopkins, the same man who barely got out of bed to act in Bad Company, gave the liveliest performance in this one, particular at the end when he’s all crazy possessed. Gotta give him some props. But that’s about it. As for the book? Well, the less said about that the better. It’s a terrible book. Laughable even, as it reads more as making fun of those that believe in exorcisms than anything else. The main argument it makes in favor of exorcisms being real? More people want exorcisms now than ever so they must be real, right? Riiiight. Can’t believe I read that terrible book. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! This is at least the second BMT film where a priest is sent to the Vatican to attend their very new (and very cool) exorcism course … that’s crazy. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t really know this film existed prior to making the preview. I certainly don’t recognize the main actor in it … so that bodes well. I was getting strong The Devil Inside whiffs coming off of this. I’m pretty sure it has the same origin story: someone found out about the Vatican’s spiffy new exorcism class, yada yada yada, they wrote a screenplay. I think the only real hope is that it is actually secretly good, because Ebert liked it. What were my expectations? Please be good. It really is the only hope. Otherwise it is boring. There isn’t an in between here, either Ebert is right and it is good, or everyone else is right and it is boring. And I hate boring movies. Hot take, I know.
The Good – I think if you don’t view this film as a horror film, and especially if you don’t view this film as endorsing the reality of possession and exorcisms … then there is a kernel of something good here. It is a slow and methodical look at a man turning towards faith in the face of the horrific realization that possession is real. Cool idea I suppose. Hopkins is quite good in the film, and, as inevitable as the final twist is, the ending is a better possession/exorcism finale that you see most of the time. Best Bit: Hopkins.
The Bad – I think the movie is made with the explicit idea that the audience buy into possession and exorcisms. Is that how all exorcism movies operate? I don’t know. I liked The Exorcist a lot, and I don’t think you necessarily have to buy into the religious bits of the film to understand the horror of “my daughter is sick and science can’t explain it” which is at the core of that film. In The Exorcist there is a deep understanding that what is happening to Regan could just be a devastating mental illness. Here they get really close to getting to that point, with the main character indicating that the “possessed” individuals might just be mentally ill people faking it. But in the end it feels like the movie scoffs at it and leans too heavily into possession/exorcism/catholicism being really explicitly real and that people who don’t think so are just arrogant know-it-alls or something. Plus it is kind of boring and the lead actor is a whole lotta nothing. Fatal Flaw: Possessions are fake and the movie seems like maybe it doesn’t think so.
The BMT – I always love adding a film to a mini-genre. In this case exorcism focused horror films, or I suppose more broadly religious-themed horror films. This is actually maybe one of the better ones? It is hard to tell. We’ve watched some real stinkers and this one basically is just one wink and nod about all this probably being fake from me declaring it either not-that-bad or merely boring. That’s pretty good. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. I was far more intrigued by this film than I thought I would be. It is a bit boring, sure, but there are enough fresh ideas in there to make it one of the better bad religion-focused horror films we’ve watched.
Roast-radamus – A true classic Product Placement (What?) as the film is genuinely brought to you by McDonald’s and their delicious American style coffee. When you’re off learning exorcisms Italian stizzle, and you’re yearning for the taste of home, there’s nothing better on a chilly Roman night than a McCup of delicious McCoffee. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba I’m lovin’ it. A solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Rome, where all the big exorcism action is happening. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable possession of father Trevant at the end of the film. Probably closest to Good.
Prequel, Sequel, Remake – Prequel. Michael mentions that his entire family have been morticians and priests. Well, this is truer than he ever knew! Flashback, Michael’s grandfather in World War II, naive with innocent blue eyes shining, enters the military as a chaplain. When a strange blue eyed charm starts being found at the scene of gruesome massacres, though, the American military sends Michael’s grandfather out to investigate. Ultimately, he discovers a plot by a cabal of eeeeeeevil satan worshipping priests to possess soldiers with demons to create super soldiers for the Nazis. Along the way Michael’s grandfather picks up a precocious Welsh boy sidekick (you guessed it! It’s Lucas Trevant!!) and they take down the cabal before they can possess Hitler with Satan himself. Ba ba baaaaaaa! Years later, Michael’s grandfather is killed during an exorcism, leaving behind a son, Istvan, who vows never to dabble in the exorcism rites. Smash cut to Michael entering Rome from the first film. Kovak Origins: The Rite 2. The subsequent sequel would then serve to dig further into the blue eyed charm and the (still surviving) cabal behind it, and the destiny of the blue eyed exorcists that Michael descends from.
You Just Got Schooled – Check out the Legend of Hercules Hall of Fame speech. I got that together this week in lieu of expanding my exorcism knowledge via a good exorcism movie.
Man, so I went to Rome to study under the creme de la creme of exorcism teachers and boom! I was doing exorcisms. For real, they are real?! Who knew. Anyways, I got bopped in the head by a demon naturally and now can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in The Rite?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) Why does Michael intend to enter the clergy in the beginning of the film?
2) Ultimately why does he want to withdraw his intention of taking the vows and becoming a priest at St. Osmund College?
3) What event makes him change his mind … well, how is he pressured into doing it?
4) Due to further lapses in faith Michael is sent to Father Lucas Trevant to witness an exorcism. What test (the quickest test according to Trevant) do they perform to prove the girl is possessed?
5) Nearing the end of the film why is Michael trying to get back to the US? Why can’t he? And what spooooooooooky event occurs while Michael is in Paris?
Bonus Question: When is the next time Michael is called in to do an exorcism after Father Lucas?
The half-cyborg robot from the past looks quizzically at the latest gadget: the mp3 player. “Beep boop beep boop kids these days,” it says as it puts on a walkman and pops in its “Tunes to Kill By” mixed tape.
Patrick massages his head. The book is inane… “I don’t get it,” says Jamie quizzically, “were they trying to make a bad book or the raddest books, cause I’m digging this dope bot (as the kids say).” As the unofficial king of YA lit and the creator of the mega swamp monster revival, Patrick is embarrassed and yet unsurprised by Jamie’s lack of literary sense. Whoever wrote this book knew what bad media was all about. It’s almost… like… “they were born there,” he mutters. “What?” asks Jamie, looking up from the Rich and Poe book, “I didn’t catch that. The half-cyborg just started playing electric guitar with his leg..” My god, four chapters in and the cyborg still hasn’t left its apartment! “No dummy,” Patrick says, shaking his head, “the authors. There is no way they could make a book like this without being immersed in bad media. I think these imposters were born in the BMTverse. Or maybe even the Z-movie universe.” This is going to be tougher than either of them thought. How can they find two people who never even existed in this world? “Keep reading,” suggests Patrick, stumped. The book may be their only chance to find any clues.
As the half-cyborg finishes describing the perfect method for whittling a whistle there is a knock at the door. The robot cracks its knuckles. Could be some dweebs. When he opens it there stands his steamy neighbor, Mary. (“this should be good”, thinks Patrick) “Time for church, Cyborg,” she says (Gah!)That’s right! We’re watching The Rite. Now you might be thinking “why would you watch The Rite, a movie that no one remembers coming out?” That’s because believe it or not it’s the 10th (!) anniversary of us starting to watch bad movies. At the time we started, this film was out in theaters and happens to be based on a book. What a coincidence and happy anniversary to us. Let’s go!
The Rite (2011) – BMeTric: 33.2; Notability: 31
StreetCreditReport.com –BMeTric: top 35.6%; Notability: top 50.2%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 15.7% Higher BMeT: Jack and Jill, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World, Shark Night 3D, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, The Roommate, Abduction, Conan the Barbarian, I Don’t Know How She Does It, Zookeeper, Apollo 18, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, The Dilemma, Trespass, Season of the Witch, The Smurfs, The Son of No One, Green Lantern, The Resident, and 29 more; Higher Notability: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Green Lantern, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Cars 2, Jack and Jill, Battle: Los Angeles, Hop, New Year’s Eve, Your Highness, The Smurfs, Immortals, In Time, Red Riding Hood, Johnny English Reborn, I Am Number Four, The Hangover Part II, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Larry Crowne, Priest, and 26 more; Lower RT: Jack and Jill, The Roommate, A Little Bit of Heaven, Beneath the Darkness, Hick, Abduction, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Dream House, New Year’s Eve, The Reunion, Trespass, Red Riding Hood, Season of the Witch, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Atlas Shrugged: Part I, The Moth Diaries, Zookeeper, The Ledge, Something Borrowed, Priest and 14 more; Notes: This is a decent test here, because by both BMeTric and Notability this is kind of meh, but it was one of the worst reviewed of that year … kind of seems like it is just going to be boring though. Even the IMDb rating isn’t as bad as most of the films we’ve been doing recently.
RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – This is I suspect a more realistic film than “The Exorcist,” although not its equal. The real Father Gary Thomas has cited “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005) as more accurate. I admire “The Rite” because while it delivers what I suppose should be called horror, it is atmospheric, its cinematography is eerie and evocative, and the actors enrich it. It has given some thought to exorcism. Grant its assumptions, and it has something to say.
(Hinteresting. Not typical you’ll see Ebert go this far from the rest of the critics. It is an interesting points about the film though. Most people thought it was dull. Ebert grants that, but being somewhat dull is forgivable since at least it has a raison d’etre. Makes sense.)
(Ha! The opening. Someone said they were going to do something ludicrous, The Vatican denied it … that must mean there is a ton of truth to it! I think as long as the film doesn’t pretend exorcisms and possessions are real I’m going to be kind of peachy keen with it. If it does though, I’ll probably end up having a problem.)
Directors – Mikael Håfström – (Known For: Escape Plan; 1408; Evil; Future BMT: Outside the Wire; Derailed; Shanghai; BMT: The Rite; Notes: Swedish, he wrote and directed mostly in Sweden until the 00s when he transitioned to Hollywood. He directs mostly television now.)
Writers – Michael Petroni (written by) – (Known For: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Book Thief; The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys; Future BMT: Backtrack; Till Human Voices Wake Us; BMT: Queen of the Damned; The Rite; Notes: He’s written a few different possession films. He also seemed to make good money adapting books with religious themes into films.)
Matt Baglio (book) (suggestion) – (BMT: The Rite; Notes: He has basically just does a few exorcism things as far as Hollywood is concerned. It seems likely that the female journalist in the film is supposed to be him, while Colin O’Donoghue is Gary Thomas.)
Actors – Colin O’Donoghue – (Known For: Carrie Pilby; Storage 24; What Still Remains; BMT: The Rite; Notes: Played Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time. Is Irish and was the guitarist for the band The Enemies, but had to quit to pursue acting full time.)
Anthony Hopkins – (Known For: Thor: Ragnarok; The Silence of the Lambs; Thor; The Father; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; A Bridge Too Far; Thor: The Dark World; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Meet Joe Black; Legends of the Fall; Red Dragon; The Elephant Man; Mission: Impossible II; The Two Popes; Chaplin; Noah; Fracture; RED 2; Beowulf; The Mask of Zorro; Future BMT: Alexander; Misconduct; Freejack; Go with Me; The Wolfman; Slipstream; Desperate Hours; Collide; Kidnapping Freddy Heineken; All the King’s Men; 360; Solace; Instinct; The Innocent; Surviving Picasso; The Trial; Hannibal; The City of Your Final Destination; August; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; Bad Company; The Rite; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for A Change of Seasons in 1981; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 2018 for Collide, and Transformers: The Last Knight; Notes: Y’all know Anthony Hopkins. Good news for him, he just got the Covid-19 vaccine!)
Ciarán Hinds – (Known For: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2; Red Sparrow; There Will Be Blood; First Man; Frozen; Frozen 2; Munich; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Silence; In Bruges; Road to Perdition; John Carter; Miami Vice; Excalibur; The Woman in Black; The Sum of All Fears; Race to Witch Mountain; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover; The Debt; Bleed for This; Future BMT: Mary Reilly; Salvation Boulevard; The Weight of Water; Justice League; McCanick; The Statement; The Tiger’s Tail; The Nativity Story; The Phantom of the Opera; BMT: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Hitman: Agent 47; The Rite; Notes: From Northern Ireland. Apparently is a close friend of Liam Neeson.)
(Borderline. I’m kind of surprised it made more money internationally … is there be big religious / exorcism market outside of the US? I could believe it.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (37/173): Anthony Hopkins is as excellent as ever, but he’s no match for The Rite’s dawdling pace and lack of chills — or Colin O’Donoghue’s tentative performance in the leading role.
(Hmmm, too bad, because I don’t think you could really do this film with anything but an unknown in the lead role. It needs that balance with Hopkins do there isn’t a competition basically. Reviewer Highlight: The Rite commits the supreme sin of making the devil dull. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)
(A yes, nothing gets the butts in the seats like a giant poster of Anthony Hopkins’ face. The Elephant Man himself. The box office draw of Hearts of Atlantis. Anyway, I do like a lot about this poster… but the size of Hopkins’ face is making me uncomfortable. B.)
Tagline(s) – You can only defeat it when you believe. (C-)
(That is more or less the plot of the book. It basically lays out the argument for why demonic possession is real this way: how could it not be real if so many people believe in it… so faith basically. And yes, you can only defeat it by believing in it because otherwise there isn’t anything to defeat in the first place. Bravo. The tagline is confusing and doesn’t sound right in my ears. But it’s just boring, not offensive.)
Top 10: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Ready Player One (2018), Goodfellas (1990), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Forrest Gump (1994), Le Mans ’66 (2019), A Simple Favour (2018), Fight Club (1999), Die Hard (1988), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Future BMT: 65.2 The Turning (2020), 56.5 Snow Dogs (2002), 55.9 The Stepford Wives (2004), 53.1 Hanging Up (2000), 49.7 Abandon (2002), 44.3 Thomas and the Magic Railroad (2000), 42.1 Village of the Damned (1995), 39.1 Krippendorf’s Tribe (1998), 38.0 Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (2011), 37.0 Deal of the Century (1983);
BMT: Something Borrowed (2011), Striptease (1996), Eragon (2006), Cocktail (1988), Kiss the Girls (1997), Gangster Squad (2013), What to Expect When You’re Expecting (2012), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), The Rite (2011), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001), Deadly Friend (1986), I Dreamed of Africa (2000)
(Below average notability for a based on a book film. I think this is the lesser of the two keywords (the other being Based on a Novel). Here, obviously, we have a great future film in Krippendorf’s Tribe … yeah that film is a load of shit.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 15) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Ciarán Hinds is No. 5 billed in The Rite and No. 2 billed in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 5 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 15. If we were to watch Instinct, and Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 13.
Notes – Mikael Håfström attended exorcisms to prepare for directing this movie. He was not allowed to witness them, but he could hear what was happening from outside the door. (… alright then)
The language Istvan Kovak (Rutger Hauer) speaks is Hungarian. It can be translated as: “My love, my flower, my bliss.”
Shipped to theaters under the code name “Denial”.
Alice Braga (Angeline) is the niece of Sonia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)).
The film is based off a book, which centres around real-life priest Father Gary Thomas from California. He was tasked by his bishop to become the diocesan exorcist and so was sent to Rome to learn how to do it.
The writing on Father Lucas Trevant’s (Sir Anthony Hopkins’) wall (“Fi sydd biau fe nawr”) is Welsh (just like Hopkins), and translates to “He belongs to me now”.
The image used to describe the demon Baal is usually that of a man, a cat, a toad, or a combination of all of them. Father Lucas Trevant’s (Sir Anthony Hopkins’) house is infested with cats, as well as toads in the fountain.
Solo is just a robot who feels a little too much. So when his program prevents him from killing civilians as collateral damage, the US military tanks the project. But Solo escapes and makes his home in a peaceful village that needs his help. Can he protect the village and evade capture by the US before it’s too late? Find out in… Solo.
How?! Solo is the ultimate fighting machine… except for the whole part where his advanced AI system has taught itself to care about human life. ‘Dang,’ thinks the US military, ‘we can’t have this weapon caring about humans,’ so they scrap the project and set Solo up for a memory wipe. Sensing that this is the equivalent to a death sentence for him, Solo decides to escape and heads deep into the jungles of [insert anonymous Central American country]. There he finds a peaceful village who helps him get back up and running. The village is constantly terrorized by some anonymous rebels and Solo helps them learn how to defend themselves. This involves mostly montages and laughing. They successfully drive the rebels off, but this gets interest from the military. They send in an eeeevil black ops group who teams up with the rebels to overtake the village and hold Solo’s friends hostage. Returning to the village, Solo basically owns everyone cause he is a killer robot and is way faster and stronger. I mean, come on. He’s got robot muscles and junk… it’s really no competition. That is until the military drops in a new, advanced black ops killer robot and Solo is like ‘oh, shit.’ They do battle in an ancient temple where it looks like the bigger, badder robot is going to win, but they forgot one thing: love. Solo is able to use the uniquely human skills he learned from the villagers (like bluffing) to fool the eeevil android and kill him. Everyone assumes both robots died, but not so fast… methinks Solo may be out there somewhere laughing his robot ass off and loving life. THE END.
Why?! Why indeed. Solo just wants to live and to figure out what living means for him. In the book there is a lot of concern that he’ll end up basically being Skynet once he figures out that all the ills of the Earth are caused by humans so that’s why there is so much urgency to get out and kill him. It’s hinted that Solo loves amnimals and the implication is that if left to his own devices it’s actually more likely he would just become the greatest zoologist of all time because that’s his passion… which is kind of nice… until he figures out that humans are killing all the amnimals.
Who?! Probably the best aspect of the film is that the super duper badass robot they bring in after Solo kills William Sadler’s eeevil black ops character is a… William Sadler robot. First of all, not the most intimidating model of your killer robot. Second, is that a dual role I smell? Not too many films I can think of off the top of my head where someone has a dual role: one human, one robot. Nice.
What?! Is Solo a MacGuffin. That’s the question I have to ask… literally because I can’t think of anything else to do for this section. I mean, he’s an object of incredible power that everyone wants to get their hands on and his capture is central to the plot. That sure sounds like a Solo MacGuffin to me.
Where?! The book is very explicitly set in Nicaragua, but that is not made clear here. It’s definitely Mesoamerica given the spanish speaking population and the ball game that is shown being played, but given that by 1996 it no longer made sense for it to involve the Contras it seemed like they just left it ambiguous. D
When?! Just like the location, it seems like when this is set is just an ambiguous present. The world is almost like a cartoon… there isn’t much in the way of reality to hang onto. Would have loved for them to give us a Mesoamerican specific holiday to really spice this part up. Alas. F.
Solo is based on a book called Weapon. The film follows the plot pretty closely, although the book goes much more in depth on the philosophy of what an AI machine like Solo might do when confronted with the ethical questions of war and is more of the time, being set during the American anti-communist efforts using the Contras in Nicaragua. It started off pretty badly, but I rather enjoyed it by the end. Not a half bad beach read if you’re looking for a little techno-action. They really dumbed it down when it came to this (should have been straight-to-video) schlock. 1996 must have really been peak action if this managed to make it into theaters. You can tell a little by Seagal and JCVD. Just a mere two years later and they were in the straight-to-video realm after both releasing two (!) films in 1996. The script is bad, everything looks cheap, and they even whip out a crazy nonsense ending involving a robot William Sadler. At that point it seemed like even the director gave up. At least we had some explosions and the main character was a robot so there wasn’t an unnecessary love interest… although that would have been hilarious and great. In fact, I count that against the film. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! When you think of action star, you think Mario Van Peebles. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – The thing that really stands out for Solo is that the poster absolutely looks awful. Like, comically bad. Other than that I welcome the return of Mario Van Peebles who we last saw in Highlander: The Final Dimension I think. So yeah … he isn’t a great actor, or at least he was in some wild films in the mid-90s. The film seems like a borderline straight-to-DVD knockoff of Terminator 2. That has to be fun … right? What were my expectations? Basically a straight-to-video film from the mid-90s. Which can definitely be fun, especially with someone like Mario Van Peebles in the lead. But there is an outside shot it is just boring.
The Good – This is the type of straight-to-video film I would dig watching as a BMT Friend. Big robot arm guns, ripping off the plot of Seven Samurai, poorly directed action. Like, yeah, sign me up. Feels a bit like Sudden Death with Van Damme in that regard. There is probably a kind of worthwhile message about the US military-industrial complex hidden in there (as with so many films of the 90s). And the film can be funny at times. Best Bit: Light 90s action.
The Bad – Some reviews suggest Van Peebles is okay, but I really don’t get it. He’s acting like a robot, sure, but it feels like either a play off of Arnold in The Terminator without being an enormous bodybuilder, or just a “beep boop I am a robot” schtick from a cable movie. The storyline is generic and boring, and the twists at the end are obvious. The acting (including Adrian Brody) is awful as well. It is hard to point at a single thing (the explosions maybe?) and say it was done well. This film feels like a straight-to-video film because that is what it is. They just accidentally released it to theaters for some reason. Fatal Flaw: Looks like garbage.
The BMT – In some small way this is exactly what BMT is meant to do, find those forgotten films, resurrect them, and mine them for BMT gold. There is no gold in these hills. I have no interest in watching this film again. I have no interest in recommending this film to anyone. Even trying to search for a related bad movie for the You Just Got Schooled section was basically impossible, the only possible analogues are garbage like Runaway starring Tom Selleck. Did it meet my expectations? No, sadly. Most straight-to-video films from the 90s are amusingly entertaining in some small way. There is nothing here. As I feared, the film is merely boring. Pass.
Roast-radamus – Very very borderline Setting as a Character (Where?) for … Central America I guess? There are definitely some Mayan ruins in the film. It isn’t a great setting, but it is a character. It does have a pretty great Worst Twist (How?) for the eeeevil colonel not being the final boss after all, instead a robot version of him with a gun arm is! That’s fun. The film is a BMT I think, just because of Peeble’s bizarre performance and the improbable elevative of the film above its seemingly inevitable straight-to-video quality.
Sequel, Prequel, Streaming – So after the original’s origin story for Solo I think the sequel needs to get serious. And what could be more serious in these trying times than a hard boiled Washington political drama? Solo is elected as a Senator representing Florida (which is where he settled due to his snake wrangling abilities). Our robot friend is trying to revamp a flagging VA office, but gets wrapped up in a scandal when his field reports are leaked to the press. Can Solo navigate the minefield that is modern political discourse to figure out who is trying to take him down? Find out in Solo Goes the Washington. Twist ending, the President is a robot, the ultimate military weapon: a robotic Commander in Chief, which sets up the finale to the trilogy, President Solo.
You Just Got Schooled – There wasn’t anything that popped out to me that seemed like a good Schooled movie this week. With Hall of Fame inductions coming up I think I’ll start skipping it in lieu of watching some of those during the week.
On man, so get this. I’m a robot, you see, and I decide to escape because they are going to reboot me. But then I crash my helicopter and I totally can’t remember anything! Can you remember what happened in Solo?
Pop Quiz Hot Shot!
1) What is the first mission the Solo prototype is sent on?
2) What directive is violated in that mission which results in its failure and ultimately the termination of the Solo program?
3) When trying to decide on a face to give Solo what person does the robot see which he ultimately uses to determine which soldier to base him on?
4) What do the villages think Solo is when he comes back to life at his funeral?
5) Solo agrees to help the villagers from the beginning of the film in exchange for what?
Bonus Question: How long does Solo stay in the village after the events of the film?