Money Train Preview

Jamie and Patrick wait by the train tracks whistling a jaunty tune. Their bags are packed for Delaware and they are feeling good. Real good. Good Movie Twins is up and running and they even have their first movie picked out. Jamie stares down at their mint DVD copy of Citizen Kane. “What’s this one about again? I hope it’s a biopic of Carol Kane,” Jamie says hopefully before starting to get antsy. “Where is this train? When are we gonna get to Delllaawwwaarreeeee?” he whines and Patrick sighs. He pulls out their Good Movie Twins Rulez are Coolz card. “Rule #3 – Trains, Planes, and Cranes,” he mutters and Jamie perks up. “All those are great… is there a train, plane or crane in Citizen Kane?” he asks, but before Patrick can respond he feels a tap on his shoulder. “Hello, you young whippersnappers, I was hoping that perhaps you were a couple of good boys who could help an old man with his luggage.” Jamie and Patrick look at each other and then at the old man. He has a mass of frizzy white hair, tiny bifocals and a newsboy hat… in fact everything about him screams OLD… suspiciously so. But before Patrick can voice his skepticism the old man takes note of Jamie’s DVD. “Oh, boy Citizen Kane. That one is my favorite. No trains, planes or cranes. Although trains and planes are a big part of a lot of good films.” Suddenly Patrick sees an opportunity for GMT research. Instead of brushing off this suspicious old man he instead crosses off Cranes from Rule #3 and agrees to help him just as their train pulls in. With their moods only further enhanced, Patrick and Jamie put on their sunglasses. “This train is gonna be money.” That’s right! We’re watching the moniest of trains in Money Train. No it’s not a train made of money, it’s just an armored subway train that contains boatloads of money… specifically on New Years Eve. You ready for a countdown? Let’s go!

Money Train (1995) – BMeTric: 41.1; Notability: 54 – BMeTric: top 9.6%; Notability: top 4.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 16.7%; Higher BMeT: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Vampire in Brooklyn, Showgirls, Fair Game, Jury Duty, Batman Forever, Congo, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Theodore Rex, The Babysitter, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Judge Dredd, Nine Months, The Scarlet Letter, Johnny Mnemonic, Virtuosity, Jade, and 4 more; Higher Notability: Batman Forever, Congo, Judge Dredd, Cutthroat Island, Virtuosity, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Showgirls, Stuart Saves His Family, Four Rooms, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers; Lower RT: National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, Delta of Venus, The Big Green, Jury Duty, Theodore Rex, The Walking Dead, Born to Be Wild, Top Dog, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, The Hunted, It Takes Two, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Bushwhacked, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Fair Game, Vampire in Brooklyn, Canadian Bacon, The Scarlet Letter, Four Rooms, Jade, and 19 more; Notes: Loving that notability for a 90s film. How we haven’t seen Under Siege 2: Dark Territory yet is beyond me. Same goes for Jury Duty.

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  The costars of White Men Can’t Jump try to reignite their chemistry as randy N.Y.C. transit cops – and brothers (!) – who fight over the same woman, argue over Woody’s gambling fever, and get involved in the theft of a money-laden subway car. Violent, overly contrived buddy flick with some big subterranean action scenes. The stars are funny together, but Blake is way over the top as the boys’ megalomaniac supervisor. All in all, “token” entertainment.

(Token, get it? Like subway tokens. Blake is indeed insane, and gambling fever? Woody should get that checked out. I give this review 3 Maltins. That’s out of four. Needed mor esemi-colons.)

Trailer –

(I remember this trailer so well! I remember the explanation of them being brothers being on constantly. Have to say … this trailer is rocking. I’m amped to watch this movie now.)

DirectorsJoseph Ruben – ( Known For: The Stepfather; Dreamscape; The Ottoman Lieutenant; Return to Paradise; Blindsided; The Pom Pom Girls; True Believer; The Sister in Law; Gorp; Joyride; Our Winning Season; Future BMT: The Good Son; The Forgotten; BMT: Sleeping with the Enemy; Money Train; Notes: This basically ended his major motion picture run he was one from 1987 to 1995. Wrote Dreamscape.)

WritersDoug Richardson – ( Known For: Bad Boys; Die Hard 2; Future BMT: Hostage; BMT: Welcome to Mooseport; Money Train; Notes: His one-two punch of Money Train and Bad Boys in 1995 is something else. I assume he’s a script doctor, otherwise his credits make no sense.)

David Loughery – ( Known For: Shattered; Fatale; End of the Road; Lakeview Terrace; Nurse; Dreamscape; Blindsided; Flashback; Future BMT: The Three Musketeers; Obsessed; Passenger 57; Tom and Huck; BMT: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; The Intruder; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in 1990; Notes: Tom and Huck and The Three Musketeers. He’s like a case study in adapting classic literature poorly.)

ActorsWesley Snipes – ( Known For: Blade; Coming 2 America; Blade II; To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar; King of New York; Major League; New Jack City; White Men Can’t Jump; Dolemite Is My Name; Waiting to Exhale; Chaos; Jungle Fever; Brooklyn’s Finest; Undisputed; Cut Throat City; Gallowwalkers; Mo’ Better Blues; One Night Stand; Chi-Raq; The Recall; Future BMT: U.S. Marshals; Blade: Trinity; Passenger 57; Wildcats; Murder at 1600; The Fan; Drop Zone; The Art of War; Sugar Hill; Play It to the Bone; Boiling Point; Streets of Gold; BMT: The Expendables 3; Rising Sun; Demolition Man; Money Train; Notes: Back doing movies like Coming 2 America and was just in the mini series True Story. Spent a shade over two years in prison for tax evasion.)

Woody Harrelson – ( Known For: Triangle of Sadness; The Hunger Games; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; No Country for Old Men; Out of the Furnace; Seven Psychopaths; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Solo: A Star Wars Story; Friends with Benefits; Zombieland; The Man from Toronto; Venom: Let There Be Carnage; Now You See Me; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2; Midway; Natural Born Killers; The Edge of Seventeen; The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1; The Thin Red Line; Zombieland: Double Tap; Future BMT: Venom; Indecent Proposal; Now You See Me 2; Seven Pounds; Wildcats; Semi-Pro; After the Sunset; Free Birds; The Cowboy Way; Palmetto; Play It to the Bone; BMT: 2012; Money Train; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor for Indecent Proposal in 1994; Notes: Made famous as Woody on Cheers. Nominated three times for Oscars for Three Billboards, The Messenger, and The People vs. Larry Flynt. Nominated 8 times for Emmys, five times for Cheers (he won once), and for Frasier, Game Change, and True Detective.)

Jennifer Lopez – ( Known For: Shotgun Wedding; Marry Me; Hustlers; Out of Sight; The Cell; Home; Second Act; Antz; U Turn; Parker; Selena; Jersey Girl; Shall We Dance; An Unfinished Life; My Family; Lila & Eve; Bordertown; Blood and Wine; El cantante; My Little Girl; Future BMT: Maid in Manhattan; Ice Age: Collision Course; Enough; Jack; Ice Age: Continental Drift; The Wedding Planner; The Back-up Plan; Monster-in-Law; Angel Eyes; Feel the Noise; BMT: The Boy Next Door; Anaconda; What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Gigli; Money Train; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress, and Worst Screen Couple for Gigli in 2004; Nominee for Worst Actress in 2002 for Angel Eyes, and The Wedding Planner; in 2003 for Enough, and Maid in Manhattan; in 2006 for Monster-in-Law; and in 2016 for The Boy Next Door; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress in 2005 for Jersey Girl; and in 2013 for What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Nominee for Worst Actress of the Decade in 2010 for Angel Eyes, Enough, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law, and The Wedding Planner; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Jersey Girl in 2005; Notes: Nominated for an Emmy for her Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2020. Notably started as a fly girl on In Living Color.)

Budget/Gross – $68 million / Domestic: $35,431,113 (Worldwide: $35,431,113)

(Whoops, that’s terrible! I can see why it didn’t click with people though now that I’ve seen it, it is a bit too self-serious to work on the level of Con Air and others of that ilk.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 22% (7/32): Loud, incoherent, and aimless, Money Train reunites Snipes and Harrelson — and proves that starring duos are far from immune to the law of diminishing returns.

(It is incoherent. I can give it that. You know? I completely forgot these two starred in White Men Can’t Jump. They don’t work as well here as a duo.)

Reviewer Highlight: It’s stupid, but also breezier than the year’s other 12-score releases not worth a second look. – Mike Clark, USA Today

Poster – The Great Train Robbery

(If I could induct a film in the BMT HoF purely off a poster it would be this one. My word! This shit is off the rails (pun very much intended). Look at the majesty of two actors running from a fake train with a look on their faces like “What is this picture for?” The orange glow of the poster hurt my eyes and yet I’m drawn to it like a moth to a money train. Even the font is like “I’m gonna barely try but still be a little unique… just like Money Train.” I hate it… and yet I love it. Starts at a D and then comes all the way around to an A.)

Tagline(s) – Get on the fast track! (D)

(Ha! No! Sorry, that’s horrible. At least it’s short, I guess.)

Keyword(s) – good

Top 10: Good Will Hunting (1997), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), The Great Gatsby (2013), Hot Fuzz (2007), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Man on Fire (2004), The Nice Guys (2016)

Future BMT: 67.3 Phat Girlz (2006), 63.2 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015), 60.6 Like a Boss (2020), 56.2 The Fly II (1989), 51.7 Playing with Fire (2019), 51.6 The Boss (2016), 51.0 Johnny Be Good (1988), 50.6 The Hot Chick (2002), 49.9 Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988), 48.4 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 47.1 Barney’s Great Adventure (1998), 45.1 Fly Me to the Moon 3D (2007), 44.9 Fantastic Four (2005), 40.4 No Good Deed (2014), 39.4 Good Burger (1997), 37.2 The Great Wall (2016), 37.0 Stroker Ace (1983), 36.3 Milk Money (1994), 34.6 Mad Money (2008), 34.3 Mo’ Money (1992)

BMT: Epic Movie (2007), Fantastic Four (2015), The Ridiculous 6 (2015), Cool as Ice (1991), Cool World (1992), A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), Hot Pursuit (2015), One for the Money (2012), Fire Down Below (1997), Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998), Fire Birds (1990), Good Luck Chuck (2007), Be Cool (2005), Chill Factor (1999), Money Train (1995), Hot to Trot (1988), The Golden Child (1986), Righteous Kill (2008), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), The Wizard (1989), Hunter Killer (2018)

Best Options (Action): 48.4 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 44.9 Fantastic Four (2005), 41.0 Money Train (1995), 37.2 The Great Wall (2016), 37.0 Stroker Ace (1983), 34.3 Mo’ Money (1992), 31.3 The Nude Bomb (1980), 24.5 Money Talks (1997), 21.7 One Good Cop (1991), 21.7 Killer Elite (2011), 14.4 The Great Raid (2005), 2.5 Man on Fire (2004)

(Spoilees, we are doing the Fantastic Fours later on, so this was actually the best option. And honestly, it’s by a long shot, there was no way I was watching The Great Wall.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Wesley Snipes is No. 1 billed in Money Train and No. 2 billed in Demolition Man, which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in The Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed) which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (1 + 2) + (1 + 1) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 12. If we were to watch Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 8.

Notes – Two days after the film opened, two men poured gasoline over a ticket booth on the Brooklyn subway and set it alight in an incident similar to the one depicted in the film. The booth attendant was burned and later died of his injuries. Consequently, New York City subway workers called for a boycott of the film and the removal of all the posters from every station. Senator Bob Dole quickly came out in support of them. Columbia Pictures refused to bow to their demands.

This boasts the distinction of having one of the longest sets ever constructed for a film. At over three thousand feet long, twenty feet high, and four railway tracks wide, the set was roughly the same size as two Empire State buildings lying side by side. The original plan was to film in the real New York City subway, but the logistics proved to be too problematic.

Twelve New York City subway cars were shipped over to Los Angeles to the film set. They were converted to run on propane so that the rails on the film set did not need to be electrified, a potential health hazard for all of the crew.

The prop train used for the money train was an actual retired New York City subway train that was destined to be scrapped. After the film was completed, it was donated to the New York City Transit Authority, and currently resides in the Coney Island Rapid Transit Yard.

Most of the subway scenes were filmed on a four thousand-foot-long set built to resemble a typical four-track New York City subway trunkline. It included three stations, all of which were built as local stops with the platforms on the outside of the outer tracks. Included were I-beams between each track, spaced five feet apart just as they are in New York City. The ceiling, however, was much higher than on any actual New York City subway line.

While there are scenes that show R30 class subway trains running on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, this would be physically impossible in reality. Due to New York City’s subway having been constructed by competing companies, trains for the lettered lines would not fit on the numbered lines, as they are too wide. IRT trains are narrower and shorter than BMT/IND trains.

Robert Blake claims that his first meeting with Producer Jon Peters consisted of Peters wrestling Blake to the ground. At the premiere, Blake said Peters told him he wrestled with Blake to see if Blake would lose his temper.

Originally, the movie was developed by Director Tony Scott and Screenwriter Doug Richardson. After some time, Scott left the project and was replaced by Joseph Ruben, who fired Richardson and had the script re-written.

The sex scene between Wesley Snipes and Jennifer Lopez was not in the original script, but was added after filming had begun.

The Wall Street station scenes were filmed at the Union Square station on the IRT Lexington Avenue line. The 33rd Street station is the real one, on the same line. All scenes filmed on the subway set featured retired carbon steel R-30 subway cars, painted red. Scenes filmed on the actual New York City subway featured stainless steel R-62 cars.

The subway car used as the money train in the film is a modified R21 subway car. The car was modified by the Metropolitan Transit Authority and film crew in a way that looks absolutely nothing like the actual revenue collection trains used in the system.


The Wizard Recap


Caaaallliiiffffooooorrrrnnniiiaaaaa. Appropriate as I write this post from that very state. I too was inexorably drawn by the power of video games. Yet when I got here I realized it was never about being a super video game wizard (although certainly a perk), but rather, as Vinny D would say, fambly. *Sniff* It’s beautiful. It’s all somewhat ironic too as the phrase “Caaaalllliiiiffffoooooorrrrnniiiaaaa,” is probably second only to “I love my power glove. It’s so bad” as the quote from the film that has lived on in infamy. Yet California is barely in the film. We get a heaping dose of Utah and then really spend some QT with the GF in Nevada. From there it is like they teleport to Universal Studios. If you grew up with this film you must have imagined California was just a giant theme park where kids grumble about the unfairness of having to battle each other in hotly anticipated video game releases. But California isn’t like that… it isn’t like that at all. I do the research so you don’t have to.

To recap, Jimmy Woods is a boy who is struggling with the death of his twin sister. He barely speaks and spends his time either building elaborate architectural creations or attempting to walk to Caaallliiifffooorrrnnniaaaaa. His stepdad is naturally a horrible caricature dead set on locking the kid away, but Jimmy’s brother Corey won’t have any of that. He grabs Jimmy and sets out for Caaaallliiffffooorrrnnniiiaaa. Their parents are horrified. The dad sets out with their older son in search, while the mom hires an equally horrible caricature of a private investigator to get them back. This leads to numerous clashes between the two all while Corey and Jimmy attempt to find their way out of Utah. Stumbling upon Haley, a girl trying to get home to Reno, they realize that Jimmy is a video game wizard. His natural talents earn them money hustling locals at arcade machines while also pointing them towards the big video game championships in Caaalllliifffooorrrnniiiaa. Why? Because if Jimmy wins the big championship even a horrible caricature of a stepdad couldn’t convince anyone to lock him up. They run into all kinds of trouble, including a local video game legend named Luke who gives them a taste of the Power Glove (it’s so bad) and exactly what the competition at the championships will be like. When they finally arrive in Reno they are able to do a little training and scrape together the funds for the final push to Caaallliiifffooorrnniaaa. At the championships all the worlds collide as they witness Jimmy rise to the finals and ultimately grab the crown. Everyone agrees he can’t be locked up and on the way home they see a roadside dinosaur attraction that the family went to before. Stopping there they realize this is where Jimmy has been aiming the whole time and the wizard is able to finally heal. THE END. 

The Wizard is a funny little movie. The production quality is like an episode of 90210. I use that comparison only because, like in The Wizard, it’s one or the few times that I’ve seen a boom mic drop into frame in the wild. It also cuts forward so fast (even cutting the score midsequence sometimes) that you wonder what kind of editing magic was happening. You add in the unintentional comedy of the Power Glove, a truly insane product placement back story, and some incredible acting choices in the video game competition and you have a minor classic on your hands. I found it interesting that the reviews at the time were very critical of this being an exploitative knockoff of Rain Man and Tommy (but for kids!) but I guess I wonder… is that really a bad thing? Speaking of…

Hot Take Clam Bake! Are we sure making knockoffs of classic films for kids is really a bad thing? Like should I be worried about the artistic purity of a Casablanca knockoff set in a high school? Give it to me. I will eat up any and all high school versions of whatever classic film you give me. High school films are great, coming-of-age stories are great. They don’t make enough of them really. I dare you to watch She’s All That and come away thinking anything other than “that movie was all that and a bag of potato chips. Give me more potato chip movies so I can munch ‘em all up.” The fact that The Wizard is a knockoff of Rain Man and/or Tommy is dope. Hot Take Temperature: Bulgarian Carrot.



‘Ello everyone! Caaaaaaaaalifoooooooooornia. That’s right, after suffering that traumatic event of witnessing The Wizard (and the raw power of the Power Glove, it’s so bad), I have an insatiable need to go to Universal Studios. Let’s go!

  • I watched this film a ton when I was younger. As usual I make no apologies. I like this movie. It is pure nostalgia. I don’t care though, what a silly nonsense movie this is. I would watch it again right now.
  • But boy howdy, do I agree with Roger Ebert: are we sure we should be watching a film in which two (and eventually three) literal children are hitchhiking their way across three states (and like multiple deserts right?) to get to … I mean, initially they just want to get to California, whatever that means. Eventually they decide that they’ve got a video game prodigy on their hands and they are going to make the money their families need to heal (or whatever) at the maybe first ever Video Game Championships in Universal Studios, Lunacy. And even being a little older than I was watching this film most of the time (let’s say like 11?) it is harrowing watching children narrowly avoid dying on highways and junk. What a weird movie.
  • The one two punch of product placement for both The Power Glove (and explicitly Super Mario 3) and Universal Studios is also something else.
  • The stories from wikipedia are fun. Like how the director was told to shoot EVERYTHING in the script. And he’s like “but … then the movie will be three hours. It’ll be a huge waste of money since we’ll have to throw it all out”. But the producers were just like “do it.” So he did … and they cut it down and wasted a boatload of time and money. But that probably is why the film ends up all cut to shit in the end is that huge swaths of boring filler garbage was eventually cut out. Release the Universal Cut you cowards! I want to watch The Wizard as a 3 hour epic.
  • Still to this day I tell random people that I love my Power Glove, and how bad it is. This film has a very weird cult following, but it is also amazing.
  • How does the kid know where to find the secret flute in an unreleased game? Well, maybe because it was already released in Japan months prior? Naw, that can’t be it because then Haley would have been excited instead of angry since they would have been able to know the tricks of the game by calling the hotline in Reno. So since they definitely didn’t know the trick the answer must be … magic I guess? I don’t see how anyone finds that flute the first time you play the game organically. No matter how much of a savant you are, that seems to be pushing it.
  • Obviously an incredible Product Placement (What?) for Nintendo, Super Mario 3, The Power Glove, and Universal Studios. Truly awesome. A great Road Trip Film (Where?) for the kids going from Utah through Nevada to California. A subtle yet I think real MacGuffin (Why?) for Caaaaaaaalifornia as no one really knows why they are going there, and yet it is the central driving force for the film.

Read all about the 35 years in the making sequel The Wizard 2 in the Quiz. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Wizard Quiz

Oh boy. So I was battling this kid, when he pulled out a Power Glove! I couldn’t believe it. It was so bad. It was so bad, in fact, that I immediately got amnesia and couldn’t remember anything afterwards. Only the Power Glove. Nothing else. Do you remember what happened in The Wizard?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Oh man, Fred Savage’s family’s been split up! And his brother is basically non-verbal due to PTSD. What happened to him?

2) Well Freddy is going to help his brother out. His brother wants to go to one place. What is that place and (as we will eventually find out) why?

3) But before they figure that out, they end up finding out that Jimmy’s a video game Wizard for real. So they are off to hustle random adults in rest stop restaurants and then eventually to the video game championships. Where is it?

4) On the way they meet Haley, a street smart girl who is on her way home. Where does she live, and what (not very appropriate for children) game is she incredible at.

5) At the championship Jimmy ultimately prevails in playing what game by finding what ultra secret?

Bonus Question: It is 20 years in the future. Where are all out Wizard friends?


The Wizard Preview

Jamie and Patrick walk the streets of New York City. “We need rulez,” Patrick says, pounding his fist into his gloved hand and pulling his coat tight against the winter chill. No matter how many crisp, cool Bud Lights they drink they keep arriving back at the standard 9 rulez of BMT. Jamie stops and pulls out the laminated BMT rule card they carry around. Number 1 was “Full Body Burns = Rad.” He considers this rule but can’t find fault with it. “They are rad,” he mumbles, disappointed. Suddenly Patrick has an idea. He takes out a marker and uses it to cross out Rule #1 in order to write “CGI.” Jamie frowns, but has to admit that pretty much everything great now has lots of CGI. “So you’re saying we just have to come up with equal but opposite rulez for GMT. OK. Well what’s rule number 2?” Jamie asks, hoping this one works out better. Patrick looks at the card again, “Uh, let’s see. Rule #2 – Settings = Awesome” Now they’re both frowning. Settings are awesome. Who doesn’t like a big time film set at Christmas, New Years, or the Fourth of July? Who wouldn’t want to watch a Hawaii vacation, a glamorous Hollywood night, or a crazy time in the Big Ap… suddenly they stop. They look around at winter in NYC. The cold skyscrapers. The slushy streetz. The salt strewn sidewalks. “Too gritty,” Patrick says. “Too grand,” Jamie agrees. “We need to get out of this dump. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Patrick asks. Jamie nods his head and croons, “Delaware,” extending the word for real effect. With that they cross off Rule #2 and replace it with “Settings = Boring.” Patrick puts on a pair of real cool sunglasses and smirks, “That’s wizard.” That’s right! We’re not heading to Delaware, we’re heading to Caaallliiifffoorrrnniiiaaa for a viewing of the cult classic (at least in our cult) The Wizard. Starring Fred Savage (but let’s be real, mostly Super Mario Bros 3) this was a staple of our childhood. It’s time to revisit it and see what all the hubbub was about. I’m sure it’s wizard. Let’s go!

The Wizard (1989) – BMeTric: 27.2; Notability: 22 – BMeTric: top 12.8%; Notability: top 21.6%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 18.3%; Higher BMeT: Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Wild Orchid, Cyborg, The Karate Kid Part III, The Fly II, No Holds Barred, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Cutting Class, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, DeepStar Six, Pink Cadillac, The Toxic Avenger Part II, Shocker, The Punisher, The January Man, The Horror Show, Leviathan, and 12 more; Higher Notability: Tango & Cash, Troop Beverly Hills, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Fletch Lives, Harlem Nights, Leviathan, Listen to Me, Lock Up, Pink Cadillac, Family Business, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, Millennium, Three Fugitives, Dead Bang, Let It Ride, Renegades, Slaves of New York, The Karate Kid Part III, and 34 more; Lower RT: Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, Worth Winning, The Toxic Avenger Part II, The Horror Show, Stepfather II: Make Room for Daddy, Night Game, Second Sight, Wired, Dream a Little Dream, No Holds Barred, Rooftops, Wild Orchid, She’s Out of Control, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Millennium, Chattahoochee, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, The Blood of Heroes, and 23 more; Notes: I mean, those scores look right for a not-so-bad masterpiece right? For a film where I knew at the end I would say “sure me I liked it.” – 1.0 stars – “The Wizard” is one of those movies that provokes the Hey, Wait a Minute Syndrome – you know, the kind where you keep saying things like, “Hey, wait a minute. How could a 9-year-old boy walk miles along a desert highway without being noticed?” Or “Wait a minute. Do you mean to say a trucker wouldn’t even stop if he saw two little kids coasting down an interstate highway on a skateboard?” Or “Wait a minute. Do businessmen on their lunch hours really gamble on video games with little kids?” Or “Wait a minute. Could three little kids (for their ranks have swelled by now) really make it from Utah to Los Angeles without anything terrible happening to them?” But wait a minute. I know, I know, “The Wizard” is only a silly Christmas kiddie movie, and we aren’t supposed to ask questions like that. But we must. In an age when child abduction is the subject of half the TV docudramas and all of the milk cartons, how are we supposed to blind ourselves to the central fact of this movie, which is that a 13-year-old boy and his 9-year-old brother, accompanied part of the way by a 13-year-old girl, manage to walk, hitchhike and con themselves all the way from Utah to the National Video Game Championships in L.A.? The movie is filled with shots of these little kids walking down highways, and hitching rides, and walking into bars and video parlors and Reno gambling casinos, and there wasn’t a moment when I didn’t question the sanity of the film and fear for their safety. It was only after the three kids arrived safely at the championships that I began to question the ethics of the film, which is, among other things, a thinly disguised commercial for Nintendo video games and the Universal studio tour.

(Honestly, Roger Ebert nailing it. This film reads much much much differently as an adult than as a child. Much like Dutch, you see the penultimate scene in that film and think about the kid walking along a highway and think that Dutch is a psycho. This is the same. As a kid it seems like magical nonsense. As an adult it is a harrowing tale of three children almost getting killed on the highways of America. And yeah … it is all under the guise of a commercial specifically for Super Mario Bros. 3.)

Trailer –

(A touch of romance? Kids’ films are so weird. And this one especially. It is a real trip, traveling a thousand miles across the country is just very stress inducing. And then this trailer being maybe the first real life footage of Super Mario 3 people saw? Wowza.)

DirectorsTodd Holland – ( Future BMT: Krippendorf’s Tribe; Firehouse Dog; BMT: The Wizard; Notes: Mostly a television director. He created and wrote Wonderfalls, including directing 5 episodes.)

WritersDavid Chisholm – ( BMT: The Wizard; Notes: Wrote a show called Over My Dead body which has 51 votes on IMDb … dare me to watch all of it? I’ll make a podcast about it. Mostly wrote TV movies.)

ActorsFred Savage – ( Known For: The Princess Bride; Austin Powers in Goldmember; The Rules of Attraction; Little Monsters; The Boy Who Could Fly; Vice Versa; The Last Run; Future BMT: Super Troopers 2; BMT: The Wizard; Welcome to Mooseport; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Daddy Day Camp in 2008; Notes: Was nominated for two Emmys for The Wonder Years. Does a ton of television directing now. Too bad we can’t watch Little Monsters for BMT. Only 9 reviews though so … maybe someday.)

Luke Edwards – ( Known For: American Pie 2; The Super; Malicious; Mother’s Boys; Guilty by Suspicion; A Beginner’s Guide to Snuff; Future BMT: Newsies; Jeepers Creepers 2; Little Big League; BMT: The Wizard; Notes: Still acts a ton on television. Including an episode of NCIS, noice.)

Jenny Lewis – ( Known For: Bolt; Pleasantville; Don’s Plum; Foxfire; Big Girls Don’t Cry… They Get Even; Little Boy Blue; Trading Hearts; Future BMT: Troop Beverly Hills; BMT: The Wizard; Notes: A genuine rock star, she was lead vocals for the band Rilo Kiley and even apparently did some backup vocals for The Postal Service.)

Budget/Gross – $6 million / Domestic: $14,278,900 (Worldwide: $14,278,900)

(Actually, that’s fine. A $6 million dollar commercial and certainly they got their money’s worth. And guess what? Super Mario Bros. 3? Huge game. So yet more proof that The Wizard was indeed wizard.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 27% (6/22)

(Oooo a consensus: This can join Mac and Me and Leonard Part 6 as one of the great movies-that-are-actually-commericals. And it’s also the best of the bunch.)

Reviewer Highlight: Video-addicted kids may well find this exciting, but for anyone old enough to stay out later than 9 P.M. it’s a distinct bore. – Janet Maslin, New York Times

Poster – The Sklizzard

(Hell yeah. I love my Wizard poster. It’s so bad. That’s so bad, in fact, that its come back around and is now an A. Too much nonsense to really comment on. Besides Mario are the other video game images from games? What game is that snake from? A+ font work. When I’m teaching my poster analysis class this will be the font example.)

Tagline(s) – They’re on a cross-country adventure to the world’s greatest video championship. It’s more than a game…it’s the chance of a lifetime. (C)

(Nope. I’ve already stopped reading. Why not just that last sentence. It’s more than a game… it’s the change of a lifetime. That’s good. You ruined it with all those other words.)

Keyword(s) – good

Top 10: Good Will Hunting (1997), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), The Great Gatsby (2013), Hot Fuzz (2007), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Man on Fire (2004), The Nice Guys (2016)

Future BMT: 67.3 Phat Girlz (2006), 63.2 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015), 60.6 Like a Boss (2020), 56.2 The Fly II (1989), 51.7 Playing with Fire (2019), 51.6 The Boss (2016), 51.0 Johnny Be Good (1988), 50.6 The Hot Chick (2002), 49.9 Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988), 48.4 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 47.1 Barney’s Great Adventure (1998), 45.1 Fly Me to the Moon 3D (2007), 44.9 Fantastic Four (2005), 40.4 No Good Deed (2014), 39.4 Good Burger (1997), 37.2 The Great Wall (2016), 37.0 Stroker Ace (1983), 36.3 Milk Money (1994), 34.6 Mad Money (2008), 34.3 Mo’ Money (1992)

BMT: Epic Movie (2007), Fantastic Four (2015), The Ridiculous 6 (2015), Cool as Ice (1991), Cool World (1992), A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), Hot Pursuit (2015), One for the Money (2012), Fire Down Below (1997), Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998), Fire Birds (1990), Good Luck Chuck (2007), Be Cool (2005), Chill Factor (1999), Money Train (1995), Hot to Trot (1988), The Golden Child (1986), Righteous Kill (2008), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), The Wizard (1989), Hunter Killer (2018)

Best Options (Comedy): 67.3 Phat Girlz (2006), 63.2 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015), 60.6 Like a Boss (2020), 51.7 Playing with Fire (2019), 51.6 The Boss (2016), 51.0 Johnny Be Good (1988), 50.6 The Hot Chick (2002), 49.9 Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988), 47.1 Barney’s Great Adventure (1998), 39.4 Good Burger (1997), 37.0 Stroker Ace (1983), 36.3 Milk Money (1994), 34.6 Mad Money (2008), 34.3 Mo’ Money (1992), 32.1 Good Deeds (2012), 31.3 The Nude Bomb (1980), 28.8 A Good Man in Africa (1994), 27.1 The Wizard (1989), 24.5 Money Talks (1997), 24.0 Isn’t She Great (2000), 22.3 Hot Pursuit (1987), 21.9 Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995), 21.6 For Love or Money (1993), 19.1 Other People’s Money (1991), 14.3 Hot Rod (2007), 10.6 A Good Year (2006)

(So many good options here, but you best believe we weren’t giving up an opportunity to use the word “wizard” as slang for good. Also, The Wizard is a film I’ve seen four or five times and I kind of unironically love it as a kids’ movie.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 17) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Christian Slater is No. 5 billed in The Wizard and No. 4 billed in Mindhunters, which also stars LL Cool J (No. 3 billed) who is in Rollerball (No. 2 billed) which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => (5 + 4) + (3 + 2) + (1 + 2) = 17. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – The movie has developed a cult following, with movie-themed retro gaming tournaments hosted across the country. Luke Edwards, Fred Savage, and Jenny Lewis have made appearances at these events.

Beau Bridges and Christian Slater both admitted they had little to no interest in video games when they were cast. They played during filming, and became fans.

The dinosaurs in the film are a real-life tourist attraction at what was once the Wheel Inn Restaurant in Cabazon, CA, near Palm Springs. They also appeared in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and in the music video for Night Ranger: Sing Me Away (1983).

Participating theaters distributed issues of “Pocket Power,” a pocket-sized version of “Nintendo Power” magazine.

The original pitch for the movie was “The Karate Kid (1984), but with video games.”

The literal translations of some of this film’s foreign language titles include: “Joy Stick Heroes” (Germany), “Sweet Road” (Japan), “The Wizard of Videogames” (Italy and Brazil), “Videokid” (France), “The Champion of Videogames” (Spain), “Gameboy” (Sweden), “Game Over” (Finland), and “The Child Genius” (Canadian French).

When Lucas plays Rad Racer (1987) with his Power Glove, he presses five keys that each play a different musical note. The 5 sequential tones is the famous five-tone musical phrase in a major scale (D’ E’ C’ C G) that the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) used to communicate with the Earthlings, and vice versa.

Haley finds the Video Armageddon ad in the July 1989 issue of Video Games and Computer Entertainment. The cover story is the US debut of the TurboGrafx-16 by NEC Home Electronics and designed by Hudson Soft. It had been released 2 years earlier in Japan, as the PC Engine, and outsold its competitors there, including the Famicom (the Japanese name of the Nintendo Entertainment System). It was less successful in the US.

The smoking effects on the casserole seen early in the film were done using a technique called “AB Smoke,” in which one chemical is applied to a surface, and another is later applied, which reacts with it, creating the smoke effect.

After several rejections, the producers got permission to shoot in a Reno casino when they let a state official’s kids meet Fred Savage, who was also starring on The Wonder Years (1988) at the time. The state official’s kids were filmed as extras, but according to the special edition Blu-ray commentary, their scenes were cut.

The tour guide at Universal Studios mentioned a movie title Mayhem in Monte Carlo starring Zsa Zsa Gabor and Paul Reubens (as Pee Wee Herman) in the romantic leads. The movie doesn’t exist.

The truck that Spankey is driving when the trucks block the road in front of the P.I. is the same truck used in Over the Top (1987) starring Sylvester Stallone as Hawk. It still has HAWK written on the door.

The structure Jimmy builds with toy blocks in the beginning resembles the Video Armageddon stage at the end of the film.

Even tho he is uncredited Toby maguire first movie appearance extra.