I went into the theater for Keeping Up with the Joneses thinking the worst. It would be like Unfinished Business where you hate everyone and the jokes are lame or offensive. I can say that I was wrong. The jokes weren’t offensive in the least (their lameness is a different story) and the characters were at least sympathetic enough that you could sit and enjoy their story. Unfortunately the script was half-baked. Maybe they pushed it out the door too quickly or rewrote it one too many times, but the pacing was way off for what is purportedly a comedy/action film. To the point where a major car chase scene occurs and it plays out like an episode of Chuck (nailed that relevant reference!). Does this all add to a 21% on RT? I don’t think so since I actually liked the characters and somewhat enjoyed watching their story. But, who cares? This is definitely not getting a Razzie nomination, emirite? ….
Keeping Up with the Joneses is a film that could have gotten away with not having a setting since it is set in an innocuous small-ish US city. It almost seems out of sheer laziness that this film ended up being explicitly set in Atlanta, Georgia. This is as ‘meh’ a physical location case as we can get for Settings 101: Fire Engine says “Atlanta”, Georgia license plates, and small ‘Atlanta’ signs next to a hotel and company. Cool story, bro. Straight up C, obviously. Could have been Nashville or Kansas City or Salt Lake City, etc. But since they filmed in Atlanta, why not? As for the temporal setting we know that the entire film is set in a two week span in June. Not only do we see Galifianakis’ kids sent off to summer camp in the beginning (implying June), but a big cookout in the middle of the film is called “Junetoberfest.” Oh yeah, and the film opens with a house exploding and Zach Galifianakis telling us that his neighborhood was “the safest place to be until two week earlier.” So clearly June… probably 2015. While an exact date is not provided to us directly, we do catch a glimpse of an alarm clock that appears to say that the date is June 13th (hard to tell since I can’t pause and rewind a film in theaters). Given that the day when we see the clock is probably Saturday, then we have a soft date of June 13th, 2015 that the film centers around. That also sounds like a C. While both settings are pretty mediocre this does further my conviction that you can probably figure out the setting of almost every film. Given how easily I’ve been able to discern location and (almost) exact date for every film we’ve watched I’m convinced that somewhere out there is a “missing” Delaware film that no one knows is actually set in Delaware. Someday I will find it… someday.
‘Ello everyone! Keeping Up With the Joneses?! More like Making Me Weep and Moan(ses)! We went to the theater to see Boo! A Madea Halloween, but instead got served a big helping of overdone spy spoof. Why-o-why-o can’t the UK have Madea saying “hellur” to me big screen style? We may never know. Let’s get into Keeping Up With the Joneses:
- The Good – The characters were actually shockingly likeable. A total about face from most recent bad comedies. The storyline was surprisingly fresh considering there have been something like four spy spoofs out in the past year or so. Galifianakis has his moments.
- The Bad – Places said Hamm did okay, but I found him, Gadot, and Fisher all about the same level of blah. The script reeks of punch up and yet still is surprisingly low on laughs. I got three chuckles and one decent laugh, and the decent laugh was because I was watching in a theater in London and they make fun of British people’s teeth at one point. By the way, terribly old school joke which, again, reeked of punch up. The story is extremely straightforward and they still manage to fall into the voiceover-flashback-to-two-weeks-earlier trope which is just so classically bad comedy.
- The BMT – Nope. This film is destined to be forgotten and will likely garner zero Razzie noms (unless they throw Gadot a nom in combination with Batman v Superman which I could sadly see, I hate combo noms). It is a lot better than its rottentomatoes score suggests (lower than Tammy which is laughable). It is like a ten most likely and I anticipate its rating will increase as people watch on VOD in the coming months and its BMeTric will reflect it by staying steady around 10.
Let’s get a quick Theater Review in because it was kind of boring. Why? Because I think I literally sat in the same theater as I did for The Mechanic: Resurrection. The gigantic Vue in Westfield was swamped with early Thursday showings for Doctor Strange, but there was still a few people in my theater. They blocked off an enormous section of the theater for “VIP” seats (I ain’t paying for that!) which is I guess a trend where they force you to sit literally on the screen or in the back row unless you pay them extra money. Whatever. There were a few talkers early, but they settled down and I thought the response from the audience was appropriately muted with sparse laugher when a particularly decent joke landed. Good showing all around.
Oh oh oh yeah. And a very quick Product Sklog-ment brought to you by McDonald’s. Da-da-da-da-da, we’re lovin’ it! Because this movie had a few impressive ones in there. Every computer was a Dell, but mainly the gigantic Mercedes logos everywhere. And Mercedes already has obnoxiously large logos. This is how movies like this make money, the chase scene was basically an extended commercial for the car brand. I’ll take my leave there.
This week we watched Mechanic: Resurrection in theaters for BMT: Live! A tradition whereby the bad movie twins attempt to find movies that have even remotely similar US and UK release dates. I’m going to take it upon myself to put this film into context with the original Mechanic and the 2011 remake. I’ll let Patrick do most (but not all) of the talking about Mechanic: Resurrection. The original film starring Charles Bronson was very similar to Get Carter. He is an old school gangster that gets a little caught up with some personal feelings, which puts him on the wrong side of his boss (in this case he takes a shine to his hitman mentor’s son and decides he wants to train him to be his replacement, which doesn’t make his boss very happy). In the end they decide to take him out and he is killed (but not before killing everyone that got in his way). That’s almost exactly Get Carter, but not quite as good. With the 2011 remake they shifted from a subdued thriller to a straight action. As a result, Statham and Ben Foster had to bumble and stumble their way through every job. They botch everything. Of course this is what happens when you want to make a hitman thriller into a straight action. They have to fuck up every job so that their only escape is through massive stunts and violence. It was shit. It’s actually super surprising that it got >50% on RT. I would have pegged it at high 30’s. Almost every change made from the original was a mistake and there was some rididididiculous writing on display (I could write a whole blog post on the medical jargon employed in the film, for it was absurd). So nowhere to go but up, right? Wrong. I feel like it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to say that a film we’ve watched is truly awful. Mechanic: Resurrection is truly awful. It’s like the makers watched last year’s horrendous Hitman: Agent 47 and looked around and said, “Shit… they’ve cracked the code. Perfection,” and browsed through whatever properties they owned so they could create the exact same film for this year. It was nonsense. The funniest thing about all this: the remake actually got the plot right this time! Instead of just having the hitman screw up in order to create action they had him cajoled into doing sloppy and near-impossible mission in order to save a loved one. That actually makes more sense, and yet it was still a pile of trash.
God damn do I love Settings 101. Once again we got a great settings film in Mechanic: Resurrection. It also was one of the more difficult films to assess of our recent fare. On the face of it Mechanic: Resurrection is a classic B settings film. Everywhere you go you are told explicitly through intertitle where exactly you are in the world. So you are never confused as we jump from Brazil to Thailand to Malaysia to Australia to Bulgaria. But as you can see from that list this is essentially a roadtrip film (what Patrick termed the globetrotter film). Do I consider it set in Australia? Thailand? Bulgaria? If we were making a mapl.de.map is this penalized because it doesn’t spend a lot of time in a singular location? After much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes we came to the conclusion that this would not be a penalty. Here they are clear enough and the locations used well enough that this earns a solid B+ in Settings 101. It’s all about how clear the location is and how much it factors into the plot. For the record I would push for the film to count towards Bulgaria. I feel like it was the most solid location of the five. Australia has an argument as does Thailand, but that would be my vote (I’m sure you all were wondering).
‘Ello everyone? Mechanic: Resurrection? I’m going a little NYPost back splash on you: The Mechanic Should Have Stayed Dead! Buuuuurned. It was BMT Live! So far I would say we’ve been remarkably successful with our in theater choices, did the streak continue? Let me put it this way … I have OPINIONS! Let’s hear them.
- The Good – Who can’t resist a little Statham charm, and a little gratuitous Jessica Alba butt that makes you feel a bit dirty, you know? Considering the overall quality of the film some of the shots they managed to get are impressive. One more word: globetrotting. C’mon, everyone loves some great views.
- The Bad – Nearly everything. I’ll speak a bit more on the theater experience below, but this is as close as I’ve ever come to walking out of a film. Five minutes in I thought “seriously … what the fuck is this?”. Usually bad movies are skilled people with good intentions when everything goes wrong. This, somehow, came across as watching people bad at their job do it badly. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and say the budget just didn’t match the aspirations. Amateurish is the word to describe the film. Expository would describe the script. Literally, there is a whole thirty minutes with pure monologues which sound like this: “Crain and I grew up as child soldiers trained in the East End. I escaped, and he’s never forgiven me for it.” First, seriously, c’mon, my workmates got a kick out of the mere idea of child soldiers trained in the East End, it is ludicrous. Second, how didn’t this come up in the first movie? This mysterious past didn’t come across in the slightest until literally right now. Alba’s backstory was equally ridiculous and is just deadpanned to the camera for a minute straight. Tommy Lee Jones is a gunrunner with a heart of gold! While mind you, still controlling the entirety of the European and South American arms trades, as if only “the little guy” needs guns in those parts of the world. I could go on for days, and I have. I literally whispered to myself “is this the worst movie I’ve ever seen?” Of course it isn’t, it isn’t even the worst movie I’ve seen in theaters, but while watching it it certainly seemed like the nadir of something.
- The BMT – I would watch this movie a thousand times over. If there is any good in the world this movie will ultimately break 50 on the BMeTric and enter the pantheon. But I fear it will go the way of Hitman: Agent 47, forgotten and forgiven for all the hurt and pain it had caused. For shame.
As promised a little note on the Theater Sklog-sperience: This was my first venture to the Westfield mall in Shepherd’s Bush and the Vue there is fantastic. Great seat, courteous audience, awful awful (awful) movie. As I walked there I reflected on the fact that Hitman films just … kind of suck. You have a superman of a “good” guy, and the only way the kills are action-y in reality is if the person screws them up. The original Mechanic did a good job combatting both of those pitfalls and yet still was kind of boring (it’s like Get Carter, but I liked Get Carter more). The remake has Ben Foster literally screw everything up twice just so we could get some action. Not a good look. Even walking there I knew I wasn’t going to have a great time.
I’ll leave it there because I’ve written a lot. Cheerios,
Before Patrick gets his say on this I’m going to go ahead and address the odd dichotomy between fan and critic reactions to Warcraft. I honestly think they’re both kinda wrong about this. The critics are being a bit harsh in criticizing the fact that straight gobbledegook is sprayed at your face for over two hours and you’re expected to understand what is happening. Welcome to fantasy. They are playing at a disadvantage and trying to establish something for future entries in the series. Besides it looked great, so sit back and relax and don’t worry so much. But I’m not one to buy into the whole “the film did what it set out to do.” That’s bullshit, a bad film is a bad film. So at the same time the fans need to understand that at some point you have to stop forgiving bad films for being bad just because they never set out to be particularly good. Just because Warcraft didn’t want to have a real plot (you know, one with a beginning, middle, and end rather than just a long middle) and its pacing problem were not their fault, doesn’t mean it’s better than it actually is. It’s a mediocre film. BMT? I’m not so sure, but it was pretty fun to watch for BMT.
For my game I think I’ll Sklogify the cast. I think the most obvious recasting would have been Nic Cage as the wizard Medivh. I would also consider Ray Liotta, but he already did evil wizard in In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. I think Kellen Lutz would play our main action star Anduin Lothar, Selena Gomez as the orc(ish) warrior (although I would also love to see Fergie in the role), and Neal McDonough as the King (LudaChris Klein is a good option here too, but Neal is a little more regal with his striking ice blue eyes. Billy Zane is on line 8 if everyone else turns us down). For the main Orc, Durotan, I think I’ll go with Alex Pettyfer, but besides that the orcs can be played by unknowns since you don’t really see who they are. We just really need that main orc to be as wooden as possible and we know Pettyfer can deliver. Finally for the already woefully miscast young wizard you have to go with Taylor Lautner (make a bad thing worse). God, Taylor Lautner and Selena Gomez in the same movie. Be still my heart. I think that film is properly Sklogified.
‘Ello everyone! Warcraft?! More like Warcrap! We went live for this one, let’s get into it!
- The Good – The first 30 minutes of this movie had me thinking I was seeing a true blue amazing fantasy tale. The 3D and CGI was pretty stunning throughout. The main plotline has been making me think “hey, I could watch a few more of these movies, this is kind of fun”. It really is a beautiful film.
- The Bad – The plot is also completely scattershot. They jump from place to place and confuse the viewer consistently for the entire middle part of the film. I could never see myself sitting down and watching the film again, it would be too boring. The wizard character is a complete miscast, it is as if I dressed up for a Renaissance fair and ended up in the movie, that is how ridiculously misplaced he seemed at all times. The final third is a complete incomprehensible mess.
- The BMT – It won’t ever be BMT and that’s because its IMDb rating will never drop below 7.0, that is a fact. I loved it as a Live! because it is really divisive, but it shall remain around the worst BMT we’ve ever done (and likely the highest rated BMT film on IMDb forever more). I would think this would be a 25 though, average. It is honestly around where critics should have rated this, 30-40, slightly more forgiving. The sub-30 this movie got is kind of absurd, but so is the IMDb score. It is an enigma.
Let’s see. I’m having a hell of a time trying to figure out a good game for this one actually. So I’m going special BMT Live: Theater Experience edition. I viewed this movie at the Fulham Road Cineworld in London. At the time the showings were already getting a bit sparse, usually one per day per theater, and exclusively 3D. I grabbed the earliest showing I could find (9:10PM blah) and bought an absurdly priced ticket (you also buy the glasses here, 16 pounds). There were more people than normal in my BMT Live showing, around a dozen or so. And the couple behind me decided to talk throughout the previews in French (?, couldn’t tell) and were (I think) cracking open beers as well. But everything quieted down for the movie and I had an unusually pleasant viewing experience. I was pretty proud of myself: despite not really knowing what was happening at times I remained awake and alert throughout. This was also the fourth movie in a row where no one was in the theater when I arrived five minutes before it started, which I guess is common when you book specific seats? I don’t know. I rate the experience a B+, there was a weird overhead light that bothered me throughout, but otherwise a delightful time.