Father Figures Recap

Jamie

Peter and Kyle are as different as twins can be. Kyle is a fun loving free spirit, while Peter is a down-on-his-luck sad sack. When Peter finds out that the story about their dead father was all a lie, they set out in search of their real dad. Can they find their dad (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Father Figures.

How?! Peter is a divorced doctor who laments how his life turned out. His kid hates him, he does rectal exams all day, and the highlight of his day is watching TV alone. It’s all made worse when at his mother’s wedding he is reminded about the carefree, fun lifestyle of his fraternal twin brother Kyle. The cherry on top is that at the same wedding he finds out the story about his dead dad was all a lie! The man very well could still be alive. With Peter’s world crumbling, Kyle agrees to set off and find their father. First stop, Terry Bradshaw (duh) playing himself and boy does he. He’s ready to accept them into the family until he realizes that while their mom was great in the sack, they weren’t together at the time of conception. Time to head off again. This time to confront Ronald Hunt. The loser criminal doesn’t seem like the best dad, but they still give him a shot. Unfortunately he gets them wrapped up in trying to steal a car. Oops. Time to give up, but while heading to the airport they pick up a hitchhiker who gets them lost in the middle of nowhere. While arguing about the state of things, they almost get killed by a train and realize that all they need is each other… and the magical hitchhiker. So with their new Enterprise Rent-a-car they head off to none other than Worcester, MA (!) where they’ve got a hot tip on another potential dad, Patrick O’Callahan. On the way, Peter has a one night stand with a woman who he is shocked to find was Patrick’s daughter! Uh oh! But Patrick’s twin brother insists it’s not true, because Patrick didn’t have sex before marriage. Instead it must have been Peter and Kyle’s family vet, Dr. Tinkler. They head home to confront him where their mother reveals the truth: they were adopted. She doesn’t know who their father is, but their mother was a young drug addict she was trying to help. Realizing that life is more about what you have and that they have each other, Peter and Kyle team up to start a new billion dollar app and everything is looking pretty good. THE END.

Why?! For a film with a scene of a kid peeing on Owen Wilson, Ed Helms thinking he had sex with his sister, and a weird (but kind of good (but also out of place)) satire of the magical black person trope, it’s a pretty heavy film. It’s very much about finding and understanding your purpose in life and not getting hung up or dwelling on what you’ve lost, what you thought you had, or what you want, but appreciating what you have. Particularly when it comes to family. Peter and Kyle didn’t choose their family, but they realize that their family actually did choose them, and that despite how different they are the love they have is stronger than those differences. It’s really nice… for a film that’s not super great.

Who?! This isn’t Terry Bradshaw’s first BMT rodeo. We know him best from Failure to Launch, and that honestly was a better effort considering he wasn’t just playing a cartoon version of himself. Then there was The Cannonball Run where he played *check notes* Terry… huh… guess I’m not sure whether he was playing himself in that one.

What?! This is actually one of my favorite subtle product placements in recent memory. Peter and Kyle get their rental car destroyed by a train and we see them talking to a man delivering a new one and are all like “that’s for delivering the new rental car.” And I’m like “Ha, Enterprise up in here.” And then in the credits we see under special thanks: Enterprise. Even if you totally explode your car with a train, Enterprise will still deliver a new one.

Where?! Nice solid road trip film starting in Ohio and then going to Florida, New York, and Massachusetts. Finishing with a taste of Hawaii is also perfect. I also can’t really get over that they very specifically head to my old stomping grounds, Worcester, MA. Although I didn’t recognize where they went, so not sure they actually filmed there. B+.

When?! I do not know when exactly this took place. My guess is that it’s early Fall given the wedding setting, the changing leaves in New York, and shift towards sweaters as they journeyed north… yes, I’m insane. My guess is that if we really poured through all the footage we’d find something. Maybe the prop Enterprise Rent-a-car rental agreement has a date on it. F.

To me this seemed like a film that was written by three different people. Or perhaps even existed as three scripts before being merged together. It’s very surprising that there is just one writer considering how quickly and often they vacillate between comedy styles. You’ve got an indie Jeff Who Lives at Home vibe going on, then the next second it feels like Harold and Kumar, and then the next second it’s like Wedding Crashers. It just never seemed like they knew exactly what they wanted to make. As a result even something that could be good, like what I take as satire of the “magical black person” cliche, can get lost and confused in the muddle of everything. But I can’t say the underlying message wasn’t touching, it’s just the journey to get there didn’t come together well at all. As for Twin Sitters, I couldn’t have been more tickled by the bizarre Paul twins and their twin extravaganza of a film. Twins everywhere and they are just muscley freaks of nature with fashion for days. I disagree with Patrick a bit, much better than Santa with Muscles and for one main reason: I kinda liked that the Paul twins weren’t afraid to play stupid. Big muscle guys seem to shy away from that (Hulk Hogan being a prime example). They always want to be big brain business people or scientists. Wrong! Give me some twin dum dums! I love it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Ugh, fraternal twins. Whatever, I guess we had to watch a film with fraternal twins eventually. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The film has been on our radar for a long while, but for an odd reason: it might have one of the best examples of a terrible movie poster ever! Just look at all of those faces staring out at you from a snow white background. Really just useless garbage. Anyways, modern bad comedies tend to just be boring and no fun, and I doubt this would be any different. It can’t help but end up being wholesome in the end. That fact that it has bad reviews suggests it is boring. What were my expectations? To be bored and to laugh zero times.

The Good – Funnier than I expected, and that is entirely due to Owen Wilson. Something about his exudes charm, and while he is leaning into his vague surfer/stoner hippy schtick in the film, it ends up working (except when they make him anxious and sad in the middle of the film). I think his performance, plus a surprisingly surprising twist involving Katie Aselton, end up saving the back half of the film. Oh and out of nowhere I really liked the diversion involving Katt Williams’ hitchhiker character. There is a weird amount of stuff to like for a film that is really not very interesting. Oh and I secretly liked the silly connections drawn to The World According to Garp right at the end. Best Bit: Owen Wilson.

The Bad – It is indeed pretty not funny and boring, especially the first half of the film. I didn’t really like Ed Helms’ character who was so depressing that he had to end up with a happy ending because it was literally impossible to make him sadder at the end of the film. Terry Bradshaw was awful in the film, and surprisingly so was J.K. Simmons. The entire film felt inevitable. If you could start the film with a better first father than Bradshaw, and then flow right into them being depressed about a near miss there with the Katt Williams hitchhiker character, and skip the middle bit, I think the film ends up much better. Considering it is far too long for a comedy, I’m surprised they didn’t try and reedit it into a leaner film. Fatal Flaw: Trite.

The BMT – I think the only thing this film will be notable for in terms of BMT in the future is that terrible poster. It’ll be the poster child (heyooooo) for “throw a bunch of faces on a white piece of paper and call it a day” style of modern movie posters. Otherwise it might be a small stop on the Owen Wilson bad movie filmography,twin films (fraternal or not), and road trip films maybe. I will probably never watch this film ever again. Did it meet my expectations? It exceeded them, but in the wrong direction, it was too good. It had a few solid laughs, and the back half was too interesting to be boring.

Roast-radamus – A solid Product Placement (What?) with Dunkin’ Donuts. Turns out both America and existential-journeys-to-find-your-father run on Dunkin’. A great Road Trip (Where?) film covering Ohio, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts, including a ton of driving (and presumably stops at Dunkin’). I do think we have a MacGuffin (Why?) for the search for the ultimate MacGuffin: Dad (awwwwwwwww). I don’t think any of the twists are bad unfortunately. I think this is closest to Good personally. I couldn’t help but be touched by the message being presented, and Wilson was solid.

StreetCreditReport.com – I was looking through all the lists and mainly marvelling that I’ve seen probably a solid 50% of the worst films of 2017 on any given list. That’s pretty impressive given the sometimes random choices some of these lists make (The Only Living Boy in New York is on the AV Club list and Transformers 5 isn’t … what?). Usually I’d say something like “I’m not shocked this film went under the radar” … but I am legitimately shocked that this film wasn’t on any list! And then I realized why, it was a Christmas film! Ah, well rest assured this had cred galore. I think it would have easily made most top 10 lists for the year, and is definitely the worst twin film of 2017. And this is coming from someone who kind of liked the film!

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we brought along another twin-based comedy in Twin Sitters. What a wild career Peter and David Paul had. Twin bodybuilders, they managed to star in four films. The last few are a lot like this where the twins straight up say “we’re big dumb brutes.” What a strange idea of a career, playing character that are almost too dumb to function but big and strong. And the entire film is very twin-centric with the twins baby-sitting another set of twins! The child twins are actually the actors who played the lead child role in Kindergarten Cop which is pretty fun. The entire film is really silly, directed by the actor who played the bad guy’s son in UHF (and Jambi in Peewee’s Playhouse) who also appears in the film. It really is just so dumb it is hard to articulate coherent feelings on. I guess the most interesting thing was the end is a lot like 3 Ninjas with a group of bad guys attempting to infiltrate the house to kidnap the children, and the Paul twins fighting them with household objects. Where did that cinematic trope originate? Looney Tunes? Are the Paul twins just big cartoon characters? Anyways, I bet there are better Barbarian Twin films out there. If I’m being honest, this just feels like a weird knockoff of other films. It feels like Santa With Muscles, so C-, wouldn’t really recommend it unless you are watching all of the Paul twin films or something.

Twin Analysis – I’m going to tell it like it is: fraternal twins start at a C. Sorry, not sorry, it is just the way it is. They might as well be brothers. Anyways, I did like the Polar Opposite Twin trope, that’s a classic. With Helms being an uptight doctor, and Wilson being a very laidback loser who fell ass backwards into money. The twin angle plays a decent sized role in the film as well. Lucky for the film there is an identical twin in the film (one of the potential fathers is an identical twin), and a set of twins at the end. Three twins!! I’m going to give it a B. Much better than I expected. Now, on the other hand we have Twin Sitters! My god, has there ever been a more twin film in the history of twin films. And another fortuitous connection, despite Peter and David Paul being very identical, they also play into the Polar Opposite Twin trope. Now that’s fun! There are, I think, five sets of identical twins in the film (and a set of identical triplets!). I was hoping the bad guy would have also turned out to be a twin, but alas, it was not meant to be. Regardless, I’m going to give this the true A+. They might not be stigmata twins, but this film has so many twins, and the idea of twins, and standing by your twin brother, and twin dynamics, and magical twin abilities … it has it all (as far as twins are concerned)!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Cyborg Recap

Jamie

In a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by plague, hope comes in the form of a cyborg carrying a possible cure. A psychotic monster wants to control this cure, while a Slinger, a mercenary hired to protect people, is the only thing that stands in his way. Can he stop the monster and possibly save the world before it’s too late? Find out in… Cyborg.

How?! The world has been ravaged by a plague. All hope has been lost… almost. A cyborg named Pearl has been sent from the CDC in Atlanta to NYC to get information for a cure. On her way back, she is being tracked by Fender, a psycho monster who hopes to control the cure and thus control the world. After losing her bodyguard, Pearl finds Gibson, a slinger, and gets him to help her. Unfortunately Fender catches up and takes Pearl and leaves for Atlanta. Fender and a trailing girl, Nady, go after them. They track them down the coast and reminisce about Gibson’s brief happiness with a woman and her two daughters. They were killed by Fender and the younger daughter taken captive in his gang. When they do finally meet up they do battle and Gibson is able to kill a bunch of people, but just barely escapes with his life. He and Nady are tracked down and Fender crucifies Gibson on a ship. Left for dead he is able to knock down the cross and Nady helps free him. In Atlanta, Gibson again confronts Fender and they battle. Nady is killed and ultimately Gibson is able to kill Fender by impaling him on a meat hook a la Cobra. Indeed, Fender was the disease and Gibson was the cure. JK, the plague was the disease and Pearl, the cyborg, is the cure. Or at least hopefully. THE END. 

Why?! Hope. Humanity. Love. Life. Cyborg. The classics. Obviously, Fender wants power and control in a world dominated by chaos. Pearl wants to help save the world. Gibson, on the other hand, is partly just doing his job, but also wants revenge against Fender for what he did to Gibson’s family.

Who?! Probably one of the more fun athletes-turned-actors. Vincent Klyn, who played Fender, was a professional surfer. From what I can tell, he was a high prospect when he was young in the early 80’s and by the time Cyborg rolled around he was working more as a model and was discovered for the role when he was out surfing one day (if the director Pyun is to be believed). 

What?! I would say the cure for the plague is a reasonable MacGuffin, given the fact that we really don’t know much about the plague or the cure or anything. I mean, apparently there is a plague and the world is in ruins, and continues to be in ruins, because of it and… everyone just walks around no big deal? So what’s the cure for? Is Fender immune? No answers. As for props, JCVD’s necklace is listed here but specifically “is not for sale.” Yeah, wouldn’t want to give up that really cool looking prop from Cyborg. That’s a priceless gem.

Where?! Actually not a setting film. We start somewhere south of NYC heading towards Atlanta, but then get more specific as Gibson attempts to head off Fender in South Carolina where he docks to start inland towards Atlanta. The climactic fight scene takes place in Atlanta, which is even plot appropriate given the CDC’s role in the film. B+.

When?! And weirdly not a very good temporal setting film. Just generally and vaguely set in the future. It’s certainly post-apocalyptic. Can’t you tell because of all the… uh… graffiti, I guess? And the boat they have is all clunky. That’s bad right? Oh and Fender wears chainmail… I mean… right? That means it’s either really old or really in the future. Like, for sure. C.

There are aspects of the film that I was digging. I liked the bad guy and some of the quotes that he was laying down. His whole look was kinda rad too. But that’s more or less where it stopped. The film is ultra silly and looks like garbage. The film studio was basically already out of business and threw this stuff together. Let’s just say, it shows. I will give it some credit in saying that I somewhat understand why they made sequels to the film. The film made money and you can see intriguing angles to the plot to build on. Like some horror franchises where even if the first entry is awful there is sometimes enough momentum to the monster or something to carry into a few more films. As for the sequel (I only watched Cyborg 2), it is fascinating but for an entirely different reason. Angelina Jolie is front and center in her first film role and she is so raw it’s nuts. Also Jack Palance shows why he is a Tango and Cash legend and Billy Drago consumes entire sets. It’s a bit of a fun watch if only for the acting performances. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got all kinds of robotronic up in here this week. I watched not one, not two, but three Cyborg films! Weep not for me … Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – If I’m being honest, considering how early in his career this was, this looked like just another Van Damme film. The notes somewhat corroborated this, with a troubled production and Van Damme himself re-editing the film prior to release. I was intrigued by the director (a big non-theatrical director) and the bad guy (a professional surfer), so there was some potential. What were my expectations? The usual for post-apocalyptic nonsense from the late-80s: depressing, dreary, and boring. But I would be pretty pleased if we saw some splits and buns from Van Damme, because that’s really all the people want. Give the people what they want!

The Good – There are indeed some splits in the film. Van Damme is, as usual, as good as one would expect, with some fun action sequences. Especially the sequences near the end of the film in Atlanta. The final fight with Vincent Klyn was almost definitely the major bit that Van Damme himself recut, and it indeed is quite effective. And as bad of an actor as Klyn is, he does have a striking look and thus is an decent foe for Van Damme … even if he does kind of look like Bananas from Ghosts of Mars. The stop-motion effects for the cyborg are very Robocop-esque and look pretty cool. Best Bit: Them Splits.

The Bad – The acting is pretty dire, even from Van Damme. It ends up sinking the movie in the beginning because there is nothing to hold the audience’s attention during the first half hour of the film which is just standard boring post-apocalyptic garbage. The entire structure of the film was thrown off by the sheer number of flashbacks. We get it, Van Damme fell in love once, and Vincent Klyn killed his lady love and left him for dead. It is a tale as old as time, and it feels like it was shoehorned in just to pad the run time. The titular cyborg is barely in the film, and the motivation as to why she is a cyborg is non-existent … it makes you wish Van Damme was the cyborg instead. Fatal Flaw: Flashbacks.

The BMT – I think as a whole the series is interesting from a BMT perspective in that I watched the entire trilogy in a very short amount of time. Also the trilogy manages to be three totally different things: a late-80s martial arts film, an early-90s straight-to-video sci-fi knock off, and a truly dire 90s trash apocalypse film. Unfortunately I don’t think any of them are really that entertaining, with the first being the most interesting as an early Van Damme vehicle. I think in the future we’ll have watched more Albert Pyun films and Cyborg will become very relevant to certain Bring a Friend analyses, so it has that going for it. Did it meet my expectations? I’m going to go with no. We did get a sweet split, but I also wish the Van Damme film was a bit more like Timecop in that they trusted JCVD to execute peak JCVD-ness. And I wish the sequel was more of a wild ride as well, but it was pretty boring.

Roast-radamus – I’m liking the Setting as a Character (Where?) for both New York City, Atlanta, and heck, the whole eastern seaboard. Also Boring Post-Apocalypse Hellscape (When?) for a United States which has been destroyed by a plague at some point … I assume in the 90s, it is hard to tell. I love it for the titular MacGuffin (Why?) in that Van Damme is indeed trying to save / protect a cyborg who is attempting to cure the plague using information in her cybernetic brain. I think this is closest to BMT as far as superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is surprisingly little. I think most of the cred comes from the fact that this film is, in fact, a Masters of the Universe sequel that was adapted into a vague post-apocalyptic film and recast with Van Damme. That’s pretty fun. I also think the connection to Cannon and the insanity that was the bankruptcy of that minor production house gives some interest to the events surrounding the production. Other than that it is probably like top 10 worst wide-release cyborg films ever, so that’s something.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And with any viewing of Cyborg you obviously might as well pop in your VHS copy of Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow starring a very young Angelina Jolie and none other than Jack Palance! This. Film. Is. Bonkers. Is has karate, and cyborgs, and it looks like shit, but then has Billy Drago running around like a lunatic. It dares us to ask: what if the cybernetic beings we create can know love? Anyways, the film is pretty silly with an absolutely atrocious score. There is also the most tenuous of connections with the original Cyborg. Consider: In Cyborg the entire world is plunged into dystopian madness due to a plague that kills off most of the world. By 2074 however (people from the original film could still be alive at this point!!) we’ve not only built society back up, but we’ve managed to perfectly reconstruct the smarmy corporations of late-80s / early-90s America, and we are still (somehow) competing with Japan in the technology sector?! Now that’s a non-sequel if I’ve ever heard it. Jolie and Koteas are pretty fun in their roles, and I love Palance’s weirdo mouth screen nonsense. But the film is sunk just by looking like crap and sagging a ton in the middle. B-. It is only kind of fun as a non-sequel to Van Damme’s Cyborg. Otherwise it is mostly sad. But guess what? I would probably watch it again, just to make sure I genuinely didn’t like it.

You Just Got Schooled – Uh oh, guess what? I watched Cyborg 3: The Recycler! Remember how I said Cyborg 2 was a bit odd because they posit a complete reconstruction of corporate America a mere 75 years after society completely dissolved? Well, turns out that is too expensive for a direct-to-video sequel and we’ve been plunged into a desert-like apocalyptic wasteland again for the final entry in the Cyborg trilogy. Now starring Khrystyne Haje in the Jolie role the film is … well, it really is just kind of about how abortion is wrong? You think I’m joking, but there is a pretty not-so-low-key anti-choice message in this film. Haje learns she’s pregnant with a human child fairly early in the film, but insists that she wants an abortion. Everyone though knows that she should reconsider and that she doesn’t know how much of a miracle this situation is! But luckily, once she sees the face of her child, that motherly instinct kicks in and she chooses to have the child, hoooooooray! Anyhoo, beyond that the film looks like shit and is mostly just boring. Malcolm McDowell is fifth billed but in the film for, no joke, five minutes. Richard Lynch is a fine actor, but his face looks weird and he’s a bit too hammy for my taste. It only really starts once they meet the guy from Gremlins. Even then I just felt like I was wasting my time, both of the previous entries are loads better. C-

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ed Recap

Jamie

Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is a flamethrowing single A baseball prospect walking a fine line between getting cut or making the big leagues. The coach knows he needs a boost so puts him in charge of the baseball playing chimpanzee mascot named Ed! Can Jack find his confidence, save Ed, get the girl, and take down the eeeevil team owner’s son before it’s too late? Find out in… Ed.

How?! Discovered throwing heat on his Oregon farm, Jack ‘Deuce’ Cooper is shipped off to single A ball to see if he can make it big. Unfortunately he isn’t having much fun playing baseball while he works out the kinks in his curveball. Knowing that Jack needs to loosen up a bit, the coach puts him in charge of taking care of the teams new mascot, a baseball playing chimpanzee cooked up as a gimmick by the smarmy owner’s son. In a big surprise to everyone this chimpanzee named Ed is not only incredibly smart (suspiciously so, even), but plays third base like… you know… Mike Schmidt or something. Not only does the team go on a big ol’ winning streak thanks to both Ed and the confidence he instills in Jack, but he also starts a major friendship with Jack and helps him in all kinds of ways. Most importantly he encourages him to ask out his neighbor and even plays babysitter for the neighbor’s daughter while Jack takes her out on a date (this is obviously a terrible parenting mistake, but we’ll let it slide). Unfortunately on the cusp of The Big Game, the smarmy owner’s son decides it’s time to cash in on Ed and sells him to the highest bidder. Everyone is super sad, but Jack makes the decision to risk making the start at The Big Game in order to go and save Ed. In the zany chase that ensues, Ed is trapped in a frozen banana truck and nearly perishes. Sad and concerned, Jack still makes the start and is able to get his team one batter away from winning The Big Game. Just as he’s about to (probably) totally blow it, Ed shows up at the game, flashes the ‘deuce’ signal for the curve ball (not hiding the signs much there, guys), and Jack wins The Big Game. Everyone celebrates and Jack smooches his neighbor or something. THE END. Big Question: How many references is too many references to the dark racist past of baseball in a children’s film about a baseball playing chimpanzee (this film contends that there is no limit. I would say any more than zero is a mistake)

Why?! Interesting question. Jack really does seem to want to make the big leagues despite having apparently not played much competitive baseball. So… for the love of the game, I guess. Same for Ed, although he apparently can play single A because there aren’t any rules against it. I’m sure there would be rules by the time he’s making his way through AAA. The smarmy owner’s son just wants to make a quick buck by flipping a baseball playing chimpanzee he bought on the cheap. Turns out to actually be a pretty savvy business move.

Who?! In a bizarre cameo, Tommy Lasorda shows up at the end of Ed to watch Matt Leblanc throw a single curve ball and be like “we need to sign this kid to a big contract to play for the Dodgers!” Gotta say… not the best for Lasorda’s legacy in baseball. I mean, you gotta do a bit more scouting than that before throwing a contract at someone.

What?! There was some pretty obvious product placement in this that was used in the typical children’s film fashion. Ed drinks a bunch of Coke and burps to much laughter and applause, etc. I did like the made up product placement of Frosted Bananas, a company that deals exclusively in frozen bananas and is wildly popular in the Santa Rosa area. Not only is everyone bananas for Frosted Bananas, but there are enough trucks randomly driving around that Ed finds one to hop into during the climactic chase.

Where?! We open briefly in Oregon and spend the rest of the movie in California. While that is made very clear in the film, I’m pretty sure this could have taken place in any number of places in the United States. It actually would have been a great Cape Cod League set film given that Jack is kinda a country bumpkin and he could have gotten involved with a local rich girl… but also there is a chimpanzee there. But just California. Whatever. B.

When?! It seems very likely that this takes place in high summer and then concludes in the beginning of September during the minor league playoffs. While the team he plays for is not real, it makes sense that he is in the California League, which finishes the second week of September. C

This movie is really nuts. Every moment brought another gasp of surprise at what they might do next. Ed is unbelievably human-like for a chimpanzee, but the complete lack of surprise at this fact by everyone who interacts with him makes it seem like it all takes place in an alternate universe where chimpanzees are basically human beings that don’t talk. Even the way the team gets Ed is confusing… they keep calling him Mickey Mantle’s monkey. So… was he? Or is this a nickname because they already knew he was the greatest chimpanzee baseball player in history? It’s weird and at times unsettling. Add on that the chimpanzee babysits a child (horrifying) and that the entire film is a misguided allegory on America’s racist history (a mistake) and I’m not sure whether this is a great BMT film or a tragic mistake. As for MVP: Most Valuable Primate, it was almost more horrifying than Ed. It felt a little… exploitative I guess. Like the whole film is just a chimpanzee doing the wide (and I mean wide) array of tricks it was taught. It’s pouring coffee, it’s putting on glasses, it’s brushing its teeth. I will say, I enjoyed seeing the chimpanzee skate… like he actually skated on ice. It’s amazing! I did not enjoy watching several actors without disabilities playing characters with disabilities so overall more horrifying than Ed. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If I made this film I would have called it This Ape is Playing Baseball, and That’s Crazy!! With a double exclamation point at the end because that’s how crazy it is. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I’ve definitely seen this film before a long long time ago. And at the time I must have been watching Friends, otherwise how would I have known who Matt LeBlanc was. Anyways, the only thing I remember well was the scene where Ed eats ice cream because it is super duper gross. That’s it. I am very interested to see how the ape animatronic/costume holds up over time. What are my expectations? Let’s get this straight: kids’ films are very rarely good BMT films. They are usually just a bunch of fart jokes and not much else. This is exactly what I expect it to be with a healthy dose of Matt LeBlanc being a bad actor.

The Good – The film is good natured enough. You have single mothers, you have young men just trying to make their way, you have a good-hearted coach, and a chimp that can play baseball. There isn’t really a B-story that kids can’t relate to, the B-story is about a single mother and her precocious kid … that’s relatable. Like Air Bud 2 that is the type of story some child of divorce I’m sure appreciated at the time. There were a thousand ways things could have gone worse. There could have been a whole weird story about the league not wanting Ed to play and the Rockets laying their jerseys down on the commissioners desk to say “Ed can play for me coach … er, commissioner I mean.” Or there could have been a story about the team not wanting to play with a chimp. Nope, just a lot of good-natured fun and fart jokes. What can you do, really?

The Bad – After that paragraph maybe you’d think there wasn’t much to complain about. Well, the animatronic / chimp actors are terrible. Ed is just large enough to be creepily too-human on screen. And everything the animatronic does, like getting disgusting not-ice-cream all over itself, is just weird and makes me feel uncomfortable. The baseball is ludicrous, although intentionally so. He throws 125MPH?! He would be called to the big leagues immediately. He’d be unhittable. Ed is also basically human. If Ed could exist there would be a huge push for animal rights because seriously … Ed has the intelligence of a full grown adult human being. Ed should have the right to vote. There would be huge questions about Ed being a slave! On second thought … let’s not get into some of the racial undertones of the film as a whole and just leave it there.

The BMT – I do think there is a lot more room for animal films in BMT. It feels like we haven’t seen a lot of them, like Larger than Life and Operation Dumbo Drop in particular. This is also pretty fascinating as a dying gasp for animatronics in film. Or at least it feels that way. Congo was the year before, and soon cheap CGI would replace the need for such expensive tricks. Did it meet my expectations? Weirdly LeBlanc was better than I expected, possibly because the people surrounding him were worse than I expected. The sheer lunacy of the entire affair helps, but mostly it is as expected. Fart jokes and not much else.

Roast-radamus – There is very good Coca-Cola Product Placement (What?) throughout the film. Ed is drinking both Diet Coke and Coca Cola (for real, he can’t tell the difference! That’s how delicious and refreshing Diet Coke is!) and he’s loving it. Also a very interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) for Santa Rosa, California, which is just north of San Francisco. This is somewhat important because it is specifically noted that LeBlanc’s character comes from Oregon and drives down at the start of the film. It feels like out of all the possibilities, the only superlative this has a chance at is Bad mainly because it is a kids’ film. But I guess we’ll just have to see what Jamie thinks of it.

StreetCreditReport.com – There are arguments that August 1996 was the worst month in movie history (I doubt it, but the arguments exist), so it isn’t surprising it got crowded out on yearly lists. But there isn’t really even lists for worst films starring animals. Those lists are almost always about talking animals specifically. You really have to go for Worst Sports Movie … and hoo boy does it make some lists. Both Ed and MVP (see next section) exist on this list! And because sports media loves making amusing youtube videos about weird sports movies: SB Nation did a whole video on Ed! That is a lot of sports movie cred … turns out by adding an animal to your sports movie you almost immediately make all adult sports fans hate it. Ed? More like crEd, amirite?

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we sadly watched MVP: Most Valuable Primate as another sports playing chimpanzee film. It was a rather interesting contrast to Ed. Made by people who produced Air Bud (and with the same human star) it is, effectively, just a display of what you can train a chimpanzee to do. Make coffee, wear clothing, and astonishingly ice skate? Like legit this chimpanzee ice skates and roller blades! It is actually amazing. But also it is a step backward (the chimps are mostly shot in close up, nary an animatronic to be seen) and displays a bit of how straight-to-video animal kids’ films were going to operate in the future. Here they decided against the animatronic route because it was too expensive. Eventually people would decide training animals at all was too expensive because you eventually see untrained puppies being combined with CGI to create countless Christmas Puppy Adventures or whatever. Ed and MVP pairs well in showing how the industry evolved from the mid-to-late 90s into the 00s. Eventually films starring animals were almost completely relegated to VOD or animation. A Dog’s Journey was one of the last big releases and even that got itself into hot water with the treatment of trained animals. B+, the movie is a slog, but has enough interestingly weird production stuff to make the watch worthwhile (I didn’t mention just how Canadian the entire film is! It is very very Canadian).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Recap

Jamie

Lara Croft is back, Jack! And boy does she have a Cradle of Life to find. Hot on the tail of an ancient lost treasure, Lara finds out that it’s linked to a mythological plague and an eeeevil scientist is interested in releasing it. Can Lara stop the scientist (and perhaps find love) before it’s too late? Find out in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life.

How?! When an earthquake uncovers Alexander the Great’s lost treasure, Lara Croft is the first one there ready to make bank. But before she can leave she’s ambushed by a bunch of evildoers who take nothing but a curious orb. Turns out that orb is a link to Pandora’s Box and the Cradle of Life (and the unstoppable plague it holds) and the buyer is Johnathan Reiss, a Nobel Prize winning scientist-turned-bioterrorist. MI6 begs Lara to help them track and stop Reiss, but she’s like “I need my lover Gerard Butler/Terry stat.” They don’t like that because Terry is a criminal asshole, but relent for the sake of the world. Releasing Terry from prison, Lara and him extreme sport their way into China to confront the thieves. Lara is able to defeat the main bad guy in hand to hand combat and find out where the orb is being sold. They attempt to stop the transaction, but Reiss is able to get away, but not before Lara puts a tracker on the orb. Using that they are able to infiltrate the bad guy’s hideout and get the orb. Success! Lara drops Terry like a hot potato and figures out where the Cradle of Life is in Africa. Extreme sporting her way into Africa, she is dismayed to find that before she can get to the Cradle of Life, Reiss is able to use Lara’s friends to lead him to the location as well. He forces Lara to help him infiltrate the Cradle and slam dunk their way to Pandora’s Box. When all hope seems lost, Terry comes to the rescue and Lara is able to defeat Reiss in hand to hand combat. Phew. Everything is safe, right? WRONG! Terry is like “who cares about the world, this plague is worth a fortune!” and tries to convince Lara to steal it with him. With sadness in her eyes she must kill her former lover to keep the world safe. THE END. Big Question: What is Terry’s plan? Sell a plague for money… that will be worth nothing when the world’s economies collapse as a result of the plague? Smart.

Why?! Lara seems to be generally a treasure hunter, but once that’s out of the picture her main motivation is to save the world I guess. It’s actually a little interesting that MI6 requires the help of Lara for this mission given that she probably routinely breaks international law, but whatever. Everyone else is generally evil.

Who?! In a shocking turn of events we jumped from one insane Nobel Prize winning scientist film to another insane Nobel Prize winning scientist film in The Island of Dr. Moreau and this. Very unexpected. I’ll also note the fact that there is about five second of screentime for a submarine that comes to rescue Lara and yet Graham McTavish is somehow credited as “submarine captain.” Funny.

What?! I mean, I’m obligated to mention the Jeep Rubicon product placement in the film because, along with I, Robot, it generated a lot of discussion at the time of where product placement was heading (namely towards significant funding of a film’s production). However, I also have to point out that apparently the actual orb from this film has been listed for auction! So we could have an actual MacGuffin in our possession for the low price of *check price* nevermind.

Where?!  Oh, we’re a-globetrottin’. We start in Greece, head to Lara’s home in England, free Terry from prison in Kazakhstan(!),  and then set out for a long period of time in China before finishing in Tanzania. Despite the climax being in Tanzania, I think I’d have to say this is primarily a China film given the stretch of time spent there. Pretty great as a “road-trip” style settings film. B+ bordering on A- given the necessity of a few of the locations.

When?! Went back through the film and unfortunately there is no clear mention or hint at when this takes place. There is a Chinese newspaper shown at one point, so I’ll start learning Mandarin and report back on whether that sheds some light. Until then, F.

I was fully ready to say that this film was not that bad and even had a whole thing about how films of the early 2000s like this one set the stage for where the Fast and Furious franchise has taken things. It’s actually pretty fun how most of the film is just a series of extreme sports stunts mixed with classic James Bond spy shit and Indana Jones (with a bunch of jokes thrown in there). It’s like they started looking at these films and were like “well we can’t just keep on doing stunts and jokes, right?” and eventually they realized that they could. Unfortunately, the end of this film exists and it is complete garbage. Somehow they ruin the film in about ten minutes with some of the most ludicrous logic I’ve ever seen put to screen. I mean… Gerard Butler actually seems to think he can sell an unstoppable plague and everything will turn out OK for him. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. As for DOA, it is everything it’s advertised as. Shameless lingering shots of particular aspects of the female actor’s bodies combined with almost cartoony action scenes. Some of those are fun and Jamie Pressley is actually pretty good in it (she clearly trained like a champ for this and actually looks like a fighter), but that’s more or less the positives. A lot more negatives, most notable the acting and the fact that the latter half of the film is just Eric Roberts wearing “super sunglasses” fighting people. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! If this was my movie I would call it Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Pandora’s Plague Box (ft. Gerard Butler). That sounds like the song of the summah to me folks. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Back in the day we used to not do our homework. For shame! So sometimes there is some BMT flotsam to rescue from the BMT ocean. And Cradle of Life fits the bill. The original I remember being somewhat silly … but what did I think at the time? Turns out I thought it was pretty good, and possibly the best video game film we’d seen! That is promising, because the preview suggests the sequel was actually more well received than that original film. What were my expectations? Honestly a good time. I liked the original well enough, and it feels doubtful that a film that was more critically acclaimed could actually be worse. I also expected Gerard Butler to be a terrible actor.

The Good – The film itself is indeed rather entertaining. It tickles the exact spot you’d hope it would tickle: hey, what if they crossed James Bond and Indiana Jones. And the film felt like a perfect mix of Die Another Day and the fourth Indiana Jones film. What? Those films aren’t that bad! They are slightly better than the typical BMT standard. Angelina is really good in the film as well.

The Bad – Gerard is indeed not great, and neither is the bad buy, complete with James Bond-esque introduction on a plane involving henchmen and Ebola. Ultimately the entire film kind of falls apart in the last act. They needed something for the Cradle of Life, but Pandora’s Box complete with a pool of Pandora’s acidic tears? No thanks, that is a step too far. The CGI is still pretty bad.

The BMT – It is too bad they didn’t make a third of these films. I feel like after two valiant attempts they could have really managed a stinker of a film. Instead we got two kind of above average video game films. I’m not sure, but I think I liked the first one better, at least there you could psych yourself into some solid National Treasure Voight vibes. Here you just have Gerard Butler. And I’ve seen too many Gerard Butler films to appreciate him at this point. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it was basically a good time with some poorly acted scenes by Gerard Butler. I wish it had either gone overboard earlier (and gone full BMT), or later (and been Not That Bad), but instead we basically just got the first one again.

Roast-radamus – I’m going to throw out a tentative (Who?) for Q Conundrum, whereby every spy needs their Q, and in this case Lara Croft has *checks notes* Bryce. There is a decent Product Placement (What?) for the Jeep Rubicon which ends up becoming the star of the film once the gang arrives in Tanzania. I think I can throw out a good Setting as a Character (Where?) for China in particular, complete with terracotta warriors. But booooooooy howdy was there a MacGuffin (Why?), the Cradle of Life complete with Pandora’s plague sitting in a pool of acid tears. Natch. Let’s just throw that in a cave where physics doesn’t apply and be done with it! And definitely a Worst Twist (How?) for Gerard somehow being the most greedy and craven person in the world. A mercenary willing to sell a horrific world ending plague for money. What are you going to even do with that Gerard … the world will be all plagued! You’ll probably die! It’s absurd. Outside shot at Good although I highly doubt it.

StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t find a single list here, but it gets most of its cred from (1) being a video game adaptation, and (2) being a sequel to a video game adaptation. I do think this could be on some list of terrible Greek myth films, which is fun. And It is probably one of the worst action-adventure archeologist films as well. Decent cred there if you go looking for it.

You Just Got Schooled – Hmmmmm what could I possible put here. Oh wait, there was a remake just last year with Tomb Raider! I would say that Vikander is quite good in the film, as is Dominic West. The first half of the film is quite good, with a dispirited Lara fighting and biking her way through some serious depression. I liked those parts best. Once we get into the real mystery things just kind of become boring. I liked the ultimate twist (the eeeeeevil Japanese queen actually was just an asymptomatic carrier of a plague who killed herself to save her people) was really good and I liked the more down to earth mystery of that bit. I’m not sure if a sequel would end up being good or bad though. Usually I would say that getting out from under the origin story means a sequel can be its own thing. But the origin bits in London were by far the most interesting bits to me, so I’m not sure if that means a sequel would almost inevitably be worse. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. B+ adaptation I think, better than the two originals, but not by as much as you would hope.

Bring a Friend Analysis – And as a friend we brought another video game adaptation along in DOA: Dead or Alive. And holy shit is this a piece of shit. But you would have to know that going in. The most bizarre bit is just how big the film is. Over 40K votes on IMDb, a 26 notability (it really is an impressive cast), and a budget of $30 million according to reports. And yet it comes back to the US and barely gets released! The film makes you feel gross though. It was a different time (yada yada), but my god to they go out of their way to give you gratuitous butt and boob shots. It is distressing. And yet, you have a film that is basically led by five women, and at the very least Jaime Pressly seems pretty annoyed that it didn’t get a release (I’m sure when you get into that good of shape for a role to see it just die a slow death is pretty annoying). It isn’t the worst video game film I’ve seen, but it is close. B friend, pretty fun if you can see past the grossness.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Serenity (2019) Recap

Jamie

Baker Dill is a simple charter boat captain on Plymouth Island trying to make a living. When his ex-wife shows up wanting him to kill her new, abusive husband for the sake of their child he has a choice to make… but that’s not the craziest thing about this film. Oh no. Can he stop the abusive husband (and reunite with his son… sorta), before it’s too late? Find out in… Serenity.

How?! Baker Dill, a charter boat captain on Plymouth Island, just wants to make a buck and catch Justice, the giant Tuna that has evaded capture for as long as he can remember. This obsession with the fish is turning business bad, but things only get worse when his ex-wife, Karen, shows up begging him to save her and their son Patrick from her abusive husband Frank. You see, she has convinced Frank to go on a fishing trip with Baker and she wants him to get him drunk and toss him overboard. But Baker is hesitant and tries his darndest to get out of it, even while Frank proves over and over to be worthy of killing. At the same time Baker is getting the weird feeling that he is somehow communicating with his son which is confirmed when a strange man reveals that in fact everything we are watching is occuring in an AI built video game that his genius son has created (what a twist!). As long as the game sticks to the rules of catching fish then Frank can’t die. Overcome by this earth-shattering totally logical revelation, Baker goes on a drinking binge all while the game continually throws roadblock after roadblock in front of him trying to prevent him from killing Frank. Unfortunately for the game Baker isn’t one to be daunted and realizing his role in the plan takes Frank out on the fateful fishing trip and when Justice takes a nibble on the line lets a totally wasted Frank take the reel and gets pulled to the bottom of the ocean. Here, faithful viewers, we are informed that Patrick has killed Frank in real life. He then uses his beautiful mind to rework the game so that he and his dad can spend time together. Hooray! THE END. Big Question: Is Patrick coding the game or is the AI just kinda making it up as it goes along… or is this all nonsense?

Why?! There is a little play on the classic MacGuffin here, as Baker Dill’s whole purpose in life is seemingly to catch an impossibly huge Tuna named Justice. They kinda turn it on its head, though, as they acknowledge that this is simply an arbitrary goal of the game and has no real meaning. In the end the motivation is for Patrick to kill his abusive stepfather, which is played out by the AI McConaughey character letting Justice drag him into the sea. Ya dig?

Who?! Actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim promoted the film a bit and clearly had a role in it, but ended up with a “special thanks” credit. Interesting, as we’ve even seen in other films where actors are cut they usually just go uncredited on IMDb. At least they acknowledged him, I guess, despite that fact that he did not ultimately appear in it.

What?! Now this is what I live for. There are several scenes in the film where people are drinking beer from Phoenix Brewery, as well as some coasters bearing its logo. This is a brewery on Mauritius… so like… how does the film not take place on the real island of Mauritius? Or did the AI machine in Patrick’s computer decide that that beer would also be brewed on Plymouth Island. Riddle me that, Patrick?

Where?! Clearly takes place on the imaginary island of Plymouth. Likely the island is a fake former French colony in the Caribbean (given some connections to Miami) and is perhaps modelled after Montserrat, whose capital, Plymouth, became a ghost town due to a volcanic eruption. In reality this is all made up and the entire film takes place in Miami where Patrick lives and codes on his sweet ‘puter. Uh… I don’t know. I guess it’s an A despite being fake.

When?! Time and space are not really a thing in the film as explained above. It can be whatever time the little boy genius wants it to be. Perhaps even the entire film takes place in the moments before he kills his stepfather. Perchance it all occurs in the beat of a butterfly’s wings. Deep, man. Deep. F.

I can’t believe they actually got huge movie stars to sign onto Serenity. It thinks it’s way smarter than it actually is and does the “nothing in this film is real or matters” so hard that you just kinda have to laugh at it. It’s real weird though, which is a plus I guess. It really went for it and was interesting. Particularly Anne Hathaway… I feel like she must be in on the joke, but she is acting so hard that it’s difficult to tell. For the Bring a Friend, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation is astonishing. It’s the lowest budget, lowest quality major horror franchise film I’ve ever seen. The beginning is so horrible that I would have probably turned it off if I wasn’t obligated to watch the entire thing. Strangely it’s revealed near the end that the (new) motivation of the family is their part in a large illuminati type conspiracy cult where the fear the family instills in its victims is part of what gives the group its power… It’s like a mini Cabin in the Woods and if you just read the concept you might even say it’s interesting. But it’s just a cheap, terrible rip-off of the original so you can’t really say that. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I remember watching Serenity in theaters, it was in New York City with my bro- … huh? This is a different Serenity? Like they just reused the same name? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t know much about the film going it beyond that it was a huge bomb with big stars. If you watch the trailer before watching the film you should be able to figure out the twist … which maybe suggests it isn’t really a twist? Something to chew on when analyzing things. What are my expectations? I was just hoping it wasn’t boring. I don’t really like noir films to be honest. They kind of stress me out because I end up getting frustrated when I can’t untangle the plot.

The Good – Honestly, I liked this film more than I should have. I think it is because the twist is so very obvious that I no longer got stressed about figuring things out … I had already figured out the important bit. Everything else, indeed, turned out to be rather straightforward. I do wonder whether the director thought the twist was good and so he hid it from critics, and once they realized it was bad they put it into trailers hoping people would just enjoy the ride. Well guess what? I enjoyed the ride. The film’s twist is trash, but the acting and visuals are good. Which at least made it not boring to me.

The Bad – The twist is awful, and it ends up really being the entire film. There is no other point to the film beyond the twist. Sadly I actually find the plot pretty interesting, but then if you didn’t have the twist it would be the worst noir ever made (like … a guy’s ex-wife hires her ex-husband to kill he husband and he does … the end). So you end up being stuck between a bad twist and a bad noir … and they chose the bad twist. I think they made the right choice though, the film would have been unwatchable if the ending was just him getting $10 million and seeing his son again.

The BMT – As a tropical noir I think it’ll be remembered if that niche genre ever crops up again. Otherwise, again it will only be notable for its we-all-live-in-a-game twist which I can definitely see being reused in the future. Those are the only two reasons I can think for ever revisiting the film, I have no intention of recommending it to anyone. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but because I kind of ignored the twist and enjoyed the very straightforward noir plot for what it was. I doubt very many people would get much out of this film if they even remotely like noir though.

Roast-radamus – I think this has a really really interesting Setting as a Character (Where?) in that the setting is the fictional Plymouth Island and is almost literally a character in the film. I’ll throw in Worst Twist (How?) as well since it is much maligned. I agree that it is dumb … but I still didn’t mind it all that much. It has an ubbelivable MacGuffin (What?) … almost a MacGuffin as a Character in the shape of a large tuna that McConaughey can’t seem to catch. I think it’ll sneak into BMT Live! as well, although I don’t think it’ll win when we vote.

StreetCreditReport.com – This is probably the most well known of the big bombs that came out this year, mainly because it has a bunch of those Big Targets that people like to take aim at (not to say the film doesn’t deserve it, but this is the type of film that if you didn’t want to watch bad movies you could write a hell of a lot about without having seen it given how notable the cast is). But it also has some of that real cred, is it is 12th on the AV Club list. It manages to appear on the Variety list as well. And the Hollywood Reporter! See? People can’t help but hate this film, it is just too tempting!

You Just Got Schooled – I needed a place to put my review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, so you’re going to get that and the Bring a Friend analysis below. Now, fans of the franchise seem to either hail this as a hilarious send up of the first, or a travesty which besmirches the franchise’s good name. Surprisingly, I lean more towards the former. I am no one to promote horror-comedy, far too many end up being not very good comedies or horror films in the end. This is no different really, it is a terrible horror film. But there is just enough fun over-the-top nonsense to entertain me. I actually think this is one of the best horror film follow-ups to a classic I’ve seen. Rehashing the films never work, this at least gave you a bigger, badder version of what you liked in the first place (which necessitated a level of comedy). A solid B from me, I kind of wish the series had gone a bit more in this direction, at least it had interesting bad guys.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, you might have been wondering why I’ve been reviewing four Texas Chainsaw Massacre films during the recap of Serenity. And here it is, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. You know … that horror classic starring Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger (wait … wow, yeah it does). So we get to see the original McConaughey, and now the risen-from-the-ashes hot-off-the-presses McConaughey … they’re kind of the same, it is amazing how this man ages. The film itself is awful. A remake of the original, but somehow people forgot how to make horror films using no money? Hint: it isn’t just by filling an old house with garbage and having a guy moan with a mask on. There is actually more to it. Like having interesting bad guys, or interesting good guys, or people without robot legs. The film is straight up dog poo in my face, I can’t believe they released it to theaters! F, how dare you make this and besmirch the good name of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. How daaaaaare you.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Intruder Recap

Jamie

After scoring the big deal at work, Scott and Annie go looking to buy a house in Napa. They meet Charlie, who is looking to unload his million dollar family home and it seems like a match made in heaven. But soon it becomes clear that it’s a match made in hell because Charlie is a total nutso psycho. Can they stop Charlie before it’s too late? Find out in… The Intruder.

How?! Scott and Annie are the perfect couple. They are smart, beautiful and super rich and so we all identify with them and love them. They are looking to make their perfect lives complete by buying a multimillion dollar mansion in Napa and lo and behold Charlie is selling his dream house at this very moment. They pull the trigger and soon they are making that mansion their home. One problem though, Charlie is totally nuts and super weird and shows up at the house all the time being nuts and weird. Soon he’s doing all this creepy stuff around the house and Scott starts to suspect that Charlie may not be all that he seems. This paranoia puts stress on their marriage and soon it becomes clear that Charlie is seeing a little opening to get his house back and it involves wooing Annie and giving Scott the boot. Fed up, Scott confronts Charlie and then almost immediately gets run off the road while jogging (hmmm, wonder who did that?). Now totally freaked Scott insists that his friend go and make sure that Charlie isn’t wooing his wife while he’s laid up in the hospital. Wrong move, bro! Cause he gets an axe in the chest courtesy of Charlie. At this point, Annie is even a little creeped by Mr. Murder over there and it all culminates with her realizing that (spoiler alert!) he actually never left the house at all! He was living in some tunnels under the property like some Rambo. What a twist! In a final confrontation, Scott and Annie do battle with Charlie Rambo and totally blow him away in a ripoff of Sleeping with the Enemy (topical). THE END. Big Question: Was Charlie like… eating their food? I just really want to know more about how exactly he was living under their house for months… like… did he have a working toilet? Wouldn’t they have heard it? Lots of questions.

Why?! Well, Scott and Annie just want to live and have a happy marriage. Charlie… now that guy has a plan. What we learn is that he had a failing business built on lies that put him millions of dollars into debt. In order to pay off his debts he had to sell his house. But he’s not leaving (oh no) instead he’s gonna hang around long enough to woo Annie despite giving off sexy grandpa vibes (at best) and then marry her (?) and get his house back (???). It’s all very vague because he’s nuts.

Who?! While I was obviously tempted to use Dennis Quaid here as an actor-turned-musician, I restrained myself and will instead highlight Alvina August, a minor side actress in the film, who is also an aspiring singer… … never forget, though.

What?! One of the side characters sure does love his Audi, but really the star of this film is Recover 180°. Scott works on advertising for the drink several times in the film. They even show a full commercial for it. It’s actually a clever idea. Make your main character an advertising executive and then you can literally show entire commercials without anyone batting an eye. 

Where?! Superb San Fran/Napa setting. I think they could have gotten away with a New York City/NYC suburb dynamic. But that might be it. If they really wanted that A they would have probably had to have the house be a vineyard or something. Or have Scott be a tech entrepreneur rather than in advertising… you know, still giving it an A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film… kinda. This is like a roadtrip through time because after Scott and Annie buy the house we get a clear Thanksgiving scene and then some preparations for Christmas. If I had to choose I would say that Thanksgiving is the dominant as we get a rare thanksgiving dinner scene. Not a huge number of those in BMT films. A-.

This movie is mostly a pile of cliches built around rich people with rich people problems… alright, well maybe having Dennis Quaid living in some tunnels under your house isn’t exactly a rich person problem, but still. Really the only thing that this had going for it was that Dennis Quaid is off the hook and is snacking on scenery left and right. I’d also argue that the twist is fun, but also pretty standard, being in the same vein as “the call is coming from inside the house.” Except in this case it’s “the Quaid is coming from inside the house.” I personally felt like the film is more watchable than really thrilling or scary… but that still means it’s watchable. As for P.U.N.K.S., standard kids film made only mildly interesting by continual product placement, Randy Quaid putting on a full “nerd” character, and some wild character work by a couple of the kid actors… like one of the kids was super into health food… I have no idea why or what the joke actually was. It was pretty bizarre. As if Sly Stallone wrote the film or something, amiright? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I do remember when I rented my new apartment and discovered the landlord living under the house in a weirdo crawl space … I mean, it’s fine I still lived there, have you seen the rental market recently?! It’s as insane as my weirdo landlord! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I legit barely remembered this film existed when we chose it for the 2019 cycle. But Dennis Quaid as a psycho? I’m in. The cast did make me wonder if I was the target audience for the film … so did all the reviews which suggested it was made for people who wanted to shout at the characters in theaters. But I’m game, I’m always game to try new things. What are my expectations? I expect to see Dennis Quaid as a psycho. The more of a psycho he can be the better. I’ll probably be pretty unsatisfied if people aren’t like “Why is this pyscho around all the time?” though, I don’t know if I could bear it.

The Good – I liked Dennis Quaid. No offense to the other actors in this film, but Quaid seemed like the only genuine “film” actor in the film … we’ll get to that in the Bad section, sorry. I liked the creepy hole Dennis Quaid apparently lived in, that was a fun reveal. I kind of wish that reveal plus battling Quaid in this house he knows inside and out was more like 50% of the film, but the end is pretty fun for as short as it lasts.

The Bad – First, the film isn’t very thrilling, just kind of eerie. Second, the actors aren’t really that good, like they are all television actors, which is fine … for a thriller that is fine I think. Third, the actual last second ending in which the main character killed Dennis Quaid in cold blood after totally unarming him is a bit unsavory. It isn’t like The Call level offensive, but it is a bit bothersome. But hey, it was pretty much the only thing the film had going for it. It is quite literally going to be the only thing I’ll remember from this film in two weeks … well, that and Dennis Quaid screaming “NO!” which will haunt my dreams forever.

The BMT – Hmmmm, no. I think I like the idea of the film more than the film itself. I like this as the future mold for streaming titles. You make like … 100 of these films and a bunch of them are going to be good. Keep them a-comin’ is what I think. I’ll watch all the bad ones too. Did it meet my expectations? Sadly, much like all of the bad reviews for this film, I have to agree with the critics: the female lead in the film, Meagan Good, is just waaaaaaay too calm with Charlie wandering around and pretending he has anything to do with this house anymore. Every moment he shows up everything he says and does screams “I am a lunatic who is trying to steal your life/house/family” and yet she keeps on being like “He’s harmless”. If not for that I would say yes because I like Dennis Quaid’s psycho, people just needed to not pretend he wasn’t the biggest creeper in the world.

Roast-radamus – He isn’t a Planchet, but Scott’s friend Mike is something else … he’s the guy who’s such a doofus that you just don’t care when Dennis Quaid kills him, and he’s kind of great at it. I’ll give a shoutout for some great Product Placement (What?) with the main character driving his sweet Audi around all of the time. Very minor, but very a propos Setting as a Character (Where?) with the start-up scene in San Francisco and the solitude of Napa playing a huge part in the film. Obviously this ends up up for a Live Smaddies Baddies, but I doubt it’ll actually get any of the big awards in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – This film came out long enough ago that it is on a few worst of lists already. Looper agrees with the critics in saying Quaid is good but the film is bad. Something called iDaily has it at 9 … and possibly is just aggregating Rotten Tomatoes data? I think this will go down as one of the worst … creepy homeowner selling his house, but still living in it and being creepy films ever made. For real, it’ll be number one.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Phew, the final friend of the year. The Intruder stars Dennis Quaid. And everyone knows his much more famous older brother Randy. I’m only kind of joking, that was probably at one point true. Randy Quaid started to slip a bit into obscurity after Independence Day in 1996. By 1999 he was staring opposite Henry Winkler in the genuine straight-to-video children’s film called P.U.N.K.S. In this film the son of Randy Quaid is worried about his genius father (Randy acting like a nerd-alert) having a heart attack while testing his super-strength machine for the eeeevil Edward Crow (Winkler). So he assembles his friends (the P.U.N.K.S.) to steal the invention and take Crow down. It has a decent anti-bullying message, but is cheesy with some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen. A young Jessica Alba was fun to see as Samantha, as was Patrick Renna whom some would know as Ham in The Sandlot. C+, I found it a pleasant enough watch, but ultimately kids’ films are just a bit too weird to stomach routinely.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Gangster Squad Recap

Jamie

Mickey Cohen is a menace to LA and police officer John O’Mara ain’t letting it fly. No way, no how. He’s tasked with assembling a squad of police officers to clandestinely take apart the evil gangster’s criminal empire. Can they stop Mickey before it’s too late? Find out in… Gangster Squad.

How?! John O’Mara don’t take guff from nobody, especially those that aim to dirty his beloved LA like gangster Mickey Cohen. Unfortunately he also doesn’t take guff from nobody so O’Mara is tasked with creating a misfit squad of gangster hunters (what to call them, though?) whose smarts and toughness will combine to take even less guff than Cohen (if you can believe it). Will they go out and murder Cohen right away? No! That would be too boring. Instead they aim to dismantle his empire while keeping him alive and figure out what his dastardly plot is to take over the West Coast (hint: it doesn’t matter). The squad goes about punching and shooting people to great effect, while also totally getting with Cohen’s main squeeze. Cohen is obviously none too pleased with this and he proceeds to punch and shoot a bunch of people until he figures out who the gangster squad is. After that it’s all out war and they punch and shoot some more until one of the squad is dead and their families threatened. All seems lost, except remember… no guff. O’Mara scrapes together a warrant for Cohen’s arrest and there is a big showdown at the Plaza. Shooting. Punching. Punching. Shooting. O’Mara takes Cohen down and cleans up the streetz. THE END. So the big question: was Mickey Cohen’s downfall because he took too many guffs or maybe, just maybe, he didn’t take enough (yah dig?).

Why?! I mean, Mickey Cohen is a psycho. No need for more explanation on that front. As for our boy John and his gangster squad, well they just want to do good in a world where people too often let money dictate their morals. Other cops are being bought, but they didn’t fight in WWII to let their home descend into crime. No! Not the Gangster Squad™.

Who?! Anyone who’s anyone knows that Ryan Gosling was part of the Mickey Mouse Club and so he’s got those dancing and singing chops for days. Lesser known is that he’s an actor-turned-musician (my favorite) and released an album as part of the rock duo Dead Man’s Bones in 2009. According to wikipedia he performed under the alias Baby Goose… OK.

What?! As I looked at the beautiful chiseled features of Josh Brolin I of course wondered to myself, “Is there a way that I could look like that granite rock of a man?” and the answer is yes. I can wear the very gun holster that he wears. Now if only I can figure out how to sound just like Nick Nolte (hint: it involves smoking cigarettes and gargling whiskey for 5000 years).

Where?! This feels like it’s the most LA movie ever. They are talking all kinds of Hollywood stuff all day. We see the Hollywoodland sign, they are talking about the movie biz, and references to Brentwood are dropped in as if the audience would be like “Jeez, Brentwood, amiright?” and nudge each other whenever it’s mentioned. A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! In the beginning you’re like “wait… is this set around Christmas?” And then the film slowly becomes more and more christmasy until we have Sean Penn screaming “Here comes Santy Claus!” as he shoots up a christmas tree in slow motion. It’s actually pretty hilarious. B+.

Overly stylized, very dark, choppy at times, and steered heavily into cliche. But I also didn’t think it was all that bad (if that makes sense). I let it wash over me like a sultry LA night and had a fine time watching it. I think the acting was pretty great (other than Penn who legend says is still chewing the scenery) and the story interesting. So all in all: not the worst. As for Future Kick, I actually really liked it. Super weird and fun production involving robots and a colony on the moon and virtual reality and organ harvesting. And there’s really nothing more beautiful than an ending that asks the question, “maybe everything you just watched was meaningless.” I’d gladly watch any film that implies that the whole thing was a dream. My one big critique: we needed more martial arts. Somehow T.N.T. had way more impressive martial arts than this one did. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jamie and I threw away our official LAPD Cobra Division badges in prep for this film. We’re off the books! Time to murder a bunch of people! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I remember when this come out this was a very exciting film for some corners of the internet. It checks off a bunch of boxes: a group of guys smashing up some gangsters, the late-40s/early-50s west coast period piece, and a crazy cast. And then it just fizzled out to rather lackluster reviews. I guess we’ll see if it ages well? What are my expectations – I want Sean Penn to basically be Nic-Caging all over the place. I want him to actually eat some scenery during a scene, like literally break off pieces of the set and eat it.

The Good – I like the period setting. The story is interesting. Emma Stone is excellent as always, and I really like the group of actors they got for the Squad. I really couldn’t ask for much more from what the film promised: a bunch of cops are going to bust up some gangsters, the end. There isn’t really much more to expound on here, but be assured that I actually liked this film quite a bit.

The Bad – I can definitely see why Sean Penn’s performance sunk the film for critics, he is so over the top it is very very distracting. I also think the story ends up pulling a punch or two and just retreating to the safety of what is ultimately a very predictable series of events. The biggest crime is killing off Ribisi which is by far the most obvious choice of how to “shake up” the Squad during the film. The outside shot is to kill off Brolin, and then making Gosling dry himself off to lead the Squad to victory. Apologies if somehow all of these events are part of the “true story” that it is all adapted from … I doubt it. Finally, the film is just kind of directed / structured sloppily with the least interesting bits, somehow, being the bits involving the Gangster Squad.

The BMT – It is certainly a weird BMT. Long ago we were rather insistent that we were going to do Amelia starring Hilary Swank … and then we just didn’t. Straight dramas don’t tend to fit into our traditional cycle genres. So it is nice to do a straight drama that is considered bad. Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I didn’t think Sean Penn was that bad, even though I can see why people hated it at the time. And that is really what it needed. Once you think that is fine … the movie isn’t that bad, so no, I don’t think I’ll be sending this over to people as a bad movie recommendation.

Roast-radamus – I think we have a very strong Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles (we can’t let Mickey Cohen take our city!!!) and Secret Holiday Film (When?) where the entire end of the film takes place during Christmas complete exploding Christmas display in slow motion. Other than that I could maybe see a nod for Good from me specifically, but I guess we’ll see.

StreetCreditReport.com – Finally! We finally are back in the zone where people actually have lists. And indeed this film is on the AV Club list (number 8) and on the IndieWire list (number 14). And I think it would end up on a worst of gangster film, and worst of films set in the 40s lists if you really pressed it. Pretty good cred, critics really hated this film!

You Just Got Schooled – Lightning quick one as a semi-endorsement of The Flophouse Podcast which did this film all the way back in 2014. They’ve come a long way since then in how the podcast is structured (this was back when they all lived in New York still and Elliott was Dan’s boss at the Daily Show), but overall I thought it was a funny listen. Just the right level of Elliott Kalan random asides to make what isn’t a very interesting bad movie interesting. And ultimately I agree with his assessment: if I saw the film on television I would probably be fine with watching it, and it is actually maybe closer to a good good movie than a bad bad movie (but definitely not a good bad movie).

Bring a Friend Analysis – And as with any Sean Penn film you just have to watch a Chris Penn feature alongside it. This time? It’s the very promisingly named Future Kick, which I know for a fact I’ve seen as a vhs tape on the Red Letter Media studio’s shelves. I think the film throws a lot at you to consume in the first 25 minutes of the film, with a dystopian world with a Elysium-like moon base, and escaped automaton bounty hunters, the last of which is played by Don “The Dragon” Wilson. For a bit there I was kind of barely holding onto the story (which seems to be a trend with 90s straight-to-VHS features, just incomprehensible). But by the end it saves itself with strong and entertaining performances by Wilson and Meg Foster. The end is also very amusing as it (spoilers) goes for the classic “this entire film was a dream” ending. I’m going to give it a B+. I wish it was a bit clearer in premise and martial arts action early, but the back half is, I think, a rather fun balls-to-the-wall ridiculous straight-to-video feature.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Jungle 2 Jungle Recap

Jamie

Michael Cromwell needs a divorce and fast, but when he arrives in the Venezuelan rainforest he’s shocked to find he has a son. Hoping to connect with the boy he brings him to NYC amidst both personal and professional upheaval. Can he learn to live and love again (and perhaps make big bucks on the commodity market) before it’s too late? Find out in… Jungle 2 Jungle.

How?! Michael Cromwell is an asshole, but the kind of asshole that is totally selfish and crushes the commodities market. He’s wheeling and dealing in the world of coffee while getting ready for his marriage to his high-fashion fiance, so what could go wrong? Maybe just a Sweet Home Alabama situation up in here. He’s still married and needs a divorce first. He heads on down Venezuela way to find his estranged wife in the rainforest where she lives with a secluded tribe. When he arrives there, he’s surprised to find he has a son, Mimi-Siku! And Mimi-Siku only knows the ways of the jungle. Egad. But let’s get back to that storyline that all the kids are clamoring to hear more about. What’s happening with all those coffee stocks our boy has bought (says the chorus of boys and girls in the theater)? Well while he was in the jungle he didn’t get a chance to sell them and now they are crashing. He and his partner have to try to unload them so they don’t lose everything. And that’s how they get mixed up with the Russian mob. What’s that? Mimi, who? Oh right, yeah so meanwhile Mimi-Siku comes back to NYC with Michael because he inadvertently promised that he would take him to the Statue of Liberty. When Mimi-Siku arrives he continually scares the bejeezus out of everyone with his giant tarantula, bows and arrows, and blow darts. Michael’s fiance is totally fed up cause she kinda sucks and moves out. Michael’s partner totally panics and go through with the deal with the Russian mob because Michael is busy bonding with Mimi-Siku. When the price of coffee continues to fall they demand their money back and Michael obliges only to have the stock rebound, further angering the mob. They take Michael and his partner’s family hostage, but Mimi-Siku uses his jungle skillz to take them all out and leave everyone rich and happy. Having realized that NYC is not his home, Mimi-Siku asks to go back to Venezuela only to be surprised when Michael shows up a short time later to live with him. THE END.

Why?! I mean, the film is founded on a mountain of happenstance. Michael finds out he has a son raised in the rainforest and handles it pretty well. It’s actually a little weird he isn’t more freaked out. The only explanation is that finding that he has a son stirred some strong paternal instincts within him… instincts so strong that they overtake his love of the high stakes world of commodity trading. That’s actually the largest source of motivation we get in the film: commodity trading. Everything in the film flows around the commodity trading storyline that, no joke, rivals or surpasses Mimi-Siku’s storyline in terms of scope.

Who?! Not typically one of our categories, but obviously this film has Leelee Sobieski in it as Mimi-Siku’s love interest (weird). Creeping ever closer to finishing her filmography. More interesting though is that her on-screen brother is played by Frankie Galasso… one of the members of the boy band Dream Street that everyone knows and loves. I went ahead and listened to their biggest hit and boy… it’s something.

What?! There is some obvious product placement sprinkled here and there. The Venezuelan natives play with Tim Allen’s electric razor and he screams in dismay that “it’s a Braun.” Tim Allen feeds his son some all-american delicious breakfast in the form of Cap’n Crunch… that sort of thing. Better than the props that were for sale, which for whatever reason all involve fake snakes.

Where?! Great world mapl.de.map setting as this is very clearly set in Venezuela for a surprising amount of the film. The other portion is set in NYC with the Statue of Liberty as the centerpiece. I would have actually considered giving this an A+ if it was set in Chicago… Jungle to Jungle, get it? But alas. Just an A for a very necessary NYC setting with Venezuela.

When?! Secret holiday film alert! After Michael Cromwell has learned to live and love again he takes Mimi-Siku to the Statue of Liberty. He explains that they’ll have to return in two days when it’s the 4th of July because the fireworks are spectacular. While we don’t actually get to celebrate the holiday on screen, we know that everything occurs right around that time, so I count it. C+.

I feel like the boy who cried wolf here because there have been a number of times where we’ve watched a remake of a film and remarked at how shockingly similar it is to the original. We oooohed and aaaaahed at the blatant disregard for creativity. Oh, but those were nothing compared to Little Indian, Big City and Jungle 2 Jungle. It made me question the nature of art after watching what is essentially a shot for shot remake of a film (down to the blocking of scenes and throwaway jokes). Really the only differences they had were the addition of some Tim Allen centric jokes (fart in a native hammock, blow darting of a cat, piranha on the finger… that sort of thing) and making Martin Short’s character slightly less of a child abuser idiot and more of just an idiot. They were so similar that after watching Jungle 2 Jungle first I was thoroughly bored in my viewing of the original as I was being forced to watch the same movie over again. Who would have thought being totally bored by a film would be so interesting from a BMT perspective. Totally worth it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We watched literally the same movie back to back. I’m not exaggerating. I’m stunned. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I think I saw at least a bit of this as a kid. Regardless the most exciting bit? Leelee Sobieski. I’m always excited to mark another one off for a BMT favorite’s filmography. She’s a literal child actress in this, so anything but a catastrophic performance would be quite good. I’m not going to sit here and rip into the acting of a teen actor. I’m not a monster.

The Good – Leelee Sobieski was fine. I would even argue she’s on par with Sam Huntington as Mimi-Siku. Now that I think about it … the acting was kind of alright throughout the film. It struck a nice contrast with the more slapstick French version, the acting itself was toned down while the props, sets, etc. were all kind of blown out of proportion. This was more normal people living in an exaggerated world, instead of exaggerated people living in a normal world … you know what I mean?

The Bad – I don’t actually think the film is that bad. Scattershot sure. But Tim Allen and the cast do a decent job at it. There are two major crimes here. First, this is a shot-for-shot remake of the original French film. I’ll get to that in a bit … but that’s just wild considering the original was released to theaters in the US the year prior. Second, the B-story involving the coffee options is so big and in your face and important to the story it is almost the A-story. A story about commodity speculation … is basically the primary storyline in a children’s film about a boy from the Amazon rainforest coming to live in New York City. Give me a goddamned break.

The BMT – I think this acts as an extremely interesting pair for BMT. A remake of a French film which itself has maybe the second worst dubbing I’ve ever seen (nothing will beat Roberto Begnini’s Pinocchio … which by the way he’s doing again). A literal shot-for-shot remake in fact. A perfect display of the difference between French and American humor as well. Something about it makes me love it, even if I don’t think Jungle 2 Jungle is a particularly good bad movie by itself.

Roast-radamus – I think there is a strong argument that Martin Short is a Planchet (Who?), although one that kind of holds his own. But his purpose is to be beaten up and humiliated. Sweet Cap’n Crunch Product Placement (What?) as well. Two punch Setting as a Character (Where?) for Venezuela and New York City. Very Minor Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the Fourth of July setting, and plausibly MacGuffin (Why?) with the B-story involving unloading coffee options with the Russian Mafia. If it got a twist it would have run the gamut! And yet I don’t think this gets a Good, Bad, or BMT in the end.

StreetCreditReport.com – As usual I can’t find a yearly list up to stuff, but like other films in this cycle it at the very least on Ebert’s worst of list of 1997. As a matter of fact there are so many terrible remakes of foreign films it doesn’t even get a nod on any of the lists I could find for that category.

Bring a Friend Analysis – For Jungle 2 Jungle we fortunately managed to get a pair of films which both fit into the category (Little Indian, Big City was on Ebert’s worst of list for 1996). And … these films are astonishingly close together. They utilize many of the same jokes (the woman saying “hot for you” on the computer, the spider and alligator chasing Tim Allen in the water, both spider scenes with the boss and the girlfriend, eating the fish), the story is really close as well. Basically just the end is slightly different. The original does have a pretty terrible dub, but I think both films have their relative charms (especially if you watched the subbed French films I’m sure). Adaptation .. can I give it both an F and A? It is too close to be worth it, but yet is the most faithful adaptation of a film I’ve ever seen. It is truly bizarre and well worth a Bring a Friend.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Santa Claus: The Movie Recap

Jamie

When Santa’s forward-thinking assistant Patch attempts to streamline the North Pole’s production line he fails to maintain QA/QC and leaves in disgrace. Going to work for a ruthless toy maker in order to prove himself, he inadvertently turns the world against Santa. Can Patch and Santa patch things up before it’s too late? Find out in… Santa Claus: The Movie!

How?! The film starts with a gritty reboot of the Santa origin story. Who was he? Why a dumbo who took his family out on a sleigh during a horrific blizzard (against the advice of everyone) and ended up freezing to death. Or at least that’s an interpretation of what you see, as just as Mr. and Mrs. Claus are about to die they magically awaken to find themselves transported to the North Pole as part of a prophecy fulfilled. Santa will spend all of eternity doing what he loves, making toys and bringing joy to children across the world. Centuries later Santa is still chilling making toys and all the kids around the world kinda know he exists. One Christmas he seems particularly tired and he decides to get an assistant. Enter Patch, the overly-enthusiastic and forward-thinking elf dead-set on taking the North Pole production line into the 20th century. Unfortunately, despite being a mechanical genius, Patch doesn’t totally appreciate impact of his new technology on quality assurance (a message that every boy and girl can relate to). After Santa delivers the presents he is horrified to see that most of them are returned as defective. With no other choice he makes another elf his assistant. The only bright spot that Christmas is that he made friends with a homeless boy in NYC named Joe. In the intervening year Patch heads to NYC to convince a super evil toy maker to hire him so he can show his stuff to Santa, while Joe becomes friend with the evil toy maker’s niece, Cornelia. The next Christmas Santa is old news when Patch’s new flight-powering lollipop is a holiday hit. Super sad, Santa is pretty much Mopey McMoperson and ready to give up, but Joe and Cornelia overhear that the evil toymaker’s new super lollipops are dangerous and get Santa to come and help save the day. In the end Santa saves Joe and Patch using the classic Super Duper Looper (duh) and everyone loves Christmas and Santa. Also the evil toymaker dies when he flies into space using his own flying candy. Hoisted by his own petard. Nice. THE END.

Why?! Santa only wants to bring joy to children, but also gets real sad when a competing toy maker brings joy to them and Santa isn’t A-1 in their hearts anymore… so it’s kinda that he wants to be the only one to bring joy to kids. Oh and he likes to steal kids. At the end he just kind of keeps Joe and Cornelia in the North Pole. The bad guys are cartoons.

Who?! I swear if this was made five years later Donald Trump is in it. Alas, not much for this section other than a special thanks to Frans J. Afman, a banker that was involved in film financing for a while, particularly in the age of smaller studios like Cannon and the like. Apparently he was knighted by the Queen of The Netherlands for his contributions to film, so he’s no slouch. I look forward to my own knighting ceremony.

What?! The product placement in this film is art. Our poor homeless kid Joe spends his day looking longingly into the window of a McDonald’s. Not just for the delicious food but the sense of family and community (you know?). When he finally does get fed by Cornelia he doesn’t get his McD’s (bullshit), but she does leave a delicious Coca-Cola to quench his thirst and seal their friendship in iron.

Where?! Split almost evenly between the North Pole and NYC. Both play a pivotal role in the film and should rightfully get double billing in terms of the setting. I’m not sure where the beginning of the film took place before Santa almost froze to death… I guess probably Sweden or something. A.

When?! Not so secret Holiday Film alert. The story takes places over several centuries, but the most important things happen on Christmas… also Lithgow tries to start a new holiday on March 25th called Christmas II that is now a BMT Holiday. We celebrate that now. A.  

This truly had the makings of a BMT classic. It oozes earnestness. Even when they are throwing around delicious McDonald’s and Coca-Colas in our faces, it still smacks more of gee whiz than corporate exploitation. It’s that kind of earnestness that blinds people to just how ridiculous the film that’s being made truly is. Unfortunately the first thirty minutes of the film was actually a bit too good. The set design was actually impressive. To truly experience this film you have to just watch the latter half where things go way way way way off the rails. First and foremost is John Lithgow who puts on a masterclass in what is one of my favorite performances of all time. He ate entire set pieces with his giant fake chompers. Add on top a really odd QA/QC storyline and a Chekov’s Super Duper Looper sleigh trick (that no one could possibly figure out would be the key to saving the day) and you’ve got a BMT holiday classic on your hands. Can’t wait to force feed this to my kids every Christmas. As for Santa with Muscles it made me sad and not since Transmorphers have I felt such sadness as I watched something. I couldn’t tell if Hulk Hogan was just being himself or was actually acting or if anyone was actually trying to make a film.  Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! It’s the origin story everyone was clamoring for. They got it in stop motion, and now they brought it to the masses live action. It’s the movie that put the Saint in Saint Nick, and da da da da da I loved it! Not really, let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I literally had no idea what this film was prior to watching it. I was very shocked to realize it was our first John Lithgow film, and watching the trailer he was obviously the key to why this movie could be amazing. FOOOOOOR FREEEEEEEE?!?! Is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen and it makes me so so happy that the trailer editor didn’t hide that from the viewers. He or she knew what I wanted and gave it to me in spades, which made me a little more excited for a film I would usually default to probably-boring.

The Good – The beginning is actually a fine television movie level origin story for Santa. I actually genuinely think the first third is better than Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town, the Rankin/Bass production it’s storyline is closest to. I also quite like how unabashedly it leans into the magical part of Santa. They don’t try and explain things too much, it is basically just like “you’ll live forever, this stuff makes reindeers (and children) fly, you just magic into and out of houses, don’t worry about it!”. I kinda dug that.

The Bad – The second half of this film is pretty bad. The instant Joe sits outside of a McDonald’s drooling at not only the delicious (and nutritious!) hamburgers, but the familial love that McDonald’s naturally attracts everything turns into a joke. Like, yo, Santa, you can do whatever you want, why not give Joe a house? What, is Joe the only homeless kid in New York City? The first half you have to buy into just magic existing. The second half takes it a step too far and tries to paint a world that is just far enough from how everything actually works that it is really hard to pick up what they are putting down. The movie is insane and could actually be one of the most misguided film we’ve watched, and as Jamie says, it is very very earnest in what it is trying to sell.

The BMT – You notice anything missing from the two above sections? No Lithgow! That’s because I’m putting him here. His performance is easily the most “thanks, I hate it” performance we’ve seen in BMT. It is off the wall, bananas, bonkers, I’m running out of adjectives to describe it! I both love it, and realize it is the craziest thing ever, and that is kind of the punctuation mark on why Santa Claus: The Movie is amazing. Pop that into a two hour long commercial for McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, and mix in a very (very) earnest Christmas film where Santa (probably) dies in the beginning and you get a perfect monster of a movie.

Roast-radamus – Easily a When? (Not so secret holiday film) as mentioned, an unabashedly pro-Christmas film. And also a What? (Product Placement) because Da-da-da-da-da I’m lovin’ McDonald’s now. And wash that down with an ice-cold Coca-Cola. I couldn’t tell but I think they cut the part of the film where Mrs. Claus was like “naw, green is not his color … can we dress him up as a giant Coca-Cola can?”. I actually do think we have a Who? (Planchet) for Lithgow’s assistant whom Lithgow shits on all film and insinuates is gay (I think? It’s hard to tell). The Where? (Setting as a character) for a New York City filled with McDonald’s loving families (and homeless children, and evil toy makers). And How? (Chekov’s Blank) for Chekov’s Super Duper Looper which is inevitably used to save Joe and Patch from their exploding flying car. And naturally this slides head first into a BMT award … my god, it’s running the gamut! It legit qualifies for all of the categories!!!

StreetCreditReport.com – As far as worst Christmas films? It gets seven here. And thirteen here. It is well known in bad movie circles for being a quintessential bad Christmas film. And I think as we quickly approach the end of this cycle I can safely say that the movie’s rejection from the worst movie of all time wiki page is cred enough. But this got the cred.

You Just Got Schooled – There wasn’t much in terms of direct Santa Claus: The Movie accoutrements to consume alongside the film itself, so I took the opportunity to listen to a movie podcast where they reviewed the film. We Hate Movies is one of the most famous bad movie podcasts around. And I have to say, this episode was very funny, and very informed. They basically rehashed the storyline while adding in funny asides (like the John Carpenter version of this film complete with synth soundtrack, and a Jessie Ventura impression that was spot on). I still think I like The Flophouse more. We Hate Movies felt very rehearsed and I found myself not laughing as much as I do with The Flophouse’s more off the cuff tangents. Be warned though, some of their podcasts appear to be behind a Patreon funded paywall which is fine, but just something to know up front, the whole catalog is not free.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week was Bring a Friend week and we watched another Christman classic: Santa with Muscles starring Hulk Hogan. So … I’m not sure why a movie like this exists. Why would Hulk Hogan do this? Was he trying to act? Or was this just his character at the time? It was supremely confusing, a strange mash up of two films. In one film the eeeeeevil businessman Hulk Hogan bumped his head, thinks he’s Santa, learns to love again, and saves the orphanage. In the second a mall Santa (Hogan) saves the orphanage from the eeeeevil businessman (Ed Begley Jr.) and his crew of eeeeevil scientists. And they just … put those two scripts together and went on their way? I hated watching this film. But I think it is valuable to see what the mid-90s direct-to-video kids’ market was like … and it was trash. Good to know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Ernest Goes to Jail Recap

Jamie

Ernest is back, Jack! Right? It’s the same guy each time? Anyway, unbeknownst to Ernest he has a doppelganger on death row. A fateful turn on jury duty unexpectedly gets them switched and his whole life is turned upside down when he’s stuck in jail. Can he escape, stop the criminal, and get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Ernest Goes to Jail.

How?! Meet Ernest P. Worrell. A dim but well-meaning janitor at a bank. Everyone there loves him and wants him to succeed as a future bank teller except the cranky president of the bank. Booooooo. Oh and he also becomes magnetic whenever he is electrocuted instead of dying. Not sure why. Anyway, in a wild coincidence he is called to jury duty for the trial of a toady for a local crime lord, Nash, who is just days away from his time in the electric chair and is an exact doppelganger for our poor Ernest. Realizing an opportunity the criminal convinces the judge to allow the jury to tour the prison during which the crime lord pulls the ol’ switcheroo and leaves poor Ernest in his place. Double boooo. While Ernest tries to navigate the hilarious world of maximum security prison, Nash is planning to rob the bank, sexually assault Ernest’s very kind female coworker (and love interest?), and probably do a whole bunch of other nasty stuff. Ernest attempts to escape to no avail, only to find that when they try to electrocute him it merely imbues him with super electromagnetic powers. With said powers he blows that joint (with the help of a prisoner with a heart of gold, Lyle) and gets to the bank just in time to try to stop Nash from blowing the vault and killing his coworkers. An all-out brawl ensues ending with Ernest once again getting electrocuted, gaining the ability to fly via polarization, and flying the bomb into the night sky where it appears he is killed. However, he falls back to Earth right on top of Nash, incapacitating him for good and then smash cut. THE END.

Why?! I’m actually not sure… I think it has something to do with the American dream. Like sure Ernest is dumb, but he’s nice and works hard, so shouldn’t that count for something? Interestingly they don’t make any claim that Ernest is actually good at his job despite his shortcomings. In fact they make it clear that he is quite bad at it. A convicted killer on death row comes straight out of jail and is so much better than Ernest at his job that he is immediately offered the promotion that Ernest has been trying hard to get. It’s actually kinda sad when you think about it.

Who?! Big time shout out to the true friend Ernest met in Jail, Lyle. He’s a big enforcer type who turns out to have a heart of gold (and an unrivaled mane of hair). The actor was actually former professional kickboxer and heavyweight boxer Tex Cobb. He’s probably best known for getting absolutely destroyed by Larry Holmes in an unlikely title fight. Some interesting rumors surrounded his career, including some drug and gambling stuff that was allegedly connected to his sudden retirement from the sport in 1993 and a claim that he was supposed to be the opponent for Muhammad Ali’s last fight but broke his arm saving a friend from a bar fight and had to back out.

What?! In some ways you can think of the entire franchise as a product placement. Ernest started as a character used in a number of commercials and eventually he himself became the product. Ironically once that became the point all the products in this film are cartoon versions and not real product placements.

Where?! Unsurprisingly, given Ernest’s roots, this film is set in the great state of Tennessee. Even if it weren’t predictable, it’s made clear at the very least by the Tennessee license plates on some of the main characters’ cars. C.

When?! This is actually a funny question. There is a calendar in Ernest/Nash’s cell with dates being crossed off, but there doesn’t seem to be much indication of what month the calendar is supposed to represent. Likely this is just a prop calendar, but I like to think that it is actually a nonspecific generic calendar that they give prisoners. You do see a January 1990 calendar hanging in the bank. Again likely just grabbed a prop and hung it up to the first page, but gotta assume the bank is actively using the calendar and it’s accurate. KnowhutImean? B-

So I watched Ernest’s “friend” Escape Plan: Hades first and that film is a whole bunch of nonsense. At times I thought they were speaking a different language or something because it was hard to follow exactly what was happening. It looked nice, though, with its fancy robots and fancy prison and fancy fight scenes. But it’s all fluff and was actually pretty boring. As if they didn’t really care to make a comprehensible film, but rather just an entry in their visual portfolio so they could try to get an even bigger and fancier job. I can certainly see why it didn’t go to theaters. As for Ernest, I daresay I actually kinda enjoyed myself. Ernest is just a silly character and his schtick lands quite often as he mugs and goes off on some overly-serious monologue on acting or business or the like. I can understand why I liked the films as a kid even if I almost definitely didn’t understand how crazy the attempted sexual assault by Nash is or the fact that Ernest is nearly executed via electric chair. Probably a full twenty minutes where the film starts to venture into the twilight zone away from the harmless fun that otherwise makes the franchise what it is: enjoyable stupidity. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I forget that the Ernest films were a real thing. Like … if my parents had told me that it was some Canadian TV movie and that no one else had seen it I would have just shrugged and said “yeah makes sense”. But it isn’t … this was released to over 1000 theaters in 1990. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I watched the trailer, and made the notes, and read the reviews … but I still had a sneaking suspicion I would like this film. Why? First because I watched it as a kid. Something about Ernest must just remind me of simpler times. But more important I’ve watched Ernest Goes to Camp more recently, about 7 years ago, and I thought that was actually a lot better than you might think. I was sure I was going to think the same thing here.

The Good – Ernest is goofy harmless silliness. Varney himself is top notch, with both the physicality necessary for a kids’ movie character and the ability to do some goofy impressions. As the heart and soul of the film there is little more I would ask him to do. I dig the surrealist atmosphere this movie takes, the bright pink guard uniforms, the completely open prison cells with twenty foot ceilings, a world filled with goofy caricatures. It all kind of works on a straight-to-video level.

The Bad – The film is aggressively dumb, and in that sense all of the reviews are totally justified. The love story comes across as creepy now I think as it is abundantly obvious Ernest had either a learning disability or has serious emotional issues he should be working out with a therapist. The film is crazy dark with Ernest going to the electric chair and basically killed while the prison warden looks on in glee. Super nuts. The film is extremely derivative, relying exclusively on the doppelganger / Prince and the Pauper trope to drive the story forwards.

You Just Got Schooled – The story of Ernest is pretty interesting, at least what you can glean from IMDb notes and elsewhere. This article seems like a pretty good roundup. Short story: Varney wanted to be an actor, but struggled to establish himself on the stage in NYC. Bouncing between his home in Kentucky and New York he ended up landing a spot with Cherry, an ad man. They ended up doing hundreds of commercials together, and then got a four picture deal (which Ernest Goes to Jail is part of). Afterwards they settled into a more lucrative straight-to-video deal, but unfortunately Verney died in 2000 prior to filming Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse (which I would have called Weekend at Ernest’s 2, but whatever). Fascinating stuff, a really really unique only-in-the-90s type franchise I think.

The BMT – Do I think Ernest is a BMT franchise … no. I don’t. Despite the fact that I would say that I’m fairly objective when it comes to films I saw when I was a kid (Hook, I’m looking at you), I can’t help but like Ernest. I think he’s harmless fun, so there. The character is sweet, and naive, and always tries to do what’s best. What’s wrong with that? Nothing I think … although they are pretty bad. I reserve the right to change my mind, but for now Ernest is pretty okay nonsense.

Sklogwords – After moving Welcome to Earth to the preview I needed a new game, and noticing that The Movie Database is a little light on keywords what bigger service could I provide the world that filling in entirely too accurate keywords for BMT films. For Ernest I chose the following ten in order: Prison, prison break, magnetism, bank robbery, janitor, electric chair, Tennessee, doppelganger, impersonation, animal actor. The funniest one is probably either doppelganger (where the film Southland Tales tends to come up a lot) or Tennessee which, fun fact, is also the setting of the Hannah Montana Movie! And now I’m the number one editor of the film Ernest Goes to Jail on TMDB. So there.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing here, which isn’t that surprising. Do you know what is surprising? That one of the main reasons listed in reviews as to why Ernest was unbearable was that he was either “too nerdy” or “too geeky”. Like, say what? It doesn’t feel like he is either of those things. At the very least he has a learning disability, but geeky? Nerdy? What was up with the early 90s yo?

Bring a Friend Analysis – As the number of wide release bad movies has dropped in the past few years I’ve often thought that it is likely that at least some of them are going direct to VOD. And Escape Plan 2: Hades seemed like a perfect test of this theory. Wrong! Wrong! The first film was surprisingly good, a decent team-up in Stallone and Arnold, a classic 80s actioner really. This? This is trash. This is dog poo thrown forcefully into my face. It has robots, and terrible actors, and AI, and … it is gibberish. It makes you feel like you are taking crazy pills. And then there is a ton of guns and killing … I just wanted some prison escapes man! This is worse that Prison Break season 2 when they forgot the show was about breaking out of prisons! On the one hand I’m glad to hear that, no, not all VOD features are suddenly on BMT’s radar. On the other I watched Escape Plan 2: Hades in real life, that is something I spent some of my short time on Earth doing. So that’s depressing. B as a friend, F- as an actual movie fit for human consumption.

Phew, long one, but I have a feeling the Bring a Friend cycle will tend to be that way. Cheerios,

The Sklogs