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

 

The 15:17 to Paris Recap

Jamie

Lifelong friends Spencer, Alek, and Anthony have spent their lives trying to find where they fit and best follow their sense of right. When they end up on a train targeted by a terrorist they will have to find their courage within. Can they stop the tragedy before it’s too late? Find out in… real life when this happened… but also The 15:17 to Paris.

How?! This is gonna be a hard one to write about because on the one hand it details a truly courageous act of bravery by a few young men and on the other hand it’s a film experiment that is at times the worst thing I’ve ever seen put to screen. Perhaps on the level with the Atlas Shrugged films. Anyway, the story is very straightforward, Spencer, Alek, and Anthony meet as kids in Sacramento and become good friends. They are outsiders fascinated by the military and serving the country. Despite moving away from each other they keep in touch throughout their life. Spencer and Alek join the military and both have somewhat underwhelming experiences. While Spencer is medically rejected for special forces, ending up instead in a support branch of the Air Force, Alek enlists in the Oregon National Guard and is mired in Afghanistan. Hoping to see a little of the world on break they travel to Europe with Anthony and travel from Italy to Germany to Amsterdam and eventually grab a train to Paris (I forget which one). On the train a terrorist attempts to take control but the three friends (along with a couple other passengers) tackle and subdue the assailant. They are heroes. THE END.

Why?! Why was the film made? Oh, no. The motivations of the characters. Right. Uh… it’s just life, man. Seriously, the film does a pretty good job of feeling pretty true to life. It’s doesn’t shirk over the fact that Spencer hoped to be a search and rescue ranger in the Air Force, but didn’t medically make the cut. It shows both his frustrations along with Alek’s in feeling like the military didn’t live up to what they imagined it would be. This does a good job of framing the final scene for exactly what it was, an act of bravery that easily could have resulted in their deaths.

Who?! Obviously one of the defining features of this film is that many of the real life people involved portrayed themselves… to mixed results. There was a funny rumor that Clint Eastwood asked France if the actual terrorist could portray himself which cannot possibly be true. So you heard it here first: the internet sometimes lies.

What?! This is actually a hard category given how true to life (almost cinema-verite) style this film is. There is a small moment later in the film where the two main characters make fun of a tiny Coke can on the train which is probably less product placement than Clint Eastwood asking them what they remember from the first part of the train ride and them saying “uh, we made fun of a tiny Coke can and fell asleep.”

Where?! This is actually an interesting entry given that the film was partially chosen as an A+ setting film. In reality Paris is in the title but they never actually reach Paris (until the end when they get military honors from the French President). It is actually mostly set in Sacramento and then Italy is the main setting for their actual road trip. So I’m downgrading it. B+

When?! Ha! Also interesting since 15:17 is a weird exact time in the title. Not the traditional A+ setting for this either.  Since it’s based on a real event there is technically a brief moment in the film where you know the date and exact time at which things are happening, which is kinda amazing. It deserves it. A+

This film is more or less a mixture of a Christian and experimental film that somehow was released to theaters for reason that are… actually readily apparent. It was directed by Clint Eastwood. For the first twenty minutes I had to seriously consider whether this was the worst film I had ever seen. I had to turn it off twice and take breaks to get through it. Once we got to when the main characters were grown up it got a bit better. The acting was still pretty rough (the main guy Spencer was actually surprisingly OK) but it felt brutally honest and I appreciated that. The ending was actually pretty crazy with how close they come to death and having to recreate that must have been really hard. Anyway, it’s bad and only worth watching if you are interested in seeing a (failed) experiment in filmmaking. As for Hard Ticket to Hawaii, I can 100% see why this is a beloved Z-movie series by Andy Sidaris. It is over the top and pretty much hits every cliche of 80’s/90’s action all in one neat package. We got crazy clothes, crazy frisbee and skateboard scenes (what the kids want), crazy boobs everywhere (what the kids want), giant explosions (what the kids want), etc. etc. etc. It does seem to toe the line between inadvertently hilarious and purposefully so. That always makes it tough, but kudos to them if they did purposefully make a bad film… because it’s certainly hard to tell. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Sometimes I wonder, hey, why can’t I get a job that will allow me to mess around and pay me millions of dollars to flush $30 million dollars down the toilet. Well if you’re Clint Eastwood you can! Let’s go!

The Good – I do think there is a place for films like this. I actually felt a bit embarrassed in watching it, because it felt like I was making fun of some good hearted story and people and actors and ideals somehow. None of the multitude of problems with the film reflect on the actual values on screen. People should be able to have and appreciate art that reflects their wholesome all-American flag-waving values. The final third of the film picks up and I can kind of see why Eastwood made the film and decided to make it like this. It is an interesting story as well, although maybe more interesting as a book rather than a movie.

P’s View on the Preview – Is there any doubt at all what everyone would be curious about going into this film? Can these people act? Would this experiment Eastwood cooked up work? If not for that you would kind of just have a not very interesting idea for a drama if I’m going to be frank. Otherwise it was going to be vaguely interesting to see what parts of the lives of these three people we would see, and whether Eastwood would pull a fake-baby-in-American-Sniper on us or something.

The Bad – Whhhhhoooooooooo doggy, these people can’t act. And the stunner? The worst part of the movie is the beginning when nearly everyone was actual established (cough, television, cough) actors! The first third of the film is a travesty. The middle is a whole lotta nothing, and then the end is fine if the people could act (but they can’t). Also, if this wasn’t made by Clint Eastwood it would (1) have a budget of $1 and (2) be a straight up Christian film released to 400 theaters. The grand experiment was a failure, despite all the potential good the film might have going for it in the end.

The BMT – Yeah I think it has to be, and perhaps it’ll get us to venture into the drama sphere more. While bad dramas tend to be dull, there was a lot of meat on this bone to pick apart. And it certainly took me out of my bad movie comfort zone. Something to think about.

Welcome to Earf – Judy Greer was in The 15:17 to Paris and Marmaduke with Owen Wilson, who was in I, Spy with Eddie Murphy, who was in Norbit with Terry Crews, who was in Blended with Adam Sandler, who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earth!

StreetCreditReport.com – Uh, what is the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah UP THE WAZOOOO! Here and here and here and here. People hated this film. It actually legit had to be done. How many bad dramas do we really get? I mean … considering we don’t really watch those low budget Christian films or VOD Nicholas Sparks knock-offs. Not many I tells ya!

Bring a Friend Analysis – Ah, the final friend of the cycle was Hard Ticket to Hawaii. This film is fun as hell. The stars are playboy playmates (wowza!) and they are extremely game for some silly shenanigans in Hawaii. Made by Andy Sidaris, the film is probably the closest we’ve gotten to the classic Room or Troll 2 territory. Actually it is probably really close to Troll 2. The issue I think I ultimately had was I had a hard time determining whether Sidaris was serious or not. The ending of the film certainly made me think he wasn’t (a giant terribly fake snake comes out of a toilet and they blast it with a bazooka), which is an obvious problem. You can’t make intentional bad films … but holy crap this gets close. A solid A- with an option to bump it to an A if I watch some other Sidaris films and realize that he is for reals.

You Just Got Schooled – I can’t think of something to do for 15:17 to Paris … but what about Hard Ticket to Hawaii! Maybe we can answer this question now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAVNlXUqaqI

Welp … yeah they are serious. For reals. “I’ll be a very sorry feminist” wowza! “A trained ape can make a movie” Phew! They compared their films to the Louvre! They don’t seem to be as delusional as someone like Tommy Wiseau or Claudio Fragasso, but they do seem very serious … fine I’ll give it an A!!! I’ve been convinced!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs