Kazaam Recap

Jamie

Shaq’s Kazaam, baby! And all our wishes come true. When Max finds a magic boombox with a genie inside he’s ready to use his wishes to try to get his dad back in his life. But an eeeevil nightclub owner has different ideas. Can Shaq and Max team up to stop the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Kazaam.

How?! Max is a trouble maker who’s always being hassled by the older kids in his class. Add a mom who just got engaged to a firefighter who WILL NEVER BE HIS REAL DAD and Max is having a bit of a tough time. One day, while escaping from the school bullies, he stumbles upon a magic boombox and *poof* out pops Shaq, ready to slam dunk and shatter the backboard of all his dreams. That’s because he’s a genie and until Max gives him three wishes to grant he’s stuck with him. Max is like “yeah, whatever,” and lets the supposed genie tag along to visit his dad, who’s back in town after bailing on him when he was just a baby. The dad is thrilled to see Max and sets him up with some VIP passes for a big concert that night. Riding high off this reunion, Max finally entertains the possibility that Shaq is a genie and Shaq in turn entertains us with some totally dope raps and BMX bike races. Finally Max asks for his first wish: junk food to the sky and *poof* there it is. Man, now Max has a father and a genie. What more could a kid wish for? Well, not so fast, cause that night they sneak to the big concert and Shaq is instantly a star, rapping his way into the show to everyone’s delight (particularly the eeevil club owner). Max tries to see his dad, but happens upon him in the midst of a shady deal with the club owner and is yelled at instead. Sad, Max tips off the school bullies about the shady deal and they end up stealing a valuable tape that could mean trouble for Max’s dad. Feeling bad, and getting yelled at by his dad again, Max sadly asks for Shaq to conjure a replacement tape, leaving him with only one wish. Later that night Shaq is distracted by his burgeoning music career so doesn’t notice that the eeevil club owner murders Max and steal the magic boom box. Enraged, Shaq breaks free of his bonds and slam dunks the club owner (literally… like actually does that). He then transforms into a djinn and brings Max back to life after which he grants his father a second chance since now he is all powerful and can do that shit. Max lives happily ever after with his new family while his father repents the error of his ways. THE END. 

Why?! Love and family. That’s all the kid wants. Fortunately Shaq goes all djinn on him and is able to grant him an ethereal wish, am I right? Everyone else is driven by greed, other than Shaq… he mostly wants freedom (naturally)… the freedom to have a crazy big rap career and to get down with the ladies again. High five.

Who?! Shaq is a supreme athlete-turned-musician-turned-actor and boy does he show his rapping skillz… … … anyway, Da Brat also shows up and everyone is like yo, she’s all that. I also have to point out that the main child actor in this, Francis Capra, grew up to play Weevil in Veronica Mars. Kinda mind blowing.

What?! A fun project would be to categorize all films by Coke vs. Pepsi. In this case, Shaq saps on Pepsi while he wait for his big concert to start. I feel like we’ve been on an insane Pepsi run (although the main series of Police Academy is squarely in the Coke camp). Really the most fun aspect of this would be when you get that random Tab film and are like WTF, mate?

Where?! This is pretty obviously set in NYC. I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily a great NYC film other than the fact that Max’s mom’s fiance is a New York city firefighter, which seems pretty classic. Given the setting I wonder whether you would characterize Shaq as an East Coast rapper. Born in New Jersey, grew up in Texas, playing basketball in Orlando, and about to move to LA. But obviously playing an NYC-based rapping genie trumps all that. East Coast. B.

When?! School year. I’ve started to think that this section of the email is too much work unless we are dealing with a holiday film (secret or otherwise). I think my main goal here will be to mostly promote the idea of finding out when random films take place rather than actually putting in the effort myself. Either that or insist we only watch secret Christmas films from now on. This is an F, but maybe one of our many fans will find differently and correct me (please?).

I’m going to start with some positives. The main kid is pretty good actually and I’m a bit of a sucker for kids films with some nice messages mixed in there. Troublemaker comes to respect his all-around-good-guy of a future stepfather while also realizing his biological father is flawed and helps steer him towards redemption? Sign me up. Also the raps are entertaining, although silly in a kids movie kind of way. As for the rest of the film? Well, it’s nonsense of course. It’s so “rad” that it is immeasurably lame and Shaq appears to have little interest in anything but showing off his rap skillz. I would guess that this movie could have been about anything, but if they let him rap and paid him the big bucks he would have said yes. “Rapping Paul Bunyan? I’m in.” Eventually it gets a little repetitive and boring that even when a crazy Middle Eastern stereotype kills Max by throwing him down an elevator shaft I barely batted an eye. I was like “sure, sure, just get on with it.” So overall I’d say solid, but not spectacular for a BMT kids film. As for Getting Lucky, I don’t have all that much to say. You can see what Troma was up to. Kind of an indie horror/comedy grindhouse production house that made films attuned to the vision of the head of the studio. You really get a sense that he made exactly what he wanted to see, which is interesting, but also comes off as on the same level as a college film production. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Shaq! We got Da Brat! We got a B-story that goes for miles and results in the cold-blooded murder of a child! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Everything about this film revolves around the B-plot. The B-plot is all I really remember about the film. The B-plot is one of the main things that perplexed reviewers at the time. The trailer actually makes the film look fun, but I know that’s a trick because there is nary a mention of music piracy, so it must only be showing half of the movie. As I said in the preview: recut Kazaam into just the B-plot. I dare you to, you cowards. What were my expectations? To like Shaq and also to love this B-plot. If this B-plot doesn’t go for days then I’m going to be furious.

The Good – I think with distance (and a whole lot more Shaq in our lives) his entire section of the film is pretty delightful. The kid actor is good, his interactions with him are fun, the way they dance around him being able to grant wishes and other silliness is amusing. The actual kids’ movie (complete with cameo by Da Brat, somehow a staple of the time) in the movie is actually not the worst thing in the world. Throw in a healthy dose of teaching kids that divorce isn’t their fault and step-dads can be pretty cool, and what’s now to love? Best Bit: Shaq, he’s a cheesy actor, but oozes charm.

The Bad – I remembered the B-plot of the film (and also that the kid falls a few stories multiple times during the film) … but no matter what I remembered I still couldn’t help but burst out laughing when Max’s father mentioned his “million dollar tape” and “music piracy” scheme. I guess the screenwriters must have known Shaq was coming on board, and they knew Shaq wanted to rap in the film, and so they needed some reason for Max to be in danger because of that … but music piracy? So weird. Without that the film is just a bog-standard kids film. With it it transcends B-plots and becomes something else entirely. Oh, and yeah, the kid actually is killed at the end which was pretty confusing for a hot second before you remember there is a genie who can bring him back to life. Fatal Flaw: A B-plot so ludicrous it blinded everyone to any virtue the film otherwise might have had.

The BMT – This is like Nine Lives on steroids. Nine Lives wishes it had the B-plot of Kazaam. Here’s the thing, Kazaam isn’t that entertaining. At times it is mostly just Max crying about his father and is somewhat sad (and the bullying in the film is off the chain, Max gets the shit kicked out of him a bunch). But the B-plot? It is the quintessential example. I could be misremembering something, but this has to be the best B-plot ever made, right? And it wasn’t by accident they definitely added it in after Shaq was attached. Legendary. Did it meet my expectations? And more, but I should be clear: I never want to watch Kazaam again. It just has the best B-plot in children’s film history.

Roast-radamus – I have to say, a legendary Cameo (Who?) by Da Brat (who, you might remember, was the musical guest on the second episode of All that, so yeah, lot’s of appearances of Da Brat in my life at the time). In the end I decided it was a really solid Product Placement (What?) for Pepsi in particular, although there are arguments for Jif and M&Ms among many others. And the Setting as a Character (Where?) for NYC is really good as Max’s obvious failure by the New York City public school system is a subject of much consternation by his mother. I think closest to BMT, mainly, again, for the B-plot.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Imagine if they made a Sequel? And I got the perfect plot. Kazaam, an all powerful Djinn is now doing his thing in LA. He’s rapping, producing music, starring in movies, the works. But one day his powers start fading. What could it mean? Reading up on Djinn lore, he realizes that the moment he saved Max’s life it created a connection, as long as Max’s bloodline is doing well, he keeps his powers, but if he fails them he becomes mortal. Going back to NYC he finds Max, a famous inventor, but his family isn’t doing well. His son has fallen in with a gang, and Max just doesn’t know what to do. Well, Kazaam knows what to do. He makes Max into a genie, and tasks him with helping his son out of his predicament. There is a fun montage of Kazaam showing Max how to make wishes, and Max is disguised as Shaq so his son won’t know (double the Shaq!). And in the end, Max learns a valuable lesson in love, and his son stands up for himself and comes back home. And Kazaam? Well, he’s back to full power baby! Ka2aam. You know that is how it would be stylized and you hate it. Look into your heart, you know it to be true!

Bring a Friend Analysis – We really went with a curve ball this week and watched Getting Lucky a 1990 Troma distributed film made guerrilla style with nary a professional actor in sight. The film is pretty weird, but because it is Troma it also somehow manages to be weird enough to be interesting. To really boil it down, a boy finds a leprechaun in a beer bottle and gets three wishes and uses them to get the girl of his dreams. After the first attempted rape scene, I was like Tony should be in prison. After the second, I was like man the 90s were wild, Tony should be in prison. But then after the third when Tony DOES go to prison? I was blown away. The film knowingly winks at the camera with the final horseback chase scene and shish kabob fight, and barely has a plot, but something about it is compelling. It is a little like a Neil Breen film in that you eventually acclimate to Michael Paul Girard’s weird vision and enjoy it on some level beyond what the actual movie provides. But I’m still giving it a B-. It is just a hard sell considering the subject matter and the script which seems like it was barely written by a 12-year-old boy. Maybe someday I’ll be able to put it into better context within the Troma oeuvre.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Kazaam Quiz

Oh man, so while I was in this abandoned building I fell three stories and I’m pretty sure I’m dead and this entire movie is a dream … regardless I at least have a massive concussion and can’t remember anything. Do you remember what happened in Kazaam?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film Max meets the genie Kazaam in an abandoned building. Why did he go into the building?

2) Max goes to meet his long lost father Nicholas Matteo. How does he find out where he is?

3) What is Max’s father’s job and why is he in trouble?

4) What three events make Max’s father’s eeeeeeeeeevil boss suspect that Kazaam is a genie?

5) What are Max’s three wishes?

Bonus Question: How many years in prison did Max’s father get for the concert fire?

Answers

Kazaam Preview

Jamie and Lindsey turn a corner heading for the stairs to the rooftop only to stop short at the sight of the cyborg bad movie twins. They are talking with a man hidden in the shadows who shouts for the cyborgs to stop them. Scrambling up to the roof, Jamie follows the steamy water pipe until finally he and Lindsey stand by two dials. “Here goes nothing,” they say, initiating the emergency electronic wash. With a loud boom they are blown backwards across the rooftop, landing at the feet of the cyborgs. But before they can destroy Jamie and Lindsey with their fearsome robot strength a voice rings out, “not so fast!” Freed from their computer simulation prison by the water and returned to their young, super athletic bodies, Patrick and Kyle stand ready for a fight. The shadowy figure approaches, slowly clapping. “Impressive,” he says softly, “I knew you were clever Patrick, but I didn’t think you had it in you to match wits with me. Certainly not your meathead brother there and his sad bunch of friends. But I guess there was some reason you always were our publisher’s favorite.” And with that he steps from the shadows and Jamie and Patrick gasp. That piece of shit Manfred Long. “You goddamn hack,” Patrick spits, “I should have known if there was anyone who would shamelessly rip-off the BMT brand it would be you.” But Manfred just chuckles at that and waves the Cyborgs over to Jamie, Kyle, and Lindsey. “Take them,” he says, “I want to have a little chat with Patrick here. See if we can’t make a deal. I now have the power to make any wish you want come true… as long as you play ball.” And with that he holds up the Obsidian Dongle. That’s right! It’s the original Wishmaster of the NBA (as everyone called him) Shaq and the 90’s rapping genie classic Kazaam. I think probably this was just a bit past prime time for Patrick and I so I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Let’s go!

The cyborgs approach Jamie, Kyle and Lindsey with their evil dead eyes glowing red. Gulp! Looks like the end for our heroes, that is until they hear a whistle from above and they see Rachel the Pretzel Girl soaring in on one of their hang gliders. “You feeling lucky, punks?” she shouts and Kyle pumps his fist at her wholly original quote. Let’s go! We are taking a risk with a Troma film for the Kazaam pairing and watching Getting Lucky about a Leprechaun that gives a nerd a chance at… well, getting lucky. Let’s go!

Kazaam (1996) – BMeTric: 83.8; Notability: 30

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 0.4%; Notability: top 28.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 2.5%; Higher BMeT: Barb Wire; Higher Notability: Eraser, The Fan, Spy Hard, Jingle All The Way, Chain Reaction, Daylight, Eddie, The Associate, Up Close & Personal, Mulholland Falls, Dear God, Sgt. Bilko, Eye for an Eye, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Crow: City of Angels, Space Truckers, In Love and War, Joe’s Apartment, High School High, and 50 more; Lower RT: The Dentist, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, Ed, Big Bully, Ripe, Bio-Dome; Notes: Wow that BMeTric is gaudy. How have we avoided doing this film until now? A sub-3.0 on IMDb is absurd for such a wide release, it is incredible.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – “Kazaam” is a textbook example of a filmed deal, in which adults assemble a package that reflects their own interests and try to sell it to kids. How else to explain a children’s movie where the villains are trying to steal a bootleg recording so they can sell pirated copies of it? What do kids know, or care, about that? The movie stars Shaquille O’Neal, the Orlando Magic’s superstar center, as Kazaam, a genie who is released from captivity in an old boom box and has to perform three wishes for a little kid (Francis Capra). Right there you have a wonderful illustration of the movie’s creative bankruptcy. Assigned to construct a starring vehicle for Shaq, the filmmakers looked at him, saw a tall bald black man, and said, “Hey, he can be a genie!” At which point, somebody should have said, “OK, that’s level one. Now let’s take it to level three.” Shaq has already proven he can act (in “Blue Chips,” the 1994 movie about college basketball). Here he shows he can be likable in a children’s movie. What he does not show is good judgment in his choice of material. This is a tired concept, written by the numbers. Kids old enough to know about Shaq as a basketball star will be too old to enjoy the movie. Younger kids won’t find much to engage them. And O’Neal shouldn’t have used the movie to promote his own career as a rap artist; the soundtrack sounds less like music to entertain kids than like a trial run for a Shaq album.

(Wow, he cuts right to the core. And yeah, that’s called a great B-plot. This movie sounds kind of amazing for that reason alone, I love B-plots that make no sense for a kids movie.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFVaxa1UKNg/

(Looks fun. Although now I remember why we haven’t done this one yet … it’s a kids movie. This is definitively a kids movie. Just give me all B-plot. Recut the entire film into just the B-plot.)

DirectorsPaul Michael Glaser – (Known For: The Running Man; The Cutting Edge; Future BMT: Band of the Hand; The Air Up There; BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Nominated for an Emmy for directing an episode of Miami Vice. He played Starsky in Starsky and Hutch. He also directed a great Criminal Minds episode starring Jason Alexander called Masterpiece.)

WritersPaul Michael Glaser – (BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Interestingly his only real attempt at writing apparently. I have to imagine he did uncredited stuff previously and probably just did too much tickering as the director and got a credit.)

Christian Ford – (BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Wrote an episode of Deep Space Nine which I can already tell I was probably fuming at since Kai Winn played a big role in it (she was a central long-running villain in the show).)

Roger Soffer – (Known For: Throne of Elves; BMT: Kazaam; Notes: Was Ford’s writing partner. Looks like they must have parted ways at some point since Soffer got his Throne of Elves credit in 2017 well after the bulk of their writing work.)

ActorsShaquille O’Neal – (Known For: Hubie Halloween; The Lego Movie; The House Bunny; What Men Want; Uncle Drew; Thunderstruck; Future BMT: Scary Movie 4; Good Burger; After the Sunset; The Smurfs 2; Blue Chips; The Wash; BMT: Grown Ups 2; Blended; Jack and Jill; Freddy Got Fingered; Kazaam; Steel; Show Dogs; Chairman of the Board; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Steel in 1998; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Blended in 2015; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Blue Chips in 1995; Notes: Y’all know Shaq. Probably the best NBA actor ever, even if he doesn’t always choose the best roles. A four time NBA champion with the Lakers and Heat, he might be the most dominant big man in history (and if not that, he’s at least the most unique given his body shape).)

Francis Capra – (Known For: A Bronx Tale; SLC Punk!; Veronica Mars; Blood and Bone; Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home; Rampart; Black Irish; Dishdogz; Future BMT: A Simple Wish; BMT: Crank; Kazaam; Notes: Not related to Frank Capra. Amazingly I recognize him mostly from his adult role as Eli Navarro (Weevil) in Veronica Mars. He looks quite different now obviously.)

Ally Walker – (Known For: While You Were Sleeping; Singles; Happy, Texas; Welcome to Hollywood; When the Bough Breaks; Mischief Night; Wonderful World; Eye of the Storm; The Seventh Coin; Future BMT: Bed of Roses; Steal Big Steal Little; BMT: Universal Soldier; Kazaam; Notes: Has been pretty much continuously employed in major television roles since the mid-90s besides taking a 10 year break while she was raising a family in the early 2000s. Was the star of the show Profiler.)

Budget/Gross – $20 million / Domestic: $18,937,262 (Worldwide: $18,937,262)

(Yep, a huge bomb, and likely Ebert is right in this case. There is no way this didn’t derail any cinematic career Shaq could have had (well … until he became a staple of Adam Sandler comedies I suppose, he was in at least four of those).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (2/37): Crafted from a mix of genre clichés, Kazaam doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be, and Shaq’s larger-than-life charisma is stifled by rote filmmaking and an unimaginative story.

(Yeah, sounds about right. Two good reviews, and they basically just say Shaq is charming and the film old-school but fine.)

Reviewer Highlight: Kazaam never brings off the trick we most want to see: It fails to make the jolly, 7-foot-1 Shaq larger than life. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Poster – Sha-blam

(Love the font, hate everything else. Like Ebert said it makes you wonder about the choices Shaq was making at the time. Like he can actually act and is charming as hell and yet he apparently was so keen on being a rapper that he did this shit. The poster looks like it’s for a straight-to-video talking cat movie or something. D)

Tagline(s) – The world’s most powerful genie has just met his match. (F)

(The world’s most powerful genie… as opposed to all those less powerful genies we are familiar with? It’s amazing that they were so set on using this generic tagline that they tried to force it. It no longer even makes sense. I think I hate it… yup, I hate it.)

Keyword(s) – genie

Top 10: Aladdin (2019), Bedazzled (2000), Aladdin (1992), Weird Science (1985), Aladdin (2020), Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road (2002), Kazaam (1996), Burying the Ex (2014), The Tale of Despereaux (2008), Five Children and It (2004)

Future BMT: 13.9 Three Wishes (1995)

BMT: Kazaam (1996)

Matches: Kazaam (1996), The Lamp (1987), Miracle Beach (1992), Wishman (1992), Pretty Cool Too (2007), Wish Me Luck (1995), Djinn (2008), Wildest Dreams (1990), The Incredible Genie (1999), Shivers Down Your Spine (2015), Jinn (2016), Wishful Thinking the Series (2015)

(So few films with a genie … that somehow feels wrong, but yet, yeah … an all powerful, immortal being doesn’t leave much original storytelling ideas. The actual matches are mostly pretty small, Kazaam is the only major release. That is, if you want to be specific about the difference between a Djinn and a genie (this movie certainly does …))

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Efren Ramirez is No. 4 billed in Kazaam and No. 4 billed in Crank, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (4 + 4) + (1 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 14. If we were to watch Blue Chips, and Three Fugitives we can get the HoE Number down to 16.

Notes – Despite the fact that this film was a critical and financial disaster, Shaquille O’Neal has not expressed regret for his involvement. He said in a 2012 interview, “I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said, ‘Hey, here’s $7 million, come in and do this genie movie.’ What am I going to say, no? So I did it.”

John Costelloe plays a firefighter in this movie. In real life, he was a firefighter for 11 years before retiring in 1998. He also played a volunteer firefighter in The Sopranos (1999).

The main villain’s name is Malik, which is the Arabic word for king.

This movie is part of the false memory phenomenon (also called the “Mandela Effect”). According to many people, there was a movie named “Shazaam” starring Sinbad as the genie. This false memory was probably caused by a mix-up with this film and a costume Sinbad wore in 1994 when he hosted a TV broadcast of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). For April Fools’ Day 2017, the team of CollegeHumor Originals (2006) filmed a skit about alleged VHS footage of the Shazaam movie, with Sinbad starring as the genie.

Paul Michael Glaser’s last movie as a director, as of July 2021. He continues to direct television.

Fire Birds Recap

Jamie

Jake Preston is the greatest! Helicopter pilot, that is. After his friend is killed by a South American cartel’s helicopter ace, Jake is recruited to train with Brad Little on the new Apache attack helicopter. Can he get through the training and take down the cartel (and perhaps get the girl?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Fire Birds.

How?! Jake Preston wants only two things in life: to fly helicopters like a mofo and to win the War on Drugs. When his friend dies at the hands of a cartel’s hitman/attack helicopter pilot extraordinaire he jumps at the opportunity to be part of the group trained on the new Apache helicopter to go after him. The teacher is Brad Little. He’s long in the tooth but still the best helicopter pilot the army has ever seen. But he sees something in Jake. Something he never thought possible: a pilot even better than he is. That’s cause Jake Preston is the greatest! He breezes through most of the training and even crushes Little in boxing to boot. He even finds time for a little on-base romance with his former flame Billie who he still has the hots for (and you better believe she still has the hots for him). Things are going swimmingly until the hardest test in the program: a simulation of a night mission. Turns out Jake has a dominant eye problem and only one other pilot ever was able to get over the issue. That pilot? A man by the name of Brad Little. Boom. Little helps Jake get over his problem and soon they are both off to South America to take on the cartel. When they get there they are surprise attacked by the cartel who not only have a helicopter but a couple of fighter jets too. The Apaches take off and go head to head with the cartel’s air force taking them down one-by-one. Little is injured, but remember, Jake is the greatest and so even alone he is able to trick the cartel hitman and take him out. Hooray. With that the War on Drugs is won and everyone high fives. THE END.

Why?! Did you not notice the mention of the War on Drugs? The funniest aspect of all this is the entirely unironic framing of the War on Drugs as an actual war… like… as if direct military intervention in Central and South American countries was a clear and obvious strategy that would be employed across the globe. 

Who?! I have to dive deep on the fact that Dale Dye has a story credit on this film. I know Dale Dye as Captain Lang in Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday. ODF was a series of straight-to-video military action films that started with a Jeff Fahey vehicle set on train and then managed to move into two separate sequels involving submarine hijackings. The one that Dale Dye is in features one of the best (read: insane) characters ever put to film: Flint Lukash. This is all to say that Dale Dye… well… let’s say the man works. And yet this is the only film he ever got a writing credit on. Blows my mind.

What?! While it is obvious to say that this is one long advertisement for the US Army (true), it’s also important to note on occasion that Patrick and I are crazy people. So when I saw Nic Cage guzzling the same black and gold labelled beer throughout the film I know I would have to mention it here. Turns out that they can’t get enough Miller Genuine Draft in Fire Bird. Probably what made Nic Cage the greatest.

Where?! They tell you a little about where the final battle is through an intertitle pointing to the Catamarca Desert. When I watched I was pretty sure that meant Chile, but apparently I was confusing that with the Atacama Desert. Catamarca is in Argentina, but is the name of a province, not a desert as far as I can tell. Where they train is less clear. It seems like Arizona, and Patrick told me he found some evidence for that, so I’m gonna go ahead and given this a C+

When?! Too much of this is made up to really be convinced of any specific time. They do open with a quote from President George H.W. Bush from September 5th 1989 about the War on Drugs, so you can imagine it’s around then, but not much better. Feel like we’ve been on a cold streak in this category. D-.

Great movie to put on at your next Cage-a-thon. Not only will no one have seen it, but it’ll really put into perspective for those that only know late stage Cage that Nic Cage has never really changed. He’s always been late stage Cage. It’s also fun and funny to varying degrees throughout the film. One the one hand you have the ludicrous War on Drugs setting and Nic Cage screaming “I am the greatest!” over and over in your face. On the other you have Tommy Lee Jones doing a pretty solid and even keel performance, which kind of anchors the film a bit. And this was in Under Siege/Blown Away era TLJ, so he really was a wild card. But he channeled his The Fugitive performance here. Anyway, the film was actually not all that bad. The only aspect I thought was just blah was unfortunately Sean Young, who was given a pretty good female character to play and seemed disinterested in it. Weirdly, I almost wish I could see this film with Demi Moore in that role. As for Airborne, we tried something new in how we choose the Friends this year and boy has it paid off so far with Airborne. I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty ludicrous and, while perhaps a little confusing for those that aren’t giant Gutes-heads like Patrick and I, I think most people who are at least somewhat familiar with his work would find the whole concept hilarious. Oh and if there’s one thing I’m a sucker for it’s a film where someone has a lucky coin and Gutes got on. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Nic Cage. We got Tommy Lee Jones. We got Top Gun with Helicopters. We got Fire Birds! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Uh, Top Gun with Helicopters, nuff said, right? Wrong, the cast is also spectacular. So what could have gone wrong? From the reviews it appears it was too gung-ho America for even the most patriotic of critics. And that’s saying something considering critics liked Top Gun. What were my expectations? I think I’ll easily be able to divide my brain into the “well, this celebration of the War on Drugs seems a bit unsavory” side and the “wooooooo mf-ing helicopters! Bro, like … helicopters!!” side. And that means I might just have fun with this.

The Good – It is, indeed, Top Gun with helicopters. And if that is what you are looking for I have no idea why you would go away dissatisfied with this film. It gives you what you want, which is Nic Cage screaming in your face while helicopters do loop-de-loops and shoot things. Tommy Lee Jones is great and plays the veteran who doesn’t want to call it quits perfectly. The Arizona setting is beautiful, and the soundtrack is bumping. I think there is a lot to love here. Best Bit: It’s between Tommy Lee Jones and the sweet red convertible Nic Cage drives around.

The Bad – Now, if you were looking for actual Top Gun level filmmaking then that’s where we go a bit wrong. Mainly, it has to be Nic Cage’s fault in the end. It feels like Tom Cruise manages to ground what is otherwise an absurd jingoistic and homoerotic film into a blockbuster. Nic Cage manages to Nic Cage it up. Which is all well and good now, but then? I think people balked at it. Otherwise the only real complaint was that I knew they didn’t have the guts to kill off one of the main three characters. While this pleased me, you didn’t get the emotional gut check of Goose dying to tell you that you were, in fact, watching a real movie. Instead you are left thinking you watched a feel good family action film. Which isn’t the same. Fatal Flaw: As much as it wants to be, it isn’t Top Gun, not even close.

The BMT – I kind of liked this film and I think there is something to be said about the absurdity of the various forms both Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones take within their BMT repertoires. I can respect that. And as an almost-forgotten part of both of their filmographies it is better than it had any right to be, and also was ludicrous. I think there is a ton of room to watch military films from the 80s and 90s like this in the future, I think we’ve left a ton of those on the table over the years. Did it meet my expectations? Yup, I successfully partitioned by brain into two halves and managed to like this film quite a bit.

Roast-radamus – Two solid Product Placement (What?) for Miller (which Nic Cage guzzles throughout) and Tide (in the pivotal laundry room scene). Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Arizona which, shockingly, is not mentioned anywhere on IMDb or Wikipedia as the location of this film (but it is definitely set there, you can see it on a map). I think that is it amazingly, no MacGuffins or Twists this week. Closest to BMT I think, although it is getting close to Good as well, I did genuinely like this film a lot.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I mean, we definitely need a Sequel. This time it is Nic Cage’s turn to be the grizzled veteran. And who’s a nice young star around 25-30 years old to be the hot shot? Maybe someone like Joe Keery from Stranger Things could work, he has that irreverent charm, but also comes across as too cool for school most of the time. And what better way to kick this film into the 21st century than to make Joe Kerry an ex-professional video game player who, after his father died, decided to follow him into the military to become the pilot he could never be. Operating drones, the new frontier on the war on terror is drone-to-drone warfare, and my god, Joe if the mf-ing best! He shoots everything down left and right, but alas, he never did tell them why he actually quit video games. He sustained nerve damage in his video gaming hand after a drug fueled night on the town and car crash. Well, Nic Cage can help with that. With a little bit of practice on the road, he helps Joe switch his dominant hand from the right to left. And in the end Joe gets the girl, destroys the drones, foils a terrorist plot, and high fives with everyone! Fire Birds 2: Drone Warfare. Sounds terrible, but also like something I would see on Netflix next to The Ice Road starring Liam Neeson.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we watched the Steve Guttenberg classic Airborne (nope, not the one with Seth Green, the one from 1998). Why? Well, obviously this is also a movie about flying and aircraft, right? … Right? WRONG! In an amazing twist of fate there is an airplane for approximately 5 minutes total of the film near the beginning and right at the end, the rest definitely has its feet planted firmly on land. The tagline is even “Pray it doesn’t land”!!! How does that happen? Is it just a trick to try and pull in that sweet sweet Turbulence money? The movie is pretty run of the mill, a standard Steel Sharks affair (complete with lucky coin), and is almost exclusively notable for Guttenberg playing a hardcore special ops soldier. Sean Bean being in it (for maaaaaaaaaybe 5 minutes of total screen time?) is truly bizarre as well. It is one of those films where there are seven weird things just floating around in a mostly boring story. Reminds me of a Dudikoff film. If not for it being called Airborne with barely a plane in sight it would be a C, but with that I’ll promote it to a B. Goes along at a good clip with a weird hook to legitimize watching it, plus the twist at the end is hilarious.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Fire Birds Quiz

Oh boy. So get this, I’m training to be a sweet helicopter pilot and I was just about to definitely kill this drug lord when I got shot down, broke both of my legs, and got a massive concussion. Now I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Fire Birds?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) When the movie opens Nic Cage is testifying to an investigative committee about an incident he was involved in. What happened during the incident?

2) What kind of gum is Nic Cage’s absolute favorite? 

3) Nic Cage has an issue (and it isn’t that he’s the greatest). What is it and how do they find out about it?

4) How does he get over this issue?

5) During Operation Fire Bird our Fire Birds get off the ground and go after the bad guys. How many bad guys get got, and how many good guy casualties do we see from the three birds?

Bonus Question: How long does Nic Cage’s a Sean Young’s relationship last this time?

Answers

Fire Birds Preview

Patrick sips his mai tai and looks lazily around the bar in Party Town, USA. He and Kyle could no longer say how long they had been trapped in this never ending stream of party fun. For a while he kept reassuring Kyle that it was all a simulation, but his long bushy beard was now snow white and he had given up. They’d probably die here. Just like how the Vice President (who they rescued the day they arrived) had grown old and died peacefully a few years back. “Come on out here and party, dude,” Kyle yells to him, all the while dancing with one of the numerous bodacious bades that populated the city. Patrick waves him away with a sigh and gets back to his mai tai. Kyle plops down on the stool next to him. “Bro, I can always tell when you’re ready to poop on a party. You get that sad, party-pooper look in your eyes. You feeling blue?” Patrick nods. “Is it because we’ve been trapped in this party bar for 30-50 years?” Patrick nods again and sighs, “Yeah, sorry, man. I hate to rain on your parade.” Kyle shrugs and pats him on the shoulder, “You could never rain on my parade, bro. In fact, it never rains here at all. That’s what makes Party Town so great, right?” Suddenly Patrick looks around… that’s true. In 30-50 years it has never rained. Rain… water… mainframe. My god! He suddenly leaps up and looks around frantically before he sees it. The alarm. He looks up and sees the sprinklers Kyle had installed when he took over ownership of the bar. Just practical business sense he said… or a stroke of genius! “Fire,” Patrick whispers and Kyle just looks at him quizzically. “FIRE!” He screams. That’s right! We’re watching the Nic Cage/Tommy Lee Jones/Sean Young classic that we all remember, Fire Birds. It’s the helicopter knock-off of Top Gun that we were all clamouring for at the time and I can only assume it delivered on those points. Let’s go!

“Fire.” Jamie hears the whisper and pulls away from his steamy make out session with Lindsey. Was that Patrick he heard? Fire.. water… mainframe. “Where does that pipe lead?” He asks Lindsey, pointing at their steamy water pipe. “Uh,” she thinks, “up, I guess.” That’s right! We are starting in on our Bring a Friend cycle (the best cycle) with a little Guttenberg special, the 1998 film Airborne which is about a plane… or maybe a virus… I don’t know, but it def got the Gutes. Let’s go!

Fire Birds (1990) – BMeTric: 45.8; Notability: 25

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 4.4%; Notability: top 21.2%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 4.6%; Higher BMeT: Captain America, Look Who’s Talking Too, Rocky V, Ghost Dad, Graveyard Shift, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Repossessed, Soultaker, Problem Child, Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection Higher Notability: RoboCop 2, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Predator 2, Days of Thunder, Jetsons: The Movie, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Air America, Captain America, Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory, Marked for Death, The Rookie, Rocky V, 3 Men and a Little Lady, Stella, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Revenge, Bird on a Wire, Ghost Dad, Another 48 Hrs., Mr. Destiny, and 33 more; Lower RT: Problem Child, Death Warrant, Graveyard Shift, Repossessed, Coupe de Ville, Loose Cannons, Madhouse, Funny About Love, Soultaker, Ghost Dad, Spaced Invaders; Notes: The BMeTric is a lot higher than I would have expected since it only have around 6K ratings which is amazing low. We have obviously left a lot on the table as far as 1990 films are concerned. Very interesting that Soultaker gets a shoutout.

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  High-tech Apache helicopters (with an assist from their pilots) take on South American drug cartels from the air. Standard military issue with a ruptured-duck script and no romantic chemistry between professional rivals Cage and Young. Jones doesn’t evoke memories of Gregory Peck in Twelve O’Clock High when he pep-talks Cage into a “full-tilt boogie for freedom and justice.”

(I’m having a hard time pinning down a definition for “ruptured-duck”. It has to do with a pin given to those honorably discharged in WWII, that much is for sure. So I guess he’s saying the film is ho-hum (standard issue) and the script is either old-school or maybe just bad (i.e. discharged)? Fascinating turn of phrase, Leonard.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uOcWJ9ae5A/

(Yeah that is Top Gun for helicopters. All it is missing is Nic Cage buzzing the tower. Also as insane as it sounds that shows the entire climax of the film which is pretty nuts.)

DirectorsDavid Green – (Known For: Buster; Car Trouble; BMT: Fire Birds; Notes: British, he directed a load of Emmerdale Farm episodes (a British Soap). IMDb claims he has two new directorial efforts in production, but somehow I doubt that.)

WritersStep Tyner – (BMT: Fire Birds; Notes: Yeah so if you look around and search his name with Belvoir (Swensson’s production company) you can find that they were West Point classmates and Tyner wrote the original script, and Swensson marketed it. So that is how they are associated.)

John K. Swensson – (BMT: Fire Birds; Notes: I found his profile. It even mentions Fire Birds as just like a three year period of his life, strange.)

Dale Dye – (Known For: Occupation: Rainfall; BMT: Fire Birds; Notes: Apparently a military advisor on a number of films which he often gets bit parts in. This is no different, he plays A.K. McNeil in the film.)

Nick Thiel – (Known For: White Fang; Shipwrecked; The Experts; Future BMT: V.I. Warshawski; The Associate; BMT: Fire Birds; Notes: A producer for a ton of television which he also writes for. From 1987 to 1996 he wrote feature films. Nominated for an Emmy for Magnum P.I.)

Paul F. Edwards – (Known For: Trackdown; High-Ballin’; BMT: Fire Birds; Notes: Wrote a bunch of television including the show Wizards and Warriors.)

ActorsNicolas Cage – (Known For: Pig; Prisoners of the Ghostland; Willy’s Wonderland; The Rock; The Croods: A New Age; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; World Trade Center; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; Kick-Ass; Mandy; Color Out of Space; Leaving Las Vegas; National Treasure; Raising Arizona; Face/Off; Snowden; Con Air; Jiu Jitsu; Adaptation.; The Croods; Future BMT: Knowing; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Next; 8MM; Windtalkers; G-Force; Trapped in Paradise; Amos & Andrew; BMT: Gone in Sixty Seconds; Ghost Rider; Drive Angry; Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Left Behind; The Wicker Man; Season of the Witch; Trespass; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; Justice; Bangkok Dangerous; Fire Birds; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 2007 for The Wicker Man; in 2008 for Ghost Rider, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Next; in 2012 for Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, and Trespass; in 2013 for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Seeking Justice; and in 2015 for Left Behind; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Snowden in 2017; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 2007 for The Wicker Man; and in 2012 for Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, and Trespass; Notes: Won an Oscar of Leaving Las Vegas and was nominated for Adaptation. You know Nic Cage, he is apparently going to play Joe Exotic in a tv show about Tiger King, but somehow I doubt that will ever actually be produced.)

Tommy Lee Jones – (Known For: Captain America: The First Avenger; The Client; No Country for Old Men; Space Cowboys; Ad Astra; Wander; Jason Bourne; Men in Black; The Fugitive; Natural Born Killers; The Comeback Trail; Lincoln; JFK; Men in Black 3; Under Siege; Small Soldiers; The Missing; Love Story; The Homesman; Shock and Awe; Future BMT: Criminal; Men in Black II; Double Jeopardy; The Family; U.S. Marshals; The Hunted; Blown Away; Man of the House; Rules of Engagement; Just Getting Started; Savage Islands; BMT: Batman Forever; Mechanic: Resurrection; Fire Birds; Notes: Won and Oscar for The Fugitive and was nominated for three more. One of his first roles was 21 episodes of One Life to Live in the 1975.)

Sean Young – (Known For: Dune; Blade Runner 2049; Blade Runner; Bone Tomahawk; Ace Ventura: Pet Detective; Wall Street; Stripes; No Way Out; Cousins; Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader; Escape Room; Mockingbird Don’t Sing; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; The Pit; A Random Encounter; Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde; Poor White Trash; Darling; The Boost; Parasomnia; Future BMT: Sugar & Spice; Once Upon a Crime…; Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend; A Kiss Before Dying; Young Doctors in Love; Love Crimes; BMT: Fatal Instinct; Fire Birds; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress, and Worst Supporting Actress for A Kiss Before Dying in 1992; Nominee for Worst Actress, and Worst Screen Couple for Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde in 1996; Nominee for Worst Actress for Love Crimes in 1993; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress in 1993 for Once Upon a Crime…; and in 1995 for Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; Notes: I kind of wish they had tossed a cameo into the new Dune for her. Instead she is making a film called Planet Dune in which is basically just a horror version of Dune? You can’t make this stuff up.)

Budget/Gross – $22 million / Domestic: $14,760,451 (Worldwide: $14,760,451)

(Ooooooof that is brutal. They thought they were getting Top Gun 2?! They were getting like … a straight-to-video Seagal war film.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (2/21): Despite the talent on board, Fire Birds is little more than a subpar military adventure sporting video game-like action, outdated philosophy, and uneven acting.

(Yup, yup, and yup. Much like Tackleberry’s “I can’t believe they won’t let me murder innocent people anymore” speech from Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, the gung-ho jingoism of the military films of yesteryear was never going to play well in the 90s.)

Reviewer Highlight: The action here is more like something you’d expect to pop a quarter in a machine for. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Poster – Rage Cage and Tommy Lee Bones

(That poster cannot be denied. Man, that’s fire (birds). Nice orange color, dope helicopters, fading those face sooooo sweet. Hooo weeee. If only they really leaned into some font work. Then we’d really have something. B.)

Tagline(s) – The best just got better. (A+ x 10)

(Ha. Yeah, I mean. Yes. I like that because it sounds like words but in fact is meaningless. You heard about the best? Yeah… well, guess what? They just got better. It gets funnier the more I think about it.)

Keyword(s) – helicopter-pilot

Top 10: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Army of the Dead (2021), Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), Fast & Furious 7 (2015), Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018), Jurassic World (2015), Kong: Skull Island (2017), Extraction (2020), Spectre (2015), American Sniper (2014)

Future BMT: 44.3 Home Fries (1998), 35.9 Air America (1990), 29.2 Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), 27.6 Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), 27.3 The Thing (2011), 26.7 American Assassin (2017), 19.4 Terminator Salvation (2009), 18.4 Crazy People (1990), 14.8 Angels & Demons (2009)

BMT: Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), The Predator (2018), Fifty Shades Darker (2017), CHIPS (2017), Mechanic: Resurrection (2016), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), The Darkest Minds (2018), Cradle 2 the Grave (2003), Fire Birds (1990)

Matches: Fire Birds (1990), Dance of the Dwarfs (1983), Avalanche (1999)

(Cooool plot. The little lines tell you how many films (and how big they were) basically. Not sure why helicopters were a huge thing in the 10s, I guess it is most likely that just big films got keywords around then. I am very excited to continue the helicopter 1990s train rolling with Air America some day.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 8) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Nicolas Cage is No. 1 billed in Fire Birds and No. 1 billed in The Wicker Man, which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (1 + 1) + (5 + 1) = 8. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – K. Monty Jordan, one of the stunt team, was a real U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam, and retired as a Colonel after Operation: Desert Storm.

The enemy jet fighter is portrayed by a Swedish SAAB J 35F ‘Draken’ (Dragon).

Some of the exterior shots of “Fort Mitchell” were filmed at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, and the inn, where Billie and Preston go, is actually The Tack Room, also in Tucson which was, at the time, a 5-star restaurant.

The “Scorpion” attack helicopters are actually Hughes MD-500D Defenders.

The bar scene was filmed at VIP Showclub located at 5120 E Speedway in Tucson, which was a topless bar at the time. The club was made to look like a regular nightclub with a live band, as seen in the movie. Filming took place over three days. Location is currently Ten’s Showclub.

The music that plays during the first half of the film’s original theatrical trailer is 80s classic “Nowhere Fast” composed for and made famous by the movie Streets of Fire (1984).

Some of the scenes were built on a set inside the Tucson Convention Center.

The flight simulator motion base is actually a AH1 flight weapons simulator (cobra helicopter) located at the Western Army Aviation Training Site in Arizona.

The original title of the film was “Night of the Apache”

The Catamarca Desert is specifically located in Argentina.

Infamously known among critics as Top Gun (1986) with helicopters.

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

The Intruder Quiz

Oh man, so last night I discovered that my landlord was living under my apartment like a weirdo. But then … the last thing I remember was him attacking me and then nothing. Huh. Do you remember what happened in The Intruder?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Scott and Annie are living the high life in the start-up scene of San Francisco. Killing it, natch. What does Scott do for a living?

2) But Annie wants to start a family (natch) and she’s got her eye on moving out of the big city to the quiet life of Napa Valley. That’s where they meet Charlie and his beautiful home. What is the name of Charlie’s estate?

3) One of the many things that Scott does that annoys Charlie is that he won’t abide by guns, whereas Charlie loves to hunt. Why doesn’t Scott like guns?

4) During the course of the film Charlie claims he is or will be living in two different places. Name them, and also where has Charlie actually been living this entire time?

5) While investigating the age old question “what’s the deal with Charlie, the weirdo who used to own my house?” Scott discovers that Charlie had gotten into two major bits of legal trouble culminating in him having to sell the house to Scott. What did Charlie do? What’s the deal with Charlie?!

Answers

The Intruder Preview

“Let’s blow this joint,” Patrick says, approaching Jamie’s glass prison, but he’s greeted with a shush. The Baldwins are acting out their favorite roles for him and they just got to his favorite part of Bio-Dome. But the moment is ruined and the Baldwin’s ask who the dope with the Rambos is. “Fine,” Jamie says peeved, “we can go.” The Baldwin’s laugh. “No one leaves here, bro,” they say, pointing to the lock on the door, “It’s the latest BMTNSA encryption tech.” It’s Jamie and Patrick’s time to laugh. With that they look at the lock and their faces go slack. The Baldwin’s and the Rambos look on in wonder as symbols flash across their glassy dolls eyes as their twin brains crush the encryption software. They punch in a series of numbers and the lock falls to pieces on the floor. Jamie steps out of prison and they predator high five. “With our twin powers combined,” Jamie says. Patrick nods and in that moment they realize that only together can they solve the Rich and Poe problem. “You… you forgot your cable-knit sweater,” Patrick says. Jamie responds by pulling the sweater over his head as the prison erupts in cheers. But just as they start to head out an alarm goes off. “Oh no! I forgot about my magnetic prison boots!” Jamie says pointing to his incredibly heavy boots. “They must be rigged to a separate alarm,” Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! It wails. That’s right! We’re watching the last of the Bring a Friend cycle, which also means we are transitioning to the final cycle of the year *gasp*. This is of course the current year cycle and so we chose the Dennis Quaid thriller The Intruder that looks just dumb enough in its thrills for our liking.

Meanwhile, Sticks and Stone look at the security feed with Vampiro. “What are we going to do?” Vampiro whines but Sticks and Stones slam their fists down on the table to silence him. “You know exactly what we’re going to do. We’re gonna stop those punks.” That’s right! We’re also watching the Randy Quaid kids film P.U.N.K.S. where he plays a major nerdy whose kid steals from top secret advanced weaponry. I always like to know what kind of stupid backronym they used to make the title P.U.N.K.S. but alas. It’s just a collection of all the characters’ last names. Booooo. 

The Intruder (2019) – BMeTric: 33.4 

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(Actually pretty impressive that it opened sub-6.0. Possibly there is a bit of something going on there, because usually rating open high because hardcore fans see it in theaters and review it well. But I choose not to read too much into it. A 30 BMeTric sounds about right.)

RogerEbert.com – 1 stars –  Like director Deon Taylor’s abysmal last film, “Traffik,” it takes forever to get to what would be considered “the good parts” in a better movie. It is also completely devoid of suspense despite numerous jump scares. Worst of all, its heroine not only does mind-numbingly stupid things, this film is so retro that it requires that she get rescued by her husband.

(Yeah sounds about right. Looking through the reviews it seems like it was designed as a “participation” film (plausibly a first of its kind? It is unclear whether a director has ever designed a film with that specifically in mind))

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKXvex7b1Ew/

(Meh. Looks kind of boring and predictable to be honest. And also, like the review, that all of the thrills are just from jump scares which are boring. Plus when the jump scares from from a lurking Dennis Quaid I’m not sure I find them thriller per se, but rather they seem more silly.)

Directors – Deon Taylor – (Known For: Black and Blue; Future BMT: Meet the Blacks; Chain Letter; Traffik; Supremacy; BMT: The Intruder; Notes: Black and Blue almost got bad reviews as well and was also considered predictable and boring. Notable for his Nitetale Series.)

Writers – David Loughery (written by) – (Known For: Nurse 3-D; Dreamscape; Lakeview Terrace; Future BMT: Obsessed; Money Train; Tom and Huck; Passenger 57; The Three Musketeers; Flashback; BMT: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; The Intruder; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in 1990; Notes: Went to Iowa State and grew up in Chicago.)

Actors – Michael Ealy – (Known For: Think Like a Man; Last Vegas; About Last Night; Margaret; Barbershop; Kissing Jessica Stein; Barbershop 2: Back in Business; Unconditional; Future BMT: Bad Company; Think Like a Man Too; The Perfect Guy; Takers; Miracle at St. Anna; Jacob’s Ladder; November; Underworld Awakening; For Colored Girls; BMT: 2 Fast 2 Furious; The Intruder; Never Die Alone; Notes: Does a lot of television work including the new show Stumptown with Cobie Smulders.)

Meagan Good – (Known For: Shazam!; Don Jon; Friday; Brick; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Think Like a Man; Eve’s Bayou; Jumping the Broom; A Boy. A Girl. A Dream.; Roll Bounce; Deliver Us from Eva; Future BMT: You Got Served; The Unborn; Biker Boyz; Venom; D.E.B.S.; Stomp the Yard; Saw V; The Cookout; 3 Strikes; Think Like a Man Too; Waist Deep; LUV; BMT: The Love Guru; One Missed Call; The Intruder; Notes: Has been acting professionally since she was four starting in commercials. Her sister is La’Myia Good who is in the hip hop group Bad Gyrl.)

Dennis Quaid – (Known For: A Dog’s Journey; The Day After Tomorrow; The Parent Trap; Traffic; Stripes; Footloose; Soul Surfer; Any Given Sunday; The Right Stuff; I Can Only Imagine; Frequency; Innerspace; Wyatt Earp; DragonHeart; Breaking Away; Far from Heaven; Enemy Mine; The Rookie; In Good Company; Dreamscape; Future BMT: Legion; Cold Creek Manor; Beneath the Darkness; American Dreamz; Yours, Mine & Ours; G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; Horsemen; Something to Talk About; Kin; Flight of the Phoenix; The Alamo; Caveman; Undercover Blues; Vantage Point; Switchback; Wilder Napalm; Pandorum; All Night Long; BMT: Jaws 3-D; Movie 43; What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Playing for Keeps; The Intruder; A Dog’s Purpose; Notes: Y’all know Dennis Quaid. Or at least, you know his band The Sharks. I always forget he is actually the younger brother to the initially much more successful Randy Quaid.)

Budget/Gross – $5–8 million / Domestic: $35,419,122 (Worldwide: $36,599,361)

(Huuuuuuge success. Now you won’t see a sequel, but you might see another faux-remake of a 90s/00s thriller with a non-white cast and an older actor like Quaid.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (30/94): The Intruder might appeal to fans of shout-at-the-screen cinema, but this thriller’s ludicrous plot robs it of suspense — and undermines Dennis Quaid’s suitably over-the-top performance.

(Ohhhhh yeah. When this film came out all of the reviews all said it was basically created to be yelled at in theaters. I forgot about that. That actually kind of makes me love it more. That it is so specifically that. Reviewer Highlight: Nearly every scene is practically an invitation for the audience to talk back to the screen and ask these people if they’ve lost their minds. – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Get Paid, Get Quaid, Gatorade (A)

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(Yes, yes, yes. Artistic, font has straight up people in it, and bold red in my face. Oh, and lest you think this doesn’t tell you a little about the plot of the film: check out those creepy Quaid eyes watching those people. I love it.)

Tagline(s) – Your House. His Home. (A)

(I also like this. It’s not impossible for a terrible film to have a good poster and a good tagline, but a pretty rare treat for us. Short, sweet, clever wordcraftsmanship, and tells me what’s up. It’s good.)

Keyword(s) – couple; Top Ten by BMeTric: 80.2 A Wrinkle in Time (2018); 79.4 Feardotcom (2002); 69.1 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010); 65.7 Chernobyl Diaries (2012); 60.9 Legion (2010); 59.7 Truth or Dare (I) (2018); 50.6 Couples Retreat (2009); 47.4 By the Sea (2015); 40.2 I Give It a Year (2013); 39.5 Life After Beth (2014);

(The twilight saga … when the hell are we going to do that now?! That is going to be brutal, those films suck. Not that they are particularly bad (the acting at least is fine), it is just a lot and shiny … nothings. They are all shiny nothings.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 18) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Meagan Good is No. 2 billed in The Intruder and No. 5 billed in The Love Guru, which also stars Jessica Alba (No. 2 billed) who is in Mechanic: Resurrection (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 5 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 18. If we were to watch Legion we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – In this movie Dennis Quaid plays the psycho terrorizing the couple who bought his old house. In Cold Creek Manor (2003), Quaid plays the husband of the couple who bought Stephen Dorff’s old house and are then terrorized by Dorff. (… this genuinely seems like a remake of that film. Too bad I can’t watch this one as a bonus at this point.)

Michael Ealy and Meagan Good also starred together in the Think Like A Man series.

This isn’t the first time Dennis Quaid played a Napa Valley resident. He previously played Nick Parker in The Parent Trap (1998), a Napa Valley resident who owned his own vineyard.

When Charlie is carrying Annie upstairs he says, “We’ve had this date from the beginning.” This is what Stanley Says to Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) just before he rapes her. (Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?)

Mercury Rising Recap

Jamie

Simon Lynch is an autistic child with a brain to solve puzzles. Art Jefferies is an FBI agent on the outs with the bureau. Their worlds collide when Simon inadvertently cracks a top secret government code and ends up in the crosshairs of government assassins. Can Art keep Simon safe and take out the bad guys (and maybe get the girl)? Find out in… Mercury Rising.

How?! Art is an FBI agent extraordinaire and he don’t take no guff from nobody. This of course gets him in hot water with his boss after a big undercover job goes south in South Dakota. Sent to desk duty he refuses to quit and boy howdy are we glad he did. That’s because poor little Simon, a boy with autism, is about to crack a new uncrackable government code that a couple of very smart dopes decide to put in a puzzle magazine for funsies. But when Simon cracks it with his beautiful mind, shit hits the fan and the bad guys start coming after Simon. A government hitman kills his parents but is spooked before getting Simon. Enter Art who uses his own beautiful mind to find Simon and figure out that something just isn’t right. Dead set on protecting the kid he foils the government hitman at every turn while dealing with a kid who he doesn’t understand and who doesn’t understand him (it’s touching). Soon people are dropping like flies and Bruce Willis builds a group of friends and strangers who realize that what seemed like paranoid delusions might actually be real and might actually go all the way to the top of the NSA. Oh no! In a climactic final scene they are able to foil the head of the NSA as he tries one last time to kidnap Simon and he totally murders him and everyone is like “good.” Soon Art finds himself visiting Simon in his new school and scores that big hug from Simon. Awwww. THE END. Big Question: How big a news story would this be? The head of the NSA is killed by police and falls off a skyscraper in Chicago… or would they use their spooky powers to hide it? GASP.

Why?! Our boy Bruce just can’t stay out of the action. He just does what’s right and what’s necessary without all that bureaucratic bullshit. The bad guy is just covering his ass and the child is just a child who loves puzzles (I identify).

Who?! Huh… how weird. I mean, we watched this film for Alec Baldwin and his bevy of brothers, but without realizing it we also picked a film with a sibling of another famous actor in it. Believe it or not John Travolta’s sister Margaret has a speaking role in this film! She’s a nurse that explains autism to Bruce Willis. We see you working Margaret Travolta.

What?! There is a shocking amount of product placement in this guy (Swiss Miss, sip it slowleeeeeee). Probably my favorite is the number of times that Starbucks shows up, culminating in the Starbucks meet-cute between our boy Bruce Willis and Stacy. What’s even crazier is that the Starbucks that they meet in is still in that exact same location in Chicago! It feels like there is still an opportunity to corner the market on Mercury Rising walking tours.

Where?! This is a super Chicago setting, although the film could be set almost anywhere. Lots of sights and sounds of Chicago. We also have part of the film set in DC and some brief scenes in South Dakota and Thailand. If we had done the mapl.de.map when BMT was more mature I am almost certain that this would have been the South Dakota setting. Not major, but very clear. B+.

When?! They botch the timing of this slight as we get a clear “June 9” on a security camera that Bruce Willis looks at, but then we also get a “June 9th” on the whistleblower letter one of the characters writes… but those two things can’t possibly have happened the same day. So basically an F… JK. Solid B.

We occasionally claim a BMT film is not that bad (not that bad), but it’s much rarer for us to make the call that a film is not just not that bad, but in fact maybe even kinda sorta good. I’m making that call! I think Mercury rising is a good thriller (and it’s got a little heart to boot). I enjoyed Bruce Willis. I enjoyed Alec Baldwin. I enjoyed the concept. Is it perfect? No. It lags a bit in the middle, goes heavy on Willis trying to connect with Simon, and shoehorns in a completely unnecessary love interest at the last minute. But it made me feel some emotions and thrilled me at all the right time. At the very least we can all agree that the 17% RT score it holds is a crazy underestimation of the merits of this film. As for the Bring a Friends we brought along, we really ran the gamut this week. Fallout was actually kinda a fun, dumb space action film that seemed at times like Daniel Baldwin was edited in from a different movie. Weirdly, it also had a shockingly strong female lead… better than almost all Hollywood films you’d watch. Backdraft 2 is a sad joke given that the original film is quite enjoyable. It feels like a two-part pilot for a television series that never got off the ground, but by all accounts it was always intended to be a film… not sure I believe it. Laughably inadequate. Finally, Dead Weekend… oh Stephen Baldwin… did you lose a bet? This is barely a film that is excruciating and at times uncomfortable to watch. There are only three explanations: 1) Stephen read the script and saw the words “sex alien” and was like “I’m in.” 2) Stephen knew the director and did him a favor after hashing out the plot over beers. 3) Stephen overheard someone talking about the upcoming film Species and thought “I gotta get in on that sex alien action” and found whoever would let him make a sex alien picture ASAP. It is one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So I have all of this mercury, and the darnest thing is happening to it … its rising! We watched Mercury Rising, let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Watching the trailer and reading up on the film made me wonder … is this actually a bad film? It seems like critics were just annoyed that it was so predictable and Bruce-Willis-y. But does that a bad thriller make? It was a big question, I was ready to be annoyed by Bruce-Willis-ness. What were my expectations? Honestly, I figured this would end up being a fine thriller which I would like. The 90s thriller is pretty good, and that might be a bit of nostalgia speaking, but hey, maybe I just like 90s thrillers.

The Good – I think this is a fine 90s thriller. Bruce Willis is silly, but if you like Bruce Willis it is fine. Alec Baldwin is a scene-chewing villain who might as well have had a giant moustache, but again, if you like Alec Baldwin it is fine. The storyline is silly, but if you let it wash over you and not think about it too much then (say it with me) it is fine. You picking up what I’m putting down? This movie is a fine 90s thriller. I would gladly watch it again right then. Fight me. I did genuinely like the Chicago setting. Just works for thriller, reminded me of The Fugitive.

The Bad – Having one of the two main characters be a severely autistic child makes the film a bit tough to handle, just because there isn’t much of a dialogue for extended periods of time. The directing kind of sucks, and it relies a bit on flashbacks and characters expositing at you every few scenes. It is a bit sad that the main female lead is just a random person Willis finds in a coffee shop an hour into the film. It would have been a decent opportunity to introduce an ex-girlfriend / ex-wife character for Willis, but maybe that would make it too close to Die Hard.

The BMT – I mean … it’ll go down as a good film in BMT basically. An example of how critics can sometimes fatigue on a particular lazy style of storytelling, and they just ruin a film for being tired and boring. But I liked the film and would gladly watch it again, what can I say. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but that is kind of a bad thing. Something being surprisingly good is amusing (e.g. Freddy Got Fingered), but something being 90s-Bruce-Willis-Thriller is just a film I would show someone if they wanted to watch a film like this. Nothing more, nothing less.

Roast-radamus – Very minor Setting as a Character (Where?) for Chicago. It is a very Chicago film, but it could probably be set in NYC as well. Some great Product Placement (What?), but my personal favorite is Swiss Miss (It’s hooooooot, sip it slowleeeeeeeeeeee) which our autistic boy hero drinks every day when he gets home from school. You can make a decent argument the child himself is a MacGuffin (Why?) as well which is pretty fun. And finally, it will definitely be on my shortlist for Good, not least because I think good BMT film examples are pretty few and far between.

StreetCreditReport.com – There is really nothing about this film beyond that critics really didn’t like it. It actually seemed like some reviews enjoy the premise (and Alec Baldwin in particular), but then find it not very thrilling and pretty dumb. Agree to disagree. I do think this could be the worst film with a severely autistic main character, and it’ll be in the mix for an extended list for worst films set in Chicago (maybe).

Bring a Friend Analysis – Alongside Mercury Rising we watched (gasp) three other Baldwin brother films! First up was Dead Weekend starring Stephen Baldwin. And this film is wild. A sci-fi art film all dressed up as a straight-to-Starz erotic thriller of some kind? Legend has it Alec told Stephen not to do Bio-Dome because it would destroy his career … but this came out a year prior. Something tells me Stephen’s career was already in trouble. Second was Fallout starring Daniel Baldwin. This film, on the other hand, is one of the classic straight-to-video films focusing on “one cool thing”, in this case “spaceships”. Baldwin plays a down and out astronaut who ends up having to save the world from a group of Russian separatists (kind of, let’s not get into the politics) who have taken over an international space station and satellite network. It was actually really good looking. The main issue is Daniel Baldwin who is genuinely out of shape and a bad actor. A random guy like Michael Dudikoff would have been less distracting. But maybe the best one-cool-thing videos I’ve seen thus far, which is saying something. And finally we watched Backdraft 2 starring William Baldwin. Somehow they managed to get Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin to come back for this ill-fated direct-to-VOD sequel to the Kurt Russell classic. Jamie nailed it on this one, it is more like a television pilot than anything else. Complete with the streetwise partner and the magic-mathematian girlfriend for our main character to utilize in all his arson hunting glory. As a pilot it is passable for an 8pm CBS drama, as a film it is a sad example of the worst that streaming has to offer.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs