Friday the 13th (2009) Recap

Jamie

Jason is back, Jack! This time he’s been rebooted and he ready to kill afresh. A group of douchey college kids are at Crystal Lake trying to get paid and laid, unfortunately Jason is there to rain on their… parade. Can they take him out before it’s too late? Find out in… Friday the 13th (2009).

How?! In a rare double pre-title sequence we open with a brief recap of the events of the original film. We see Jason’s crazy mom, we see her head being cut off, and we see Jason pick up a locket off her dead body. Flash forward to “Present day” and a bunch of jokesters are hiking through the woods. Most of them think they are just there from some fun in the sun, but secretly two of them have heard of a marijuana stash in the woods and hope to strike it rich a la The Beverly Hillbillies but with weed instead of oil. Sufficed to say they all get brutally murdered by Jason (or do they? Bum bum bum) after enjoying some crisp cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. Flash forward again some time later and we have another group of jokesters heading to the lake for some more fun in the sun (deja vu). On the way they bump into Clay, the brother of one of the girls in the first camping party, who’s searching for his sister. Pretty much from the jump you get the feeling that this dude is actually the main character of the film and everyone else is just there to die. And boy do they! Almost immediately the carnage begins and they are picked off one by one. Clay manages to escape and finds his sister taken prisoner by Jason in tunnels below the decrepit Camp Crystal Lake. In the final showdown they are able to get Jason all twisted up in a woodchipper and send him to the bottom of Crystal Lake for good… except he totally jumps back out of the lake ready for another sequel! Classic, Jason. What a trickster.

Why?! They did add a lot more motivation to this one. While most of the teens are just at the lake to get paid and laid (and killed), the main character actually has a mission. He wants to find his sister. It’s a little fan service to a similar character from Part IV, except this time he’s the main character and actually finds and saves his sister. Additionally, this is the first time we see Jason keep someone alive for an extended period of time. Seems like the motivation for him is that the girl looks a bit like his deceased mother, so he keeps her alive as a comfort or out of confusion. This isn’t wholly out of character for Jason either. Part II is a notable case where Jason is stopped in part because a character pretends to be his mother and confuses him. So seems again to be a little twist on a fan service call back. Other than that he seems like his usual territorial killing machine.

What?! There’s nothing more American than ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon, camping with your buds, and MURDER. We get all three in the second pre-title sequence. That’s not the only product placement (this is a Michael Bay production after all), but it’s the most fun.

Who?! Aaron Woo plays a Planchet of sorts. A big stoner, loveable loser, and all around jokester, he doesn’t get made fun of enough for my taste in Planchets. No fun cameos either. Cameos don’t work very well in horror. Would just feel a little weird if John Cena showed up in a scene and was like “Oh man, that Jason guy’s even bigger than me, America’s favorite pro wrestler John Cena.” There are two funny “The producers wish to thank” credits, Tony Fussell and Randy V. Michna. From what I can gather from some simple online sleuthing Tony Fussell sells boats in the area of Texas where the film was shot and Randy V. Michna seems to also work and lives there. My guess? They were the guys who donated the use of the sweet lake house and boat for production in exchange for a simple acknowledgment. Bad move, guys. I would hold out until they named a character after me. Wouldn’t even care if he was the biggest bumbling idiot in the whole film. In fact that would be even better.

Where?! I like to imagine Michael Bay saying “Hey, can this be set in Real America™ and not New Jersey,” and then someone punched him in the face. It’s obvious at this point that Crystal Lake is in NJ and we get license plates to back it up. It’s also obvious that it was filmed in Texas because the setting looks nothing like NJ. C.

When?! Online there are claims that the film takes place on June 13th, 2009, exactly 29 years after the initial intertitle placed the events of the first film. Not sure how they arrived at that conclusion other than assumption or maybe a copy of the script. There is a note on IMDb claiming that the date can be seen in the police station… but there isn’t such a scene. So perhaps it’s a cut scene. Anyway, never made explicit. D-.

I’m actually being unfair to Michael Bay, who is obviously a big horror fan (he’s rebooted five different franchises!). It shows a bit in this film as it fits nicely into the series as a whole. Biggest critiques are that the teens are just a bit too unlikeable, the pacing gets a little slow for a modern horror, and it has little ambition to be anything more than a straight reboot. But besides that I was pleasantly surprised. I got to see some teens killed, got to see some boobs, and there was some great fan service to boot. What more could I ask for? As for Freddy vs. Jason and Black Friday, our two nonqualifying films for the week, I’ll let Patrick handle that business. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! You are Michael Bay and you have all this sweet IP. Well … you have a ton of old horror intellectual property, but let’s call it sweet IP for now. What do you do? That’s right, you remake all of them in the hopes that one pans out into a franchise. I mean … what are the chances literally all of them are bad? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – Alright I’m going to say it … I kind of dug the movie. I thought the first 20 minute sequence with the five teenagers (who just want two things: sex and that sweet ganja) was excellent. I liked fast-Jason, it is that “new” element you kind of expect from a Friday the 13th sequel. I thought the homages were well done, and probably two of the kills were decent stuff. I’ll say it: This was as good as a remake of Friday the 13th could have probably been, and I honestly wish it had got another shot to show off the direction they wanted to take the new Jason in. But alas, all good-bad things must come to an end. But … I want the Sequel! At the end Jason may or may not have come back to life and murdered the two survivors. Personally, I think people overlook how likely it is that that was indeed a dream sequence (given that the first three original movies ended with a similar dream sequence event). We pick up with Clay and Whitney arriving at the hospital amid a firestorm from the local police. An officer is dead along with roughly 15 other people, and the body of Jason is gone. Suspicious to say the least. Stuck in jail as the parents of the recent victims arrive looking for blood, Clay and Whitney decide to reveal the location of Jason to mollify the police chief. When they hear that no body (or mask …) is to be found, Clay and Whitney immediately know that a massacre is afoot. Seeking revenge against the two that got away the police stand no chance against the cunning backwoodsman Jason as he Assault-On-Precinct-13’s the ill-equipped Crystal Lake station. Can Clay and Whitney survive a second night against the unstoppable Jason Voorhees? Friday the 13th Part 2 (2018)!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The film is still a remake of a slasher and doesn’t do a particularly good job at motivating Jason. They try with a weird girl-looks-like-Jason’s-mother routine, but Jason kidnapping Whitney is probably the worst part of the movie. It isn’t in character. Jason murders, he has a single purpose. And that girl isn’t his mother. We see his mother’s head in the beginning of the film, so there isn’t any Part II trickery available either. The film sags quite a bit in the middle as they transition from the excellent opening sequence to a rich guy’s house full of terrible people, and also stretched the number of kills a bit with a frenetic pace to end (although that isn’t out of character for the series). Still, for the record, I think this is probably above average for the series. It is better than 3, 5, 8, 9, X, and Freddy vs. Jason I think. The Sklognalogy is probably something like Ghost Ship (the most ship!). A movie you can kind of acknowledge isn’t an actual “good” movie, but it fun to watch regardless.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The end of an era for us! We watched all 12 Friday the 13th films in a year. This year should have been the 13th (what what) but Paramount was like “naw, I don’t like money”. All Friday the 13th films will forever have a special part in BMT lore. And, I would say as expected, the half-way decent remake of Friday the 13th didn’t make a single worst-of list for the year. That year was amazing though. Old Dogs, I Love You Beth Cooper, All About Steve, and Miss March? Ridiculous year for bad comedy.

We did have a small Homework Sklog-signment with this film, the not-really-a-Friday-film Freddy vs. Jason. It was an Elm Street film, and honestly … I don’t like funny Freddy. I like the Freddy from the first one. I loved the first one, so watching where the franchise went was interesting. But it was a bad Friday film, not a very good Jason and he’s kind of not used enough to make it all worth it in my opinion. Meh. Maybe I’ll change my mind once I watch the Elm Street franchise.

And naturally, since we are such big Doane-heads (don’t you see? He saved Christmas. We owe him a lot, guys), we watched the second Darren Doane film of the cycle! Black Friday, the Bargain Bin entry, and a poor man’s Gary Daniels film (so straight Z-list). This … barely exists. I’m actually not entirely convinced Jamie and some of his bowling buddies didn’t shoot this piece of garbage in their spare time on the weekend. I can kind of see why some people enjoy these films though, it is oddly fascinating. While I wouldn’t go quite so far Z-list in the future, a nice C-list starring a has-been like Dolph Lundgren or Steven Seagal I do think is more likely now that I’ve seen the worst possible example of the bargain bin. I no longer fear the Z-list, I transcend reality and observe it from my elevated enlightened position. Like with Sandler films.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Friday the 13th (2009) Preview

Huge week for BMT as we finish up our adventure through the Friday the 13th series. I’m actually getting a little emotional as I relive our journey from F13 n00bs to veterans of the series and big enough fans to be legitimately disappointed when they scrapped the planned reboot this year. The 11th movie in the series, Freddy vs. Jason, pitted two of the most famous film slashers against each other and earned enough goodwill to not qualify for BMT, so that’s just a bonus this week. As for the Bring A Friend for Friday the 13th we went with Black Friday the 13th, pairing a Bargain Bin C-list Gary Daniels martial arts film, Black Friday, with the conclusion of the horror franchise. There had been some questions for as as to what qualified for “Bargain Bin,” but this certainly does: stars a C-list actions star, does not have a trailer, and was directed by the same guy who made Saving Christmas. That is legit lower than Direct-to-DVD… that’s like Might-not-ever-be-on-DVD level. But of course my local public library had a copy ready to rent (my library is amazing). All things considered I’m willing to bet watching Black Friday will be a more horrifying experience than finishing up Friday the 13th. Let’s go!

Friday the 13th (2009) – BMeTric: 46.6

Fridaythe13th_BMeT
Fridaythe13th_RV

(Nice. Opened high with the horror fans hitting the ratings hard, and they it goes a-tumblin’ down to the “mean”. The idea of an average rating is actually quite fascinating. The mean rating for IMDb as a whole is something like 7.0 (weighted by number of votes). For the top 10 thousand films (by popularity) it is closer to 6.4 instead. And I think if you were to postulate a limit, the mean rating a movie would hit if it was (1) perfectly average, and (2) an infinite number of people rated it, I think it would be around 5.8 all said and done. What does it say about BMT that so many of our movies approach this 5.8 limit like clockwork? I think it tells you a bit about how bad the “average” movie is, but this could also all be horseshit. Only deep diving data-analysis can tell the tale. Stay tuned.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  The 12th Friday isn’t a sequel but something like a remake of the 1st and 3rd. As before, some annoying teenagers encounter the silent, murderous Jason, who chops, stabs, and bludgeons his way through the cast, though without as much gore as in previous entries. Plodding, dull, and repetitive, this is only occasionally creepy and never scary. Yes, there’s a setup for a sequel, if anyone cares.

(Leonard loves lists. Although I do like the rhythm created by “chops, stabs and bludgeons” and “Plodding, dull, and repetitive”. Brutal takedown at the end, mainly because yeah, no one cared and Paramount cancelled the sequel mere months ago. Sigh.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVsVKn-MS14

(As far as a remake is concerned this is probably the best storyline available. Use the hiker looking for his sister conceit. Replace Mama Voorhees with Jason. And give a few call backs (like the bag over the head). I like the idea of him being a weirdo protecting his territory as well. I am genuinely interested in seeing how they screw it up. Although judging by how much Camp Crystal Lake there is in the trailer, they might have caught a case of over-explainitis.)

Directors – Marcus Nispel – (Future BMT: Conan the Barbarian; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; BMT: Pathfinder; Friday the 13th; Notes: Was originally attached to End of Days as his feature directorial debut, but left due to budget issues. Was originally a commercial and music video director.)

Writers – Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Freddy vs. Jason; Future BMT: Baywatch; BMT: Friday the 13th; Notes: True blue writing partners (they even have a joint wiki page). Brought in after Wheaton (and the originally attached director) was fired, having written Freddy vs. Jason.)

Mark Wheaton (story) – (Future BMT: The Messengers; BMT: Friday the 13th; Notes: He wrote for a number of film magazines prior to becoming a screenwriter despite going to school for playwriting. Writes for video games as well, and has had a few crime novels published in the past few years.)

Victor Miller (characters) – (Known For: Friday the 13th; Freddy vs. Jason; Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI; BMT: Jason X; Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan; Friday the 13th: A New Beginning; Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood; Friday the 13th; Friday the 13th Part III; Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter; Friday the 13th Part 2; Notes: Wrote the original film.)

Actors – Jared Padalecki – (Known For: Phantom Boy; Future BMT: House of Wax; Cry_Wolf; Flight of the Phoenix; BMT: New York Minute; Friday the 13th; Cheaper by the Dozen; Notes: His IMDb profile is very details and weirdly focused on his high school academic achievements (like being a Presidential Scholar and an “exceptional” chess player). Played Dean Forester on Gilmore Girls.)

Amanda Righetti – (Known For: Captain America: The First Avenger; Role Models; BMT: Friday the 13th; Notes: Was Hailey Nichol on The O.C.! That’s Kirsten’s little sister for those playing at home. Mainly a television actress she had major parts on The Mentalist and Colony most recently.)

Derek Mears – (Known For: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters; Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore.; Predators; Signs; Zathura: A Space Adventure; Død snø 2; Hatchet III; MacGruber; Future BMT: Wild Wild West; The Haunted Mansion; The Hills Have Eyes II; Cursed; Men in Black II; Live by Night; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; The Demolitionist; Gangster Squad; BMT: Dragon Wars; Friday the 13th; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Notes: Known for his “towering height”. Makes sense he would take over as Jason. I don’t have issues with not having Hodder return in the remake, if they had planned on making it a series I think you try out a few people to find someone who can bring something new and fresh to the part.)

Budget/Gross – $19 million / Domestic: $65,002,019 (Worldwide: $91,379,051)

(I mean, that’s a hit. $65 million is nothing to scoff at for a horror. They probably expected more, but none of these films made money, so I don’t know why they would. I am actually stunned they cancelled the sequel. The only plausible explanation is that they are rebooting it again to give it back that microbudget feel with a Blumhouse Pictures deal, but who could possibly know. Perhaps the cut they saw was so bad it would have killed the franchise forever.)

#7 for the Horror – Slasher genre

fridaythe13th09_slasher

(Second best of the remakes of classic horror franchises, beaten only by Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This franchise died with the remake wave. Is there no novel ways to make a slasher? Is the genre too narrow and self-aware. Possibly. Only time will tell. Would make me sad if true, but I have to imagine someone will come up with a twist and revive it, even if the glory of practical effects fueled 80s slashers are dead and gone.)

#7 for the Horror Remake genre

fridaythe13th09_horrorremake

(You can kind of see how the slasher died at the same time the remake boom died. There aren’t really any 90s horrors worth rebooting, so possibly they are just waiting a bit before delving back into more recent films? Unclear. Horror is experiencing a renaissance at the moment, so remakes don’t seem like the are entirely wanted or needed.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (42/166): Though technically well-constructed, Friday the 13th is a series rehash that features little to distinguish it from its predecessors.

(Yeah … well I’m not sure going the other way would have worked out very well either. Honestly, I’m hard pressed to think how you could reboot a horror franchise like this without rehashing quite a bit. Any type of “innovation” I don’t think comes across as anything but gimmicky. Maybe set it after all of films (besides Jason X …) and don’t explain his resurrection? Soft reboot into Jason as a ghost story in the woods around Crystal Lake, something everyone forgot about.)

Poster – Friday the 13th (B-)

friday_the_thirteenth_ver2

(I like it! Some similarities to the original, although less artistic and more generic. Like the spacing, Jason-centric nature of it, and the coloring is dark but nice. Biggest flaw is they took a series with unique font and made it boring as shit.)

Tagline(s) – Welcome to Crystal Lake (B-)

(Concise and to the point, hinting at what’s to come (hopefully): a Friday the 13th film. Not clever in the least bit though.)

Keyword(s) – camp; Top Ten by BMeTric: 94.5 Batman & Robin (1997); 85.3 Troll 2 (1990); 81.3 Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959); 78.4 Pledge This! (2006); 75.9 Freddy Got Fingered (2001); 69.8 Year One (2009); 64.0 Seed of Chucky (2004); 60.5 Shrooms (2007); 53.6 Exit to Eden (1994); 50.8 Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987);

(Booooooo, unless … does camp mean like a camp … or like campy? Because then Batman & Robin makes sense. Seems like a mix to be honest, which would make this list an absolutely bonkers marathon.)

Notes – The first time Paramount has any association with the “Friday the 13th” series since 1989.

Producer Michael Bay walked out in the movie premiere, stating that the movie featured too much sex. (Ha! Just too much for him)

Adrienne King, star of the original 1980 film, was approached by producers Andrew Form and Bradley Fuller to do a cameo appearance during preproduction. A few days later, the producers called her back and told her they didn’t want anyone from the original film to appear in the remake. (This production sounds organized).

The first film in the series released by both New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures. Originally, Paramount owned the rights to the series after the original was released in 1980 but sold the rights to New Line Cinema in the early 1990’s after poor box office returns of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989). New Line bought the rights to the characters of Jason Voorhees and Pamela Voorhees, the Crystal Lake name, and the trademark for the title “Friday the 13th”. All footage from the first eight films and the remake rights for the first film remained the property of Paramount. New Line Cinema released Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Jason X (2001) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003). When Platinum Dunes came aboard to develop the new film, they wanted the freedom to use scenarios and characters from the films still owned by Paramount. After a legal dispute, the companies decided to co-produce the 2009 film.

In this movie Jason wears both the legendary hockey mask and the burlap sac, although neither of those appeared in the original Friday the 13th (1980). (Hmmmm, that’s a lot of fan service)

With $42.2 mil, had the biggest opening weekend of a horror-remake beating out former record holder The Grudge (2004) ($39.1 mil).

The title card of the movie isn’t displayed until the end of the opening segment, nearly 25 minutes into the film, which is one of the longest prologues for a horror film ever. (Holy shit, that is ridiculous)

Tommy Jarvis, a character that appeared in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985), and Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) was at one point confirmed by producers Bradley Fuller and Andrew Form of Platinum Dunes to be returning as Jason’s nemesis. (That would have actually been cool maybe, set them up in a trilogy or something to battle it out. I could have gotten behind that).

According to co-writer Damian Shannon, the character of Jason Voorhees was re-envisioned as more territorial, like a hunter, someone who doesn’t kill people at random but will defend his territory from anyone invading it, and this in the most horrible manner. Director Marcus Nispel similarly claims the film shows new aspects of Jason’s personality. Derek Mears says his portrayal of Jason as a survivalist defending his territory is partially inspired by the character of John Rambo in First Blood (1982). (That makes a lot of sense)

Despite the title, the date the events supposedly take place on, Friday the 13th, is only mentioned once. The date can be seen on a tear-away type calendar in the police station, as the officers leave to investigate towards the end of the movie.

One of the victims was originally supposed to drown due to exhaustion as Jason waited her out from the shore of the lake.

Travis Van Winkle portrayed the same character from Transformers (2007) which was directed by Michael Bay.

The film’s setting (New Jersey) is an homage to the original film being filmed in New Jersey. (Wellllll … Crystal Lake is in New Jersey so easy peasy).

Jason just randomly appearing out of thin air as in the earlier films wouldn’t fly this time around. So, they decided he traveled via a series of underground tunnels. That concept was in Mark Wheaton’s original script, but Mark Swift and Damian Shannon claimed to have never read Wheaton’s script until the film was finished, having come up with the same idea about the tunnels on their own. As for the marijuana plant farm which Jason appears to use to lure teenagers into traps, apparently no writer can claim that as their own. According to Swift and Shannon, that was actually director Marcus Nispel’s idea from early on in the development process, and it was their job to work it into the script. (Huh, that could work, but it sounds a bit too over-explainy to me).

The character of Sheriff Bracke, played by Richard Burgi, is named after author Peter Bracke, who wrote the book “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th”.

Screenwriters Mark Swift and Damian Shannon wanted Jason’s body count in the film to be just 13 as an easter egg for fans. It was surprising how much work it was to kill thirteen people.” Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter pulled off the “just 13 kills” thing as well, and Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives writer/director Tom McLoughlin originally turned in a film featuring just 13 kills. Executive Producer Frank Mancuso, Jr. forced him to perform re-shoots to up the body count to 18. (Ha, yeah, 13 is pretty close to typical for Friday the 13th, 18 is a lot).

A follow up to 2009’s Friday the 13th was slated for release on October 13, 2017, and was all set to go into production in a matter of weeks. But in February 2017 it was announced that paramount had pulled the plug on the project. (Sigh, yep, this is why we were doing this entire thing)

The film takes place on June 13, 1980 and in 2009.

It shares screenwriters with Freddy Vs. Jason, who had previously turned down the chance to do a Freddy Vs. Jason sequel. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, as a result of the legal delays, Friday the 13th lost its original director (Jonathan Liebesman) and screenwriter (Mark Wheaton). Freddy Vs. Jason writers Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, who had earned their first writing credit with Freddy Vs. Jason but had yet to get another script onto the screen, were brought in to replace Wheaton. Both grew up huge Jason/Freddy fans, but their Freddy Vs. Jason script was largely re-written by David S. Goyer, who went uncredited, and the far campier film that came out of that was not to their liking. Still, New Line actually offered them the chance to pitch ideas for a Freddy Vs. Jason 2, which they turned down, according to Shannon, because “we thought maybe somebody else should tackle it because we shot our wad so to speak. Every idea we had about that was in the first. I don’t know what we could have done with a second one.”

Mark Wheaton’s original pitch to New Line was to reboot the series with “a new Part V,” ignoring the original “New Beginning” and everything that happened after while featuring a prologue showing Jason Voorhees witnessing the murder of his mother. The characters who come to Crystal Lake then know of Jason as they did in Friday the 13th Parts 2, 3-D, and IV, but Voorhees is not yet supernatural as he is beginning with Part VI (or is a demon worm, or has gone to space, etc.). To further suit the needs of a reboot, Wheaton had Voorhees in first the canvas bag as he was in Part 2 only to replace it with the hockey mask halfway through the film.

The character Richie was one of a few characters to have CGI effects added into his death. Derek Mears (Jason) was holding only the handle with half the blade of the fake machete, making it look like it impaled Richie’s (Ben Feldman’s) head. The visual effects crew digitally superimposed the fake machete to look like it was a completely bladed weapon in the final film. Director Marcus Nispel usually allowed minimal use of CGI effects into his films.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Recap

Jamie

Lara Croft is a world-renowned archeologist/tomb raider/adventurer. When she discovers a secret key hidden by her father, she realizes it is the key to unlocking a powerful device coveted by the Illuminati. Can she find and destroy the device before the evil Illuminati get their hands on it? Find out in… Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

How?! Lara Croft is an adventurer extraordinaire in high demand for the recovery (theft?) of antiquities across the world. She’s like an even sexier Indiana Jones or the equally iconic character that Tom Cruise played in The Mummy. On the anniversary of her father’s death, and coincidentally the start of a complete planetary alignment, a clock hidden in Lara’s house begins to tick. After breaking it open she recovers a hidden mystery MacGuffin… er… I mean, key. Not knowing what it does she makes the mistake of bringing it to an appraiser who promptly tips off the Illuminati so they can steal it. Uh oh! She then coincidentally gets a letter from her father sent before his death that lays out the entire plot of the film: that key enables the bearer to recover a powerful time control device called “the triangle.” She needs to get that device and destroy it before the Illuminati takes over the world! (dun dun dun!). Following them to Cambodia she is able to recover the first piece of the triangle. Seeing that they are dealing with a total badass, the Illuminati strike a deal: we both want the triangle, so let’s make sure we get it and then figure the rest out later. Lara agrees. Heading together to Siberia, Lara is able to again recover a piece of the triangle, only to have her kinda-sorta-not-really love interest Alex West (played by Daniel Craig sporting one of the worst American accents in the history of cinema) killed. Realizing the only way to save him is to go back in time she helps complete the triangle. Then a bunch of gobbledegook that makes no sense happens: Lara Croft is transported back in time, grabs the triangle, kills the Illuminati boss, transports back to the present day minus like 3 minutes, kills the Illuminati boss a couple more times, and destroys the triangle. Or at least that’s what I think happened. The End.  

Why?! Motivations are so easy in a MacGuffin film. The Illuminati want “the triangle” which will enable them to control time and thus the world. Lara wants to destroy “the triangle” as such ultimate power should be possessed by no one. Why not just destroy the key or just stop the Illuminati rather than destroy “the triangle” itself? Well, “the triangle” can only be retrieved during the planetary alignment that happens every 5000 years. So if she destroyed the key or simply stopped them, then 5000 years later the Illuminati could try again (if climate change doesn’t kill us first, amirite?). She has to get “the triangle” and destroy it for good. It’s the only way. See? Totally super tight plot. Don’t worry about it.

What?! Shoutout to UPS. Lara Croft knows what brown can do for her. It can deliver essential plot devices/letters from her dead father right to her front door. Speaking of plot devices, this is the second film in a relatively short time span that could be called MacGuffin: The Movie (Cradle 2 the Grave was the other).The triangle in this film is the very definition of a MacGuffin. It’s such a MacGuffin I’m surprised they didn’t name Iain Glen’s character Manfred MacGuff.

Who?! Pretty solid Planchet in this film, Bryce, played by Noah Taylor. He’s Lara’s Q and is constantly called a giant nerd. Also want to note that Jon Voight got second billing for this film… he barely appears in it.

Where?! Good globetrotting settings film. Large portions set in England and Cambodia. A short segment is set in Venice. The climax is set in Siberia. Intertitles are used occasionally. B.

When?! May 15th on the nose. Just so happens that the start of the planetary alignment corresponds to the anniversary of Lara’s father’s death, which is shown on his tombstone and mentioned several times. The rest of the film takes place during the ensuing week. B+.

Brief note for Dirty Dancing (2017), it is pretty obviously the most useless thing I’ve ever watched (and I watched the entire season of the reality television show The Vineyard!). It is incomprehensible why this actually exists and isn’t shamefully hidden away. I was trying to think of an adequate comparison and I’m drawing a blank. Maybe that Arthur remake we never watched… or Red Dawn? Even that wasn’t as mind-numbingly boring and unnecessary as this TV movie. Really it would be like they made a TV musical Casablanca starring Zac Efron and Taylor Swift and had the Germans toe-tappin’ along to some swell tunes. But it’s greatest crime? Abigail Breslin cannot dance. She literally can’t do it. They spend the entire movie trying to convince you that she gets better and can dance at the end. She can’t. Watch the finale from each version back to back and you’ll be shocked and upset. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Every five years the IP gold miners dig through the Hollywood archives and wonder “what could be the next big wave, how can I get that money printing machine?” And every five years someone with very little historical awareness “discovers” video games and gets very very excited. I mean. People love video games! People love movies! And every five years BMT opens a bottle of our cheapest champagne to celebrate the video game gold rush as things like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider are made. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Out of all of the video games movies I’ve seen I think this is the best one, although I can’t be certain, Silent Hill was pretty good too. Angelina is fun, they keep the story fairly tight and focused like a laser beam on a McGuffin. And ultimately you can kind of forget all of the flaws because hey, time travel, and boobs, whatever. A remake is already coming, and a sequel happened so … prequel! Let’s get a little tag-team Angelina-Craig action in here. They fall in love and steal priceless artifacts! He’s in it for the money, she just wants to feel connected to her dead father! What an odd couple! With her trusty Cockney hacker sidekick Lara Croft stars in: Lara Croft and The Golden MacGuffin!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – First, I’ll point out how ridiculous it is that Jon Voight got second billed on this movie. Other than that this movie’s story is just pointless, and the CGI looked terrible. But hey, it is a mid 2000s video game film, that isn’t a total surprise. My main complaint with the action is that, like everything that came out close to The Matrix, the wire-work stunts were off-the-chain (by which I mean they look terrible). I think the analogy is something like Warcraft. Yeah, not a super great movie, but you can see why fans like it, and you can see why they made it, and what they were trying to do with it. It just left out all of that stuff that critics like, like character development or coherent motivation.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy of the film will be minor … until we watch the sequel maybe. The sequel is interesting because I’ve heard that some consider it superior by at least not being boring. But that seems ludicrous … so it could very well find a special place in BMT lore. As far as streetcreditreport.com goes, it got #6 on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s yearly list … remember when just random places would make lists like this? I’m finding some weird ones. It is number eight on Reel Films, but overall tends to get eclipsed by none other than Freddy Got Fingered!

So we tagged up on a TV movie with the remake of Dirty Dancing. I had never seen the original (the horror), and I have to say, it holds up. The only question they leave hanging is how long they were on vacation for. I had assumed it was all summer (Jennifer Grey sees Swayze show up during a pep talk for the staff). I was mainly curious so that I could know how unbelievable it is that Jennifer Grey becomes a professional dancer during the course of the movie. The remake on the other hand leaves no questions unanswered! They were on vacation for three weeks, the older daughter sings a duet with a black employee at the resort and everyone nods their head about the times-they-are-a-changin’, and the parents almost get divorced. The sheer number of extra storylines is insane, causing the remake to be 40 minutes longer than the original! Profoundly upsetting. The true crime though, as Jamie alluded to, is the dancing. I loved the original, it holds up well, but it rides on the power of both Grey and Swayze’s dancing. And the two leads in the new one, they don’t got it.

Was it a time crunch? Was it intentional? I can almost psych myself into the idea that they intentionally told Breslin to not get into dancing shape for the film as a kind of any-girl-can-learn-to-love-and-dance-in-three-weeks idea … but the movie rises and rises in a crescendo of trash until my mind could take no more. It is something to behold, just horrible and offensive. This convinces me that we need to pay more attention to TV Movies in the future, there are ones that I think are worth a shot. Even something like Liz and Dick might be worth a shot if we can think of a reason to do it. And with that …

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Preview

Let keep the Bring a Friend magic flowing right into the action genre. We took the opportunity to grab a classic of the BMT action subgenre of video game films, while also grabbing a horrifically reviewed TV Movie of 2017. That’s right! We’re watching Lara Croft: Tomb RaiDirty Dancing (2017). Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was wildly successful as far as video game adaptations go, so I think people would be surprised to find just how poorly reviewed the film actually was. It’s crazy we haven’t already seen it. As for the Dirty Dancing TV remake, I heard only horrendous things about it. Hard to remake a classic from the 80’s with a total nobody in the iconic Swayze role and Abigail Breslin as Baby. Doomed from the start. Hopefully it’s a trainwreck and not just a snoozefest. Let’s go!

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) – BMeTric: 40.8

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(So last week Jamie asked me why, if we were to assume xXx: Return of Xander Cage and xXx were somewhat equivalent, The Return of Xander Cage has a 5.2 on IMDb, but xXx has a 5.8. Voila! If you map the 50 thousand votes The Return of Xander Cage has thus far received, and the 150 thousand vote xXx received since 2002, it is well within the realm of possibility that regression to the mean could get The Return of Xander Cage up near the original. Oh, Lara Croft? Lots and lots of votes, slightly below average, likely to be just as ludicrous as xXx or The Return of Xander Cage, so we got that going for us.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Jolie plays the sexy British archeologist-adventurer who follows her late father’s instructions to find – and destroy – both pieces of an ancient relic that can control time. Perhaps the dullest action-adventure film ever made, with flat writing and performances (save for Jolie) and lifeless direction, sparked now and them by some flashy set pieces. Voight, Jolie’s real-life father, plays Croft’s dad. BAsed on a popular computer game. To quote a character in the film itself, “Enough of this twaddle!”. Followed by a sequel.

(Oh, yeah it is followed by a sequel. One which will be addressed at some point in time. Both Ebert and Leonard both kind of had “old man” responses to this film, much to the chagrin of some online communities it would seem. Probably doesn’t help that Ebert never really lived down the whole video-games-as-art debacle. These films having gotten >20% on Rotten Tomatoes each actually end up as one of the more successful video game franchise adaptions … amazing.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnNBqNb3taw

(That looks not great. But … no that looks not great. Like Bulletproof Monk, all wire work and ridiculousness. I think the thing I’m looking most forward to is the CGI. That robot monster and the statues look absolutely dire.)

Directors – Simon West – (Known For: The Expendables 2; Con Air; The Mechanic; Future BMT: When a Stranger Calls; Stolen; Wild Card; The General’s Daughter; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: He turned down Black Hawk Down to direct this movie. From the UK, he started his career in commercials, the most notable is probably this guy for Budweiser.)

Writers – Sara B. Cooper (story) – (BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: She appears to be a big name in television writing and production (for things like Continuum and House), so was probably brought in as a script doctor.)

Mike Werb (story) – (Known For: The Mask; Face/Off; Curious George; Future BMT: Firehouse Dog; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: He’s done one thing or another throughout his career, but has mostly stuck to television recently. Was involved with the adaptation of Stretch Armstrong, but that project never saw the light of day.)

Michael Colleary (story) – (Known For: Face/Off; Future BMT: Death Wish V: The Face of Death; Firehouse Dog; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: Long time writing partner of Werb starting with Face/Off.)

Simon West (adaptation) – (BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: It is his only credit. Makes a bit of sense, he dropped Black Hawk Down for this, so it would make sense they would give him complete control over the script in the end.)

Patrick Massett (screenplay) – (Known For: Gold; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: Primarily a television writer, but also an actor back in the day. Including a part in a Warf-centric two parter (Reunion and Sins of the Father) of Star Trek The Next Generation. Classic episodes guys.)

John Zinman (screenplay) – (Known For: Gold; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: Writing partner of Massett it would seem. Both nominated as part of a Friday Nights Lights nomination for the Emmys. He doesn’t have the acting cred, but he does appear as a minor writing credit on an early draft of Deep Blue Sea, so he’s got that going for him.)

Actors – Angelina Jolie – (Known For: Maleficent; Wanted; The Good Shepherd; Girl, Interrupted; Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Kung Fu Panda 3; Salt; Kung Fu Panda; Beowulf; Changeling; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Kung Fu Panda 2; Playing by Heart; A Mighty Heart; Pushing Tin; Hell’s Kitchen; Future BMT: Alexander; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; By the Sea; Life or Something Like It; The Tourist; Shark Tale; Original Sin; Playing God; Taking Lives; Hackers; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Foxfire; Beyond Borders; The Bone Collector; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Actress in 2002 for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Original Sin; in 2003 for Life or Something Like It; in 2004 for Beyond Borders, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; and in 2005 for Alexander, and Taking Lives; Notes: Recently got a divorce from Brad Pitt, with whom she had three biological children (along with him adopting her three adopted children). She has more recently been directing films.)

Jon Voight – (Known For: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Heat; Holes; Tropic Thunder; Transformers; Deliverance; Mission: Impossible; National Treasure; Enemy of the State; Zoolander; The Manchurian Candidate; Catch-22; The Rainmaker; Midnight Cowboy; Varsity Blues; Ali; Coming Home; U Turn; Runaway Train; Glory Road; Future BMT: Anaconda; Big Fat Important Movie; Four Christmases; Pearl Harbor; Most Wanted; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Pride and Glory; BMT: Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2; Bratz; Getaway; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; September Dawn; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for Anaconda in 1998; and Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor in 1998 for Most Wanted, and U Turn; in 2005 for Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2; and in 2008 for Bratz, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, September Dawn, and Transformers; Notes: Angelina Jolie’s real life father, although he was somewhat famously estranged from his children until their mother’s death.)

Iain Glen – (Known For: My Cousin Rachel; Eye in the Sky; The Iron Lady; Harry Brown; Gorillas in the Mist; Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead; The Bad Education Movie; Mountains of the Moon; Song for a Raggy Boy; Mrs. Ratcliffe’s Revolution; Future BMT: The Last Legion; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter; Darkness; Resident Evil: Apocalypse; Resident Evil: Extinction; Beautiful Creatures; Kick-Ass 2; The Young Americans; BMT: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: Quite famous now for portraying Game of Thrones roguishly handsome Jorah (the Explorer) Mormont.)

Budget/Gross – $115 million / Domestic: $131,168,070 (Worldwide: $274,703,340)

(A reasonable success, and no surprise they quickly moved a sequel into production. I won’t say any spoilers concerning a plot three spots down, but let’s just say video game adaptations don’t usually make this much money.)

#11 for the Action Heroine genre

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(Between two Divergents, not bad. They tried to make this happen around 2005 with Elektra, and Ultraviolet, and Aeon Flux. Didn’t happen. More recently though the releases and box office takes have gone off like a shot. Solid stuff.)

#9 for the Treasure Hunt genre

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(Below National Treasure, so not the highest grossing Jon Voight treasure hunting film … I wonder why the genre basically died recently. I wonder if it has to do with treasure hunting just not being a part of superhero films? Or if during uneasy economic times people just don’t want to watch assholes look around for treasure? Hard to tell. I would argue the recent Mummy though had enough treasure hunting elements to count though.)

#1 for the Video Game Adaptation genre

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(This came at a boom of video game adaptations, but it never sparked the necessary fire, almost definitely because none of the films were critically acclaimed. Unbelievable that only two films have broken the one hundred million mark domestically. A ton of these are Uwe Boll films, so basically fake films made for tax breaks.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 20% (31/157): Angelina Jolie is perfect for the role of Lara Croft, but even she can’t save the movie from a senseless plot and action sequences with no emotional impact.

(This is quite a common sentiment. Basically that she’s either fine or good in the role. But basically the movie is nonsense, like all video game adaptation (so far) have been.)

Poster – Lara Sklog: Tomb Raider (C+)

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(Much like The Mummy poster from earlier this year, the poster basically just screams Angelina Jolie: The Movie. Like the grey-blue tone overall and benefits from the video game’s font, but otherwise not particularly interesting.)

Tagline(s) – Born into Wealth. Groomed by the Elite. Trained for Combat. (C-)

(I don’t know where this tagline came from since there isn’t one on the poster. It’s like they read my book about taglines from the future and tried to make one that fit everything I like… and yet somehow I don’t like it. It’s feels like a mad lib. Just filling in the blanks with random words.)

Keyword(s) – tomb; Top Ten by BMeTric: 76.1 I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998); 66.3 The Pyramid (2014); 63.4 Dracula 2001 (2000); 61.7 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008); 54.8 An American Werewolf in Paris (1997); 53.5 Gods of Egypt (2016); 52.6 Venom (2005); 50.6 Mortuary (I) (2005); 50.5 Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie (2004); 50.5 Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010);

(Oh yeah, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer had a tomb. The rest of these movies though, yikes! I would think I Know Who Killed Me would qualify, so I can only assume this is a case of missing links.)

Notes – When Lara starts smashing the clock with a hammer, Hillary (the butler) uses a silver tray to protect his face. This is a reference to the games in which -while exploring Croft Manor- the player can shoot at the butler who then also uses the tray he’s carrying around to protect himself. (So most of these claimed references are pushing it … but this one is actually quite nice).

Lara Croft’s father is played by Angelina Jolie’s real life father, actor Jon Voight.

Highest grossing action film with a woman in lead role. Second is Aliens (1986). (Definitely no longer true, the Hunger Games films gross about as much as this film did domestically in their opening weekends)

Lara Croft is English and Alex West is American. However, the actress Angelina Jolie who plays Croft is American and Daniel Craig, the actor who plays West, is English. (Yeah, Daniel Craig sounds super weird with his phony American accent since he’s become famous)

In the video game, Lara Croft is a 36DD. Angelina Jolie is naturally a 36C, and was padded to a 36D for the movie, as it was felt that padding to the original character size would be too unrealistic. (Creepy facts dudes)

This film marks the first time in more than three decades that a Hollywood production has been filmed in Cambodia, the previous film being Lord Jim (1965).

Lara has been given several gadgets in the film which are specific nods at certain gameplay features (of the Tomb Raider game and games in general) – among them the reloader belt or back pack (allowing her to reload her guns very quickly and without fidgeting about with clips or bullets) and the back pack itself (which almost mysteriously “swallows” any item moved close to its bottom or side by Lara, like the first half of the Triangle).

The makers at first envisioned the scenes ultimately shot in Cambodia taking place at the Great Wall of China. When schedule didn’t allow for this to happen, the alternative was to build the Great Wall in Scotland. Ultimately, they opted for the stone temples of Cambodia instead.

Apart from normal jumping, the only moves Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) does in the movie which can also be done in the games is the jump over the living statue and rolls in the air. This can be done in the Playstation game by pressing forward and square, then circle while in the air.

Lara’s training robot is named Simon, after the director Simon West.

Angelina Jolie was extremely hesitant towards wearing Lara’s famous short shorts that she wears in the games and the opening fight scene with Simon, however she eventually agreed because she knew it would make the fans of the character happy.

Lara Croft uses an Ericsson Bluetooth Headset and an Ericsson R310 mobile phone. (So many of these facts are literally just the objects in the movie. You have no idea how many very specific gun identifications I had to delete from this like. Gun IMDb is a thing, and this movie must … attract the kinds of people who post to that).

Angelina Jolie took drug tests to test her mental well being during filming due to concern about the rumors of drug use and her relationship with Billy Bob Thornton. (weird!)

Executive producer Stuart Baird did uncredited re-editing work on this film and Mission: Impossible II (2000) for Paramount in exchange for the job of directing Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). (Ha! Nemesis is supposed to be by far the worst Star Trek film so …)

Stephen Herek was originally supposed to direct, but he dropped out to make Rock Star (2001) instead. (eeeeeh, about the same)

The rather odd looking record player, shown for a brief second, when she is doing her bungee ballet, in her house is a Clear, Audio Master Reference Table. It comes all Gold plated, And Retails for $27,000 U.S.D. (See, other people are as weird about movie things as we are about settings).

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Angelina Jolie)

Project X Recap

Jamie

Three high school losers set out to throw an epic birthday bash in hopes of upping their social status. As word spreads, the party begins to spiral out of control. Can they keep the police at bay, the damage under control, and still get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Project X.

How?! When Thomas’ parents are heading out of town during his birthday his best friend Costa plans to throw a huge rager to impress the girls that never notice them (documenting it along the way using an A/V club nerd). At school Costa attempts to spread the word of the party far and wide with seemingly little success. Following a series of misadventures getting weed and quieting the neighbors, Thomas, Costa, and their third friend JD are thrilled to find the party is more than just popular, they are already legends. Hundreds and hundreds of people show, alcohol is flowing, hard drugs are aplenty and the party spins out of control. Meanwhile Thomas is trying to balance getting with the girl he’s in love with and potentially getting with the hottest girl in town. When the neighborhood descends into chaos, riot police come in, and his house is burnt to the ground our “hero” learns a valuable lesson: even if you break a million laws and do immeasurable damage to your family and life, it’s much more important that you are cool and got really drunk that one time. Oh yeah, and he still gets the girl somehow. The End.

Why?! The party is planned by Costa with the express purpose of increasing their social cache. He wants to be known, plain and simple, and a giant rager is how he can accomplish this. In a way he totally exploits Thomas, who really just wants to get with the girl he’s in love with, Kirby. Costa hears that Thomas’ parents are going to be out of town and jumps on the opportunity to use the empty house for his own purposes. In a weird twist he literally gets no comeuppance. He expresses some remorse, but Thomas kind of waves it off. Not great lessons in Project X.

What?! Prominent role for Thomas’ dad’s Mercedes which “cannot be touched.” Which of course inevitably means that it is destroyed during the party. Also, in terms of plot devices, there is a pretty heavy Chekhov’s Gun set up where our characters steal a gnome from a maniac and then seem to assume that they will never hear from him again… he obviously shows up in the third act to burn down the house.

Who?! Shout out to Miles Teller who plays… Miles Teller in the film. Would be weird if it weren’t for the fact that most people in the film played characters that shared at least a first name with them. Jimmy Kimmel also makes a cameo at the end making a joke in an opening monologue for his late night show.

Where?! Prominently set in North Pasadena, California. Said over and over and shown in writing on the high school they go to. C+.

When?! Exact Date Alert! We get featured on screen in text that the party takes place on May 14th, 2011. This is as close as we’ve come to intertitle confirmation of an exact date. Gotta give that a B+.

As for our Bring a Friend film, xXx: Return of Xander Cage I found myself fairly entertained while also recognizing that the film is a symptom of where cinema is heading for better or for worse (big ensemble flicks with easy to digest plotlines and foreign actors catering to the international audience). It felt very much like a better version of Mechanic: Ressurection, which isn’t saying a whole lot since that movie was one of the worst we’ve watched for BMT. In fact the more Patrick and I discussed the film the more I didn’t like it. But at the moment I think it’s merely an incredibly silly, predictable popcorn movie that is slightly better than I expected (as I expected a pile of trash). Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Remember being young and you thought writing about the rad fake party with the rad fake girls in english class made sense? Remember later realizing you knew nothing about parties, or girls, and honestly the third act was always a mess? Just me? Anyways, now imagine if a hero came along and said “no, I shall live without shame! We shall show the world what a party imagined by a 14-year-old boy would look like!” This is Project X! Let’s Go!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I can appreciate that this is probably one of the better found footage films we’ve watched for BMT. It has a Logical explanation of why they are carrying a camera around like idiots for an entire party; A proper three-act structure often lacking in the meandering found footage genre; And, in some ways, an attempt to show at least some of the unflattering bits of what is otherwise a rather rosy picture of a youth ruining his life right in front you your eyes. Let’s do the brutal Sequel! They helpfully mentioned that our main character was heroically convicted of multiple crimes, although it would seem (unless multiple counts are involved) that all are misdemeanors and involve at most a year in county jail. The sequel follow him descending into obscurity as he tries to stay out of trouble in his senior year in high school and his slow realization that for one night of fame … he sacrificed a decade of his life and possibly his future. The movie is a slice of life drama (also found footage) as he struggles to stay connected to Kirby, who is off to USC in the fall. Project X: Crime and Punishment. “Wow, I mean, I didn’t like the first one, but this just feels mean spirited” says Leonard Maltin.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – I didn’t enjoy this film. It is gross and devoid of worth, but I am not the intended audience. The acting is pretty brutal, but that is expected, the third act is a mess, but that’s expected, and shoehorning a love interest plot kind of backfires because they do almost nothing to make us care about either of the people involved. Sklognalogy is I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, in that is is just … gross and devoid of worth as I said. Although this is streets ahead of that piece of literal garbage. This movie is understandably loved by the demographic it focuses on like a heat-seeking missile, and I’ll say it every time: I am not the audience. If you are, say, a woman, or a man over the age of 24, you’ll probably just watch it in disgust. That’s my opinion anyways.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think if I take anything from this movie it is this is a decent example of a good found footage film, but bad film, like The Gallows in a way. Also watching this and (re-watching) xXx in the same week was kind of interesting. I called both movies “misogynistic”, but that isn’t totally precise. Ultimately I settled on the definition: both films would fail basically all tests used to analyze gender equality in Hollywood. FilmSchoolRejects named it to its worst list of the year, and PopMatters put it at number 2 pointing out that there were at least three copycat parties in California after the movie was released! Pretty solid cred, including the previously discussed revulsion from Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. It had to be done.

Finally, a brief recap of my adventures with xXx over the week. I re-watched the first two, and yeah, basically the first one is actually not too bad outside of the fact that the tech is straight out of GI Joe and the boat at the end looks absolutely ridiculous. It is believable that Vin Diesel’s character would be able to infiltrate the hilariously one-note anarchist bad guys’ crew though. The second one is amazingly ridiculous, and obviously has the best character of the whole franchise: the Presidential Bullet Train. The third is somewhere in between. It isn’t as good as the first, but it is better than the second. But it is silly, with just explosions on stupid sets, and wholly predictable. That is its biggest sin, it can’t surprise and thus can’t really be that fun because everything feels inevitable. It doesn’t make me any more inclined to watch films above 40% on Rotten Tomatoes … as a matter of fact it makes me much less inclined to watch films with reviews above 30% these days to be honest. So, it had the opposite effect. Congrats xXx: Return of Xander Cage!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Project X Preview

For the first main entry in the cycle we wanted to do the film that really planted a seed for the Bring A Friend cycle. When this film came out we were devastated to find that it crept above our threshold for BMT qualification. It didn’t seem possible. Like a terrible nightmare. And yet we had come to accept that we would never watch this film for BMT… until Bring A Friend made Missed Opportunity a valid non-BMT category. That’s right! We’re watching Project XXx: Return of Xander Cage!!!! Attaching nicely to the poorly reviewed (and yet apparently beloved) teen comedy Project X, we are able to integrate the 44% RT near-miss sequel of a major BMT film into the fold (albeit not as an official BMT film). Love you, Vinny D! Let’s go!

Project X (2012) – BMeTric: 14.6

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(Hooooooooly shit. That … is a really impressive number of votes. I wonder how much that translates to actual cash? I only wonder because this movie set some sort of record for being pirated in 2012. This is probably a good example of how the demographics of the internet probably don’t reflect the demographics either critics or movie producers care about. But that is neither here nor there, the internet demographics clearly loved this fucking movie.)

Leonard Maltin – So, is this merely an extreme teenage version of The Hangover, or is it another sign of the end of civilization as we know it? How you feel about Project X will have a lot to do with your age and gender. If I were a hormonally charged 16-year-old boy, I might think it was the greatest movie ever made, a wish-fulfillment comedy featuring lots of good-looking naked girls. As a parent, I have quite another view: it’s a horror movie! …  If I were an adolescent girl this movie would make me want to move to another continent rather than suffer the foul-mouthed, condescending outlook of the “typical” high-school boys depicted here. … In any case, this movie wasn’t intended for me. Come to think of it, I should be grateful for that.

(This was from a small-ish review on IndiWire, and there is no listed stars. On his podcast he’s mentioned it as a non-recommendation at least once though, so suffice to say, he’s not a fan. Don’t worry Leonard, I’m not the target audience as well, but I remember that time 15 years ago when I was, and I’m sure there will be cringing all around for the adolescent nonsense this panders to. I’m excited.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5m4bPQLPZ8

(Not a giant fan of the secret audience reactions, but to be honest this trailer is basically 1000 creative writing nerds’ Hangover knock-off rolled into one. Given the modest budget, it looks really well done. Still hate the genre though, and I’m not the demographic, so I’ll probably find it gross and off-putting as well. Hooray.)

Directors – Nima Nourizadeh – (Known For: American Ultra; BMT: Project X; Notes: Apparently he was primarily a music video director outside of his two main feature films. His brother is a music producer. Of Iranian descent, he is the son of political activist Alireza Nourizadeh)

Writers – Matt Drake (screenplay) – (Known For: Tully; Future BMT: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman; BMT: Project X; Notes: There is very little outside of press for his movies online about him. Makes me wonder if this is a pen name for someone else, like Todd Phillips, the producer. Although Todd Phillips has plenty of writing credits, so that seems unlikely.)

Michael Bacall (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; 21 Jump Street; 22 Jump Street; Manic; Bookies; BMT: Project X; Notes: Plenty of cred, he is also an actor doing a ton of mostly bit parts in films. His story is one of moving from smaller scripts like Manic, to arguably some of the funniest and most successful comedies of the decade. Has Project XX in the works apparently.)

Actors – Thomas Mann – (Known For: Kong: Skull Island; Blood Father; The Stanford Prison Experiment; Beautiful Creatures; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; It’s Kind of a Funny Story; Welcome to Me; Memoria; Future BMT: Barely Lethal; Fun Size; As Cool as I Am; The Preppie Connection; BMT: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Project X; Notes: Moved to California at 17 to give acting a go. Bold. Seems to be working out well for him.)

Oliver Cooper – (Known For: Office Christmas Party; Future BMT: Runner Runner; The Hangover Part III; Burying the Ex; Mojave; BMT: Project X; Notes: His part in Hangover III is likely due to his role here. He was nominated for an MTV Movie award for best villain … coool)

Jonathan Daniel Brown – (Known For: Kid Cannabis; Bad Milo!; BMT: Project X; Notes: He is garbage and I hope he somehow reads this: you are a garbage internet troll of a person and I wish you no success. Congrats on being terrible.)

Budget/Gross – $12 million / Domestic: $54,731,865 (Worldwide: $102,731,865)

(Obviously an enormous success, but mostly because you can go so cheap with found footage. Given a normal budget of, say, $30 million, the return would be middling for a comedy.)

#15 for the Comedy – High School genre

projectx2011_highschoolcomedy

(Huh. I think the thing that is most interesting is that there are so few movies in this genre in the 90s. And it makes me wonder if it reflects periods of studio gluttony. A number of major movie studios collapsed in the 90s, and the economy collapsed in 2008, and without the troves of free wheeling cash, perhaps movies directed towards high school nostalgia just don’t get onto the docket.)

#32 for the Comedy – R-Rated Youth genre

projectx2011_r-ratedcomedy

(Huge in the 80s, and over 15 years the genre became a juggernaut in the 2000s. This is where I wonder if trusting Box Office Mojo is exactly wise. Neighbors gets on the list (correctly), but then … where is Neighbors 2? We are relying on some random Amazon employee remembering this shit or what?)

#8 for the Found Footage genre

projectx2011_foundfootage

(Blair Witch is still number one?! And still going strong. A garbage genre, but at the same time … it is interesting that it is a genre that is kind of just a style. You can have a comedy, horror, sci fi, etc. It starts getting to be a stretch, but something like Chronicle is an example of how interesting the “genre” can get.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 28% (37/133): Unoriginal, unfunny, and all-around unattractive, Project X mines the depths of the teen movie and found-footage genres for 87 minutes of predictably mean-spirited debauchery.

(Sounds about right. I do not like found footage in general. It usually manages to be both lazy (in that you don’t have to actually think about how a scene works since it is supposed to kind of look like shit), and illogical (by not bothering to explain why people leave a camera rolling uninterrupted for 90 minutes straight). I just think it is hard to get it to work well, and this seems to lie a bit on the Gallows side of things.)

Poster – Sklogject X (B+)

project_x

(This is actually a very good poster. Artistic, interesting framing, tells a little story of what you’re in for with the film. Wish the color scheme was a little less bland, but goes with the found footage aspect. The font is trash.)

Tagline(s) – Witness it. (D)

(I think they probably made this tagline for social media purposes. Given the success and popularity of the film I would bet that this had a really good social media presence and #WitnessIt is a nice concise hashtag to spread the word. As a tagline though it is not good.)

Keyword(s) – party; Top Ten by BMeTric: 96.1 Epic Movie (2007); 95.3 Disaster Movie (2008); 92.1 Jack and Jill (I) (2011); 91.2 Son of the Mask (2005); 88.4 House of the Dead (2003); 88.0 Vampires Suck (2010); 87.1 Crossroads (I) (2002); 86.9 The Room (2003); 84.2 Movie 43 (2013); 84.1 Piranha 3DD (2012);

(Gross. We need to watch Crossroads (again … for like the sixth time), just to really delve into the background of how that film was made once and for all).)

Notes – The most pirated movie in 2012 (approx. 8,720,000 downloads). (Ha)

Some of the footage was shot by the cast with cell phones, Flip, iPhone and Blackberry phones that were handed out by the crew. Over 10 hours of footage was recorded mostly due to the cast continuously recording.

Although the party seems to have more than a thousand people attending, only around 200 extras were used during filming.

Filmed on a set as opposed to a real neighborhood in order to minimize disruption to the locals. This proved to be a wise move as the set was effectively trashed during production. Nevertheless, nearby locals complained to Burbank police about the noise.

Loosely based on the house party of Corey Worthington (Delaney) in Australia. The then-teenager posted the address of his house party on MySpace, attracting around 500 people and caused over $20,000 in property damage. His party attracted journalists and was widely disliked by the public, having been assaulted by a group of teenagers after the events. (Wait … who was assaulted? Even looking through the information online it doesn’t seem like anyone was. Corey Worthington is a weird-ass D-List celebrity though now in Australia).

When the camera catches the young lady urinating, she gestures for it to shoo away. According to a popular Internet rumor, the lady was urinating in a corner due to a lack of bathrooms on the set, and was irritated by this violation of her privacy. Only by paying her an extra amount of money were the editors allowed to use the footage in the film. However, her expression is ambiguous, and she almost appears to be smiling or laughing while gesturing the camera away from her body function.

All the teenagers including the extras, in the party were at the age of 18 or older.

To create a believable bond between them, lead actors Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown were sent to Disneyland and for a weekend away in Big Bear City in California. (… Cool)

Outgrossed its production budget by $9 million on its first weekend of release.

Thomas Mann is one of the few members of the cast to have prior acting experience. He had to audition seven times before landing the role.

Most of the cast are all first-timers, recruited via an open casting call.

Filmed over a period of five weeks.

Project X was a tentative title until it became official.

Writer Michael Bacall worked on the script in the evenings as during the day he was working on the screenplays to 21 Jump Street (2012) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). (Both much more critically successful … I wonder how much he actually worked on this “script”)

When Miles Teller arrives to the party he is addressed by his real name (Whaaaaaaaaa Miles Teller is in this?)

Director Nima Nourizadeh’s background in commercials landed him the job as helmer. He initially moved from London to Los Angeles for what he thought would be a two-week stint on refining the screenplay. He ended up staying for two years.

The High School scenes were filmed at Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, CA.

Christmas with the Kranks Recap

Jamie

With their daughter away for Christmas, the Kranks decide to skip it all together, save some money, and go for a luxury cruise much to the annoyance of their neighbors. That is until their daughter surprises them on Christmas Eve. Can they turn it around and save Christmas before it’s too late? Find out in… Christmas with the Kranks.

How?! When Luther and Nora Krank’s only daughter heads off to Peru with the Peace Corps it seems like Christmas just won’t be the same. In a stroke of genius Luther concocts a scheme where they will boycott the entire holiday, save some money, and go on a luxury cruise instead. This plan immediately runs into trouble as they boycott the firemen, police officers, and boy scouts who come for the normal charity and kindness they’ve come to expect from the Kranks in the holiday season. Not this year, freeloaders! No retreat and no surrender! They particularly miff their holiday obsessed neighbors when they refuse to decorate their house along with everyone else. After suffering the entire community’s scorn they get tantalizingly close to their cruise only to get a call from their daughter surprising them with a holiday visit with her new fiance she met in Peru! Oh no! Scrambling around they find themselves unable to get guests or decorations together for a last minute Christmas Eve party. Looking for one last dose of holiday cheer Luther attempts to put up a giant Frosty decoration on his house, but nearly dies in the process. Seeing this near death experience the neighbors band together to put on the party and give the Krank clan a Christmas they’ll never forget. The End.

Why?! This is actually an interesting question. Everyone kind of assumes that they decide to skip Christmas to save a quick buck, which obviously rubs everyone the wrong way. It’s no wonder they think this either since both Luther and Nora use this excuse throughout the film. While it’s made more explicit in the book, the reality is that Luther just doesn’t really like Christmas. He thinks it’s wasteful and stressful and is basically just protesting the season. He doesn’t like the peer pressure to participate that is heaped on them by their neighbors and he wants to show how much better it is to just skip it. Spoiler alert, though, it turns out skipping it is much more stressful than actually doing it. So I guess the moral of the story is that peer pressure works really well.

What?! For a Christmas movie this was surprisingly bereft of product placement. I would note an interesting thing about the Frosty prop used in the film. IMDb claims that it was Tim Allen’s dad’s Frosty that is used in a huge number of different films. This cannot possibly be true. First, the book has the Frosty plotline, which would be super coincidental. Second, the Frosty prop is now on display in a Christmas film prop show currently in Akron. Third, there is zero evidence online to corroborate this absurd claim. For shame, IMDb.

Who?! Dedicate “in loving memory” to Alan King, a famous comedian who died the year of its release. He apparently shot some scenes in the role of Luther’s boss, but they ended up on the cutting room floor. He also has a dedication in the credits of Rush Hour 3, which is an interesting double billing. The Alan King Double Feature.

Where?! Riverside, Illinois is the home of the Kranks. Noted by a local newspaper and police. Lots of license plates around as well. Solid, but not over the top. B.

When?! A+ Setting Alert! Again, nothing like a holiday film to open the door for some title integration. Made me wonder if there is any example of a film with a double A+ setting. Both a place and a time integrated in title. A Christmas title is the best opportunity. Something like A New York Christmas or something. Autumn in New York is a good one Patrick found, but I’m not sure how I would grade that. I know how to grade this, though. A+.

I took one for the team this week and read the novella on which this film is based, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (yes, that John Grisham). For the most part the film is an exact adaptation, made possible by the low page count. The only additions were some slapstick stunts like the freezing of a cat, which were probably deemed necessary since the book is mostly a story of a bunch of assholes being assholes to each other (with some snark thrown in here and there). I have to note one glaring omission: in the book when the Kranks hear that their daughter is bringing her new Peruvian fiance to Christmas they take a moment to note that many Peruvians are dark-skinned… alrighty. I thought I had misread it. But, then when he shows up they note with glee that he’s not dark-skinned at all, but is in fact lighter than Luther… sufficed to say that didn’t make it into the film. Nothing like a bit of casual racism to get you in the holiday spirit. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Your production company is feeling that itch for some corporate synergy. They’re wondering if a Christmas movie could be made that as a bit more … apologetic towards the rampant commercialization of the holiday season. You’ve got a can-do attitude, right?! Grab your John Grisham novel, and milk that sweet IP! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – Tim Allen pulls off the grumpy-dad character quite well. And while the message is gross, the ultimate pay off in the end kind of makes it all understandable. Also, credit where credit is due, I did not see the rather emotional twist at the end coming. I think I want to see the Sequel! That’s right, in the intervening years, while Blair and Enrique have come to Chicago every year for the big Christmas bash, this year Blair is pregnant and can’t travel from, you guessed it, Peru! So the Kranks are going on vacation. It’s a culture clash for the ages as the Kranks meet the Decardenals (holy shit, he has a last name!) and have a true blue peruvian Christmas! Christmas with the Kranks 2: Meet the Decardenals!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The message is pretty gross as all of the reviews say. Even then, the movie is kind of two movies smushed together. The first half is all about them skipping Christmas (and honestly, being jerks about it … like, you are saving $3K, you can’t give a donation to the cops, c’mon!), and then halfway through they realize they can’t anymore, so it kind of kicks into high gear at that point. As far as Christmas films go, this might be the worst I’ve seen (Saving Christmas doesn’t count), but it still has the charm of being about family and fun and Christmas. You just wish it wasn’t so heavy-handed and gross about greed-is-good mentality of embracing Christmas materialism. The Sklognalogy is … well, avoiding the obvious, let’s go with The Guardian starring Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner. Another movie that feels like two movies smushed together and ultimately fails to be particularly good versions of either movie it is trying to be.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think this could have major ramifications for BMT, but it depends on whether we are willing to sacrifice some BMT Live action. Primarily because … I think this movie could have been really fun to watch around Christmas. Which makes me think we could have three BMT Lives and a BMT Holiday extravaganza instead. If that happens, this movie will make a turning point in BMT. Otherwise, none, perfectly forgettable beyond being a not-at-all-secret BMT Holiday film. It does get a few shouts as a top ten worst holiday film. And gets shouts as one of the worst films of 2004. In other words, this had the cred. Like Deck the Halls, it had to be done as an all-time bad holiday film.

Before I go I want to do a brief analysis on the “friend” from this pair. In this case we were testing the waters concerning Christian Films, by watching Saving Christmas, breaking an unspoken BMT rule in the process. So, did we prove the rule by watching the exception and realizing even the extremes still barely qualify? Or are more religious films coming soon to a BMT near you? … Personally, it is the exception that proves the rule. Christian films are low quality, and just make me angry with what is often a disingenuous holier-than-thou attitude. Our unspoken rule of really only doing those once in a lifetime movies seems a-ok to me at this point. This is a BMT film, but it is also probably the biggest one ever released (not counting something like Passion of the Christ I suppose) … and it still barely qualifies. So doubtful any others are really worth it.

Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Recap

Jamie

Kirk Cameron loves Christmas and is dismayed to find his brother-in-law Christian is not as enthusiastic. Can he sway his opinion about the holiday with some totally unassailable logic and deep biblical knowledge before it’s too late? Find out in… Saving Christmas.

How?! Kirk Cameron is ready to settle in with some strictly Xmas related things: hot chocolate, fireplaces, and sweaters… just some typical religious icons. But some people in this world don’t want you to enjoy all those super nonsecular things. No sir. They either want you to not be so enthusiastic or they want you to celebrate only Jesus. Booooooo. Scrooges, the lot of them. So Kirk is rightfully shocked to find his brother-in-law Christian is one of the Scrooges! Oh no! He thinks presents are dumb, Christmas trees are pagan heresy, and Santa is a capitalistic monster. Bah humbug! Luckily Kirk Cameron is there to save the day (and that day is Christmas), because he know everything about the bible and all of those things are totes in there and totally cool. Don’t worry about it. You probably didn’t pick up on all the Christmas trees in the bible because you weren’t as smart as Kirk Cameron. He’ll explain it to you. Once Christian is convinced he heads into the house for a little nog, a little dance party, and a swell Christmas dinner with his BFFs. The End.

Why?! To save Xmas, bro! Duh! People are literally at war with Christmas. They want to stamp out all of your beliefs. Kirk will help you defeat the theist and atheist fiends alike with some airtight counterpoints. Everyone else… uh… wait, there isn’t anyone else in this film. Just him talking to you while he sits in a car.

What?! The idea that this film would have a product placement is laughable. The closest we get is a prominent shot of the GMC truck that Kirk and Christian sit in for an hour while they talk at us. But yeah, it def wasn’t a product placement… right?

Who?! Solid Director-turned-actor here with Darren Doane playing second fiddle to Kirk Cameron. A little foreshadowing with my boy Doane: he also directed another of the films that is part of the Bring A Friend cycle, which is absurd. Also have to note the Christian dance troop that is featured prominently in the last 15 minutes of the film: God Squad Dance Crew. I would link to their website but I don’t actually want to go to it.

Where?! Pretty obviously takes place in LA, but not explicitly stated. You do get a straight shot of the license plate of the car they sit in for an hour and it definitely has a California plate. So you got the state. C-.

When?! A+ Setting Alert! Best part of a Christmas movie is you have the temporal setting sitting right there for the taking. Worst part is you occasionally have to see absolute trash like this. Gross. A+.

This. Film. Is. Terrible. I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever watch it again… Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So you are want to create something wonderful for your flock to enjoy in the Christmas (with a capital Christ) season to combat the liberal War on Christmas? Who are you going to call? Child-star-turned-evangelical-icon Kirk Cameron of course! I hope he knows how to make movies … he does know how to make movies right?! Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – The film quality is … good. Like the picture itself. They rented cameras that were good enough for a feature length production. Honestly, I’m having trouble even thinking through whether I should do sequel/prequel/remake … I mean, like, Remake. Remake this movie with real actors? Although you’d probably just end up with Left Behind starring Nic Cage. So, what is there to say? This will serve its purpose. People will watch it in Sunday school and it’ll give a few tough questions answers that sound good. But is there anything in this movie that is “good”? No, it is not a real movie. It can amuse more than you would think, but mostly it made me angry by just how disingenuous it managed to be.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – This is a real one: at one point they talk about “santa” and about how Saint Nicholas was a real person. Then they show him beating the shit out of someone and everyone is like “man, Santa’s a badass”. That’s assault brotha, and it is nothing to celebrate, especially not in a purported Christian film. The acting is terrible, the film is not a movie. By technical definitions even. It opens with a five minute intro by Cameron talking to the camera about how much he loves hot chocolate, and then ends with (not kidding) a 20 minute sequence involving a dance party, a dinner scene, and then blooooooopies. This movie is less than an hour long. The Sklognalogy is … no not Left Behind. Even when we did Left Behind, at least that had a story. This does not, it comes across as almost stream of consciousness. It is produced by Liberty University! No, the Sklognalogy is Atlas Shrugged III: Who is John Galt? A pure propaganda film that isn’t a real movie, disingenuous, holier than thou, and wholly terrible.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – For at least a year, and this will be expanded upon more in the Christmas with the Kranks, this I think puts the nail in the coffin of doing more explicitly religious films (like God’s Not Dead 2 for example). It just isn’t really worth it. I will come out of it the same way: angry and with a simple five word review: “This is not a movie”. This had the streetcred though. Due to Kirk Cameron’s own idiotic victim mentality he went to social media to decry the unfair online reviews his movie got! … which promptly got him more negative reviews and single-handedly caused his movie to nearly sweep the Razzies. It did get a shout at 18th worst of the year at the AV Club, but often was overshadowed by Left Behind and God’s Not Dead from the same year. Every review basically calls it an experimental film trying to figure out how little actual movie can be made while still releasing to theaters.

I’ll probably leave it mostly there. I will point out something I thought was rather humorous from this entire humorless affair. Darren Doane’s character Christian sits around in his car the whole time while his wife is slaving away in the kitchen preparing this absolutely enormous dinner for friends and family … then when dinner comes around, who is at the head of the table as if he didn’t just sulk around for days on end like an asshole? Christian. The patriarchy, am I right?

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas Preview

See the Christmas with the Kranks preview for a description of all of the different movies we are doing for the Bring a Friend cycle! Some of the bonus films will be BMT (by our qualifications: <40% on Rotten Tomatoes, big box office release, released after 1980), some won’t. This week, our film is for sure qualified! Here’s what I wrote about this “friend” in particular:

Christian FilmsThese get major releases, but usually aren’t our bag. A liiiiiiittle holier than thou. Unless you’re Madea, then I love you. Saving Christmas here we come!

True to form, we’re mashing up Saving Christmas with the Kranks! Saving Christmas is by all accounts not a real film, but rather a 79 minute Youtube response video to the made up “War on Christmas.” We actually told ourselves we would NEVER watch it and yet here we are. Bring a Friend was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Ho ho ho, everyone. Let’s go!

Saving Christmas (2014) – BMeTric: 74.9

SavingChristmas_BMeT

SavingChristmas_RV

(Consistent. A good sign. Even after the hubbub (instigated by Cameron himself like an idiot) it has maintained its ridiculously low rating. Otherwise only surprising because of how many votes it has to be honest, considering it barely was released to theaters.)

RogerEbert.com – 1 star –  Doing nothing but preaching to the converted—literally and badly to boot—”Saving Christmas” is a terrible movie regardless of one’s eschatological mindset. And while it may not be the worst Christmas-related movie ever (a title I believe is still held by the vile “Christmas with the Kranks”), it certainly does the genre no favors. However, if watching shoddily filmed presentations of shoddily constructed arguments justifying a self-absorbed perspective is the kind of thing that strikes your fancy, then it may indeed be up your alley after all.

(Shout out to Christmas with the Kranks!! What what. Amazing. Time for a little lesson: eschatological (adj.) – The part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind. Pushing it brother. Spoiler alert, it is not up my alley, and I’m prob not going to be a huge fan. But I’m ready and willing to expand my horizons.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqG1Hafyhhk

(Barf. The two people in the car are the director, Darren Doane, and Kirk Cameron. I’m genuinely curious how long the dance sequence lasts. By all accounts this movie, based on actual content, is like 40 minutes long, so I will be disappointed if that dance sequence isn’t a bloated five minutes minimum.)

Directors – Darren Doane – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; and Nominated for Worst Director for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Check out his wikipedia to see it incredible list of music video jobs. He’s directed a few small direct-to-video and bargain bin movies in the past, but otherwise is a hard right Christian documentary filmmaker.)

Writers – Darren Doane (written by) – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; and Nominated for Worst Director for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Hervey and Doane wrote the documentary Free Speech Apocalypse together. Is BMT objective? Should it be? From what I have seen about both these people they seem like disingenuous fanatic evangelicals to me, and that will color my viewing of this film. My research makes me question whether we should be watching this film … but I suppose that is the point of the bring a friend cycle in a way. I’ll leave both of these guys’ biographies there.)

Cheston Hervey (written by) – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Worked with Doane on Free Speech Apocalypse, helped write this, and was an extra in Saving Christmas as well.)

Actors – Kirk Cameron – (Known For: Fireproof; Future BMT: The Best of Times; BMT: Saving Christmas; Left Behind: The Movie; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: I kind of wish he was just known as a funny kid actor from Growing Pains. Instead he’s known for making evangelical christian films. Married to fellow Growing Pains star Chelsea Noble)

Darren Doane – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Screenplay for Saving Christmas in 2015; and Nominated for Worst Director for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Mentioned above. This movie sounds suspiciously like a Doane vehicle through and through. I wonder why it is called Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas.)

Bridgette Cameron – (BMT: Saving Christmas; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Supporting Actress for Saving Christmas in 2015; Notes: Kirk Cameron’s sister.)

Budget/Gross – $500,000 / Domestic: $2,783,970

(Ugh. Legit success. This is how films like this (and I would put any film aimed at a niche audience in this camp) get made: you start will a small budget and smash it with your audience in intensely focused marketing. In this case you focus on church groups. Literal preaching to the choir.)

#50 for the Christian genre

savingchristmas_christian

(This was the 59th biggest release for a film of this kind. I suppose it is interesting that while the average gross for the films isn’t great recently, that even with the massive explosion of films in the genre they didn’t drop too much. A good sign … maybe. It does seem like a genre which might be getting more niche as the years pass.)

#48 for the Christmas genre

savingchristmas_christmas

(Wow. Looks like it came right before a new boom. There were three during the last two Christmases, so one would assume there will be a few this year. The only obvious one on the schedule though is Bad Mom’s Christmas … gross. Anywho, this made no money.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/13): No consensus yet.

(I’ll just paste a review that seems the most appropriate: Virtually everything about this production feels thrown together. In other words: you aren’t good at your job Doane. You had one job and you made a big old piece of shit instead.)

Poster – Kirk Cameron’s Saving Sklogmas (D-)

saving_christmas

(Messy, and Kirk Cameron’s arrogant smirk can shove it. But it is higher quality than you’d expect from a $500K film. Plus they put love and care into the font, hard to sklogify that. That saves it from an F. Dutch angles on the title though Kirk? C’mon, you’re better than that.)

Tagline(s) – Put Christ Back in Christmas (F)

(B-b-b-b-b-but cadence, and whatnot! Doesn’t matter, this is literally just the catchphrase for the War on Christmas nonsense. They didn’t make it for this movie, and it deserves no credit. Do you know what I say about that? Put the Sklog back in Sklogmas, that’s what I have to say.)

Keyword(s) – christmas; Top Ten by BMeTric: 92.1 Jack and Jill (I) (2011); 87.8 Jaws: The Revenge (1987); 84.0 Home Alone 3 (1997); 83.1 RoboCop 3 (1993); 75.6 Look Who’s Talking Now (1993); 74.9 Saving Christmas (2014); 74.4 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009); 70.8 Getaway (2013); 69.6 Setup (I) (2011); 68.9 Are We There Yet? (2005);

(I would watch Getaway a million times instead of everything else on this list. Although Jack and Jill will be an interesting rewatch eventually I think.)

Notes – Kirk Cameron responded to the film’s negative reviews by pleading to his fans on his Facebook page: “Help me storm the gates of Rotten Tomatoes. All of you who love Saving Christmas – go rate it at Rotten Tomatoes right now and send the message to all the critics that WE decide what movies we want our families to see. If 2,000 of you (out of almost 2 million on this page) take a minute to rate Saving Christmas, it will give the film a huge boost and more will see it as a result! Thank you for all your help and support in putting the joy of Christ back in Christmas!” This actually resulted in a severe backlash against the film, in which Internet users traveled to the Rotten Tomatoes page and condemned the film. Cameron later blamed this action on “haters and atheists”. (Both are dumb, but I guess he started it. I won’t cry a river over Saving Christmas’ “cheap” rating is all I’m saying)

Made on a budget of $500,000.

“VeggieTales” creator Phil Vischer was asked to submit an opening segment to this film, but respectfully declined. (cooool)

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kirk Cameron)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Darren Doane, Cheston Hervey)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Combo (Kirk Cameron)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Bridgette Cameron)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Darren Doane)

Christmas with the Kranks Preview

Time has truly flown with the calendar cycle as we are already at the end of the line. Time for transition time! This is where the last film in the cycle has to overlap with the next film in the cycle. In this case the film has to both appear on our Calendar and also… drumroll… bring an atypical BMT film along for the BMT ride. What does that mean? Well it is truly our most convoluted and confusing cycle we’ve ever done, which obviously means we love it. Basically there are several types of terrible films that we typically don’t watch for BMT. To help understanding these types of films Patrick has prepared a handy guide:

  • Missed Opportunity – Juuuust barely over 40%. So critics thought you were so bad you’re good, or good for what you are? Critics are also idiots and your movie is in actuality terrible.
  • Kids’ Films – You probably sold the movie as a romp that both 5 year olds and parents alike can laugh at. In reality you made a fake movie with fake money and overlaid ADR farts on top. Good job, is that what they teach in film school?
  • TV Movie – We obviously don’t watch shit SyFy originals, get that junk out of here (until now!)
  • Mockbuster – You want to trick me into watching your dumb ass intentionally bad shit? … fine, but only this once
  • Christian Films – These get major releases, but usually aren’t our bag. A liiiiiiittle holier than thou. Unless you’re Madea, then I love you. Saving Christmas here we come!
  • Straight-To-DVD – You couldn’t even get your shit together to get released to a theater? 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain got released to theaters! What are you doing with your life?
  • Foreign – You got some big names to run around on a Taiwanese production for a week, you’ve unlocked the key! Pay celebrities money to sell their souls.
  • pre-1980s – Everyone knows prior to the blockbuster era the bad movie landscape was dominated by hacks, if we wanted low-hanging fruit we’d go and make fun of community theater productions.
  • Bargain Bin – There was a time when terrible films were found like buried treasure in the bargain bins of local blockbusters. That time has passed… until now.

So how do we bring one of these terrible films along? Mash-up the titles of course. Using this first entry as an example we are starting with the Christian Films and mashing it up with a film from the Calendar. That’s right! We’re watching Saving Christmas with the Kranks. A mash-up of the Kirk Cameron barely-a-movie garbagefest, Saving Christmas, and what is likely the worst major Christmas release of all time, Christmas with the Kranks. It’s a Christmas miracle in August! Look at how nicely the titles flow into each other. Hooray. Saving Christmas is by all accounts not a real film, but rather a 79 minute Youtube response video to the made up “War on Christmas.” We actually told ourselves we would NEVER watch it and yet here we are. Bring a Friend was an offer we couldn’t refuse. Ho ho ho, everyone. Let’s go!

Christmas with the Kranks (2004) – BMeTric: 55.5

ChristmaswiththeKranks_BMeT

ChristmaswiththeKranks_RV

(Impressively low rating. I always like holiday films because you get that extra bump. That bump on the ‘06 mark might seem like a DVD release bump, but it isn’t. It is a bump around Christmas 2005 when a number of people saw it over the holidays. Solid stuff. This is a lower number of votes than I expected, I assumed a family film like this would be hugely popular regardless of quality. Go figure.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Noxious holiday movie in which suburbanites Luther and Nora Krank, whose daughter has joined the Peace Corps, decide to forgo celebrating Christmas and take a Caribbean cruise – which, according to their outrages neighbors, is positively un-American. Alleged comedy pays homage to mediocrity, crass consumerism, and love-it-or-leave-it conformity. Screenplay by Chris Columbus, based on John Grisham’s novel Skipping Christmas.

(Noxious! People hate this film. “Pays homage to mediocrity” is a great line by the way, and probably could be used to describe 25% of BMT films ultimately. I would say this is likely to be boring … except people hate it so much that in reviews for Saving Christmas (made 10 years later) people still mention Christmas with the Kranks as the worst Christmas movie ever made! Get me amped, no joke.)

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

(It certainly is getting me in the spirit! I hope the soundtrack is exactly that in the film, just wall to wall Christmas music. Was this a last gasp of Tim Allen the movie star? He had Wild Hogs, but that was kind of explicitly “look at all these older actors!” wasn’t it? He did do a great Dad with a capital D back in the day.)

Directors – Joe Roth – (Future BMT: Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise; Freedomland; America’s Sweethearts; BMT: Christmas with the Kranks; Notes: Mainly a producer now, notably on the xXx franchise. Was married to the daughter of Samuel Arkoff titan of horror production pre-1980. Part owner of the Seattle Sounders F.C.)

Writers – John Grisham (novel) – (Known For: The Firm; A Time to Kill; The Rainmaker; The Client; The Pelican Brief; Runaway Jury; The Gingerbread Man; BMT: Christmas with the Kranks; The Chamber; Notes: His first novel was A Time to Kill written while he was serving in the Mississippi State House of Representatives. Was a practicing lawyer for 10 years, but has been writing full time for over 20 years now.)

Chris Columbus (screenplay) – (Known For: The Goonies; Gremlins; Gremlins 2: The New Batch; Young Sherlock Holmes; Only the Lonely; Future BMT: Nine Months; Heartbreak Hotel; BMT: Christmas with the Kranks; Notes: The director of both Home Alones and the first two Harry Potter movies, he was well established for working with kid actors. Gremlins was his first optioned script, which he rewrote in Steven Spielberg’s bungalow)

Actors – Tim Allen – (Known For: Cars; Toy Story; Toy Story 3; Galaxy Quest; Toy Story 2; Big Trouble; The Santa Clause; Redbelt; The Santa Clause 2; Future BMT: Zoom; The Shaggy Dog; The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause; Jungle 2 Jungle; Joe Somebody; For Richer or Poorer; Crazy on the Outside; Meet Wally Sparks; Who Is Cletis Tout?; BMT: Christmas with the Kranks; Wild Hogs; Razzie Notes: Nominated for Worst Actor in 2007 for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, The Shaggy Dog, and Zoom; and Nominated for Worst Screen Couple for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause in 2007; Notes: Most famous for Home Improvement, but have been a well-established television mega-star for over twenty-five years now. Went to jail for two years for drug dealing before turning to stand-up comedy.)

Jamie Lee Curtis – (Known For: Halloween; Trading Places; True Lies; My Girl; Escape from New York; Freaky Friday; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; A Fish Called Wanda; The Fog; Veronica Mars; Halloween H20: 20 Years Later; Prom Night; The Tailor of Panama; Forever Young; From Up on Poppy Hill; Blue Steel; Beverly Hills Chihuahua; Spare Parts; Fierce Creatures; Homegrown; Future BMT: Halloween: Resurrection; Halloween III: Season of the Witch; Virus; My Girl 2; Perfect; You Again; Drowning Mona; House Arrest; Terror Train; Halloween II; Queens Logic; BMT: Christmas with the Kranks; Notes: The original Scream Queen! She is the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, and married to Christopher Guest. Launched her horror career with arguably the best slasher of them all: Halloween.)

Dan Aykroyd – (Known For: Ghostbusters; Ghostbusters; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; The Blues Brothers; Ghostbusters II; Trading Places; Casper; My Girl; 50 First Dates; Grosse Pointe Blank; Twilight Zone: The Movie; Chaplin; Tommy Boy; Antz; Driving Miss Daisy; Evolution; The Great Outdoors; The Campaign; Blues Brothers 2000; Sneakers; Future BMT: Crossroads; Coneheads; Exit to Eden; My Stepmother Is an Alien; Loser; My Girl 2; Celtic Pride; Feeling Minnesota; Loose Cannons; War, Inc.; Sgt. Bilko; 1941; Pearl Harbor; Canadian Bacon; She’s Having a Baby; Spies Like Us; Getting Away with Murder; Diamonds; BMT: Caddyshack II; Tammy; North; Nothing But Trouble; Christmas with the Kranks; Pixels; I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry; Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Supporting Actor in 1989 for Caddyshack II; and in 1992 for Nothing But Trouble; Nominated for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for Nothing But Trouble in 1992; Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for Exit to Eden in 1995; and Nominated for Worst Supporting Actor for North in 1995; Notes: Not much to say about him. Recently was in the news for trashing Paul Feig for the recent Ghostbuster remake, which Aykroyd himself cameoed in.)

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $73,780,539 (Worldwide: $96,572,480)

(Not fantastic, but also not terrible. Won’t get you a sequel though. I’m willing to bet holiday films tend to do okay, just because people want to see them around the holidays and you can usually take your family to them.)

#12 for the Christmas genre

christmaswiththekranks_christmas

(These movies certainly make money regardless of quality. Fred Claus made $75 million? Bizarre. The plot is a bit messy, but it is interesting that holiday films seem to go in waves. I wonder if they buy up scripts like this and just make them until there are none left and no one wants to watch them anymore, and then they just wait out the slow periods. Either that or the peaks correspond with the bad movie booms … Seems like we might be in a boom period if that was the case. I’m skeptical.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 5% (7/131): A mirthless movie as fresh as last year’s fruit cake, Christmas with the Kranks is a coarse, garish comedy that promotes conformity.

(ugh, some awful writing there. Garish is what I’ve been hearing about it. Basically it promotes consumerism and is in general just kind of sickening. Conformity is right, as Maltin said, it kind of has a love-it-or-leave-it vibe going on.)

Poster – Christmas with the Sklogs (F)

christmas_with_the_kranks_ver2

(That so very easily can be modified to be Christmas with the Sklogs, but why would we? It looks like straight trash. No bueno.)

Tagline(s) – Their Christmas will turn the town upside down! (C-)

No! Ho! Ho! (Nope.)

(Weird. The first tagline seems more like a riff on the poster… not really on the film itself. Get it? Tim Allen is upside down in the poster. The second is from an alternate poster and I kept it because it is truly a wonder to behold.)

Keyword(s) – christmas eve; Top Ten by BMeTric: 75.6 Look Who’s Talking Now (1993); 67.3 Black Christmas (2006); 58.3 Deck the Halls (2006); 55.5 Christmas with the Kranks (2004); 51.2 Jack Frost (1998); 50.2 Santa Claus (1959); 46.5 The Traveler (I) (2010); 45.3 Unaccompanied Minors (2006); 44.4 Bad Teacher (2011); 44.2 While She Was Out (2008);

(Oh wow. Solid list of movies I’ve mostly never seen. We’ll be doing Deck the Halls eventually, I think it is on the calendar.)

Notes – The title of the John Grisham book on which the film is based is “Skipping Christmas”. It wasn’t used for the film to avoid confusion with another Christmas-themed film, Surviving Christmas (2004). (and eventually Saving Christmas, obviously)

The swimsuits the models are wearing in the advertisement for the cruise the Kranks are taking are the same ones Luther and Nora wear when they go tanning in the mall. (ha, love prop master 101 notes)

During filming, it was reported that the cast and crew had ingested over 10 pounds of fake snow. (gross)

Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Akroyd had previously starred in Trading Places, My Girl, and My Girl 2 together. They play neighbors in Christmas With the Kranks rather than love interests as they have in their previous movies.

When the Kranks are watching Vic Frohmeyer through the window, Luther says to Nora, “So you’re saying Frohmeyer has a problem with our skipping Christmas? Who’s he gonna call?” Dan Aykroyd, who plays Frohmeyer, also starred in the film “Ghostbusters” for which “Who Ya Gonna Call” was a line from the movies theme song. (Half the notes are about the dumb references in this film by the way. I deleted like four of the more unnecessary ones)

Tom Poston’s final film

Emmet Walsh and Tom Poston were both recurring actors on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement (1991).

When Nora drops the ham in the shopping center parking lot and the truck runs over it and she screams, you can hear the theme song from “Halloween”. (This reference on the other hand I approve of)

Lots of deleted and alternate footage appears in the movie’s trailer (included in the “Previews” section on the DVD). Some examples are: A book being opened to a photo of the Krank family.Nora Krank taking a photo of her husband and daughter outside their house.Luther Krank with a device in his mouth, obviously sitting in a dentist’s chair to get his teeth whitened and/or fixed.Luther Krank driving home with the skimpy tree on the roof of his car getting heckled by another motorist.A different cruise advertisement in the travel agency’s window.Luther Krank showing his botox-injected face in the hospital. (We only see it for the first time in the scene afterwards where he’s eating with his wife.)The shot of Blair Krank saying goodbye to her parents at the airport doesn’t have a screen credit over it as it does in the actual film. (cooool)

The $75 tree bought from the scouts is not tied to the car when Luther arrives at his house. (props)

Ally Sheedy was considered for the role of Nora Krank (Huh, that could have been interesting. I feel like I don’t see Sheedy in stuff that often)

When the power goes out, Luther asks Vic if he knows anybody at Con Ed. In Ghostbusters II (1989), Dan Aykroyd who plays Vic, and the other Ghostbusters pretend to be from Con Ed to dig a big hole in the middle of the street. (Also kind of a cool ref)

Julie Gonzalo, who plays Blair Krank, and Jamie Lee Curtis also star together in Freaky Friday (2003) in which Gonzalo plays the nemesis of Curtis’s daughter.

During the scene when Tim Allen is stuck hanging from his roof, you can see one of the fireman get hit in the face with the ladder. (goofs and bloops, loving it)

The Frosty prop used the film belonged to Tim Allen’s father and was brought overseas with him. He hung it at the Reichstag during the Fall of Berlin.It is a family heirloom and has made cameo appearances. Films in which Frosty makes an appearance include: Saving Private Ryan, Inglorious Bastards, Santa Clause 2, Dunston Checks In, Fury, Saw, Avengers II, The Pacifier, Frozen, every Fast and the Furious film, and all of the Exorcist films. (Got to end it there. That is super cool)