Medicine Man Recap

Jamie

Dr. Rae Crane is tasked by her company to find Dr. Robert Campbell, who has holed up deep in the rainforest. When she arrives, he claims to have found a cure for cancer so she decides to give him a chance… but they may not have that long with a new road being built nearby. Can they find the cure (and perhaps love) before it’s too late? Find out in… Medicine Man.

How?! Dr. Crane is looking for Dr. Campbell at the behest of a pharmaceutical company. He has requested a new assistant and gas chromatograph deep in the Amazonian rain forest. When she shows up he’s all like “you aren’t qualified,” but that’s sexist and Dr. Crane ain’t having any of it. She shows her stuff and duly impressed Dr. Campbell shows her what he has: a cure for motherf’n cancer made from a rainforest flower, babbbby. So we all kinda forgive him for being a total asshole. Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to replicate his initial findings, called compound 37. In their quest to find the secret they learn to live and love again… but also that a logging road is getting dangerously close to the village and they don’t have much time. To add to the pressure, a child in the village gets cancer and needs the last sample in order to survive. Not willing to give it up Dr. Crane convinces Dr. Campbell to seek out the old Medicine Man. That Medicine Man totally gives them the secret, but they are a couple of dopes but don’t get the hint and use the sample on the child anyway. Just when everything seems lost they discover the secret: it wasn’t the flower at all but the bugs that lived in them (what a twist!). But then everything is still lost because a bunch of bulldozers come into town and start a fire and burn down everything. Noooooo! Not willing to give up Dr. Crane and Dr. Campbell go with the tribe in search of the flower and leave their lives behind. THE END.

Why?! Uh, to cure cancer, duh. Nice MacGuffin alert for Compound 37 here, but there is also the underlying theme of protecting the indiginous populations of the rainforest. Not only from the people building the road, but also from disease if too many people move into the area. That’s why, in the end, Dr. Campbell decides to be so secretive about the cure for cancer. Even though the company would give him everything he wants (and probably pay the logging company to stall the road building in the area) if they knew about it, he already knows from experience that it would be even more devastating to the tribe if he allowed that to happen. He had that happen before and the guilt he felt for bringing disease to the tribe destroyed his life and marriage. So basically he’s not an asshole at all, just a lovely curmudgeon looking out for the well-being of all. Hooray.

Who?! Very small cast and unfortunately Sean Connery doesn’t have to call up the Prez to get the road through Brazil delayed. Just him and Bracco chumming it up. The only truly interesting thing is that concurrent to its release it seemed like it was pretty well known that Tony and Academy Award winning playwright Tom Stoppard did uncredited rewrites on the script (which he did fairly frequently apparently). This normally makes its way into IMDb at some point, but not in this case. But by all accounts it’s true. 

What?! All of these latter categories are going to be so boring because the film is set in the middle of nowhere and is so tiny. Like obviously they aren’t snapping into some Slim Jims in the middle of a jungle. But for the low low price of $450 you can get the bird mask that Sean Connery is wearing when we are introduced to his character. Complete with a certificate of authenticity. Wonder why Planet Hollywood is willing to part with such a gem.

Where?! It actually isn’t explicitly stated that this film is set in Brazil, I don’t think. But it’s pretty obvious for a number of reasons. I’m sure based on some of the towns mentioned by Connery that it’s for sure (and obviously the location is somewhat necessary to the plot), so I’ll still give this a C.

When?! I actually think this might be the first film where I could honestly say that there might be absolutely no indication of when it takes place in the entire film… literally no chance of figuring it out. I just can’t even imagine why they would have needed to let you know what the date was… it’s in the jungle. Don’t even have newspapers. Time is totally irrelevant. I guess maybe if I got one of their prop lab notebooks. F.

I can totally understand why this film was made and why Sean Connery and Lorrainne Bracco made it. It’s a classic character study and actor-driven film in the same vein as The African Queen. Exotic location, main love interest (?) who is kind of a dick, and a strong woman protagonist who is a little bit out of her element (a fish out of water, you might say. I just coined that). So I can see why people wanted to make this film and really sink their teeth into a role like this. However… there are some flaws (gasp). FIrst of all, both of their characters are kind of caricatures. She’s a loud and brash New Yorker that is more stereotypical than necessary (given that she’s a very well qualified scientist) and he’s pretty much a bore. Second, and probably the most BMT thing about the film, the twist regarding the bugs being the actual cure is so airmailed and obvious that it borders on ridiculous. Other than those two things, though, I found the film to be pleasant enough to watch… the location in itself was interesting enough for me to be engaged throughout. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Let’s hop into a time machine to when people fundamentally didn’t understand cancer and thought we’d find just like … some random chemical that cures what is effectively like a hundred different diseases. Like that makes sense. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I was very surprised to see this was a McTiernan film. Die Hard, Predator, The Hunt for Red October, he’s smashed out some classics in his time. As a matter of fact there are only three films he directed that I haven’t seen. The most interesting is Nomads which appears to be a horror film that was not released widely, only 500 or so theaters in total. But we are on track to finish his filmography, and this is just a step along the way. Quite a different project to his three famous films though, and not surprising that apparently audiences were annoyed that it wasn’t an action or thriller, but instead a romantic drama.

The Good – I think the first half of the film is very interesting. It is a pretty rare genre, the medical genre. Lorenzo’s Oil comes to mind. Concussion. I Already Work Around the Clock: The Movie (I think it was released as Extraordinary Measures in the States). If you can excuse the overacting from Bracco a bit, I actually think it is quite good. Inverts the White Savior trope as well. Instead of Connery ultimately saving the tribe, he is hoping the tribe can help him save humanity. I like the medical stuff even if it was all a bit nonsense.

The Bad – They completely telegraph the ending of the film, to the point that you wonder if these literal genius-level scientists are in fact dumb people. They aren’t, but the twist is. Also, I could be wrong, but I think the kid who got cancer near the end was eating ants earlier in the film, which, if I know my fake-Medicine-Man-biology means he should have been immune to cancer. Whatever. Bracco’s character is written to be incredibly brash, and I don’t think it works the way it was intended, instead it just results in Bracco yelling a lot for mostly no good reason. A more clever twist and I think this film would have been fine though.

The BMT – I think this is a very specific genre, and could maybe be mentioned alongside Extraordinary Measures eventually as far as bad medical dramas. At the same time I don’t think I would really recommend the film as a bad movie in any capacity, which is usually how I judge these things. I can’t even think of a scene I would show anyone.

Roast-radamus – This is certainly a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Brazil and the Amazon rainforest in general. And arguably a great MacGuffin (Why?), with the cure for cancer (all cancer!) being the Maltese Falcon that the protagonists are going for. And definitely a Worst Twist (How?) for the ultimate conclusion of ants being the cure for cancer … a full half hour after they give you a close up shot of ants crawling all over the magical cancer curing plant. Pretty good line up there, but nothing for good, bad, or BMT I think.

StreetCreditReport.com – Not surprisingly the only cred here is, again, from Siskel and Ebert’s worst of list for 1992. There is this bizarre list from IndieWire which puts it at the 52nd best movie of the 90s … that’s a stretch. I’m actually not sure if Reverse Shot is supposed to be a joke of some kind? Johnny Mnemonic at number 4 feels a tad bit high. I also found it on a list of Left-Wing films for its environmental message. Doesn’t seem to be on any worst or best of environmental lists either.

You Just Got Schooled – There isn’t really a good movie to do alongside this one, so let’s highlight a little fun fact. On the Medicine Man wiki page the first citation is an LA Times article concerning someone suing the production for stealing their film idea. The person suing was, in fact, Wilburn H. Ferguson, a 1930s Amazonian explorer and doctor who came back from the Amazon claiming to have found a cure for cancer (called the Jivaro Head Shrinking Compound, and indeed the Jivaro tribe is one of the few well known head shrinking tribes in the world). Ferguson alleged that he sat down with executives in 1988 and described his story Tsanza, which is the native term for head shrinking, but they passed and independently produced Medicine Man. Not surprisingly, there is no evidence that the concoction that Ferguson sold in the 50s treated cancer. Interestingly the wiki page seems to suggest the film is instead based on the exploits of Richard Evans Schultes, who is considered the father of ethnobotany.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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Medicine Man Quiz

Uh oh. In addition to forgetting the cure for cancer, I also drank too much native Amazonian alcohol during the celebration last night. Can you help me remember what happened in Medicine Man?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) When Bracco finds Connery in the rainforest he’s celebrating with his Amazonian friends. He’s decided to get shit faced and dress up as an animal. What animal?

2) The problem is that Connery has forgotten the cure for cancer! Whoops! He keeps making the solution, but none of them have the mystical peak 37 which is, of course, everything. What is the serum made from? In the end what was the actual source of peak 37?

3) Connery is naturally a tragic hero. What is he beating himself up over, so badly that even his wife is like “for reals, get over it”?

4) In addition to the frustrations that forgetting the cure for cancer poses (again, whoops), there is also an increasingly pressing issue facing Connery and the tribe. What is it?

5) In the movie two people in the tribe get cancer, despite the fact that Connery specifically sought out the tribe because they had an unusually low cancer rate. Why did these two people get cancer then?

Answers

Medicine Man Preview

“My son?” Poe gasps as he gazes upon Jim McBrawn. Now that he’s looking closer he can see his own features reflected back at him and the features of… “my God, Teri,” he whispers. He looks up at Rich who nods. With that Poe and Jim McBrawn embrace, “I’ve missed so much,” Poe says with tears in his eyes. “There’s… there’s still time,” Jim McBrawn says, eyes glistening as he pulls out a baseball mitt. We see them play some catch. We see Poe teach Jim how to ride a bike. We see them team up to karate chop Dark Gruber into submission. With his dying breath he gasps, “you… you defeated me. I never thought you would discover my only weakness… the power of love.” No time to gloat, though, Rich needs their help. They hop onto the computer system and dual hack their way into the shuttle’s mainframe. “Rich, the shuttle is compromised. You’ll never make it back… unless.” They hack some more and discover that the shuttle has an onboard helicopter-submarine. “Rich,” Poe says, “you think you can drive this thing?” With that Rich smiles, “I can drive anything.” With that he begins an uncontrolled descent to Earth. Only through fancy maneuvers and Tokyo drifts is he able to aim the helicopter-submarine for the New Orleans aquarium. Putting on the reverse thrusters just at the right moment he is able to crash dive his way into the penguin tank and comes out unscathed. Worldwide heroes, Rich and Poe stand contemplatively, looking into the distance. “I think I kinda like this,” Poe says, “I might just unretire… partner?” But Rich shakes his head and looks back at Jade. “Nah, I think it’s time for a change myself. Jade and I are getting married… but I’ll give you a ring if I ever need any help… partner.” And with that they clasp their hands. THE END

Jamie and Patrick look at each other. The script is horrible. But a part of them is still worried. “We need something to make sure people hate this… you thinking what I’m thinking?” And Jamie nods, “let’s destroy some rain forest.” That’s right! We’re transitioning from Siskel and Ebert’s worst of the year into a cycle centered around Hackers. The cycle will feature actors from the film Hackers and starts with Medicine Man which features Lorraine Bracco. It was also one of Ebert’s worst of 1992. Let’s go!

Medicine Man (1992) – BMeTric: 28.3 

MedicineManIMDb_BMeT

MedicineManIMDb_RV

(Standard regression to the mean thee. And I think that is likely just because the film is mostly forgotten? Who in the world besides absolute lunatics is like “man, I want to see Medicine Man starring Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco, I haven’t seen that in years!”?)

Leonard Maltin – 2.5 stars –  Connery plays a research scientist, sequestered in the Brazilian rain forest, who’s found the cure for cancer – but can’t duplicate it. Bracco is his brainy superior from the U.S. who’s come to check up on him. Connery carried this movie singlehandedly, and as usual he’s commanding to watch, but the film is weak, and Bracco’s abrasive performance (and poorly written character) practically sinks it.

(There are a lot of weird choices here. Not conjoining “rain forest”, and not splitting singlehandedly in some way in particular just seems odd. Connery carried this review, the odd spelling / grammar choices almost sink it (heyoooooooooo, love you Leonard).)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQs9NrHc7qo/

(Ooooo looks exciting. I’m not joking. I’m actually pretty excited to watch this weird film.)

Directors – John McTiernan – (Known For: Die Hard; Predator; The Hunt for Red October; Die Hard: With a Vengeance; The Thomas Crown Affair; Future BMT: Nomads; Last Action Hero; Basic; BMT: Rollerball; Medicine Man; The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Last Action Hero in 1994; Notes: We’ve been kind of all up in John McTiernan recently with Jamie doing a submarine podcast (Submersion) and specifically The Hunt for Red October, and watching the Predator remake last year. And why not: notable for going to prison for a year for illegal wiretapping.)

Writers – Tom Schulman (story & screenplay) – (Known For: Dead Poets Society; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; What About Bob?; Future BMT: Holy Man; 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag; Second Sight; BMT: Welcome to Mooseport; Medicine Man; Notes: Won an Oscar for Dead Poets Society, it was his former teacher, Sam Pickering, that was the inspiration for Robin William’s character.)

Sally Robinson (screenplay) – (Known For: A Far Off Place; BMT: Medicine Man; Notes: Mostly known for television work. Appears to have retired to some degree in 2014.)

Actors – Sean Connery – (Known For: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; The Longest Day; Highlander; The Rock; The Hunt for Red October; The Untouchables; A Bridge Too Far; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Goldfinger; Thunderball; The Name of the Rose; Dr. No; Murder on the Orient Express; Never Say Never Again; Diamonds Are Forever; From Russia with Love; You Only Live Twice; DragonHeart; Time Bandits; Zardoz; Future BMT: Meteor; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Family Business; Rising Sun; A Good Man in Africa; Entrapment; Just Cause; The Man with the Deadly Lens; Sir Billi; BMT: The Avengers; Highlander II: The Quickening; Medicine Man; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Avengers in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Entrapment in 2000; Notes: Y’all know Sean Connery. Former Mr. Universe turned actor, he is nearly 90 years old.)

Lorraine Bracco – (Known For: Goodfellas; The Basketball Diaries; Sea of Love; Riding in Cars with Boys; Someone to Watch Over Me; The Dream Team; The Pick-up Artist; Being Human; Sing; Death of a Dynasty; Future BMT: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; Switch; Hackers; Traces of Red; BMT: Medicine Man; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 1993 for Medicine Man, and Traces of Red; Notes: Was married to Edward James Olmos for years. She moved to France to become a model at 20, and was once asked to pose nude for Salvador Dali (she refused).)

José Wilker – (Known For: O Homem do Ano; BMT: Medicine Man; Notes: An extremely accomplished Brazilian actor who is often cast in Soap Operas and brought in to comment on film festivals in his home country. I like when they snap up actors like this for American films when opportunity arises.)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / Domestic: $45,500,797

(Not nearly as bad as you would think … like how did Medicine Man manage to make $45 million again? That makes no sense to me.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 19% (4/21)

(Noice, let’s make one: Great vistas, fine Connery, awful Bracco. A weak rip off of Indiana Jones. Reviewer Highlight: If this had been some dumb adventure movie, it would probably have been terrific. Alas, it is a “relationship” movie, told along lines of timeworn weariness, and since that is not bad enough, it also throws in several Serious Issues for the characters to discuss. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – Romancing the Sklog (C-)

medicine_man

(Oh boy. I mean, that actually makes me sad. I can’t even imagine who this is meant to entice. Nice font though… unique font goes a long way for me.)

Tagline(s) – He turned his back on civilization. Only to discover he had the power to save it. (C-)

(Too long but has a small amount of cleverness mixed with plot. But are we sure this is the plot of the film? Isn’t more that he turned his back on civilization because he has the power to save it? The curse of having already watched the film.)

Keyword(s) – deforestation; Top Ten by BMeTric: 72.3 The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000); 52.9 The Green Inferno (2013); 37.5 Fire on the Amazon (1993); 37.1 Forest Warrior (1996); 34.4 The Hallow (2015); 32.9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016); 32.8 The Green Berets (1968); 28.3 Medicine Man (1992); 23.8 Rio 2 (2014); 21.3 The Lorax (2012);

(Amazing this film is on this list. And amazing we haven’t seen any of the other films! Although I’m seen TMNT 2. Fire on the Amazon looks ridiculous … doesn’t qualify.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Sean Connery is No. 1 billed in Medicine Man and No. 2 billed in Highlander 2: The Quickening, which also stars Virginia Madsen (No. 3 billed) who is in Firewall (No. 3 billed), which also stars Harrison Ford (No. 1 billed) who is in Hollywood Homicide (No. 1 billed), which also stars Josh Hartnett (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 3 billed) => 1 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 16. If we were to watch Rising Sun, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – Sir Sean Connery’s hairstyle in this movie was based upon Composer Jerry Goldsmith’s well-known ponytail. Meeting him at a cocktail party, Connery started the conversation by saying, “I want your hair.” Goldsmith replied, “You can’t have it, it’s mine.” Connery, and even the producers, felt Goldsmith’s “pulled back ponytail” fit the character of Robert Campbell very well. (Noice)

Lorraine Bracco turned down the role of Catwoman/Selina Kyle in Batman Returns (1992) to do this movie. (Well … good, Michelle Pfeiffer is the greatest character ever put to screen in a Batman film. Fact.)

Sir Sean Connery’s salary for this movie was ten million dollars.

While promoting the movie on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962), Sir Sean Connery stated that he would start each day playing a round of golf. He carried his own club and played at such a pace that the younger cast and crew members playing with him could not keep up. (His own “club” … I hope that isn’t a mistake and Sean Connery literally plays golf using a single club. Probably what? A five iron?)

This script became the subject of a heated bidding war when it was simply titled “The Stand”.

Tom Schulman was paid three million dollars for his script.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Lorraine Bracco, 1993)

Jungle 2 Jungle Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Jungle 2 Jungle Quiz

Huh, the last thing I remember was my long lost son from the Amazon shot me with a dart and I fell into a deep slumber … do you remember what happened in Jungle 2 Jungle?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) We open with Michael Cromwell travelling to the Venezuelan Amazon where he meets his long lost son. Why did he go to the Amazon in the first place?

2) It just so happens that it is Mimi-Siku’s birthday! And it’s a big one, he’s being declared a man in the eyes of the tribe. What is the task he is given by the chief of the tribe?

3) The B-story in this children’s film is a very interesting story about coffee speculation. Please describe in as much detail as possible the trajectory and issues involving these certificates.

4) What is Michael’s fiance’s job?

5) What does Leelee Sobieski’s new Amazonian tribal name mean? I won’t make you try and remember the actual name … it was Ukeme.

Answers

Jungle 2 Jungle Preview

Rich looks on in horror at the scene unfolding on the video screen near his hiding place aboard the space shuttle. Dark Gruber, the spider monster, laughs maniacally at his puny human captives. He looks primed to destroy Poe, his granny, Jade, and the astronaut Jim McBrawn. At the same time, Assassinbot 3000 prowls the corridors of the space shuttle looking to complete its primary task: destroy Rich. Did Poe not get his message about the importance of family? Or maybe he never realized what was so obviously staring at him in the face. Welp, it’s all up to him now as Dark Gruber looks pretty crude, rude and full of ‘tude (as the kids say) and he better communicate to Poe before it’s too late. Leaping from his hiding place, Rich begins to tussle with the Assassinbot 3000. His shirt is ripped off in the process, but not before he is able to grab some vital tubing. Ripping it free he’s covered with a spray of robot grease leaving his well-toned muscles glistening. They grapple for 30-40 minutes and each second weakens Rich further. Thinking quick he backflips his way around the robot’s laser beams to grab an ice cold Mountain Dew. With his batteries fully charged, Rich is able to land a high octane punch right in Assassinbot’s circuit box, disabling it. Rushing to the shuttle’s communication system he screams into the video feed, “Poe! Poe! It’s about family! It was always about family” Poe looks up, quaking under the stare of Dark Gruber and his uncontrollable spider rage. “Family?… but it’s just me and Granny.” Suddenly the astronaut Jim McBrawn steps up, “No, Poe… Rich is right. It’s time you knew the truth… I’m… I’m your son.” What a twist! That’s right! We are watching the Tim Allen classic Jungle 2 Jungle. I remember this film from my youth but obviously didn’t remember that Siskel clocked this in as his worst of 1997. Ebert’s for that year? The Year of the Horse. The film we all know and love. Let’s go!

Meanwhile… two hooded figures emerge from the jungle surrounding Ecumenopolis to gaze upon their final destination. They crack their knuckles as prepare their disguises. Simple father and son wasteland farmers looking to sell their wares in the BMTverse. That’s right! We’re also watching Little Indian, Big City, the French original from which Jungle 2 Jungle was adapted. Interestingly that film was Ebert’s worst of 1996… back to back champs! What a pairing for Bring a Friend. This also was a film that was not available on DVD with the original English dubbing. So I did the unthinkable. I bought that VHS and had a friend burn it. Don’t look at me, I’m hideous. Let’s go!

Jungle 2 Jungle (1997) – BMeTric: 55.3 

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(Wow that is a really low IMDb score. I find it odd that people would go online to just rail on this 1997 kids film … but humans are a strange creature.)

Leonard Maltin – 3 stars –  Very likable, if predictable, Disney comedy about a career-obsessed New Yorker who goes to the Amazon to get final divorce papers signed by his ex-wife and comes back with a son he never knew he had. The boy’s jungle instincts are no match for life in Manhattan – though he does manage to score some points along the way. Good laughs throughout this family-oriented feature, a remake of the French hit Little Indian, Big City.

(Wow, this stands in stark contract to his 1.5 star review of Little Indian, Big City which he called a “[d]opey French kiddie comedy.” I seems like a difference in comedic tastes. Some people like seeing not-very-good French actors fall down, and some people don’t.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uQm7SOJymg/

(Wowza, that looks … pretty much like the French original. What? Yeah I’ve already watched the French original, wanna fight about it?)

Directors – John Pasquin – (Known For: The Santa Clause; Future BMT: Joe Somebody; BMT: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous; Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: Frequent collaborator with Tim Allen. Filmed 74 episodes of Last Man Standing.)

Writers – Hervé Palud (earlier screenplay Un indien dans la ville) – (Future BMT: Un indien dans la ville; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: The original’s director as well. He was the one that insisted the original be dubbed for its American release because he wanted to get people to go see it and he didn’t think people wanted to read subtitles. His son directed future BMT The Eye.)

Thierry Lhermitte (earlier screenplay Un indien dans la ville) – (Future BMT: Un indien dans la ville; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: The main actor in the original as well, and one of France’s most famous actors apparently.)

Jean-Marie Pallardy (earlier screenplay Un indien dans la ville) – (Future BMT: Un indien dans la ville; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: A former male model and soft-core porn director. Credited as Boris Pradley, or Igor Aptekman, or Edward John Francis, or his own name. I don’t know why.)

Philippe Bruneau (earlier screenplay Un indien dans la ville) – (Future BMT: Un indien dans la ville; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: His two children are actors. He died in 2012.)

Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (screenplay) – (Known For: Stand by Me; Mr. Brooks; Starman; Made in Heaven; Future BMT: Cutthroat Island; Kuffs; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: Struggled to get original screenplays produced after producing a bunch of rewrites and remakes (of this is one). Mr. Brooks revitalized their career a bit.)

Actors – Tim Allen – (Known For: Toy Story 4; Toy Story; Toy Story 3; Toy Story 2; Cars; Galaxy Quest; The Santa Clause; Big Trouble; El Camino Christmas; Redbelt; The Santa Clause 2; Future BMT: Zoom; The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause; The Shaggy Dog; Joe Somebody; For Richer or Poorer; Crazy on the Outside; Meet Wally Sparks; Who Is Cletis Tout?; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Christmas with the Kranks; Wild Hogs; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 2007 for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, The Shaggy Dog, and Zoom; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause in 2007; Notes: Notably was arrested for drug trafficking (and spent two years in prison) way back in the say in Detroit. Turned his life around and became a famous movie star.)

Martin Short – (Known For: Inherent Vice; Mars Attacks!; Father of the Bride; The Spiderwick Chronicles; Treasure Planet; The Prince of Egypt; Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted; ¡Three Amigos!; Get Over It; Kaze tachinu; Innerspace; Father of the Bride Part II; Frankenweenie; Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius; The Big Picture; Mumford; Cross My Heart; Future BMT: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause; Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil; Captain Ron; Clifford; A Simple Wish; Pure Luck; The Pebble and the Penguin; We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story; Three Fugitives; Jiminy Glick in Lalawood; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Couple for The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause in 2007; Notes: Martin Short is hilarious. Him as Jiminy Glick was some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen, and he seems genuinely nice.)

JoBeth Williams – (Known For: Poltergeist; Kramer vs. Kramer; Wyatt Earp; The Big Chill; The Perfect Catch; Stir Crazy; The Big Year; The Dogs of War; In the Land of Women; Teachers; TiMER; Desert Bloom; Barracuda; Just Write; Future BMT: Poltergeist II: The Other Side; Switch; Dutch; BMT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot; Jungle 2 Jungle; Notes: John Pasquin’s wife. Apparently turned down the role of Murphy Brown. The character was apparently created with her in mind.)

Budget/Gross – $32 million / Domestic: $59,927,618

(Actually decent return. I’m a little surprised they didn’t eventually make Jungle 3 Jungle.)

#17 for the Comedy – Fish-Out-of-Water Father genre

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(I love fish out of water parents. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Pacifier, The Game Plan, Are We There Yet?, Old Dogs are all honestly classics. This appears to pre-date the big 2000s boom. Maybe Home Improvement itself was kind of a precursor to the “silly dad” sitcom trope.)

#17 for the Family – Remake genre

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(I just love how remakes come in waves. This was right in the first boom. The second being in the Golden Age of Bad Movies, the 2000s.)

#8 for the Remake – French genre

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(Ha! It is at the literal peak of … French remakes? The Birdcage, True Lies … sounds about right. This is only our second we’ve done after Taxi.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 19% (8/42)

(I’ll write a consensus: Banal, and only mildly amusing. A pretty dumb Tim Allen comedy. Reviewer Highlight: Roughly half of Tim Allen’s latest comedy is hilarious-stupid, and the rest is monotonous-stupid. – Kevin McManus, Washington Post)

Poster – Jingle 2 Jangle (C)

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(I do respect these types of posters as they fully admit that the film is based entirely on one premise: Tim Allen is involved in the jungle! There is nothing else you need to know. If you are not buying a ticket based on that then the film offers nothing else that could convince you. That being said it’s not a great poster, but I enjoy the fun font on the “2”. On that alone I will elevate it to the middle.)

Tagline(s) – Get a little savage. (F)

(Oh boy… that’s insulting. I would like to think they would have known better, but I think I forget exactly how much was allowed to fly not that long ago. I have to give it an F because… you know… it’s racist.)

Keyword(s) – jungle; Top Ten by BMeTric: 75.6 Anaconda (1997); 74.9 After Earth (2013); 72.9 The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996); 72.1 A Sound of Thunder (2005); 70.2 Tees Maar Khan (2010); 69.7 Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004); 65.2 Thunderbirds (2004); 64.9 10,000 BC (2008); 64.0 The Phantom (1996); 60.3 xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017);

(I’m excited for Island of Dr. Moreau. I feel like it is aging like a fine wine. Tees Maar Khan is never happening, you can’t make me.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 7) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Leelee Sobieski is No. 6 billed in Jungle 2 Jungle and No. 1 billed in Here on Earth => 6 + 1 = 7. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – An entire day’s worth of film was lost when it was believed to have been accidentally left in a New York City taxicab. The film was never recovered.

An American remake of the successful French movie Un indien dans la ville (1994) (An Indian In The City). The plot follows the original fairly closely, except that the original was set in Paris rather than New York, and Mimi-Siku climbed the Eiffel Tower rather than the Statue of Liberty.

After shooting Charlotte’s cat with the dart, Michael exclaims “Oh no!” in the same grunting manner as Tim Allen’s character, Tim Taylor, in Home Improvement (1991).

In addition to relocating from Paris to New York, the character Mimi-Siku was made much older than the preteen in the French version. This was largely due to Americans’ general discomfort with young love, under the explanation that “a teenager can get into more trouble.” Additionally, despite American Mimi-Siku’s having lived in the wild, there’s less difference in the skin tones of the two male leads than in the original French film. This was done to emphasize their kinship.

The book Mimi-Siku is reading aloud at the end is “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London.

Feature film debut of Leelee Sobieski.

Allen and Short would later star together in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006).

When Michael, Richard and Mimi-Siku are visiting Jovanovich after they ring the doorbell, Jovanovich yells “Open damn door!” then he says “Chort vozmi!”, which in Russian literally translates to “The devil take it!”

At one point, when Mimi walks outside along a ledge at Charlotte’s office, a man exclaims: “He’s doing a Fay Wray!” This is in reference to the actress Fay Wray, whom was the lead in the 1933 movie King Kong. She was carried to the top of the Empire State Building by King Kong.

Lost in Space Recap

Jamie

The Robinson family are ready to save the Earth by traveling across the universe to open a gateway to a new world. Unfortunately sabotage is afoot by the eeeeevil Dr. Smith. Can they stop the evil genius from destroying humanity (and maybe find love) before it’s too late? Find out in… Lost in Space.

How?! It’s the year 2058 and the world is on the brink of ecological disaster. The only thing that stands in the way is the Robinson family and their brood of kids: whiz kid Will, angsty teen Penny, and the smoking hot Judy (don’t get any ideas Matt Leblanc). Unfortunately their physician, Dr. Smith, has his own plans and it involves getting a whole bunch of money from a rebel group to sabotage the trip. Saboteur! After they launch, he sets a robot to destroy the ship, but he is double crossed (double saboteur!) and left to die. Waking up just in time, he helps subdue the robot and is taken prisoner, but not before super pilot Matt LeBlanc (I guess his character was Major Don West… whatever), does some super pilot shit and uses their hyperdrive to shoot through the sun and into deep space. Uh oh! In a shocking coincidence they end up exactly where a time hole exists and they encounter a long dead ship from the rescue mission sent to find them. On the ship they encounter a CGI monkey (wait, were we supposed to think it was real?) and a bunch of spider aliums that totally bite Dr. Smith (but shhhh, don’t tell anyone). Escaping just in time they crash land on a plant where they once again encounter a time hole. Needing supplies to get off the planet they venture into the time hole to find that inside is their own ship from the future with a grown up Will Robinson living inside. He’s on the verge of finishing his time machine and aims to go back to Earth and stop the mission but uh oh! Dr. Smith from the future is there and he’s totally a gross spider monster. He’s ready to use that time machine to totally eat up Earth with his space spider friends (triple saboteur!), but Dr. Robinson has different ideas. He goes and karate chops that spider monster in the neck (probably, I can’t remember) and then saves Will, who in turn realizes that the only course of action is to use the time machine to send his dad back to the ship in time to get them off the planet. He once again engages the hyperdrive, gets them super lost in space again setting them up for the inevitable sequel for this megahit. Oh and Matt LeBlanc and Judy totally smooch and her dad is like “wtf, mate?” THE END.

Why?! Humanity, duh. The Robinsons just want to save Earth and their family. Per usual the motivation of the bad guy is much more interesting. In the beginning Dr. Smith is all about the benjamins (as the kids say) and wants that sweet rebel cash to destroy the mission. The point seems to then turn around and make a much more capitalistic mission that will save Earth but for a price. Anyway, it’s actually kinda funny that then when Dr. Smith is trapped with the Robinsons he’s almost immediately bitten by some space spiders that turn him into a monster then hungers only to eat Earth. It wasn’t enough that he already wanted to fuck up the only mission to save Earth, he then has to be bitten by some spiders that make him literally want to eat Earth. This is also not resolved in the film. He’s still alive and totally going to turn into a spider monster at the end.

Who?! One thing we haven’t really talked about in this section is the case where two actors portray the same character. It’s always funny when one actor portrays two (think JCVD in Maximum Risk AND Double Impact), but there are way more cases where two actors play the same character. Usually it’s via flashback. Here, though, is a classic time travel version of it where Will Robinson is portrayed by both Jack Johnson and Jared Harris and briefly coexist in time. I feel like there could be a really difficult cycle for us in here somewhere… perhaps collecting a bunch of interesting cases of such double dipping.

What?! I was disappointed there wasn’t a little more for this category. Perhaps they realize how old the rescue ship is because all the delicious Coca-Cola has gone flat, so while still refreshing (when isn’t it?), it’s just not the same. So Will invents a recarbonator so they can all enjoy some refreshing Coca-Cola’s before battling some space spiders (the space spider’s only weakness? Coca-Cola, duh). But that didn’t happen. It’s also hard to figure out if I was missing anything because the Netflix reboot TV series apparently had a ridiculously terrible Oreos product placement that dominates my Google searches. There are some fun props online, but it’s hard to tell whether they are on sale… like could Matt LeBlanc’s entire battle costume really me for sale? Doesn’t seem possible.  

Where?! A+ Space setting for this one. They almost immediately zip right through the sun and start grappling with small metal spider aliens and meet a space monkey and crash on a snow planet. Really just the greatest hits from the space genre.

When?! We get a really nice intertitle exact setting on this as we are told that the attack depicted in the beginning of the film takes place on September 30th, 2058. Generally speaking I’ve given intertitles B’s in the past, but given just how rare it is for us to get something of this level I have to give it an A.

The more I think about this film the more I love it. It really tickled me in a lot of ways. It’s just so stupid and really convoluted and involves a time travel storyline where a (quite literally insane) future version of Will Robinson helps his dad save their space ship and as the space-time continuum collapses around him he screams “Don’t forget mmmmmmmeeee.” Like… you want him to remember the weird scraggly bearded version of his son that befriended a spider monster and nearly destroyed Earth? Do you want him to remember you as a cautionary tale? It’s bizarre. The entire film is bizarre. Add on top Matt LaBlanc not being able to act his way out of a paper bag (sorry Matt, I know you’re a reader) and a CGI monkey that is impressive only insomuch that they dared release it to theaters and I’m starting to think this might be a dark horse classic. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Danger, Will Robinson! A classic phrase I’m sure every 12 year old was just a-clamoring to hear on the big screen in 1998. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Fun fact, I saw this in theaters in 1998 in New York City. Just thought I would mention that. And indeed, I never saw it again. Weirdly I could remember quite a bit of it. Like the Spider Smith at the end. And the CGI monkey. I have to say, muddled memories from over 20 years ago did not prepare me for just how wild this film would be.

The Good – The film never tries to be much more than it needs to be to kick off what was surely a trilogy of deep space adventure films. Oldman is at peak scenery chewing glory at times as well, which I personally consider a very positive note for the film. The design of the spaceship is fun. And hey, they went for it didn’t they? They really went for some stuff about two years before it was a good idea to go for them, specifically they reached on the CGI. But partial credit there.

The Bad – Straight up this might be the worst CGI we’ve seen. At times it is on par with A Sound of Thunder, but in this case they didn’t run out of money, they just tried to create multiple full CGI characters and it didn’t work out very well at all. Matt LeBlanc is terrible in the film, and his character is a real smarmy weirdo (in a children’s film! Man, the 90s were a wild ride sometimes). They hired Jared Harris to play an American without, somehow, realizing he couldn’t do an accent and had to dub all of his lines. Spider Smith I think is the reason I am scared of spiders, so thanks for that. The Space Spiders in general were just awful. And Penny’s fashion choices … this film is something to behold.

The BMT – It is something to behold and I love it? It doesn’t offend your sensibilities because it is kind of a kids’ film, so who cares right? But then you have Spider Smith, and the CGI monkey, and Penny as a character somehow 100 years in the future, but stuck in the late 90s, and Matt LeBlanc existing 100 years in the future but outside of the MeToo movement? Oldman chewing scenery, weird time travel story, a son and father understanding each other and learning to love again! Ah yes, that’s the stuff, it hits you right here (I’m pointing at my throat like in the A-1 Steak Sauce commercial, not my heart). Very BMT.

Roast-radamus – Whooooooo doggy. I think you could argue this is one of the better Setting as a Character (Where?) films we’ve seen as long as you stretch the definition to include the spaceship itself. It really is kind of a character, just needed a sassy AI voice. And what the heck I’ll throw in Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal of Spider Smith being the ultimate bad guy who gets eaten by his own Space Spider babies. And naturally a nod for BMT as the film itself is b-b-b-b-b-bonkers. That’s some good stuff.

StreetCreditReport.com – As usual with this cycle the cred is always there because Siskel and Ebert themselves declared this to be one of the worst films of the year in 1998. Besides that it is a bit hard to find other lists, but it is thrown into Time’s run down of the worst films based on television shows. It’s got the cred.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally when you watch a film based on a television show you should watch an episode of the television show. And what better episode to watch than the first one. I only watched part one, I’m not a monster, but amazingly the first half of the 1998 film is almost identical to the plot of The Reluctant Stowaway (first aired September 15, 1965). The family is going to Alpha Centauri to colonize. Smith is trying to sabotage the ship for money but accidentally is taken away with the crew. He programs the robot to destroy the ship and then is unable to stop it before it wrecks things almost irreversibly. And he is kept around because he saves one of the Robinsons (this time the mother, not the daughter). The show is incredibly slow, much slower even than its contemporary Star Trek. But I imagine it is mostly the same style, a monster / exploration of the week type deal. Kind of admirable that they tried to stay so true to the original series in the first half there. B adaptation, should have stopped short of the Space Spiders.

Cheerios,

Ths Sklogs