Hall of Fame Speech #24: Endless Love (2014)

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Well, we might just have found the sequel, Here on Earth 2: Endless Lurv. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Endless Love (2014)

Earlier this week I was shaken to my core. Because I prepared the preview for this film and I just couldn’t quite figure out how we ended up picking it as a Hall of Fame candidate. All the reviews say it is boring. Even our own reviews from five years ago say the movie is worthless if you don’t watch the original film. I was preparing for the worst: a realization that we made a horrible mistake and would have to go and find another candidate for the Hall of Fame. But then … I watched the film. And I saw Alex Pettyfer and a bunch of other British people trying to specifically not do a southern accent in a film set in Georgia and I realized that we didn’t make a mistake. No, we merely matured into the correct and indisputable BMT opinions: this is a Hall of Fame film, you just need to know where to look.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what did I remember?

  • Right there up front. Much like Billy Zane’s insatiable desire to go to Fashion Week, this film ended up becoming something of a catchphrase for BMT. Endless Lurv, always stylized as Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuurv, hit us right at the perfect moment where we were becoming more rigorous in our BMT reporting and definitely watching the 1981 film as a bonus. I think Jamie even read the book? The whole thing was a new paradigm for BMT and well well worth it.
  • The more I think about it and the endless blandness of Endless Love (2014) I can’t help but think we’ve made a mistake … but no, that can’t be possible, we never make mistakes. Instead, I have to assume that this film is basically Here on Earth 2.
  • And then I realized … wait, is Bruce Greenwood, BMT legend, the father of the leading women in both Here on Earth and Endless Love (2014)? Yes, he indeed plays both Earl Cavanaugh and Hugh Butterfield. Now those are some names!
  • And the film stars Alex Pettyfer of Beastly fame. This year’s class is definitely very actor driven. He’s an interesting actor just in that we watched all of his leading man BMT films at a good clip, Beastly in 2011, I Am Number Four in 2013, and then this in 2015. He hasn’t been in another (although he has a small role in In Time with JT, so we can still get our BMT fix if we wanted).

So which do I think is the most important? I think there is only one thing that could possibly be important here and that is just how much it evokes the feeling of Here on Earth. That combination of “I am not the audience of this film”, and “this film is amusingly cheesy” and “I kind of dig this in the same way I did The O.C. except The O.C. is good, fight me IRL.” If there is even the tiniest nugget of that in the film it will be well worth the rewatch. There is the outside shot that our enjoyment was completely driven by Endless Love (1981) and how unabashedly crazy that film is as well, so I might have to watch that again.

The genre of the film might as well be called Here on Earth, and it is an important micro-genre for BMT history. There are only so many hits. Here on Earth, of course, but this seems like it definitely was a hit, and I would argue that Midnight Sun and After both hit just the right note of teen melodrama to be an incredibly fun ride. Initially when looking through the preview a bit I had a moment of wondering whether I would watch this film and be sad realizing that we had overblown how good it is. Now I’m getting excited thinking of all the teen romance films we’ve watched and how good most of them are.

How did the rewatch go? Wonderfully. As Alex Pettyfer’s generic American accent washed over me and held me close I knew I was home. Is this Here on Earth? No, primarily because unlike that film the kids somehow aren’t the main characters. Instead, the main character is Bruce Greenwood. Come for the Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde teen romance, and stay for Bruce Greenwood being the biggest dick in the universe 100% of the time. There isn’t even a single moment where Bruce Greenwood isn’t a colossal dick to Alex Pettyfer. Alex Pettyfer, who, by the way, is the nicest, most down to earth teenager on the planet in this film. Here’s my impression of some dialogue:

Alex Pettyfer: “Hi, Mr. Butterfield. I just really appreciate you having me over to your house. I just want your daughter to have a good summer before going off to college, and gee, I sure do like her ever so much!”

Bruce Greenwood: “You got some goddamn nerve breaking up my family like this! I will ruin you and your father’s lives for what you’ve done.”

Alex Pettyfer: “Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”

He is one bad sad dad.

In the original recap for this film (which was email-only at the time, we were technological marvels) I stated matter of factly that you could not enjoy Endless Love (2014) without watching Endless Love (1981). I think as my BMT skillz have matured I disagree with that, there is plenty to enjoy from the 2014 film (see below). But the original certainly makes the 2014 film more confounding. You see, the original and the book are about obsessive love between two teenagers. This … is about just teenage love. Run of the mill teenage love, and tragedy, and … that’s it. I will declare this now: this is the worst adaptation of a book ever created. And that is hard to know without seeing the original which, it turns out, did an okay job at adapting the book. So it wasn’t impossible to adapt, instead the writers took a look at the plot and decided “but what if it was The O.C. instead?” Obviously, being the worst book adaptation of all time is some serious street cred.

But this film stands on its own, outside of the source material and original film, via a multitude of amusing little things you’d only really notice after multiple viewings. The fact that the main cast is basically all British and are constantly struggling to keep their non-southern American accents together. The fact that this film is the second BMT film in which Alex Pettyfer breaks into a zoo (I rediscovered that fact and now feel ashamed for not considering Beastly for the Hall of Fame as well). And finally, possibly the funniest prop in the history of filmmaking, the mugshot of the very obviously 25 year old Alex Pettyfer where it states matter of factly “age: 14” … if I saw a 14 year old who looked like this I would flip out, my mind would break. It makes no goddamn sense!

So no, Endless Love (2014) isn’t Here on Earth 2. But nothing can be. Instead it is maybe the most confounding adaptation of a book ever created, with the biggest dick of a dad ever put to film, and Alex Pettyfer looking like a 25 year old cross fit coach on the worst prop in movie history. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Endless Love (2014).

Hall of Fame Speech #22: The Legend of Hercules

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Welp, we definitely did that with The Legend of Hercules. I mean … Scott Adkins yelling with a beard in a genre of film right? Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for The Legend of Hercules

There appeared to be a moment in 2014 where film producers all watched Gladiator and were like “wait a second, we haven’t had a sword and sandals film for ages! Time to rake in dem awards and fat stacks!” Well, one of those producers actually wanted to just pay bad actors to do it, skip the awards, and go straight to fat stacks. And he got neither, and the sword and sandals genre literally died. Here it is, the amazing untold story of how The Legend of Hercules (probably) killed the sword and sandals genre. And if there is any reason to induct a film into the Hall of Fame, killing an entire genre is a pretty good one.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Huh … well there were certainly shirtless men in this film. A lot of them. All of the time. It is actually all they really talk about in the IMDb notes as well which is wild. I’m not joking, go and check it out, it is as if all of the notes were transcribed from a single Men’s Fitness interview with the cast.
  • Kellen Lutz, let’s really get into this. Kellen Lutz was in the Twilight films. And really not much else that would have been on our radar. He was then, randomly, in A Warrior’s Heart, a film I’ve never seen, but, for some reason, think about a lot. And then, further out of nowhere, he gets a starring role in this and Expendables 3 … say what? I actually can’t quite reason as to why we became moderately obsessed with him. After Expendables 3 his career has effectively been dead beyond a weird stint as the host of the game show Bullseye, and a now starring role in the FBI spin-off series FBI: Most Wanted. So why? Why did Kellen Lutz of all people get this role? His outstanding physique and Renny Harlin definitely being a weirdo about it.
  • The set pieces and action were just very very odd if I recall. A little like Game of Thrones, in that when they had to film a really big battle they’d film a bit against a wall with maybe like 4 people running around and then make it dark and fill it with smoke and the director would squint a bit and be like “alright, if we add a bunch of yelling and slow motion I think we can convinced people that there is a big battle going on and not run out of money”.
  • And this is an absolutely classic: “I’m hear to watch two things: Kellen Lutz’s outstanding physique. And Scott Adkins’ outstanding physique … what’s this now, a love story?” film. It is a huuuuuuge part of the film, arguably the entire film, and yet it is also the absolute last thing I want to see while watching Hercules run around. Where are the tasks goddamnit!?

The most important has to be Kellen Lutz right? If Kellen Lutz (or, let’s be honest, Jai Courtney) wasn’t in the leading role we probably wouldn’t have watched the film and we certainly wouldn’t be inducting it in the Hall of Fame now. It is possibly one of the last bastions of “this random guy who was barely in this huge teen series has a pretty good bod … let’s throw a flier out there to see if people will go and see a film that literally only stars him”. The answer is and always has been “nope”, and 2014 feels like just about the last year where something like this would actually be put into theaters instead of dumped as an Amazon Original or something.

And that is basically the same story with the genre. This and the Ben Hur remake from 2016 are two of the last true blue sword and sandals films I can think of with major theatrical releases. Turns out that you can get better and cheaper action when you don’t force yourself into a bunch of people wearing costumes and using spears and swords. Who knew? I actually just looked up 2014 for sword and sandal: Pompeii, this, Noah, Exodus, 300: Rise of an Empire, and the other Hercules … those are all huge disasters in one way or another! The genre is absolutely dead in the water after that.

You know what? I didn’t even know the thing about the genre before writing this paragraph, but I would argue that of those this is definitely the Sword and Sandal film I would want in the Hall of Fame. Right there, that’s the argument for why it deserves an induction. And then my god! It has Kellen Lutz as well? Buckle up, because this is going to be quite a rewatch.

How did the rewatch go? After describing Kellen Lutz and sword and sandals for like six paragraphs I turn on the film and it looks like absolute dog shit. It might genuinely be the ugliest film with some of the worst CGI I have ever seen. How much of that is because it was filmed in 3D and I was watching in 2D? A bit. For sure, that is part of it. But it is just astonishingly poor quality.

And then the love story is more than I even remembered. It is the entire film. There is no film without the love story, it is the A-story of this Scott Adkins / Kellen Lutz sword and sandals action film! It is so much of the film that Kellen Lutz spends what appears to be an afternoon as a slave before being freed to go back to pining over his lost love! It is at most a month.

The film is crazy, there are four different reasons to induct it into the Hall of Fame. One, it looks like crap. Two, it is a quintessential “whoops we accidentally made an action film into a rom-dram, sorry about that” film. Three, it killed an entire genre of film. And four, it stars Kellen Lutz. What the absolute hell is this thing? Where did it come from? Who is it for? It isn’t even that entertaining to watch, it is just more that scientists should study it to figure out how and why it was created in the first place.

I’ve gone on too long, but while writing this I think I went a little crazy thinking about the existence of this film and what it means for the existence of humanity itself. Welcome to the Hall of Fame The Legend of Hercules. May god have mercy on your soul.

Hall of Fame Speech #20: Tango & Cash

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. Tango & Cash (or is it Rich & Poe?) check off all the boxes: Sly Stallone, Sly Stallone, and Sly Stallone. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Tango & Cash

There is a term in music for when an artist can, professionally, do no wrong. Songs that have no business even getting airplay just magically work and hit number one, and any project, no matter how vain, is easily launched. It is called the Imperial Period. Tango & Cash is right at the end of Stallone’s Imperial Period, falling among the entire Rambo franchise, the last three Rocky films, and other classics such as Over the Top and Cobra. This is actually an odd film in BMT lore. Patrick was off on a holiday, but had randomly watched this film previously. At that time in BMT history we were, for some reason, under the impression that we would not rewatch films for BMT. But Patrick’s absence lent us an opportunity. He enjoyed the insanity of the film so much he insisted that I watch the film to fill in the gap. And thus, a legend was made. Let’s get into it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • That it’s basically a spoof of action films but somehow wasn’t meant to be.
  • That it is filled with one-liners that mostly don’t make sense
  • Bromance to the max with penis jokes, cross-dressing, Stallone and Russell showering together, and homophobic jokes galore.
  • One of the greatest villains of all time with Jack Palance, who has an office with a literal hall of mirrors and mouse mazes built into it. He’s an insane person.
  • We made our Bad Movie Twins alter egos, Rich and Poe, based almost entirely on Tango and Cash.

So which do I think is the most important? Practically speaking the last point is the biggest. When writing the Bad Movie Twins storyline I spend a lot of time pondering WWT&CD? Would they buck the rulez? Yes. Would they pound some skulls for justice? Yes. Would they bro hug one minute and then slay the ladies with their shredded physiques? Yes, yes, yes. But, unfortunately, I also recognize that the influence on our own very specific disease is not necessarily the point of the Hall of Fame. So begrudgingly I’ll have to recognize that the fact that a film made entirely unironically is somehow still the best spoof of the 80’s action genre ever made is a crowning achievement for any aspiring BMT Hall of Fame candidate.

How did the rewatch go? I think every time I watch this film (and I watch this film not infrequently outside of the scope of BMT) it gets better. I pick up a new little nugget each time. For example I had forgotten that when we are introduced to Rich… I mean, Cash… he chases a bad guy through a parking garage and we are treated to a brief glimpse of classic 80’s nudity where a couple have decided to engage in sexual intercourse in said parking garage. This is obviously insane and fits right in with the idea that this film is actually a spoof… but it’s not. I also think that you can probably watch the film a thousand times and never really get the full picture of Jack Palance’s plan to frame Tango and Cash. I mean, Tango is given the information about the bust from the police chief himself. And we are supposed to believe that he would then let himself get caught despite knowing that the police are aware of the entire situation? What, is he dumb? No, obviously not because he wears glasses and trades in the stock market and wears a suit and keeps on correcting people on their eating habits. Clearly he has a big ol’ brain. So don’t even bother thinking about it. It’s nonsense. 

In fact, I think this may be the dumbest movie ever made. A true check-your-brain-at-the-door action fare that would leave you scratching your head raw if you didn’t just throw up your hands from the jump and say “Forget it, Jake. It’s Tango & Cash.” I mean, Jack Palance has an office fit with a House of Mirrors, a mouse maze, and a box filled with mice that people bring over to him to snuggle! Teri Hatcher “plays” electric drums in front of a giant fan while dancing around NOT taking off her clothes and paying customers are going nuts for it! Kurt Russell dresses up like a lady and instead of people being like “Hey that’s Kurt Russell in a dress” they are like “hey hot stuff, hubba hubba.” It’s all insane and you just have to bask in the glory that is almost every second of the film.

I actually think this goes hand in hand with Here on Earth in that it’s incredibly rare for a film to be made unironically and yet still could be considered a spoof of the very genre to which it belongs. They are two shining stars in the constellation we call BMT (and this journey we call life (and this adventure we call BMT4Life)) and for that it not only deserves its spot in the Hall of Fame, but perhaps will someday help define what it is to be BMT for the aliens that arrive to the apocalyptic wasteland that Earth has become. Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Tango & Cash.

Hall of Fame Speech #19: After Earth

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. After Earth is this generation’s Battlefield Earth… you know if John Travolta had used Battlefield Earth as a way to insult his children. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for After Earth

I wasn’t so sure about After Earth going into the Hall of Fame. Sure I had a grand old time watching Jaden Smith bumble around a CGI forest mumbling his insane futuristic dialogue and making friends with a giant bird, but was that all this was? Just a vehicle for me and Patrick to say “Bird Friend” to each other? While this has brought great joy to our bad movie addled minds, I’m not sure it means the film has proven significant in the history of BMT. But boy howdy was I wrong. Buckle up, cause this is some Operating Thetan Level 8 kind of shit. The truth was revealed. Let’s go!

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Bird Friend, duh. Jaden Smith (aka Kitai Raige) is nearly eaten by a bird, but then tries to help it defend its nest. At the time I remember thinking “it would be hilarious if this bird now comes back and saves Jaden like some Bird Friend”… and then it does!
  • There are a couple super intense Monosklogs in the middle of the film where Will Smith speaks for approximately an hour and then Jaden says some stuff before screaming a line directly into the camera. I remember being startled when Jaden screamed in my face and it was bad.
  • Speaking of bad things, pretty much everything Jaden mumbles throughout the film. He is not only saying futuristic nonsense, but at times it’s like he’s reading a cue card or something. Or like if I was acting in a film, but the film was in French.

So which do I think is the most important? I swear, I thought Bird Friend was the most important coming into the rewatch, which made me wary. I think if I had to choose from the three things after the rewatch I would say that the Monosklogs in the middle are probably the defining feature. They are, no joke, four hours long… fine, that is a joke, but between Will Smith’s and Jaden’s monologues they stretch over five minutes long. That’s not just long, that’s super long. It’s top 100 for most hilarious monologues to perform at an audition. And it would be top 2 if the top 99 places didn’t all go to Vin Diesel’s monologue in The Fast and the Furious. But really, that’s not the most important aspect of the film. The most important aspect wasn’t even one I remembered from the first time I watched the film. So…

How did the rewatch go? This film really surprised me. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all of the Hall of Fame entries this year, as they’ve all been unique and interesting, but I really did think this one could have dropped off the ballot after rewatching it and finding it lacking. Instead I was stunned at how the story seemed to play with real life in a way that is somewhat uncomfortable. I could talk about Bird Friend (still hilarious). I could talk about the monologue (and I already did). I could talk about Jaden saying the line “my suit turned black. I like it but I think it’s something bad,” like he’s an alien pretending to be a human (he might be). But I can’t stop thinking about the fact that Will Smith got a writing credit on a film whose plot is basically: “You think you’re as good as me, Jaden? Prove it.”

What seemed to have occurred here is that Will Smith wrote a little fable about him and his son. It was about how his son idolizes him and wants to be him, but that they disagree on whether he’s ready to take on that challenge. The moral is supposed to be that they are both proven right: Jaden wasn’t ready, but is able to grow and learn to save the day by taking on that challenge. Satisfied with his writing skillz, Will Smith took off his glasses and said what every parent would, “now we will make this for $130 million.” What’s funny is that if it was a success it would be like “Woah, Will Smith kinda magically willed his son into being a movie star.” But instead it seems like a giant dig at Jaden. The whole beginning comes across as a meta commentary on the film itself: they are on their way to some fun father-son experience but instead disaster strikes and Will Smith breaks his (physical, but also metaphorical) legs and it’s all on Jaden to save the day (i.e. the film). So by being a total disaster, the film comes across like the moral of the story is that Jaden is simply not Will Smith. Oooooooooof.

I think this works nicely with Battlefield Earth in the way that it exemplifies what can happen when an actor who has accumulated a lot of power in Hollywood decides to make something purely for himself. This is a perfect example of a vanity project, where even though the film is ostensibly not about Will Smith… it’s still all about Will Smith. It’s certainly not as ridiculous as Battlefield Earth, but it’s more tragic, I think. Battlefield Earth is just a disaster. After Earth is a psychologically damaging disaster. Welcome to the Hall of Fame After Earth.

After Earth Preview

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. After Earth is this generation’s Battlefield Earth… you know if John Travolta had used Battlefield Earth as a way to insult his children. This is a preview, the hall of fame induction speech will immediately follow. Enjoy!

Generated on: 2020-01-12

After Earth (2013) – BMeTric: 74.9; Notability: 46 

AfterEarthIMDb_BMeT

AfterEarthIMDb_RV

(Exactly the rating I would expect, high fours is just right. The notability is much lower than you would think. I wonder if films starring huge actors tend to have lover notability even if the production is big. Since salaries have to be adjusted to accommodate the star.)

RogerEbert.com – 3.5 stars – “After Earth” is a lovely surprise. This film from producer-costar Will Smith and director M. Night Shyamalan, about a father and son marooned on a hostile future earth, is a moral tale disguised as a sci-fi blockbuster. It’s no classic, but it’s a special movie: spectacular and wise. … “After Earth” carries itself with confidence because it knows what it wants to say, and how to say it. The asteroid storm appears suddenly, as if willed into being by Poseidon stirring a cauldron with his trident. The design of the spaceship would make Odysseus feel at home: the ribs of its hull seem to be made of wood and bone. The skyscrapers on Nova Prime are built from triangular wedges that suggest a schooner’s sails. The warriors fight with blades. Ursa is Latin for bear. Kitai’s leap from a high cliff is a leap of faith. His name is Japanese for “hope.” This movie is a fable. Fables teach.

(Insane review! But I have to respect the legacy of Roger Ebert. He always had an interesting take on blockbusters and films being “good for what they are” and this review for his site basically does just that here. He liked the movie for what it is, ignoring things it didn’t necessarily need to be (well acted with a good story).)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r9IXze_tPM/

(Looks pretty cool when you put it that way. But we know better, because we’ve seen the glory of this movie. We’ve seen Jaden Smith becoming best friends with a bird.)

Directors – M. Night Shyamalan – (Known For: Split; The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; The Visit; Wide Awake; Future BMT: Glass; BMT: The Last Airbender; After Earth; The Happening; Lady in the Water; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2011; Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Supporting Actor for Lady in the Water in 2007; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Happening in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Lady in the Water in 2007; Notes: Has started producing television, which honestly is where I would expect him to end up in a few years. I could see him doing something like Star Trek where you just throw big idea sci-fi at the screen with a medium-to-good hit rate. That genuinely seems missing from television these days.)

Writers – Gary Whitta (screenplay) – (Known For: Rogue One; The Book of Eli; BMT: After Earth; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Was an editor of PC Gamer for years.)

M. Night Shyamalan (screenplay) – (Known For: Split; The Sixth Sense; Unbreakable; Signs; The Village; The Visit; Stuart Little; Devil; Wide Awake; Future BMT: Glass; BMT: The Last Airbender; After Earth; The Happening; Lady in the Water; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Last Airbender in 2011; Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Supporting Actor for Lady in the Water in 2007; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Nominee for Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for The Happening in 2009; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Lady in the Water in 2007; Notes: The Sixth Sense is one of the most recent films that appear on the AFI Top 100.)

Will Smith (story) – (BMT: After Earth; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Created the television show All of Us which is nearly all of his writing credits. This is his only feature film credit. Otherwise he has a single story credit for an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.)

Actors – Jaden Smith – (Known For: The Pursuit of Happyness; The Karate Kid; Skate Kitchen; BMT: After Earth; The Day the Earth Stood Still; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Notes: Noted weirdo, and I say that with total affection. He made waves a few years ago with his word-salad ramblings on social media. A rapper who claims he doesn’t see gender … or something like that.)

David Denman – (Known For: Brightburn; Logan Lucky; Power Rangers; 13 Hours; The Replacements; The Gift; Big Fish; Fair Game; Puzzle; The Nines; Smart People; Take; Beneath the Harvest Sky; Future BMT: When a Stranger Calls; Shutter; The Singing Detective; Fanboys; Men, Women & Children; BMT: After Earth; Jobs; Out Cold; Notes: You’d recognize him as Roy from The Office. He went to Juilliard with Alan Tudyk.)

Will Smith – (Known For: Spies in Disguise; Aladdin; Bad Boys; Men in Black; Independence Day; Men in Black 3; I Am Legend; The Pursuit of Happyness; Hitch; Focus; Hancock; I, Robot; Enemy of the State; Concussion; Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues; Ali; Six Degrees of Separation; The Legend of Bagger Vance; Where the Day Takes You; Future BMT: Student of the Year 2; Made in America; Gemini Man; Suicide Squad; Shark Tale; Men in Black II; Bright; Bad Boys II; Collateral Beauty; BMT: After Earth; Wild Wild West; A New York Winter’s Tale; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for After Earth in 2014; Winner for Worst Original Song, and Worst Screen Couple for Wild Wild West in 2000; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for After Earth in 2014; Notes: He is playing Serena and Venus Williams’ father in the upcoming biopic.)

Budget/Gross – $130,000,000 / Domestic: $60,522,097 (Worldwide: $243,611,982)

(Pretty close to doing fine(ish). If the budget was $100 it would be roughly break even. It is … basically Birds of Prey? A bit more expensive to make, and a little less domestic take.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 11% (23/203): After Earth is a dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi — and the latest setback for director M. Night Shyamalan’s once-promising career.

(Awwww that’s actually a really sad consensus. Feels filled with resignation, as if there was no other way this film could have been. I suppose in this case Rotten Tomatoes is right. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, are producers on “After Earth,” which suggests that there was no one on the production who could really say no to him. – Manohla Dargis, New York Times)

Poster – After Earf (C+)

after_earth

(Real father-son motif there, which is nice and helps me think this was all some tragic mistake and not something that Will Smith orchestrated to embarrass his son. Nice font too. I would have liked more of the blue-green in the color scheme and the construction works for a star vehicle, but doesn’t give any sense of what you are in for. It’s alright.)

Tagline(s) – Danger is real. Fear is a choice. (A-)

(A little on the nose, but works for the film. Particularly before you watch it. It grows on you the more you read it I think. Could have been a little cleverer I think, but that’s about it.)

Keyword – stranded

AfterEarth_stranded

Top 10: Dunkirk (2017), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Kong: Skull Island (2017), The Martian (2015), Constantine (2005), Star Trek Beyond (2016), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Prometheus (2012), Cast Away (2000), Blockers (2018)

Future BMT: 62.4 The Hills Have Eyes II (2007), 57.9 House of Wax (2005), 55.0 Coneheads (1993), 42.0 Red Planet (2000), 39.4 The Forsaken (2001), 39.4 Six Days Seven Nights (1998), 31.0 Rugrats Go Wild (2003), 28.9 Flight of the Phoenix (2004), 20.6 Last Man Standing (1996), 20.3 The Amazing Panda Adventure (1995);

BMT: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Jumper (2008), Soldier (1998), After Earth (2013), Chernobyl Diaries (2012), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

(This seems to go in waves. Which is pretty cool. Perhaps like Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. This keyword is closest to Wasteland, and the idea is that the tastes of generations cycle between the three ideas. Fighting against zombies, exploration through space, and surviving a post-apocalyptic wasteland.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 21) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Will Smith is No. 2 billed in After Earth and No. 1 billed in Wild Wild West, which also stars M. Emmet Walsh (No. 5 billed) who is in Christmas with the Kranks (No. 4 billed), which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 21. If we were to watch Hardball, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – Although not credited on the finished film, co-writer/producer Will Smith was responsible for much of the movie’s direction. While M. Night Shyamalan was primarily in charge of the blocking (composition of shots, placement of the camera) and the visual aspects of the film (color and design), it was Will Smith who personally coached Jaden Smith in his performance and dictated the development of the story and the on-screen action. After both the story and acting were heavily criticized, Shyamalan decided to take the blame.

The original cut was 130 minutes long, and included more backstory on the decline of Earth and the formation of Nova Prime. However, the film was vastly re-edited after performing poorly at test screenings, and any actors playing Nova Primates were either reduced to extras or cut out entirely. The deleted footage will likely never be seen, as M. Night Shyamalan is satisfied with the theatrical cut.

The original idea for the film was a father and son on a camping trip. After the car they are traveling in careens off the road, the son makes his way through the forest to find help for the father. Realizing that the idea had greater potential, producer Will Smith and screenwriter Gary Whitta decided to adapt the basic survival concept into a much larger science-fiction project. (The original sounds better)

Will Smith, who had wanted to work with M. Night Shyamalan for several years but was unable to find a suitable project, personally hired him to direct. This became the first time in twenty years that Shyamalan accepted a project based on someone else’s screenplay, and the first film in Shyamalan’s career where he does not appear on screen.

Producer/co-writer Will Smith envisioned “After Earth” as a multi-platform franchise, including books, graphic novels, and interactive video games, which would all inform on and add to the ideas and concepts already developed in the finished film.

In a 2019 lecture at NYU’s Stern School of Business, Shyamalan publicly disowned his films The Last Airbender (2010) and After Earth (2013), calling them “junk movies.” He added: “I did a couple huge, big-budget CGI movies. There has always been this inexorable pull to join the group; a constant seduction in the form of whatever you want to tally, in the form of money, or safety, ease, not getting criticized. I did these movies, and I rightfully got crushed, because they said, ‘You don’t believe in yourself, you don’t believe in your own voice, and in you don’t believe in your values.’ I felt really lost. It just didn’t work. There’s probably something Darwinian about all this.”

Eisner Award-winning comic writer Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger produced a 300-page “bible” covering the history of mankind, from their decision to leave Earth to the events depicted in the finished film. It was intended to serve as a resource for all kinds of ancillary materials in the After Earth (2013) franchise.

When Kristofer Hivju showed up on set, he got into a discussion with the make-up department, who wanted to cut his characteristic long hair and beard. Hivju was against it, and was even supported by Jaden Smith, but eventually lost out. To make matters worse, most of his role was eventually deleted from the final cut.

A series of spin-off novels, sub-titled “Ghost Stories”, have been planned to promote the movie, but are also intended to flesh out the concepts in the film itself. The titles of these books include ‘Innocence’, Peace, ‘Hunted’ and ‘A Perfect Beast.’ All books are written by writers Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, and Robert Greenberger, with illustrations by Benito Lobel.

Second time that real-life father and son Will Smith and Jaden Smith play father and son on screen. The first time was in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006).

The film takes place in 3071.

M. Night Shyamalan’s first digital film. The first feature film shot with Sony’s F65 digital camera.

The original screenplay was written by Gary Whitta based on an idea by Will Smith. In pre-production, M. Night Shyamalan did a few drafts of the screenplay to familiarize himself with the material, before passing it over to Stephen Gaghan, who stayed on as the chief screenwriter during production. Mark Boal, writer of The Hurt Locker (2008) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), also worked on the script.

To promote the movie, Harper Collins and Insight Editions published ‘After Earth: United Ranger Corps Survival Manual’ and ‘After Earth: Kitai’s Journal.’

Kristofer Hivju, Lincoln Lewis, and Isabelle Fuhrman had major supporting roles in the original cut though the majority of their scenes were deleted during post-production (In the theatrical cut Hivju has one scene, Lewis has one line, and only the back of Fuhrman’s head is visible in one shot – though her face can be seen in the trailer).

The word “ursa” is the Latin for “female bear”. The protagonist’s name Kitai is the Russian for “China”.

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Jaden Smith, 2014)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith, 2014)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Combo (Jaden Smith, Will Smith, 2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (M. Night Shyamalan, 2014)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Gary Whitta, M. Night Shyamalan, Will Smith, 2014)

Hall of Fame Speech #18: Grown Ups 2

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. For this inductee we went looking for a bad movie for the people. A bad movie that the whole family could enjoy. And maybe, we’ll also get an extended commercial for KFC, or Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Hooters thrown in for good measure! That’s right, we are rewatching Grown Ups 2. The first Sandler inductee, and honestly very likely the only one. Just consider this a lifetime achievement award for his work in the 2000s. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Grown Ups 2

After releasing Funny People the Adam Sandler led films took quite the turn. Grown Ups, Just Go With It, Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, and then Sandler’s first sequel in Grown Ups 2. We have, obviously, seen all of these for BMT. Jack and Jill we watched in theaters in a proto-BMT Live! So from the smorgasbord of BMT delight, how does one choose just one to induct into the Hall of Fame? In a way it just has to be treated as a lifetime achievement award for Sandler and Co. And what an achievement Grown Ups 2 is. We hated Grown Ups when we watched it, and then watched Grown Ups 2 in theaters and it appears to have melted our brain. The email concerning it is basically just incomprehensible gibberish, flabbergasted that they could make the original worse! But … maybe we were wrong. Let’s get into it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • The setting. I remember being supremely confused about the setting in both films as a matter of fact. It seemed to me that the first film was set in New Hampshire, but in reality it was likely set in Connecticut. The second film is more explicitly set in Connecticut (via license plates), but it is never really mentioned either. It blew my mind, and probably is part of the reason we are so obsessed with settings in general.
  • The opening to the film, obviously. A cartoon deer wreaks havoc in the Sandler household. It genuinely looks like a cartoon complete with cartoon reaction shots. It’s weird.
  • There is a whole underlying message of getting out from under your oppressive wife which isn’t the greatest A-story.
  • The side cast is crazy including Shaq in a large role, and Taylor Lautner very impressively just doing flips in the background and later doing a flip out of a car! I don’t know how much of that was camera tickery, but it looks real to me and looks crazy cool.
  • The entire film culminates in a giant 80s themed costume party at Sandler’s mansion, and then in a giant brawl. Much like in all late-Sandler films, the solution to life’s problems is to punch people in the face.

So which do I think is the most important? I think it is going to be the last one. The first one is more important in Blended, for example, where the setting is the perfect example of Sandler setting up a film to just be a vacation. The fourth is common to all Sandler films. There is often a who’s who of cameos and bit parts featuring ESPN personalities and former athletes. But the speciality of Grown Ups 2 is just the plotlessness. The entire film is about throwing a party. Why are they throwing a party? *Shrug* It’s the first day of summer. Let’s make it 80s themed on the day of said party, and yet everyone is in amazing 80s outfits hours later. And finally, we don’t really know how to end this film so … let’s have everyone brawl and then go to bed. The End. It is an astonishing failure of imagination that, I think, pushes this film over the top.

How did the rewatch go? Well the real question is how did both rewatches go. I naturally watched both the original Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2, and the differences are astonishing. In the first you have a group of (clearly) friends ripping into each other during a lake house vacation. The ribbing is brutal complete with forlorn reaction shots from those offended. “You’re fat haha” reaction shot of Kevin James looking sad, “you’re whipped haha” reaction shot of Chris Rock looking sad, “you’re short haha” reaction shots of David Spade and Rob Schnieder looking sad. The plotless film is only saved from being boring by the brutality of its mean-spirited humor, and ultimately that it is, at heart, a genuinely sweet film. The second film on the other hand is a cartoon (both literally with the introductory deer, and figuratively with its theme-park-esque Connecticut setting). It exchanges mean-spiritedness for an expanded cast of characters constantly tripping over themselves for screen time. It looks at the original’s plotlessness and asks “But wait … can we have less plot though?” The plot of the film is simple: we are throwing a party. Let’s film a commercial for KMart, and then throw a big bash where all of the characters in the film can josh around for a bit.

It’s been just long enough since we’ve watched a Sandler film of this era that I almost forgot why they were so disliked by critics. There is no lazier film than Grown Ups 2. It may not have even had a script. It’s performances are so undemanding that Shaquille O’Neal seamlessly enters the cast in a major (nearly a top ten credited) role without notice. There is an extended sequence during the film where it is revealed that all of the gang’s children are secret prodigies of some kind. Kevin James’s kid is a musical prodigy, Chris Rock’s daughter is a beautiful singer, and Adam Sandler’s son can smash through 50 yard field goals. All of them say the same thing “Wow, that’s amazing, where did you learn to do that?” *Shrug*. Absolute trash. A borderline parody of how actual meaningful comedies are written. I could go on all day about this film.

To be perfectly honest, this is a BMT film because in a way Sandler has taught me the most about movie making. The product placement, just wanting to hang out with friends, improvisational comedy, and pure undistilled laziness of the whole affair (he’s done it at least five times at this point) is what bad movies typically only aspire to be. While watching this film I distinctly remember thinking “My god, I’m transcending this film! I am all that is man, the alpha and omega. I can see the seams in this movie, and the blinding light that peers forth is glorious!” … You think I’m kidding? That is literally what I thought at the time. Sandler transcended bad movies. He became a genre himself. And this was the pinnacle of that genre. Others may say Jack and Jill, but I say nay! Grown Ups 2, in its glorious messiness, is when Sandler mastered the art of making a bad movie. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Grown Ups 2.

Hall of Fame Speech #17: Highlander II: The Quickening

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. This is the film so bad that we had to buy it on VHS in order to see it in its purest form. Like an uncut diamond, this is Highlander II: The Quickening. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Highlander II: The Quickening

Highlander II: The Quickening was a major milestone for BMT. Not only was it our 200th film (we were mere babes in the woods), but it completed a significant BMT journey. We journeyed from exclusively watching easily accessible films to buying a VHS tape and converting it to digital like a couple of crazy people. That was because Highlander II: The Quickening came with a long legacy in bad movie lore. The film was released to incredible critical derision and as a result the original cut was never released to DVD. Instead, the studios allowed for the film to be recut several times into increasingly palatable versions. But we don’t mess with that shit and we needed to drink straight from the clear mountain spring that is Highlander II: The Quickening. Oh how sweet and so cold. Our bad movie thirst was quenched and like lightning our bad movie power was quickened. But not until now did I appreciate the power that this film really holds when I dove deep into that spring. Let’s get into it.

It has been five years since we watched the film. But what do I remember?

  • Much like many films we watch for major BMT milestones I think I remember having way too lofty expectations for the film. Additionally, at that time in BMT we rarely did extra homework so neither of us watched the recut release. As a result I was aware that it was a great BMT film, but not exactly just how Highlander II: The Quickening is not just about the film put to screen, but also the story outside of the film.
  • They were all aliums the whole time but didn’t remember that fact in the first film… that’s real.
  • Sean Connery died in the first film and comes back in this one with no explanation… or more accurately there is an explanation, but, as is fitting, it makes no sense.
  • We also hadn’t watched any more of the Highlander series at the time, but now we know that the story of Highlander is just them remaking Highlander over and over again. 

So which do I think is the most important? Objectively, the fact that they are all aliens defines Highlander II: The Quickening. This is what the world correctly remembers the film for and the removal of the alien storyline was one of two reasons why the film was recut in the first place. The other reason is that they cut out a bunch of expository scenes in the theatrical release that better explain (the still ludicrous) plot of the film. So basically they released an incomprehensible film filled with alien stuff to theaters and then removed the alien stuff in order to put back in a bunch of exposition… which at times relies on understanding that they are all aliens. It’s truly stunning.

How did the rewatch go? Uh, spectacular, duh. I actually think I learned a lot watching the two versions of the film. You can see how two pretty different stories can be constructed from the same set of scenes. It made me kinda sad, too, when I realized that not everyone is as deranged as we are and have no access to the original cut of the film. That’s because the alien storyline is terrible, and yet vital to the full story that the creators clearly wanted to tell. So basically there is no available version of the film that correctly explains the plot: both alien and exposition preserved. Which leads me to the baffling conclusion that I am in fact one of the most knowledgeable Highlander II: The Quickening scholars on either Earth or Zeist. For using my formidable intellect I am one of the few that can now envision the creator’s true intent. I call it… Highlander II: The Quickening – Sklog Rebel Edition. I feels good… the power *lightning crashes from the sky* Aaaarrrrghhhhhhhhh THE QUICKENING!!!!!

And that is my (shocking) conclusion about Highlander II: The Quickening that I need to make abundantly clear: the recut version of the film is NOT a good film. While it is true that the basic storyline is better explained, the why and how of the immortals is totally botched by removing the aliens. We have a film where Christopher Lambert is in laughable old man makeup only to be turned young again and have his friend Sean Connery come back to life (after having his head cut off in the first film) and their explanation in the “Renegade” version that is meant to clarify this is a shrug of the shoulder and a handwave that it all took place on Earth but a long time ago or whatever… just have the balls, man! Say it! Say they were aliens! You clearly wanted to and now you don’t because people made fun of you. You can’t pretend like you never wanted them to be aliens. You did. Just admit it. Release the Sklog Rebel Edition! 

This is 1000% a BMT film and also complete justification of our more recent tendency to search and out and consume available materials related to the film at hand. It really is aging like a fine wine as they continue to tinker with releases (as recently as 2004). After the rewatch, I now think it’s high time for another recut and hopefully this Hall of Fame speech can be considered my official campaign to be put in charge of this new (and final) recut. But they probably won’t give us the reigns for such an important endeavor. And I’m not surprised because they probably don’t have the balls to make such a bold and daring move. Welcome to the Hall of Fame Highlander II: The Quickeneing. *Shrugs shoulder and zooms away on a rad flying skateboard*

Highlander II: The Quickening Preview

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. This is the film so bad that we had to buy it on VHS in order to see it in its purest form. Like an uncut diamond, this is Highlander II: The Quickening. This is a preview, the Hall of Fame speech will follow directly afterwards.

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) – BMeTric: 79.8; Notability: 26 

HighlanderIITheQuickeningIMDb_BMeT

HighlanderIITheQuickeningIMDb_RV

(The rating is actually a little too high somehow. Low-4.0 is really really low … but this is legit maybe the worst film ever made. It should in reality be in the 3.0s, but maybe the Renegade Cut is actually not the worst.)

RogerEbert.com – 0.5 stars – This movie has to be seen to be believed. On the other hand, maybe that’s too high a price to pay. “Highlander 2: The Quickening” is the most hilariously incomprehensible movie I’ve seen in many a long day – a movie almost awesome in its badness. Wherever science fiction fans gather, in decades and generations to come, this film will be remembered in hushed tones as one of the immortal low points of the genre.

(Roger Ebert spitting hot fire here. And indeed, this movie is remembered in hushed tones as a nadir of its genre. It was such a disaster they recut it and you can’t see the original on home video anymore! That’s incredible.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV2yoL_GkEY/

(That heavy metal soundtrack! In another world this is an amazingly mind bending sci fi film. Instead they made the worst film ever. It is awesome.)

Directors – Russell Mulcahy – (Known For: Highlander; Ricochet; In Like Flynn; Razorback; Swimming Upstream; Future BMT: Tale of the Mummy; The Real McCoy; The Shadow; Resident Evil: Extinction; Resurrection; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Notes: Directed nearly 40 episodes of Teen Wolf.)

Writers – Gregory Widen (characters) – (Known For: Highlander; Backdraft; The Prophecy; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Notes: A wild career. Wrote the original Highlander when he was in college. And then wrote the sequel to Backdraft (which we’ve seen). Still writing films.)

Brian Clemens (story) – (Known For: The Watcher in the Woods; The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; See No Evil; Future BMT: And Soon the Darkness; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Notes: Died in 2015. Directed a bunch of British television as well, including Father Dowling Mysteries.)

William N. Panzer (story) (as William Panzer) – (Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Notes: These are the type of people I don’t get … he has a few writing credits, but mostly producing credits. Almost all of these credits are Highlander films/television. He has been involved in this IP for like 40 years.)

Peter Bellwood (screenplay) – (Known For: Highlander; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; Notes: Mostly retired. He had a few notes in the mid-90s about teaming with Dennis Shryack, but from what I can tell they never actually produced anything as a team.)

Actors – Christopher Lambert – (Known For: Hail, Caesar!; Highlander; Sobibor; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes; Bel Canto; Fortress; Subway; White Material; To Kill a Priest; Future BMT: Highlander: Endgame; Beowulf; Fortress 2; Southland Tales; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; The Sicilian; Gunmen; Loaded Weapon 1; Resurrection; Knight Moves; The Hunted; Electric Slide; BMT: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance; Highlander II: The Quickening; Highlander III: The Sorcerer; Mortal Kombat; Notes: Apparently he is a joy to work with. I remember this specifically from Mortal Kombat notes. Still working, he was just in the television show The Blacklist.)

Sean Connery – (Known For: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; The Rock; Murder on the Orient Express; The Untouchables; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; The Hunt for Red October; Highlander; Dr. No; The Name of the Rose; Never Say Never Again; Thunderball; Goldfinger; From Russia with Love; Time Bandits; The Longest Day; Diamonds Are Forever; A Bridge Too Far; DragonHeart; Marnie; You Only Live Twice; Future BMT: Meteor; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Family Business; A Good Man in Africa; Rising Sun; 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: Almost 90 years old. He is well and truly retired at this point, I can’t even remember the last time I saw him do any publicity. Probably still the best James Bond ever, there is a new one of those coming out soon.)

Virginia Madsen – (Known For: Her Smell; Dune; Better Watch Out; The Rainmaker; Candyman; Joy; Sideways; The Hot Spot; Burn Your Maps; The Prophecy; The Astronaut Farmer; Electric Dreams; A Prairie Home Companion; Ghosts from the Past; 1985; Modern Girls; Mr. North; Walter; All the Wilderness; American Gun; Future BMT: Father of Invention; Class; The Hot Flashes; Slam Dance; Diminished Capacity; Creator; BMT: Highlander II: The Quickening; The Haunting; Red Riding Hood; Firewall; Hot to Trot; The Haunting in Connecticut; The Number 23; Notes: Starred in Swamp Thing which became a huge disappointment for the ill-fated DC streaming service. It went over budget and got its second season cancelled during the post-production of the first season. Whoops.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $15,556,340 (Worldwide: $15,556,340)

(Absolutely terrible. It is a little okay just because the budget was $30 million, which for the time was high, but it doesn’t put it into like Cutthroat Island range. Still really bad.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/23): There should have been only one.

(Absolutely brutal reviews, mostly just saying this is maybe the worst film ever made and they shouldn’t have made it. Reviewer Highlight: Audiences unfamiliar with the first film will be hard put to follow the action [from a story by Brian Clemens] as it incoherently hops about in time and space. – Variety)

Poster – Skloglander II: The Sklogening (A+++++++++)

highlander_ii_the_quickening

(My god, it’s beautiful. Everywhere you look is another treat for your senses. Look! There’s his futuristic car! Is that a helicopter?! There isn’t even one in the film! The sword! The lightning! Sean Connery! The font! Arrrrghhhhhhhhhhh! THE QUICKENING!)

Tagline(s) – In all their centuries on Earth, nothing could prepare them for… (F)

(Except for the other time that they had to fight to the death and there were a thousand Quickenings, right? I mean… there was some reasonable preparation at that point. Oh and I hate when they try to incorporate the title into the tagline. Always confusing.)

Keyword – immortal

HighlanderIITheQuickening_immortal

Top 10: Wonder Woman (2017), Twilight (2008), Justice League (2017), Hellboy (2019), Deadpool (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Avengers Assemble (2012), Logan (2017)

Future BMT: 89.4 Vampires Suck (2010), 78.1 The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), 65.9 Highlander: Endgame (2000), 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 52.0 Green Lantern (2011), 50.0 The Sin Eater (2003), 39.4 The Forsaken (2001), 39.0 Once Bitten (1985), 28.8 Igor (2008), 27.7 Dark Shadows (2012);

BMT: Hellboy (2019), The Mummy (2017), Ghost Ship (2002), A New York Winter’s Tale (2014), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Queen of the Damned (2002), I, Frankenstein (2014), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991), Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994)

(Besides for a brief moment around 2010 this has kind of just grown out of the sci-fi in the 80s and reached a steady state. We do need to watch The Twilight Saga … bah, I’ve already seen those!)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Virginia Madsen is No. 3 billed in Highlander II: The Quickening and No. 3 billed in Firewall, 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) => 3 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 13. If we were to watch Rising Sun, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Michael Ironside recalled his experiences on this movie: “Yeah, listen, I hated that script. We all did. Me, Sean, Chris, we all were in it for the money on this one. I mean, it read as if it had been written by a thirteen-year-old boy. But I’d never played a barbarian swordsman before, and this was my first big evil mastermind-type. I figured if I was going to do this stupid movie, I might as well have fun, and go as far over the top as I possibly could. All that eye-rolling and foaming at the mouth was me deciding that if I was going to be in a piece of shit, like that movie, I was going to be the most memorable fucking thing in it, and I think I succeeded.” (Noice)

Christopher Lambert was so disgusted with the re-written script that he wanted to drop out of this movie. Contractual obligations forced him to finish it.

Director Russell Mulcahy disliked the theatrical cut so much that he left the premiere after only fifteen minutes. (And thus the Renegade Cut)

John C. McGinley made his character’s voice as deep as possible in an effort to imitate Orson Welles. He has since admitted that it was a bad idea.

Grossly contradicts the previous movie, Highlander (1986). All subsequent Highlander movies ignore this film. (Wellllll, to be fair they tend to ignore a good chunk of the lore at random times)

Christopher Lambert refused to use a fake sword for the fight scenes. In his first scene with it, he cut his finger to the bone and Michael Ironside dislocated his jaw in the dome fight. After these accidents, Lambert agreed to use a plastic sword.

Roger Ebert named it the worst movie of 1991.

Clancy Brown was asked to reprise his role as the Kurgan in a cameo, but declined.

Other than James Bond, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez is the only character that Sir Sean Connery has played in more than one movie.

Christopher Lambert and Michael Ironside did most of their own stunts.

The idea for this movie came about because Christopher Lambert enjoyed working with Sir Sean Connery and really got along with him and Lambert wanted to work with Connery again for this movie, even though Ramirez died in Highlander (1986). A new story was written where Connor MacLeod, Ramirez, and the Immortals were aliens from another planet and Ramirez is brought back to life when Connor undergoes the Quickening and calls his name.

The movie’s initial budget was estimated at thirty million dollars. Sir Sean Connery received three and a half million dollars for nine days of work. Connery donated the money to charitable causes. (Haha)

After this film bombed at the box-office, it was decided that the following movies, Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994), Highlander: Endgame (2000), and Highlander: The Source (2007), would be true and faithful to the original movie, story, and mythology by pretending this movie never happened. A long-running joke amongst Highlander fans states that the official name of the third movie should have been “Highlander III: The Apology”.

Unused scenes revealed that the Kurgan from the first movie was also a resident of Zeist, and General Katana hired him to kill Connor MacLeod. The final battle between MacLeod and the Kurgan from the first movie is shown on a large screen to Zeist bettors, and when the Kurgan fails, Katana sends down the two assassins featured in the final cut of this movie to take out MacLeod.

Christopher Lambert has very bad eyesight. During one sword fight, Lambert, who was not wearing his glasses, nearly severed Michael Ironside’s right thumb.

An alternate ending, “The Fairytale Ending”, was shown in some European theaters. Louise and Connor magically return to Zeist, embrace in front of a field of stars, transform into light streaks, and fly off into space. (Whaaaaaaaaaaat)

A technician died during filming, after falling from a crane.

To recover the filming rights, producers made the television series Highlander (1992). Christopher Lambert declined to reprise his role as Connor MacLeod, and the producers chose to create a new character. Lambert then accepted, and appeared in the pilot, to introduce the new hero, Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul). (Oh … I’ve seen the pilot)

Director Russell Mulcahy was so frustrated at being locked out of production that he tried to have his credit changed to “Alan Smithee”. However, a section of his contract forbade him from publicly attacking this movie before it was released. The producers said that if he had his credit changed, it would be considered an attack, and he would be sued.

No bluescreen or special effects were used for the hoverboard fight sequence. Christopher Lambert wore wires and harnesses, set up by the team behind the flying sequences in Superman (1978). (Oh I couldn’t tell….)

Initial plans for a third movie titled Highlander III: The Reckoning, would have detached the story even further from the original. It would have taken place entirely on Zeist, and would have involved Connor training a rebel army to overthrow the rulers of the planet. However, the post-production editing of this movie, which changed the ending, plus the poor box-office performance, nixed the idea. (Jesus, that sounds terrible)

Virginia Madsen admitted to doing this movie for two reasons: to go to Argentina, and to work with Sir Sean Connery.

Sir Sean Connery was sued by an Assistant Director for sexual harassment. (Oh gross)

In the Director’s Cut, Connor and Ramirez’s backstory is changed. Instead of aliens from the planet Zeist, Connor and Ramirez are from Earth in the distant past who were sent to the future, as punishment for their rebellion, in which they were reborn in the time periods to which they were exiled, hence Connor forgetting his past, which he begins to remember at the opera.

Hall of Fame Speech #16: Big Momma’s House

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. For this week we are revisiting one of the quintessential 2000s cross-dressing comedies. You guessed it, Big Momma’s in the house! It’s actually her house if I recall correctly. So get ready for some karate / basketball / farting action. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for Big Momma’s House

I honestly think we might end up watching every crossdressing comedy film ever made. And I also honestly think they might all end up in the Hall of Fame. Wait … were you thinking I was going to say this is a bad thing? Nope, this is obviously excellent. YOLO, #NoRegrets, BMT4Life, and all that, this is our duty to the world. Like Norbit or Diary of a Mad Black Woman before it, I unironically love crossdressing comedies. There is just something so pure about them. All the way back to Twelfth Night, even William Shakespeare understood: people dressing up as the opposite gender when treated with just the right amount of hijinks can be high comedy. Well … they can at least be something. Bring on the farts! Let’s get into it!

It has been five years … I mean, since I watched the original, I guess it’s been, like, three years since Big Momma herself was in my life. I also literally watched the basketball scene like a month ago because I felt like it. But what do I remember about the film itself?

  • The film’s concept is completely absurd. You have a person who is purported to be a large (and in charge) member of the community replaced by a man in a fat suit? How would no one notice? Don’t even ask the question because you know they aren’t going to answer it.
  • Compared to Norbit the makeup is insanely bad. If anyone ever doubts Norbit deserved an Oscar nod for makeup they should watch this film and compare. Rasputia is a living breathing character compared to this nonsense.
  • The cast is bumping, imagine being able to hook Giamatti and Nia Long into a film like this now. It was a wild time when films like this were an easy buck for actors and producers alike.
  • The B-story is basically about a murderer trying to go see his son … the B-story is just crazy over-the-top serious.
  • I think this is where we started to see the value in franchising BMT. The Big Momma trilogy ended up stretching across 3 weeks of BMT which is honestly unacceptable, but is definitely something to think about concerning its place in BMT lore.

So which do I think is the most important? This is definitely one of the BMT films where the sum of its parts are greater than the whole. I think the fact that you can compare it to Norbit and it comes up lacking is important. I think the fact that Giamatti is there lending a bit of shine is a historical and cultural oddity as well. And I think the fact that we watched the entire trilogy for BMT, it is a true BMT franchise, is an important BMT historical milestone. None of those by themselves a Hall of Fame make. But combined together I think this exemplifies the moment where we were able to transcend a bad movie, find the diamonds in the rough, and create a BMT classic. I do think that is what this is, despite the fact that I couldn’t necessarily tell you a single defining Hall of Fame feature of the film. But … that’s what the rewatch is for.

How did the rewatch go? Better than one could ever expect. Who would have thought despite picking out five memorable features of the film prior to the rewatch, I wouldn’t put any of them in the top three most important aspects of the rewatch. I have three words for you: Farts, Dunks, and Monologues. First, the film’s main feature (after the ill-advised decision to have Martin Lawrence dress in yellow face … huh, another connection to Norbit, who’d have thunk it?) starts with our hero breaking into Big Momma’s house and witnessing her fart/shit in front of him. It is such an important part of the film that multiple reviews mention it. I mean, when you have a character called Big Momma I suppose you can’t help but have the poor woman fart for an extended period of time. And fart she does.

Second, in addition to a weird subplot involving karate (complete with Martin Lawrence beating up Chris Anthony as Big Momma) there is an even better out-of-nowhere basketball scene. We see Big Momma drop buckets on some unsuspected teens, kick out dimes to his love interest’s young son, and win on a dunk that can only be described as both earth-shattering and definitely-on-a-seven-foot-hoop. Read any list of worst-ever dunks seen on film, and this will at least get an honorable mention. I suppose it fails Prerequisite 1 from The Ringer’s best movie dunks of all time, but for real I would put this at number one. Big Momma, an apparently morbidly obese grandmother, slam dunks on a bunch of teen ballers? Get out of here, that’s amazing.

Finally, this is one of the original Monosklogs. Here’s the thing, we used to send all of these things out as emails to our friends back in the day (fine we still do, but back in the day they pretended to read them). And we used to include the best monologues from bad movies. Unfortunately, with the website comes some responsibility of what videos we host on the site, and so all of them had to go. That’s fine. But this is legit one of the finest. And luckily, It is available on YouTube.

It’s glorious. Much like Mi Mama from Here on Earth, a good monologue or montage can sustain any bad movie. Right when you think the film might lag, here comes a monologue complete with singing to lift you up. I could watch it all day. Oh happy day.

And right there. That’s why this movie deserved the Hall of Fame. It is the definition of a bad film that keeps on giving and is greater than all of the small individual notes of bad/goodness during the film. You have terrible makeup, an amazing cast, a crazy serious B-story, franchise potential, farts, dunks, and one amazing monologue to lift you up right when the concept of the film is starting to feel tired. What else could you possibly ask for? Nothing, except for maybe Norbit’s makeup artists to bring Big Momma alive. Maybe they’ll finally get their number for Big Momma’s White House, where Big Momma is accidentally elected president. Whoops! What crazy crossdressing hijinks! Welcome to the Hall of Fame Big Momma.

Big Momma’s House Preview

Brief note before we start: last July we got together yet again and worked out a fourth class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. It has been nearly a decade since we started BMT and as usual the films from more than five years ago might just deserve a rewatch, a reassessment, and a recap. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the seventh (ninth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films chosen. For this week we are revisiting one of the quintessential 2000s cross-dressing comedies. You guessed it, Big Momma’s in the house! It’s actually her house if I recall correctly. So get ready for some karate / basketball / farting action. This is the updated preview, the Hall of Fame Speech will follow to explain why we think this film is Hall of Fame worthy.

Generated on: 2020-01-11

Big Momma’s House (2000) – BMeTric: 60.3; Notability: 42 

BigMommasHouseIMDb_BMeT

BigMommasHouseIMDb_RV

(Shockingly low, but it is also hard to admit you like this film. Considering the makeup work is objectively bad though I think it is about right. 60+ BMeTric is quite amazing, good job Big Momma’s House.)

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – Any movie that employs an oven mitt and a plumber’s friend in a childbirth scene cannot be all bad, and I laughed a lot during “Big Momma’s House.” I also spent a certain amount of time staring at the screen in disbelief. While it’s true that comedy can redeem bad taste, it’s can be appalling when bad taste thinks it is being redeemed by comedy, and is wrong. The movie’s opening toilet scene, featuring the biggest evacuation since we pulled out of Vietnam, is a grisly example.

(Yeah this sounds about right considering what I remember. Basically it is really really stupid, but somewhat chamingly begnin and good-hearted. That you can kind of like it if you don’t pay attention too much.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njhwlzuPXv4/

(This might as well be called “2000s cross-dressing comedy”. Babies, basketball, karate, self-defense classes, surprise parties, and boob jokes. It is literally everything you didn’t ask for.)

Directors – Raja Gosnell – (Known For: Never been Kissed; Beverly Hills Chihuahua; Future BMT: Home Alone 3; Scooby-Doo; Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Yours, Mine & Ours; BMT: Big Momma’s House; Show Dogs; Notes: Was an editor for years and years prior to directing Home Alone 3. Is currently tapped to direct yet-another Santa origin story.)

Writers – Darryl Quarles (story & screenplay) – (Future BMT: Black Knight; BMT: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son; Big Momma’s House 2; Big Momma’s House; Notes: I have to imagine it was his original script that was adapted since he gets only character credits on the later films and didn’t write much else. Was a producer on Fresh Prince.)

Don Rhymer (screenplay) – (Known For: The Santa Clause 2; Rio; Ferdinand; Surf’s Up; Rio 2; Future BMT: Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London; The Honeymooners; Deck the Halls; Carpool; BMT: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son; Big Momma’s House 2; Big Momma’s House; Notes: Started writing on Coach back in the day, and now basically writes animated kids’ films.)

Actors – Martin Lawrence – (Known For: Bad Boys; The Beach Bum; Do the Right Thing; Death at a Funeral; Life; Open Season; Boomerang; House Party; Future BMT: College Road Trip; Black Knight; Rebound; National Security; What’s the Worst That Could Happen?; Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins; House Party 2; Blue Streak; A Thin Line Between Love and Hate; Bad Boys II; Nothing to Lose; BMT: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son; Big Momma’s House 2; Big Momma’s House; Wild Hogs; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son in 2012; Notes: He’s back jack! In Bad Boys For Life, which turns out is a smash hit. He almost died while preparing for this role while jogging in a plastic suit in the summer.)

Nia Long – (Known For: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged; Friday; Boyz n the Hood; Keanu; The Best Man Holiday; Alfie; Boiler Room; The Best Man; Soul Food; Lemon; Roxanne Roxanne; The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy; Love Jones; How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass; Mooz-Lum; Future BMT: Made in America; Premonition; Held Up; Stigmata; In Too Deep; Gospel Hill; BMT: Are We Done Yet?; Big Momma’s House 2; Are We There Yet?; Big Momma’s House; The Single Moms Club; Notes: Has been on television more recently with stints on both Empire and NCIS: Los Angeles.)

Paul Giamatti – (Known For: Saving Private Ryan; Saving Mr. Banks; 12 Years a Slave; Planet of the Apes; Donnie Brasco; The Truman Show; The Amazing Spider-Man 2; San Andreas; Straight Outta Compton; My Best Friend’s Wedding; Robots; Rock of Ages; Doctor Dolittle; Turbo; The Illusionist; Love & Mercy; Sideways; Sabrina; Private Life; Man on the Moon; Future BMT: Fred Claus; Morgan; Ratchet & Clank; Romeo & Juliet; The Nanny Diaries; The Hangover Part II; Duets; Before and After; The Catcher Was a Spy; Pretty Bird; BMT: Big Momma’s House; Lady in the Water; Paycheck; Notes: A very accomplished actor. Has starred in the show Billions for the last few years.)

Budget/Gross – $30,000,000 / Domestic: $117,559,438 (Worldwide: $173,959,438)

(That’s a huge hit. It is quite amazing the cast they were able to rope into films like this back in the day because even rote comedies could pull in $100 million at the drop of a hat. Not surprising they went right back to that well and made a trilogy in the end.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 30% (24/81): Big Momma’s House is funny in some parts, but it is essentially a one-joke movie.

(I wouldn’t want it any other way. Sometimes in your life you need one-note comedies. The type of comedy which feels like it was a 2 minute SNL clip stretched out to a film. Reviewer Highlight: The whole project works so hard at creating funny situations that Lawrence gets no chance to be funny as himself. – Robin Rauzi, Los Angeles Times)

Poster – Big Momma’s Sklog (B-) 

big_mommas_house

(I actually like the turned back pose, it keeps the ludicrousness of Big Momma’s face a secret for the film. I don’t like how it fades to white for the title and credits though, I feel like there is a better way to do that. Solid font work though.)

Tagline(s) – This FBI agent is going undercover… and he’s concealing more than a weapon. (C+)

(Indicates a bit of the plot, but let’s not stoop to dick jokes. It isn’t that he’s a lady, it’s that he’s an old lady. They should have played a bit off of that as well.)

Keyword – gender disguise

BigMomma'sHouse_gender disguise

Top 10: Coco (2017), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Willow (1988), Mulan (1998), The Danish Girl (2015), White Chicks (2004), Shakespeare in Love (1998), She’s the Man (2006), Tootsie (1982), Jack and Jill (2011); 

Future BMT: 76.5 Junior (1994), 49.8 Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), 29.3 Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989), 19.8 The Associate (1996), 19.8 Three Fugitives (1989); 

BMT: White Chicks (2004), Jack and Jill (2011), Tango & Cash (1989), Big Momma’s House (2000), Color of Night (1994), Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011), Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005)

(My god … we’ve watched so many of them. I am excited for Junior. And Willow is obviously the best number one you could ask for. I love the uniform distribution on the plot, legit just a timeless classic.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Martin Lawrence is No. 1 billed in Big Momma’s House and No. 3 billed in Wild Hogs, which also stars Tim Allen (No. 1 billed) who is in Jungle 2 Jungle (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 6 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 6 + 1 = 13. If we were to watch In Too Deep we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Screenwriter Darryl Quarles came up with the idea for the name “Big Momma” because it was what the neighborhood kids used to call his own real life mother.

Martin Lawrence got in a three day coma from jogging in sweaters with 100 degree weather August 1999 in preparation for this movie.

Nia Long was in talks to join the cast of Charlie’s Angels (2000). She was persuaded to join this film when she was sent a big bunch of roses with the attached note “Come to us where you’ll be the only angel”.

The final scenes required some inventive shooting of Nia Long as the actress was pregnant and had to be shot only from the neck up. (Good for her I suppose)

For any physically active scenes, Martin Lawrence’s fat suit had built-in cooling tubes to help the actor.

Although set in Georgia, the entire film was shot in California. (Aw that is annoying. It is so easy to film in Georgia this days … do we need a reboot?)

That’s a body double in the scene where Ella Mitchell disrobes in the bathroom.

Ella Mitchell is a renowned Broadway actress who’s noted for her superb singing voice. That is Mitchell’s real voice in the film’s final scene where she belts out “Oh Happy Day”.

While Martin Lawrence spends most of the film encased in latex, Ella Mitchell also required some make-up. Her nose wasn’t as big as Lawrence’s so that had to be augmented to make the similarity between the two “women” more believable.

An animated opening was partially completed before it was scrapped. (… Didn’t they do that in the second one. I could be misremembering, but I feel like there was an animated Big Momma opening for that one)