Armageddon Preview

Rich and Elvira the tree monster nanny are smooching hard. It’s real sexy and steamy and inappropriate to describe the scandalous nature of their forbidden love. Oh how forbidden! What a mismatched pair! What a indecent proposal! What a fatal attraction! What a… uh… wild orchid! In between bouts of steamy make-out sessions Elivira reveals that her real name is Jade and that Elivira is just a front that Gruber convinced her to put on to further his dastardly plan. “But what’s the plan?” asks Rich, taking a break from their sensual lovemaking. But Jade doesn’t know. “Well there’s only one way to find out.” Jade protests, but Rich quiets her with a kiss. “Nothing can stop us when we’re together,” and off they go to deliver him into Gruber’s hands. As they enter the arcade, it’s empty. Were they gone for so long totally frenching? Suddenly Gruber spins around in a chair, “well, well, well Rich. How nice of you to join us. Seems like you and Elvira have been having quite the time… or should I say… Jade?” Gruber already knows! Rich rips off his shirt ready to pound on Gruber, but he puts up his finger, “Not in front of your best friend and his little old granny.” Suddenly a panel in the wall spins around revealing Poe and his granny hanging suspended above a tank of electric eels. “You bastard,” Rich says through clenched teeth, “What do you want from us?” Gruber laughs, “Always so slow. Perhaps this will give you a clue.” With that another wall panel spins. “My god, it’s Jim McBrawn, renowned astronaut and sex symbol,” Rich exclaims. Gruber laughs again, “That’s right and you’re going to impersonate him and help me… hold the moon ransom!” That’s right! We’re watching one of the greatest movies ever made, Armageddon. You’re probably like, “bro, you even watch bad movies. That shit can’t possibly qualify.” Oh but it does. By the slimmest of margins. And that’s the first mistake, because leave an opening for us to watch Armageddon and we’re gonna slither in like a couple of greased up snakes at a county fair. Hooooooo weeeeeeeeeeeeeee… anyway, this indeed was Ebert’s worst film of 1998 while Siskel gave his award to none other than Patch Adams. All I gotta say is I’m much more excited to watch Armageddon than I would be to watch Patch Adams. Let’s go!

Armageddon (1998) – BMeTric: 14.8

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(Wow, the BMeTric just collapsed. Probably appropriate. Armageddon is ridiculously fun. I’ve seen it like 15 times. It is a little shocking just how much the critics hated the film. But that’s an opportunity for us to watch a good film for BMT)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Opens with a bang, and sets up an exciting (it improbable) story about NASA and the U.S. government turning to a veteran oil-well driller and his motley team to save humanity by flying to an asteroid and planting a nuclear bomb. After a while it becomes so routine, so predictable, and so redundant that all the fun is drained away.

(Hard disagree, but two stars sounds about right. It is a perfectly even film. On the one hand it is fun as hell and so so sincere. On the other it is just such a logical conclusion to 80s/90s action films that, as Leonard says, you can predict what is going to happen at every moment.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vizwnpbwO0w/

(I love it. “You have twelve days” … why? Why not just do it in 10 or 11? Why? Then you’d just have however long you want to complete the mission instead of literally (spoiler alert) blowing up the asteroid with one second to spare.)

Directors – Michael Bay – (Known For: Transformers; The Rock; Bad Boys; 13 Hours; Pain & Gain; Future BMT: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Pearl Harbor; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Bad Boys II; The Island; BMT: Transformers: The Last Knight; Transformers: Age of Extinction; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director in 2010 for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; and in 2015 for Transformers: Age of Extinction; and Nominee for Worst Director in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2012 for Transformers: Dark of the Moon; and in 2018 for Transformers: The Last Knight; Notes: Loves English Mastiffs, and produces a bunch of horror films like the Friday the 13th reboot.)

Writers – Jonathan Hensleigh (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Jumanji; Die Hard: With a Vengeance; Kill the Irishman; A Far Off Place; Future BMT: Next; The Saint; The Punisher; BMT: Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Armageddon in 1999; Notes: )

J.J. Abrams (screenplay) – (Known For: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens; Super 8; Mission: Impossible III; Joy Ride; Forever Young; Regarding Henry; Future BMT: Gone Fishin’; Filofax; BMT: Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Armageddon in 1999; Notes: His father is Gerald William Abrams a television producer from the 80s. His sister is also a screenwriter.)

Tony Gilroy (adaptation) – (Known For: Rogue One; The Devil’s Advocate; The Bourne Identity; The Negotiator; The Bourne Supremacy; The Bourne Legacy; The Bourne Ultimatum; Dolores Claiborne; State of Play; Michael Clayton; The Cutting Edge; Duplicity; Extreme Measures; Future BMT: The Great Wall; Bait; Proof of Life; BMT: Armageddon; Notes: Has two brothers. Tony Gilroy is a very accomplished editor. And Dan Gilroy is also a writer (and married to Rene Russo).)

Shane Salerno (adaptation) – (Known For: Savages; Shaft; BMT: AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem; Armageddon; Notes: Was just 21 when he began writing on NYPD Blue. He is apparently writing Avatar 3.)

Robert Roy Pool (story) – (Known For: Outbreak; The Big Town; BMT: Armageddon; Notes: A little unclear what he’s been up to for the last 20 years, but worked with Laurence Dworet, a doctor, on writing the Outbreak screenplay.)

Actors – Bruce Willis – (Known For: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part; Pulp Fiction; Split; Unbreakable; The Sixth Sense; The Fifth Element; Die Hard; Sin City; RED; Looper; Twelve Monkeys; RED 2; Moonrise Kingdom; Sin City: A Dame to Kill For; Die Hard 4.0; The Expendables; The Expendables 2; Ocean’s Twelve; Planet Terror; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; Future BMT: Look Who’s Talking Too; Vice; The Cold Light of Day; The Prince; Extraction; Lay the Favorite; Precious Cargo; Breakfast of Champions; First Kill; Cop Out; Reprisal; Once Upon a Time in Venice; Marauders; Acts of Violence; Fire with Fire; Perfect Stranger; Striking Distance; Rock the Kasbah; The Story of Us; Blind Date; Rugrats Go Wild; Mercury Rising; Loaded Weapon 1; Billy Bathgate; Surrogates; Sunset; The Jackal; Last Man Standing; Tears of the Sun; Hostage; Grand Champion; Glass; Four Rooms; BMT: North; A Good Day to Die Hard; Color of Night; The Whole Ten Yards; The Bonfire of the Vanities; G.I. Joe: Retaliation; Hudson Hawk; Death Wish; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Winner for Worst Actor in 1999 for Armageddon, Mercury Rising, and The Siege; and Nominee for Worst Actor in 1992 for Hudson Hawk; in 1995 for Color of Night, and North; and in 2019 for Death Wish; Notes: Y’all know Bruce Willis. Famously married to Demi Moore for years, now married to model Emma Heming Willis.)

Billy Bob Thornton – (Known For: Tombstone; Love Actually; The Judge; Monster’s Ball; Princess Mononoke; Faster; Bound by Honor; Whiskey Tango Foxtrot; Sling Blade; Intolerable Cruelty; Dead Man; Puss in Boots; Friday Night Lights; The Man Who Wasn’t There; A Simple Plan; U Turn; Bad Santa; Bandits; Bad News Bears; Parkland; Future BMT: The Informers; An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; Bad Santa 2; Into the Grizzly Maze; London Fields; Indecent Proposal; School for Scoundrels; Waking Up in Reno; The Alamo; Our Brand Is Crisis; South of Heaven, West of Hell; Cut Bank; Eagle Eye; The Baytown Outlaws; Entourage; Levity; The Winner; The Badge; Jayne Mansfield’s Car; BMT: On Deadly Ground; Mr. Woodcock; Armageddon; Notes: Y’all know Billy Bob. All the news on google is about his band which I think is called Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters … I would have thought it was just The Boxmasters, but given the ‘t’ isn’t capitalized it has to include his full name.)

Ben Affleck – (Known For: Triple Frontier; Justice League; Gone Girl; Dazed and Confused; The Accountant; Good Will Hunting; Argo; The Town; He’s Just Not That Into You; Field of Dreams; Daredevil; Dogma; Shakespeare in Love; Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; The Company Men; Chasing Amy; Clerks II; Mallrats; State of Play; The Sum of All Fears; Future BMT: Surviving Christmas; Runner Runner; Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Reindeer Games; Suicide Squad; Man About Town; Pearl Harbor; 200 Cigarettes; The Third Wheel; Live by Night; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Smokin’ Aces; BMT: Gigli; Phantoms; Paycheck; Armageddon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor in 2004 for Daredevil, Gigli, and Paycheck; Winner for Worst Screen Combo for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2017; Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Gigli in 2004; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; in 2005 for Jersey Girl, and Surviving Christmas; and in 2017 for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for Daredevil, Gigli, Jersey Girl, Paycheck, Pearl Harbor, and Surviving Christmas; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1999 for Armageddon; in 2002 for Pearl Harbor; and in 2005 for Jersey Girl; Notes: His next film Torrance sounds suspiciously like Hardball with Keanu Reeves. Had a giant Netflix success with Triple Frontier recently.)

Budget/Gross – $140 million / Domestic: $201,578,182 (Worldwide: $553,709,788)

(These days that would be an underperformance, but that is kind of okay in the end. Bay’s biggest success until the Transformer franchise, so I think this was basically the ceiling for the type of action film Bay was producing around that time.)

#7 for the Disaster genre

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(Absolute pinnacle of the genre in 1998. It tried to make a comeback recently, I think because people tend to like disaster stuff when things are going well in the US. Seems like that is waning now though.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (45/120): Lovely to look at but about as intelligent as the asteroid that serves as the movie’s antagonist, Armageddon slickly sums up the cinematic legacies of producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay.

(Basically nails it. Prior to the re-watch I decided this film was the logical conclusion to Top Gun and disaster films smushed together. Reviewer Highlight: It’s strictly a side issue whether mankind will survive colliding with an asteroid the size of Texas; the real question is whether Liv Tyler, who plays Bruce Willis’s daughter, gets to keep her boyfriend. – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader)

Poster – Sklogageddon (A-)

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(It’s actually beautiful. Well spaced. I like the orange color, which is both the color of fire and Michael Bay as a whole. A little on the fence whether the font is good or not… you can barely see that it’s unique because of the fire. But it is unique.)

Tagline(s) – For Love. For Honor. For Mankind. (A)

(Yes, yes, and yes. That tagline is nearly perfect. Maybe add a dash of wit and you’d be up at the top. I also feel like it would be a good advertising scheme. Like, “For Love. For Honor. For Mankind… Four Loko.” Nailed it.)

Keyword(s) – asteroid; Top Ten by BMeTric: 74.8 After Earth (2013); 52.0 Green Lantern (2011); 48.3 Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007); 46.5 Space Station 76 (2014); 41.9 Meteor (1979); 41.6 Ice Age: Collision Course (2016); 38.4 Galaxina (1980); 38.4 The Phantom Planet (1961); 34.8 The Green Slime (1968); 34.4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009);

(Wow, how haven’t we seen more of these? Well, I guess I’ve seen Green Lantern and all of the Transformers. I’m excited for Fantastic 4 2 though.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Michael Clarke Duncan is No. 8 billed in Armageddon and No. 4 billed in Street Fighter: Legend of Chun Li, which also stars Chris Klein (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 8 + 4 + 2 + 2 = 16. If we were to watch Pearl Harbor we can get the HoE Number down to 9.

Notes – N.A.S.A. shows this film during their management training program. New managers are given the task of trying to spot as many errors as possible. At least one hundred sixty-eight have been found. (Makes sense, I can’t help but laugh that they decided to have both space shuttles blast off at the same time)

Regarding the film’s premise, Ben Affleck asked Director Michael Bay, “Wouldn’t it be easier for N.A.S.A. to train astronauts how to drill rather than training drillers to be astronauts?” Bay told Affleck to shut up. Besides, the reasoning behind sending drillers, rather than training astronauts, is explained in the movie. (Straight from the notorious audio commentary. To be fair to Ben he acknowledges that it is explained in the movie … that explanation was “my guys are the best” which is equally ridiculous. I don’t doubt the scene was added to the script precisely because it was glaringly obvious that that was the better solution)

Steve Buscemi claimed that the role of Rockhound was pitched to him as a heroic geologist, which he eagerly accepted, wanting a change from the lowlifes, as whom he had been typecast. He noted that after he had been cast in the role, Rockhound’s sleazy characteristics were written into the script. (Great. Out of everything this aspect ages the worst. They suggest he’s a rapist basically so …)

Rockhound’s line about sitting on a million pounds of fuel in a rocket built by the lowest bidder is a variation of an actual radio transmission by Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, just prior to lift-off. (Cool)

Because of the patriotic nature of the script, and the success of using Top Gun (1986) as recruitment material, the producers persuaded N.A.S.A. to allow Director Michael Bay and company to shoot in the normally restricted space agency. This included the neutral buoyancy lab, a sixty-five-million-gallon, forty-foot-deep pool used to train astronauts for weightlessness, and the use of two ten-million-dollar space suits. The crew was also allowed to shoot in the historic launch pad that went out of service after the Apollo 1 disaster, and parts of the movie were filmed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. (Yup. Works really well it turns out)

Michael Bay had the actors write their list of demands on the papers from which Bruce Willis read.

The shuttle launches were filmed for real. Disney (Touchstone Pictures) was allowed to put cameras (about sixteen of them) all over the place. The camera on the launch pad was shaken so hard (25G) that all the screws fell out of the lens, and it had to be returned to Panavision in a box of pieces (which they put back together).

The film crew was also allowed to shoot sequences at the top of a real launch pad, with an actual space shuttle docked to it. The only condition was that they not step into the shuttle itself. Ben Affleck admitted to stepping inside the orbiter for a brief moment, before N.A.S.A. technicians ordered him out of the spacecraft. (Maybe for contamination reasons, but that’s hilarious)

Bruce Willis has said that he did not care for Michael Bay’s directing style, and he refuses to work with him again. (ha!)

When asked why he did this film, Steve Buscemi replied, “I wanted a bigger house”.

Bruce Willis came to the film after he decided a comedy he was filming called “Broadway Brawler” could not be salvaged, and sought a way to exit the project. Disney’s then-head Joe Roth worked out a deal where Willis would star in Armageddon and two future films for the studio, and in exchange, Disney would absorb the failed project’s costs as an advance against his initial salary. The two films Willis later made under this deal were The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000). (I love these silly stories from Hollywood, what a weird business)

Michael Clarke Duncan improvised the line, “Come and get Papa Bear!” This later became one of the actor’s nicknames.

Despite playing one of the principal characters, Michael Clarke Duncan’s name does not appear in the opening credits.

Michael Bay thinks Armageddon is his worst film. “I will apologize for Armageddon, because we had to do the whole movie in sixteen weeks”, he told The Miami Herald in 2013. “It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could.” (Yeah, it is definitely the weakest part. The asteroid looks ridiculous, and the movie suffers a bit. Plus the time jumps are crazy. They’ll be like “Hey can we do this in two hours?” and then literally two seconds later “We only have ten minutes left!” It is really jarring)

Billy Bob Thornton told Michael Bay that his backstory for Truman was that he was on track to join N.A.S.A. as an astronaut, but suffered crippling nerve damage as a young man, and was only able to serve as an administrator. Bay loved the idea, and had a scene written that refers to this by showing a metal brace on Truman’s leg.

During the filming of this movie, the cast and crew worked around nineteen billion dollars worth of equipment, including a real oil rig and real space shuttle.

According to the Criterion Collection commentary, many of the errors found in the film were acknowledged by the director, and known even during filming and production and were left in deliberately (such as fire in space). Michael Bay said, “It’s a movie and not many people know about it”, so they were kept in for entertainment value.

Billy Bob Thornton has admitted to doing this film for the money and often jokes about acting in it. He has, however, called it “not THAT bad”. (It isn’t that bad)

By the time of its release, this was the Walt Disney Company’s highest-grossing live-action film (without adjustment for inflation). (Oh so times have changed)

The convenient existence of a fault plane passing right through the asteroid is not unrealistic. Several asteroids are now believed to be “contact binaries”, each apparently consisting of two separate lumps of rock that are just sitting on each other.

The original script did not include the romantic subplot between A.J. (Ben Affleck) and Grace (Liv Tyler), and instead had more emphasis on Truman. It was added after the success of Titanic (1997) with teenage girls. Most of the romantic scenes were written by Scott Rosenberg and were filmed late in production. (WHAT, that’s crazy. I think it works though, Liv Tyler’s scenes with Affleck and Willis is a touch of humanity the movie needs as cheesy as it all is)

Michael Bay said in a magazine interview that the solution in the movie for dealing with the asteroid was very clever, but not realistic, but that one idea for countering the threat was in line with actual N.A.S.A. research (anti-gravity systems). He also said that a problem with a film like this, was that it would make Americans erroneously think that if a situation like the movie actually occurred, then there was anything that could be done about it. (Yeah we’d all be dead. That being said, we would have known about the asteroid waaaaaay before that. We would have known about the errant comet and its path through the asteroid belt years before it ever happened, as if we wouldn’t track a comet flying through our solar system)

Stanley Anderson, who played the U.S. President, also played the U.S. President in The Rock (1996). (I love fake presidents)

Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for the role of Harry Stamper. (Wow, what a movie that would be … that is blowing my mind)

Scott Rosenberg, Robert Towne, and Ann Biderman all did uncredited work on the screenplay. J.J. Abrams’ original contribution was also going to be uncredited, but Michael Bay liked it so much, that Abrams was brought back for additional dialogue work, and ended up sharing a Story credit with Shane Salerno.

Ben Affleck has practically disowned the movie, even repeatedly making fun of it on the commentary.

Bruce Willis was given a second trailer that housed a full working gym, at an estimated cost of one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars. It was reportedly never used. (HA, go get yo’ money Bruce)

Lawrence Tierney repeatedly turned down the part of Harry’s father, until he was offered a substantial pay raise. (……… he is uncredited in the film … but that must have been cut. I don’t recall a scene with Harry’s father)

DIRECTOR CAMEO (Michael Bay): As a N.A.S.A. scientist. Shown after Carl asks to name the asteroid Dottie. (I noticed this real time during the watch. It is super quick)

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #40. (It’s in the Criterion Collection?)

Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Sound (Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, Keith A. Wester, 1999)

Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (George Watters II, 1999)

Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Visual Effects (Richard R. Hoover, Pat McClung, John Frazier, 1999)

Nominee for the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song (Diane Warren, 1999)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Bruce Willis, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Jerry Bruckheimer, Gale Anne Hurd, Michael Bay, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Liv Tyler, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Michael Bay, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Jonathan Hensleigh, J.J. Abrams, 1999)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Original Song (Diane Warren, 1999)

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Clan of the Cave Bear Preview

There are a number of Bring a Friend films that we really went out of our way to accommodate. This week is one of those. When it came to the category of Kids films we really wanted to watch something that was a major release, but we would never ever ever ever watch. Not something like Son of Mask, Marmaduke, or the recently watched Baby Geniuses films, where they transcend the “Never Watch Kids Films” BMT rule, but rather a run-of-the-will children’s film that happened to be terrible. So you know what that means. That’s right! We’re watching Clan of the Cave BeAir Bud: Golden Receiver! There is literally a 0% chance that we would have ever watch Air Bud 2. Wouldn’t have happened without Bring a Friend. The same could almost be said about the BMT film that brought it along. Clan of the Cave Bear is a 1986 adaptation of a 1980 historical fiction book set in the Paleolithic era. I has come up before for BMT, but more seriously as an entry for a book-to-film cycle, since the book was a worldwide success and spawned five sequels. I’ve always been curious to read it and now’s my chance. The film ended up being a gigantic box office flop, so hopefully it can live down to that hype. Let’s go!

The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986) – BMeTric: 34.1

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(Those are some wild swings in rating for a movie this old. And both films this week have an astonishingly low number of votes. But a 5 IMDb rating is solidly low, so I am expecting a lot.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  World’s first feminist caveman movie, minus the anthropological detail of Jean Auel’s popular book. Hannah is perfectly cast as outsider who joins band of nomadic Neanderthals, but the story (such as it is) is alternatively boring and unintentionally funny. Subtitles translate cave people’s primitive tongue. Screenplay by John Sayles.

(Unintentionally funny good. Boring bad. But I have a feeling this is going to be mostly boring.)

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

(IT’S A BOOK! REMEMBER THAT BOOK? That is basically what this trailer says. No, I don’t remember it, and this movie looks boring and weird … a combination that weirdly is getting me a bit excited to be honest.)

Directors – Michael Chapman – (Known For: All the Right Moves; BMT: The Clan of the Cave Bear; Notes: A well known cinematographer, for which he was nominated for two Oscars, for The Fugitive and Raging Bull.)

Writers – Jean M. Auel (novel) – (BMT: The Clan of the Cave Bear; Notes: A children’s book novelist who at one point worked as a circuit board designer for Tektronix, a company that has been making things like oscilloscopes since the 1940s! They tried to make a TV series out of Clan of the Cave Bear recently, but it never got off the ground)

John Sayles (screenplay) – (Known For: The Spiderwick Chronicles; The Howling; Battle Beyond the Stars; Piranha; Lone Star; Alligator; Eight Men Out; Matewan; The Secret of Roan Inish; The Brother from Another Planet; Sunshine State; The Challenge; Go for Sisters; Piranha; Passion Fish; Baby It’s You; Honeydripper; Limbo; Amigo; Return of the Secaucus Seven; BMT: The Clan of the Cave Bear; Notes: Nominated for two Oscars for Lone Star and Passion Fish. His filmography speaks for itself. He was a factory worker who submitted short stories to magazines on the side which were eventually turned into a novel, Pride of the Bimbos. He got a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and used that to transition to a well respected screenwriter. An amazing story.)

Actors – Daryl Hannah – (Known For: Blade Runner; Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Kill Bill: Vol. 2; Splash; Wall Street; Steel Magnolias; Grumpy Old Men; I Am Michael; Roxanne; The Fury; Crimes and Misdemeanours; The Pope of Greenwich Village; The Gingerbread Man; The Big Empty; Legal Eagles; At Play in the Fields of the Lord; Northfork; Casa de los babys; Silver City; Wildflowers; Future BMT: My Favorite Martian; Memoirs of an Invisible Man; Two Much; High Spirits; Keeping Up with the Steins; The Little Rascals; The Final Terror; Summer Lovers; The Hot Flashes; Dancing at the Blue Iguana; Crazy People; The Real Blonde; The Tie That Binds; Grumpier Old Men; Vice; BMT: The Clan of the Cave Bear; Razzie Notes: Won for Worst Supporting Actress for Wall Street in 1988; and Nominated for Worst Supporting Actress in 1989 for High Spirits; and in 1997 for Two Much; Notes: An ardent environmentalist, she has been very politically active in the last ten years. She was also at one point in a relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr.)

Pamela Reed – (Known For: Kindergarten Cop; The Right Stuff; Bean; Proof of Life; The Long Riders; Outside In; Eyewitness; Cadillac Man; Bob Roberts; Melvin and Howard; Why Do Fools Fall in Love; Future BMT: Junior; Young Doctors in Love; The Best of Times; BMT: The Clan of the Cave Bear; Notes: She played Leslie Knope’s mother on Parks and Recreation. She has done a lot of television work recently, on Jericho, United States of Tara, and NCIS: Los Angeles, among others.)

James Remar – (Known For: Django Unchained; X: First Class; The Girl Next Door; Ratatouille; The Warriors; RED; What Lies Beneath; Pineapple Express; Horns; February; 48 Hrs.; Cruising; The Phantom; The Cotton Club; Drugstore Cowboy; Miracle on 34th Street; The Long Riders; White Fang; The Dream Team; Future BMT: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Psycho; The Unborn; The Quest; USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage; Blade: Trinity; Duplex; Fatal Instinct; Persecuted; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Rent-a-Cop; Renaissance Man; Tales from the Darkside: The Movie; BMT: Wild Bill; Judge Dredd; 2 Fast 2 Furious; The Clan of the Cave Bear; Notes: He can still be seen in Aliens as he was originally cast as Hicks, but had to drop out after they had filmed a scene that was too expensive to reshoot. Attended Newton North High School in Massachusetts (what what).)

Budget/Gross – $15 million / Domestic: $1,953,732

(Oh God no, that is awful. I feel like 1986 was just a terrible year for films as a few studios were struggling to make money and throwing anything and everything at the wall hoping it would stick. This might not be much different. Although at least one of the production companies survived this disaster.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 10% (1/10): No consensus yet.

(I’ll make one: Boooooooooring, and worse than the book …. So read the book. Ebert’s original review from the time has a few nice zingers. My favorite being: “If modern men came from beginnings like this, why did they even bother to develop civilization, since they already possessed its most wretched excesses?”)

Poster – The Clan of the Sklog Bear (A-)

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(Artistic poster with some unique font. Like the stark red on white. It’s solid. Funny thing is that this is also the cover of the DVD and I was told that it looked like a horror film… which I guess is kind of true. Could be an image of a monster.)

Tagline(s) – At The Dawn Of Mankind, A Woman Led The Way. (A)

(This is an all around solid tagline. Clever juxtaposition of Mankind and Woman (and the implications of that), hints at the plot, and just short enough. Near perfect.)

Keyword(s) – neanderthal; Top Ten by BMeTric: 71.6 The Flintstones (1994); 34.1 The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986); 24.0 Eliminators (1986); 21.2 Dieu est grand, je suis toute petite (2001); 16.6 Terror! Il castello delle donne maledette (1974); 16.4 Iceman (1984); 13.9 Dinosaurus! (1960); 12.2 Ironmaster (1983); 10.6 Monster on the Campus (1958); 5.8 Ao: The Last Hunter (2010);

(Ridiculous list. Only the top two are real. Like … Encino Man doesn’t count? Because that def has a higher BMeTric. I’m getting more and more concerned with the quality of these keywords as time goes on.)

Notes – Based on the first novel in the bookseries Earth’s Children by author Jean M. Auel.

A planned back-to-back sequel never made it into production.

Awards – Nominated for the Oscar for Best Makeup (Michael Westmore, Michèle Burke)

Norbit Preview

A small note prior to this post: Last July we decided to take a look back at the movies that we watched over five years ago and choose a Hall of Fame class, five movies that we thought embodied BMT in some way. Perhaps they were particularly bad, or an example of a specific bad movie trope, whatever, something made them stand out as special in our minds. Since we didn’t do email previews back in 2011 we also decided to provide a preview for the movie as well. This is the fourth in a series of five leading up to our yearly awards the Smaddies Baddies. A recap (Hall of Fame speech really) will follow immediate afterwards to explain why the movie was chosen, things we loved about the movie, and things we discovered upon second viewing. Enjoy!

Norbit (2007) – BMeTric: 81.2

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(Sweet 2011 inflection. It is definitely a strong trend. Yet again, despite thousands and thousands of votes coming it the movie’s rating doesn’t regress to the mean. It is generally unusual, but three out of the four Hall of Fame movies exhibit this unusual trend. Old Dogs was the only exception which is also very interesting. I suppose as a fairly innocuous family comedy it managed to evade the bad movie cultists that surround the more popular fair.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars – As in Coming to America and the Nutty Professor vehicles Murphy plays several characters: Norbit a meek young man brought up by Chinese restaurant owner Mr. Wong and stuck in a terrifying marriage with the hideously overweight Rasputia. All three are in search of a script. Murphy shows his comedic range but is let down by the material, which includes all of the fat jokes the writers (including Murphy his brother Charles) could come up with. Prophetic ad line for the movie asked, “Have You Ever Made a Really Bad Mistake?”

(I like the idea of Murphy getting all pissed about the writers failing to live up to his comic genius and then realizing that he wrote the movie. I’m also genuinely shocked Mr. Wong’s mind-blowing racism isn’t mentioned alongside the (seemingly) unlimited store of fat jokes the Murphy brothers could muster. I’m skeptical Leonard watched this film … this review is low on detes. I’m onto you Leonard.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmSZJ17ppEQ

(So she punches him in the face and she throws him through a window in the trailer. This trailer is aggressive, it is in your face. They use that song Don’t Cha by the Pussy Cat Dolls like five times. I don’t like the trailer, it hints that it might be the worst thing you’ve ever seen … but it does manage to hide the fact that the movie is more horror film than comedy. So congrats.)

Directors – Brian Robbins – (Known For: Varsity Blues; BMT: Norbit (BMT); The Shaggy Dog; Meet Dave; Ready to Rumble; Good Burger; The Perfect Score; A Thousand Words (BMT); Hard Ball; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Director for Norbit; Good Burger?! Say What? He was a main character on the show Head of the Class appearing in all 114 episodes. He got his start directing with Kenan & Kel and Good Burger, and many Murphy projects. He is also an extremely accomplished producer in both television and streaming services.)

Writers – Eddie Murphy (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Coming to America; Beverly Hills Cop II; Boomerang; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; Another 48 Hrs.; Harlem Nights (BMT); Notes: See below for Razzie Notes; He doesn’t write as many of his starring roles than I personally would have expected. He didn’t seem very enthused about directing with Harlem Nights, so maybe he’d rather riff on screen and doesn’t really care to write? He hadn’t done it in years before Norbit (1995 was his last feature prior to Norbit in 2007).)

Charlie Murphy (screenplay & story) (as Charles Murphy) – (BMT: Norbit (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Screenplay for Norbit; Funny he was going by Charles Murphy … perhaps this suggests the screenplay was written long before the movie came out? Chappelle’s Show was in 2003-2006, and at that point he would have been far more well known as Charlie Murphy. Perhaps he got credited from an original draft written years before. It also perhaps resolves the curiosity that Eddie Murphy seemingly didn’t write a movie for all those years … huh, this movie was probably written in like 2000 wasn’t it?)

Jay Scherick and David Ronn (screenplay) – (Known For: Guess Who; BMT: Norbit; Zookeeper; I Spy; The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Serving Sara; National Security; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Screenplay for Norbit; The writers for the upcoming Baywatch adaptation (the trailer looks pretty funny). These guys’ filmography make me a bit skeptical, but maybe they are punch-up artists? … I was just thinking that maybe they are like Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon … who it turns out also wrote Baywatch. Two other dudes got final credit. Yeah, Baywatch clearly fired those two writing teams during production. Wow.)

Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Shrek; Shrek 2; Shrek the Third; Mulan; Coming to America; Beverly Hills Cop; Trading Places; Dreamgirls; Tower Heist; Shrek Forever After; Beverly Hills Cop II; 48 Hrs.; Doctor Dolittle; The Nutty Professor; Life; Dr. Dolittle 2; Bowfinger; Boomerang; Imagine That; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Nutty Professor II: The Klumps; Pluto Nash (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man; I Spy; Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child (BMT); A Thousand Words (BMT); The Distinguished Gentleman; Harlem Nights (BMT); Notes: See below for Razzie notes; There isn’t much more to say about Murphy. He is both a legend in his own right, and a BMT legend. Since maybe 2000 his legacy has been marred by poorly reviewed films, bitterness, and poor public relations. The thing recently I remember was his awkward appearance at the SNL 40 celebrations.)

Thandie Newton – (Known For: Crash; RocknRolla; The Pursuit of Happyness; Mission: Impossible II; Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; W.; Run Fatboy Run; Beloved; Vanishing on 7th Street; BMT: Norbit (BMT); The Truth About Charlie; 2012 (BMT); Good Deeds; For Colored Girls; Jefferson in Paris; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People; The Young Americans; The Chronicles of Riddick; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2001 for Worst Supporting Actress for Mission: Impossible II; Actually has an incredible filmography, including the recent HBO smash hit Westworld. Grew up in England and her accent limited her early work. She is vegan, and was even named the Sexiest Vegan of 2014!)

Terry Crews – (seen in Scary Movie 5, The Ridiculous 6, White Chicks, The Benchwarmers, Gamer, The Single Moms Club, The Expendables 3, Blended … that’s more than Neil McDonough!)

Eddie Murphy Razzie Cred – Won the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Actor of the Decade; Won the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress for Norbit; Won the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Screenplay for Harlem Nights; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Director and Screenplay for Norbit; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2013 for Worst Actor for A Thousand Words; in 2010 for Imagine That; in 2009 for Meet Dave; and in 2003 for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, and Showtime; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Screen Couple for Meet Dave; in 2008 for Norbit; in 2003 for Showtime, I Spy, The Adventures of Pluto Nash;

Budget/Gross – $60 million / Domestic: $95,673,607 (Worldwide: $159,313,561)

(That’s actually not that bad. Looking through his boxofficemojo he had had bombs before, and I remember comments surrounding The Haunted Mansion, Daddy Day Care, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash concerning his turn in quality. But I also remember that it wasn’t really until Meet Dave that faith was completely lost. That completely bombed and it was then three years before Tower Heist was supposed to get him back into the comedy game. We’ll see about the new Beverly Hills Cop I suppose.)

#11 for the Comedy – Fat Suit genre

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(Better than Big Momma’s House 2 and Big Momma Like Father Like Son. Only a shade below the original Big Momma’s House as well. Obviously a major player in the genre, Eddie Murphy was a trailblazer with the Nutty Professor franchise. Is it crazy to say that this movie marked the end of the Fat Suit Era of Hollywood? I can think of two reasons why. First, the genre is garbage. Second, they can kind of pull it off with cheaper CGI it seems (see Central Intelligence).)

#29 for the Romantic Comedy genre

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(Man … the romcom genre kind of sucks. No joke, there are like 300 films in this list and the 31st is Sex in the City 2. Gross. Once again this graphic is interesting. Such a major genre you can kind of see Hollywood grow through the 90s and reach saturation in about 2000 and then it just holds steady. Nothing really causes the fall. The movies just seem to consistently not make money. Thinking of a 2000 theater release $24K per theater is $50 million dollars. Since the 80’s only 80 or so movies have broken that mark, and only 28 broke $100 million. Plus I’m sure, given the cultural restrictions on romance in particular, these movies perform quite poorly if at all overseas. My guess is that, yet again, this is a genre destined for VOD release going forward.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 9% (11/123): Coming off his Oscar-nominated performance in Dreamgirls, the talented-but-inconsistent Eddie Murphy plays three roles in Norbit, a cruel, crass, stereotype-filled comedy that’s more depressing than funny.

(Less than 10% on rotten tomatoes is incredible. Cruel (yep), crass (yep), stereo-type filled (yep) those are the things I remember about this film on my first viewing. It made me feel gross and it seems like 91% of critics also felt gross while watching it.)

Poster – Bore-it … get it? (C+)

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(I know Jamie would be hating on this poster because it is basically just white. I actually think it does an adequate job at highlighting literally the only thing you want from this movie: Eddie Murphy as a big ol’ fat girl. I gave it b-b-b-b-bonus points because of how they squeezed the title. Very hard to spoof if I wanted to.)

Tagline(s) – Have You Ever Made A Really Big Mistake? (C-)

(I was going to give this an F, but then I envisioned Rasputia on th eposter and thought, ah, big mistake. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it, and it makes sense for them movie. So I merely declared this below average.)

Keyword(s) – orphan; Top Ten by BMeTric: 90.6 Epic Movie (2007); 86.3 Dragonball Evolution (2009); 83.6 Fantastic Four (2015); 81.5 Alone in the Dark (2005); 81.2 Norbit (2007); 78.0 The Room (2003); 77.5 Super Mario Bros. (1993); 74.1 Prom Night (I) (2008); 73.8 Superhero Movie (2008); 64.3 The Next Karate Kid (1994);

(Huh, interesting list. I’m shocked the Next Karate Kid is so loathed actually. I never did get around to that. Besides that Alone in the Dark is the only other must see, although a 70+ horror film in Prom Night does hold some allure.)

Notes – One scene shows Rasputia watching a talk show with a paternity test theme. Eddie Murphy endured a paternity scandal before the film’s theatrical run, involving Spice Girl Melanie Brown. A DNA test confirmed the actor was the baby’s father.

The set used in the film is the same one that “Gilmore Girls” (2010) used as Stars Hollow in their 7 season run. (awesome. I’ll have to look out for that on my watch of Gilmore Girls)

The car wash scene is a parody of a TV ad featuring Paris Hilton. (oh alright, that’s didn’t hold up)

For security purposes, early prints were shipped under the title ‘Jupiter’, an apparent allusion to Eddie Murphy’s film Pluto Nash (2002). (fun facts)

This is the second film that Cuba Gooding Jr. played in, that starred Eddie Murphy playing multiple characters. The first film was Coming To America (1988), he had a small non- speaking role, as boy in barber shop chair.

WatchMOJO lists Norbit number 10 on its top worst comedy movies list. (Number 10?! Let me see this fucking list: Norbit, Chairman of the Board (BMT), Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (Seen it), Little Nicky (Seen it), Freddy Got Fingered (BMT), It’s Pat. Son of Mask, Master of Disguise (BMT), Bio-Dome (Seen it), Jack and Jill (BMT). Alright … that’s a pretty legit list.)

Awards – Nominated for the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup (Rick Baker, Kazuhiro Tsuji)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Eddie Murphy)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Cuba Gooding Jr.)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Eddie Murphy)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Brian Robbins)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Eddie Murphy, Charlie Murphy, Jay Scherick, David Ronn)

Harlem Nights Preview

Alright, so this week we move onto our Razzie category. We needed a Razzie nominee with a one-and-done director and what better one to do than Eddie Murphy’s only directorial effort, Harlem Nights. In 1989, with Robert Townsend and Spike Lee, there was a bit of a black directing renaissance going on in Hollywood. Eddie Murphy was the it guy and was given the chance to direct a film. He wanted to work with his heroes, so he cast Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx and they cooked up Harlem Nights. Sounds pretty cool and this has definitely got a bit of a cult following over the years, so don’t be surprised if we come back saying some good (or at least alright) things about it. Let’s go!

Harlem Nights (1989) – BMeTric: 23.5

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(Yet another weird example of a movie going from “really bad” about 10 years ago (4.8 rating on IMDb) to “mediocre to good” now (5.9 on IMDb). I have to admit, I don’t totally get the migration, but I assume it is just a general IMDb trend, the more people you have voting the higher the average rating tends to be. If this trend keeps up this will end up not even really registering for BMT at all, it if gets to 6.2 it will be near to 15 or so with the BMeTric. Vaguely interesting stuff guys.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  Proprietor of an after-hours club in 1930s Harlem (Pryor) and his adopted son (Murphy) try standing up to a white mobster determined to cut in on their take of put them out of business. Murphy’s debut as a writer-director is skimpily scripted and completely devoid of energy. Even pryor’s effortless charisma can’t breathe much life into this one.

(That sounds about right. Not good, but not off-the-rails bad… two stars. Not sounding like the best BMT film.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En27DgNW0nY

(Huh. A super understated trailer for what is apparently a super understated movie. I’m starting to get the feeling … oh yeah I’m there, I have a bad feeling this movie is “bad” because it is aggressively and unrelentingly boring. I hope I’m wrong.)

Directors – Eddie Murphy – (BMT: Harlem Nights; Notes: Only directorial effort of his career. His quote about directing: “It was a question of wearing too many hats, and as a result, everything was half-assed. All my peers were directing: Keenan [Ivory Wayans], and Robert [Townsend] and Spike [Lee]. I was like ‘Shit,’ I’m the big cat on the block; let me see what it’s like to direct. So I just did it. I didn’t dig it.”)

Writers – Eddie Murphy (written by) – (Known For: Coming to America; Beverly Hills Cop II; Boomerang; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; Another 48 Hrs.; Harlem Nights; Notes: Involved in a well publicized lawsuit, Buchwald v. Paramount, involving the Coming to America screenplay. Murphy’s treatment for the script was alleged to be stolen from a screenplay written by Art Buchwald and the trial ended up being settled. Written about in the book Fatal Subtraction.)

Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Coming to America; Shrek; Mulan; Shrek 2; Trading Places; Beverly Hills Cop; Shrek the Third; Shrek Forever After; Tower Heist; Dreamgirls; Life; 48 Hrs.; The Nutty Professor; Doctor Dolittle; Beverly Hills Cop II; Dr. Dolittle 2; Bowfinger; Boomerang; Imagine That; BMT: Norbit (BMT); Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (Seen it); The Adventures of Pluto Nash (BMT); Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man (Seen it); I Spy (Seen it); Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child; A Thousand Words (BMT); The Distinguished Gentleman; Harlem Nights; Notes: Major movie star and stand-up comic. One of the most prominent BMT actors of our age.)

Eddie Murphy Razzie Notes – Won 2010 Worst Actor of the Decade; Won 2008 Worst Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress Norbit, 1990 Worst Screenplay Harlem Nights; Nominated 2013 Worst Actor A Thousand Words, 2010 Worst Actor Imagine That, 2009 Worst Actor Meet Dave, 2003 Worst Actor The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Showtime, 1990 Worst Director Harlem Nights, 2008 Worst Screenplay Norbit, 2009 Worst Screen Couple Meet Dave, 2008 Worst Screen Couple Norbit, 2003 Worst Screen Couple with Robert De Niro (Showtime) and Owen Wilson (I Spy).

Also stars Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $60,864,870

(Quite a big hit, although not nearly the hit that the producers anticipated (if stories are to be believed). The more famous story from its release is a couple of shooting that occurred in and around theaters during its release. Led to the first metal detectors installed in theaters.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (3/14): No consensus yet.

(Too old for a consensus, so I’ll make one up: Great cast and sharp 1930’s look, can’t make up for the bizarrely unfunny script by first-time-director Murphy. Maybe stick to acting.)

Poster – Classic (A)

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(It’s just classic. I would hang this on my wall. I feel like all the art aspects of this film were off the chain.)

Tagline(s) – They’re up to something big. (D)

(Does this mean something? I’m confused. Is this a film where Eddie Murphy is made into a 50-foot monster through the reverse use of a shrinking ray? Are Murphy, Pryor, and Foxx tasked with transporting an Elephant somewhere? It only doesn’t get an F because it doesn’t offend my senses.)

Notes – In the autobiography, “Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences (1997)”, Richard Pryor states that he ” . . . never connected with Eddie [Murphy]. People talked about how my work had influenced Eddie, and perhaps it did. But I always thought Eddie’s comedy was mean. I used to say, “Eddie, be a little nice” and that would piss him off . . . I finished [Harlem Nights (1989)] thinking that Eddie didn’t like me”.

By his own admission, Eddie Murphy felt that he didn’t dedicate enough thought or care to the directing of his debut. He was more concerned at the time with figuring out where the next party was going to be.

Awards – Oscar Nominated for Best Costume Design (Joe I. Tompkins)

Won the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Eddie Murphy)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Eddie Murphy)