Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life Preview

Rich and Poe are surprised to be greeted by a convoy when they arrive on the Isle of Dr. Killmore. They had meant to slip in, grab the Staff of Gabragorn, and slip out without notice, but apparently their arrival was kept less than secret. Dr. Killmore laughs at their look of shock. “There are no secrets on this island,” he explains, “I knew when and why you were going to arrive, but rest assured, the Staff of Gabragorn is not here. Also rest assured that I’m assuredly, most obviously, not insane.” At that Dr. Killmore chuckles and a couple of cat monsters throw black licorice jelly beans into his mouth. The man is clearly deranged. As they walk to inspect the island Poe suddenly has a thought. “What if, my dear Rich, the Staff was never stolen at all?” Everyone is puzzled at the theory, but Rich is picking up what he’s putting down, “Ah, you mean…” suddenly he whirls on Dr. Killmore, “he was the culprit in the first place!” (what a twist!) Dr. Killmore babbles incoherently before breaking under the breathtaking minds of Rich and Poe. “Magnificent,” Dr. Killmore exclaims, “and exactly what we hoped would happen.” Rich and Poe are befuddled and only become more baffled as the cat monsters reveal the Staff and snap it in half. “A mere knicknack,” he explains, “but necessary to prove that you were capable of the real task.” (what a double twist!). Dr. Killmore goes on to describe Hammerthorn’s Sword, which is found in the ancient tomb of the goblins. Legend foretold that only a couple of truly rad explorers (check) with beautiful minds (check) and abs for days (also check) could wield the Sword and defeat the gamemaster. “So we’ll basically be a couple of totally cool…” That’s right! We’re (finally) finishing the video game franchise Tomb Raider by watching the sequel Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life. Ohhhh, so close to the double colon. They didn’t have the balls and ultimately that is (probably) the reason the film failed. Fortunately for us the Tomb Raider reboot everyone forgets exists didn’t qualify for BMT, so this should do it for the franchise. Let’s go!

Meanwhile, a hand reaches from smoldering rubble. It struggled to pull a battered and broken body to the surface. An equally battered and bruised body lays nearby. “Are we… are we… dead or alive?” it croaks. That’s right! We’re pairing Tomb Raider with another video game meant as a means by which men can ogle women doing flips and kicks. This one didn’t quite get the desired theatrical release for a full-blown BMT film, but we thought it would be a good Bring a Friend. It’s DOA: Dead or Alive and as far as I can tell it’s women fighting in bikinis. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Let’s go!

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) – BMeTric: 51.2; Notability: 56 

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(This is a lot lower than I would have expected. This film feels like something like … Die Another Day. And yet that film is floating around 6.0 on IMDb. That’s where I would have expected this to be … maybe this is a lot worse that I expected.)

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – This is a better movie than the first one, more assured, more entertaining. The director is Jan de Bont (“Speed”), who demands a certain logic from his screenwriters, so that although the story is completely preposterous, of course, it is consistent within its own terms. I was relieved to discover I am not tired of movies like this after all. They have to be good, is the thing.

(Wowza. Ebert was one to take films on their own terms. And this (and Speed, as referenced) are certainly films that require you to buy into odd logic presented in ultra-serious terms. Respect Ebert.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5VugO68swI/

(The Chinese setting is pretty insane. And then when I thought things couldn’t get any better … super young Gerard Butler, and submarines and shit. C’mon this looks rad as fuck. Get the fuck out of here, I’m loving these wing suits!!!)

Directors – Jan de Bont – (Known For: Speed; Twister; BMT: Speed 2: Cruise Control; The Haunting; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1998 for Speed 2: Cruise Control; and in 2000 for The Haunting; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Speed 2: Cruise Control in 1998; Notes: He was the cinematographer for the ill-fated film Roar which is famous for using real (and dangerous) wild animals in production.)

Writers – Dean Georgaris (screenplay) – (Known For: The Meg; The Manchurian Candidate; Future BMT: Tristan + Isolde; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Paycheck; Notes: Created a wrote the Jimmy Smits television series Bluff City Law.)

Steven E. de Souza (story) – (Known For: Die Hard; The Running Man; 48 Hrs.; Commando; Die Hard 2; Ricochet; The Return of Captain Invincible; Future BMT: Street Fighter; The Flintstones; Knock Off; Jumpin’ Jack Flash; Bad Dreams; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Judge Dredd; Beverly Hills Cop III; Hudson Hawk; Another 48 Hrs.; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Hudson Hawk in 1992; Notes: Seems mostly retired, but relatively recently wrote a rebooted graphic novel of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.)

James V. Hart (story) – (Known For: Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Contact; Tuck Everlasting; Muppet Treasure Island; Epic; The Last Mimzy; Future BMT: Sahara; Hook; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Notes: Developed the HartChart story mapping tool with WriterDuet creator Guy Goldstein, it is available online.)

Actors – Angelina Jolie – (Known For: Maleficent; Girl, Interrupted; Salt; Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Wanted; Beowulf; Kung Fu Panda; Kung Fu Panda 3; Come Away; Changeling; The Good Shepherd; Kung Fu Panda 2; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Playing by Heart; Pushing Tin; A Mighty Heart; Hell’s Kitchen; Future BMT: Alexander; By the Sea; Life or Something Like It; The Tourist; Shark Tale; Playing God; Original Sin; Taking Lives; Foxfire; Beyond Borders; The Bone Collector; Maleficent: Mistress of Evil; Lookin’ to Get Out; BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Hackers; Gone in Sixty Seconds; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 2002 for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Original Sin; in 2003 for Life or Something Like It; in 2004 for Beyond Borders, and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; and in 2005 for Alexander, and Taking Lives; Notes: Y’all know Angelina. Recently announced she’s going to develop a television news show for children on the BBC. Nick News is back jack!)

Gerard Butler – (Known For: 300; How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; Den of Thieves; RocknRolla; Olympus Has Fallen; How to Train Your Dragon; The Vanishing; Tomorrow Never Dies; Reign of Fire; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Coriolanus; Beowulf & Grendel; Nim’s Island; Mrs Brown; Dear Frankie; Harrison’s Flowers; The Cherry Orchard; Future BMT: Tale of the Mummy; The Ugly Truth; The Game of Their Lives; A Family Man; Machine Gun Preacher; BMT: Movie 43; Dracula 2001; Geostorm; Gods of Egypt; Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; The Bounty Hunter; Timeline; Gamer; Playing for Keeps; London Has Fallen; Angel Has Fallen; Hunter Killer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 2011 for The Bounty Hunter; and in 2017 for Gods of Egypt, and London Has Fallen; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple/Worst Screen Ensemble for The Bounty Hunter in 2011; Notes: Y’all know Gerard. Recently it was announced that he’d carry the torch for one leg of the journey towards the Olympic games this summer.)

Chris Barrie – (BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Lara Croft: Tomb Raider; Notes: He played Rimmer on Red Dwarf for over 70 episodes.)

Budget/Gross – $95,000,000 / Domestic: $65,660,196 (Worldwide: $160,099,222)

(That seems really expensive for the time. And it isn’t a very good return. Maybe the foreign take made them think with a slightly better reception they could make a return on a third? There was some planning for that at the time, but it fell through.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 25% (42/171): Though the sequel is an improvement over the first movie, it’s still lacking in thrills.

(Better than I would have thought. Why did I think this film was like a 15% or something. I guess the Ebert review was closer to average than I thought. Reviewer Highlight: Scenery can’t save this blindingly dull sequel. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.)

Poster – Bad Movie Twins: Sklog Raiders – The Obsidian Dongle: Quest for Fire (C-)

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(Wow, I mean. It’s bold. It tells me one thing and one thing only, and it has nothing to do with the plot of the film. Or perhaps Angelina Jolie is the plot of the film. I like the font, though. Goes with the bold style. Everything else is bizarre. Why is she splashing in the water? You know what, I don’t need to know.)

Tagline(s) – None (F) 

(Boooooooo, but it’s true. No tagline because it would have been the same as the poster. That’s the tagline. They aren’t even trying to tell you anything about the thrills and adventure that are in store. They just want to make it very clear that Angelina Jolie will appear in a skin-tight cat suit.)

Keyword – based on video game

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Top 10: Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), Tomb Raider (2018), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018), Resident Evil (2002), Rampage (2018), Assassin’s Creed (2016), Mortal Kombat (1995), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), Street Fighter (1994)

Future BMT: 89.1 House of the Dead (2003), 88.2 Street Fighter (1994), 87.9 BloodRayne (2005), 54.8 Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), 50.1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), 40.8 Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), 33.6 Ratchet & Clank (2016), 30.7 Pokémon 3: The Movie (2000), 27.6 Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), 25.5 Pokémon the Movie 2000 (1999);

BMT: Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Assassin’s Creed (2016), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Silent Hill (2006), Doom (2005), Super Mario Bros. (1993), Max Payne (2008), Silent Hill: Revelation (2012), Need for Speed (2014), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Hitman (2007), Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), Double Dragon (1994), In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007), Alone in the Dark (2005), Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009), Wing Commander (1999)

(How do we still have so many of these left?! I even have a tone left in the top 10. I’ve seen so many of them too! Anywho, they’ve been trying to make video game films happen for a decade now. They tried in the early 2000s as well, but eventually they wore themselves out in the late 00s and had to rethink things. This is one of the bigger ones clearly.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 12) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Angelina Jolie is No. 1 billed in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and No. 3 billed in Gone in 60 Seconds, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 12. If we were to watch The Bone Collector we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), Angelina Jolie had to wear bra padding, in order for her bust size to measure up to the videogame character. Jolie wears considerably less (and possibly no) padding in this film, as the decision was made to give Lara more realistic dimensions.

In the scene where Lara Croft and Terry Sheridan jump off a building wearing “flying suits”, called wingsuits, the stunt was performed by the two men who developed the suits. No CGI, wires, nets, or other special effects were involved. This suit was invented by Patrick De Gayardon, who died in a parachute accident in April 1998, while testing a new type of parachute in Hawaii.

At one point in the movie, Lara Croft attacks a bad guy using very sophisticated movements with an antique rifle. Her movements are taken from the Queen Anne Salute used by the U.S. Army Drill Team. (Yeah, its real dumb)

The skin on Lara’s upper left arm is rarely seen exposed in this film. Angelina Jolie sports a large tattoo on her upper left bicep which requires make-up to cover up. The fact her left arm is rarely bared in this film (her opening scene in a bikini is shot in such a way her right arm, not her left, dominates) may be due to criticism that the tattoo was sometimes poorly concealed in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).

Just as in the first film, there are several scenes in which the live-action Lara mimics the computer game version, in particular, a scene in which she climbs around a pagoda and pole vaults to a helicopter.

The character of Jonathan Reiss exposes his private jet passengers to a form of Ebola. The “antidote” is a clear capsule with small black pills in it. In reality, this is an herbal medicine made in China, and is a cure for an upset stomach. (Weird, why would anyone know this)

In the film, Lara (Angelina Jolie) and Terry (Gerard Butler) walk into a mall in Hong Kong called “Times Square”, after which they make their way to a then-unfinished taller building, called the “IFC tower”. The film treats the two buildings as if they are attached, but in fact they are a subway train ride apart. The large skylight that looks up the IFC tower from Times Square was digitally added into the scene.

Jan de Bont’s last directorial credit.

Much of the background story of this film revolves around Alexander The Great (Alexander of Macedonia). Angelina Jolie portrayed Alexander’s mother, Olympias, in Alexander (2004). (oooo Fun, I forgot about that)

Initial trailers and publicity material credited the story to Producer Lloyd Levin and Production Designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, as well as James V. Hart. However, just before the film was released, the Writers Guild of America decided to credit the story to Hart and Steven E. de Souza. (Huh, I wish there was more information about this kind of stuff)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Angelina Jolie, 2004)

Shanghai Surprise Preview

This week we move to a romantic epic for the ages for our Girls Night Out. That’s right, we’re watching one of 1986’s worst picture nominees Shanghai Surprise starring Sean Penn and Madonna. Filmed back when they were married, it was made as a starring vehicle for Madonna after her breakout role in Desperately Seeking Susan. Obviously didn’t go great and was the first of many bumps in the road for Madonna’s acting career. I’m actually somewhat excited for this film considering it has an astonishingly low IMDb user rating (3.0). I honestly trust that a bit more than the Razzies. Let’s go!

Shanghai Surprise (1986) – BMeTric: 42.6

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(Well … I guess I can’t not acknowledge the weird rating dip in 2003 for this movie. It goes from 2.9 to 2.3 in a matter of months and has since just kind of regresses to the mean. The rating it also astonishingly low, at one point the film was likely in the bottom 100 on IMDb. The BMeTric trajectory is very very similar to King Kong Lives. Someday I’ll do a meta-analysis on graphics like this. I would call this the Classic Bad Movie trend. The BMeTric plot just goes up in a straight line because the rating is so low and the votes were already high enough when IMDb began that is never crosses from non-BMT to BMT, it is always BMT.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Missionary Madonna hires adventurer Penn (her then real-life husband) to capture a cache of stolen opium (for medicinal purposes only) in 1937 China. It’s all stupefyingly dull. As one critic noted, it’s tough for Penn to succeed in the grand adventure movie tradition when the screen legend he most reminds you of here is Ratso Rizzo. Coexecutive producer George Harrison, who appears briefly as a nightclub singer, wrote the songs.

(This cycle has so far been 2.5 stars, BOMB, 1.5 stars, BOMB, BOMB … there are no words. The irony being that this cycle has also been terrible by BMT standards. I think it is because bad films from 1986 are basically all stupefyingly dull. Sigh, We aren’t going to like this are we?)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhX89dDoAw4

(Oh wow that ending. Does seem more of a comedy that you would have thought given the leading actors. Looks low budget and bizarre and I can see this either being one of the worst or one of the weirdest BMTs we’ve ever had the displeasure of viewing.)

Directors – Jim Goddard – (BMT: Shanghai Surprise; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Director for Shanghai Surprise. He was fifty at the time of release which seems relatively old for the golden age of the blockbuster. British and primarily known for his television work his almost complete anonymity in the US was even noted in his obituary.)

Writers – John Kohn (screenplay) – (Known For: The Collector; Theatre of Blood; BMT: Shanghai Surprise; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Screenplay for Shanghai Surprise. He was sixty at the time of release! His last screenplay. Nominated for a screenplay oscar in 1965 for The Collector. Mainly known for his production work he died of cancer in 2002.)

Robert Bentley (screenplay) – (BMT: Shanghai Surprise; Notes:  Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Screenplay for Shanghai Surprise. I can literally find nothing about this person on the internet. His only credit is this movie.)

Tony Kenrick (from the novel “Faraday’s Flowers”) – (BMT: Shanghai Surprise; Notes:  An Australian advertising writer he’s had two books adapted into movies and at least three others have been optioned with stars attached and never made. He wrote 14 books and Shanghai Surprise was adapted from his fourth.)

Actors – Sean Penn – (Known For: Angry Birds; The Game; Mystic River; Risky Business; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; The Tree of Life; The Thin Red Line; Carlito’s Way; 21 Grams; Milk; Taps; Fair Game; At Close Range; I’m Still Here; Colors; Dead Man Walking; U Turn; This Must Be the Place; Bad Boys; Casualties of War; Persepolis; The Interpreter; BMT: Shanghai Surprise; The Gunman (BMT); It’s All About Love; All the King’s Men; The Weight of Water; Hugo Pool; Crackers; Gangster Squad; I Am Sam; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1987 for Worst Actor for Shanghai Surprise. This movie is notable for the fact that Penn and Madonna were in a relationship at the time. Five time academy award nominee for best actor (two time winner) and famous (some might say notorious) speaker on human rights. He is no stranger to controversy over the years including accusation of domestic violence towards Madonna, explicit support of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, allusions to Argentina’s claims towards the Falkland Islands (not a good look, I can tell you the Brits are sensitive about that guy), and the recent El Chapo interview. Most recently seen in The Gunman.)

Madonna – (Known For: A League of Their Own; Die Another Day; Dick Tracy; Desperately Seeking Susan; Vision Quest; Evita; BMT: Swept Away; Body of Evidence (BMT); The Next Best Thing; Who’s That Girl; Shanghai Surprise; Girl 6; Arthur and the Invisibles; Razzie Notes: Won the Razzie Award in 2000 for Worst Actress of the Century for Body of Evidence, Shanghai Surprise, and Who’s That Girl; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Actress of the Decade for Die Another Day, The Next Best Thing, and Swept Away; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Actress of the Decade and New Star of the Decade for Shanghai Surprise, and Who’s That Girl; Won the Razzie Award in 2003 for Worst Actress for Swept Away, in 2001 for The Next Best Thing, in 1994 for Body of Evidence, in 1988 for Who’s That Girl, and in 1987 for Shanghai Surprise; Won the Razzie Award in 2003 for Worst Supporting Actress for Die Another Day, and in 1996 for Four Rooms; Won the Razzie Award in 2003 for Worst Screen Couple for Swept Away; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1992 for Worst Actress for Madonna: Truth or Dare, in 1990 for Worst Supporting Actress for Bloodhounds of Broadway, in 2003 for Worst Original Song for Die Another Day, and in 2001 for Worst Screen Couple for The Next Best Thing; Notes: A very strange career now that I look at it. She’s worked incredibly consistently (26 films in almost exactly 30 years). A smattering of small and big films. A smattering of great and terrible films. Even her Razzie acumen seems out of place considering how few movies she’s been in. Strange stuff. The two actors are really the only thing this movie will have going for it likely.)

Also stars Paul Freeman – (Previously in BMT future HoFer Getaway and Double Team)

Budget/Gross – $17 million / Domestic: $2,315,683

(Wow. What a complete unmitigated disaster. That boxoffice doesn’t even really make sense. Then again, I had literally never heard of this film that appears to be considered one of the worst films of the 80s, so maybe just no one has ever seen it?)

#44 for the Off-Screen Couples On-Screen genre: Movies with Real Life Romance Between Lead Actors at the Time of Release or Shortly Before

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(Huh, the waves don’t really make sense to me. Maybe we follow certain couples until they stop making movies (see Brangelina) and then it takes a few years to find the hot new couples? I don’t know. Kind of funny how ubiquitous the movies have been through the years though. Indeed looking down the list of recent examples nearly all couples are now broken up.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (1/8): No consensus yet.

(Uh oh, time to make a consensus: Madonna’s incompetence gave her an acting reputation she’s never shaken, all for a movie that appears to function solely as a vehicle to star the real-life couple as a novelty. The consensus seems a little scattered, but there is little anyone said about it that was good.)

Poster – Sklogging Surprise (D+)

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(I don’t like this poster. It is way way way too close in on Penn and Madonna. It is merely a shot from the movie (you can see it in the trailer). The red words are too bright atop the soft focus blues elsewhere. Why the plus? That’s sweet S on that Shanghai Surprise. Just complex enough that Sklogging Surprise would be a delight to produce (in that I wouldn’t need to change the S and it would make the title look snazzy). But what would it be? Soft focus Patrick kissing his wife? You would barely be able to tell I did anything! Boring.)

Tagline(s) – A romantic adventure for the dangerous at heart. (F)

(What in the hell? For the “dangerous at heart”? Is that a phrase? The answer is no. In fact, the only other time it appears in google searches is for a 1994 book of that very title. Here’s the synopsis of said books: Life was the pits for Rachel Hart. Single and pregnant, at least she’d had the good sense not to marry the no-good father of her child! Things couldn’t get worse, she assured herself. Then her ex-fiance turned up dead. And Rachel was the prime suspect… Big-city cop Delaney Parker didn’t fancy working undercover in this two-bit town. He liked even less getting involved with beautiful, sexy Rachel – she aroused his feelings as a man, a lover and a substitute daddy. Del was in over his head… he had to remember he was a cop first. But could he really send a pregnant woman to jail? You’re welcome. That’s an F.)

Keyword(s) – china; Top Ten by BMeTric: 59.6 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008); 49.8 Independence Day: Resurgence (2016); 48.2 The Man with the Iron Fists (2012); 47.9 Chandni Chowk to China (2009); 47.9 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003); 46.2 Blackhat (2015); 46.1 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007); 43.2 Babylon A.D. (2008); 42.6 Shanghai Surprise (1986); 42.4 Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014);

(Methinks this list will be growing in the future with the growth of the Chinese market in determining the profits of Hollywood films. Transformers 4 is a perfect example of this. Something like Pacific Rim 2 and Need For Speed 2 could easily enter this list with a few missteps.)

Notes – Apparently, after principal photography wrapped, executive producer George Harrison allegedly said of lead stars Madonna and Sean Penn: “Penn is a pain the ass . . . [whilst] she has to realize that you can be a fabulous person and be humble as well”. (Brutal George, although I assume this is mostly him being a bit bitter about the inevitable financial loss of the film)

Ex-Beatle and executive producer George Harrison performs five songs on the movie’s soundtrack. (And apparently this is the only bright spot in the movie)

Lead stars Madonna and Sean Penn were married at the time the movie was made and released.

Awards – Won the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Madonna)

Nominated for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Sean Penn), Worst Director (Jim Goddard), Worst Screenplay (John Kohn, Robert Bentley), and Worst Original Song (George Harrison)