The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) Recap

Jamie

In an alternate world I’d be sitting here telling you that The Day the Earth Stood Still was actually not that bad. Keanu was a great Klaatu (that sounds made up), the CGI was really solid (so solid that it kinda got me excited for Dr. Strange being made by the same director), and the plethora of good television actors was fun. But it’s not an alternate world. Since Patrick and I are ardent consumers of all things bad movie related, I obviously watched the original film and read the original short story on which it’s based. Guess what both those had? Really good twist endings and meditations on the nature of the human race. What did this one have? A terrible ending and a meaningless, meandering plot. That’s the thing. When I groan audibly during the ending of a film it kinda ruins its chances of being Not that Bad.™ And when the original film is a stark christian allegory on the decline of morality in the atomic age, and the new one has an entire scene set in a McDonald’s in central NJ… well.

You know what I was loving in this film though?! The fabulous Settings 101 display that The Day the Earth Stood Still put on. They reset the original film in New Jersey/New York as Klaatu wants to meet with the world leaders at the UN. That’s satisfying enough for a nice easy C grade in the class. A main setting of the film is talked about by the characters. But wait, The Day the Earth Stood Still wasn’t done yet. We are then told via insert titles (meta-acknowledgment!) where almost every scene of action occurs in NY/NJ! And I’m serious, like every scene is like “OUTSIDE NEWARK, NJ.” It happens like ten times. Amazing work. You’re in B range. TDtESS must be done now? Not a chance. At one point Klaatu has to be picked up by Connelly at Newark fucking Penn Station. They are going out of their way to include settings in the plot! Straight up A- all over the place. They can’t do any better than this, right? Wrong. In the climax of the film, as nanobots are eating their way through the New Jersey (as they should), the film goes out of its way to show the nanobots devour MetLife stadium in The Meadowlands (as they should). A major New Jersey landmark getting destroyed in the climax! That’s an A folks! Only way it can get to A+ is if they titled it The Day New Jersey Stood Still… but alas. Can’t win them all (unless you’re London Has Fallen).

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Day the Earth Stood Still? More like the Hour my Brain Stood Still! Booooooooooooooooooooooooom. We watched a remake of some classic Sci Fi, so what is the worst that could possibly happen? … let’s get into it.

  • The Good – If this wasn’t a remake I would have said the story was at least somewhat interesting. The CGI was pretty incredible for the time. The cast for the most part handles their parts pretty well.
  • The Bad – Not surprisingly Jaden was a pretty bad part, but mostly because his character was totally unlikeable. But mainly the black mark upon this movie was that it was adapted from a classic. Without the previous movie as a touchstone this is like Day After Tomorrow, a movie whose fault lies in its heavy handedness. Instead it felt a bit closer to the new Red Dawn, just not a good idea in the face of inevitable comparison to a classic. Makes me want to watch the new Point Break?
  • The BMT – I guess. I’m honestly a tad bit surprised at how many votes this movie got, and 40 I guess feel a bit too high. I would say more like 30 ish at best. Might even go a little lower, below average even. The effects were alright, and you really have to stretch to find things that make you go “I’ve got to show this to somebody!”.

This movie is also a fine addition to the how-much-product-placement-can-you-sell-before-it-is-a-parody-of-itself pantheon. The original (table sized) Windows Surface, some watch, and an LG phone were pretty noticeable. But holy shit, right in the middle of the movie they might as well have had Keanu shout “I’m feeling hungry, but a kind of hunger that sticks, where do you Earth people go for high quality sustenance?” and Jaden and Connelly look at each other and say “Sound like someone needs a Mac-ers run!”. What followed was essentially the Mac and Me McDonald’s Dance Sequence:

 And then at the end Keanu could have walked towards his space ship, turned around to look at Jaden, given a Terminator 2 thumbs up and said “Da-da-da-da-da … I’m lovin’ it!”. I’m only being mostly hyperbolic. The irony of McDonalds, one of the largest corporations and producers of garbage in the world, being on prominent display in an unabashedly pro-environment film is also hilarious (although I’m thinking that might have been the point, McDonalds trying to show they are working with environmentalists across the board at the time). Anyways, this was, bar none, the highlight of what was otherwise a nuisance of a reboot, I do love me some in your face marketing.

The assessment of product placement is a long standing tradition with us, so it needs a name. Product Sklog-ment brought to you by McDonald’s. Da-da-da-da-da, we’re lovin’ it! It’s got a good ring to it.

Cheerios,

Sklogs

 

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Recap

Jamie

Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is not the first time we’ve watched two films in a series separately for BMT, but it does kind of fly in the face of some of the measures that Patrick and I have taken in constructing BMT. We have slowly built up to consuming all relevant media when watching a film. So for Endless Love I read the book, watched the original film, and watched the 2011 film. For Paul Blart we watched the original as a bonus film when tackling Paul Blart 2. So this is a bit of a relic of yore. Now we probably would have watched both films at the same time (and read the book and watched the original film and…) but instead we are just watching this film a year later trying to remember what we thought of the first one. As I remember it I found the first to be a thoroughly depressing adaptation of a very good book with OK acting. Unsurprisingly the second film is a not quite as depressing but infinitely shoddier version of the first film. Lower the stakes and up the physical comedy and voila. Not particularly satisfying.

Patrick and I have been workshopping the Settings 101 class. Really trying to hammer out the details on what make a good setting for a film. For Cheaper by the Dozen 2 we get a surprisingly solid settings film. Now, it’s not as good as the first film. In the first film the crux of the plot is the family moving from Midland, Indiana to Evanston, Illinois to coach at the imaginary Illinois Polytechnic University. Look at those settings! It screams ‘Illinois!’ at the audience. That’s probably an A- (we’re tough graders). In the second film the family is still living in Illinois and decides that they have to go to the lake house in Wisconsin. While kudos to them for going all in on a specific setting again, it wasn’t as clear this time exactly where they were going. In fact I kind of missed it until later in the film when the oldest son and Jaime King talked about moving to Wisconsin to pursue their dreams. So I kinda have to give it a C+. It would have gotten into the B or B+ range if they had been clearer. Maybe passing a “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign when driving to the lake or just printing it on the screen. I call that a meta-acknowledgement. Where the film itself nods to the audience and says “in case you didn’t know where we were.”

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Cheaper by the Dozen Two?! More like Sequel Repercussions, Boo! (does that make sense? It felt good writing it). We went full on BMTquel, a very rare double BMT delight (Grown Ups and Growns Ups 2 come to mind for sure, not sure about other sequels). Let’s get into it!

  • The Good – I do think the “family comedy” genre is necessary for the world. I for one enjoyed things like The Great Outdoors growing up even though that movie is objectively terrible in retrospect, but I was like eight, why worry about movies like this? The tom-boy girl was fantastic in this film as well. Maybe the best kid actor in BMT history.
  • The Bad – It is a movie that you can kind of see the seams of its movie costume in. It doesn’t feel like a real movie. It is like a producer was like “What? The stupid remake of Cheaper by the Dozen made money, shit … I guess make another one. I have this script for The Great Outdoors 2 which makes no sense and stars the ghost of John Candy, can you rewrite this?” The movie legit stars 25 different people and is excruciating for 95% of the runtime. I really didn’t enjoy this film for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it just felt like a throwaway.
  • The BMT – Yes! I’m actually surprised it isn’t higher than the 40 something that it was. It is a kids movie, but again, it is kind of the worst the genre has to offer in a way. I should have put Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt in the good category to a degree, they clearly ad-libbed all of their lines, and they are solid as rocks, but still, the movie is super weak and I didn’t like it at all.

Boom. Audio Sklog-entary review. So this one was again just the director. This guy was pretty funny and had some good anecdotes … but was also kind of hilariously down on the movie. Everything seemed rushed, he was wrangling 20 kids at all times, and in addition to that he had to deal with the fact that Tom Welling, Hilary Duff and the twin boys (who were on Desperate Housewives at the time) were almost literally not on set all together at any given time. The guy did admirably (and was also weirdly obsessed with the noises his stomach was making throughout), but still not as good as if there was a second person to get the stories out of him. B. One of the better single person commentaries I’ve listened to thus far.

BTW I want to Reboot Cheaper by the Dozen haaaaard. Just to make Steve Martin a competent football coach / father. Example: Tom Welling is meandering around like a weirdo in both films at this point. Why not make him become the assistant coach? Why not show Steve Martin do something with his family? He talked about kids being “hardwired”, but seriously, his son liked football, he didn’t hate it, it makes no sense that all of a sudden he’s opening a garage in rural Wisconsin. One of the more frustrating storyline issues with both movies in this series. I’ll do the remake for a dime. No joke.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Material Girls Recap

Jamie

I’ll let Patrick sum up Material Girls. The film is small enough that probably just one perspective is needed. I’ll keep my notes limited to a comparison between this film and Sense and Sensibility (on which it is “based”).

So technically Material Girls is based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (so Book Review obvs). I did indeed read the book to make sure I got the full Material Girls experience. I can tell you… not necessary. If you squint you can map the characters between the book and the film (Elinor is Hilary Duff, Marianne is Haylie Duff, Edward is Tommy, Willoughby is Rick, and Colonel Brandon is Henry). Besides that there is literally no resemblance. I amused myself while watching the film by imagining what Sense and Sensibility would be like if its plot actually did resemble the plot of Material Girls. And it would go… a little something… like this: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are heirs to their father’s corset empire. Unfortunately upon his passing they learn that his corsets are dangerous and has led to the permanent deformation of its wearers. It can’t be! In order to clear their names, get their beaus and receive the inheritance they rightfully deserve, they must infiltrate the dances of their rivals to uncover the dastardly conspiracy to defame them. Along the way they learn that money isn’t everything and love can’t be bought. Boom. That would be the worst book. This reminds me of an idea I had (that would also be the worst) which is writing books-films-are-based-on… not books-based-on-films. Rather than just adapting the film directly into a book, you take the film and reimagine it as a book that it could have been based on. Get it? There’s a subtle difference… nevermind, it’s not important.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone? Material Girls, more like Makes Me Hurl! (oof, my wife had to help with that one). So you know how some movies feel like they aren’t real movies? No? Well this one was barely a movie. But I know the question on everyone’s mind: was it dog poo in my face? You’ll have to wait and see, let’s get into it:

  • The Good – I did not think Haylie Duff was substantially worse as an actress compared to the actors surrounding her, the story was surprisingly interesting, and what should have been a really terrible Erin Brockovich reference ended up being the best part of the movie.
  • The Bad – Data from Star Trek was not so good. Lukas Haas was straight dog poo in my face, more on that later. This is barely a movie, and so clearly involved (1) a studio trying to salvage a Olsen Twins movie gone wrong, and (2) was only released because someone in production (probably the director) had connections in the industry and got distribution.
  • The BMT – Yes! But I would put it at 30-40 just because of the size of the film. It was not straight up dog poo in my face because in its small way it was charming. I would never watch this film again exclusively because Haylie Duff and Lukas Haas have the single most excruciating romance in the history of cinema.

Alrighty. Quick hot take on the commentary, a mini Audio Sklog-entary, this was exclusively the director and confirmed for me that a single person commentary is necessarily inferior to multiple people. Also, while I know the director is well meaning, it comes across as kind of a shoddily put together film. The entire commentary is just about how they were trying to explain the story from A to Z, nothing really super interesting here beyond the fact that apparently the director herself convinced a very tentative Lukas Haas to act like a weirdo in a comedic role and it came out horribly, no joke. D+. I can imagine less interesting commentaries, but they’d be trainwrecks.

It looks like Jamie is doing a little Sense and Sensibility review, so I might as well rock a Settings 101. Am I allowed to? I’m not sure, but this movie was very much set in LA, complete with “hilarious” LA-has-terrible-public-transportation jokes. I think I give it a C+. It’s story doesn’t require the film to be set in LA necessarily, but they use the setting to solid effect in the end (the aforementioned bus gag, the boyfriend is a star on an OC-like show, a couple gift bag gags). Maybe Jamie can chime in on the scale and some examples of what is an A – D setting. Obviously an F setting is one which just doesn’t have a setting, like Trespass starring Nic Cage.

The Avengers Recap

Jamie

At certain points while watching The Avengers I started getting that special, flighty feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling I got when I first laid eyes on Chris Klein dropping lines from Birches. The feeling I got when Big Momma was delivering a baby/sermon. The feeling I got when a monster-alien stood atop the mountains of Mars screaming “Bananananananas!” Namely, it was the feeling that we were on the cusp of something special (in its own special BMT way). Unfortunately, we never quite got over the hump. Each time we seemed on the verge of crossing into Hall of Fame territory, the film reeled itself back into boring or downright confusing territory. It goes back to something I’ve said before about bad movies. To make a truly bad movie you need that special sauce: freedom. You need to have such buy-in from the studio that they let you do what you want without oversight. You need to be delusional and everyone around you needs to be too afraid to let you know that it’s all a disaster (or just not care cause it’ll probably make money anyway). The Avengers didn’t have that. The studio was horrified when they tested it and hacked the movie to pieces. That makes for fun in its own right, (I dare two people to watch this film and come out with the same plot synopsis) but it also means that it’s very difficult to reach the next level of craziness that we strive for at BMTHQ. Not for lack of trying though. There was a full 10 minute sequence where Sean Connery prepares to date rape Uma Thurmon that was seriously messed up (and fortunately averted at the last moment). I’ll end on that sour note.

No commentary this week as I’m sure the studio didn’t want anyone involved to speak on record about what happened. I’m also not going to talk about the adaptation aspect of the film as it was based on a television show and there was just no way to absorb enough material to make an adequate judgement (although I did watch pieces of several episodes). Instead I’ll just do a quick game I just made up. It’s a BMIT class I teach called Settings 101 and it’s where I try to measure how well the film took advantage of the setting it chose. The Avengers almost reached peak Settings level. It was explicitly set in London (and not some vague location in England), it was cued by maps, signs and addresses in the film, it was mentioned by characters, and a major landmark of the setting plays a role in the film (Big Ben is destroyed by a lightning bolt). This is basically A- material right here as far as Settings go. How could it have gotten to A+? Why by mentioning the setting in the title, of course. Next up on the syllabus, The Making of an A+: London has Fallen.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone. The Avengers? More like My Tormentor, amirite? The Avengers got street cred coming out of every which way. A film spoken about as the crown jewel of one of the worst summers in Hollywood history. Shoe in, right? BMTHOF easy right? Well…

  • The Good – I found the “storyline” somewhat interesting and Connery somewhat compelling. I liked trying to pick out places in London. Erg, in retrospect that is it.
  • The Bad – The movie is very slow moving. It is very confusing. No one besides Connery seems like they fit their characters, everyone is replaceable. There is a scene with a bunch of people dressed as teddy bears that is the second most bonkers scene in the movie! (The first being the aforementioned quite disturbing almost-rape scene). The characters live in a bizarre non-London with zero extras akin to I, Frankenstein. It doesn’t feel like a movie, it feels like a music video or something. Oh, and it has bar none the worst CGI I’ve seen since a Sound of Thund-ah.
  • The BMT – Well yes, but maybe not 70. This is interesting though. Usually when a street cred film doesn’t live up to expectations it is because the movie is secretly ahead of its time and kind of good (Freddy Got Fingered, Ishtar). This is the first one which I can say is objectively bad because it is hacked up, but it still just seems off. It feels like a 70, and is a 70, but yet probably wouldn’t make a bad movie film festival I organized. It is an enigma that breaks the BMeTric in a way.

I’ll close the review just by saying I was getting healthy whiffs of Wild Wild West throughout the film. I guess that isn’t surprising, those two movies came out amazingly close together, both were based on old television shows but targeted at younger audiences, and both were colossal failures and notorious black marks on the 90s movie archive. But there was a weird feeling of … cynicism? This idea of screw-the-source-material in a way. Not that I’ve seen either show to any degree, but the updating just feels wrong. At least the way both movies go about it does. This movie confuses me, I’m not joking. I think that is a trend in our recent spat of 70+ BMeTric film, general confusion about whether a movie is ahead of its time or dog poo in my face.

Quick game. Let’s go Sequel Prequel Remake and make a little sequel out of this. Connery is back as a sexy octogenarian lighting monster ready to electrify Uma’s heart once again! But can the Avengers pull double duty and also stop an evil banker, Max Moneygrubber, trying to pull off a complex multi-level Ponzi scheme? Will Connery help the light of his life to zap Moneygrubber or burn them once and for all? The Avengers: Max Attack! I just vomited in my mouth.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs