Bringing Down the House Recap

Jamie

Peter is an uptight lawyer looking for love after his divorce. When the woman he meets online turns out to be an African American ex-con looking for legal help it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He’s got the big deal to close! Oh no! Can he close the deal (and get the girl (and learn to live and love again)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Bringing Down the House.

How?! Peter is super sad and lonely. He’s still in love with his ex-wife and continually disappoints his kids with his workaholic tendencies. If this sounds like a laugh riot, then this is the film for you! No? Well, do you like stereotypes that occasionally cross into overt racism? Yes? Great! He meets a lady online named Charlene and is super jazzed only to be crushed when she turns out to be an African American ex-con who needs him to help her clear her name. He’s ready to kick her to the curb except that she threatens to reveal to his super racist neighbors that he’s somehow adjacently involved with a black lady. Egad! What is a scared white person to do?! While he tries to deal with her, Peter also has a snooty (and racist) client that he has to close a big deal with. This all meanders about for a while with Charlene getting close to Peter’s children and helping them out with their C storylines, Peter’s coworker falling madly in lust with Charlene’s luscious curves, and eventually them all finding out that Charlene isn’t an ex-con after all… she’s an escaped convict! Everything falls apart, but Peter being the white savior that he is still tries to help out Charlene. In turn she tries to help him out by kidnapping the snooty heiress and gets her totally high on the weed (good plan). Finally Peter confronts the man who framed Charlene who admits to everything on a tape recorder. Enraged, he shoots Charlene only to have her survive thanks to a cell phone made of titanium (this is real). Having gotten high the heiress employs Peter and he gets back with his ex-wife. Jesus. This movie was straight crazytown. THE END.

Why?! Peter’s motivation is to close the big deal (but really we know the deal he really wants to close is the one that gets him back with his ex-wife). Charlene really does want to clear her name. Interestingly there is very little background provided to the audience about her crime. She mostly just says “I didn’t do it,” and then talk about trying to get her off on a technicality. Turns out she really was framed so Peter’s not a very good lawyer… which should have been obvious since he was a tax lawyer with no criminal law experience.

What?! Even the product placements were kinda stereotypical. When Charlene invited a whole bunch of friends over what is the drink of choice at the party? Olde English 800 of course. I was like “oh that’s pretty bad.” Little did I know that an old white lady would be singing a super racist spiritual only an hour later. Boy howdy.

Who?! This has two of our favorite. Alongside our leading musician-turned-actress we have Kelly Price appearing in a cameo. She is a club singer that performs when Steven Martin gets his groove on and learns to be hip. Additionally we have a credit for Linus the Dog portraying William Shakespeare. He doesn’t have any other credits on IMDb, but I think there is a strong chance he was part of the cast of a short lived show Men, Women and Dogs. I’m sure I could figure it out for sure if I tried… but I won’t.

Where?! Pretty clear this was set in Los Angeles. They started the film with a gratuitous license plate shot. Not vital to the plot or featured in any particular way, though. C+

When?! I feel like this should have been obvious since Charlene escapes from jail and that’s on the news and stuff… but alas, I couldn’t find any evidence of when this took place. Would have to guess the summer since the kids weren’t in school. F.

This film actually started with a deftly made opening about a lonely man connecting with someone online during an emotionally difficult time in his life. It’s actually pretty sweet seeing Steve Martin go about trying to figure out how to set up a date while his coworker encourages him. This then almost immediately falls apart once we enter the actual plot of the film, which at times had me holding my head in disbelief. It’s like we started at the top of a roller-coaster and almost immediately started falling towards pure craziness and offensiveness. It picked up speed all the way to a ludicrous ending that you kinda have to see to believe. The only real bright spot is an interesting and not entirely offensive bit with Eugene Levy falling in love with Charlene that turned out considerably better than it could have. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I tried to follow the directions in this documentary. I found a fugitive from the law, harbored her in my home, and proved she was framed all along! It was a very fulfilling experience. I am still going to prison for harboring the fugitive though … can’t really get around that. Welp, c’est la vie! Let’s go!

The Good – The first half of this film is actually quite good. The premise isn’t at ludicrous as it seems. Both Martin and Queen Latifah are in actuality quite funny. Eugene Levy’s character is a crazy caricature … but he is still great as well. It is a charming half of a film that does exactly what it wants to do in a rather … unfortunate way.

P’s View on the Preview – I mean, that is it right? There was one thing and one thing only that was interesting about this film, and that is the unfortunate and (in more recent terms) tactless way they treat Steve Martin and Queen Latifah’s relationship. It was the only interesting thing about what was either going to be a boring laugh-free comedy, or a complete trainwreck depending on how offensive it was.

The Bad – The entire second half of the film just goes off the rails. Martin is harboring a fugitive, there are several crazy scenes with the heiress being a stone cold racist and smoking weed, Betty White actually does play a stone cold racist, there is a gold digger character, there is a crazy dance scene in a club. It is just crazy. Also … the titanium cellphone might as well be its own character. It has an entire arc, with Peter getting his other cellphone destroyed, him compulsively plugging it in at home constantly, and mentioning that it is $600 and made of titanium in the middle of the conclusion to the film. I cannot wait for Bringing Down the House 2: The Revenge of the Titanium Cellphone.

Get Yo Rant On – Somewhere deep in some Hollywood R&D department some intern is working on a method to edit DVDs for movies just like this. This movie would be a decent comedy (if not very funny and pretty crazy in the end) if not for the … distasteful and old-fashioned content it relies on. And there are plenty of movies like this, the gay panic scene in The Medallion is a legend! Anyways, Betty White saying a little kid looks like a … bundle of sticks is kind of where I draw the line though. If only that intern worked harder! Then they could just carefully and diligently re-edit this terrible film into something a bit more … marketable. A little dystopian, but you know they’d do it if they could. I would call this being:

Renegaded (v.) – To edit a released film in order to hide the fact that you made an abomination that no one can love; named after the Renegade Cut of Highlander II: The Quickening.

The BMT – Not really a legendary film unfortunately. It could have been if it was even more unpalatable, but watching it it isn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I do think this is an interesting recent addition to the 30-40% Rotten Tomatoes run we are going on. It does indicate our cutoff is shockingly good for something we kind of flippantly made up six years ago. Go figure.

StreetCreditReport.com – I didn’t really expect to find this on any lists. And yet, somehow, New Years come early for me because … this list is obviously amazing. How daaaaaaaare they speak ill of White Chicks though. It’s not their fault that they look like monsters!

And that is is, no homework.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

 

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Extreme Ops Recap

Jamie

You ready to get X-treme!? When an extreme sports film crew stumbles upon the hiding spot of a war criminal high in the Alps they must use all their X-treme skillz to escape. Can they escape, beat the baddies, and maybe get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Extreme Ops.

If you’ve seen the movie and are feeling Xtreme you can test just how Xtreme you are by taking the Extreme Ops Xtreme Pop Quiz (Hot Shot)! I’m basically an Xtreme savant, so don’t fret if you don’t get them all. Back to this Xtreme recap!

How?! An X-treme commercial film crew is x-tremely excited to go to Austria and film a new skiing and snowboarding commercial. Unfortunately their producer has promised a real life avalanche will be used in the filming and a real life olympic gold medalist will make an appearance. Oh no! The most dangerous stunt of their lives and they got a total n00b in here! When they make their way to Austria a couple of the particularly X-treme crew members get in trouble with their hotel leading to them staying in a partially finished resort at the top of a mountain. Unbeknownst to them a war criminal is hiding there after faking his own death. While they film and make fun of the Olympian for totes being terrible at skiing, the war criminal gets wind of their presence. Oh no! Confronted by armed mad men on the mountain they stage an avalanche that results in the death of the war criminal’s son. Double oh no! They attempt a daring escape but are pinned in a crevasse by the baddies. The next morning they make their way out and blow up the bad guy’s helicopter. This explosion causes an avalanche that the Olympian successfully skis away from, fulfilling the requirements of the commercial they were creating. Back home their commercial is a great success and they all swear to never reveal the dark secrets of their past and how they killed a war criminal but they are fine with it because it’s fine… it’s fine… it’s totally fine… I’m fine… I SAID IT’S FINE! Oh and the main character gets the girl, duh. THE END.

Why?! The war criminal has faked his death because he was going on trial at the International Court. Like any good war criminal he pretends to be flying to his trial but blows up the plane that he actually wasn’t on. He then heads to the unfinished resort atop an Austrian mountain top to wait out a plot to blow up the court and then allow for the heat to die down. His discovery and accidental filming by the crew requires that he kill them to preserve his secret. The film crew really does only want to make a commercial. They seem like consummate professionals and really good at their jobs and we get an inordinate amount of commercial filming shop top given that this is a film about X-treme athletes escaping from a crazed war criminal.

What?! Just to really hammer home where this film was meant to take place we get an entire scene of our heroes getting extreme with a drunken game of truth and dare while chugging bottle upon bottle of sweet, sweet Edelweiss.

Who?! Not many actors to highlight but perhaps a hint of Planchet in both the producer (who is derided hard by the entire film crew despite being “the boss”) and Will, who spends the film trying to get with the lady of the crew only to be made fun of as a chubby loser at every turn… that is until he parachutes off a cliff to save everyone’s life. For real.

Where?! Austria babbbb-yyyy. Everywhere you look this film screams Austria. The back of the DVD, wikipedia, imdb synopsis, etc. etc. etc. Even if you had none of that you still have them saying that they are in Austria like 5000 times and doing everything Austrian they can find. It is still slightly strange when they have an orgy on a pile of wiener schnitzel. I was into it, but a bit heavy handed (is that real? You’ll just have to watch Extreme Ops and find out). A.

When?! I went back through and didn’t find even a little hint at the timing. They even had a perfect opportunity with a close up of a newspaper but chose not to. Too bad Extreme Ops because that gives you an… F.

I found the first half of the film to be oddly technical with large parts of the film spent discussing how they were going to get a shot, how hard it would be to teach the Olympic skier to ski, and trying to coordinate the shooting schedule. It was very informative, but odd for a purported thriller. The only thrills they gave us were rididididiculous wire-aided stunts that mostly just looked funny. Then there was a thirty minute section in the middle that was a surprisingly well done survival thriller as the extreme athletes used their skillz to avoid capture and certain death. Fortunately for us right when I could have been like, “you know what? I’m digging this,” It threw us an ending that was just flat out stupid looking. Fun BMT film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When you’re all out of Mountain Dew and you have a few terrorists to handle who do you call? The extreeeeeme operations (ops for short) obviously. They’ll get it done and look gnarly doing it bro. Let’s get into it.

The Good – I thought when you actually watched people snowboarding and skiing the film was pretty cool. Like, you actually get to see people going down some incredible powder (broooo, alright I’ll stop) and it is … well it is like a documentary and that is actually pretty fine. I cared about all of the characters as well, which is stunning, and was quite glad that they decided not to kill anyone off … would have put a damper on their commercial too if they had. The vistas though, the vistas!!!

Ps View on the Preview – So we are recording a test episode for a Bad Movie Twins podcast today (exciting stuff for the one person who reads this far, hi Lou!) and for that we rewatched the BMT classic Getaway. And like Getaway, which is injecting a film directly into the veins of gearheads, I was most intrigued to see how they served up what would be, nowadays, a direct-to-VOD film exclusively for extreme sports enthusiasts. Plus, it came out the same year as xXx, so seeing how much of a knock off of that weirdly entertaining film this was would be interesting as well.

The Bad – Well it is a knock off, and the terrorist plot line is just gloriously ludicrous. The acting is terrible, and it is pretty stunning that they apparently sunk this amount of money into a film which was basically guaranteed not to make its money back. The CGI was absolutely horrible, as were the accents. But if you can look past all of that … the movie is actually not half bad. As crazy as that sounds. I make fun of the budget, but considering the success of xXx I really shouldn’t. You definitely need someone like Vinny D piloting your film if you expect to make a $40 million budget back, that’s just common sense. But really the biggest crime? Well, I think this needs its own coined phrase.

Sklogcabulary Quiz – Wire-faux (n.) – Applying high wire acrobatics to replace a film’s actual stunts in something other than a kung fu movie.

We make fun of it when it is done in a kung fu movie, but in an extreme sports film? It just looks crazy and makes no sense. I’m here to watch some people cut that sweet powder (brooo, alright, this time I’ll really stop), so having them flip around on obvious high wires is just … disappointing.

The BMT – I liked this movie in a weird way, it was very BMT. If it didn’t have the weird wire-fu though it would just be a borderline direct-to-DVD garbage film, but with it it is kind of special. I wonder how many genres have been Wire-fu-ified. Like … historical actioner in The Musketeer has very strange acrobatic action scenes I remember. Now that is a movie I’m interested to see.

StreetCreditReport.com – I think this flew under the radar a bit because it is so low budget. I found a blog which had it third worst of the year right above Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (which is impressive). And this possibly fake extreme sports blog mentions it among the worst extreme sports films (along with Gleaming the Cube and Surf Ninjas which is genuinely impressive). So street cred in the extreme sports genre, but not for bad films of 2002 in general it seems.

No homework here either.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo Recap

Uh oh, looks like the first Deuce Bigalow quiz was only half of the challenge, enter the PhD program for Deuce Bigology here!

Jamie

Deuce Bigalow is back, Jack! He travelling to Amsterdam to figure out who’s killing high-end gigolos. But don’t worry, he’ll also be dating some kooky ladies just like last time. Can he solve the mystery (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

How?! Deuce is back and ready for a vacation after the tragic death of his wife. He heads to Amsterdam to meet up with his former pimp TJ only to have him become a prime suspect in the high profile murders of gigolos across Europe. Oh no! Say it ain’t so, TJ! In order to figure out who might actually be the killer Deuce must re-enter the gigolo game. In that disguise he goes on some sweet dates with some interesting ladies that dated the murdered gigolos just before they were killed. This includes a hunchback. This includes a lady covered in dirt. This includes a lady with a tracheotomy. This includes a very tall woman. This includes a woman with… uh… a penis for a nose… that’s real… I didn’t make that up. Anyway, he comes no closer to figuring out who the killer is, but does help the ladies improve their confidence. Meanwhile he begins a relationship with the niece of the police chief only to discover that she owns the dress and lipstick used by the killer. Oh no! She must be the killer! He rushes over to the police chief, but it’s revealed that the police chief is actually the killer (what a surprise that was definitely hard to figure out!). This culminates in a showdown at the gigolo awards show where Deuce and the police chief due battle and he wins. Hooray! THE END.

Why?! Didn’t I say you shouldn’t look for motivation in Happy Madison productions. Deuce is just devastated and looking for love after the tragic loss of his wife. Yes, TJ needs rescuing. Yes, there is a gigolo murderer on the loose. But that is all ancillary plot details to the main motivation of our beloved Deucey: he wants to find love and help women feel more confident about themselves. The murderer just wants to avenge the tragic loss of his fiance and penis in a gigolo-induced penis pump accident… yup.

What?! Is it possible this was sponsored by an organization aiming to promote homophobia, racism, and sexism? Because that seemed to be the only overriding theme of the film. I do feel like Rob Schneider should have been macking on some Amstel Lights or something, but alas.

Who?! Norm MacDonald again appears unbilled in a more prominent role this time. Fred Armisen also appears in an uncredited cameo as does the actress who portrays Deuce’s deceased wife Kate from the first film. It’s just a bounty of uncredited roles up in here. I wonder why… oh, right. It’s garbage.

Where?! This is so set in Holland it is beautiful. We have scenes of Deuce trying pot brownies, we have scenes on a classic Dutch houseboat. We have scenes in the Red Light District. It is pretty much as perfect as we can get for our new mapl.de.map cycle. A.

When?! Again I’m not exactly sure on this one. It seems like the film exists outside of time because why would they care. Not even a soccer match or something to give us a hint. I’d have to look closely on a rewatch (ugh) to see if there is even a possibility. F.

This movie is terrible and offensive… like for real I’d be hard pressed to find a film where homophobia and gay panic are as central to the plot as this one. TJ literally spends THE ENTIRE FILM worrying over the fact that people may think he’s gay. He’d rather be perceived as a murderer than gay… what year was this made?! On top of that they have an Asian character that pops in no less than four times to make a joke about how small his dick is. For real? It is bad. Like real bad. Like dog poo bad. Racist, homophobic, sexist dog poo pushed into our faces. Fuck this movie. This literally might be worse than *gasp* Strange Wilderness. At least that wasn’t so homophobic and racist. That was just incredibly sexist. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone? What if you had a decently successful comedy a few years back and now you need to go back to that well? Do you: (1) Rehash all of the jokes and hope people still find them funny a second time? (2) Update the setting and hope that a fish out of water story can distract people from your otherwise plotless meandering script? (3) Shove dog poo slowly into my face. Well if you are Deuce Bigalow you slide head first into option 4: All of the above. Let’s get into it!

The Good – Ummmmmm. Nothing? I like Jeroen Krabbé if that counts. In these two previews I changed the structure a bit to help my section feel cleaner so that’s good I think. Don’t worry, it is still the good ol’ The Good, The Bad, and The BMT.

P’s View on the Preview – Going into the film I think the most intriguing thing was the note about Ebert and how much he hated this film. Combined with the trailer (and the wine / tracheotomy joke) and it was very clear the film was going full bore into that Bucky Larson / Strange Wilderness gross out territory. It was going to be intriguing to see where it stood in the poo poo platter (pun intended) of terrible Happy Madison productions.

The Bad – And oh my did it not disappoint. This was one of the most unpleasant films I have ever seen. It is racist. It is really really homophobic (really … my god, why is it so homophobic?!). It snatches the worst gay panic film mantle out of The Medallion’s hands! It is misogynistic, with Deuce’s heart of gold replaced with a heart of dog poo in my face. It is just unfathomably bad and confusing and distressing and just gross. I really don’t get grossed out  from films super easily, and three times I cringed at how gross this film is. Dog poo in my face, just a hard fastball of shit in my face.

Sklog-cabulary Quiz – A Sequel Out of Water (n.) – A sequel which takes the main character of a film and merely moves him/her to another location to generate a plotline.

I think I’m just going to coin dumb phrases in this section. As I said in the intro this film has two classic comedy sequel tropes. This one, where the plot is literally just “Deuce Bigalow is in Amsterdam”. And just reusing old jokes as the only source of humor (the SNLization? Catch phraserization? I’ll workshop it). Truly a groundbreaking film.

The BMT – Yeah, so this basically saves Deuce Bigalow from anonymity (congrats?). Because I think this will be in the early lead for worst film of the year for me, and kind of completes the Bucky Larson / Strange Wilderness / Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo Happy Madison trilogy. It is kind of what you want in a bad comedy, just distressingly bad but in a so-immature-it’ll-make-money-and-is-a-real-movie kind of way.

StreetCreditReport.com – Given the above section where Ebert’s review was specifically noted as particularly harsh, this film was naturally his worst film of 2005. I couldn’t find many official lists for the year, so I’ll just leave you will a quote by Ebert himself: “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo makes a living cleaning fish tanks and occasionally prostituting himself. How much he charges I’m not sure, but the price is worth it if it keeps him off the streets and out of another movie.”

No homework to report on so …

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Snowman Recap

You think you know everything there is about Harry Hole … wait, that name can’t be right? He’s called Harry Hole? Whatever, take the quiz!

Jamie

Harry Hole is a gritty Oslo detective struggling with alcoholism. When a string of murders start, he and his partner suspect it’s the work of a savage serial killer. Can they catch the monster before it’s too late? Find out in… The Snowman.

How?! Oh man, Harry Hole is such a mess. Waking up drunk, not going to work, and dealing with a break-up with his ex-girlfriend (as he struggles to continue to be in her son’s life). But he’s obviously the best goddamned police detective Oslo has, so back off! Anyway, he just needs a juicy new case to keep his head straight. Turns out this case is the work of a serial killer that his new partner is already familiar with. While Harry seems to find links between the women murdered and their personal life involving adultery and children out of wedlock, his partner becomes convinced that it’s the work of a prominent businessman in town. As they investigate each murder the killer seems to toy with Harry, sending him notes, setting him up to meet victims before they are murdered, and framing a suspect as The Snowman. This culminates in the murder of his partner by The Snowman as she attempts to further investigate the businessman. When Harry finally gets too close to the murderer it is revealed that he is his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. He has kidnapped her and her son and taken them to his childhood home. In a final confrontation The Snowman is killed by falling through the ice on a frozen river. Harry wins again just like he always does and always will in the many sequels this wildly successful film will have… jk. This was terribly boring and unsuccessful. THE END.

Why?! Due to the nature of this film this is actually difficult to answer. Harry Hole is solving the crime because he is a detective. Duh. Boring. But the killer seems to be killing women because they have affairs… or is it that they are having children out of wedlock… or is it that they are having children who never know their fathers… or is it that they are having abortions? It’s all a little murky because the killer’s MO seems to change depending on his mood. Oh yeah and he also kills random people to try to cover his tracks… whatever. It all stems from his childhood in which he was the product of a violent affair that resulted in the suicide of his mother.

What?! No major product placement or plot devices so I’ll use this space to talk about the adaptation from the book, which I read years ago. I commend them on the changes they made to fit the story to a cinematic release. It’s pretty common now to take a story with a built in fan base and adapt it straight. They certainly didn’t do that here. At the same time almost all the changes made were for the worse or at least more confusing… that’s all I got.

Who?! There is a very special thanks to Truls Kontny, head of the Film Commission Norway, for obvious reasons. I’d rather reiterate the weirdness of Val Kilmer in this film. It’s understandable but still shocking that not more was made of his involvement in the film. He obviously has been significantly impacted physically from his illness and it was at times hard to watch him struggle through his scenes. Hate to say they should have recast his part but… yes, they probably should have.

Where?! Norway, duh, they gave a special thanks to Truls Kontny after all. If they had kept the book’s ending of Harry hanging off the iconic ski jump that overlooks Oslo then this would get an A… as it is it is just heavily set in Oslo but able to be set elsewhere. Like, if this film was made 20 years ago it would have been set in Alaska and starred Sly Stallone who wouldn’t have been an alcoholic but rather addicted to health and fitness. B+.

When?! Harry buys concert tickets as a birthday present for Friday, November 21st. We see him go to the concert so all the events of the film occur on or around that day. Weird thing is that you have to jump to 2020 or go back to 2014/2008/etc. to get a November 21st on a Friday. I guess I would think maybe this took place in 2008 or before since the book was set in 2004 and written in 2007… or they didn’t really care much. B+.

The murkiness of the motivations is part of the mess that is this film. Not only does it sometimes seem like parts of the film are missing, but it also seems to mix and match it with portions of the book. This messes with the internal logic of the film because while we see some motivation of the killer derived from childhood trauma (slightly different than in the book), the rest of the murders aren’t changed significantly enough to match the new motivation. Problematic. It’s actually startling that this film was released in this state. Should have thought about reshoots maybe. It did no one any favors and seems to have harmed the reputation of a young director in the process. And I didn’t even mention Val Kilmer. Egad. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! When I am shaken awake by a terrible dream, sweating in the cold moonlight, staring out into the clear London night, I tremble, my mind running a thousand miles per hour over the anxieties to come upon morning. My heartbeat slowing, I whisper to myself “At least I’m not the person who had to edit The Snowman” and fall soundlessly asleep. Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sklognalysis) – I like Fassbender and many of the side actors in the film. The vistas are beautiful, what more could you ask for? Well … we’ll get to that. But if this movie was a screensaver it would be just magnifique. Unfortunately it’s actual intention is to entertain, sooooo … A tiny Sklognalysis to end it. The rumors surrounding this movie are basically that the production started before the director even got on board, they couldn’t afford to film in Norway as long as necessary, and thus only about 85% of the script was actually filmed. This is what I would call an uneditable film. The material wasn’t there to fashion a story out of the pieces, it is an editor’s nightmare. Given the condition of Val Kilmer (his voice still recovering from throat cancer and thus totally dubbed) it is pretty obvious they were not allowed to reshoot … it is just bonkers. Just, absolutely incredible stuff. Once the Bad Movie Twins Media Empire is launched we’ll get to the bottom of these mysteries.

The Bad (Sklogcabulary Quiz) – Val Kilmer is completely dubbed in this film and barely appears in it. I needed to come up with a catchy description of what this kind of represented and settled on:

Star Poser (n.) – An actor hired to bring star power to a film who instead, ironically, ends up being the weakest part.

Val Kilmer, in this film, is a Star Poser. It is no slight to Val Kilmer, but someone had to tell him he just couldn’t do it. His voice is shot and the voiceover is just … you couldn’t find a voice actor who could kind of sound like him? It is just weird. I’ve covered it several times, but the film is just put together very very poorly. They must have just had nothing to work with because the result is kind of indescribably bad.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy I think is that this is kind of a rare example of a film I watched juuust after the Razzie awards were given where I thought “huh, kind of surprising this didn’t get a nod”. Most of the time we hit the big targets, so it is pretty surprising we hit something just a little too late to put it in our current year worst at the Smaddies Baddies. And street cred? Woof. Fourth worst at both AV Club and Variety. What more could we ask for really?

I did not read the book this was based on, but I can say with assurance this was very very Norway. Continue to check out the evolving Map Streets Map Alright! as we add more European countries Sklog-packing across Europe.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Fifty Shades Freed Recap

 

If you’ve seen the movie, take the quiz. How much do you know about billionaire playboy Christian Grey?

Jamie

Anastasia and Christian are totes married and ready to settle down except a pesky stalker, a pregnancy, and the inability to be sane keep getting in the way. Can they figure out their marriage and dispose of the stalker before it’s too late? Find out in… Fifty Shades Freed.

How?! We are all jazzed for the wedding of the century. Anastasia and Christian are tying the knot and ready to not share each other with anyone ever again (who needs friends and family? Amirite?). Whisked away to France for a little smooching under the sun the honeymoon is ruined (ruined!) when Christian is informed that Eric, the skeevy ex-boss of Anastasia, has broken into his company and stolen documents. Uh oh! But you know what will pick you up? A little house hunting and doing well at your job that you totally earned through hard work and skill. Let’s do that for like a half hour. Only when Christian leaves for NYC and Anastasia gets attacked by Eric do things really pick up in the film… what’s that? No it doesn’t? Oh right, let’s go on vacation to Aspen for another half hour of the film. Just a little hiking in a luxury locale. Cool, cool, cool, cool. But after that totally dealing with this Debbie Downer Eric character… still not yet? Anastasia’s pregnant and Christian is none too pleased with that. He gets all drunk and sulky because he doesn’t want to share Anastasia with his baby. She’ll love the baby more than she loves him (as is a totally normal thing to worry about). Only as this drama really comes to a head do we find that Eric has kidnapped Christian’s sister Mia. While Anastasia gets the ransom money and attempts to convince Christian that she just needs it because he’s a monster that she has to leave, Christian understands intuitively that something must be up. They (finally) converge on Eric and totally shoot him and everyone is safe and the baby is born and there lives are great and well adjusted because they are normal people, don’t worry about it. THE END.

Why?! A question as old as time: what are the motivations of the characters in the Fifty Shades series. It’s obviously love (although a love I cannot understand). She can’t resist him, he can’t resist her. Everything that is done in the film is done for that love, even Christian’s crazy reasons why he doesn’t want to have a baby. There are a lot of reasons to be apprehensive about having a baby, but him being primarily concerned that he doesn’t want to share Anastasia with a baby is… fucking nuts. As for the antagonist, Eric, he grew up with Christian in foster care and I guess decided that he should have had Christian’s life and it drives him insane?… honestly the whole book/film seemed poorly thought through… which I guess was a good thing for us.

What?! It was hard to pick up on any product placement other than the fact that the film may as well have been called Audis Make Me Horny: The Movie. Allowing Anastasia to drive an Audi is the greatest gift Christian ever gives Anastasia… but that’s not hard because he’s basically a monster the rest of the time.

Who?! It would be the best if there was a Planchet in this films… a fat assistant that they make fun of all day. But alas. I also wish that someone played the President in this. Like Anastasia and Christian roll up to a plane and she’s like “Is this yours?” and Christian is like “No, it’s his.” and points to the President and it’s Air Force One. But instead I can only point out that Rita Ora has appeared in all of these films and is primarily a musician.

Where?! Seattle, baby! They leaned into the setting hard and I applaud it for that. I just which they spent a bit more time in the Space Needle, or on a ferry, or at Seattle Grace Hospital. As it is it could have been set in LA or San Fran without missing a beat. B.

When?! I’m gonna be honest. Since I streamed this film the quality was so low that I could not make out the date in the spots where I would usually find it. For example, cell phone screens were all fuzzy… and all in Spanish. F (for now).

This is straight trash that I couldn’t even bring myself to watch in theaters. I was so terrified by the thought of having to shadily sneak my way in and out like a pervert that I just streamed it on my magical dream machine from the comfort of my home. Is it worse than Fifty Shades Darker? In a lot of ways yes: it’s pretty easily the tamest of the bunch when it comes to being the erotic romance/thriller it hoped to be. I other ways no: Anastasia was a lot stronger in this one and at least something happened with the whole Eric situation. Overall this whole series is pretty much the ideal scenario for BMT. Much like Transformers it was a can’t miss entry. There was literally no way it could get good reviews. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Two years ago we were shaded. Last year we went darker. This year we are free. We watched a heart-wrenching documentary on spousal abuse called Fifty Shades Freed. Anastasia, I’ll distract Christian, you destroy your phone and get out of Seattle! We are going to get through this together. Let’s go!

The Good (Sklogcabulary Quiz) – Anastasia Steele as a character shows good growth through the series, and in this she is a fine young woman just looking to fix a broken young man. The soundtrack, as usual, was bumping. The film at the very least pumped up the excitement for the finale. This is a more personal Sklocabulary Quiz this week:

The Full Tril-Oh-Geez (n.) – A trilogy where each film was watched for BMT during its year of release.

Unfortunately the Golden Tril-Oh-Geez has yet to be done. That is where we watch each leg in theaters. We sadly watched the original Fifty Shades of Grey a few months after its release in 2015. Perhaps our destiny is for BMT to end with a Golden Tril-Oh-Geez … well not today! We live to see another Thursday.

The Bad (Sklog-quel) – Christian Grey is as much of an abusive garbage man as he always is. While they pumped up the excitement, the film is basically incomprehensible and the somehow still boring. The sex scenes are the worst part of the film, which is obviously unacceptable. The film will make you say “Whaaaaaaat?” at least three times. The Sklog-quel I would like to see is obviously the prequel concerning the corruption of teenaged Christian Grey by Elena Lincoln. The main reason is that I’m obsessed with the idea of them casting someone to specifically play a young Kimmy B (that’s what we call Kim Basinger). I would also obviously throw $20 million at Dornan just to see if he’d be willing to play a 17-year-old version of himself. He is 35, he can do it, he’s got the range. You know you want it … you know the world wants it.

The BMT (Reviewer Highlight) – Ah the legacy. The legend of Fifty Shades will live on in BMT lore. It comprises an unreasonable number of our Live viewings, and in a way BMT grew up with it. It is also a modern interpretation of the early-90s erotic thriller, which Jamie and I have a strange affection for. The StreetCreditReport will come in bunches, but in time. Let me just leave you with another Reviewer Highlight: Might as well be called “So I Married a Sociopath.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service.

Shockingly we somehow managed to find a film that was both in theaters and an adaptation of a book. Well, I read exactly ten pages of the first book before falling into a weeks long coma. I will not give it an adaptation grade, but I am sure it is an F. Spoiler … I couldn’t bring myself to go to the theater for this one, it was too embarrassing. I watched it by myself because my wife refused to watch it with me. Not only do I not blame her, I’m proud of her.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Women (2008) Recap

Jamie

When her perfect world seems to crumble all at once with the loss of her job, husband, and best friend, Mary Haines has to figure out what it means to be her (what it means to be a woman?) to help put back the pieces. Can she do it before it’s too late? Find out in… The Women.

How?! Mary Haines has the seemingly perfect life. A good job working in fashion for her father, a super successful husband, a wonderful daughter, and a group of supportive best friends. But when this all goes down the tubes with the discovery of her husband’s infidelity with a curvaceous aspiring actress and the loss of her job, she finds herself lost in the woods. Wallowing in self-pity and undecided on how to proceed in her once happy marriage, she eventually discovers that maybe she needs to figure out what she wants out of life before any of these things can be fixed. She starts a new company, rediscovers the meaning of being a mother and best friend, and finds happiness. Only then can she attempt to fix what had fallen apart with her husband. This very simple and straightforward story is of course told over two hours, which seems impossible. Oh and not a single male actor is seen or heard from in the entirety of the film… which is bonkers and actually pretty deftly done.   

Why?! Interesting question. Mary’s motivation throughout the film is her struggle to decide what to do about her husband’s infidelity. She starts out trying to ignore it (the advice given to her by several older women in the film), then she kinda gives up on everything, and finally on the advice of a (randomly and conveniently placed) successful independent women she starts her own company and sets out on her own. In this she realizes that the underlying reason for her husband’s infidelity may not totally be his fault. By not really knowing who she was herself, and thus not being able to give all of herself over to her husband, how could they have built a truly successful marriage? And so she is able to make a decision in the end: give it a shot with him and if he can love her true self then perhaps they can find true happiness in a second chance.

What?! We are on a role in terms of major product placements. This film is a walking advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue. Almost the entire first half of the film takes place in the store. This all hits a crescendo when a character leans and very seriously tells a child that “no one hates Saks.” Gotta say, that line itself got me mighty close to hating Saks. The film is also heavily sponsored by Dove. We get some noticeably placed hand creams throughout along with a postcredits advertisement for a short film “The Women Behind The Women” which was part of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign.

Who?! While we’ve been on a role in terms of major product placements, I can’t even remember the last Planchet we’ve had. Doesn’t change here. Do want to point out that Mick Jagger apparently was a producer on this film, which seems weird. It’s only made weirder that IMDb also claims he’s a producer on a 2004 short film titled The Women… alright Mick. We get it.

Where?! This is basically as close to being an A+ film without having the title be The New York City Women or like, I don’t know, Sex and the City or something. It’s all about Saks Fifth Avenue and as such is all about living it up in the cit-ay. A.

When?! All times forever really. The story jump from summer to fall to Halloween (which plays an unexpectedly large role in the plot) and finished on Xmas. I hesitate to say that it’s a Secret Holiday Film Alert because this film kinda flows through time as if time is not a concept that it understands, but it’s still pretty solid. B.

Will I do it? Can I say it?… This film is just not that bad (It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!). I think it suffered through some rough directing by a novice filmmaker that they unfortunately tried to patch over with some weird choices in post, but this film had something to say and had interesting people saying it. It occasionally got lost in some extracurricular screwball elements (looking at you random birth scene at the end), but I did not mind this film and I thought it did a nice job telling a story of the complications of love and marriage in the age of successful women. Here’s hoping our next film is similarly good. Let’s see, that would be… Marmaduke… … … alright. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Bust out that gallon jug of white wine, time for Patrick and Jamie to have a girls night in. With nary a man to be seen, we’re dishing on life, love, work, and play. Ain’t nothing going to stop us from travelling with Meg Ryan and the gang as they teach us what it really means to be …  The Women! Let’s go!

The Good (Sklognalogy) – The first hour or so of this film, I thought, was quite good. I liked all of the characters, I liked the story they were going after: when infidelity strikes a perfect (upper-class …) life, what is the expectations of a modern woman? The film gets lost in the middle, but the conceit of not once showing a male (non-newborn-baby) character works super well in the context of this film. I’m pretty shocked with how this film was treated by the critics, and I can now totally understand Ebert’s review where he gave it three stars. This is a 2.5 / 4 film, just not that bad (it’s not that bad! Except for the whole part in the middle where it was). A natural Sklognalogy is the other ensemble piece that came out that year: Sex and the City. One could forget that the original actually got okay reviews and the show that preceded it was at the time cutting edge. This is more familiar and comfortable than that, but I think both illustrate where we were at with movies directed towards women at this point in time.

The Bad (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) The film has a sequence that appears to take place over the span of several months where Meg Ryan is going to like a canoeing retreat, and her daughter is dressing up … all of that doesn’t work. The film gets seriously lost in the woods after they blow up the question of how the modern family woman is expected to act in the face of infidelity, an interesting question in the context of a film being a remake of a film/play from the early 20th century. There is also something fascinating about romantic comedies where they almost need to function in a world where monetary problems don’t exist. All of the characters in this film are fabulously wealthy. Thus all of the problems focus solely on their relationships. I’m going to try my best to fashion Sklog-cabulary Quiz about this:

Ab Initio Genre (n.) – A genre reduced to first principles, stripping out all characteristics that distract you from the purpose or function the genre serves

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a real thing, but it is like how you can have a comedy where the focus is really only on the jokes (not even concerned with making sense), or an action film where the action itself is the focus, no romantic lead, no comedy. Hard Sci-Fi csan fall into the category as well. The Ab Initio Romance film takes every other problem out of the film: no money problems, no personal crises, all relationship, all the time. And for romance the ab initio approach seems quite popular … we’ve seen like three “upper-class Manhattanites falling in love” romance films in the last year. It is pretty amusing. They might as well be called Rich People Problems.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this film is much of anything as far as bad movies go (perhaps something with the large female cast? The issue is it really isn’t that bad!). It could make an appearance in the beginning of 2019 if I remember that I actually liked the film for the Smaddies Baddies film that wasn’t that bad award. Considering how strong of a bad movie year 2008 it isn’t a terrible surprise there isn’t much as far as StreetCreditReport.com, although it did get a small mention in this Vulture poll. The first Sex and the City film came out the same year as The Women which is pretty bizarre.

I ain’t reading a play, and I’ve been too busy to watch the original The Women from the 30s (the films from that era are always like two and a half hours long). I know I’m failing you guys in the adaptations cycle. I promise to be better as the year goes on. I promise. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

CHIPS Recap

Jamie

Jon Baker and Ponch are partners on the California Highway Patrol. While Jon sees CHIPS as a way to earn back the love of his estranged wife, Ponch is actually an undercover FBI agent looking for corrupt cops involved in a series of highway robberies. Can they take down the baddies and get the girl(s) before it’s too late? FInd out in… CHIPS.

How?! FBI agent Castillo is a risk-taking super cop who don’t play by nobody’s rule (natch). In the process of breaking rules and taking names, Castillo gets in hot water and is sent undercover as ‘Ponch,’ an officer in the California Highway Patrol. Meanwhile Jon Baker is one of the worst candidates for CHP there is, but with his motorbike racing pedigree and a sob story about his estranged wife he finagles his way onto the force. As a team, they start investigating a series of highway robberies suspected of being an inside job, all the while battling Jon’s addiction to painkillers, Ponch’s addiction to masturbating, and questions about their own sexuality that seem to send them into panic. This is all very upsetting, but apparently is supposed to make me laugh… I guess because it’s funny that Ponch is a step away from being a sex criminal. Hilarious! Through a series of high speed chases Ponch and Jon eventually catch up with the ringleader’s son, who is killed. Due to all his rule-breaking, risk-taking, and name-taking Ponch is fired from the FBI. Unwilling to stop their investigation and goaded by the kidnapping of Jon’s estranged wife, Ponch and Jon confront the ringleader, a fellow CHP officer. With the help of the full CHP force they take down the corrupt cops and save the day. THE END.

Why?! Jon wants to earn back the love and respect of his estranged wife, who by all accounts is a terrible person. Ponch on the other hand seems to have no motivations other than to solve crimes and masturbate while doing so. This combination of buddy cops turns out to be weird, sad, and disturbing. Great! As for the bad guy, he’s trying to get enough money to get his son into rehab… also very sad. A total bummer of a film even without all the gay panic content.

What?! An incredible product placement movie. From the start Ponch is using Dove moisturizer to convey his pretty boy persona and Jon is washing his pain pills down with Red Bull to convey his X-treme persona. These aren’t just product placement, these product placement are being used to define characters. Add on top that throughout the film our hateable heroes are stopping at every LA-centric restaurant under the sun, from Pink’s to Tommy’s Burgers, and we’ve got something special.

Who?! A number of uncredited roles in this one, including Erik Estrada’s cameo. Stark difference from Baywatch where Hasselhoff and Pam Anderson got laughably high billing. Also Josh Duhamel and Maya Rudolph have minor roles that went uncredited. They must have jumped in for funsies.

Where?! A+ Settings Alert! CHIPS stands for California Highway Patrol and that’s enough for me. This is also an early contender for the 2018 Setting as Character Smaddies Baddie as every LA centric restaurant in the city is featured and even Dax gave an interview asserting that the real star of the film was Southern California. Boom. That’s an A+ if I’ve ever seen one.

When?! There are two spots where a date could be found. One is on Ponch’s phone in the opening scene where it seems like it says that it’s November 2nd. However, a few scenes later, when Ponch is being introduced at CHP the blackboard says that “all 415’s have to be in by September 1,” so you would think everything would take place in August or something. Maybe they just don’t erase that blackboard all that often or (hear me out) perhaps they didn’t put as much effort into the exact temporal setting as I do in trying to find it. Disappointing. D.

This film WAS… WHAT WE THOUGHT IT WAS!… AND WE LET IT OFF THE HOOK! Basically, everything that we presumed and feared from the trailer came true. This is a poorly made film rife with jokes that play mostly on sadness. It’s certainly different than Baywatch and the Jump Street films, which is a credit to the creators I guess, but Baywatch is just a better film (which is kinda crazy to say). While I would endure a Baywatch sequel, I wouldn’t even enjoy a CHIPS 2. Even on a Fifty Shades Freed, staring into the abyss kind of a way… I think I’m just realizing that I really didn’t enjoy this film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Alright, so you’re a producer and maybe your frustration with not getting invited to the 21 Jump Street cast party made you act a bit rashly. Baywatch … was not sweet IP. But this time you definitely got some sweet IP. CHiPs! Everyone liked CHiPs. Erik Estrada and … like motorcycles. Maybe you won’t get to meet The Rock, but Dax Shepard is … pretty close. Sweet IP Money Train here I come! What could go wrong? Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sklog-cabulary Quiz) – The storyline is actually a lot more coherent and focused than you would expect. Also, I tend to enjoy it when characters who would have been incompetent if they were in a film from, say, the 90s, are now written as super competent. What’s that? It sounds like a Sklog-cabulary Quiz!

Gross Competence (n.) – Behavior that appears to be erratic and incompetent, but is nevertheless quite effective at getting a particular job done. Characters exhibiting gross competence often appear to be savants in their particular occupation.

Zac Efron in Baywatch, or Andy Samberg in Brooklyn 99 I think are at least close to this definition as well. Basically the professionals here often come across as foolish or bumbling, but ultimately, against all odds, their actions are exactly what is needed to get the job done. I like this trope in television and film. For me, rooting for a competent hero is far preferable to rooting for an incompetent one. And it was nice to see Dax Shepard’s character not come across as an idiot. Well … not a total idiot at least.

The Bad (Sklognalysis) – The film is gross. They spend a good amount of one scene talking about eating butts … yup. It is upsetting that the gay panic stuff from the trailer was such a big part of the film. And this film has way too much unneeded nudity. Comes across as exploitative. By giving up the bad guy early it makes the mystery basically worthless. And finally, all supporting characters are so undeveloped that when they do occasionally wander into a scene it just doesn’t work because their motivations and abilities are never established. So … yeah, a ton of not so great stuff here. Question for our Sklognalysis: If you lampshade blatant gay panic humor by having the main character state that he thinks someone is homophobic if they don’t want to touch dicks when hugging … does that help or hurt? Answer: neither, trick question. It is still gay panic, and it is still gross.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think paired with Baywatch CHIPS could have an interesting legacy. If we further collect more television adaptations in the future we could have quite the expertise on the niche genre. The films got the cred though, number 7 on the AV Club’s worst-of list for 2017. Didn’t make an appearance in Rolling Stone’s or Variety’s lists, but it does get a few shout outs. It has the cred.

I feel a bit like we are dropping the ball on the adaptation cycle by not watching the original sources. Can’t really watch many CHiPs though, and even if I did the early season is different than late season, etc. Thinking back on Baywatch and even 21 Jump Street though I feel like these adaptations aren’t actually very “good”. They are modern action comedies fashioned out of literally the most basic plot elements from 80s television shows. I would be interested to see if/when someone decides to set a movie like this in the 80s and go for the kind of funny nostalgia of it all.  Wait … did I just describe the terrible Starsky & Hutch adaptation? For now I give the adaptation a C+ with the caveat that if I ever do watch some CHiPs (I won’t) I’ll update the grade. Something like 21 Jump Street I think reaches in the B-range. Not a great adaptation, but the quality of the film makes up for it.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs