A Dog’s Purpose Recap

Jamie

Meet Bailey, the loveable dog of a loveable boy in a loveable world full of triumph and tragedy. Reincarnated over the years trying to understand his purpose on Earth, Baily is always looking out for his owners, particularly his original owner Ethan. Can he bring Ethan that ultimate joy he’s been looking for before it’s too late? Find out in… A Dog’s Purpose.

How?! I have a feeling this will be a short one. That’s because the film is not really a film at all but rather a series of vignettes strung together by a continually reincarnated dog named Bailey. As a puppy Bailey is rescued from a hot car by Ethan. Ethan and Bailey grow up together and we see him struggle with his father’s alcoholism and yet have a fulfilling life playing football and hanging with the girl he loves, Hannah. After getting a football scholarship to Michigan State, a jealous rival throws a firecracker through the mail slot of his house. Bailey wakes Ethan and helps him save his mom from the fire but not before Ethan injures his leg, dashing his hopes of a football career. Devastated he breaks it off with Hannah and heads off to agricultural school. We then get a glimpse at Bailey’s slow death (fun!) culminating in him being put down with Ethan at his side (double fun!). Over the ensuing decades we seen Bailey reincarnated as a police dog and a corgi companion for a lonely woman. Through these adventures Bailey learns two things: loneliness is bad and loneliness can be cured by finding a companion to be with. After a couple more heart wrenching dog deaths (I’m have so much goddamned FUN!) Bailey is reincarnated in Michigan and finds his way back to Ethan’s farm. Hooray! Taken in by Ethan he notices that he is lonely. From the lessons of his past life Bailey goes out and find a widowed Hannah. Reunited, Ethan and Hannah fall in love all over again and the film ends with their wedding and Ethan’s realization that his new dog is just his old dog reincarnated… for some reason he doesn’t find this amazing at all and basically shrugs it off. Presumably Bailey dies again after the credits role but the filmmakers spared us that one death at least. THE END.

Why?! Like the title suggests, this film is entirely motivated by the search by Bailey for meaning in his various lives. At first he thinks perhaps playing with Ethan is his purpose. As a police dog he learns that he can have a greater purpose in saving people, but he also sees that his owner is still sad and lonely despite their success at their job. As a corgi companion he sees that this loneliness can be cured by finding a someone to be with. Finally back with Ethan he puts this all together and realizes that life’s purpose is having fun, helping people, being with people you love, and living in the moment. Wait a second… these are all lessons humans can use too! Goddamn it, A Dog’s Purpose. You’ve done it again.

What?! Not much in the way of plot devices, props, or product placement. If anything this is a giant commercial on how a dog might die. Don’t let it get out, it might end up in the pound and DIE. Don’t leave it in a hot car, it might end up overheating and DIE. Don’t love it too much, it might grow old and make you sad when it DIES. Valuable lessons. The more you know.

Who?! I have to admit that I don’t know much about credits for animals but I would have thought this would have been a perfect candidate for IMDb to highlight an animal actor. Alas, not the case. No credits to be seen. Instead there is a plethora of Special Thanks doled out to members of the Manitoba community where the film was made. Even the owners of a local carnival, Wonder Shows, each get a Special Thanks… I’m starting to think these don’t mean much.

Where?! Clearly there are a number of locations in this film for each of the lives of the dog. Fortunately there is still a primary setting as Ethan spends his entire life in Michigan. There are also large portions of the film set in Chicago and Atlanta. A solid B.

When?! Road Trip Film Alert! That’s right, I’m calling an alert for a Road Trip Film in the When?! section. The films skips through time starting around the Cuban Missile Crisis and ending in modern day. We don’t spend a huge amount of time in one era, but get a taste of each decade (as evidenced by the style of clothes, etc.). It’s nice, but not specific most of the time. C+.

I think Patrick’s part touches on my major complaint for the film. I didn’t really understand Josh Gad’s entire role. They took what might would have been a drama and seemingly punched it up with ADR jokes by a dog. I realize this isn’t actually what happened (it’s based on a book after all), but I can’t help not liking it. Just give me the dog being a dog. Everything would be understood by what was shown on the screen. That’s what a movie is supposed to do. Besides that I think the only weird thing was that I didn’t cry during the film. It was basically a dog slaughter and yet nary a tear escaped my eye. That’s a failure in my book. I needs my sweet, sweet pathos. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! After months of meetings, editing, reshoots the film is finally here. The premier is a few weeks away, but you’re going to take the time from the office to relax a bit. The stars can handle the press junket … oh what’s this, my phone is ringing. The office? But … huh, controversy about the treatment of the dogs on your set, well that’ll probably blow over, right? Like 24 hours from now it’ll all be cleared up … right? Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – The doggies are cute as usual. Can’t avoid that. I actually thought the transition from early 60’s to present day was super cool. Subtle enough that it isn’t really thrown in your face that there are 4 or 5 “periods” being pieced in the movie. The story was interesting at times, at least the parts not involving the main character Ethan. Did I mention the dogs were cute? Let’s see a Sequel. Or at least an idea of a sequel. We’ve completed the story of Ethan, so this thing can be a franchise! A whole universe! The dog’s purpose seemed to just be “stand by your owner no matter what, help them be the best they can be”. Great! That can be done with anyone. Let’s see one that starts now and then goes into the future. Let’s see one that starts in 1910 and goes through the depression and the world wars! It is a fine idea for a kind of “slice of Americana” or slowly shifting time frame. I wouldn’t mind it. Maybe you can try to not get a giant PR disaster to happen right before the movie is released.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Josh Gad adds nothing with his voice over work. It almost feels like an add on. Bailey doesn’t really have a personality, unlike Homeward Bound and others which do the same thing, here they go a bit too far into a “realistic” dog mind. In that his mind is rather simple and direct. Considering this is literally the main character and crux of the film this isn’t great. At least it isn’t very amusing. They also suggest his first “life” as a dog was just immediately getting killed, … if you’re going sickly sweet can we not have a puppy get murdered in the opening scene? Weirdly the Sklognalogy for the week is kind of the movie we just watched: The Space Between Us. Both are cloyingly sweet. Both are light, and intended to deliver a family friendly product. But yet I thought The Space Between Us was much better than this guy. This is a shadow of Homeward Bound, as I said, which holds a template on how to do the voice-over pet film (give them interesting personalities, really anthropomorphize them). Whereas The Space Between Us is kind of the be all end all of YA space romance films, which is why it is a bit more acceptable to me.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – There is likely no legacy for the film. This is becoming a trend with the year-end cycle I think. But that is kind of understandable. How many films have an impact on BMT every year? Ten? Twenty? Half of them? Considering we’ve now watched for seven years, that is somewhere in 100-200 films having an impact release between 1980 and now, about 40 years. So you’d think like 2.5-5 films a year. So most of a 9 film cycle won’t have any impact whatsoever I would imagine. We watch around 15 current-year films a year (4 Lives and 9 in the cycle, plus a few more likely) so when we cover those high impact films you’ll know it. This isn’t it. As for Street Cred the Telegraph puts it in the worst of the year (behind a paywall unfortunately, so no link), and Slate puts it in their bottom 20. It’ll get play in end of year lists for sure because of the controversy.

Was there a book? There was, right? Didn’t read it. Someday in the distant future maybe I will. I’ll put an Editor’s note here to tell me to add it to the archive when that happens … which will be never most likely.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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The Space Between Us Recap

Jamie

Gardner is a teenager born on Mars and unable to go to Earth for fear his body can’t handle it. When he connects with a girl on Earth, Tulsa, and finds information about his father he insists it’s time to return “home.” Can he fall in love and find his dad before it’s (literally) too late? Find out in… The Space Between Us.

What?! We open on the first mission to populate Mars funded by billionaire Nathaniel Shepard. On the way it’s revealed that the mission leader is pregnant. Fearing PR backlash NASA keeps the pregnancy confidential. Shortly after arrival she gives birth to a healthy child, Gardner, but dies in childbirth. Due to the differences in gravity they fear bringing the child home will kill him so Gardner is left to grow up on Mars. Flash forward 16 years and he is living a happy but isolated life with a robot friend and everything. He’s a total nerd alert, but spends his time chatting it up with an equally isolated girl in Colorado named Tulsa. He really wants to go to Earth to find his father (but we also know he wouldn’t mind finding this girl, wooing her, and getting it in). Finally NASA relents and after a rigorous physical preparation he is flown back to Earth. Hooray. When he arrives it looks like he’ll be sent right back for health reasons so he escapes to meet up with Tulsa. She is totally freaked out by this weirdo saying he’s from Mars (so much for getting it in), but helps him escape when NASA comes a-knocking. Thus begins their road trip together. They track Gardner’s father from New Mexico to Arizona to California. On the way, Tulsa and Gardner fall in love and he actually does get it in. Wow. Took you like five hours on Earth to lose your virginity. He then starts to show symptoms of an enlarged heart. When he finally finds the man he thinks is his dad he is told he was wrong the whole time. The man is actually his uncle. Sad but in love he walks into the ocean to die only to be rescued by Nathaniel Shepard, who turns out to be his real dad (duh, it was pretty obvious). They are able to save his life and get him back to Mars where we see him enjoying time with his dad. We are also treated to a scene of Tulsa preparing for her own trip to Mars. Awwwwwwww. THE END.

Why?! While Gardner is literally from Mars his motivations are primarily typical teen angst. He wants to see Earth, he wants to know what it is to be human, he wants to live, he wants to love, he wants to find belonging, and most importantly he wants to know who he is. And knowing who he is involves knowing who his father is. Thus the road trip from Mars to Florida to Colorado to California and back to Mars. As for Tulsa, while she is born on Earth she also mostly wants to know that she has belonging. She’s shuttled from foster home to foster home and feels like an alien in her own world. Trust me it’s all very deep in a highly predictable and saccharine way.

What?! I was really hoping that Tulsa would introduce Gardner to the beauty of Coca-Cola or something at one point, but alas. Gardner’s journey is mostly product placement free. Same can’t be said for Nathaniel Shepard and the sleek technology he surrounds himself with. He shuttles around in his self-driving Volvo as if it’s the ultimate replacement for his shattered dreams of space travel. Shove it, astronauts! You haven’t experienced adventure till you’ve driven the new Volvo (he says as he cries himself to sleep… don’t worry, the car drives itself. He can weep as hard as he wants without putting himself or others in danger).

Who?! As with many robot friends in cinematic history, Gardner’s robot, Centaur, is basically a Planchet. Gardner is always like “You aren’t even real, stupid robot.” and dismantles him for his own schemes. But the robot still had only unconditional love for him and it’s sad really. Even sadder is when he’s abandoned part way through the movie and never mentioned again. Bring that robot to Earth! Let him in on your kooky adventures. Anyway, I only did a Planchet this week because I didn’t want to mention that Logan Paul, a Youtube star, makes a truly terrible cameo halfway through the film. Fuck. That.

Where?! Road Trip Alert! I would put the primary settings as Mars and Colorado (I love it!), but with some stops in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It’s an A because of how important Mars is to the plot. You could even argue it’s an A+ with the mention of “Space” in the title. But let’s appreciate it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

When?! Future Setting Alert! From Gardner’s mother’s grave we know she died on January 25, 2018. The film takes place 16 years later so in 2034. That’s enough for me when it comes to the date of a future film. I’ll give it a C. Funny enough this was a major sticking point for reviewers. The fact that nothing really got updated from the phones to the cars to the slang used by Tulsa. Showed a single robot, a single self-driving car, and some plexiglass computers and that’s apparently all they budgeted for.

When I started watching the film I thought it was going to be terrible. It was slow and extremely predictable. Interestingly once they went a more cliched route for the latter half of the film it actually picked up pace and was pretty enjoyable. Like two films smooshed together. A somewhat boring space adventure at the front, and a typical teen romance road trip on the back half. It all added up to mostly harmless fluff. Interesting that it got hated on so much. Is it so bad that every once in awhile they make a sugar sweet film for the whole family? It’s not like it’s inherently bad just for that reason. That being said I wish it wasn’t laughably predictable. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Space is so in right now, and you want a little piece of the action. You got this weird script about some Moon boy or whatever so … hey, intern, give this a once over and set it on Mars like that Damon one. We’ll rake in that dough, I’ll grab a few drinks with some stars, no problem … Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sklog-nalogy) – The movie actually isn’t all bad. It wasn’t quite It’s-Not-That-Bad level, but it is a lot closer than you would think. The first hour is a little slow but interesting, and the second half picks up even if it is half of a YA road trip film. There are certainly things I disliked, but for a young adult romance that is over two hours long it could have been a lot lot worse. Which is why I’m porting over Sklog-nalogy from the Bad section for the week. In this case the BMT film this reminds me of is possibly the least likeable film we’ve ever done: Waiting for Forever. In both cases you have a weirdo “martian” guy stalking a girl he’s fallen in love with through misadventures. In this case the “martian” is actually a Martian and is innocuous, funny, kind, a hopeless romantic, and genuinely makes a bit of sense. In Waiting for Forever he is a creepy stalker who the lead actress should have been concerned was going to kill her. The movies have a weird core that is similar, but take drastically different turns. This film is an okay example of the genre, although it has its faults. Waiting for Forever shows exactly how such a storyline can go wrong by basically glorifying stalkers as “romantics”. That I think is probably why I liked this film reasonably well in the end, at least it kept it innocent in that regard.

The Bad (Crimes Against BMT-anity) – The film basically turns into a Young Adult road trip movie where they barely mention Mars which isn’t so great. The twist with Gary Oldman is incredibly obvious. The film is, indeed, so sugary sweet that I can understand why it got a ton of bad reviews (although 16% is much much lower than I would have expected). The last bit I’ll run through for a Crime Against BMT-anity. The faux-future stuff is off the chain. Basically everyone uses these weird plexiglass computers, but then everyone has phones that look like a current Samsung. Gary Oldman is in a self-driving car, but yet Tulsa’ Dad drunkenly flies a beat up crop duster, they drive around in a beat up pick up, and at one point Gardner gets a ride in a (driver-ful) crappy Greyhound bus. The mixed messages are crazy! It is basically an exercise in how little one can do while still getting away with setting a film nearly 20 years in the future. Most can be forgiven, it isn’t like cars look alien compared to 2000, but the phones were a very strange oversight considering they updated the computers fairly well.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think there is legacy here. It might have at some point, if we decide it is the best bad movie we’ve watched this year. But for some reason I highly doubt that. It has been listed in a few places for worst of already. Looper, and The Playlist specifically. Ultimately I think it’ll fall away without much notice, but we’ll have to wait and see.

This does seem like one of those films that is based on a book … but it wasn’t. So no homework to report on here. I’ll just leave it there then.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Manos: The Hands of Fate Recap

Jamie

Michael and Margaret are on vacation but become lost in the desert. As night descends they stumble on a ranch where they take shelter only to find strange things afoot. Can they escape the clutches of the evil master, Manos, before it’s too late? Find out in… Manos: Hands of Fate.

How?! Michael, his wife Margaret, their daughter, and their dog are on their way to a ranch for vacation. After taking a wrong turn in the desert they stumble upon a ranch maintained by a satyr (who looks more like a normal person with giant legs than a mythical being) named Torgo. Asking if they can stay the night Torgo warns them that his master, Manos, won’t be happy but Michael insists that they stay there until they can find the ranch in the morning. Almost immediately creepy (but mostly suuuuuppper boring) things start to happen. When Torgo takes a liking to Margaret he goes to his hibernating master and tells him that he has enough wives and this one is his. He incapacitates Michael and imprisons Margaret only to have Manos awaken and plan all of their deaths. After a brief argument on what to do with Margaret and the child they agree that Torgo and Michael must die. Torgo is sacrificed, but when they go to collect Michael and his family they find that they have run into the desert. After a brief escape Michael and Margaret agree that the desert spells certain death and they return to the ranch to ultimately be taken prisoner by Manos for all of eternity. The End.

Why?! Our “heroes” just want a place to stay for the night and directions to the ranch. After Manos reveals himself they only want escape. As for Manos he just wants more wives and people to sacrifice. In fact we get very little insight into what, who, and why he is (but why would we… it was made by a delusional person who didn’t know how to write or make a movie). The only other character is Torgo and he’s just a sad satyr with giant legs that hops about hoping to find a wife. Sad.

What?! Not really sure what to highlight here, so I’m just not going to. This film was basically amateur hour made up of 95% awkward pauses. It’s a film that deserved to disappear forever, but instead lives on in infamy. There is no what in the entire thing. Only a distinct lack of what.

Who?! Michael is played by writer/director Harold P. Warren. He was in the amateur theater scene of El Paso and bet a local screenwriter that he could make a horror film on a low budget… I guess he lost that bet.

Where?! The location is not given specifically, but obviously filmed in El Paso and the location certainly had the feel of the Texas desert. But that won’t cut it for BMT! D.

When?! A film of this level transcends time and space. It is unknowable in so many ways, so to expect any insight into the exact date is far far far too much to expect. F.

So that’s about it. Manos pretty much was as expected. It may be one of the most boring experiences of my life. Almost the entire thing is just people staring at each other not saying a word. In the end I’m not surprised that MST3K made this film famous. Not only can they so effectively use all the dead space in the film, but they can play on how much the film messes with your head. Throughout the film you wonder what the point of the entire thing is and it drives. You. Crazy. By itself though? Just mind melting. Do not recommend and this is part of the reason we generally avoid films like this for the main entries of BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! What do you get when you cross an amateur filmmaker / full-time weirdo with a bet he refuses to lose? A boring piece of garbage. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I mean, it is obviously nothing, the film doesn’t make sense or anything. The only really good thing you get out of it is the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode which is often listed as one of the (if not the) best episode of the original run. During that episode the evil scientists end up apologizing for subjecting Joel and the robots (who are often weeping about how boring the movie it) to Manos: The Hands of Fate. It is honestly the only way to make it bearable since they interject during extended sequences of silence. If we were to go Sequel I think I would rather they just do another Mystery Science Theater 3000. Literally, just make the new crew do the same episode in a weird seance-like ritual to resurrection the MST3K of the past. I think it could be fun just because the movie has now been dissected so much since MST3K injected it into the collective consciousness 30 years ago.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Everything obviously. The acting is ridiculous. The entire thing doesn’t make sense. The lighting is awful. The story is garbage. The acting is ridiculous. The idea is creepy. The story is trash, … wait where was I? Oh yeah, Manos: The Hands of Fate is awful. Don’t watch it (although maybe just watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version and call it a day). The Sklognalogy is strangely obvious: Plan 9 From Outer Space. The same kind of surreal nonsensicalness. The director who is delusional and is making schlock almost as a compulsion. The stilted crazy acting. Weird choices, etc. etc. etc. If Warren, the director / writer / star, had any clout he might have been able to continue making films like a crazy person. Luckily he didn’t have an clout outside of the insurance industry.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – The legacy will be merely that we watched a movie we kind of had to watch at some point for BMT. The film, like Plan 9, is mostly boring and actually no fun to watch beyond marveling that such a thing could be created. The street cred though is up the wazoo. There aren’t many reviews online, so perhaps I’m over-blowing it, but this film is, I think, considered among the top 5 worst films ever made. The Room and Plan 9 From Outer Space are for sure there. Then there would be some debate about more modern films like Mac and Me, Ballistic Ecks vs. Sever, etc. But I think it would be hard to box it out of top 5. But that isn’t a good thing necessarily. Bad movies are bad. We want fun bad movies. This is not a fun bad movie. It is a bad movie. Remember that.

I’ll leave the discussion about pre-1980s bad movies for The Bye Bye Man recap, and just end there.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

First Daughter Recap

Jamie

Samantha MacKenzie dreams of being just another girl heading off to college. One problem, she’s the daughter of the President. While attempting to blend in she falls for the hot RA down the hall. When it turns out he’s actually a secret secret service agent her world is turned upside down. Can she gain her independence and get the guy before it’s too late? Find out in… First Daughter.

What?! We open in 1952… or at least the movie seems like it in a totally wholesome gee whiz kind of way. Samantha is a sheltered young teen ready to leave for college, but unlike most teens she’s also the daughter of the President. When she heads off to the University of Redmond in the middle of election season there is a lot of pressure for her to not screw up, but the only thing that Samantha cares about is fitting in (and the secret service agents aren’t helping). After a particularly embarrassing overreaction at a frat party Samantha insists they tone down her security and she seems to get her way. At the same time she meets cute the new hot and steamy 40-year-old RA down the hall. After discovering that they both belong to the Maggie Grace Running Fan Club:

 Samantha is smitten and decides to bring her new beau home for a fabulous ball. While there she discovers that this 40-year-old man is not actually a college student (whaaaaaa?) and is actually a secret secret service agent. Devastated she decides to go on a bunch of dates and act the fool to make him jealous. Predictably this ends badly and she’s pulled from school to focus on her dad’s reelection. Everything is basically shit for a while, but after she valiantly plays the good daughter and Prez Mac is reelected she is rewarded with a one way ticket back to school sans all the pressure, minus a few agents, and plus a long distance secret service boyfriend. The End.   

Why?! The may actually be the most wholesome movie I’ve ever watched. In fact everyone almost seems like they were cast with the question “would this person seem out of place in a film from the 1930’s?” in mind. Samantha’s only motivation is to feel normal. She’s been First Daughter since she was fourteen and just wants to go off to college and find herself. She’s wide-eyed and naive and as a result just seems to want to sip malts down at the soda shop with her new beau. Unfortunately there is a larger national motivation of her dad’s reelection that throws a monkey wrench into all of it. It’s interesting that the movie actually has her motivation take a back seat to the election in the end without anyone really saying, “wow, that really sucks for her.” It seems like they expect her to accept it and she does so valiantly.

What?! There is only one thing that Samantha MacKenzie reaches for after a long day of running around with a hot secret service agent avoiding the droves of paparazzi on her tail. A nice cold Diet Dr. Pepper. Mmmm, there’s nothing diet about it.

Who?! 4x the Who?! action this week as we have singer Amerie doing a serviceable job in the major role as Samantha’s roommate. We also have a fictional POTUS alert, with Michael Keaton as Prez Mac. We get a several cameos with Jay Leno, Joan Rivers, and Vera Wang all portraying themselves. Finally, Michael Kamen, an Oscar nominated composer, got an “In Memory” credit after passing away during production. That’s a lot of BMT magic right there. Bah dah bah bah bah. I’m loving it.

Where?! The majority of the film takes place in Redmond, CA at the University of Redmond. These places are of course made up and it’s always interesting to have a fake university in a film that is meant to be on par with institutions like Georgetown. Some parts of the film also take place in Washington, D.C., but not enough to get an A. B.

When?! Takes place at the start of college (end of August) and finishes at the Inauguration Ball after her father’s election. So the film takes the entire fall and into winter. Gonna bump up the grade as well for a clear Halloween scene where Samantha gets too drunk and makes a fool of herself while dressed in a skimpy costume. Not a secret holiday film, but close. B-.

As for our mockbuster Friend this week, Transmorphers is pretty much the most useless thing I’ve ever watched and I almost exclusively spend my time watching terrible movies. It’s not even dog poo in our faces. It’s like they computer generated some dog poo and then tried to push it into your face and claim that it was just as gross and that you totally experienced dog poo in your face. But you didn’t. At least a real dog poo in your face makes you feel something. This film made me feel nothing except sorrow that I was still watching it. I can assure you we will not being watching any more mockbusters any time soon. They are terrible. The Asylum should be ashamed. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Teeny bop romantic comedies are all about three things: a hot guy to bring on the romantical storylines, growing up and learning some valuable and wholesome lessons, and, of course, a relatable young starlet. And what is more relatable that being literally the daughter of the President of the United States!? Well … at least two movies thought so, let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I thought how they handled her life in the university was perhaps somewhat realistic (all the way down to her just bouncing to go campaigning for months without a second thought). I’m also pretty shocked Amerie hasn’t really been in anything else, she was better than you would think. Besides that basically the only bright spot was Michael Keaton as the President. Let’s get a Prequel! Like I could see him being the same character from Gung Ho! working his way up from the auto industry, through the reinstated union system. We open on his election campaign for the governor of Pennsylvania where he is struggling to get go-get-em attitude across to the down-and-out workers across the commonwealth. Abandoning a fundraising event, he walks anonymously through a rural coal mining town when who should he meet-cute but a young bar owner Melanie who shows him a thing or two about what the locals really value. After a day or two his ruse falls apart as his campaign absence begins to make national news. Can he get back into Melanie’s (and Pennsylvania’s) good graces? Gung Ho! 2: First Daughter 2 … huh, we’ll have to work on the name, that makes no sense.

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – Katie Holmes cannot run, it is not quite Here on Earth level, but it isn’t far off. The “twist” is so obvious I literally couldn’t figure out whether I had seen the movie before. I was like “wait, yeah, now I remember, he’s a secret service agent … wait, I thought I had seen Chasing Liberty not this … does that have the same twist?!”. It really sinks the movie. In the current political climate it is also bonkers that she takes her friends on a joyride on Air Force One. Like, that is thousands of taxpayer dollars dude, chill out on exploiting your father’s position. I feel like the relatively recent Down to You with Julia Stiles is the Sklognalogy here. Just how silly it is, and the collegiate setting I guess. Mainly because the real analogy is Chasing Liberty, which we have not seen. [Editor’s Note: Wait… we haven’t seen Chasing Liberty? I feel like we’ve watched it… or maybe it was just us watching this movie.]

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I don’t think this has a legacy unless it turns out Chasing Liberty is basically an identical movie. In which case it would have serious double feature potential. As far as StreetCreditReport.com, it it likely tough given that the mid-00s were chock-full of terrible films. And indeed, besides a smattering of IMDb lists, this film just gets lost among Ella Enchanted and Christmas with the Kranks it would seem. Only so many places for a terrible light-hearted comedy (more like light-on-the-comedy, amirite?) to go I suppose.

Finally, a blessedly short word about our Friend Transmorphers! This was a Mockbuster friend and as one would expect from a cheap intentionally-bad knockoff, it was so-intentionally-bad-it-is-actually-somehow-worse. Ten minutes into this film I thought to myself “you know, I could probably just turn this off and pretend I watched it. Jamie would never know”. I almost walked out of BMT … it was a devastating moment. Existential even. BMT has been so good to me over the years I would never dare question its role in my life, but somehow Transmorphers made me question the unquestionable. How DARE you Transmorphers you big ol’ pile of shit. How dare you. Mockbusters are out! You hear me Transmorphers!? ONE STRIKE AND YOU ARE OUT …

Cheerios, 

The Sklogs

Clan of the Cave Bear Recap

Jamie

After an earthquake kills her mother a Cro-Magnon child, Ayla, is rescued by a clan of Neanderthals. While most accept her into the clan, she is tormented by the future leader, Broud, and struggles to abide by the strict customs of the clan so alien to her own. Can she overcome the evolutionary gap before it’s too late? Find out in… The Clan of the Cave Bear.

How?! We open on Ayla’s mother getting sucked into the earth due to an earthquake. Left to fend for herself she wanders about, eventually getting attacked by a lion and surviving only long enough to be found by a Neanderthal clan looking for a new cave. The leader of the clan wants to abandon the child, but eventually relents when Ayla leads them to a perfect new cave. She seems destined to be one of their own. Over the years Ayla is slowly accepted into the clan, except by the jealous future leader Broud who resents the freedom that Ayla seems to have. While she bucks the strict cultural dogma of the clan by secretly learning to use a sling, Broud takes pleasure in beating her and forcing himself upon her, eventually leading to her pregnancy. Soon thereafter she is caught using the sling when she saves a young boy from a wolf attack. Exiled for a month in the harsh winter there seems to be little chance of her survival, but through her adaptation skills and ingenuity she gives birth and survives the winter alone (seems unlikely, but whatever). After her return, her place in the clan only grows, much to the chagrin of Broud. In the end Broud is officially named leader of the tribe whereby Ayla is exiled and forced to forge her own way in the world. This injustice causes an irreparable rift in the clan meant to show how unwillingness to adapt is the eventual downfall of the Neanderthals. Science! I know that synopsis sounds uneventful, but I assure you it’s even less eventful than I described. The End.

Why?! Motivations in the film are few and far between. As in the book, the film spends most of its time speculating on the lives of Neanderthals. The day to day struggles of Ayla are rooted in her having a different sense of self and concept of gender roles due to differences in the brain of Neanderthals compared to Cro-Magnon humans. This is of course based on science… JK LOLZ. It’s not. The Neanderthals can see into the past and the future and shit with their crazy Neanderthal brains and are basically magic. If there is any motivation at all it’s for the clan to survive and Ayla to fit in. The clan cannot adapt to her feminist ways and her exile presages the decline of the Neanderthals as a dominant species on Earth. Boom roasted, Neanderthals. You might be magic, but Ayla can do math. You donzo.

What?! There is nothing more I would have loved than to see product placement in this film. Would have made up for a somewhat bizarre but mostly boring BMT film. But alas, no quick draughts of Coca-Cola before the big musk ox hunt and I’m unfamiliar with the brands of cocaine from the 80’s.

Who?! We get a true celebrity appearance in this film. During a large clan gathering there is a bear fight. The bear is played by none other than Bart the Bear, one of the most famous animal actors ever. We’ve seen him before in On Deadly Ground and we’ll see him again in Meet the Deedles. The funniest rumor is that he got enough votes to be nominated for an Oscar for the 1988 film The Bear, but rules precluded animals from receiving nominations, so it couldn’t go forward. I guess the Oscars figured out what the officials in Air Bud couldn’t.

Where?! The book is pretty clear exactly where this all takes place (Ukraine), but the film obviously doesn’t have a good way of talking about the setting. Doesn’t even really try. But ignorance is no excuse for the law. Jamie’s law of settings is ironclad. F.

When?! Likely takes place in the Late Pleistocene period when the Neanderthals were heading towards extinction. Impossible to get any more accurate than that. D-.

I could not resist the allure of reading the smash hit novel that this film was based on, even if it was a 500 page feminist novel from the 80’s. In the end it was a pretty slow go. I liked the characters and it was certainly interesting to read the speculation on the life and biology of Neanderthals (although a lot of the magic memory stuff she did was more than laughable). At the same time I don’t think the message and construction of the book aged very well. It’s primarily an allegory pertaining to the second-wave feminism of the 60’s and 70’s, which makes the life and culture of the Neanderthals oddly modern feeling and yet the message dated. This actually penetrated the film as well where a major complaint by reviewers was how modern everything seemed. Overall it was a pretty straight adaptation with some events merged together and small changes near the end… but largely faithful probably to its detriment. Patrick?  

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Have you ever had a dream where things are happening around you but it is all kind of fuzzy and unfocused and when you wake up you can’t remember it? When you are awake and that happens to you it’s called a Clan of the Cave Bear. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Prequel, Sequel, Remake) – You can appreciate why the book exists and what the author was trying to do. She had researched the time period and decided to make a fictionalized version of this world she knew so well. The movie basically has some decent sets and settings. Other than that though … let’s remake it! So, the one good thing really was the setting. So we get back to Vancouver, start shooting those vistas! No sign language, as a matter of fact I want this to be action packed! Hunting, the empowerment of young women, a strong independent lead living in Clan of the Cave Bear. I’m going to go ahead and cut out the multiple rape scenes as well, and let’s go ahead and give the main villain his comeuppance and the lead a happy ending, and … What’s that? Yes, I said multiple rape scenes, it is … not fantastic. You know what? This is irredeemable, I don’t even want to watch my own remake!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – First, this movie is stone cold boring. It is effectively an art piece showing in painful detail the machinations of caveman sign language. Second, there are, as I said, multiple uncomfortable rape scenes and in general the struggle of the lead is neither particularly fulfilling nor ultimately redemptive. They stayed a bit too close to home in creating a villain and then never bothering to punish him, and creating a hero and never bothering to save her. Dare I say the film comes across as somewhat nihilistic even. It takes place before any familiar religion so … alright, this is getting a bit heavy, but let’s say by the end I just kind of felt horrible for early human beings more than anything else. Finally, and maybe it is a matter of a brutal filming schedule or demanding make-up process, but some of the actors look a little zonked out. I don’t want to speculate about drugs or anything else, but I literally laughed out loud a few times as the actors looked around with unfocused deadpan looks on their faces. It was weird. I’m going to go with an old favorite of BMT for the Sklognalogy with God and Generals. This 4+ hour epic is basically just an exercise in filming accurate portrayals of Civil War troop maneuvers. And it is as exciting as it sounds. The one thing I thought it lacked was detailed sign language though.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – Legacy will be the same as Gods and Generals in which I might remember it for being so boring. Unlike Gods and Generals though it didn’t have a comically long running time going for it, so it is more likely just remembered as a more-bad-than-BMT film of this year. I’m kind of stunned, but the film has almost no cred. No Razzies (an Oscar nod even) and nowhere really mentioned it as a particularly bad film. It just kind of got forgotten. Hey, look at that … we all agree.

You can read the review of Air Bud: Golden Receiver separately, but does it change our minds about Kids’ films? Actually … the more I reflect on it the more it kind of does. I liked watching Air Bud 2. I thought it was fascinating from two levels. First, the B story is kind of an interesting part of the kids’ film genre, and exploring that more could be very fun. Second, something like a nearly-direct-to-DVD sequel has its own kind of charm. Little Giants, The Big Green, The Mighty Ducks, all had that kind of charm. Perhaps sports movies are the key? Regardless it is definitely something to consider, especially in the new year when we are considering a modification to the cycle. Stay tuned.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Air Bud: Golden Receiver Recap

Jamie

Everything is going smoothly for Josh and his basketball playing dog Buddy until a new man shows up in his Mom’s life. Turning to football to get out of the house he finds that Buddy is just as good at catching a pass as scoring some hoops. Can they team up to win the big game and become emotionally open to his Mom’s new beau? Find out in… Air Bud: Golden Receiver.

How?! When we last saw Josh in Air Bud he was just coming to terms with his father’s tragic death through the magic of his basketball playing dog. Now we jump forward and Josh’s mom is looking for that companionship that has been missing for the last several years. One day while out rollerblading she meets cute the new veterinarian in town and boy howdy do the sparks fly. Josh is pretty confused about all this and turns to football to take his mind off things and get him out of the house when the vet comes over (of course this backfires and only brings them closer. Gah!). Happily taking up the role of backup QB, Josh is thrust into action following a shoulder injury to the starter. Oh no! But they suck! He’ll look like such a loser! But wait! Buddy runs onto the field and helps Josh score a touchdown. Suddenly Buddy is the new star player of the team and no one seems to have an issue with this (even when a dog is chasing kids down to force fumbles… which seems problematic). On the day of the big championship game Buddy is kidnapped by a couple of Russian circus owners (in a completely forgettable subplot), leaving the team to fend for themselves. After going down big, they’re saved when the vet rescues Buddy and brings him to the game. On the final play Josh finds the Air Bud within himself and tosses a Hail Mary to an actual human player for the big win! That’s not the only win of the day either because the vet wins in Josh’s heart and the family lives happily ever after. The End.

Why?! I got to say, you can make fun of this film all you want (and there’s a lot to make fun of… a dog plays on a football team after all), but the motivations in this film are actually touching and done with a nuance that you see surprisingly rarely in kids films. Josh’s entire motivation for playing football is to get out of the house when his Mom’s new boyfriend comes over. He wrestles with the emotions that comes with watching her date again and wondering whether liking this new man in his life is a betrayal to his dead father. Buddy once again helps him find love in the sport and grow to realize that not all change is bad and that just because you love football doesn’t mean you love basketball any less (get it?)… it’s nice.

What?! I barely mentioned the subplot of the film which is a pair of Russian circus owners going around the country stealing talented animals. It is a film ruiner and something that should have just been cut in favor of literally anything else. Why do I mention this terrible storyline in the What?! Section? Because one of the owners gets his kicks by watching the 1976 film Gus about a field goal kicking mule who can kick 100 yard field goals. I ran the numbers and indeed that would make them almost undefeatable. A team averages 12 possessions a game. If they could score three points on each they would average at least 36 points a game! They better add a “No Mules” rule… but leave the question of dogs playing open.

Who?! By the second film the original Buddy has passed away, so his part was portrayed by four different dogs: Chance, Zak, Chase, and Rush (sounds like fraternity buddies at Delta Omega Gamma, boom). Surprisingly none of them reprised their role in the subsequent films.

Where?! Like its predecessor this film is set in beautiful Fernfield, Washington. Of course they bely the Vancouver filming location by the ridiculously Canadian way that everyone says “sorry.” B.

When?! We open on the first day of school and end at the football championship. So we can safely say this runs from September to November… however, no exact date was observed so have to keep this a D+.

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A sad boy sits at home, his mother on a date, his world reeling. The babysitter asks “Do you want to watch a movie?” Fine. What’s this? A sequel to Air Bud? He likes dogs, he liked that movie. Whatever. But the movie speaks to him! He understands! Just because his mother might go on dates or even get married doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him! And he doesn’t need to forget his father! Air Bud 2 you did it!! One problem: he doesn’t like Air Bud anymore because this movie was trash. It’s a wash! Let’s get into it.

The Good (Sequel / Prequel / Remake) – As I hinted at in the intro the film, much like its predecessor, has its heart in the right place. The B-story works. Which, for a kids film is rare. Examples of real B-stories from children’s films: In Old Dogs Robin Williams and John Travolta are trying to sign Japanese baseball players to a sports marketing contract; In Nine Lives Kevin Spacey’s protege is trying to push him out and force a hostile takeover of his company … in what universe are kids interested in such things? Here, the B-story is that a kid’s mother is starting to date again a few years after the sudden tragic death of his father, and the conflicted feelings of what this means in the young boy’s life. That is a real B-story which probably actually did help some poor kid get through a tough time. The guy who plays the coach also is a very well-written character with a great message to give to the kids. I can appreciate those parts outside of the quality of the surrounding film. I want a sequel though. In this long-awaited sequel we find Air Bud finding success in the most unexpected of all places: high finance! When Air Bud shows an uncanny ability to pick stocks, Josh, now a small fry at the biggest investment bank on Wall Street, quickly finds himself climbing the corporate ladder. Trying to keep his secret weapon under wraps he ultimately uncovers a terrible conspiracy: his boss is selling highly leveraged real estate options to the state teacher union pension fund in an immoral get-rich-quick scheme! Uh-oh! Can Josh expose his boss (and get the girl) before it is too late?! He better, because if he doesn’t Air Bud might just do it for him! Air Bud: Board of Direct-Furs!

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The Boris and Natasha-esque bad guys are by far the worst part of this film. They probably would have been cut if not for the fact that the film would then be a svelte, far more entertaining 60 minutes long. The first half of this film has basically no football playing dog which is a tragedy. But its biggest crime is the football itself. A few things: (1) The images of a dog chasing down children in a fun middle school football game is terrifying. Immediately parents would be like “nope, this is actually too far. It was funny for a second, but dogs actually can’t play middle school football”. (2) A kid destroys Air Bud in the championship game and injures him! Insane, but well within the rules set out in the Air Bud universe. (3) The first touchdown by Air Bud should have resulted in a  too many men on the field penalty since he comes off of the sideline to catch the ball. Completely takes you out of the movie. What? Did they line up with ten men to start? Get out of here! I didn’t even get to the announcers, and the bumbling Abbott and Costello-esque fat-and-skinny refs which appear solely for the Championship game. I’m going to go future on the Sklognalogy because I think the closest film I can think of is Little Giants, a staple of childhood viewing for us, but not yet a BMT film. Ludicrous, actually the same B-story (her father dating, and a bonus am-I-not-feminine-enough? tom-boy story … huh, kid’s films are kind of all the same), and the rags-to-riches tale of a down-and-out sports team winning the championship against all odds.

The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – This could have a solid legacy if it revived our trust in bad kids films. And even then it is probably the most entertainingly bad kids film I’ve seen in quite a while. So it has that going for it. No street cred, but that isn’t a surprise. I was somewhat stunned to see Leonard Maltin even have a review for the film. And people like Ebert tend to pick on the “big boys” of the year like Armageddon. Both films this week with no cred, for shame.

I’ll leave the bring a friend analysis for the Clan of the Cave Bear recap. And, no, I did not feel the need to rewatch Air Bud, which I have seen. So no homework to report. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Flatliners (2017) Recap

Jamie

Looking to scientifically explore the concept of the afterlife, a medical student, Courtney, has four of her peers stop her heart and then resuscitate her. Finding that the procedure improves her mental capacity, they each in turn try the risky procedure to deadly consequences. Can they stop the game before it’s too late? Find out in… Flatliners (2017).

What?! Courtney is a star student at the University of Anonymous Medical School. However, she is haunted (figuratively) by the death of her younger sister in a car accident caused by her own distracted driving. Looking to explore the afterlife, she recruits a few of her fellow students to help her stop her heart and then resuscitate her a minute later. When the experiment is a success and Courtney seems to gain increased mental acuity and memory (straight out of Limitless) the rest of the morons are super into the idea of almost dying too. These supernatural abilities are cool for a second, but it totally turns out that they’ve opened the door to their worst sins coming to life and trying to murder them. Uh oh! After Courtney (now literally haunted by her sister) is killed by what they had assumed were hallucinations, the rest of the dumbos realize they must apologize to those they’ve wronged or suffer the same fate. Once they go through this process they are free from their hauntings and ready to focus on what’s important: scrubbing away all evidence of their involvement in Courtney’s death (that is a real fact, the film ends with them disposing of evidence in a river… not sure what moral we are meant to learn from all this). The End.

Why?! Much like the original film each character in Flatliners has their own motivation for flatlining. Courtney claims to want to make scientific history by proving the existence of the afterlife, but we get the feeling that what she really wants is to overcome the guilt associated with the death of her sister. The next to go is Jamie who simply wants to gain worldwide fame as a Dr. Oz type television personality. Seeing how Jamie and Courtney gain special abilities from the experience, Sophia wants to go next so that she won’t struggle so much in finishing med school. Finally Marlo is just super competitive and goes last. Ray is the fifth member who doesn’t actually flatline and plays the moral compass of the group looking to make sure none of them die.

What?! I’m going to settle this score once and for all. Everyone who says that this isn’t a remake but rather a sequel hasn’t done their due diligence. Yes, Kiefer Sutherland appears in a cameo, but his name is Dr. Barry Wolfson. It’s not Nelson like in the original. “But Jamie, maybe he changed his name after the horrors of the first film.” That would be a good point if it weren’t so dumb. Why would that be the case and they end up doing nothing with it? No sly wink to Courtney/the camera. No “Be careful. Reaserch can be a real killer,” delivered with a smirk  so that all the Flatlinerheads in the cinema can get amped and cheer. Nothing. Just boring old Dr. Barry Wolfson cameoing away. This film is clearly a remake.

Who?! A little case of nepotism up in here. Avery Bederman played the younger sister of Courtney in the film and just so happens to be the daughter of executive producer Michael Bederman. While I could mention that he’s quite successful and was executive producer on Best Picture winner Spotlight, I will instead highlight that he was an uncredited line producer of one of our very favorites of 2014. That’s right! Endless Looooovveeeeeeeee. I have endless love for that book/movie/movie.

Where?! It’s a rarity for us to find a film that goes out of its way to not have a setting. The Tuxedo is a famous example where they digitally scrubbed the film of NYC references following 9/11 to avoid controversy. For Flatliners (2017) I can only presume they just didn’t want to spend the money making Toronto look like Chicago (where the original was set). Instead an unrecognizable city skyline and “Great State” license plates told us all we needed to know: welcome to the great state of Americana, where we bleed red, white, and blue and eat hot dog pie. F.

When?! Temporal settings are hard as it is, even when you have a DVD to pause. In the theater? Forget about it. It might be there, but I’ll have to wait until it’s out on DVD so I can never watch it again probably. F.

My theatrical experience was quite different from BMT Live’s of the past. That’s because my showing was absolutely packed (shocking, I know). I went on a Friday and it was filled to the brim with teenyboppers jockeying for seats next to potential beaus. Despite this, a few of them must have been paying attention because they actually chuckled at the jokes, jumped at some of the scares, and seemed to have a bit of fun. I did not. I had assumed the film was a slim 85 minutes when I entered the theater, but realized an hour in that that was an impossibility. How did you make a 110 minute long ABC television pilot of a film? How and why? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! While reflecting on the remake of Flatliners I liked to imagine the conversation Kiefer had with the writer of this film prior to signing on. Am I playing the same character? Maybe. Well, do I have the same name? Maybe. But are we shooting a scene where I’m the character from the first movie? Probably, but we’ll see if we edit it out in the end … any other questions, Kiefer? Nope, sounds chill. Let’s get into it!

The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake; Homework Sklog-signment) – The story is as interesting as ever, and the cast is fine (specifically Luna, Page, and, after a bit of a false start, Clemons). If the original didn’t exist it would be a forgettable albeit still terrible supernatural horror film. Nothing more. Which I guess is a positive. Since this is already a remake might as well get the review of Flatliners (1990) out of the way: I dug the Gothic look a ton, and the cast was incredible (even if the acting wasn’t always). I loved the idea … right up until they were getting haunted by spooky ghosts. There is a better story concerning doctors exploring life after death, which I guess is why Flatliners is more on the cult side of cult classics. And … why they really needed to do something new for this remake. A group of doctors one-upping themselves. Going further. Getting addicted. Breaking down psychologically, and the one that dreamt it up (and dreamt of fame) finally snapping when he realizes he’ll have to share the spotlight with those he considers less than him. Go true blue low-budget mad scientist. At least then you’d bulletproof against it being a bomb, and you don’t devolve into the supernatural (at least, when you don’t have anything new or interesting to say).

The Bad (Sklognalogy) – The supernatural part of the story is the weakest and ends up handcuffing the film into a trite jump-scare horror that is honestly not scary, not interesting, and no fun. There is also a major divergence from the original in which the doctors go a little limitless (although The Fly is what came to mind initially) after flatlining. Bullshit, people would have noticed they were geniuses after dying for a minute. A recent Sklognalogy is Godsend. Although there at least you get that awesome mad scientist character in DeNiro. Here, Page ended up dying halfway through, and wasn’t even the same kind of unhinged madman that Kiefer eventually morphed into in the original.

The BMT (Legacy; StreetCreditReport.com) – This is the second year in a row August didn’t serve up a serviceable Summer Live, but we did wait it out to get something with a truly dire Rotten Tomatoes score. We’ll see about the legacy. I think it depends on the Razzies, and it has a better chance than Mechanic Resurrection did last year of snagging a few. I think the 4% Rotten Tomatoes score speaks for itself for street cred, but there won’t be worst-of lists for a while to confirm. I’m on the edge of my seat!

I already did the Homework Sklog-signment, but I might as well give a little BMT Live Theater Review! I watched at the Cineworld on Fulham Road and, wow, what an absolutel shithole. No offense, but it is just kind of getting run down, and I have a feeling it will close soon. The Fulham Broadway Vue is way better, not to mention the enormous (and posh) Westfield Vue. Anyways, there was a surprising number of people, mostly older, one who just couldn’t figure out how not to eat popcorn ridiculously loudly. No audience reaction at all. Which for a purported horror film is not the best I think. The only really remarkable thing though is that there were (count em!) 30 minutes of commercials and trailers before the film. Mostly commercials. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten angry about that, but it was just way too many. I could have left my house after the movie started and easily got there before the movie actually started. No fun … maybe I’m getting old.

Cheerios, 

the Sklogs