Whenever I watch a BMT film I try to put it in context of what we’ve watched before (or in the cases of adaptations/sequels what had come before it). In the case of a fairly mediocre, original action film like Raw Deal that can leave me at a bit of a loss for my initial reaction to the film. The one single thing that stood out for me with the film was the excessive violence committed by Arnold. Not only does he have a terrible home life (his wife is a drunk who hates him), but then he proceeds to fake his own death and kill approximately 40 people throughout the film. It was strange. It was very 80’s in the sense of “these criminals deserve to die and Arnold is fully justified in doling out retribution against them.” If you had to put it into context you’d have to compare it to the Sly Stallone classic Cobra that came out the same year. Obviously Cobra is a lot more hilarious than Raw Deal because Sly wrote it and he’s insane, but they do share that sense of retribution. The other odd thing they share is Sly and Arnold both harping on dietary health. They both tell people they shouldn’t be eating certain things at certain times. Very weird and very 80’s (which is how you can describe all the films this cycle).
Settings 101! This is a very Chicago film. It’s mentioned very frequently regarding the mob boss and you get some really nice scenes with the Chicago skyline. Additionally, since Arnold is undercover with a mob boss, the Chicago PD is featured prominently in the film, which provides a number of vehicles with “Chicago” printed on the side. However, there is nothing about Chicago in the film that takes it from a setting to a Setting. This could have been set in LA or Miami without missing a beat. So this is pretty clearly a C+ film. I feel like that might actually be the most common grade we’ll end up seeing: the film where the setting is mentioned numerous times, but doesn’t become integral to the plot.
‘Ello everyone! The only people who got a Raw Deal was the audience! YouknowwhatImean?! Uh, so yeah. Up until this point the cycles this year were killing it. We hit classic after classic to the point where I got bored with how classically bad everything was and I nearly forgot about the dire mapl.d.map cycles of yore. Well we are back. Somehow 1986 is just terrible for bad movies. The ones that are well know are barely movies and just dull, and there just aren’t a lot of them. And honestly, the future for the cycle doesn’t look bright. Bear with us and revel in the fact that this is our lives and not yours. Sigh. Let’s get into it.
- The Good – I thought Arnold was fine. I thought the main story was okay. It didn’t seem to go too over the top with the organized crime stuff, although it was a bit crazy in how they portray Arnold going undercover among people who are literal maniacs. That is about it.
- The Bad – Pretty boring and the action was nothing to really write home about. The screenplay is horrible, with a ton of WTF lines sprinkled throughout. The ending is somewhat unbelievable since Arnold literally goes around killing people and the local police and FBI just shrug their shoulders and say “good for you man, you killed all the baddies”. The immediate ending it laughable just from the perspective of Arnold making his former boss walk again through sheer willpower.
- The BMT – No, the movie is first and foremost probably a little too good. It isn’t a completely terrible movie beyond the screenplay which is an atrocity. But mostly it is just forgettable and a bit boring. If you aren’t paying attention it is confusing and if you are paying attention it is boring. And it isn’t like Arnold is somehow hilarious, he does a fine job. Just kind of blah.
Time for another Sklog-trospective. In this case what I noted in the preview was how interesting it was that two very accomplished Spaghetti Western writers are credited with a story credit. And indeed, you could imagine the film as a western. A former US Marshall disgraced after killing a suspect on the run operates as a small town sheriff on the frontier. His former partner comes to tell him a gang has been terrorizing a local area and has killed his son (also a US Marshall) and he’s looking to do a little off-the-record vengeance. The sheriff agrees and joins up with the band under the guise of criminal looking for a little action. Ultimately, the sheriff deals out some bloody justice in an extended shootout in his town, and rejoins the Marshalls, who are grateful for the help. Totally plausible. I would watch that (especially if it starred Arnold).
I feel like if The Golden Child were to have aired on Comedy Central during my childhood I would have come away with very fond memories of it. It had all the things that I loved as a kid: the occasional joke, some mystical shit, and interesting exotic settings. It’s like a really shitty Indiana Jones… except my child brain wouldn’t have recognized the “shitty” part and would have just thought it was “like Indiana Jones.” Unfortunately that’s really the only particularly good thing about it: that I might have liked it as a child. Even the things I would have liked are things that my adult brain recognizes as being incredibly strange. These include a surreal dream sequence, an opening montage that better fit a music video than an actual film, monster-human characters straight out of Masters of the Universe, and a part-animated finale. Just weird shit. The weirdest thing though is a scene where the main villain totally flubs a line and they chose to leave it in the film. I couldn’t tell why. It’s not even a funny flub. He just stumbles over a line and they kept it in. It’s a BMysTery that will probably never be solved: why is there a blooper left in the final cut of The Golden Child. The world will never know. Funny enough I don’t think all the weird stuff even sunk the film at the time (it was the 80s after all). I think it just wasn’t that funny. It reads as one of those films that had a serious script with random [Eddie Improvises] notes throughout. Like Beverly Hills III. Just hope that a not funny movie can be made funny enough… and it wasn’t.
Settings 101! Settings 101! It’s become a staple of the first part of the email (along with Audio Sklog-entary, when applicable) to the point where it really isn’t even a game at this point. It’s simply part of life. The Golden Child was pretty sweet for Settings. Not really because the main setting was super important, but rather because the secondary locations (Nepal and Tibet) are rare enough that this would fit nicely into an international mapl.de.map (whenever we choose to start that). As for the main location, it was established in quick order that Eddie Murphy lives and operates in Los Angeles. How do we know? In the opening of the film there is a crazytown montage of Murphy carousing around LA. There are flashes of major landmarks (Pink’s, Randy’s Donuts, and a triple take of the Hollywood sign), along with mentions of Hollywood, California license plates, and LA addresses. Also Eddie Murphy works closely with the LAPD. Basically there is as much conversing about LA as a setting as possible, without explicitly acknowledging the setting to the audience directly. On top of this, there is nothing about the setting that makes it important to the film. Could have very easily been San Fran and nothing really would have changed. I believe this is a clear C+ film, and I love it for it.
‘Ello everyone! The Golden Child? More like Cold and Mild! Amirite? Because I mean … this movie is weird. Like just … let’s get into it.
- The Good – 80’s Murphy is charming in almost any circumstance. He is incredibly charming in this movie. The storyline is vaguely interesting, especially how they go hard sci fi / fantasy throughout.
- The Bad – The movie is boring. It also just kind of meanders around. And bar none this is one of the worst endings to a movie in the history of BMT. Spoiler Alert! Murphy’s love interest dies and everyone is just like “go get the Golden Child, he can cure her”. So he’s like “okay” then drives around LA for like 10 minutes, see a Tibetan bird, and is like sweet. Upon arriving at the hideout he then just kind of scoops the kid up and the bad guy becomes a stop-motion animated demon and just kind of pesters them on their drive to save the lady. It was nonsense and kind of ruined a somewhat pleasant if boring diversion otherwise.
- The BMT – It is kind of strange to me that this is so crazy derided among critics. A BOMB Leonard? Really? Not even the Murphy charm adds a little half star there? It seems like they were aiming at Beverly Hills Buddha or something along those lines, where a ton of the humor is just Murphy using his street wiles in a fish out of water type situation. And I can appreciate it. I could see myself using the endings in bad movie examples going forward, but to me it was below average for BMT as a whole. It is just boring, not bad in any tangible way.
I’m going to introduce a new series to the email that, like Jamie’s Settings 101, can be done each time. This I’m calling Sklog-trospective. Basically I record a thought before the film, something I was particularly interested in from the last preview, and then explain it and any thoughts in the recap. This time what I was particularly interested in was the director of The Golden Child, Michael Ritchie. The Golden Child was interesting because of its success and large budget to an extent, but I personally found the director to be an enigma. Critics specifically mention how scattershot his directing choices are. He goes from weird niche horror, to pageant mockumentary, to the Fletch series. He worked consistently, but only really met with middling success. It is a strange story, one that I couldn’t quite cut through in my research. After watching the film … the man is an experimentalist at heart. The beginning to The Golden Child is a sight to behold. A frenetic portrayal of LA mixed with repeated clips of Murphy laughing or putting up signs or ogling ladies. And it was a precursor to the film. Stop motion animation is used twice. A very strange dream sequence introduces Murphy to the bad guys. The entire movie kind of makes no sense and is barely held together by Murphy’s improvisation alone. The direction in this film is a major issue, and it only makes me more fascinated by Ritchie. I’ve seen almost none of his films, but I might have to check out a few others just to see what they are like.