Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever Preview

As world famous bad movie scientists, we obviously have a high powered lawyer on retainer to fix the many jams we find ourselves in. Unfortunately he’s far too busy cleaning up our latest scandal to help up set up the BMT Productions, LLC. “No probs, bro,” we say and hop right onto LawyerHelpPleaseAndThankYou.net to find a new lawyer the old fashioned way. We obvs crush it on the message boards and soon snare a lawyer who says she will do it for free (and she sounds pretty cute to boot). When she shows up though we are shocked to find that she’s no lady… she’s a dog! And our country club is no dogs allowed (gulp). But we’re in a jam and we need this LLC quick or else the Obsidian Dongle is doomed. We just got to get it done, dog lawyer or no. Surprisingly, our journey with Ruffles is marked by startling personal growth. Patrick’s rambunctious children realize their Dad can still be pretty cool sometimes and Jamie finally learns to live and love again. Ruffles has changed our lives and become this man’s… best friend. Just as we are about to sign the final papers for the company an assassin jumps through the window and knocks us out cold. When we awaken Ruffles is gone and all that’s left is a note that says “I’ve taken your dog lawyer to Vancouver. Follow if you dare. Signed, Aitch.” While this seemingly makes no sense and veers wildly away from our original plan of creating a film company, we only have one choice. The fate of Ruffles is in our hands. That’s right! We’re watching Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (Produced by Elie Samaha who also produced Battlefield Earth). This is the worst reviewed film of all time and is one that Patrick and I have both seen before (I’ve actually seen it a few times). However recently we decided that we’re going to revisit such gems and give them the full BMT treatment. This one deserves it. Let’s go!

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) – BMeTric: 77.2

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(Stock still baby. No regression = super ultra everyone-agrees-this-is-garbage film. Which makes sense considering this is the worst reviewed film on Rotten Tomatoes in history.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  Idiotic action film boasts what may be the worst movie title ever coined. Banderas plays an ex-FBI agent still mourning the death of his wife after seven years; his former boss recruits him for a kidnapping case by telling him his wife is still alive, and the kidnapper can lead him to her. But even that sliver of logic dissolves as the story unfolds. Only devotees of cars exploding into fireballs will find any value here.

(If this got anything other than a BOMB my head would have exploded. I remember this movie not making a lick of sense. There is a crazy bus scene, but I don’t remember an inordinate number of car explosions. I think the people who would find value in it are more likely to be wire-fu completionists. I’m loving that semi-colon in the middle of the review as well, you always give your audience what they want Leonard, I love it.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tme_SdRv2gk

(A microdevice! Oh no! Two main things. First, them dropping what is the worst like in the film (“I told her you just got beat up by a girl”) and blowing their load with the kind of sweet overhead shot of the guy falling off of the building is just premo marketing. They also give away the plot of the film, like beginning to end. I’ll give them this: the trailer looked a lot better than the actual film is.)

Directors – Wych Kaosayananda – (BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Notes: The son of a Thai diplomat he broke out with Fah in 1998, which had the largest budget for any Thai film to that point. Ballistic basically destroyed his career in the US, although in interviews he chaulks many of the issues it has up to its disastrous production.)

Writers – Alan B. McElroy (written by) (as Alan McElroy) – (Known For: Wrong Turn; Future BMT: Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings; Tekken; Spawn; Thr3e; Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers; The Perfect Guy; Rapid Fire; BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; The Marine; Left Behind; Notes: Interestingly in interviews the director claims the script was heavily rewritten by Peter Lenkov without credit. Amazing career focusing heavily on horror. He was probably in the last wave of people who literally just up and moved to Hollywood with a single script in hand and was hired onto the Columbia screenwriting program based off of that.)

Extra Note: Peter Lenkov wrote Son in Law and Demolition Man. He mainly does tv now, and is notably the writer of the original R.I.P.D. comic book!

Actors – Antonio Banderas – (Known For: Shrek 2; Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; Shrek the Third; Spy Kids; Shrek Forever After; Bullet Head; The Mask of Zorro; Frida; Acts of Vengeance; Desperado; Knight of Cups; La piel que habito; Spy Kids 3: Game Over; Philadelphia; Black Butterfly; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water; The 33; Puss in Boots; Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams; Future BMT: Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D; Machete Kills; Play It to the Bone; Never Talk to Strangers; The Other Man; The Legend of Zorro; The Body; The Big Bang; Original Sin; Two Much; Gun Shy; Autómata; Assassins; Of Love and Shadows; Justin and the Knights of Valour; The 13th Warrior; Four Rooms; Imagining Argentina; Black Gold; BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; The Expendables 3; Notes: Most notable as the bee in those Nasonex ads (j/k). Zorro, Puss in Boots, Spy Kids, Expendables. You know Antonio Banderas! Spanish actor who successfully crossed over into American films.)

Lucy Liu – (Known For: Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Kill Bill: Vol. 2; Chicago; Kung Fu Panda 3; Jerry Maguire; Charlie’s Angels; Kung Fu Panda; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; Lucky Number Slevin; Kung Fu Panda 2; Payback; Detachment; The Man with the Iron Fists; Shanghai Noon; TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; Kaguyahime no monogatari; True Crime; Gridlock’d; Cypher; City of Industry; Future BMT: Code Name: The Cleaner; Rise; Play It to the Bone; Domino; Hotel; The Trouble with Bliss; Molly; Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You; The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human; BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Notes: American, she is fluent in Mandarin Chinese however. Has played Watson on the long running television series Elementary.)

Talisa Soto – (Known For: Licence to Kill; Don Juan DeMarco; The Pope of Greenwich Village; The Mambo Kings; La Mission; Piñero; Spike of Bensonhurst; Future BMT: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation; Spy Hard; Mortal Kombat; The Sunchaser; BMT: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Notes: Basically retired from acting after this film. Not because of the film, she happened to marry Benjamin Bratt and have her first child around the same time … but I like to think her experiences on Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever helped her decide.)

Budget/Gross – $70 million / Domestic: $14,307,963 (Worldwide: $19,924,033)

(There is a note below claiming this is the biggest bomb ever, which is obviously false. Yes, $70 million is a lot, but I’m pretty sure at this point films that have cost of $100 million have ended up not being released. It is impossible for this to be the worst ever I think. But this is catastrophic stuff, the whole budget is a write off at that point.)

#20 for the Action – Wire-Fu genre

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(Amazing. It really was in that in between period when you could spend the money on this stuff, and when it probably was all replaced with CGI instead. Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave, The Tuxedo, Bulletproof Monk, The Medallion … we’ve seen a lot of these films. A very funny genre with a delightful mix of amazing and trash films as well.)

#64 for the Action Heroine genre

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(A bit ahead of the curve there which is interesting, especially considering none of the other combinations in the notes had the character played by a woman. The genre is obviously booming now. Fun fact: We’ve seen the lowest grossing movie on this list, Barb Wire, which is indeed barely a movie.)

#89 for the Spy genre

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(Right in the thick of the peak. The huge dive is, I think, because Pierce Brosnan was James Bond for the last time then (in a terrible movie), so it kind of put a damper on the genre which was kind of subsequently taken over by Bourne for a bit.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/116): A startlingly inept film, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever offers overblown, wall-to-wall action without a hint of wit, coherence, style, or originality.

(From what I remember, this sounds about right. Noteworthy, still, for being the only movie with over 100 reviews all of which were rotten. I don’t think this will ever be broken in the age of ironic viewing and good-for-what-it-is-itis. Which I guess makes this all the more amazing. Reviewer Highlight: Ballistic is a generic blur of metallic blue and fireball orange set to the contrapuntal sounds of throbbing techno and eardrum-puncturing noise. – Manohla Dargis, Los Angeles Times)

Poster – Sklog-llistic: Rich vs. Poe (B+)

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(I like this poster, but I don’t love this poster and I’m not totally sure why. It’s got everything: blue tone, unique font, nice enough framing. I guess it just doesn’t tell a story to me. Like if I saw this poster would I want to go see it? Nope.)

Tagline(s) – Your most dangerous enemies are the friends you’ve double-crossed. (D)

(Lol, wot? They talk about this film being a convoluted mess. Same goes for the tagline. Also, I don’t think this has anything to do with the actual plot of this film.)

Keyword(s) – fbi; Top Ten by BMeTric: 81.7 I Know Who Killed Me (2007); 78.8 Torque (2004); 77.2 Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002); 76.0 Death Note (2017); 74.8 Taxi (I) (2004); 73.7 Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003); 71.9 The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000); 70.3 Big Momma’s House 2 (2006); 68.7 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998); 67.1 Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009);

(Death Note doesn’t count (Netflix original), but the rest of those I am down for. I’m surprised Speed 2 doesn’t have this keyword. It definitely has a higher BMeTric than 67.)

Notes – The film is #1 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of “The 100 Worst Reviewed Movies of All Time”. (Indeed, I believe it is the only film with over one hundred reviews that are all rotten)

The film grossed less than 30% of its budget at the box office, making it one of the biggest box-office failures in film history. (Weeeeellllllll, not sure I believe that one)

Agent Sever was originally written to be played by a man. The film’s original stars were Wesley Snipes and Jet Li, then Vin Diesel and Sylvester Stallone. (I would have watched any of these three versions)

While filming a large-scale action scene that involved explosives, a detonation occurred too close to Antonio Banderas, who escaped with minor burns. (Scary)

The 2001 Game Boy Advance game “Ecks vs. Sever” was actually based on an early script draft for this film, not the other way around. The game’s producers later made a sequel to that game that was based on the finished version of this movie. (Apparently the one based off of the script is quite good as well. The one based on the movie is less well regarded)

According to director Wych Kaosayananda, co-star Antonio Banderas suggested Lucy Liu come on for the role of Sever after having previously worked with her on Play It to the Bone (1999). When the director had earlier read the script, he felt that it was rather similar to the films The Killer (1989) and Leon the Professional (1994), while actually visualizing that Chou-Yun Fat and Jean Reno could be perfect square-off leads. Franchise Pictures didn’t find either Fat and Reno financially viable though. (… Wait, Chow-Yun Fat and Jean Reno were too expensive … that’s weird. I wonder if it has to do with where they were filming)

The film started in the 1980s as a spec script by Alan McElroy, titled ‘Legion’, then ‘Gunner’. Vestron Pictures tried to make the movie in 1988, with Dwight H. Little directing and Dolph Lundgren starring, but Charles W. Fries didn’t want to do it. (Jesus, there are like seventeen version of this film billed as X vs Y, and all of them sound pretty amusing to be honest)

Roger Ebert included the film on his “Most Hated” list. (No doubt)

Some critics, bloggers and other movie viewers have compared this film to War (2007) due to it containing a similar storyline (disgruntled federal agent figuring out a conspiracy), people varying on the action scenes being exciting or not, both films being advertised as a versus film only for both lead stars to square off briefly on-screen and due to overwhelming dislike with both films. (Another film we have to watch)

“After casting, the real challenges started. We were going to shoot everything in Bangkok while we retouched the script to fit the location. Then the notes came in, and I won’t get into the details but there are only two things anyone needs to know about the changes that were made by request from the studio. One: In the original draft, Sever kidnaps Ecks’ son, and the whole time, the boy is basically kept in a kid-sized glass box just big enough for him to sit in, placed on top of a kilo of C4. That was changed. Two: There was no other motivation for the characters. It was all about family. Gant “kills” Ecks and takes his wife, Vinn, and their son, with both believing each other to be dead. Meanwhile, Sever wants revenge for the death of her family at the hands of Gant and his men. So, believing it was Gant’s son, she kidnaps him and Ecks springs into action. It was all about love and family and nothing else. The nano technology included in the final draft had nothing to do with what I wanted for the story. Granted, we had a fantastic writer. Franchise Pictures brought Peter Lenkov to rewrite Alan McElroy’s script and he did a great job with the instructions he was given. Yes, there were changes made that watered it down to my chagrin, but it was as satisfactory as it needed to be at the time and everybody was on board. Then, tragedy struck in September 2001 and we had to relocate from Bangkok to Vancouver for safety reasons. Those moving expenses ended up in cutting more action scenes out, but thankfully our terrific crew made things feel much easier.” (Wych Kaosayananda on changes made to the film) (Yeah, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising the production was a mess. To be honest, it sounds like 9/11 had a bigger impact that any of the production notes. I understand he wasn’t something different, but it doesn’t really sound like making a note of “don’t put a kid in a glass box on some C4” is that big of a deal)

“Well, I’ll try to explain this as best as I can: I did my first cut which as I understood it was just that-my first cut which was the script as shot and fine tuned. There were scenes I wasn’t sure of, but liked. And we also tested the movie; One scene in particular lost the audience and the experience wasn’t very good. It was a little heavy on melodrama, and I own that. I loved the scene, but also was afraid it wouldn’t work and could easily be cheesy. But again, I honestly felt that was what the tests were for, and I was wrong. We didn’t score well and based on that test, two producers who I was already having issues with for various reasons basically just took over the movie. I found out as I was on my way to the editing room two days after the test screening and just a day after having a big meeting with Warner Bros. executives and marketing people, who were terrific by the way. By the time I got to the edit suites, my editor was Caroline Ross, a wonderful person and a great editor, was also fired and replaced, after all those hours and weeks I spent with her. And I wasn’t too pleased to say the least. So, after consulting with my agents at CAA, it was decided it was best to just walk away quietly and they’d focus on getting my next job. I still had a great relationship with the executives at Warner Bros. I had things in development with Fox 2000 and RKO and we’d just move on. The problem was, I couldn’t. I’d shot an old school actioner in 2002 with the Steve McQueen classic Bullitt as my template. My DP and I had specific needs to be met with the way we shot it, especially when it came to all the action scenes I choreographed while working with Joel Kramer – one the best stunt coordinators in his field. But despite our best efforts, the movie was butchered to the point where certain shots were flipped because the edit no longer made sense. And yes, this also affected the sequencing and pacing of the action – it was horrible to watch. Just so you know, I had only ever seen the theatrical cut once with no audio, during the colour grade with Julio, my DP. At the premier I waited until the movie had been playing for thirty minutes before taking my seat. I did this because I knew the movie was bad. I pretty much hyperventilated for the whole evening.” (Wych Kaosayananda on producer’s interference with the film and his reaction with how it turned out) (Jesus. So the note is a bit confusing, possibly because of a language barrier. But, it seems like he couldn’t walk away because some of the action scenes were specifically templated a certain way, and without him they would have been butchered and nothing would have made sense and it would have besmirched his good name. Whoooooowwwweeeeeee)

Talisa Soto’s last acting role for 7 years until she appeared in La Mission (2009).

Part of Rotten Tomatoe’s Bottom 10 films that were poorly rated. The other nine are One Missed Call (2008), Pinocchio (2002), King’s Ransom (2005), National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers (2004) Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004), Strange Wilderness (2008), 3 Strikes (2000), Redline (2007) and Witless Protection (2008). (This will be our sixth, although this list is quite out of date. I can’t find an updated list)

Despite making several “bad movies of all time” lists, this film has never been nominated nor won any Razzie awards. (It was too unknown to be poked fun at … that isn’t a compliment)

The possibly only good review recorded to dare by a professional critic (yet wasn’t recorded on Rotten Tomatoes’ site) was a review for the Daily Herald by film critic Jean Carey. It was recorded on Sept. 20, 2002 and the headline was ” ‘Ballistic’ a great time at the movies.” (Ha, there is a whole article on this. So it looks like it isn’t on Rotten Tomatoes because the editor wrote it, not the movie critic, and they basically “covered” it with a new terrible review when they realized what they had done. Amazing stuff)

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I Spy Preview

While relaxing on the sun-soaked beaches of Monte Carlo, we are finally enjoying the fruits of their long backpacking trip through Europe. My open wound inflicted by the mutants is starting to burn and I have a taste for blood, but let’s not tell Patrick that (Why spoil the vacation?). While I contemplate my newly developed bloodlust, we are approached by a couple of G-Men that look like they mean business. “We have an urgent matter of national security. The President needs you to infiltrate the top secret meeting of high level terrorists in Budapest.” “Why us?” We ask. The G-Men smirk. “Because it’s known that the terrorist organizer is a huge fan of your website and work. He won’t be able to resist letting you into the party.” We both look at each other and know what has to be done, “We are not doing that. That sounds real dangerous.” But after they offer us $10 million dollars we find ourselves hiking to Budapest as newly minted agents of the United States government. That’s right! We’re watching I Spy this week. The Eddie Murphy/Owen Wilson vehicle is the Chain Reaction entry in the cycle jumping from Marmaduke through Owen Wilson. I think everyone forgot this film existed, which is almost a requirement of a BMT film. Let’s go!

I Spy (2002) – BMeTric: 51.3

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(Very nice. Since I, Spy came out relatively long ago (relative to the internet archive at least) the most interesting thing to look at was probably whether the rating was still trending towards the mean with extra votes … not. This is a below-average film through and through. Nothing super special (sub-5.0), but decidedly below average.)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  In-name-only reincarnation of the smart 1960s TV show (which starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby). Here, Wilson is an inept NSA operative who uses socky prizefighter Murphy as his cover to locate a secret weapon in Budapest. An object lesson in bad screenwriting, with an incoherent story and characters that make no sense; only the occasional comic riffs by Murphy and Wilson keep this from a complete disaster.

(TIL the difference between “object lesson” and “abject lesson”, good to know. Great semi-colon game by Leonard (as usual). I’m quite excited to see the “inept” NSA operative. These says that trope has been replaced by the bumbling pro. See: Brooklyn 99 where the very un-serious Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) seems bumbling, but is in fact an excellent detective. So will be nice to harken back to the bumbling fool paradigm.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma53Kps06cM

 

(Hmmm … even the trailer looks dull. I kind of like the style though. Murphy really did have a strange sort of arrogant charm back in the day, and despite the early 2000s terrible styles it still kind of looks cool in a weird way. The CGI looks dumb though.)

Directors – Betty Thomas – (Known For: Private Parts; The Brady Bunch Movie; Doctor Dolittle; Future BMT: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; John Tucker Must Die; 28 Days; BMT: I Spy; Notes: Part of Second City she was a regular on Hill Street Blues back in the day. She’s done a bunch of television movies more recently.)

Writers – Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin (characters) (as Morton Fine) – (Known For: The Pawnbroker; BMT: I Spy; Notes: Original writers for the original show. Both have been dead for nearly 30 years.)

Marianne Wibberley and Cormac Wibberley (story & screenplay) – (Known For: National Treasure; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; The 6th Day; Future BMT: The Shaggy Dog; G-Force; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Bad Boys II; BMT: I Spy; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle in 2004; Notes: Married writing team. Cormac is the son of Leonard Wibberley who wrote the Mouse That Roared and its subsequent sequels two of which were made into rather cooky British films in the 60s)

Jay Scherick and David Ronn (screenplay) – (Known For: Guess Who; Future BMT: The Smurfs; The Smurfs 2; Serving Sara; National Security; BMT: Norbit; Zookeeper; I Spy; Baywatch; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 2008 for Norbit; and in 2018 for Baywatch; Notes: Were at one point producers and writers on Spin City. Otherwise they are on quite the recent streak of films. Good for them, go get yo money.)

Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Mulan; Coming to America; Shrek; Shrek 2; Beverly Hills Cop; Trading Places; Tower Heist; Shrek the Third; Shrek Forever After; Life; 48 Hrs.; Dreamgirls; The Nutty Professor; Beverly Hills Cop II; Bowfinger; Doctor Dolittle; Boomerang; Imagine That; Dr. Dolittle 2; Future BMT: Nutty Professor II: The Klumps; Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man; Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; The Distinguished Gentleman; BMT: Norbit; Pluto Nash; I Spy; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child; A Thousand Words; Harlem Nights; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Harlem Nights in 1990; Winner for Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Supporting Actress for Norbit in 2008; Winner for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2010 for I Spy, Imagine That, Meet Dave, Norbit, Showtime, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash; Nominee for Worst Director for Harlem Nights in 1990; Nominee for Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Couple for Norbit in 2008; Nominee for Worst Actor in 2003 for I Spy, Showtime, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash; in 2009 for Meet Dave; in 2010 for Imagine That; and in 2013 for A Thousand Words; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 2003 for I Spy, Showtime, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash; and in 2009 for Meet Dave; Notes: Recent reports put him as the third triplet in the Twins sequel that has been announced. Hopefully Arnold’s recent health issues won’t waylay this.)

Owen Wilson – (Known For: Wonder; Cars 3; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Fantastic Mr. Fox; Cars; The Royal Tenenbaums; Inherent Vice; Wedding Crashers; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; The Darjeeling Limited; Midnight in Paris; Zoolander; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; Meet the Parents; Night at the Museum; Bottle Rocket; Night at the Museum 2; No Escape; Marley & Me; The Cable Guy; Future BMT: Anaconda; Breakfast of Champions; Little Fockers; How Do You Know; You, Me and Dupree; Are You Here; Drillbit Taylor; Masterminds; Hall Pass; Father Figures; Free Birds; Cars 2; Meet the Fockers; The Internship; Behind Enemy Lines; Armageddon; BMT: Zoolander 2; The Haunting; Marmaduke; I Spy; Around the World in 80 Days; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Combo for Zoolander 2 in 2017; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 2003 for I Spy; Notes: There were some question recently about why he isn’t in the new Wes Anderson film, but I never really heard the whole story. Can’t wait to see Father Figures though.)

Famke Janssen – (Known For: X-Men: Days of Future Past; X-Men; The Wolverine; X-Men 2; Taken; GoldenEye; X-Men: The Last Stand; The Faculty; Rounders; Lord of Illusions; Celebrity; Jack of the Red Hearts; The Wackness; Love & Sex; Made; The Gingerbread Man; City of Industry; Down the Shore; Turn the River; Noose; Future BMT: The Ten; Once Upon a Time in Venice; House on Haunted Hill; Hide and Seek; Taken 3; Deep Rising; Taken 2; Don’t Say a Word; This Is Your Death; Circus; The Chameleon; BMT: I Spy; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Notes: She’s a big animal rights activist. She was also very critical about her character of Jean Grey being recast for the new X-Men films, annoyed by them allowing Jackman and Stewart to appear and age gracefully while tending to replace women … kind of a fair criticism to be honest.)

Budget/Gross – $70 million / Domestic: $33,561,137 (Worldwide: $50,732,945)

(Bomb. $70 million … actually makes sense. This was right around when Murphy’s salary would have been sinking films that could have otherwise pulled in a modest return. This film should have had a $50 million budget maybe, considering the action sequences.)

#54 for the Action – Buddy Comedy genre

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(Ha. Really right at the peak of the genre. The Tuxedo came out almost at the exact same time as well, along with Shanghai Knights the next year. Jackie Chan bringeth the genre up, and then it promptly crashed. Go figure. The highest grossing film we’ve seen for BMT is Another 48 hrs.)

#18 for the Comedy – Spy genre

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(They killed this genre. It also probably also didn’t help that Bond went on a hiatus in 2002. With the rise of Bourne (a less … humorous spy thriller) the comedy possibilities probably went out of the window. Get Smart and then Spy probably brought the genre back … but I think it is dead again. I just don’t really see why a spy based comedy would be interesting at the moment.)

#67 for the Spy genre

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(Again completely died with the (terrible) Die Another Day. People like the Mission Impossible films at the moment, they kind of have that ridiculous Fast & the Furious vibe to it with the charismatic Tom Cruise lending it a bit more cred than, say, Transformers in the Action genre. The Tuxedo is, amazingly, the highest grossing BMT film in the series. Although high grossing spy films don’t tend to be terrible.)

#62 for the TV Adaptation (Live Action) genre

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(After the initial 90s swell (with BMT classics like The Beverly Hillbillies) this has been reduced to a kind of dull background noise in the releases every year. Baywatch and CHiPs are recent examples, and The Avengers made just about the same amount of money … rough.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 16% (21/133): Insipid and mirthless, I-Spy bares little resemblance to the TV series that inspired it.

(Big worgs Rotten Tomatoes. Mirthless is the name of the game in bad comedies though, and I’ve heard this is basically laugh free. Reviewer Highlight: As inept as big-screen remakes of The Avengers and The Wild Wild West. – Mark Rahner (Seattle Times) … fat chance, that is impossible.)

Poster – I Sklog (B+)

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(While I like the artistic spacing, font, and how they’ve used colors to wash out the “human” color palette, I find something about it a little cheap. Like I could have made this poster in my free time.)

Tagline(s) – Attitude meets espionage (B)

(Hmmmm, attitude meets espionage… is this a play on something? I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get from mashing these two words together. Seems like a potential classic, sounds-like-a-tagline tagline… that isn’t really a tagline. But it is short and sweet and does what it meant to do.)

Keyword(s) – stealth; Top Ten by BMeTric: 64.8 10,000 BC (2008); 64.4 Stealth (2005); 51.3 I Spy (2002); 47.3 American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987); 46.8 American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1990); 46.6 Beverly Hills Ninja (1997); 22.1 Secret in Their Eyes (2015); 21.3 Surviving the Game (1994); 19.2 Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); 18.4 Act of Valor (2012);

(So … the entire American Ninja series? Tomorrow Never Dies, sadly, doesn’t qualify. But it would be nice to see some shitty ninja films. I feel like we still don’t do enough martial arts and western films)

Notes – At the request of director Betty Thomas, actor Darren Shahlavi lost thirty pounds so as to be the same size as Eddie Murphy during the boxing scenes. (what)

Actor-comedian Will Ferrell was the voice of American President George W. Bush when speaking to Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) over the telephone. (That makes sense, given the SNL connection)

The original / earlier draft(s) of the movie’s screenplay had the character of Kelly Robinson, who was later cast with Eddie Murphy, as a basketball player, but due to Murphy’s film industry stature, it was decided to change the character’s sport to boxing, and the character to a boxer. However, the dialogue interchange about the Harlem Globetrotters remained in the script and the finished film. (Wow, that … seems like an oversight)

Initially, star Owen Wilson admitted he was a little nervous about performing opposite comedy legend Eddie Murphy, who was one of his comic idols. Wilson said: “This is the first time I’ve had to work with someone who is so incredible at improvisation. At first, it was difficult to keep up with Eddie. But slowly I started playing off his riffs. I don’t know if that’s what people mean by on-screen chemistry. To me it’s a feeling that you are really in a groove with what the other guy is doing.” (This is an anecdote from a late night appearance for sure)

The characters from the I Spy (1965) source TV series are reversed in this movie version. In the original television series, Kelly Robinson (not Alexander Scott) was the white guy and the athlete, while Alexander Scott was the black guy and the non-athlete. However, in both cases though, the Bill Cosby / Eddie Murphy character was a less experienced spy than the Robert Culp / Owen Wilson character.

The palace of Malcolm McDowell’s character Arnold Gundars, is actually the “Hungarian Royal Palace”, which is also sometimes known as “The Buda Castle”, it having being for centuries home to a number of generations of the royalty of Hungary. (I’ve been there)

The canine in the final scene was actually Famke Janssen’s dog who had the name of “Licorice”. (Great dog name)

Like actor Owen Wilson, actress Famke Janssen got to spar with comedy star Eddie Murphy on screen, a process Janssen, like Wilson, also found daunting at the outset. She said: “There’s a scene in which Eddie and I first meet and he just kept tossing lines at me and I kept going with it. It was really scary, but once I got used to it, a lot of fun as well.” (Whoever was filling up this notes section had just seen or read a giant profile on the film)

The acronym “BNS” stood for The Bureau of National Security. (coooool, I do love facts though)

[NOTE: There are a bunch of notes here which is basically a long profile on the production … just go read the IMDb notes or, better yet, find the source article if you want to learn about it]

In the source I Spy (1965) television series, Bill Cosby portrayed a tennis pro and, for a time, the filmmakers considered making the character of Kelly Robinson in this movie version an international tennis champion. Basketball was also considered, though producer Jenno Topping considered both sports too visually confining for the purposes of a big screen story on an international scale. It was star Eddie Murphy who suggested that his character of Kelly Robinson be a championship boxer, a sport to which he was well suited. Murphy said at the time: “I’ve done some boxing and my father was a boxer, so I already had a background in the sport.” Murphy trained in boxing for several months prior to this picture’s production. Director Betty Thomas said: “Having an actor with a natural ability for a sport was a real asset. It opened up the film in a much more exciting way than tennis or basketball. Having Eddie getting the blows and making the hits had a lot more impact than creating shots in which I would have to rely on stunt doubles.” Stunt Co-ordinator Brent Woolsey added: “Eddie was so coordinated that it made the boxing sequences much easier to execute.” (I left this in though. Pretty interesting that Murphy was boxing at the time).

Principal photography began on 12th September 2001, in Budapest, Hungary. Taking a cue from the original I Spy (1965) television series, producer Andrew G. Vajna decided that this movie version should be set in an “exotic location to create a sense of real excitement in the audience”. Vajna added: “We haven’t seen Eastern Europe used much in action films, especially Hungary. Budapest has been used in movies before, but never as Budapest. It has generally been used as a substitute for Paris or some other European capital. So for the audience it was an entirely new experience. And it just so happens that Hungary is my home.” (Awesome, I do love this fact as well. I’m learning so much about this film … why can’t all of the notes be like this actually? This is super interesting stuff).

The grounds of the Buda Castle were so extensive that the production’s first and second units were filming on either side of the castle at the same time. Producer Mario Kassar said: “It was an amazing feat. In some ways it was surprising that we didn’t trip over each other. Action is taking place on one side, and on the other [director] Betty [Thomas] is tackling all the great character stuff.” (It is enormous … did I mention I’ve been there? Oh I did? Well I went there and just wanted to say I agree with the above statement).

No stunt or acting doubles were used in the scenes where Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) is seen boxing.

First Assistant Director Richard Graves engineered the prototype model of the Switchblade fighter plane from piecing together bits and parts from his son’s plastic jet model kits.

According to the IFC website, “the movie was originally supposed to take place in Prague [in the Czech Republic]. Instead, the movie shot on location in Budapest, Hungary, because the film’s producer, Andrew G. Vajna, lived there” and “was eager to use her hometown as the setting because she had never seen it depicted in a Hollywood movie before.” (Prague would have worked as well. It is pretty rare in films it turns out, no big bad films are explicitly set there as far as we can tell).

It was Eddie Murphy’s idea to sing Marvin Gaye’s famous song “Sexual Healing” for the romantic scene where Special Agent Alex Scott (Owen Wilson) romances Special Agent Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen). In this sequence, Murphy vocally coaches Wilson the words like in the classic story “Cyrano de Bergerac”.

The four short DVD behind the scenes documentaries about the making of this motion picture are entitled: I Spy: The Slugafest (2003); I Spy: Cloak & Camouflage (2003); I Spy: Gadgets & Gizmos (2003); and I Spy: Schematics & Blueprints (2003). (Which is where I assume all of these notes came from)

The name of the title that boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) held was “Super Middleweight Champion”. (These guys have so many facts on here)

The name of the stolen military fighter-plane which had a cloaking device was the “Switchblade”.

The name of the sporting tournament league that boxer Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) competed in was the “Global Boxing League”.

Reportedly, the ending was re-shot Monte Carlo after test audiences stated that they wanted to know what happened to Special Agent Rachel Wright (Famke Janssen) after she betrayed both Kelly Robinson (Eddie Murphy) and Special Agent Alex Scott (Owen Wilson). (Perfecto. We get to literally go from Monte Carlo to Budapest).

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Eddie Murphy)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple (Eddie Murphy, Robert De Niro, Owen Wilson)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel

Keeping Up With the Joneses Preview

This week was supposed to be the end of the 1986 cycle but it has been extended a week. Why? Because it’s time for the final BMT Live of the year! Looking ahead to November and December we became panicked at the weak BMT prospects on the horizon. We felt like the time was now. Of course you’re probably all thinking that we just have to be watching Boo! A Madea Halloween. I wish. Unfortunately our cousins across the pond have yet to discover Tyler Perry (shame!). Once again defeated by the lackluster UK release schedule we instead turned our attention to the other comedy released last week to even worse reviews. That’s right, the Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and Isla Fisher comedy Keeping up with the Joneses. By all accounts it’s supposed to be pretty boring. Great. Thanks UK. We could have been having fun watching Madea say “Hellur” to some ghosts. And now we have NOTHING. Boo on you!… A Madea Halloween. Let’s go!

Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016) – BMeTric: 9.0

(There is no plot this week! This movie is small enough that the archive hasn’t taken a snapshot since the 14th when the movie was not open to reviews. Interesting that this hasn’t happened yet, but we’ve mostly done larger movies than this for BMT Live! And those tend to get earlier premieres outside of the United States.)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars –  “Keeping Up with the Joneses” has a few mild laughs here and there … and I have the feeling that it might wind up playing better on television, where all the sitcom trappings might seem more at home. As a prospect for going out one night and paying money for tickets and parking and popcorn in order to see it, however, it comes up decidedly short.

(The reviews I found for this film are kind of surprisingly okay. Basically like … don’t spend money on this film but if you’ve stumbled into the theater you won’t demand your money back at the end. Indiewire gave is a similarly middling review. Promising in general, but will only make me wish I was watching Boo! A Madea Halloween all the more.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPfYXXg65qA

(I feel like this trailer must give away the entire film. There are some OK gags in there (like the cobra wine), but I’m afraid we’ll just watch these mildly entertaining scene cut between fluff.)

Directors – Greg Mottola – (Known For: Superbad; Paul; Adventureland; The Daytrippers; BMT: Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Directed a number of episodes of the short-lived TV show Undeclared. Probably how he ended up getting the Superbad gig.)

Writers – Michael LeSieur (written by) – (BMT: You, Me and Dupree; Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Writing the upcoming new adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)

Actors – Zach Galifianakis – (Known For: Into the Wild; The Hangover; Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Up in the Air; It’s Kind of a Funny Story; Due Date; The Campaign; The Muppets; Puss in Boots; Dinner for Schmucks; Youth in Revolt; Muppets Most Wanted; BMT: G-Force; Corky Romano; Are You Here; Bubble Boy; The Hangover Part III; Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie; What Happens in Vegas; Gigantic; The Hangover Part II; Out Cold; Masterminds; Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Has won two primetime Emmys for his online talk show Between Two Ferns.)

Isla Fisher – (Known For: Nocturnal Animals; Now You See Me; The Great Gatsby; Wedding Crashers; Definitely, Maybe; Rise of the Guardians; Bachelorette; Rango; Hot Rod; Horton Hears a Who!; Life of Crime; I Heart Huckabees; The Lookout; BMT: Scooby-Doo; Confessions of a Shopaholic; Visions; The Pool; Wedding Daze; The Brothers Grimsby; Burke and Hare; London; Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Always found it interesting that she was born in Oman. Married to Sacha Baron Cohen and has three children.)

Jon Hamm – (Known For: The Town; Bridesmaids; The A-Team; Minions; A Single Man; We Were Soldiers; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie; Shrek Forever After; Space Cowboys; Million Dollar Arm; Friends with Kids; BMT: The Day the Earth Stood Still; The Ten; Sucker Punch; Stolen; Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Obviously best known for Mad Men for which he won two Golden Globes and an Emmy.)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / Domestic: $5,875,943 (Worldwide: $8,348,744)

(Weird that this bombed so badly. There were a number of big new films that week though and it’s a weird time for a comedy to come out, so maybe not. Third worst opening of this year for a 3000+ theater film behind Burnt and Hardcore Henry… forgot about those films.)

#8 on the Worst Openings – Super Saturated chart

(Crazy how few of these we’ve seen. One other one in the top 10 (Seeker the Dark is Rising) and two others in the top 20 (New York Minute, although I’ve seen Astro Boy outside of BMT). The decision to move the release to October probably has something to do with the performance, it is competing with much better films than it should be. And this week won’t be any different, at least in the UK almost all screens are being devoted to Doctor Strange starting Friday.)

#33 for the Comedy – Spy genre

spycomedy_33

#98 for the Spy genre

spy_98

(Interesting graphs. As far as spy-comedy is concerned there are three main peaks. Early 2000s, around 2010 and a recent resurgence. The first seems to have been kicked off by Austin Powers and quickly burned out after that series failed. The second coincides with Casino Royale and the return of Bond. I think that died with Killer and Knight & Day, but then Spy, Central Intelligence, The Brothers Grimsby and this offers a return of the genre. But then looking at the Spy genre you see the graphs basically overlie each other … which made me wonder)

Spy – Not Comedy

spynotcomedy

(Very interesting. Indeed it looks like, strangely, non-comedy spy movies lag a bit behind spy comedy films. How strange … I guess we should expect a bunch of spy films in the next few years. I wonder if it is a financing / speed of production thing. Spy movies in general become of interest. Comedies are cheaper and quicker to make so they come out faster. Then they both burn out and the cycle repeats. I like this theory. I’m going to accept it as truth)

Rotten Tomatoes – 19% (17/90): Keeping Up with the Joneses squanders a decent premise — and a talented cast full of funny people — on a witless and largely laugh-free suburban spy adventure.

(So Tammy. Like … Tammy but with Zach Galifianakis? I sure hope not, because Tammy was awful. I see this as like a The Killers thing. Which makes sense given the subject matter. But just that you think the spy genre is ripe for lampooning, but then the goofy guy or everyman stuck in a secret world aspect of things sustains humor for about 10 minutes and then you get tired. As long as Galifianakis isn’t horribly irritating this movie could be a win by default.)

Poster – Keeping Up with the Sklogses (B-)

keeping_up_with_the_joneses

(This is the poster in the theaters, but not on imdb for whatever reason. I like the yellow… underused as a primary color of posters and gives it something bold to catch the eye. The symmetry isn’t bad, though the stagger of the tagline is weird. Could use a better font. OK all things considered.)

Tagline(s) – License to kill. License to chill. (C)

(Not clever enough. Repeat of the front of the tagline messes with the cadence. Short and sweet though and at least sounds like a tagline. Mediocre.)

Keyword(s) – tied feet; Top Ten by BMeTric: 58.0 The Phantom (1996); 57.9 Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009); 49.7 Bride of Chucky (1998); 49.1 Charlie’s Angels (2000); 49.1 Knock Off (1998); 48.8 Glen or Glenda (1953); 47.7 Turistas (2006); 46.4 Sinister 2 (2015); 41.7 House at the End of the Street (2012); 39.6 Excess Baggage (1997);

(You shitting me? … weirdly good list though. Like we should legit have seen the top 4 and then Excess Baggage. Glen and Glenda is kind of an old school by-reputation-only entry as well but … touche weird keyword, you managed a solid list.)

Notes – The home brew shop scenes were filmed at Red Brick Brewing Company, the oldest craft brewery in Georgia. (Can we assume this movie is actually set in Georgia. Let’s get an intertitle, haven’t seen that in a while I feel like)

The movie was initially slated to premiere during early April 2016 but the release date was deferred for about six months until late October 2016. (but … why? October doesn’t really feel like comedy season. It is bad horror and borderline oscar season)

First cinema movie directed by Greg Mottola in around five years with his last theatrical feature film being Paul (2011). (Really, you’re going to bait us with that and just leave it. I assume there is a reason. And there it is, he co-executive produced The Newsroom. Presumably this took up a bunch of time in 2012 and 2013. Took me five seconds).