Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace Recap

Jamie

Jobe is back, Jack! And he’s got a new face and a new plan to take over the world with his VR brilliance. But not so fast! Dr. Trace is on the case with his gang of rambunctious teens. Can they stop Jobe (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace!

How?! Jobe is back, Jack! And boy howdy was he all burned up in that fire that we definitely remember. Unwittingly a virtual reality company reconstructs his face (what?) but can’t save his legs (alright) and they just prop him up in a chair so he can start coding up a virtual reality world while they pretend they can’t find a wheelchair for him. Meanwhile Jobe’s old friend Peter is living on the streets of post-apocalyptic LA with his gang of rad teens. They just love hooking into cyberspace and cruising around when suddenly Jobe is there and he’s like “I need help. Find me Dr. Benjamin Trace who totes is important.” Trace lost the patent to a powerful VR tool back in the day but now lives a reclusive life. Peter convinces him to come see Jobe, but when Peter enters cyberspace to let him know Jobe is a straight up crazy person and is all ready to rule the (virtual) world that he’ll convince everyone to hook into. He just needs a little help with a program called Egypt, but Trace refused. Enraged, Jobe send all kinda of subway cars at them, but they escape. Coming up with a plan, Dr. Trace gets in contact with his ex-girlfriend who still works at the company and with her help they steal the Chiron Chip. Unfortunately, they realize too late that they stole a fake and Jobe has bypassed Egypt and is ready to take over the world. In their last ditch effort they break into the company again and enter the virtual world. There they do battle with Jobe with virtual swords and shit and totally own him. Feeling sorry they find him a wheelchair (finally) and take him outside where sunshine makes him smile. THE END. 

Why?! Jobe is still evil and wants to rule the world with his superior intellect. The company is evil and wants to make money. The good guys are by definition not evil and want to stop them. There is also the MacGuffin of the Chiron Chip, which is the key to virtual reality. But as we’ve learned from the Lawnmower Man franchise, perhaps VR is too powerful for us mere mortals.

Who?! It’s claimed on IMDb that Molly Shannon played a homeless woman in the film, but I don’t really recall that. There was also someone portraying the President of the United States in the film who was one of the worst actors I’ve ever seen. I was excited to see who the actor was but apparently he went uncredited and IMDb/the internet can’t help me with the trivia. So Hail to the Chief, President Uncredited is in the house.

What?! There are some props for sale, but they are just boring ol’ ID cards. I wonder who from the crew got away with Jobe’s bonkers gold, bejeweled suit? There was also a video game sequel released at the time of the film, but it involved Dr. Angelo going into Cyberspace to battle Jobe, so not particularly close to the film. And just as poorly received as the first video game adaptation.

Where?! This time we are told explicitly that we are in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. Surprisingly, they don’t seem particularly interested in explaining why that is. Only a cursory, “Oh, I moved here with my mom and then she died,” without ever mentioning that apparently the world also pretty much ended in that time span as well.

When?! When Dr. Trace and Peter’s GF Jade totally hack the Gibson to figure out where to go after Jobe they are given a time signature: January 24th, 3:35PM. As for the year, it told us that it was set in “The Future” in an intertitle at the beginning so that’s good enough for me. Although judging by Peters age it can’t be much later than 1997. B+.

This film has been on my bucket list for ages. The idea that it was released to theaters in any capacity is high comedy. Whenever I get so hyped for a BMT film it usually ends in disaster. Not the case here! I screamed in silent joy for the entire run time of Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace. Somehow it surpassed even my wildest expectations for what it could be. Did I expect it to take place in a Super Mario Bros-esque post apocalyptic LA hellscape? Nope, but it did. Did I expect Jobe to be a legless man played by a Jim Carrey act-alike? Nope, but he was. Could I have possibly expected our heroes to subdue their VR corporate foes and then help Jobe (the bad guy of the film) return to the world full of joy? Definitely not, and yet there Jobe was laughing and laughing and laughing while looking at a sunset. Nothing will ever surpass Here on Earth in exemplifying what it means to be a BMT film, but this came mighty close. This is what an instant BMT classic feels like and… I’m… I’m getting a little emotional. Forgive me. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! 500th film guitar riff, and I have to say, we picked a doozy. Sometimes you think after 500 films there can’t possibly be more bananas films to watch, but … let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I actually knew more about the original The Lawnmower Man than this one. I remember maybe my older brothers watching The Lawnmower Man, or maybe I caught a bit on television. This I was stunned to see was directed by the Max Headroom guy, and that the neighbor in Honey I Shrunk the Kids was Max Headroom himiself, and is Jobe in this! The entire thing looked crazy, like Highlander 2: The Quickening so … I guess I was just very excited? What were my expectations? B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bonkers shit. If there are 10 b’s on the bonkers chain then I would be happy as a clam with regards to the 500th BMT film.

The Good – Nothing is genuinely good in this film. Nothing. Things are ironically good, but as everyone knows irony is dead and we take things super duper seriously here at BMTHQ. So genuinely nothing is good in this film, so … let’s get to the good stuff.

The Bad – Hooooooooooo doggie … Where to begin? The graphics are awful. Somehow deciding to just film people in a forest and declaring “this is a computer simulation” is worse than The Lawnmower Man’s graphic’s version of VR. The film has nothing to do with the original, and it is kind of offensive that they even bothered to try and connect it. Matt Frewer was awful and is a completely different character than the original Jobe. They have a weird thing about him being a double amputee, and in the end … my God, the end! In the end they go out into the real world and back in the sunshine and I guess he’s no longer a megalomaniacal genius? Future dystopian LA as the setting is crazy and unnecessary … like how did we get from The Lawnmower Man to this in 10 years? Why not connect it to The Shop? It is just bullshit. The bad guys are one-dimensionally bad, moustache twirling garbage with literally “money! crime!” as their motivation. The kid actors are awful. Initially I tried to write this section as a stream of consciousness, but it came out basically as a garbled word salad, so I rewrote it, but that is basically how this film makes me feel.

The BMT – Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This is like Highlander 2: The Quickening, but watched at a time where my BMT tastes have somewhat matured. While watching the beginning I almost cried when Jobe appears in the simulation the first time. I’m not joking, I’m 100% serious, I got emotional. That is how incredibly terrible/amazing this film is. It is one of hte first honest to god, so-bad-its-good films I’ve seen in years. Years! Did it meet my expectations? Heeeeeeeeeeeell yeah.

Roast-radamus – It has an outside shot for Setting as a Character (Where?) for it’s very Double Dragon post-apocalyptic LA. In the same vein it could get something for its time period (of “future!!” with two exclamation points), but we tend to always go for secret holiday films. It definitely has a good chance for MacGuffin (Why?) with the mysterious Chiron Chip … which honestly, I’m not sure I know what it does still, it like … makes an internet maybe? And of course this might be the favorite for the BMT film of the year. A good crop.

StreetCreditReport.com – Again, I’m not surprised it didn’t hit on any the worst of lists for 1996, this one in particular would definitely fly below the radar for most critics. Like The Lawnmower Man it was also on the list of films with virtual reality. This one really has credit because it is … just well known as a bad movie. It has an astonishingly low 2.5 on IMDb, and goes hand in hand with Highlander 2: The Quickening (which is on wikipedia’s worst movies ever list … this really should be there as well).

You Just Got Schooled – Matt Frewer has been a character actor for years, but he kind of started out as Max Headroom, which I vaguely knew of because of the Max Headroom incident in Chicago. I decided to watch an episode. There was an original TV Movie, a talk show, a television show based on the movie, and then a revival of the talk show. I naturally watched the last one because it was short and easy to find. And … it is awful.

Holy shit. All of the jokes are try hard garbage, Frewer is exasperating, and the interactions with Max ends up being so difficult for the guests to deal with that … it hurts me. I am physically hurt by this show. I am interested in the original television movie though, but that is for another time. Interestingly I commented to Jamie that I thought Frewer should have avoided his characterization of Jobe in Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace because it was too reminiscent of Jim Carrey (especially as The Riddler in Batman Forever which had come out the year before). But in reality he was just playing Max Headroom. And apparently Jim Carrey has said that many of his manic characters are somewhat based on Frewer’s portrayal of Max Headroom. So I guess I should have scolded Jim Carrey for stealing Frewer’s thunder instead. Good to know.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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The Lawnmower Man Recap

Jamie

Dr. Angelo has unlocked the key to super smartness through virtual reality, but when he shares it with his developmentally delayed lawnmower man, Jobe, he soon finds it out of control. With new telekinetic powers Jobe is ready to take over the world. Can Dr. Angelo stop him (and maybe get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Lawnmower Man.

How?! Dr. Lawrence Angelo is a super smart scientist who has unlocked the key to learning through virtual reality. When the most talented of his ape subjects goes berserk and kills a bunch of people before being killed itself, Dr. Angleo kinda loses his shit. Soon his life is in shambles and he decides to take the testing underground and prove that it works on human patients without the aggressive factors his funders want him to use. Working with his developmentally delayed landscaper, Jobe, he soon makes him super smart just like him… except like way smarter. Like he’s beating everyone in video games smart… and he also all of a sudden has a super smokin’ bod and all the ladies are like “who’s that?”… and also he starts having headaches and can hear what people are thinking… oh, and also he can move stuff with his mind. Anyway, While Dr. Angelo is out of town meeting with his funders, Jobe decides to share his powers with his lady love and unknowingly uses the old formulation and busts her brain. Enraged, he decides that it’s time to take over the world and goes off on a killing spree against those that he feels have wronged him or others that he cares about. Dr. Angelo learns of the swapped drugs and comes back in time to try to stop Jobe in his ultimate goal of entering cyberspace and taking over everyone’s minds. He is able to lock Jobe out of communication with the internet, leaving him trapped in the computer that Dr. Angelo has rigged with explosives. Just before they go off, though, Jobe is able to find a backdoor out. Feeling pretty jazzed Dr. Angelo is ready to go off and probably smooch on some ladies but BUM BUM BUM… Jobe is out there. Uh oh! THE END.  

Why?! Science! Dr. Angelo sees the promise in virtual reality for expanding the mind. Particularly for helping those that have trouble learning. His funder though, termed The Shop, see it differently and insist he use aggressive factors. Dr. Angelo is pretty short sighted apparently, because this obviously is because The Shop wants to make a new weapon using VR. As for our unwitting antagonist, Jobe, he just wants to be a lawnmower man… you know before he decides that the world must bow down before his great intellect.

Who?! Not much to highlight here, so I’ll just mention the curious fact that this was originally marketed as Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man after combining an unrelated script called CyberGod with one of his short stories. King is well known to not like adaptations that veer from the source, so I could understand that this would drive him bonkers. What’s even crazier is that the studio kept on ignoring the court orders and he had to sue them over and over. Anyway, I read the story before and I honestly didn’t even think it was that crazy of an adaptation. They took a very short story about a Greek god/satyr/killer lawnmower man and made it about a man that is turned into a god and becomes a killer lawnmower man… it’s at least inspired by Stephen King.

What?! There is so little to highlight here that I started to read about the video game adaptations that came out. Apparently it’s a mix of action and puzzles and flying and mostly got bad reviews. In fact at the time it made it on some lists of the worst video games ever made. I think I just got an idea for a new blog.

Where?! Patrick and I had a long discussion about this. Mostly stemming from the fact that Wikipedia has this listed as a film set in California. While it obviously is filmed in LA, I contest that there is just no way it is set there. Dr. Angelo has a meeting in Washington DC. We see him escape at night and start the drive back to his house. The next morning he arrives at his house. It just has to be in New York or perhaps, given the source, Maine or something. But I’m pretty confident it’s not set in California. Or at least confident that Wikipedia can’t be confident it’s set in California. Regardless, D-.

When?! Fortunately for us (and the criminal justice system) Dr. Angelo keeps a running diary of his illegal human experimentation. We seem him start it in early May and then finish it on July 10th. So the whole movie runs about two months. You can say a lot of things about Dr. Angelo, but you can’t say he didn’t get results in his unethical underground human trial. B+

I think there are a lot of interesting things going on in this film and probably the only BMT thing about it is that you get the sense that it’s been hacked to shit. Like… Dr. Angelo’s wife is there for three seconds and then just disappears, never to be heard from again. No wonder the Director’s Cut is like double the length. But really the thing you hear about it is the computer graphics and how dated they are but… I didn’t really mind them. They were actually very clever given the limitations of the time. Like abstract art. I was actually impressed more than anything else. My biggest gripe with the film is that Dr. Angelo is allegedly our “hero” but is more or less a criminal. He seems to have no issue with the fact that he experiments on a human being and is very invested in the “end justifies the means” method. Then, when this all blows up in his face due to the unethical nature of his funders, he doesn’t reflect on the fact that what he did was wrong and had disastrous consequences. In fact, at the end of the film he is still talking about having to take his work underground… mere seconds before his work causes a worldwide disaster! He’s a pretty bad dude, but the film never really addresses or acknowledges that fact. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! So what happens when we schedule a film and forget that the previous one also qualifies? Well … we watch three movies in a weekend. We don’t leave men behind here at BMTHQ. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The main thing is the computer graphics. Those can easily sink an otherwise fine film. I was also genuinely curious about Pierce Brosnan. Just because outside of James Bond I don’t think I’ve really seen young Pierce Brosnan act very much. Fahey had a little outside shot at the Tropic Thunder Simple Jack corner going on as well, I was very curious as to how he would act out his character early in the film. What are my expectations? I was I guess hoping the entire thing would be a silly disaster with people going into computers TRON style and everything just going off the rails in the end. Otherwise it is just a stepping stone to its sequel.

The Good – I actually thought this film was pretty decent for the most part. The computer graphics have aged in such a way that it all kind of makes sense. I think the recent trend towards 8-bit and cheap-looking graphics helps immensely to make it seem mostly stylized at this point. I was also pleased with the evil corporation, which was giving me whiffs of RoboCop. Once you get past some of the early issues, the film does mature a bit into a decent techno-thriller.

The Bad – The beginning of the film is a mess, in particular the character of Pierce Brosnan’s wife was obviously cut from the film … except they couldn’t cut her so they just had her leave at one point. The entire film also spreads itself too film. The Lawnmower Man has beefs with: the abusive father, the abusive priest, the abusive guy at the gas station, the evil corporation / government entity, and Pierce Brosnan. Too many. They should have cut the priest and merged the gas station attendant and the abusive father. It would have focused Fahey’s simmering anger onto a single figure and clarified things. There is a decent argument that the eeeeeeeevil corporation / government entity was a bit too moustache twirlingly eeeeeeevil, but what can you do, it’s the 90s.

The BMT – Only by association. I think this is a lot closer to Good than Bad in the end, and its association with its sequel is what makes it BMT. If Highlander got bad reviews it would have been the same thing with Highlander 2: The Quickening. Did it meet my expectations? No I don’t think so. Or at least, not as a bad movie. It wasn’t nuts enough and the computer graphics weren’t terrible enough to get it over the top. As a good movie, it was a pleasant surprise though.

Roast-radamus – I think it has a very very outside shot at Good. And maybe the only other category it has a chance at is Worst Twist (How?). The twist being The Lawnmower Man getting into the telephone system and making all of the phones in the world ring all at once in the end, his birth cry as he says. I guess by itself it is jarring and perhaps a bit scary. But it is also incredibly obvious, and it is completely thrown away in the sequel. It is just a weird choice. The film won’t get anything in the end I don’t think.

StreetCreditReport.com – I’m not surprised it didn’t hit on any of the worst of lists I could find. It did get a shoutout at 35 for worst computer graphics in film (fair). And then both Lawnmower Man films get a shoutout on this list of films with virtual reality. Otherwise I can’t really think of another category it would qualify for … maybe for actors playing a disabled person, or worst Pierce Brosnan films.

Sklognalysis – Again, no time for schooling people. Here, … let’s go with a short analysis of eeeeeeeeevil scientists in BMT. The main one I always go back to is Dr. Alexander McCabe in the movie Bats, who ultimately is hoisted by his own petard when his mutant bats tear him apart with their razor wings. Brosnan is definitely an evil scientist. His arrogance convinces him that he can save humanity, that his science trumps the ethics surrounding human testing of new scientific methods. And in the end he creates a living god who can kill at will and take over the world. Sure the eeeeeeeevil corporation / government entity causes some of the issues by trying to hijack his research to create the ultimate weapon, but Brosnan’s inability to see that he is already creating a weapon with or without the enhanced aggression protocol is his downfall. I do love the neo-luddite aspects of evil scientists in film (a staple of Michael Crichton). Unfortunately, Brosnan misses it a bit as they pull the punch and place most of the blame on The Shop, the weird corporation / government entity that is funding him. I would have enjoyed the movie even more if Brosnan created his God and then sacrifices himself to save humanity from his abomination. It would have further simplified an already pretty messy film as well.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Hackers Recap

Jamie

Dade Murphy is an elite hacker just looking to have some fun. After moving to NYC he gets involved with a hacking group that finds itself the target of an evil corporate hacker who is worried they will expose his criminal scheme. Can they stop the evil hacker (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Hackers.

How?! Dade Murphy aka Zero Cool aka Crash Override is just a regular ol’ high school student… other than being a totally elite hacker! C00ool! As a kid he crashed a bunch of Wall Street computers and has spent his youth on probation. So when he moves to New York City he goes through all the trials and tribulations of the “new kid” while also being drawn into the hacker scene that he’s been barred from enjoying. When one of the hacker gang, Joey, gets caught hacking a Gibson supercomputer run by an eeeeevil oil company they have to figure out why they are claiming the Joey is part of a hacker group looking to use a virus to crash oil tankers. Due to his record Dade is intimidated into giving over a copy of the disk Joey partially copied off a garbage file on the Gibson. Realizing his mistake, he joins up with his crew to figure out what the hell is going on. Using his beautiful mind hacking skillz, Dade figures out that the garbage file contains a worm that the oil company’s computer security expert/elite hacker, The Plague, has been using to steal millions of dollars. Worried that Joey may have copied everything in the file, The Plague is using the virus as a cover so he can blame the hackers for the theft. Realizing that they are going to take the fall, Dade concocts a scheme to hack the Gibson and download the whole garbage file to get definitive proof. They band together a worldwide network of hackers to distract The Plague with viruses. In an epic hack battle (as the kids say) they are able to copy the garbage file and take down the Gibson before getting arrested. But with the new proof they are able to implicate The Plague and Dade totes smooches his lady love Kate. Rad. THE END.

Why?! The Plague wants money. He sees himself as a hired hand. A cowboy out there taming the wild west of the computer world and so has little qualms stealing from the people he considers beneath him. As for the hackers they just want to free information for the good of the people. They see the government and corporations using the power of computing to ruthlessly make money and spy on people. They just expose this information to the people for examination. When this gets them mixed up with The Plague this turns the motivation towards a MacGuffin. The garbage file in the mythical Gibson supercomputer. Unhackable… or is it? It’s like a bank heist where the safe is the Gibson and the treasure is the garbage file. Solid.

Who?! For films like this I knew there would be interesting credits like what you find for Dave Buchwald, who served as a “computer hacking consultant”. This is the only one on IMDb, but on the film itself there are several other Hackers credited in that capacity (including Emmanual Goldstein, Cereal Killer’s real name). There is also a performance by Urban Dance Squad near the end of the film. Fun fact: the band also had a song on the soundtrack for Gigli. Nice. Oh and as Patrick pointed out, Joey is actually a really nice example of a Planchet. 

What?! The sheer number of Coca-Cola product placements is impressive, not to mention an in-film commercial for Jolt Cola. I obviously would have loved to garb myself head-to-toe in Dade’s wardrobe if possible, but unfortunately, while some of it is listed online, it seems that they are just for show and not for sale. Well, duh. Who would willing part with such treasure?

Where?! This is a fantastic NYC film. Really of the city with the hacker culture, the techno music, Stuyvesant, and just ‘blading up and down town. You could say that there are a number of cities it could take place, but I disagree. Just wouldn’t feel the same anywhere but New York. A.

When?! This actually made me angry. It certainly seemed like summer when they moved to NYC and then Dade starts up at school that Fall and seems to pretty quickly integrate into the Hacker crowd. So when they said the Da Vinci virus was going live on the 14th was pretty set on a vague October 14th date. Then Dade checks his watch the day of the big hack and it says it’s Wednesday, October 18th 1995. WTF, Hackers. You just told me that it was all going down on the 14th and then whoever is responsible for getting a shot of Dade’s watch fumbles the perfectly lobbed pass? At that point I turned off the film and vowed never to watch it again. B+. Nice exact(ish) date, but not necessary to the plot.

I certainly had a fun time watching this movie. In fact, if you removed some of the sillier looking visuals used for the computers and hacking stuff, then I’m not sure I’d say there was much to it that was even BMT. It’s still enjoyable to watch and I think better written than perhaps its given credit for. It’s always fun to watch something like this for BMT because we end up paying so much more attention to the plot. Not just about the intricacies of The Plague’s entire scheme, but about The Plague himself. The film intentionally sets up the world of hacking, which is a world of curiosity, not crime. They are using computers to bring freedom, in that they use their skills to enter and expose things to the light that people want hidden. It’s their belief that they aren’t committing crimes, and in fact the people and companies they are hacking are often the ones committing crimes and then covering it up under the guise of going after the hackers. Is The Plague a hacker, then? Not according to the film. He is obviously elite (duh), but he also is using his skills to keep things hidden (mostly his own crimes). He thinks he’s a hacker, but he’s not. He even tries to be a hacker with his skateboard and disdain for the government agents, but it’s a disguise. One that he exchanges at the end in his attempt to escape to Japan. See? BMT movies that actually aren’t all that bad always get me thinking a lot more than I expect. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! I have seen Hackers approximately 30 times … so yeah, let’s go ahead and pretend this is a bad movie. This sounds like a fun game. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Nothing can convince me this is a bad movie. There are ways for me to realize it is maybe a messy movie, or a dumb movie. But a bad movie? Impossible. But I was amused to see if my viewing changed at all given we were now doing it for BMT. What are my expectations? To pop a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy a movie night in. I had no plans to think any less of this movie so don’t even try.

The Good – The movie is pure entertainment, in the cheesiest more hilarious early 90s computer-y way. The choice of doing the computer sequence practically ages incredibly well. While I could imagine these days the film could have aged into its effects over time, there would have been a ten year period from maybe 2000-2010 where Hackers would have looked dumb as shit with out-of-date graphics. Instead the “graphics” still kind of look state of the art because … well, they aren’t graphics, they are models. Lillard and Jolie are really good and it is kind of incredible they are in this movie. It makes New York look mythical, even though in reality it had a pretty bad crime problem at the time. Oh, did I mention it is an incredibly entertaining movie I love?

The Bad – The movie is a complete mess from a directing perspective. I know it is apparently his trademark, but the random pop culture clips they occasionally cut to haven’t aged very well because, to be honest, it has been done better since then. Additionally, they completely botch the timeline of the film which makes it incredibly confusing. It was only now, on probably my 30th watch, and with the intention of close watching the film that I fully discerned The Plague’s ploy and how all of the pieces fit together. The film is non-linear at times, and it is definitely not intentional. The hackers are more criminal than they seem to want to make you believe, but it is all in good fun but like … poor Agent Gill. Mostly messy, with some brutal acting.

The BMT – I love this movie and I’m offended it even qualifies. So no, it is not BMT. It probably enters into a select list of “genuinely good movies” we’ve watched for BMT. Freddy Got Fingered, Tango & Cash, and this. Genuinely good movies. I declare it. Did it meet my expectations? Actually yeah. I’m pretty shocked that I noticed new things during the viewing. The power of BMT close watching I guess. Who knew I still had wonderful things to learn from this film.

Roast-radamus – This will easily enter in The Good for the year. Wait .. is Joey a Planchet (Who?) … I think he is! That’s pretty wonderful. If we had realized this we could have named it the Joey instead. What a life, I love you Jesse Bradford. The Product Placement (What?) is off the chain for this film, but the craziest one I think is for Jolt Cola which runs an honest to god ad in the middle of the film during Razor and Blade’s show. And I do think this is a Setting as a Character (Where?) in that New York City, the city that never sleeps, is quintessential to the plot. Also a great MacGuffin (Why?) with the Gibson and the garbage file, which most characters only know as the thing that Ellingson Minerals really really wants for some reason. That is quite the list for a genuinely good film.

StreetCreditReport.com – While I obviously disagree, CNN did throw it onto a list of worst “tech” films. I have now seen all but Antitrust on that list. Also they admit it is a cult classic, so I think that is a win. Otherwise I couldn’t find it on either underappreciated or worst of lists for 1995. I would put it at number one best Jesse Bradford movies ever. Unfortunately it can’t be on Matthew Lillard’s best of list because Freddy Prinze Jr. isn’t in it.

You Just Got Schooled – Since I watched three movies this weekend I didn’t have time to watch anything else to “school” you. Luckily, the Hacker Manifesto from January 8, 1986 is pretty short and also still online, preserved in Phrack Magazine where it originally appeared. “This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud.  We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals.” That was pretty much read out loud in the film. The rest of it sounds frighteningly like the “lazy genius” nonsense you hear people claim sometimes, but … well in this case Loyd Blankenship is actually probably a genuine genius and those fundamental misunderstandings with adults probably did happen when growing up in Texas in the 70s.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Runner Runner Recap

Jamie

Richie Furst is a former Wall Street guru turned Masters student who is cheated out of his tuition on an online poker site. Taking his evidence to the site’s founder he is offered everything he’s ever wanted: wealth and ladies. And he only has to become a criminal to get it! Can he escape his life of crime (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Runner Runner.

How?! Richie Furst is a poor widdle former Wall Street guy who, having been unjustly robbed of his wealth due to the financial crisis, is now forced to get his Masters from Princeton (gross). Trying to make ends meet for tuition in the only legal way he knows how, he loses all his savings playing online poker. Given that he’s way too smart to lose he suspects treachery and uses big ol’ computers and his brain to discover that what happened is mathematically impossible. He decides to go straight to the source and confronts the owners of the poker company in Costa Rica and is all like “math, bitch.” The founder, Ivan Block, is impressed by his bravado and big brain and decides to give him a job and everything he’s ever wanted: ladies, money, and power. Richie of course suspects nothing of getting such an offer from an obviously terrible criminal like Ivan and is like “OK,” like a dope. From there he continues to act like a dope by throwing away all his scruples to blackmail and bribe people just like Ivan tells him too. Even when FBI agents are all up in his business he’s like “but Ivan said…” because he’s actually an idiot. However, when his friends start to bail on the company and one discovers that it’s actually a Ponzi scheme set up by Ivan, it finally dawns on him that literally everything is pointing towards him being involved in a terrible criminal activity. Uh oh! When his dad is used by Ivan as a bargaining chip, Richie has had enough and starts to set up an elaborate scheme to get the upper hand on Ivan. So when Ivan turns around and tries to move the company to Antigua, leaving Richie as the fall guy, Richie is already one step ahead and bribes the pilot to reroute his plane to Puerto Rico. Once there, Ivan gets arrested and Richie, with his big ol’ brain and his new girlfriend, fly off into the sunset. THE END

Why?! We can start from the beginning. We know that Richie is motivated mostly by greed. He feels somewhat robbed by having earned a bunch of money on Wall Street and watching all his money disappear while others got away with millions. He again feels somewhat robbed when he loses his tuition money in a rigged online poker game. This double swindling of our boy Richie apparently breaks his brain because this turns him into a criminal motivated only by greed. We even see him blackmail a guy who is about to have a new baby by purposefully tempting him with hookers and filming it. That’s just a shitty move, man. I know the guy is also shitty for giving into the temptation but our main character is just clearly a terrible person for purposefully setting all that up for a business deal. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m making this section so long. The motivation here is greed across the board. We are forced to watch a bunch of greedy assholes for two hours and it sucks. 

Who?! There is a very brief cameo by the DJ Deadmau5, who is DJing Ivan Block’s very exclusive party. It’s funny to think that in Hollywood you can be like, “hey we need a bunch of money to get Deadmau5 to DJ the fake party for the movie in order to lend credibility to the scene,” and then they just have a massive party and Deadmau5 is shown for less than a second. Also Laurence Mason (aka Lord Nikon and the reason we watched this terrible film) goes uncredited because his scene as the Governor of Antigue got cut… but don’t worry I saw it on the DVD extras. And indeed, totally unnecessary to the film.

What?! Lots of the classics in this one: cars, TVs, phones. I do like JT being like “no thanks” to the expensive stuff people are drinking because he can’t get enough Bud Light. Also they hide all of the evidence of Ivan Block’s nefarious deed in boxes of cereal, but mention that they use cereal that no one wants to eat… always makes me curious why companies would agree to have their cereal used in a film where the main character is like “that cereal is gross.”

Where?! Fantastic fantastic fantastic setting film. We start in Princeton and jump straight over to Costa Rica, which plays a prominent role in the plot. I’d have to look around but this almost certainly will be the top Costa Rica film we’ll get for BMT. Add it to the (imaginary) map! A

When?! The beginning of the film takes place in December most likely as it’s somewhat cold in Princeton and our boy Richie leaves just before finals (but don’t worry, he got extensions). From there it’s all lost to time. He could have been working for Ivan for a few months or over a year. Hard to tell. D.

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaated this film. I actually found it hard to watch. Despite being an objectively nice looking film (can’t go wrong with an exotic locale), I couldn’t understand how they wrote a film where I never cared what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t care whether he got the girl. I didn’t care how Richie was going to get out of the clusterfuck he got himself into. I just didn’t care. He was a criminal and a terrible person and I’m supposed to care about whether he gets out of the jam he’s gotten into through his own greed? No thanks. I’m not even sure whether the plot was coherent (probably not). And I’m not sure the acting is all that good (almost certainly not). I didn’t care. Because this movie sucked and I didn’t want to watch it. Not since Mile 22 have I had a collection of bozos I cared less about. Patrick?  

Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This film had too little exciting poker action, and a little too much garbage people doing garbage things to each other and making me hate them … you know? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t have much hope for this film to be honest. Here’s the thing, we always kind of get forced into films in the chain reaction category towards the end of the year. Regardless, I suppose I was most excited for the Costa Rican settings, I want to see those vistas! What were my expectations? Again, low low expectations, but if there could be some thrills and the film didn’t make me hate the main character and gives me something to root for I would have been delighted.

The Good – Not much. I mean, it looks good. They do a lot with the interesting setting. It certainly focuses on a unique subject as far as a film goes. Online gambling doesn’t get much play in Hollywood. I like Affleck and he does a good amount with the role in the end. And he gets his comeuppance. But otherwise it is pretty rote nonsense.

The Bad – JT is genuinely awful and it is kind of no wonder he doesn’t get a lot of leading man roles. He’s a decent second banana, but he isn’t a very good main character. Speaking of which the main character is a garbage person, and I did not care for a moment whether he lived or died. He did so many bad things in the end he kind of deserved everything he was getting. The glorification of these terrible people exploiting gamblers and living glamorous lives in the Central America doesn’t really make a compelling movie in my opinion.

The BMT – Naw screw this movie. I have no intention of ever watching this again. It does have the setting going for it. We would have watched it either way eventually I imagine as it is far and away going to be the best Costa Rica movie ever released. Plus it got actually destroyed by the critics, and it isn’t the worst goal to watch every sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film ever made … there aren’t really that many of them. Did it meet my expectations? No, JT is a terrible person in this film and I didn’t care if he lived or died. That’s all I wanted with this film and it did the exact opposite.

Roast-radamus – I actually think this has a decent shot at the Bad section of the awards as I think both Jamie and I really didn’t like the film. I initially couldn’t remember a good Product Placement (What?), but then Jamie reminded me that JT guzzles Bud Light throughout which is awesome. I think looking through the rest of the things the only obvious one is Setting (Where?) and honestly it could win it. It is such a Costa Rica film it is amazing. Every country should get such a terrible film made in / about it in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Incredibly despite being a relatively rare sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film it gets nary a mention on the year end lists. Only a small dishonorable mention on IndieWire. I would think this is maybe like … the second worst gambling film available. I’m of course referring to 21 as being the worst. It may not have gotten as bad of reviews, but I can assure you it is terrible. It didn’t help that the book that movie is based on (Bringing Down the House) is fantastic, and they just completely throw it out for … again, wait, it just ends up being a weird techno-thriller with a love story. It is the same movie! Two peas in a pod showing the evolution of gambling from Vegas card counting to online fraud … great.

Sklognalysis – Ohhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiit. It’s back. You see I have like 40 films to watch over the next few weeks so I couldn’t really be bothered to go with my original plan of watching Rounders. Instead I’ll go through some thoughts I had on thrillers after watching Swimfan and Runner Runner. With Swimfan I was rather upset. You see, in that film a high school student cheats on his girlfriend with a psycho who then proceeds to frame him for murder, dope him with steroids, and generally destroy his life. In Runner Runner you have a greedy garbage person getting stuck in a jam because of his greed and terrible behavior. You see the difference? In Runner Runner the consequences were proportional to the misdeeds of our protagonist. Which made me think of how thrillers like these are often morality tales of a sort. You commit a sin (lust in Swimfan, greed in Runner Runner), you get punished, you find redemption. But the punishment has to be proportional to the crime. You blackmail a family man and bribe some officials, you get framed for drug trafficking in response. You cheat on your girlfriend in high school and … fill in the blank, but the answer isn’t that your friend is killed, you get framed for his murder, and you get doped with steroids to ruin your life … that isn’t proportional, you see? This could, perhaps, be something fairly common in many genres across the board, but thrillers seem the most appropriate. The tension of seeing someone succumb to base desires, acts often left unknown and unpunished, getting punished in a spectacular and terrifying way, and narrowly escaping to find redemption is thrilling. I guess that is where Runner Runner fails … Timberlake doesn’t just succumb to base desires, he dives head first into a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck and just expects to get away with it like a goober. It just makes you feel gross. I’ll leave it at that, but I’ll be looking at other movies for such desires going forward for sure.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Summer Catch Recap

Jamie

Ryan Dunne has all the talent needed to make the Big Leagues, but a temper that has always gotten in the way. When his hometown Cape Cod League team gives him one last shot, will he finally have it all come together (and get the girl (or perhaps because he got the girl))? Find out in… Summer Catch.

How?! Ryan Dunne is on his last chance. After getting kicked off the baseball teams at Boston College and Framingham State, he’s been stuck mowing lawns with his dad. But this summer he’s getting to play with the Chatham A’s, his hometown Cape Cod League baseball team that could actually get him recognized by scouts. That is if his bad temper and personal troubles don’t get in the way. First, he’s pretty much always at odds with his dad and brother. Bummer. Second, he’s totally into a summer girl, Tenley, who is also totally into him. Sounds great, except her snobby dad is being a real snob and is trying his damndest to get him out of the picture. Double Bummer. Third, he keeps on blowing games… which actually seems like the biggest issue. Mix into this a whole bunch of shenanigans by Ryan’s teammates, including his best bud Matthew Lillard, and we got ourselves a game. But most of that is fairly trivial. That’s because we are super invested in this love story. Can’t get enough of it. Forget baseball, give me more of those sweet, sweet Ryan-Tenley (RyLey?) scenes. Near the end of the season, and after he’s been benched, Ryan saves the star pitcher of the team from a burning building. This results in the star pitcher being sent home and Ryan starting The Big Game and getting One Last Chance. Meanwhile, Tenley is ready to listen to her father and say goodbye to Ryan forever. While she heads off to the airport Ryan is pitching the game of his life and is on the verge of a no-hitter. Suddenly in the ninth inning he realizes that it’s all about love (and I’m not talking about the love of the game) and ditches the no-hitter and stops Tenley before she leaves. But that’s not all! He still gets a contract with the Phillies (yay!). They smooch and everyone is like ‘fuck baseball, right?’ THE END. 

Why?! Love. Duh. Both the love between Tenley and Ryan and the love that each have for their passions (his passion for throwing heat and her passion for being an architect and probably… like… designing a real eco-friendly building or something). Everyone else just wants to get laaaaaiiiidddd. Nice. *high five*

Who?! Check out them cameos. I personally enjoyed Ken Griffey Jr.’s cameo at the end the best, but Hank Aaron randomly showing up as a scout is pretty astonishing. But this all pales in comparison to John C. McGinley being uncredited in the film. He has numerous lines in the film, all of which are done in what might be the worst accent I have ever seen put to film. Every once in a while a role this big goes uncredited (Kathy Bates in Rumor Has It… comes to mind) and it’s always a little bit of a mystery to me. Interestingly Beverly D’Angelo also went unbilled in a slightly smaller part… starting to look like a trend.

What?! My word. A full Chatham A’s uniform went on sale last year and allegedly was sold for $50… I say allegedly because, seeing as I do not currently possess said uniform, I do not believe such a thing could have occurred. We also had a large number of product placements here including, but not limited to, Coca-Cola, Life cereal, Sam Adams, Bass, etc. etc. etc. They almost came so fast and furious that I couldn’t keep up.

Where?! The sheer number of times the town of Chatham’s name is invoked might in fact be a Settings record. We even have Biel’s sister trying to figure out the best Chatham mascot that really evokes the true spirit of Chatham. Turns out that’s a drunk sailor. Gonna give this an A because the large setting of Cape Cod is indeed irreplaceable.

When?! It should be a crime that there wasn’t a brief July 4th Jamboree scene in the middle of the film. Perhaps our boy Freddie is going to scope out the chicks at the Jamboree with his teammates, but also kinda knows that Biel will be there. And then when he meets up with her he’s like let’s go grab an ice cream cone and they go up in the ferris wheel. And then maybe it gets stuck and it’s cute and they joke around. And then her boyfriend shows up and he gets drunk and dances with cows and gets thrown into a drum set… you know, classic July 4th Jamboree shenanigans. Anyway, this is obviously an A+ summer flick. It lives summer.

This really hits a lot of marks for a classic BMT film. We’ve got audio flashbacks and cameos up the wazoo. We’ve got some big hysterical acting choices by the adults in the room (John C. McGinley being the biggest culprit… no wonder he went uncredited). And we’ve got what is essentially Here on Earth level rom com schlock mixed with semi-competent sports movie (with a dash of insulting locker room talk). It all should have worked out to be a HoF contender… except that like 40% of the film is actually an OK baseball film. It really did boggle the mind. I can only assume that the film was written as a straight baseball film, but then was turned into a rom com in rewrites. It just has to be… right? RIGHT?! I still kinda loved it for BMT. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Boys of Summah! Boys of Summah! Boys of Summah! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Give me that Lillard / Freddy duo. They are best buds and I needed them to show it. Also I want to see how bad they all probably are at baseball. Finally, since I grew up on Cape Cod, the setting is naturally rather intriguing. My expectations for the film: I had seen this film before, so it is a little tough to get my expectations up. If the setting was solid, the romance was steamy, and the boys of summer looked terrible trying to play baseball the film would have went far beyond any reasonable expectations. I hoped for at least two of those three.

The Good – I actually thought they did a good job developing and showcasing the different types of players one might see in the Cape Cod League. The local decent player, the guy just looking to boost his bargaining power, the college player looking for some experience between semesters, etc. And surprisingly the baseball often didn’t look half bad (as long as an actor wasn’t actually hitting a ball). Good balance between baseball and non-baseball as well.

The Bad – Which is actually weird, because they go all in on the locker room talk in the baseball scenes. Lillard in particular is just disgusting. And they are balancing those gross male-dominated scenes with … maybe the cheesiest romance ever filmed? So while the time allotted to each subject is balanced, somehow the entire film is off-balance because of it. North Carolina doesn’t really look like the Cape even if Hollywood wants you to believe it does. The acting is atrocious, basically top-to-bottom (Fred Ward is maybe an exception). Even people who are good, like John C. McGinley, are just horrible. And with the film ending with audio and visual flashbacks galore, and maybe like four cheesy monologues that go on for days … I have a feeling the director specifically was overwhelmed by the project, and was probably giving McGinley directions like “just play it like an old timey scout you know? Like ‘Hey, Ryan, you really got the stuff, you see? Just toss it like a real bag of beans, you see?’, and then snap your suspenders”.

The BMT – Hmmmm, it is a decent question. Like, is this a top ten worst sports movie? It is a quintessential sports rom-com. Fever Pitch and Playing For Keeps come to mind. But bad ones are surprisingly rare. Sports comedies you have things like Juwanna Mann, Caddyshack 2, Benchwarmers, Rookie of the Year, etc. … I don’t know. I think this is just one of many. It’s best bet is in a compilation of Freddy Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard bromance films. That’s really where it shines. Did it meet my expectations?: I think so. While it kind of missed on the markers I set out in the preview, the thing I wasn’t really expecting was how poorly directed it was going to be. This is Audio Flashback: The Movie, and that saves it a bit. I wrote a lot of notes, which means I wasn’t bored, it was just a different experience than I was preparing myself for which threw things off.

Roast-radamus – I think the Sam Adams alone is crazy enough to warrant consideration for Worst Product Placement (What?). And we definitely get Setting as a Character (Where?) with Chatham, Massachusetts, which is deep Cape Cod. The film is all about Cape Cod and what it is like living on a set in North Carolina that is supposed to look like it. Is this a labor day film? Nope, looking at the schedule the entire film likely takes place in June and July. I’m surprised that there wasn’t a little Fourth of Juuuuuuuuly celebration though, great opportunity for some canoodling. Could have a shot at BMT maybe, but I doubt it.

StreetCreditReport.com – While I can find a few worst baseball films lists with this included naturally, I don’t feel the need to link them since they are of questionable quality. It managed to make a surprising appearance on this top 50 worst rom coms list. Which seems appropriate. And then is manages an astonishing 12th on this top 20 worst sports movies list. Impressive cred. That last review is spot on as well … why even bother with the baseball when the relationship dramas dominate most of the storylines anyways?

You Just Got Schooled – This is starting to look like a Good Movie Twins section. This week I decided to look around for a baseball documentary. I would have watched the Ken Burns doc, but it is like … 20 hours long or something. Instead I watched Netflix’s Battered Bastards of Baseball about the Portland Mavericks owned by Bing Russell, Kurt Russell’s father. The first half of this film is super interesting, kind of showing how the death of independent baseball in the US really did leave behind a weird amount of talent, and how a guy who cared for the game could harness that for good. The second half ends up less interesting, but overall it certainly is a cool tale. I used to live right near the Saint Paul Saints stadium in Saint Paul, and their games were a blast despite the fact that they were independent, and teams do end up getting talent from those types of leagues a lot more often these days. Very good doc to go with Summer Catch, even if I think it would have worked better as a 40 minute 30 for 30 or something.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Swimfan Recap

Ben Cronin is a swimming god with a totally dope girlfriend so what could go wrong? How ‘bout a new girl in town ready to turn his life upside down. When it turns out that she’s totally cray he’s like WTF and tries to bounce. But, uh oh! She’s like, now way and gets even crazier. Can he kill her (seriously, that’s what happens) before it’s too late? Find out in… Swimfan.

How?! Ben Cronin is the man. He can swim like he’s in the Olympics, he has a gf that’s totally into him, and he’s got cargo pants for days. Nothing can ruin him life now, especially with Stanford scouts coming to town for the big meet, right? Wrong. He meets the new girl in town, Madison, and is immediately intrigued. He’s like “maybe I can just hang out with her and definitely not bone her in the pool.” This turns out to be a mistake because they definitely immediately bone in the pool. Realizing that that wasn’t the best move in the world he tries to distance himself from Madison, but she ain’t having it. But instead of revealing the dirtbag move to his girlfriend, Madison is unfortunately insane and begins to ruin his life piece by piece. After she gets him to fail a drug test, kills his best frenemy, and runs his girlfriend off the road (in an attempt to frame him for her murder), Ben decides that enough is enough. He tricks her into confessing on camera and gets her arrested. Phew. That must be the end. But not so fast, the edge of your seat is about to get a bit more worn, because Madison escapes from the police and kidnaps Ben’s girlfriend. He tracks her to the pool where she attempts to murder his girlfriend, but instead inadvertently falls into the pool. In a stroke of irony, despite her well known swim fandom, she never learned to swim and ends up drowning while Ben saves his girlfriend. Realizing that she’s all that he really wants, Ben leaves the world of competitive swimming behind… or does he? Bum bum bum… he does. THE END. 

Why?! The question we all are asking. Ben is on the verge of getting a swimming scholarship to Stanford and his girlfriend (who along with swimming he credits with saving him from a life of drugs and crime) is ready to join him. Life seems pretty sweet, but we get a hint that he’s not so sure he really wants his girlfriend following him to college. Now this is somewhat reasonable. Perhaps he’s just not sure that such a drastic move is prudent given their age. Or perhaps he fears she’s sacrificing her dreams just to be close and feels bad about that. Regardless, we don’t really get much clarity on this other than that he must feel really strongly about it because he immediately goes off and bangs the new girl in the pool in a stunning act of self-sabotage. Normally this would just result in him losing his girlfriend and perhaps a lackluster performance in the pool (swimming, not sexual obviously. That seemed to go… swimmingly), but unfortunately Madison’s motivation is that she’s a crazy swimfan (née baseballfan).

Who?! No less than 25 Special Thanks credits given out on this film. There must have been a massive rewrite or reshoot on this because there are composers, writers, producers, editors, etc. that get Special Thanks on this. So perhaps they had a cut where they really explored Ben’s motivation but then they were like “It’s called Swimfan, not CharacterDevelopmentFan, OK?” and got rid of that shit.

What?! It is actually mentioned in a book about product placement as a target for some newer sources (outside of the typical beverages, cars, clothing, etc.). That included some Apple products (which hadn’t previously done a lot of placement) and a mention of Viagra (a rare pharmaceutical product placement). I really dug into that because I assumed there wouldn’t be any Swimfan props for sale. Boy was I wrong. Anyone want to dress as Jesse Bradford at his hospital job wearing his bronze swimming medal? Yeah me neither, totally unrealistic. Ben Cronin don’t get third.

Where?! Fun New Jersey setting. Very specific and with license plates everywhere. Not vital to the plot other than to make Stanford seem very far away and I guess maybe to have NYC close enough to make Madison seem somewhat big city exotic (with a boyfriend drafted by the Mets to boot). But still a solid B+.

When?! Hard work always pays off and originally I didn’t think you get an exact date on this one. Wrong! When Ben is casually browsing world record swim times on the interweb just before he gets the first of many creepy messages from swimfan85 we see that the website was updated on May 7th, 2001. Assuming that our boy Ben is only using the best resources to check up on his world record aspirations we can assume that the film takes place around that time. B+ because I love it so much.

I was pretty jazzed for this film. Who wouldn’t be? And while I enjoyed it for its complete devotion to the swimfan aspect of it (and the lack of interest in exploring the characters in any other way) it was otherwise pretty formulaic. She is crazy almost immediately and we proceed almost straight to her getting murdered in a pool (or maybe murder isn’t the right word. He just kinda lets her drown in the pool while saving his girlfriend… so it’s more a tragic accident, I guess). If I had to point to something that I really liked about it I think I would say pretty much everything that Jesse Bradford wears in the film. There were multiple times where I stopped the movie and was just like “what is he wearing?” So many baggy jeans, a cargo pants sighting, and some ill-fitting leather jacket ensembles… it’s almost impossible to pick my favorite of the bunch. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Daaaaaaaaaaaang, I got all into swimming shape and now I have this scary swimfan stalking me. Whoops! Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Jesse Bradford. I needed to know exactly how dreamy his eyes are. More seriously though it occurred to me while watching the trailer that this was a weird time where they were making erotic thrillers … but for like teenagers? That seems like a bad look. But Cruel Intentions (and its straight-to-DVD sequels) and this are an intriguing trend. My expectations for the film: I had to think long and hard about what would make me love this film. I decided that it needed to be over the top crazy. Jesse needed to think he was going insane, and they needed to dial the thrills up to 11. He had to kill her at the end of the film, he had to be forced to kill her in order to get his life back! I was all in at this point and ready to be sorely disappointed.

The Good – They definitely had some thrills. And they definitely ruined Bradford’s life and made him think that he was going crazy. The film is ludicrous enough that I was engaged throughout and it ultimately worked for me. The woman who played the girlfriend was solid, really plays the good girlfriend type well. And they gave a lot more depth to Bradford’s character than I expected, I was actually getting a little worked up about his life getting ruined.

The Bad – Which is also kind of my biggest problem with the film. The formula for an erotic thriller like this is pretty simple: have a kind of trashy guy attract a femme fatale, his life gets mixed up, he is convinced he is going to die or go to prison, and then … the psycho dies and everything is going to be okay. With a teenager though? His life is pretty irreversibly screwed (at least tangibly worse) the instant he is doped with steroids. I doubt a serious college program would consider him (despite his dope times, because they would think they were dope doped times). And that upset me. If things were a little more minor, or they gave him a less melancholy ending I think this would be a personal favorite. But with the stress I was under it brings it down a notch. Also the acting is pretty rough with only the exception of the girlfriend. Also, no offense, but the femme fatale is not hot enough to warrent the craze all the dudes have for her … seriously no offense, but she should have been like insane hot. Even like … a teacher maybe? Whatever, you can see by how much I’ve written just how much I care about this film. It is tearing me up inside!

The BMT – I think this is a fine BMT, as a matter of fact I think this will be looked upon fondly as a starting point for me differentiating the very specific teen erotic thriller as a minor genre of the late 90s and early 00s. There are plenty of things I wish it had done better to really push it over the top, but all of those are forgivable in the face of Jesse Bradford’s dreamy eyes. Today, we are all swimfans. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but only half way. As I’ve said, I think I underestimated how unpleasant it felt to see a young person ruin their lives rather than an adult who mostly has it coming (hoisted by their own petard as it is). But the thrills were cranked up, and he thought he was going crazy, and he did kill her in the end, so it did check all of the boxes.

Roastradamus – The only product placement I can remember was the fact that Bradford very obviously drives a Ford truck. It is only set in New Jersey in a very minor sense. Is the Stanford swimming scout a MacGuffin? … no not really. I will say that Worst Twist (How?) is a credible option with Bradford (and friends) entrapping Madison Bell with the ol’ secret video tape trick. But much like everything about this film … it kind of half asses all of the categories and is unlikely to earn any of them. It does have a good shot at BMT as a nominee though, that is probably the best bet.

StreetCreditReport.com – I am genuinely shocked. I couldn’t find a single yearly list that includes it. I couldn’t find a worst of sports list that includes it. The only list I could find was a Buzzfeed article about unintentionally hilarious teen films. If you could make a list of worst ever swimming films it should probably make it … but it also might be the only film on the list. Very surprising, I figured some sports film list would include it due to its trashiness.

You Just Got Schooled – And how could I watch Swimfan without watching the original classic, Fatal Attraction? This movie was 100 times better than Swimfan. It is a true thriller. I was thrilled throughout, on tenterhooks during every slow pan as tension built. It is one of the best films I’ve ever seen to bridge the thriller / horror gap, as I often found myself horrified (in contrast to most creature features which are vanilla thrillers in my opinion). Dougles, Close and Archer are all amazing, and unlike Swimfan it manages to build the story without just ruining Douglas’ life which I appreciated. I think this finally made me understand why Swimfan just got dunked on by critics, they must have looked at Swimfan and been like “oh, so it’s Fatal Attraction except with bad acting and 100x worse and a garbage story? One star”. As a kind-of adaptation Swimfan is officially an F, it doesn’t even deserve to be in the conversation with Fatal Attraction. Oh no … do I hate Swimfan now? No, never! I will always love you Swimfan with your sexy downtrodden Jesse Bradford!

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Gone in 60 Seconds Recap

Jamie

Memphis Raines was out of the game until he’s pulled back in for one last heist in order to save his little bro from a ruthless criminal. Faced with the seemingly impossible task of stealing 50 cars in one night Raines is undaunted because he’s just that good. Can he overcome the curse of Eleanor and save his bro before it’s too late? Find out in… Gone in Sixty Seconds.

How?! In a wholly original concept we are introduced to Memphis Raines, the best car thief history who is out of the game after watching too many of his friends go to jail or get killed. Unfortunately he’s about to be pulled right back into the game when he learns that his little bro is on the hook for a botched job and will be killed by ruthless furniture maker Raymond Calitri… he makes furniture… and boy is he angry about it. Anyway, Memphis gets the gang back together, including some young hotshot additions thanks to his bro, and start to scope out all fifty (!) of the cars he’ll have to steal in one night. Unfortunately Memphis is also super well known to the cops given that he’s the best car thief in history and they are also tagging along ready to nab him when he takes a wrong step. But this is Memphis Raines, best car thief in history, he don’t take wrong steps. On the night of the heist, things are going swimmingly: they are stealing cars and looking dope doing it. But when they attempt to steal a few “unstealable” cars tagged by the police Memphis’ Memphis-sense gets a-tinglin’ and he’s like “No way,” and basically they go and totally steal the cars from the police impound instead (take that, 5-0!). By the end of the night they start to hit some bumps in the road and one of his little bros’ best buds gets shot, so it’s all up to Memphis, the best car thief in history, to grab the last car dubbed Eleanor. He goes out and totes steals it, but the fuzz are all over him. He leads them on a giant chase and is basically the man and only survives by the skin of his teeth by jumping a million feet over an accident on a bridge. He arrives mere minutes late so Calitri, being ruthless, is ready to kill him, but his little bro comes to the rescue. In a climactic fight set in Calitri’s furniture warehouse/factory/office, Memphis and the police join forces to kill Calitri and then laugh about it. THE END.

Why?! Family, duh. Ever heard of it? Memphis was out of the game, man. He was the best, but he was out of the game. He wasn’t gonna come back, but gets pulled back in to save his little bro. As for the bad guy, he seems to have so little motivation it’s comical. He just kills willy-nilly and cares mostly for the beauty of wood and the craftsmanship of solid furniture.

Who?! Master P went uncredited as Johnnie B. in the film, the gangster angry that Memphis has returned to his turf. Interesting that he ended up uncredited in the role given that he has a number of lines and I mean, I wouldn’t think he would be embarrassed by the film or anything. Maybe his part was supposed to be bigger and he got mad about it? Or maybe it was always supposed to be an unbilled cameo. Hard to say with these things.

What?! For some reason in my head it’s way more common for a film to have the main characters quenching their thirst with the unequaled refreshment of a delicious Coca-Cola. But here our main characters are apparently a bunch of bozos as they can’t get enough Pepsi… gross.

Where?! Nic Cage is the king of Long Beach and he ain’t afraid to remind you. It’s LA all day, bro. But don’t worry about our boy Nic showing up in his old stomping ground, Det. Delroy Lindo, he just came in to catch a Lakers game *electric guitar*.

When?! I believe in my heart of hearts that you can get an exact date on this film. It’s just that my DVD copy I got was of such low quality that it actually hindered my efforts. My gut is telling me that it’s August. It feels like August… in the citaaay. F

I’m going to have to be honest here and it’s painful to say: this film is terrible. I really thought it was super dumb and bad and had so many characters and things going on that it all became a jumbled mess. There are only two good things about this film: 1. The music is actually really banging and sounds like Nic Cage is saving the Earth from an asteroid when he’s just stealing a bunch of cars. 2. Nic Cage. That’s it. It’s actually amusing that Angelina Jolie is so prominently featured in the advertising of the film because her part is miniscule and really poorly developed. But still better developed than almost everyone else. One problem for me I think is that I watched the original before this one and while that film is super low budget, poorly acted, and poorly written, the final 40-minute chase is way way better than any of the car action in this film. So that certainly didn’t help. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Gonna get them cars bro! And we’re going to look sweaty and dirty and gross while doing it. It’s about the fambly, bro. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – This is Nic Cage all day every day. I’ve seen the film before, it is just ludicrous from top to bottom. But it is vintage Cage, so any revisit is well worth the price of admission. I remember … mostly just that they have fake fingerprints at one point. And they have to hack some ultra-sophisticated anti-theft device. Otherwise, I’ll go in as a clean slate (kind of, since I’ve seen the film at least three times). My expectations for the film: I needed one of two things to happen, either Nic Cage needed to be acting b-b-b-b-bonkers, or the film needed to have wall-to-wall absurd car “hacking” nonsense. I just didn’t want to be exhausted with the premise 30 minutes into the film.

The Good – The film is actually very well paced. It quickly gets into the action, Nic Cage assembles an interesting team, and we get to stealing some cars. This film is The Fast and the Furious before The Fast and the Furious. Legit, the second film would have seen Patton get killed during a job and Nic Cage seeks revenge, the third they get recruited by the detective to perform a sting, and from the fourth onward they are international spies. We’ll forget about Gone in 62 Seconds: Bangkok Hijinx. Nic Cage is right on the correct side of insane for me, I thought he was great in this film.

The Bad – The crew is so big. It is maybe four people too large. It is unclear what the point of several of them are, and you don’t really see most of them actually stealing cars. Speaking of which there really is too little in the way of interesting car stealing. Where’s the hacking and other magic nonsense they could have invented? There is a really dumb superfluous story about a rival gang, they don’t give Jolie or Duvall enough to do, and the detective story hinges on the police being genuinely dumb. The movie is not good … so why do I like it so much?

The BMT – Hmmmmm. I like the film. I think if someone wants to watch a really really dumb film starring Nic Cage, this is a pretty good choice. It isn’t a good movie like National Treasure, The Rock, and Con Air, but this is pretty close if you don’t mind it being aggressively dumb. So would I recommend it as a bad movie? No, but I would watch it again in a heartbeat. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, but just barely. Nic Cage was just b-b-b-b-b-b-bonkers enough to get me to where I needed to be.

Roast-radamus – You know, this film could have really used a Planchet. It did have a great Product Placement (What?) with Patton in particular grabbing an ice cold Pepsi when talking with Nic Cage. You can definitely say this is a Setting as a Character (Where?) for California and Long Beach in particular. Is Elanor, the Shelby Mustang, a MacGuffin? … I don’t think so, it isn’t the thing they are going after, they are stealing 50 cars to save Kip’s life. And I could believe this gets a nod for Good in the end, just because that category is usually pretty sparse.

StreetCreditReport.com – Nice, we finally got one that actually made a top ten Worst Of list, this time for Rolling Stone. Also it made a more specific worst car films ever list. And in general the film has a multitude of fun articles online, from people arguing about how they actually like the film, to more specific takedowns involving minutiae of the film. A truly divisive film. BTW, the first thing there, “why steal Elanor in broad daylight?”, was my number one pet peeve in the film. The car is incredibly conspicuous and the police are spotting it from miles away whenever Cage made an escape.

You Just Got Schooled – And guess what? This is a remake. The original is something of a cult classic. The 1974 film was directed, written, financed, starred, stunt coordinated, etc. etc. by  H.B. “Toby” Halicki whose own cars (including both cars used as all four Eleanors seen in the film) were also used in the film. Notable for its 40 minute chase finale, the film itself is actually a lot more fun that you’d think, and it makes a lot of sense that it is a cult hit among car aficionados. Cheap looking, poorly acted, and poorly written, Halicki would eventually aim to remake the film himself in 1984 with more money, but he sadly died during a stunt before the film could get finished. The premise of the original is actually a lot more solid than the remake, but I can see why the destructive and truly criminal nature of Halicki’s character was thrown out in favor of a redemption story. Still, fun to see what a true independent film of the 70s looked like. Kind of amazing what he was able to do it totally out of the studio system at the time. D remake, the new one just didn’t have the same heart or love of cars to serve as a proper remake of the original.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs