Monday, June 28, 2010

I named my new iPhone SHARON JONES...

...because just like Ms. Jones it is BLACK and SASSY!!

How KNIGHT AND DAY Shoulda Ended...

Dear James Mangold,

You're welcome. This past weekend I got my butt off the couch and relocated to a movie theater where I saw your latest film, Knight and Day. I use the term "film" very loosely as it looked more like a made-for-TV movie...and not the HBO kind.

I'm going to go ahead and give you a spoiler alert, James. I'd like to talk in length about some plot points in your movie. You may be saying to yourself, "I directed this movie. Why would I need a spoiler alert?"

You see, I have my doubts that you actually made it to the end of your own movie, James.

In the first act, super-spy Ethan Hunt Tom Cruise runs into super-cutie Cameron Diaz at an airport. They exchange romantic-comedy dialogue and accidentally get on the same flight. It's an accident because Cameron wasn't supposed to be on the plane populated entirely by CIA hitmen and hitladies. Apparently, Tom stole a super-awesome battery that could run an entire city for a month or something. Someone in the CIA wants to sell it into the wrong hands, so Tom decided he would protect it with his perfectly manicured hands.

I want to pause here, James, and point out that I've rewritten that last paragraph about seven different times. I can't remember what parts of the setup are actually paid off in the conclusion. This is a bad sign, James.

Mid-flight, Cameron spills tequila on herself and takes an incredibly long bathroom break. Her bathroom break is so long, it gives Tommy Boy ample time to kill every mercenary on the flight. Just out of curiosity, James, how many times on set did you spill tequila on yourself and need an incredibly long bathroom break?

That was a rhetorical question. I'm really afraid of the answer.

You see, movies don't direct themselves, James. Just like planes need pilots, movies need direc...



I forgot that you're a strong believer in autopilot. Judging by the scene in which Tom kills both pilots on the mercenary-filled flight, then manages to make two cocktails, make out with Cameron, and not experience the slightest shimmy of turbulence.

I realize I'm being nitpicky here. But you have no idea how many times I rolled my eyes in your movie, James. After the plane sequence, the movie quickly devolves into Cameron being drugged and dragged around the globe while Tom does all kinds of Jason Bourne-esque tricks. Somewhere along the way Cameron falls in love with this psycho...though I didn't really understand why, nor did I care.

A few years ago you directed a little John Cusack thriller called Identity. I really enjoyed that film (don't fault me for it, I was in film school at the time and didn't know the difference between Roger Avary's Rules of Attraction and Shinola). I loved that big twist at the end...where we find out that all the characters are merely split personalities of the same psychotic serial killer.

Knight and Day really needed a similar twist to make the "story" work. Here's what I was thinking...

Keep the movie exactly the way it is. Super-awesome battery stays. Cheesy romantic comedy dialogue remains intact. Confusing CIA story lines stick around. Paul Dano can even keep his "pre-pubescent" mustache (it looks about as believable as the CGI bulls that chase Tom and Cameron on a motorbike).

The movie ends, but instead of rolling the credits, we cut back to Cameron on the flight to Boston. She takes another shot of tequila as she turns the final page in her Harlequin romance novel (aptly titled Knight and Day). I really feel that twist would've brought all sorts of credibility to your crazy movie, James. But then again, I'm not the one getting paid to write screenplays or direct films, am I?

I'd continue to rip on your movie, but I've already taken up enough of your time. Not a full two hours and ten minutes like you took from me this past weekend...but I guess I gave it up willingly. And that's no one's fault but my own.

In closing, I will admit that the one upside to Knight and Day is I won't get you confused with Taylor Hackford anymore, James. Well played.


Will Sherrod

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Bad Movie Chart

Last night I watched Showgirls. My friend "X" and I had been talking about having a "bad movie night" for a couple of weeks. "X" shall remain nameless because being outted on the internet for sitting through all 2 hours and 15 minutes of Showgirls (you read that right, TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES where each passing minute is more morally bankrupt than its predecessors) is almost worse than being a Republican caught with a account.

had less taste than the stripper pole Elizabeth Berkeley meticulously tongues twenty minutes into the "film."

"X" and I had fun making Mystery Science Theater 3000 style jokes throughout the movie. I must admit, as much as I hated the story and characters, I laughed my ass off (almost inducing an asthma attack...I swear). As I went to bed, with visions of Jessie Spano flailing about like a child inflicted with Tourette's syndrome and Gina Gershon slipping in and out of accents that ranged from Southern Slut and Jersey Shore Jezebel to some version of Julia Child attempting cockney articulation, I realized that I needed to define what I consider to be a "good" bad movie.

As a self-proclaimed aficionado of bad cinema, I came up with the following chart:

Good kind of Bad
Anybody who's ever been to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture or Tommy Wiseau's The Room knows exactly what I'm talking about. This is a very rare category of bad cinema in which a movie is so bad entire groups of people get together to lampoon it. If you sit and watch a cult classic by yourself, you'll most likely turn it off before you reach the end of the film. These movies are only entertaining when they're experienced with lots and lots of friends (usually in costumes and carrying bags of props).

See also: Troll 2, The Forbidden Zone, most of John Waters' canon

Good kind of Bad
A step down from the cult classic bad films are movies that are beyond entertaining when you're under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or some weird combination of painkillers and ginger ale (I watched a lot of bad movies when my molars were removed in college). This category is usually filled with sci-fi action (Tron, Starship Troopers), grotesque horror (Tremors, Freddy vs. Jason) or blaxploitation comedy (when I'm a little tipsy, there is nothing funnier than Wanda Sykes playing Biggie Shorty in Pootie Tang).

NOTE: Unless you're recovering from surgery, this category is also only acceptable in group crazy alcoholics.

See also: Armageddon, The People Under the Stairs, Undercover Brother

"Good" kind of Bad
This is a very personal category. Every person has at least one movie that they're ashamed to admit to loving. That movie isn't fun when you're drunk. It's not fun with a group. Every time you mention enjoying it, someone scoffs at you and you lose all credibility for ever recommending a film again. For me, that movie is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

See! Half of you stopped reading right there. I could spend hours talking about how it feels like a $200 million Ed Wood film. I could write multiple blog posts on how much I hated the first one but found the second one to be so ridiculously gratuitous that it exists in its own universe and still manages to hold my attention for its ungodly running time no matter when it's on. None of those defenses hold water. So, as with all guilty pleasures, I will tuck my tail between my legs and admit that it is a total piece of shit...then run home and fire up my blu-ray player because it's still in there from the last time I watched it.

NOTE: If your guilty pleasure has higher than a 35% on Rotten Tomatoes, it doesn't count...unless of course you secretly loved Precious because it's the most you've ever stifled laughter in a movie theater.

See also: Yeah, I'm gonna admit to any more of these...

Neutral kind of Bad
This is a category that collects all films deemed "mediocre." A recent example of this for me is Julie & Julia. When it was in the theater last summer, I asked everyone who saw it what they thought of it and I always got the same reaction: "Well, the movie's kinda slow and exactly what you'd expect, but Meryl Streep is REALLY good." That kind of "glowing" review won't get me to run to the nearest movie theater. It also won't get me to walk to the Blockbuster next door...or alter my Netflix queue so that it's mailed to me the minute it's available on DVD. However, I do feel like I owe it to Meryl to watch everything she does, and I'd rather not have to sit through commercials. So the minute it was available to stream to my TV, unedited, for free, I watched it.

And, yeah, Meryl was good.

See also: Changeling, The Blind Side

Bad kind of Bad
This is a step down from the Netflix Instant category. Notice that I never said Julie & Julia was particularly bad, it just wasn't particularly good either. Any movie that you wait until it premieres on TBS, TNT, or Comedy Central is obviously something you were never really interested in seeing in the first place...but maybe it had some strange element that grabbed your attention when you were flipping channels one Saturday afternoon. For me, this movie was Ang Lee's Hulk. I'd heard nothing but bad things, and the monstrous running time scared me away from going in the theaters. But, one day I was home bored and came across it on USA Network or something. The fact that it had commercials meant I could clean my apartment or work on my taxes or whatever was my "chore" that day without devoting my full attention to the television (I'm very easily distracted from my chores). I'd always been curious about where Ang Lee went wrong with the movie and, surprisingly, I found myself entertained enough to watch about two hours of it (probably only half of the film when you factor in commercials).

NOTE: I don't recommend this category if you're watching a bad movie like, say, Wild Things. They edit out the "good bits." And we all know T&A is the only reason anyone would sit through a Denise Richards picture.

See also: Any movie based on a Stephen King book that's NOT helmed by an A-list director

Bad kind of Bad
Did anyone expect Norbit to be good? Was anybody surprised that Furry Vengeance pulled a whopping 6% on Rotten Tomatoes? Some movies are so bad that you can't even make it to the end of the trailer. Nobody watches these movies except for the voters at the Razzie Awards. Let's keep it that way, folks.

See also: Gigli, Basic Instinct 2, Catwoman, I Know Who Killed Me, any Diane Keaton film that's NOT helmed by an A-list director, any film where Anthony Anderson gets top billing, any film with the name "Uwe Boll" anywhere in its credits.

Absolute worst kind of Bad
May 19, 1999. Do you remember that feeling you had when you walked out of Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace? Do you remember wanting to throw George Lucas off a very tall bridge?

In my opinion, the absolute worst kind of movie isn't one where Eddie Murphy dons a fat suit, or Diane Keaton plays someone's overbearing mother, or Paris Hilton "emotes." The worst kind of film is one you're genuinely looking forward to seeing that sorely lets you down. These bad films sneak up on you and kick you in the nuts, then fart in your face while you're rolling around on the ground in agony. One minute, you're more or less having fun reliving your childhood and forgiving a few misplaced CGI gophers...the next Shia TheBeef is swinging from tree to tree with a bunch of monkeys while Indiana Jones continues his quest to discover alien skulls. Ouch.

This can also apply to movies that you originally plan on putting in the "Cable Television Bad" category. If I can be so bold as to reference another Michael Bay flick...I remember expecting to dislike The Island. The trailers made it look like a flashy, over-produced, action flick with no interesting contribution to the science fiction genre. I got into a free screening at work, and was actually shocked to find myself enjoying the first half. The characters were interesting. The movie pretended like it was going to explore the moral implications of cloning. There was mystery. There was drama. And then, about halfway through, Steve Buscemi crashes the party. He reveals the big mystery to the main characters, tells them what they have to do to stay alive, then gets out an actual map and traces out the rest of their steps through the third act. No more mystery. No more surprise. From that scene on the movie became a flashy, over-produced, action flick with no interesting contribution to the science fiction genre!! It tricked me!

See also: The Da Vinci Code, Hannibal, Spider-Man 3, The Lovely Bones, pretty much anytime Tim Burton decides to "re-imagine" something

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I might dress up for Comic-Con this Summer

I'd go as Jake Gyllenhaal in the Prince of Persia...

I know there are "expensive-Hollywood-personal-trainer-shaped" abs somewhere under those garments.