Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Four More Bad Movies

The Day the Earth Froze
I saw this movie via the show Mystery Science Theater 3000 which featured it along with the short Here Comes the Circus (1946). This episode was from the fourth season so it was a Joel episode.
The movie itself is a poorly dubbed Finnish/Soviet Fantasy adventure based on Finnish mythology.
Although this is a bad movie it is unintentionally amusing and the riffs were very good. I never heard of this MST3K before so I'd say its an underrated episode. If you're are a fan of MST3K but haven't seen this one yet give it a watch.

Although I do remember Gigli bombing when it came out and hearing how bad it is, I never saw it. While at the time I wondered if it was really that bad, I'm kinda glad I saw it now because I can say yes, this movie does indeed suck!
From a technical standpoint Gigli not as bad as say Battlefield Earth, but at least that was more fun to watch in all its glorious stupidity. Even though Gigli features both Al Pacino and Christopher Walken, the two are not used properly and could have replaced them with anyone. The movie is incredibly dull as not much happens. Scenes are very long and usually take place in the same areas. I remember one scene in particular where the camera went back and forth to the same two shots so many times in a row I lost count. I know this movie had a beleaguered production, but that is no excuse to get lazy and the end result looks amateurish.
Clocking in at a full two hours this movie is about 30 minutes too long for the plot. It probably wouldn't have been so bad if it was shorter but the story really drags on with tons of scenes where nothing really happens and the conversations just drone on and on.
Despite having an estimated $74 million budget (production and marketing costs), Gigli only made back about $7 million worldwide. Not quite Pluto Nash territory but still a gigantic box office bomb.
Deep down I actually feel there was some potential here. I think if someone re-wrote the script for director Martin Brest, the movie was shorter, and did not star Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez (and therefore didn't try to cash in on their relationship) it actually could have been good. Over $24 million went to Bennifer which is over three times what the movie made in theaters. I have seen Affleck in other movies and while he's not a bad actor, he is awful here. I'm not too familiar with JLo so maybe she has performed better in other movies but she is just as bad as Affleck here.
To be fair, the mentally challenged kid was well acted by Justin Bartha (National Treasure, The Hangover) but not tactfully written. The kid's obsession with "Baywatch" was funny though. Gigli was Bartha's first movie so I am impressed that his career was able to survive being in this flop.

Gigli feels like its trying to copy Tarantino's style but falls flat on its face. For example, the movie uses the word "fuck" 124 times and for the most part the use of the word is completely unnecessary and just thrown in there it make it seem gritty. I've only seen Tarantino's first two movies but he broke a lot of screenwriting rules. However, he still did such a good job with stuff like dialogue that his touch worked. But Brest is not Tarantino and this movie fails miserably. Now to be fair Brest was around before Tarantino so who knows, maybe they both influenced each other.
In what should be no surprise, Gigli won six razzie awards including a grand slam of worst picture, worst actor, worst actress, worst director worst screenplay. It easily won worst on-screen couple.
As I alluded to earlier, director Martin Brest also wrote the script. Brest has directed some good movies but never wrote the script for those and that seems to be the problem here. To be fair this movie did have a difficult production with Brest battling the studio for control. Brest lost and and it was re-cut by the studio before being released. For example, a bunch of scenes in the trailer are not in the movie. Apparently Brest originally intended for the movie to be much longer (160 minutes!) but also darker and violent. However, the producers wanted to cash in on the tabloid craze of "Bennifer" and therefore turn the movie into more of a romantic comedy. A director's cut has never been released and I doubt I would watch it, but its probably better than the theatrical version. Still, you can only polish a turd so much.
The only other movie I've seen by Martin Brest is Beverly Hills Cop which I did like. I'll have to watch some of his good movies as I've been recommended Midnight Run and Scent of a Woman.
Looking at Brest's filmography it is clear he has talent and has made good movies. Brest hasn't made a movie since and even though Gigli is terrible I think that is a shame. Unfortunately pretty much everything that could go wrong did, which is a recipe for disaster. And if you look up Gigli in a thesaurus you will find the word disaster!
There are many movies worse than this from a technical standpoint that are still much more watchable. Gigli is not the worst movie ever but its certainly down there. As for Hollywood movies this is one of the worst I've seen but its still better than Cool as Ice.

The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends
Not many movie franchises get to 13 movies. Of course all the sequels after the original (a classic animated children's movie) were to direct to video, but I must still give them credit for making so many as I imagine this means the sequels sold well. As a kid I loved the first one and stuck around until about the sixth movie. What can I say, like most children I loved dinosaurs!
I watched this movie with a bunch of friends as a joke, and even though its a kid's movie, its still a bad kid's movie. Some people give bad kids movies a pass by saying they are simply meant for children, but that is just a slap in the face to the good kids movies out there.
There isn't much of a plot here, basically Littlefoot and his dino buddies have to help some dumb dinosaurs go back to their home, Berry Valley. The story is essentially a dumb-downed version of the original with far less tension and aimed at an even younger audience. The animation is mediocre at best and while the songs are annoying, they are completely forgettable which I guess is a good in a way because I'm glad I don't remember them!
Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sandra Oh voice two of the stupid dinosaurs. I know they are talented, but they have absolutely nothing to work with here.
I can't really recommend The Land Before Time XIII to anyone. If you liked these movies as a child, just re-watch the original. If your kids want to see this it can't hurt, but start them out with the first and perhaps the some of the early sequels as they are all much better that this thoughtless franchise cash-in.

Girl Happy
I had never seen an Elvis movie before so I didn't really know what to expect coming into this.
Elvis made over thirty movies between 1956 and 1969. By 1965 the Beatles just started to hit and Beach Party movie fad was in full swing. As a result of these new developments Elvis is given a band (one member is played by Bing Crosby's son, Gary Crosby) and we have the spring break beach setting of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Shelley Fabares, Harold J. Stone (X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes), John Fiedler (Piglet from Winnie the Pooh) were actors I recognized in this movie. All were also in different episodes of my favorite TV show, the Twilight Zone.
Besides those other actors, Girl Happy features Jackie Coogan as a police officer. Is he the only actor to be in movies with both Charlie Chaplin and Elvis Presley?!
Although this movie is technically a musical, I found none of the songs memorable.
For some reason this movie was not filmed on location and it is obvious they filmed Girl Happy on sets.
Despite these drawbacks and the dated 60s lingo this is watchable if you're in the mood for a silly little movie. Elvis steals a boat and puts it in a swimming pool!

After all these bad movies its time to switch gears. My next post will be on three great movies!

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