I think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the entertainment business every single day of the year, including weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it. So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in their busy celluloid digesting day.
By Andre Dellamorte
What I’m Thankful For:
Survivng the Reel Grit Endurance Challenge
Producer Brian Udovich (best known for All the Girls Love Mandy Lane and The Wackness) has a group of film people out every (or at least most) Sundays to the AFI to show a movie that has likely escaped mainstream attention, or barely cracked into the market. Showing films like Johnnie To’s The Heroic Trio, or The Horseman, or Mad Dog Morgan, it’s generally a film that is worth seeing but is best known as a blip on someone’s filmography. I found out about this group through Devin Faraci, and have been attending on a semi-regular basis. Earlier this year, I was asked to be a host for their year end extravagance. The Reel Grit Endurance Challenge.
The idea of the Endurance Challenge is that they show movies with little to no interruptions (we ordered food in the middle, and got one stretching break) for fourteen hours. All bathroom breaks were timed – if you took too long, you had to stand for the rest of the movie. All of the movies would be bad. The original plan was to show nothing but 2010 films, all of which had to have terrible Rotten Tomato rankings. Our highest was at a 19% (though was considered the worst film), many had 0%. But the 2010-only plan was ditched as many contenders (like Alice in Wonderland or Clash of the Titans) had a certain fanbase, and my role as MC was ditched. Perhaps it was just to sugar the pot. The Challenge was also conceived as the anti-BNAT in its way. The prize for making your way through was a T-shirt. We all had to be up for a 9 A.M. start time on a Sunday, so – for me – it was a huge commitment as it would cost me two nights of dancing. I got there a little early, because I was told those who arrived later would be forced to pick between the worst films. But from all accounts I picked the worst film shown. All films are unknown until they are unwrapped by the picker, except for three films we were forced to watch, including the final film, known only as The Willbreaker.
Film #1 – Cop Out: Say what you will about Kevin Smith. We did. The film is painfully unfunny with poorly staged action scenes, or that is to say a complete and utter failure. I was happy it was the first choice. No one had had the world beaten out of them yet, and as terrible as the film is, I was able to have fun with it. But the main thing noted about this film is how it has a ton of different sub-plots that don’t really mesh well together. It all eventually does (sort of), but no scene builds to the next. This also has a sassy talking child who goes for a nut punch.
Film #2 – Who’s Your Caddy?: This was – shock upon shocks – the best film we saw all day. Oh, it was garbage, but it had a clearly defined plot (rip off Caddyshack, but with black people). and the jokes were bad, but not offensive. It’s familiar but inoffensiveness was like a cocktail, so that is where I cracked a Four Loko. I didn’t know how you’re supposed to consume them (as quickly as possible), so I nursed my way through the movie with a Blue Raspberry. They taste terrible. Big Boi (of Outkast fame) is the lead in this film. An old trick when you’re dealing with a non-actor is isolating them in the frame, because they can’t handle other actors (parodied well in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace). Mr. Boi is rarely in a shot with the other actors. Just saying.
LEGACY SCREENING – Film #3 – Left Behind II: Tribulation Force: Last year the best film of the bunch was Fireproof, as it’s like a lot of Christian themed films where the makers have no idea how to portray being a real atheist or a drug addict, etc. These films are made in bubbles of belief that either can’t let or don’t understand an alternate perspective. Left Behind II is about a reporter (played by Kirk Cameron) named Buck Williams. Basically, the rapture has happened, so there’s a Russian dude who takes over the U.N. and is going to be the president of the world. He’s also the anti-Christ. Unfortunately, if you’ve seen one of these films you’ve seen them all – they all feature the same basic tenets: a sinner is redeemed, someone learns a lesson about the word of the bible, etc. But it’s all done in ways that no person who has ever questioned their faith or any faith would deem as true to life. This was a different sort of terrible, but was never boring, so that’s something.
Film #4 – The Hottie and the Nottie: This is the clear winner in terms of everything. Bad acting, direction, limited locations, etc. But it also has the cherry on top of being a morality play that sponsors questionable morals. In that way, this was my favorite film of the fest. This film seems a movie built around the idea that Paris Hilton wants (or wanted) to be an actress, and so the film presents the idea that – like a lot of hot girls – she’s got a female friends who’s her vagina bouncer. But the Nottie in this case (besides being beautiful underneath) needs dental and cosmetic surgery – she initially looks like a cavewoman. This is doubly ironic as Paris Hilton has already had tons of plastic surgery to be the supposed hottie, and it’s really weird to see her be portrayed as such an object of desire – you can get away with it if you’re subject is Jane Mansfield, Hilton… not so much. The moral of these films is usually that people have inner beauty, but in this case, the movie denies that by subjecting the Nottie to tons of works to get hot. But I like that about the film, it’s so incompetent it fucks up its own moral. What a terrible film.
Film #5 – Vampires Suck: Five minutes in this was already one of the most competent films of the day, but also, only fellow victim Jen Yamato actually knew the Twilight franchise enough to get the non-jokes. At a short 82 minute running time, I was ready to stick with it, but it was voted out.
Film #5.1 – Alone in the Dark – Uwe Boll started to win people over because the endless opening crawl is endless, and the first set piece action scene was more competent than anything in the last four movies. Unfortunately, there’s a good twenty to thirty minute section in the film where absolutely nothing happens, and that was really dragging everyone’s will to stay. And this is the point where you’re starting to give up hope and fun. It’s just the fifth bad movie in a row, the day was beautiful in Los Angeles, and we’d all locked ourselves in a room for what? For why? The numbing terribleness was just going to keep coming at this point.
LEGACY SCREENING – Film #6 – The Last Airbender: last year The Happening proved to be one of the best/worst films shown, and The Last Airbender was another “winner” from M. Night Shyamalan. The film features all the problems that too many major blockbusters feature today: too much world-building with all sorts of rules that are both over explained, and yet the rules never seem to cover everything, endless minutes of off screen back-story that adds little to the film you’re watching, and on top of that poorly staged and paced action set pieces. Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones showed up in Left Behind II, here we got Aasif Mandvi. By this point, momentum was turning – this was bad, but you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Film #7 – Furry Vengeance: This film features Samantha Bee and Rob Riggle, ending our Daily Show connections. At this point, any time an animal hurt a human, people had to drink. Surprisingly, there’s not as many people getting hit in the genitals as you’d think. At this point in the fest you’re sort of in your own head, thinking you can make it. Vengeance should have made a decade ago, or two or three decades ago when the whole idea of getting animals to talk with CGI was a big deal, or with Don Knotts or something. Brendan Fraser – with his terrible hairpiece – is obviously out of shape, and completely ambivalent about the whole project. There’s also a terrible music video that wraps up the film:
Film #8 – The Willbreaker: I was promised to not say what the final film of the night was. Sufficed to say it was terrible, but the exact sort of terrible I can muddle through no problem. The T-shirt was mine.
What does one get out of an experience like this? A sense of bonding for sure, or as it’s professionally known: Stockholm syndrome.