Thursday, March 31, 2011

The 30 Day Film Challenge - Day 2: My least favorite film

The way things are goin, they gonna crucify me

Yesterday I talked about how it was hard to choose my favorite film. Today I have to choose my least favorite film. And that's not hard at all. Bad Boys II doesn't just scrape bottom. It crashes through the bottom and finds a new pit in which to fester.

This requires some context. Most of Michael Bay's movies are merely bad, like say, Armageddon. It was a trial to sit through, but I made it to the end with only a sneer on my face.

Bad Boys II, on the hand, is not merely incompetent but offensive. I trudged out of that theater mad enough to strangle Mickey Mouse. And Disney didn't even release the movie.

At the time, I was having fun writing reviews as what I called "Memos to Jerry Bruckheimer," who sometimes gives us good bang for the buck with movies like Crimson Tide. With Bad Boys II, there was less than no sale. For at least a week afterward I felt like I had been forced to bathe in raw sewage and take a couple of swallows to boot.

I was so furious, I banged out what has to be the most scathing critique I've ever spat out. What follows may not be appropriate for children under 17, which pretty well describes Bay's mental age. But I wrote him and Jerry this anyway.

Bad Boys II

Review by Eric Robinette

Grade: F-

Starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Gabrielle Union, Joe Pantoliano, Jordi Molla and Peter Stormare, who should be having interesting discussions with their agents now

Shoddily written (if you can call it that) by Ron Shelton and  Jerry Stahl, from a “story” (term used loosely) by Shelton and Cormac Wibberley & Marianne Wibberley

Offensively Overdirected by Michael Bay

Memo to Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay

From a truly disgusted film critic

Good God, Jerry and Mike. Where do I start in writing about “Bad Boys II?” I’ve always known you guys are the premier purveyors of cinematic wretched excess, but until this movie I didn’t know that you’re also a couple of sick fucks.

I know that’s harsh, guys, but what else am I supposed to think about a movie that wallows in being as repulsive as possible? What am I to make of the chase scene in which dead bodies spill out the back of a van, and a pursuing car beheads one body?

And what the hell was the deal with the shot that shows two rats fucking, Mike? Has it been your secret ambition to be a documenatarian for National Geographic, and this is the best you could come up with? Or is that how you learned about the deed and you wanted to share? Between this and the lovemaking among the parachutes in “Pearl Harbor,” you guys sure must have had some interesting experiences in your youth, I’ll tell you that.

If the audience at my screening is any indication, I guess the point of these two lovely scenes is humor; the lemmings laughed loud and long at both of them. I weep for humanity. I guess this is what becomes of audiences after years of the desensitizing your movies have caused. You really do reap what you sow.

I know I sound like a tightwad, but you know what? I don’t care. I’ve fallen for your brainless action romps before (I actually liked “The Rock”) but until now, you’ve never gone to such lengths to be offensive. It’s like you guys sat together and said, “Let’s take a big chunk of our money and see just how much shit we can get away with.”

But what’s the point of spending all that money if you get nothing from it? Mike, you have a reputation for being one of the more, um…aggressive action directors we have, and I’ll actually admit, you’re not without talent. But you have an uncanny ability to sabotage your own good ideas.

For instance, in one of the highway chases, the villains are driving a car carrier, and they detach the cars one by one, so bingo—instant obstacle course. Good idea, Mike. Too bad you totally fucked up the execution. There are so many edits in the scene---cutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcutcut---that I couldn’t tell where anyone or anything was.

Then there’s the shootout in the druggies’ house in which the camera whips around in a circle from one room to another, ducking through bullet holes and the like. Yeah, you ripped it off from “Panic Room” and “Swordfish,” (which, ironically, ripped off you), but it’s still a good idea. SO WHY DO YOU KEEP CUTTING AWAY FROM IT AND INTERRUPTING THE FLOW??

And the word flow reminds me---why in God’s name is this movie two and a half hours long? So you could include the scene in which Will Smith and Martin Lawrence discuss a bullet wound in the butt and a crowd of department store shoppers think they’re gay lovers? The shot of the little kid asking, “Daddy, what’s an erection” was an especially charming (cough) touch.

And what’s with the scene in which a young kid taking Lawrence’s daughter on a date is terrorized by Lawrence and Smith, who waves a gun in his face and asks him, “You ever have sex with a man? Want to?”

If you had to have a cheap joke like that, a writer with half a brain would have at least included a scene of the boy slapping the daughter around or something. But nooooo. You use the scene for a cheap laugh and make your stars and yourselves look like homophobes in the process. It’s especially dispiriting to see Will Smith stoop so low. Did you kick him an extra million to get him to say those lines?

There’s so much more I could talk about, like the scene in which the camera ogles a dead woman’s breast implants, but even you should have the smarts to get my point by now: You went too far this time. It’s enough to make me want to retreat to the relative comfort of “Charlie’s Angles: Full Throttle.” At least McG and his gals aren’t into necrophilia.

I know Mike was the one calling the shots on this, Jerry, but since you’re his boss, you share responsibility for Bay’s misdeeds.  It’s a shame because I had liked most of your movies lately. With “Remember the Titans,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” under your belt you actually seemed to have acquired taste, “Bad Company” and “Kangaroo Jack” notwithstanding. But you’ll have to make something as classy as “Vertigo” to get back in my good graces. And, no, making me sick with one of Bay’s chase scenes does NOT count.

Yes, there should be room for dumb action movies where every other shot is an explosion---but for every kind of movie, there is a line of taste to be drawn, and “Bad Boys II” crosses it by a country mile. It’s the worst movie of this year, and of your careers.

Now I’m sure you and the less discriminating members of your audience would respond to me by saying, “Man, it’s only a movie.” Or as somebody on the Rolling Stone message boards so delicately put it, “ya its sick humor but it didnt stop the whole theature from rumbling with laughter.this is what i want some critqes to do for a change. Grow a spine and pair of peanuts. then untighten their azcrack so they can stop breaking wind out of their ears and crapng out of their mouth”

You must be so proud to have such articulate defenders, guys. I’ll tell you and your defenders what, though. I’ll actually take that advice. I’ll grow a “spine and a pair of peanuts” when you grow a brain and a sense of decency. But I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.


Allison M. Dickson said...

I loooove this review. And I totally forgot about the quote from the message board. My god... lol!

David M. Allen M.D. said...

There's a lot of lcd movies that were almost made awful on purpose, so I would limit the award for least favorite movie to those that were supposed to be good. For me, that honor goes to Barry Levinson's "Toys" with Robin William.

Scott Copeland said...

Toys was a tough sit, but I can't vote for it because I thought the production design was really well done.

Bad Boys II is a solid choice, but if I have a vote I have to go to a major studio film that is not only technically inept but also repugnant in content. I vote for Friday the 13th.