We have a proud tradition here at Stand By For Mind Control. When our far-flung East Coast correspondent MC Frontalot returns to California, the land of his birth, we celebrate his ultimate nerdcoreness by going to the cinema to see the worst film that is playing.
That’s why I saw Skyline.
But what’s your excuse? Why are you squirming in your too-tight trousers for films as obviously dreadful as Free Birds — a heartwarming animated tale about time-traveling turkeys that stars Owen Wilson?
And I am not kidding. That is an actual film, which teams of actual adults spent actual money, time, and effort to bring to you, the extremely pliable consumer.
Yes, movies are pretty terrible these days — but they’re only as terrible as we deserve. If we all stopped seeing these dreadful pictures, the big studios would eventually try to sell us something else (after they got done suing us).
For while I will optimistically go and see Man of Steel with some tiny smidgen of hope that it will not irrevocably puncture my soul, there are some films that even a fool such as I will avoid (unless Frontalot is in town).
Therefore, in an effort to help you skirt the films which will soon attack our eyeballs like a passel of rabid stoats, I present you with these three warnings.
The Lone Ranger
There are 10 TRAILERS.
So, you know, if you’re wondering if you might like to go see The Lone Ranger in the cinema, or on your phone, or reflected in the toilet water as you empty yourself of a special, commemorative, cowboy-hat-shaped gallon-sized tumbler of fizzy drink, you can watch them all. All ten. That way, when you go to the theater, you can laugh, and gasp, and send witty bon mots via text about things on-screen BEFORE THEY EVEN HAPPEN ON-SCREEN!!!
You will be like a prognosticative god, assuming your memory is not a smoking ruin or that you can discern one scene in this film from anything else you’ve seen in the past ten years.
Here, selected at random, is one trailer:
Pretend for a second that you have been living a pious life, in a mountain cave or something, and you have only now emerged to stock up on limes and juicy grubs. You make the mistake of walking past an electronics emporium and this trailer appears on the magical screen before you. You watch it in search of wisdom.
Is there anything at all sensible contained within?
No. No there is not. You might mistake some of the images and sounds presented here for communication, but that is only because your brain has been so softened by so many Jerry Bruckheimer films that you are extrapolating meaning from what is essentially the crazed howling of dying animals.
The trailer begins with Johnny Depp wearing a turkey on his head. Perhaps it is Owen Wilson’s character from Free Birds? Let’s say it is. Depp says “eight men rode into canyon, I dug seven graves,” and then we see Armie Hammer standing atop a six-story wooden scaffolding built on top of a rock spire.
So obviously the eighth man killed the other seven and left a grammatically challenged, fashion victim to clean up?
Why either of these characters or anyone in creation would then build an open wooden structure on top of a rock spire and then climb up on top of it is completely inexplicable. Unless Mr. Hammer is trying to fondle the sun? That must be it. Armie Hammer is a sun-fondler as we long suspected.
Then we get some horses and shadowy faces and the sound of a hammer on steel. Turkey-man suggests that the sun-fondler stay dead and wear a mask, seemingly contradictory advice, but then who takes advice from a guy who’s wearing a bird hat anyway?
Have I mentioned that? Johnny Depp is wearing a dead bird. On his head. One would assume on purpose. Perhaps he is the opposite of a scarecrow?
Depp’s character also says, “Justice is what a man must take for himself.” I’m pretty positive that that is no one’s definition of justice. Not even Charles Manson’s or the Supreme Court’s.
Maybe our bird-headed friend is confused and he means buffet dinners? Those a man needs to take for himself. Personally, I often get a good smörgåsbord and justice confused, so that would be understandable — at least as compared to the rest of this trailer.
Then there’s a big fight on a train with a Mexican dude wearing a bonnet and the pretend-dead, masked guy riding his horse onto the top of the speeding train. Surely that’s not recommended? It would be like riding your motorcycle onto the subway — and let me tell you from experience; people get pissed when you do that. Some kid then flicks a slow motion bullet to the sun-fondler and he uses it to blow up a mine and then the bridge that the train is going over.
Wait. Isn’t the kid still on that train? Who cares! Everything is EXPLODING with JOY!
Anyway. After that we see .7 seconds of 27 different scenes cut together in such a way as to suggest that there might actually be a thread of story connecting them. If so, it’s about law-abiding outlaw lawmen with no respect for public transportation etiquette and a general loathing of narrative.
This, my friends, is a film.
Many many many people will go to see this as it’s by the same guy who made that last film that was exactly as terrible as this film looks starring the same guy who can act but chooses not to and enough explosions to rend the Moon in two.
Maybe you should go see it? Yes. Probably you should. Otherwise, how will your children learn about justice?
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
I know, I know. Many of you have just picked up a rock and hurled it at your compter screen in the hopes of hitting me in the face. You loved that Anchorman movie so much! It was so distinguishable from the other Will Ferrell comedies because in this one he was a news guy! With a comical moustache!
Here is my contrarian opinion: Anchorman was lazy, rarely amusing, and only 1/10th as funny as that scene in Elf where Ferrell eats gum off the subway railing.
I can prove this, if you would just put down your rock. Here’s how:
In the beginning of Anchorman, Steve Carell’s character makes a big deal about how they can’t hire an anchorwoman because women menstruate and the blood will attract bears. This is actually kind of funny in a mind-bogglingly stupid way.
But then, later in the film, what happens? Bears. Ferrell and the female anchor end up in a no-foolin’ honest-to-god bear pit at the zoo. Carell said there would be bears and there are bears! But does anyone bring the joke around? Nope. Because the film is lazy and no one working on the thing had read the entire script; they’d just marked their lines and wrote notes in the margins that said, “Make an exaggerated expression here while wearing funny pants.”
Don’t believe me? Then you’ll certainly want to check out the trailer for Anchorman 2:
In this advertisement, so little happens that you’d be hard pressed to guess at what the story is. Is there a story? Perhaps it’s the tale of a dog who learns to drink soda? Or the uplifting journey of one humble pair of red y-fronts, yearning to nestle between Paul Rudd’s thighs?
Basically, this takes a minute and a half to say, “Remember that film we got you to see years ago, before Will Ferrell had so completely played out his obnoxious persona in various guises? Well we’re making that film again, only this time, you’ve seen it before.”
As far as I can tell, it’s the exact same characters with the exact same plot. The big difference appears to be that this time the film is set in modern times and not in the 1970s. That’s too bad since the 1970s setting accounted for approximately 80% of the 12 jokes in the first film.
This time they’re making up the deficit with awkward racial humor and dolphins.
Hooray! I was really hoping I could see a Will Ferrell film with awkward racial humor and dolphins and now my dream has come true. If only, somehow, in this one he could also be a competitive lumberjack with a talking mule.
There is one thing about this trailer that I like. That is Kristen Wiig complementing the parts of Steve Carell’s face that are covered with skin. I bet she wrote that line herself.
Even though I have just told you not to, you will see this film. I just hope that there is some horrible mistake and they show you the original film instead, but with a Spanish soundtrack or something. Or maybe with the lights on? That could be good, too. Or maybe you will get extra lucky and it will be narrated by the talking mule.
300: Rise of an Empire
What? This is a movie and not a commercial? Are you sure? Does that mean there is no bondage rave? What will I do with my combination nipple-nose ring and my 17-foot axe? I’ll never get through all this personal lubricant!
300: Rise of an Empire is actually fascinating because while it has a normal running time, the story takes place over only six-and-a-half minutes — just everything is in super slo-motion so it’ll take you an hour and a half to watch it.
I’m also pretty sure that this entire film was made on a computer that runs on semen and Axe Body Spray. Look! A man in a skirt jumping off a cliff with a sword to fall half a kilometer, land on his feet, and then cut a man in two. I sure hope they had athletic supporters in ancient Greece. Listen! Choral music that makes you feel like you’re in church, if you go to church with Caligula. Smell! What is that smell? I don’t even want to guess.
I watched the first 300 film. It was so terrible I ate my own arm off and now I have no arm. This one looks much worse. Eva Green? What are you trying to do to me here? What is that she’s saying?
I will attack the Greeks with my entire navy.
Oh. Okay. Good speech. Will that stop the march of vengeance? Because Lena Headley seems to think nothing will. If only there was some way to find out how this historical recreation would end? The wait is maddening!
And here’s another tip for you Zack Snyder wanna-bes (<— the most depressing phrase in the English language); if you cast someone from Game of Thrones, it’s probably not a great idea to make one of your dramatic set-piece battles a recreation of the siege of the Blackwater.
I’m also pretty sure I just watched a guy on a horse crash off a boat into the sea and then leap out of the sea onto another boat, still on the horse. It really happened! This is historical! You can tell because Lena Headley’s character is named Queen Gorgo — and Queen Gorgo was actually a person! And if you were going to change anything from history to make your film slightly more modern, it would be that name.
Nope. 300: Rise of an Empire must be all real and true.
I think I’d rather watch Free Birds.
But you go ahead. You see these three films so they make a ton of money and producers feel justified in making Anchordog 6, and World War Y, and Project Runway: Tonto-Time! I just hope we get J.J. Abrams and Zack Snyder to do a joint project. Hopefully they’ll remake Raiders of the Lost Ark with a talking mule.