How To Avoid Bad Movies

On July 2nd, I wrote a blog entry entitled Coming Soon To The Writings Of Dennis Earl.  In that piece I laid out what I hoped to accomplish during the summer.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see most of those ideas come to fruition. 
That’s going to change right now. 
From time to time, I post older examples of my writing as part of my “From The Published Archives” series.  So far, I’ve focused exclusively on the work I did during my high school and college periods.  I’ve tried to showcase the best of my writing from those years but one thing is clear:  I’m a much better writer today than I ever was in school.  Still, it’s fun to look at these old opinions again and provide some freshly-written perspective so you can understand the context in which they were all written.
I’m now ready to show you more of my previously published work.  Starting today I’m planning to present some of the writing I did for The Hamilton Spectator, my hometown newspaper.  Of all the published writing I’ve done in my short life, I’m most proud of the Spec stuff.  The fact that they published 9 of my pieces proved to me beyond any doubt that my writing was finally worthy of a healthy, mainstream audience.  It was the first time my work was seen and read by those not attending Delta Secondary and Mohawk College.  It was a major break for me. 
In 2002, my Mom was reading the Entertainment section of the Spec when she stumbled upon something.  The paper was putting together a special page called YourPlace and they wanted to feature writing by teenagers and twentysomethings.  When she brought it to my attention I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice it myself.  I soon began thinking about entertainment-related topics I could write about.  Once I knew what the word limit for each article was going to be, it was all a matter of being as succinct as possible.  I must’ve written about a dozen pieces for this page but only 4 ever made it in. 
How To Avoid Bad Movies was submitted to the paper during this period but was quietly rejected.  (With one exception, whenever the paper wanted to use an article I had written they just went ahead and published it without letting me know beforehand.  It was always a delight to flip through the pages of the Entertainment section and suddenly see my by-line in the paper.  I gotta tell ya, that never gets old.)  I was trying to think of a way to help moviegoers and videophiles avoid all the numerous examples of cinematic junk that Hollywood never gets tired of flinging our way.  I ended up focusing on 5 different areas of mediocrity, as you’ll soon discover.  I could probably add more today, come to think of it.  (“It’s a remake.”  “It’s a horror franchise.”  “It stars Jean-Claude Van Damme.”)
Maybe the paper didn’t think it was as strong as my other pieces, hence the silent rejection.  But after going through it again (and making some updated revisions) I think it’s worth presenting on my website.  I stand by my opinions of all the crap films I mention seeing in the piece.  Enjoy.
5 ways to save money
By Dennis Earl

Are you tired of seeing bad movies? Are you fed up getting your hopes up only to be disappointed time and time again?  Feeling it in the wallet, are ya? Well, I know exactly how you feel and the best part is I’m here to help you.

Sometimes, Hollywood can deceive you. A brilliant trailer can make you salivate for a new film’s release.  Then, you see the film and realize you’ve been had.  (I’m talking to you, Basic Instinct.) Well, don’t let the ad wizards fool you anymore.  In fact, forget everything you know about movies and keep reading.

I’m going to save you money and heartache by revealing a small list of ways you can tell that new movie you’re excited about seeing might not be so great after all:

1. It’s based on a TV show.

Excluding The Fugitive, Star Trek, South Park and possibly a few others, no one can make a decent film out of a beloved Television series. Remember The Beverly Hillbillies, The Flintstones, Flipper, The Brady Bunch Movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, The Avengers, The Saint, Sgt. Bilko, Bewitched, Fat Albert, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, I Spy, Thunderbirds, and Charlie’s Angels? All craptacular. Let’s face it. Even bad programs can inspire terrible films. (Think Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and the first 3 Pokemon films.) If you despised Scooby Doo (like I did), now you know why.

2. It’s based on an SNL skit.

Roger Ebert noted that Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels has a suspect track record when it comes to producing big screen versions of famous SNL skits. With the exception of the wonderful Wayne’s World films (which actually created a world for our heroes outside the basement where they broadcast their cable access show), everything I’ve seen that Michaels has produced has been dreadful. There was The Waterboy (based on Adam Sandler’s Canteen Boy) which I’m sure Henry Winkler and Kathy Bates would like to forget; The Ladies Man, an astonishingly unfunny full length extension of the much funnier TV sketches featuring Leon Phelps, the character created by Tim Meadows; Coneheads, (also a short lived TV show in the early 80s) the needless re-teaming of original aliens Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin. And I’m sure there are those who will add Superstar (Molly Shannon’s saucy Catholic klutz, Mary Katherine Gallagher) and A Night At The Roxbury (Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell’s head-bopping strike-out kings) to this growing list of SNL stinkers.

3. It’s a sequel.

Sometimes, a follow-up film to an entertaining original can be just as fun. (White Fang 2, Scream 2, Shrek 2, Free Willy 3 and Jurassic Park 3 come to mind.) But 9 times out of 10 you’ve wasted your money if you bought a ticket to see movies like Another Stakeout, Free Willy 2, Home Alone 2, Nutty Professor 2, City Slickers 2, A Very Brady Sequel, Urban Legends: Final Cut, The Ring Two, Next Friday, Poltergeist II and III, Rocky II through V, Grumpier Old Men, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, The Mummy Returns, Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, Look Who’s Talking Now, Alien: Resurrection, Jeepers Creepers 2, Rush Hour 2, Beethoven’s 2nd, Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit, The Next Karate Kid, Scary Movie 2, Scream 3, Son Of The Mask, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Neverending Story II, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Friday The 13th Parts 2 through 5, Police Academy 2 through 7, and countless others.

4. It wasn’t screened for critics.

If you want to avoid bad films, read the papers. From time to time, word leaks out that a film is so bad the studio distributing the bomb won’t screen it for the critics in advance of its release. That’s what happened to Mo’ Money in 1992 (which still had a decent opening weekend) and Autumn In New York in 2000. If the studio won’t even let the critics look at it for free, why would you pay to see it?

5. Its release date keeps changing.

Another sure sign that a studio is harbouring a bomb. Car 54, Where Are You? was filmed for the troubled Orion Pictures in 1990, was supposed to be released in 1991 but then the studio went backrupt. Despite that, they were also delaying the inevitable. Later, the movie was supposed to be out in 1992, then ’93. Finally, it was dumped without much fanfare in January 1994 where it was rightly and quickly forgotten. Forget Exit To Eden, this is the film that Rosie O’Donnell should regret the most.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 28, 2006
2:34 p.m.
Published in: on October 28, 2006 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

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