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Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

29 May

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Smith’s Verdict: Zero Stars

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Jaws: The Revenge” is one of the worst sequels of all time, if not the absolute worst. When you think of this film’s original predecessor, 1975’s hit “Jaws,” and how good it is, it only makes it look bad when associated with its trashy sequels. “Jaws 2” was unnecessary, but at least it had its moments. “Jaws 3D” was even more unnecessary, and tried to plug Sea World while showing the 3D gimmick of the ‘80s. With the third sequel, “Jaws: The Revenge,” at least you know it can’t get any worse.

This movie is bad. Really bad. At times, it’s laughably so. Other times, it’s just painfully so, which screws it up for the former “times.”

Where do I begin with this movie? Well, how about the fact that Roy Scheider didn’t reprise his role of heroic Police Chief Brody, and the screenwriters decided to cover his absence by saying he died between sequels? How did he die? According to Brody’s wife, Ellen (Lorraine Gary) who is now the focus of this “Jaws” movie, “the fear of the shark killed him.” Yes, they try to make you believe that the man who fought a shark twice in two movies died of “fear.” Give me a break.

There are absolutely no characters of interest in Scheider’s place. Ellen is a blank slate—always worrying and complaining, and nearly psychotic in how she believes that sharks hold grudges. Oh, but it’s OK, because apparently she’s right, as a great white killer shark follows her and her family from New England to the Bahamas. Get this—because of the other sharks’ encounters with Ellen’s family (her husband in the first two movies; her son in the third movie), she believes that all sharks swear vengeance against the Brody family. Now, early in the movie, Ellen’s youngest son has been killed by the shark, back on that stupid island which is the absolute worst place for Ellen to be, after all the madness that occurred before (move to Iowa, lady). Now, she and her family—including her other son, Michael (Lance Guest)—go on vacation in the Bahamas. And wouldn’t you know it—the shark followed them there.

I mentioned there are no characters of interest in this movie. Michael’s a basic bore, and his buddy Jake (Mario Van Peeples), with whom he works marine biology field study, isn’t given enough to do to be interesting. There are also many scenes involving a developing romance between Ellen and a British pilot (Michael Caine, who seems to be phoning it in) that makes “Jaws: The Revenge” look like the b-movie version of “Terms of Endearment.” It’s very boring.

And what about the shark effects? They’re easily the worst aspect of the movie. You see a lot of the shark in this movie, and it looks dreadfully fake. How can I properly describe how terrible the shark looks in this movie? It’s never menacing; it’s never threatening; it looks unbelievably unrealistic. One of those “laughable” moments of the movie is a ridiculous attack on a banana boat on a beach.

Everything leads to a confrontation between the shark and Ellen, the pilot, Michael, and Jake as they attempt to kill this thing once and for all. It’s very dull and impressively bad. I don’t just mean that glaring error that shows Michael Caine swimming to safety on a boat, coming over the rail and suddenly he’s completely dry. Get this—the shark appears to stand on its tail fin on top of the water so that it can nab one of the group. And it’s in slow-motion, so it looks even worse.

Oh, and get this—the shark actually ROARS! I’m not even kidding; there’s a roaring sound effect when the shark opens its mouth. What in the world were these filmmakers missing? And what follows is a resolution so clumsily-handled that it’s hard to make something out of it. “Jaws: The Revenge” is so badly-made that I don’t think anything can save it.

Bio-Dome (1996)

22 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: Zero stars

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Obnoxious” is the word to describe “Bio-Dome.” Actually, I think the word “obnoxious” was invented specifically for “Bio-Dome.” Other words that come to mind are ugly, stupid, unfunny, lack of charm, unappealing, and dumb. It is possible to make a movie about two likable lunkheads (examples are the Wayne’s World movies and the Bill and Ted movies), but with “Bio-Dome,” I wanted its star lunkhead duo to get shot.

These two dorks are Bud and Doyle, played by Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin. Here are two of the most annoying movie characters ever to hit the screen. They’re dumb and obnoxious and SOMEHOW live in a nice house together and have attractive girlfriends. Their girlfriends are tree-huggers who want the boys to join them in cleaning up waste near a lake. The boys would rather hit each other in the heads with books.

Meanwhile a team of environmentalists is planning on being hermetically sealed within the Bio-Dome, an environmental facility that will close them in for one year. Bud and Doyle wind up locked in with them and shenanigans ensue, not one single one of them funny.

The joke, I think, is that these two are so disrespectful towards nature and make life in the Bio-Dome miserable for the scientists. But worse yet, they make us miserable, trying to be funny but just falling flat on their faces (sometimes literally). I have to ask—did any of the filmmakers or the actors find any of them funny? Apparently they thought one joke of theirs was funny and expanded it to make this piece of trash. And the joke is…I’m repeating myself here, NOT FUNNY!

Pauly Shore was just starting to gain critics’ attention in the movie “In the Army Now.” Before then, he was just as obnoxious as fingernails scratching along a long blackboard. Now he’s at top obnoxious mode as Bud in “Bio-Dome.” This character is so obnoxious, so unwatchable, that I wanted to punch a hole in the screen to let off some steam. And Stephen Baldwin is not much better as Doyle. I hear he’s the brother of Alec; I can almost hear Alec mocking him.

Nothing in this movie is redeemable. I feel sorry for anybody who could possibly find anything that’s thrown at the screen the slightest bit funny. “Bio-Dome” is an obnoxious piece of trash that needs to be taken out.

And compacted.

North (1994)

22 Mar

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Smith’s Verdict: Zero Stars

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

How in the world did this happen? How was this movie made? How did anyone think this idea could possibly work for a family film? How were all of these talented actors sucked into performing in it? The answers to all of those questions at once could make for a movie actually worth seeing. “North” is not worth seeing for any reason. It is a very bad movie—one of the worst I’ve ever seen. It is unfunny, manipulative, limp, very unpleasant to watch, and worst of all, it’s for kids. That meant kids were suckered into seeing this because they saw the trailer and expected it to be a delightful little romp—I feel sorry for those kids, but there’s comfort in knowing that there were much better films suitable for them out there.

“North” stars Elijah Wood as a young boy named North, who feels that his parents don’t appreciate him. The parents (Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, very odd casting if you’ve watched episodes of “Seinfeld”) are too busy arguing to even notice him. North hires a lawyer (Jon Lovitz) and goes into court in order to divorce himself from them and search for new, loving parents. This idea is contrived enough, but the way the movie goes through with it is shocking enough (this is just the beginning)—the parents are comatose with shock after realizing what North is planning to do and are set in display in the courtroom, unable to move or speak. This leaves Alan Arkin to overact horribly as the Judge and grant North the wish to find new parents. And if North doesn’t find new parents soon, he’ll be sent to an orphanage. Are you still with me?

North interviews different sets of parents, each of them taking place in truly awful sequences (about as awful as Alan Arkin’s overacting, the courtroom scene itself, and Jason Alexander’s pants-inspecting jokes). Many talented actors are victims in these sequences—Dan Aykroyd and Reba McIntire are Texans; Kathy Bates is an Eskimo; and so on. Not only are these sequences painfully unfunny—they’re unforgivably inaccurate, and not in a funny way. Aykroyd and McIntire are Texans who dress like Cowboys on Ice and give in to nonstop stereotyping dialogue about their daily routine, which is “dig for oil, bust a few broncs, rope some doggies, and eat, eat, eat!” (There’s also a painful musical number midway through this bizarrely unfunny scene.) And whose idea was it to cast Kathy Bates as an Eskimo with blackface? There’s also a set of Hawaiian parents who give off one of the most unpleasant lines in movie history (I won’t share the line, but it has to do with why the parents can’t have children). These characters are brought in strictly to become comic caricatures. They are badly written, broad, and ultimately desperate. There is no redeeming factor to any of these characters.

I have to wonder, did the writers mean to make jokes this bad? These jokes are horrible. Consider the courtroom scene where North’s original parents are comatose with shock—their lawyer says, “The defense rests.” Is it possible the script was written by a smart computer? It would surely explain the artificiality of the writing. This is the bottom of the barrel in Hollywood screenwriting.

Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention two other characters who play big roles in the movie. First, there’s Winchell, played by a nails-on-the-blackboard annoying Matthew McCurley. Winchell is the editor for the school newspaper who has become the most powerful man (or boy) in the world since North’s case hit mainstream—kids order their parents now, threatening to divorce themselves too. When North finally realizes what he must do to make things right, Winchell sends a hit man out to kill him. The other character worth mentioning is a man played by Bruce Willis. The man seems to follow North around everywhere, like a guardian angel. He appears in many forms—the Easter Bunny, a cowboy, a beach comber, an Eskimo, and a Federal Express driver (product placement plug). North believes this guy looks familiar every time he sees him. Well, he is. Is he funny? No. Is he insightful? Not for a minute.

Elijah Wood should not have been saddled to play a role that no actor could have possibly pulled off. He’s not to blame. The blame has to go to the director of the film, who is Rob Reiner. Reiner has made some terrific movies (“This is Spinal Tap,” “The Sure Thing,” “Stand by Me,” “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Misery,” “A Few Good Men”) and must have thought “North” could have worked as a movie. But I don’t think he, nor any other gifted filmmaker, could have made this lame story idea into something enjoyable. “North” is an unholy mess, to say the least.

NOTE: This movie is so bad that I’m actually going to save you the trouble of finding that line said by the Hawaiian parents about why they can’t have children. Here it is—“Hawaii is a lush and fertile land. There’s only one barren area on our islands. Unfortunately, it’s my wife.” I feel dirty just writing that. I wonder how the screenwriter felt while writing that.