Dude, Where's My Respect? By Mike White. There is merit in delving into the darker recesses of cinema. By wallowing in the detritus, a film critic might better learn to know his enemy...

There is merit in delving into the darker recesses of cinema. By wallowing in the detritus, a film critic might better learn to know his enemy. Mixing it up in the muck, a critic could potentially learn the pitfalls of poor filmmaking. An education in sub par cinema could prove far more valuable than ivory tower tutelage.

Just about every week, when time and budget permit, Mike Thompson and I make an early Sunday morning trip to the local cineplex to check out what we feel will be the worst film that’s come out that week. We’re not necessarily masochists. Moreover, we’re anthropologists on a quest to see just what kind of crap gets green lighted and through the Hollywood “dream factory.” We take our lumps and try to move on with our lives. Sometimes we try to forget the horrors we’ve endured but traumatic experiences like The Sixth Day and Mission to Mars aren’t easy to forget.

We’ve seen films that don’t really qualify for “Bad Movie Sunday.” We don’t knowingly plan this. On these occasions, we’ve usually fallen victim to poor marketing campaigns; previews, posters, or word-of-mouth that has put a film in the shitter unfairly. This short list includes Pitch Black, Keeping the Faith, and The Pledge (more on this film in a future issue).

This unholy knowledge has really provided us with perspective. One can’t know what a bad movie is until enduring Three Strikes. One doesn’t know pain until staring at Dragonfly. Boredom doesn’t truly exist until suffering through Sphere.

Thus, when I hear complaints about a rather innocuous film like Dude, Where’s My Car?, I feel like a war veteran listening to some obstreperous peacenik whose Daddy bought him a ticket out of the service. I’m there with blood under my fingertips and eight wedges dug out of my palms, put there from 3000 Miles to Graceland.

The Rogues Gallery
Mission to Mars—Midway through the interminable “space walk” scene, Mike Thompson leaned over to me and asked, “What the hell’s going on?” I couldn’t answer him. I had forgotten why these people were in space and how these talented actors had fallen on such bad times. Whatever DePalma paid you guys to be in this, I’ll double it if you can make the pain stop right now. I can only hope that the next time DePalma has the urge to make a film, that he goes returns to his past to take a second look at his older films. Better to spend time on a full-featured DVD of The Phantom of the Paradise or Body Double rather than on dreck like Mission to Mars or Raising Cain. This movie made Red Planet seem like Citizen Kane.

Double Take—I’ve heard this film compared to an episode of Amos & Andy minus the humor and entertainment value. Personally, I think that this movie could have worked if it had a Fight Club twist to it.

Three Strikes—If Godard made an urban comedy, it would be Three Strikes.

3,000 Miles to Graceland—The annoying kid, the pointless arguing, the robbery that should have been the climax to the third act instead of the first, the hackneyed script. It all added up to the worst film that Elvis had anything to do with-even Change of Habit.

The Ice Storm—I thought, “This seems like it’d be a really good book.” It took me years to finally get around to reading it. Indeed, Rick Moody’s book was fair while the movie, whenever it deviated from the book, sucked.

Sphere—Again, I reckon that the book has to be better than the film but I’ve been smarting for so long that I can’t bear the thought that Michael Crichton’s book might, in any way, resemble this movie. If I never hear Samuel L. Jackson quote Jules Verne again, I’ll be happy.

Dragonfly—There’s a scene in North by Northwest in which Cary Grant explains everything that has happened to him thus far to a government agent. This dialogue is drowned out by the drone of an airplane, allowing Hitchcock to condense this recap and spares the audience from needless exposition. There is no such device in Dragonfly. Rather, Kevin Costner painfully explains everything that has happened in the movie time and again to everyone he meets. And, remember, if you die and have information to impart to your beloved, you might want to speak in terms a little more plain than cartography symbols.

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