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One of the best things about being over 30 is that I give approximately zero shits about sticking with things. Mr. Max and I share this ‘leaving when things get lame’ approach to life, which as everyone knows is one of the keys to a happy marriage. Accordingly, we feel free to reject streaming entertainment at any point. Which we do, a lot.

I stand behind our snap judgments, so i present to you, my latest blog feature: Shows I Stopped Watching.

Today’s Reject: Love

We didn’t watch the preview, but you can:

Why did we start watching: We had just finished the second season of The Man in the High Castle, resulting in a pretty bad show hole. I requested a lighter series, along the lines of Freaks and Geeks. So when Judd Apatow’s new comedy came up in our Netflix feed, it seemed like the obvious choice.

What did we think it would be like: Master of None crossed with Freaks and Geeks.

When did we stop watching: Right around the 5 minute mark.

Why did we stop watching: Annoying main character guy, unfunny jokes, every character talking too loud, and 3 scenes in a row of unhappy couples bickering with each other. We hit the back button during the jack rabbit style sex scene with the Paul Giamatti looking guy.

How secure am I in our choice? Very. Season 2 trailer looks to be 99% “nebbish guy plus manic pixie dream girl.” I already rejected that idea in the form of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which I described as “a movie about a terrible boyfriend, but from the perspective of said terrible boyfriend.)

Also someone falling down is played for laughs, which is my personal dealbreaker for TV/movie trailers.

What to watch instead: We skedaddled over to Amazon to watch Red Oaks, a retro style sex comedy series set in the 80s. It has its uneven moments but it was very fun and likable, with a minimum of bickering couples. I described it to a friend as “Funny, easy watching with an occasional booby.”

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A while back. I dragged a group of friends and coworkers out to one of those retro movie nights at the local theater. They were showing Blade Runner, a celebrated sci-fi masterpiece that I’d never seen. A modern classic according to pretty much everyone.

It was gonna be great! And for about the first 5 minutes, with those wide expansive shots of a futuristic city and the retro synth score, it was. Then the plot started and I wanted to be out of there faster than a Beatles fan skips over ‘Yellow Submarine.’

I searched the Internet for ‘Blade Runner overrated’ and found no significant results. What?

I took to Twitter and was quickly rewarded. I can always count on Lena Webb:

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But Twitter isn’t enough – there needs to exist a full-length article that breaks down the badness of this absurdly overrated movie. So, like the kind souls on Stack Overflow who add helpful things to the Internet for no reason other than pure altruism, I’m going to make the world wide web a better place with this:

6 Reasons You Don’t Actually Need To See Blade Runner

1. It is not Logan’s Run.
10 minutes into Blade Runner, I was already confused. What’s this crap about replicants? Isn’t this the movie where they kill everybody before they turn 30? Wait – is it the one about memory implants?
Answer: Neither. Because both of those movies (Logan’s Run and Total Recall) are about actual things, and Blade Runner is about nothing. Okay, fine, I guess it’s about ‘replicants’ but we only know what those are from a one-paragraph title crawl. Mostly it’s about nothing.

Here’s the thing with sci-fi movies: the sci-fi piece is usually just a backdrop. It’s a way to present a dark mirror of our current world, or make a statement on how society might progress in the future. When you take away the spaceships and tricorders, that’s usually the point. When all you have are noir-esque visuals, there’s nothing meaningful or memorable about the movie.

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Even if she’s pretty!

2. It will ruin your crush on Han Solo.

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If you’re a lady of a certain age, you probably developed a fondness for Harrison Ford via the likable scoundrel Han Solo. Well get ready for Blade Runner to kill your crush dead because Harrison Ford is GROSS in this movie. But, you ask, “It’s Harrison Ford, the lovable carpenter! How is that possible?” I know. It’s hard to believe. But he’s a bad, bad dude.

Why? Well….it’s because…

3. The character was written by Michael Scott.

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Remember that episode of The Office where they made a movie from Michael Scott’s terrible screenplay, Threat Level Midnight? And they had Jim play the part of the villain? And Instead of being a normal take-over-the-world type villain, they had him talking about weird dark shit like humping a corpse? The joke is that Michael Scott was too dense to know that necrophilia is, like, way over the line even for a villain. That’s how it is with Blade Runner. You can tell that the writers were going for a rough around the edges anti-hero. So… they had him smoke cigarettes…

…and drink….

And murder unarmed women in cold blood.

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No, Michael Scott. Just no.

This leads me to my next point:

4. It has a problem with protagonists. And women.
So, given that Harrison Ford is AWFUL in this movie, who is the protagonist? Is there even one?

Some background: The basic plot is that Harrison Ford is a detective brought out of retirement to catch some on-the-run replicants. The replicants are like android slave type things that look human. Okay. So we’re watching the detective go about his gritty investigating, until he catches one of the replicants- a half naked, unarmed prostitute — and shoots her in the back AS SHE IS RUNNING AWAY.

This was the moment where I was 1000% sure the movie was going to completely shift: Ford would be revealed as the real villain and the innocent replicants would become our protagonists. A bait and switch — like how the dude in I am Legend was revealed to be the real bad guy at the end. So imagine my surprise when instead we stayed with Harrison Ford:

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Crackerjack prostitute murderer.

I can’t even begin to described how deeply fucked this movie is about women. At the top of the list of gross things is the skin-crawly combination of violence against women and naked dead body ogling. At the bottom is the personality-free “love interest” character. In the middle is the super rapey scene where Ford traps said love interest in his apartment and force-kisses her.
Seriously, guys. I know the outfits are cool. I know the cinematography is striking. And who doesn’t love 80s synthesizers? But – come now – this movie is totally the worst.

5.It is actually quite boring.
Look, I have a lot of patience for pacing. I like plenty of slow, arty shit. But this movie CRAWLS.

As evidence, the ‘enhance’ scene:

This scene is over 2 minutes long. And everyone in the audience can spot the stupid thing in the photo that he’s ‘enhancing’ in the first 30 seconds. Why does he have to say ‘enhance’ like 100 times? Is it purely to make this scene take as long as humanly  possible?

6. Underneath the glitz, it’s a bad Rutger Hauer movie.
In our post-film parking lot skull session, Mr. Max hit on the truth: Blade Runner is nothing but a dressed up Rutger Hauer movie. Hauer was in a whole bunch of garbage films throughout the 1980s, usually playing the same spooky bad guy in basically the same way. And this is no exception! He just does crazy eyes and hops around. And Daryl Hannah does gymnastics moves in a fight sequence. Does that sound like something that happens in an acclaimed sci-fi masterpiece? Or some straight to VHS trash?

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You know the answer.

Film is dead. Okay, well maybe not dead. But it’s near death. Like a circa 2006 Blockbuster Video, the film industry is in the phase of downfall where it still technically exists but no one remembers that it’s there. Until the Academy Awards roll around and everyone’s like huh right, yeah. And then we all forget again.

My nostalgia for the golden age of mainstream cinema is probably what compelled us to go see Jupiter Ascending. And there is no more perfect analogy for the fall of the film industry than this movie! The once proud Wachowski’s — architects of the first Matrix movie (the others don’t exist to me) — have been reduced to making an extra long episode of Stargate:SG1. This, combined with the fact that Hollywood just made a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 means art is officially dead. But here’s the good news: movies are now so bad that they’ve circled back on themselves and become great again! You know, ironically.

The first thing you need to know about Jupiter Ascending is that it is a “splice” (to use the movie’s own goofy jargon for genetic hybrid) of every space, sci-fi, and fantasy movie you have ever seen — ESPECIALLY bad, recent ones.

A scene from the actual movie. I know!

This is actually a remarkable creative achievement. They’ve managed to make a single (somewhat cohesive) film just by combining elements from the more recent Star Wars movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Twilight, that bad Matt Damon movie with the thing orbiting over earth, that bad Tom Cruise movie with the clones, and the other bad Johnny Depp clone movie. Except everything is a little bit dumber. To give you a sci-fi analogy, if those other movies are Star Trek, this movie is Star Trek: Voyager (burn).

Some important plot details: Mila Kunis is a secret space princess. Channing Tatum has magic flying space boots. There’s throwaway dialogue about Channing Tatum being a wolf hybrid that reminded me a lot of the scene in Dark Shadows where the daughter says “I’m a werewolf, deal with it” and they don’t mention it again for the rest of the movie. For no reason, some of the aliens look like crocodiles. I could go on and on. The plot is like a never-ending clown car where every clown that comes out is a ridiculous idea.

There’s also a crazy, yet somewhat fabulous, space wedding.

The second thing you need to know about this movie is that you really should see it. This is not a depressing bad movie (e.g., Snowpiercer) — it’s dumb, entertaining, fun, harmless… did I mention how dumb it is? You will love it . Trust me: I was in the theater for The Wicker Man — probably the best bad movie since Troll 2 — and it was glorious. It was opening weekend so everyone went in expecting a spooky thriller. Within the first ten minutes, the audience course-corrected and began openly mocking the dialogue and laughing at facial expressions and music cues. For a brief moment, I imagined a future where mankind could work together in harmony. You do not want to miss an experience like that.

If you’re on the fence about forking over $15 to see this in theaters, please PLEASE check out The Mary Sue’s amazing and inspiring review of this wonderful, terrible movie.

I’m about to say something controversial.

The Hallmark Channel is the new Lifetime.

I know what you’re thinking: The Hallmark Channel? Isn’t that like the Disney Channel for grown-ups? Well kind of but let me explain.

As I hinted in my Unauthorized Saved By The Bell review, I’ve been losing patience with Lifetime’s recent ironic self awareness. Casting Lindsay Lohan, re-making Flowers in the Attic, live-tweeting premieres… it’s a little try-hard. Besides, it’s taking all the fun out of actual, sincere hate watching.

Over on Hallmark, there’s no hype because there’s no one is pretending that these are “real” movies. Hallmark movies are straight-up filler and they know it. They’re as honest and pure as they are entertainingly dumb.

Case in point: A Wish Come True. I tuned into this one 15 minutes late and they hooked me as soon as the hip young protagonist started listening to messages on her answering machine. Answering machine, you say? When is this movie from, 1998? No! It was made this year. I have no idea. Maybe the preview will explain it.

The plot is fairy tale weird: On the night before her 30th birthday, lead girl Lindsay makes a birthday wish that all of her previous birthday wishes will come true.

I hoped this would trap her in an infinite wish loop, but instead she just loses weight and wins a bunch of money in a sweepstakes. Oh, and her eyesight gets better so she doesn’t have to wear her big old nerd glasses anymore . Now she’s hot, Janey Briggs style. No one else seems to think that the fact that her wishes are coming true is maybe a little bit unusual. Yeah! Now she can buy her tacky dream home.

Dialogue corner: When the sweepstakes dude is telling Lindsay about her winnings, he says, “Here are the keys to your brand new luxury car.” Like, not the specific make or color or anything. He just calls it a “luxury car.” It takes a gifted writer to inject awkwardness into a scene this straightforward. It’s like being able to trip yourself with your own foot.

Next there’s a scene where Lindsay bumps into a historically-dressed dude and looks up to say, “Prince Charming?” and he nods and winks. That’s when I knew I was in love with this movie. But wait! The guy is just like one of those Liberty Tax street mascots or something. Haha, fate has a sense of humor or something.

It wouldn’t be a treacly wish fulfillment fantasy unless Lindsay lands a dream job, so she’s promoted to a fancy position at Generic Company That Cares, where they do something admirable related to the environment. On her way to work, she gets into a nasty argument with some judgy stranger about the ethics of driving a Humvee or whatever (her sweepstakes car, which she’s attempting to sell). Cut to the big office team meeting, where she’s about to get introduced to one of their biggest investors and… you guessed it, it’s the judgy stranger.

This segues into flirting because all lady romance movies think arguing with a dude = true wuv. But wait! What about Lindsay’s childhood friend Dave, who’s obviously pining away for her in secret? Oh, him? “Why, we’re practically brother and sister,” she says because this movie has strict orders to stay within established romance movie guidelines.

Now there’s a scene in a bar where Lindsay and her friend meet Dean Cain, who’s playing himself because this is as weird as we can make it. Lindsay realizes it’s a wish because she’s the biggest fan of The New Adventures of Superman, even though that’s not actually a thing. I had forgotten about the whole wish thing by this point of the movie, so I was kind of like, “Huh? Oh, right” during this scene.

Judgy Investor Guy invites Lindsay to a charity ball and she blows off childhood pal Dave to go.

 

Dave gets all mopey and reminds Lindsay that she didn’t used to “need wishes to be happy.” Way to rain on the poor girl’s parade, Dave. Later, Lindsay has a romantic dinner with Judgy Investor Guy and he nitpicks her table manners. How will she ever be able to choose between these two charmers? Then Judgy Investor Guy acts all grossed out by her puppy and we know Dave’s gonna be our Prince Charming. Thou shalt not shun puppies on Hallmark.

Dave, our mopey hero.

A whole bunch of boring stuff happens at work, and Lindsay is working on pitching some solar panel project with Dave as her partner. I guess this is their dream that they’ve been working on together for a long time? I don’t know, I missed that part. Judgy Investor Guy gives her advice on the presentation that amounts to “compromise your values” and she takes it. The proposal is a success but Dave is understandably pissed. Lindsay goes with Judgy Investor Guy but realizes that she should really be with Dave and makes one last wish. Oh, right. The wish stuff again.

Dave plays hard to get, but Lindsay tags along on his rock climbing expedition without any training. That’s enough self-flagellation to be romantic, so he says yes.

It’s a happy ending, but all Hallmark movies are required to end in a saccharine explosion. MORE ROMANCE! The Hallmark viewers shout, so we cut to Lindsay and Dave’s future wedding. NOT CUTE ENOUGH! The Hallmark viewers squeal, so we get a shot of Lindsay’s golden retriever at the wedding. Then Lindsay says something theme-y about the wishes which we had all forgotten about. Oh, right.

Disclaimer: I know, I know. Cormac McCarthy has achieved sainthood in certain literary circles (i.e., Brooklyn whiskey bars). My only brush with the author occurred in 9th grade, when an English teacher had us read All The Pretty Horses. I remember hating it and also hating that she said it was assigned because it was a good way “to get boys interested in reading” (because boys HAVE TO like cowboy stories (?) and also OMG what about the mens?!?). Anyway, this review is limited to the film. I’m sure the books are great or whatever and I’ll get around to reading them eventually. So don’t email me all like, “OMG CORMAAC MCCARTHYYY PULITZER PRIZE SDFKJHSDFKJ”

Last week we watched The Road on Netflix. You might think a movie about environmental and societal collapse would be a little bit of a downer — but you’re wrong! Here’s five reasons we couldn’t take this “serious” movie seriously.

#1: Starvation Mostly Makes You Bitchy

The lead characters in The Road – a man and his son – are struggling to survive after an unnamed apocalyptic event wipes out society and, along with it, most of the food. They head south on foot, searching abandoned houses for canned goods along the way. You would think starvation would bring out some deep character development, but most of the time our lead characters just bitch at each other like a couple trying to make dinner plans after 8 o’clock. It reminded me of that series of snickers ads:

I think someone should turn The Road into a campy midnight movie phenomenon where the audience shows up dressed in dirty post-apocalyptic rags and throws Snickers bars at the screen.

#2: Charlize Theron: She’s Pretty and That’s It

I feel bad for Charlize Theron. She’s in like 3 scenes in the whole movie and she barely talks. And then she dies. Oh, and she’s in #3…

#3: Awkward Sex Scene Flashback

Throughout the movie, Viggo Mortensen experiences helpful-to-the-audience flashbacks of his cushy life before the collapse. One is a series of memories of his wife (mostly looking pretty and not talking), including this TOTALLY GROSS scene of him giving said wife a lady handjob during a classical music concert.

Gross. At least it’s dark and they’re in the back, though. People wouldn’t see them, right?

OH NO WAIT IT’S WELL LIT AND THERE’S A BUNCH OF PEOPLE SITTING RIGHT THERE.

#4: The Dad’s a Jerk

Near the end of the movie, Viggo Mortensen starts cracking under the pressure of protecting his son from roving bands of cannibals and thieves. This culminates in him completely overreacting when a fellow starving wanderer steals their food (you know, the food they rightfully stole from that person’s underground bunker). Dad steals back their food and makes the thief hand over everything — including the clothes on his back. Even the kid is all, WTH is up with you dad?

You’re not you when you’re hungry.

#5: The Happy Ending

Given that this is a movie about the end of the world as we know it, I was expecting a relatively grim ending. It’s not like you can just “resolve” societal collapse. Well, color me impressed because they totally went for a corny happy ending. After (spoiler alert!) Viggo Mortensen dies, the kid is approached by a group of scary, but apparently benevolent, fellow travelers. They offer to “adopt” him and tell him there are other children in their group (insta-siblings!). Just when the kid’s grin couldn’t get any wider, the scary/benevolent travelers reveal that they also have a dog. That they’re feeding with magical food they somehow have or something!

That’s right. They ended a movie about a cannibalistic dystopia with… “You get a puppy!”

Unless you’re one of our (poor, unfortunate) Twitter followers, you probably missed our epic live-tweeting of the Lifetime 2-night premiere of Bonnie & Clyde. (Translation: Lena came to my house with adult beverages and we ordered “party” pizza. Then we sat on my couch with phones/laptops and retweeted each other all night).

This is not a stock photo.

Aside from a few flashes of bizarrely graphic violence, Bonnie & Clyde was pretty forgettable. (It was actually forgettable even while we were watching it. Every few minutes someone would say, “Wait, what did I miss? Whose funeral is this? How did they get out of jail?” and then we’d poll the room and realize no one could remember what the hell was happening. It’s like they filmed it in amnesia-vision.)

We made up for an unmemorable movie with some memorable tweets. A few highlights:

Messing with the official Lifetime Twitter account:

Analyzing the plot:

Retweeting the like-minded:

Key observations:

Summarizing the plot (and bringing back “peen”):

Bringing others up to speed:

Expressing concerns:

Closing reflections:

 

Did you know that Season 3 of The X-Files was sponsored by Salon Selectives? Not really, but thank GOD they finally did something about Mulder’s hedgehog hair. Season 3 Scully looks slicker, too — minus the obligatory 1990s Jennifer Aniston-style layer cut.

It’s more of a mullet, really. Well, I guess it’s kind of both. An Aniston mullet?

But that’s enough about hair product. My love for The X-Files blossomed right around Season 3, and it was nice to recapture a little bit of my youthful enthusiasm for the show with these episodes. Frequent Lower Crust commenter Halfwatched LMN also recently went on an X-Files Netflix binge, but opted to stick to remembered favorites instead of doing the full-on soup-to-nut-warts-and-all rewatch.

I think Halfwatched LMN may be on to something; even though I love(d) the show… it IS hella uneven. There’s great stuff but the bad episodes are really bad — like Sliders bad. Now that I’m more than 50 episodes in, I’ve gotten pretty good at separating the wheat from the chaff. The rules are simple:

How to Tell if an Episode of The X-Files will be Good Based on the Netflix Description

Don’t Auto-Reject the Mytharc

The Mytharc — the long form conspiracy plot — gets a lot of hate, mainly because Chris Carter started pulling crap out of his ass in the last few seasons. But — believe it or not! — the early Mytharc episodes are kind of great. They’re well-written and successfully weave real-life depressing historical stuff (like the WWII-era atrocities of Unit 731) into supernatural storylines – and not in a corny “ancient aliens” way. Howard Zinn would be proud. Give the Mytharc a chance (at least for a few seasons).

Just Say No to Anthropology

If you see any of the following words in the description, do NOT watch the episode. Go watch @Midnight on OnDemand or something.

Artifact
Reservation
Anthropologist
Tribe
Ancient Culture
Native American
Archaeological Dig

Why? Because for whatever reason The X-Files just can’t do “cultural” storylines. The minute someone starts retelling a South American myth or a Native American healer shows up, the whole thing goes to Lame Town (but not before making a pit stop at Cultural Insensitivity City).

Evidence: Teso Dos Bichos (the evil housecat one) Hell Money (the goofy Chinatown one), every episode in every season that fits the above description.

Serial Killer Episodes Are Good
Season 3 is heavy on traditional cop drama plots — kidnappings, murders, and serial killings — with a side of the supernatural. Even though this kind of thing isn’t normally my bag, it works for The X-Files. Plus it’s nice to have Mulder actually solve a case every once in a while.

Offbeat Episodes are USUALLY Good

The semi-comedic episodes (typically written by Darin Morgan) are definitely worth a watch. Fan favorites Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose and Jose Chung’s From Outer Space are two of the best in the entire series.
BUT sometimes it goes wrong. Like when the writers decide it’s hilaaaarious to have Scully act like a jealous schoolgirl for no reason (Syzygy, War of the Coprophages). I suspect they started doing it to make Mulder seem like a cool sexy dude or something. Anyway, it’s really annoying and out of character. And a little bit sexist. Pro tip: Just hit the remote if Mulder starts sidling up to a sexy lady side character. You won’t miss anything.

Season 4, here I come!