Friday, June 15, 2007

Reviews of the Ignorant: Independence Day

My name is Matt, and I have not seen the worldwide highest grossing film of 1996.

The first step is to admit it.

Ok, I am not a film snob. I like all the usual, mainstream, pop culture films. I mean, I love "Mauvaises frequentations" (or, as the French say, uh...well, "Mauvaises frequentations") as much as the next person. And I was right there lining up for "Society of the Spectacle" on opening night with the hardcore fans, dressed up like characters from the flick, all in black and smoking really long, skinny cigarettes with our pinkies sticking out. And I had the lunch box from "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover" and the action figures from "The Decalogue" and both the bed sheets and the coloring books from "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (and, admittedly, I loved the breakfast cereal based on "Cimmarron", "Cinnamon Cimmarron Flakes"- although, the 87% sugar content may be the reason I have no teeth now) And I think there are few people, outside of those who were never children, that don't look back fondly on trading bubblegum cards from "Ikiru" on the playground. ("Hey, I've got two 'Watanabe's (Watanabis? Watanabeses?) . Trade me one for your 'Kanji'.") So, obviously, I am no film snob. I like the same commercial, mass-market crap as everyone else, only I like it more, and if anyone else says I don't like it more, then same back to you. I am rubber and you are glue and whatever you say about me bounces off and sticks to you. And your mother.

That said, I remember the days when Hollywood didn't tell us what to like. Films just came and and started happening. Take "Wild, Wild West". No, seriously. Take it. Please. Get it outta here. Then, take "Jurassic Park". Here was a little art house film, made to be seen by maybe half a dozen people, the usual film snobs that were interested in the usual snobbish stuff, stuff that you and me and the average Joe and John Doe and Timmy Average and Jane Medium and Horatio Mean and Phillip Middle and Billy Downthecenter and Sally Probability don't care about. Stuff like "character development" and "story" and "motivation" and "protagonist" (although I did once have to have a big, pus-filled protagonist removed from my inner thigh). This is the stuff for the snobs, not the average tub of popcorn scarfing beasts like you and me and average Joe and John Doe and etc., etc., etc, and esq. No, we just want to hide in a dark theater, take off our shirts, kick back, get comfortable, and enjoy a no-brain film while talking on our cell phones and throwing Skittles down the aisle. And take our crying babies into an 'R' rated film at quarter 'til eleven. We're simple folk.

So here comes this little art-house flick, "Jurassic Park", made for, what, a coupla hundred grand or so, starring no one we've ever heard of and directed by Steven Spielberg, but well before he made a name for himself? I mean, I know I'd never heard of the guy, 'cause this was before they opened up that "Munich" roller coaster down in Florida. Prior to "Jurassic Park", Spielberg had done, what, maybe three films? And no one had seen those. You had "1941", of course. And "Empire of the Sun", which no one, including myself, has ever seen. And "Always". And that was about it. Oh, yeah, and that TV show, "Amazing Stories", that lasted all of 2 seasons. So, looking at this, and leaving out things like "Jaws", "ET", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and it's sequels, and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", I mean, the guy's career had been kinda a flop. So I doubt anyone expected much of some hoity-toity art flick with a limited budget and the unpronounceable title of "Jurassic Park".

And we all know what happened next. With little publicity and poor studio support, "Jurassic Park" became the little dinosaur that roared (man, am I clever or am I clever!). So here was a film that we weren't told to like, there was no mass market blitz of T-shirts and plush animals, but we, the people, saw this tiny little flick full of big heart, and made it one of the highest grossing films of all time, taking in a quananabillion dollars in this universe, and who knows how many more countless gobs of shiny green cash in universes undiscovered. The point, though, is that WE decided "Jurassic Park" was going to be a hit. We, the People. In order to form a more perfect Union. Establish Justice and Ensure Domestic Tranquility. Not some studio. WE made it a hit. Well, you did. I didn't really. 'Cause I was afraid of the Velociraptors.

That, though, was 1993. Fast-forward a few years to 1996. No, too far. That's '98. Back, just a little. NO! I said a little! That's 1989! Just give me the thing! Ok, fast forward to 1996, slowly, slowly, there and- DAMN! That's 1997! Ok, fast forward to 1997, then remember 1996. In this year, we coulda had our choice of any little quality art house film. I mean, with positive word of mouth, I'm sure a touching character study like "The Rock" might have been a hit. Or, if the screens hadn't all been taken up by one film, maybe some of us could have seen a little-known but heartwarming film made on a shoestring budget called "Twister". But, nooooooo. Here comes a film, looming like an enormous spaceship over the local Septuptaplex, sucking all the air out of our atmosphere and sending us all, mindless and shambling, towards the screens where it was playing. Not me, no way. I hid in a shopping center, fighting for my life, while the rest of you shuffled along, moaning "Brains! BRAINS!" heading to hand over your hard-earned dollars to the mind-controlling studios. But I never did it. I never saw, in the theater, on DVD, on TV, on bootleg Beta, on my cell phone, or even in my dreams from the chip that the government implanted into my head, the worldwide highest grossing film of 1996, allowing me to write an ignorant review of the thing. And what film is that, you ask? Silly one, I don't blame you for forgetting. You weren't yourself as you stumbled to the silver screen, fighting me in that sporting goods store on your way. No, I don't blame you for forgetting. But I will remember, because, to forget, to deny, is to risk our humanity. I will remember if only to ever prevent it from happening again. Of course, the pre-programmed, big-budget blockbuster I was talking about was

Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story

That's right. I have never seen "Entertaining Ang-" What? ! What's that crap! That's not what I was talking about! I mean, I never have seen that, but who has? What is this? Get this off of here! Garbage like that surely won't drive any traffic to this site. Someone has been hacking my blog, I think. Anyhow, sorry about that, my dedicated readers. And, like I always say, no dedicated readers are my dedicated readers. So, I sincerely apologize. I don't know what that junk is or how this happened. Let's try this again.

Independence Day

That's right. I have never seen "Independence Day". Why, you might ask? And, if you haven't, then go ahead and ask now. Why? In unison. Why? In three-part harmony. Why? Well, first of all, I have scanned the cast list back and forth, and I cannot see where Jennifer Connolly is in this movie anywhere. I mean, everyone, EVERYONE ever is in this movie. If you look far enough down, you'll see I was in this movie. Even further, under gaffer, you'll see your name, too. I mean, it's not like you were invited to the craft services table or anything, but there, there's your name. We were ALL in this movie. Will Smith, Jeff Golblum (playing the same character he played in "Jurassic Park", for all you trivia buffs- Dr. David Banner), Bill Paxton or Pullman (one of them- I'm not sure which), Judd Hirsch, Randy Quaid, Vivica J. Fox, Brent Spiner, Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor, Danny Devito, Jack Nicholson, Dakota Fanning, that old lady from "Titanic", Marcel Marceau, Carol Channing, Mary Lou Retton, 'Captain' Lou Albano, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny performing TOGETHER, Milton Berl, Sid Ceasar, Ann Margret, Greta Garbo, Al Jolson, Buster Keaton, Richard Dawson, Adam Sandler, that little lady from "Poltergeist", David Lee Roth, Bruce Willis, Carrot Top, Tom Hanks (under heavy prosthetics), Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, Tim Conway, Frank Sinatra, Bob Denver, John Denver (both with and without the Muppets), President William Jefferson Clinton, Roger Moore (Sean Connery was not available), Gene Simmons, Julie Roberts, Senor Wences, Benji, Chevy Chase, Brad Pitt, the entire Ziegfeld Follies, Julie Andrews, Tom Cruise, Jackie Chan, Heavy-D, TWO different John Wayne impersonators, Harrison Ford, Eric Idle, Angelina Jolie, Sam Donaldson, Howard Stern, Jim J. Bullock, the Ringling Brother's and Barnum and Bailey Circus, the casts of "Friends" AND "Seinfeld" (and "Moesha"), Bobcat Goldthwait, Ken Griffeys Sr. and Jr., Ron Howard, Meryl Streep, a performing bear, the Blue Man Group, and millions and millions more, too numerous to mention without risking collapse of the Internets. And Steve Guttenberg. But, that said, read that list again and tell me what's missing. Ok, you don't have to, I'll give you the answer: Jennifer Connelly. How on Earth and beyond can you make a film with EVERY person on the planet, and not put Jennifer Connelly in it? This is a question for philosophers and thinkers well out of my league to ponder. But I can tell you the result: A giant interdimensionary plateau of suck previously unforeseen in all mathematical and theological possibilities.

But the lack of Jennifer Connelly alone does not necessarily spell doom for a film; it only creates a hurdle that is difficult to overcome. No, "Independence Day" also is 145 minutes long!!!! No doubt this was because each of the millions of stars demanded at least 7.2 nanoseconds of screen time, but the film just dug it's own grave here. No Jennifer Connelly + 145 minutes + phony looking spaceships spells, uh, well, it spells nojenniferconnelly145minutesphoneylookingspaceships, but it means epic stink-bomb.

I just realized I have gone on and on without providing a synopsis of the plot. At first, I thought, do I really want to take all this time from my readers? Since, however, I realized I wasn't taking any one's time (well, other than my own, and, of course, my family's, since they have been waiting in the car to go to a friend's funeral since I started this- "Just one more minute, honey! Don't honk the horn so much! You'll wake the neighbors!"), I'll run down a brief plot summary, at least what I can remember from the TV commercials. A giant spaceship looms down over all the cities of the world. Then it blows up the White House. Then Will Smith says, "Don't mess with the U.S.!" since it's Independence day and everything. Then the aliens fight, blow some stuff up, Randy Quaid talks about the plate in his head, we fight back, Bruce Willis blows up an asteroid and it gives the aliens a disease that kills them all. And, in the end, Jeff Goldblum looks sadly at a smoldering chunk of alien flesh and says, " 'Twas herpes that killed the beast".

As you can see from this description, terrible. Were it not for mind-control, no one would have seen this thing. I had previously mentioned that you probably don't remember it, and that is just fine. If I hadn't spent 1996 tied up in a pit dug in a neighbor's crawlspace rubbing lotion on my skin, I probably would have been forced to see this, too. Fortunately, I escaped it, which allows me to bring you this ignorant review. So, just remember, when you hear the siren's call to head down to the theater and see "Pirates of the Carribean: At Wit's End" or "Harry Potter XXI: Harry Potter and the Collection of Pension", the studios have again taken control of your mind. Look around for a little flick with a big heart, like "Spiderman III", and see that, instead. Or, even better, head to the mall and fight zombies. And, if you can't find zombies, fight the sales clerks and then the mall security. They love that. Or, even bettererer, offer yourself up to your weird neighbor for safe-keeping in their hand-dug earthen pit. Just make sure and put on the lotion when they tell you to. The hose hurts.

My Rating: 0 stars, but only because (-) stars is currently a mathematical impossibility, and we don't want the children who visit this sight to be witness to mathematical impossibilities. And, really, it's all about the children.

Trivia: The sequel to "Independence Day", "Born on the 4th of July", became the highest grossing film ever to feature Tom Cruise in a wheelchair, NOT starring Nicole Kidman. It is best known for the classic ending, where Jeff Goldblum runs at the camera screaming "They're here already! YOU'RE NEXT!" It is also well known due to the fact that every person who entered the theater had to prove he or she had life insurance and then take a full physical exam (including prostate check, even for the women) before the projector was legally allowed to start.

Correction: It has been pointed out by certain people that, in a previous post, I claimed a quote about "pissing in a tent" was uttered by the legendary Captain Kangaroo, and that this is not accurate. I wanted to take a moment to correct these people. Of course, this quote was not made by Captain Kangaroo himself, but by his sidekick, Mister Moose. I hope all you people now stand corrected.

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