Top o’the mornin’ ta ye! It’s yer friendly neighborhood Irish back row film fanatic idiot. And yes, I’m totally actually Irish, and I have the tattoos to prove it. No, I don’t have the DNA tests to prove it, because I absolutely dread the idea of potentially having to alter/remove my tattoos if I’m wrong.
As we enter March like a lion (hopefully a real one instead of a CGI cartoon one pretending it’s real), it’s time once again to have ourselves a good roar at the expense of some truly shitty looking movie trailers. Oh it’s a doozy this month. We’ve got long-delayed genre crap. We’ve got ill-advised bad horror movie crap. And because it’s the Lenten Season, we’ve got Jesus crap!
So strap in, pour yourself a bit of the creature, and get your panties in a wad, because Hater O’Haterly is here to ruin 31 days’ worth of studio overreach. And just because it’s March, we’ve got a very unlucky seven pieces of probable garbage to break down.
This is the March 2020 edition of “This Film is Not Yet Watchable!”
The Way Back – March 6
It happens every year. In the lead-up to Easter, there are always a few movies that shamelessly shove religion down our throats. While The Way Back doesn’t appear to be the most blatant offender (that’s coming up), it is seemingly a one-note redemption story filled with cliché after cliché. Ben Affleck gains a little weight and plays a washed up former basketball star who destroyed his life through alcohol. Now he’s got the chance to make right again by taking over as coach of his old high school team – of course at a Catholic school. He’s gonna get his life together, after several setbacks. He’s going to inspire his players to turn from scrubs to contenders. He’s going to deal with elitist coaches from better schools – “I’m just getting used to the players,” Affleck says in one scene, before his counterpart retorts, “What players?” because high school basketball coaches are just notorious for their class warfare.
We’ve seen this story so many times before, and seen it better. Addiction doesn’t have to be treated as a TV-movie-of-the-week piece of melodrama. Broken men aren’t always rebuilt through youth coaching/preaching. And no matter how many flicks we make out of the themes, these scenarios are far from universal. It’d be like deciding to become a teacher after watching Dead Poets Society and Mr. Holland’s Opus, and then finding out on your first day that you’re just grading papers like everyone else.
Spenser Confidential – March 6
First, the Boston accents worked once, ONCE, in The Departed, and now Mark Wahlberg feels he has to dial the Southie up to 11 with each passing film. It was tolerable in The Fighter, and occasionally funny in the Ted movies because he was playing a stereotypical Mass-hole. But enough is enough. We don’t need every movie set in New England to be a parade of America’s worst accent, especially after spending the last month hearing “SMAHTPAHK” every other commercial break. Seriously, I will NEVER buy a Hyundai thanks to that bullshit.
Second, Post Malone. Fuck and no.
My Spy – March 13
Sonic the Hedgehog was the rare exception this year of a film that became wildly successful after having its initial release date pushed back by several months. That’s because there was a reason for the delay, in that the studio decided to take the universally negative reaction to the character design to heart and spend the necessary time and money to get it right. It’s now the highest-grossing video game-based movie ever.
However, My Spy is not Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s a Kindergarten Cop ripoff. And seeing as how STX studios already lost a huge chunk of money from the failed UglyDolls (called it!), and we already had a stupid buddy comedy starring Dave Bautista last summer (Stuber), the studio decided to try to salvage something of this uninspired romp by bumping the release from August 23 to March 13, more than six full months.
I’m sure there’ll be some cute moments, even possibly some light reaches for poignant comedy. They’re literally written into every terrible “hulking man paired with precocious kids” movie made in the last 30 years (Tooth Fairy, The Pacifier, etc.). Doesn’t mean there’s going to be anything new added to the proceedings. And while Sonic may be the exception, it ultimately proves the rule. If the studio delays the release, it’s almost certainly because the movie is shitty.
I Still Believe – March 13
I’m not so much offended by Christian movies as I am about the posturing. People can believe what they want to believe, but to me there’s something sinister about the way these films are marketed. Never mind that the lot of them are thinly-veiled propaganda, the real problem is that these movies are made and marketed with the sole purpose of artificially inflating box office sales by trying to get entire churches to bus their parishioners over to the theatre to watch this dreck. While this particular trailer doesn’t contain it, you’re bound to see it at some point, a note of how you can buy “group tickets,” because that’s how studios sell these pictures. Jesus wants you to bring the entire congregation to the movie! Make it a church activity! Tell the kids they’ll go to Hell if they don’t pitch in!
Anyway, after the baffling success of I Can Only Imagine, Lionsgate and the Erwin Brothers are back with yet another two-hour dramatization of an episode of VH1 Storytellers, depicting the inspiration for Jeremy Camp’s titular worship song.
He married a lady who died of cancer. You know, cause God has a plan! Forget doctors, and science, or the unrepentant bitch that is cancer itself. God killed your wife so you could write a song about how much you love Him! Don’t you see? God is the only real love of your life, and He can take away anyone He wants if you ever doubt Him! Now grab your signs, we’re heading out to protest Planned Parenthood! And then possibly bomb it!
The Informer – March 13
Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this before. No wait, don’t stop me, because you have heard this before! Twice! Remember what I just said about delayed releases meaning the movie is shit? Well, this is the THIRD time Warner Bros. has pushed back the release for The Informer. It was originally supposed to come out on March 22, 2019. Then it got pushed to August 16, where it made this column. Then it got pushed back AGAIN to January 10, making it back into the column. Now, my friends, nearly an entire year later, we’ve reached the holy trifecta! Honestly, I might be inadvertently responsible for this horrible-looking action crime bullshit’s continued relevance!
Mulan – March 27
No! No more! Fuck you! I’m done! No more Disney remakes! Dumbo killed my soul! Cinderella made me weep for Cate Blanchett’s career. Beauty and the Beast was an abomination. Thanks to this year’s Oscar Blitz, I had to watch the God-awful Lion King with its not live action-ness, bastardization of my favorite song from the original (turning “Be Prepared” into a truncated Trump Stump Speech while adding Beyoncé tracks no one asked for is a high insult indeed), and a literal rolling ball of shit. And then there was Maleficent 2: Maleficent Harder, which was a sequel to a remake that began as a Wicked ripoff prequel!
NO FUCKING MORE!
Not only does Mulan look just as cheap and uninspired as all the other horrid remakes, we’ve added a witch (because only in fantasy are women warmongers) and taken away Mushu, literally the only enjoyable thing about the original. And now, of course, Disney gets to pander double hard, not just to fake diversity, but also to the Chinese government so they can get that sweet, sweet international box office. It’s all so shady and disgusting. It makes my fucking skin crawl. I’m serious, I may even have to break my own code with this one. If it gets an Oscar nomination next year, I may end my streak of seeing all nominees just so I can avoid this.
Also, the trailer opens with a legend of the phoenix, which Maleficent 2: Electric Boogaloo already established was Angelina Jolie herself, so why are we bothering? FUCK!
Saint Maud – March 27
Two things to note here. First, when a trailer tries to tie in association to good or successful movies, take note of the exact link they’re making. If they’re naming a specific actor, producer, writer, or filmmaker, there’s a chance that you can make an honest, apples-to-apples comparison on the merits of the film.
However, when the trailer just mentions the studio, that’s desperation, which we get here with Saint Maud. A24 plugs itself, and its much more critically acclaimed/commercially successful fare like The Witch, Hereditary, and Midsommar. This film is written and directed by Rose Glass. The other three were written and directed by Robert Eggers and Ari Aster, who have no involvement here. Trying to pump up an artist’s work by invoking others who are in no way associated with the project is intellectually dishonest, and prejudices those of us who think critically to discount the newcomer, which isn’t fair to Glass. I have no idea if the film would be any good, but I’m significantly less inclined to see it because A24 is trying to shoehorn her debut alongside established modern masters.
The second thing is a matter of personal taste, and now’s as good a time to get this off my chest as any, because I’ve hinted at this a few times without explicitly stating it. But this is the space for hating on stuff, so I might as well do it now, thanks to the soundtrack the marketing team decided to use for this trailer.
Fuck. Billie. EILISH!
I know this is a minority opinion, given her current popularity and her sweeping of the Grammys, but she is honestly the worst “singer” I have ever heard. Her whispered mumbling doesn’t even qualify as singing, and while some people enjoy ASMR, she’s basically a pop star birthed from its own primordial ooze, and augmented sounds that are supposed to be quiet are the most annoying sounds in the world to me. It’s like in commercials when the foley artist cranks up the volume of someone typing at a keyboard to way louder than it is in real life. With Billie Eilish, you have to dial her up way past 11 to even come close to understanding the gibberish she garbles out, and by that point I feel like my ears are being raped.
She can’t write a song to save her life. Her lyrics (co-written by her brother, who falls into the “let’s push the space bar on a MacBook to play recycled beats and call ourselves musicians” EDM set) are the insipid rantings of a teenager with no real problems. Her voice sounds like Fiona Apple got a tracheotomy with a rusty X-Acto Knife. Her personal style evokes every goth poser you knew in middle school, pretending she doesn’t care about her image while Instagramming her latest failed dye job.
And the thing is, I could just live with that and keep my opinion to myself, but she’s EVERYWHERE. She’s inescapable, like the coronavirus of pop music. She’s inexplicably played on alternative rock stations, even though NOTHING she does would fit that definition. Hell, what she does barely fits the dictionary definition of the word, “music.” Despite my feelings, I truly don’t begrudge her success. Make your money while you can. But I should have the ability to opt out, and I don’t. No matter where I turn, there she is. Turn on the radio to my favorite rock station and there’s her mumble-whisper being put through Auto-Tune on crack, “What do you want from me?” I WANT YOU TO GO AWAY!
It’s one of the infuriating things about living in Los Angeles and working in the entertainment industry. You’re not allowed to have a negative opinion on anything. Hell, you’re not even allowed to just not have an opinion. You can’t just be exposed to something, acknowledge it, and move on and be done with it. Whoever the power brokers are, they decide what’s popular, and then they insist that you embrace it. Billie Eilish’s “music” causes me physical pain. I’m not exaggerating. I get that people like her. I’m sure she’s a nice young woman. But I hate ASMR because it gives me headaches, and she is ASMR made flesh.
So yeah, having the entire trailer for Saint Maud set to one of her tracks really makes me not want to see the movie. Then again, it looks like torture porn, so maybe that was the point.
Join the conversation in the comments below! Do you agree with this list? Was I too hard or too soft on some of them? Am I just pissed at Billie Eilish because I’ve had a drunken alter ego for the last decade plus named Billy Irish and now everyone thinks I’m ripping her off? Let me know!