The dog days are upon us, ladies and gentlemen (and everyone in between), and they’re more dogged than ever! Half the country is in drought, my state is on fire, and the shallowest end of our collective gene pool is actively trying to get us all killed, AGAIN, because they’re too selfish to put on a goddamn mask and get a shot. I have to get tested in two days before I go on set for my next gig, and I’m legitimately afraid that despite doing everything right, my luck may run out just because. And just for good measure, there’s a statistically significant chance that a month from now, my governor may be a reality TV washout who killed a lady with her car.
So yeah, you could say I’m not in the most hopeful of moods these days, which thankfully is perfect for my purposes here. With some 25 new movies due to hit theatres this month, there’s sure to be glut of utterly unwatchable bullshit. Oh sure, there’ll be some good stuff, too, like a carefree existential comedy about video game characters, a long-awaited biopic about Aretha Franklin, and the culmination of the cinematic efforts of the band, Sparks.
But we’re not concerned with that stuff. We’re here for the heaping pile of stinking garbage left out in the 100-degree sun! We’ve got cliché horror. We’ve got nepotism. We’ve got a piece of animation that makes me question the very nature of reality in its literal parade of “dog days.” It’s all here, ready to be consumed by our masochistic hearts. What’s even more amazing than how much this month’s entries appear to suck is that all five of them are coming out the same week. Yup, for the most part, August is clean, save for Week 3, with all the crap coming out on the 20th. Remember how I said in my Mortal Kombat review that good stuff never comes out on my birthday (the 18th) or the corresponding week? This is what I mean!
This is the August 2021 edition of “This Film is Not Yet Watchable!”
Flag Day – August 20
A couple years ago, David Lowery made The Old Man and the Gun, a modern crime film done in the Western style, starring Robert Redford as a charming crook, in what is likely his final (major) movie role. It was an absolutely tremendous work and a loving send-off to one of the greatest actors the world has ever seen.
Well, Sean Penn decided to start with that wonderful thought and take a gigantic triceratops shit all over it with Flag Day. First of all, what a stupid fucking title. It’s like the joke from For Your Consideration where the prestige movie was supposed to be called Home for Purim or something, but then Ricky Gervais’ studio executive character decides it’s too Jewish and they change the whole movie to be about Thanksgiving. Only here, it doesn’t look like there was ever anything legitimate to bastardize by sticking in a lame holiday reference. I’m guessing they picked it so everyone knows this is a story about a ‘MURICAN outlaw, not some pansy-ass pussy other country outlaw!
Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Vogel, about her father’s life as a counterfeiter, Penn not only stars in the film, but decided, “Aww shucks, I’ll direct it, too, because nobody will make it the way it should be made.” And how should it be made, I hear you ask?
BY CASTING HIS FUCKING KIDS IN IT!
Yup, Sean plays counterfeiter John Vogel, while daughter Dylan plays Jennifer and son Hopper plays Nick. It’s a family affair, and that affair is derivative bullshit. The entire trailer plays like a recycled trope fest of modern crime dramas, where the bad guy has a loving but complicated relationship with their children. I mean, throw in some physics-defying CGI car chases and you’ve got another Fast and Furious movie. What exactly is our motivation to watch this crap?
And I’m just going to say it, Sean Penn is the most overrated actor working today, perhaps throughout film history. As much as I love the Oscars, I will NEVER forgive the Academy for passing over brilliant, paradigm-shifting, once-in-a-lifetime performances, TWICE, in favor of run-of-the-mill melodrama from Penn. If there were any justice in this world, Bill Murray and Mickey Rourke would have Oscars on their mantles, and Penn would be spewing Jeff Spicoli lines at 80s conventions for all time. Instead he’s going to try to manipulate us into a bit of cheap sentimentality while foisting his kids on us. And when it turns out no one likes it, he’ll go back to jerking off to The Tree of Life. Apparently getting something you never earned is meant to be a family tradition.
The Night House – August 20
My god, how many horror movie clichés can we rattle off with this presumed piece of shit? Clanging chimes soundtrack? Check. Creaky floors and doors? Check. Jump scares? Check. Repeating the same line over and over (in this case, “You were right”)? Check. Some sort of paranormal artifact (voodoo doll)? Check. Home video footage? Check. Secrets a wife never knew about her husband? Check. Cracking bone sounds to illustrate being moved against your will? Check.
When will Hollywood learn that Poltergeist only worked once? Haunted House movies have never really been that good, and throwing in the same tired elements found in every flop of modern horror isn’t going to make anything better. There is the slightest hint of a good idea here, in that there seems to be some sort of mirror element where the house is backwards, even down to the numbers. But everything else about the trailer makes it look like the intrigue begins and ends there, with the only backwards action being the collective motion of setting the genre back several years yet again with cheap scares and worse acting.
PAW Patrol: The Movie – August 20
Excuse me for a moment. I need to go pour bleach directly into my eyes.
What the shit is this? I don’t have kids, so I’ve never been properly exposed to this franchise, but I’ve never heard anything good from those who have. There’s nothing that can prepare you for the singularity of suck that this trailer promises unless you’ve been repeatedly tortured by your children’s addiction to this nonsense.
I mean, there’s just nothing that isn’t fucked up here. Even the stupid “You’re about to watch a trailer” teaser before the trailer starts is insipid. Why would a dog licking the screen make a splat sound? Just make a window streak sound, or even a slurping sound would be closer to accurate. Why splatting? Is Paramount warning you in advance that this is a wet dog turd you’re about to step in? It’s the only guess I’ve got.
Now, I don’t know about the universe of this toddler show, but in what city does the train operate like a roller coaster? How does that ever get built? Who approves such a boondoggle? Springfield’s Escalator to Nowhere is more practical. A truck nearly goes over the side of a bridge, then a talking cop dog comes down, leaving the driver to give a terrified gasp of, “A dog?” to which the dog replies, “Actually, I’m a puppy.”
A PUPPY IS A DOG! IT’S JUST A YOUNG DOG! THEY’RE NOT DIFFERENT SPECIES! NO WONDER PARENTS THINK THIS SHOW DUMBS THEIR KIDS DOWN! JESUS!
There’s no coming back from that intellectual nadir. Your villain is a politician who tries to ban dogs in favor of cats, so we’re directly ripping off Isle of Dogs. Seriously, Wes Anderson should sue. There’s a skyward beam of doom, which means both Disney and Warner Bros. can also sue on behalf of Marvel and DC. The only thing more amateur and asinine than the quality of the animation is the line readings of the voice cast.
And finally, most insultingly, Kim Kardashian is in this movie.
That’s right, Kim fucking Kardashian. Because when I ask myself, “Who would be the most appropriate actress to voice a character in a cartoon for children?” my immediate thought is of the reality TV fame whore who failed up into billionaire status along with the rest of her starfucker family because of a sex tape (and again, her step-mom may soon be Governor despite committing vehicular manslaughter).
And before any of you accuse me of “slut shaming,” two things. One, fuck you, get a life. Two, I have no problem with her doing a sex tape. You want to do porn, go with God (oh God, oh God, OH GOD!). What I object to is taking that decision and instead of dealing with the consequences of her actions, she not only tried to parlay it into mainstream stardom without actually accomplishing anything in her life, and then gaslit all of America and the world after the fact by writing into contracts that the sex tape can never be publicly mentioned (an actual clause in the family’s contract with E!), and that they all have to be treated as if they are legitimate celebrities who earned their fame. That entire Klan (arguably NOT the second worst with a “K”) has contributed absolutely nothing to society that didn’t afford them a photo op or an Instagram hashtag. The whole lot of them are a cancer on our culture and should not be rewarded for their Trump-level sense of unearned entitlement.
If I had kids I would forbid them from watching this on principle alone. There is no reality where “pop a champagne bottle on my naked ass” makes you appropriate for children. We’re seriously allowing this? The fuck outta here!
The Protégé – August 20
I’m tired, you guys. I’m just tired. How many more times can we tread the same ground? I like action movies as much as the next person, but how many more times can we repeat the formula? Assassins, betrayals, a dead mentor, being hunted by a power-hungry villain who’s definitely going to die in the end, and if the protagonist is a woman, a heaping helping of condescension and sexism. Can we just, do something, anything new?
Well, not yet, anyway, as this trailer establishes. I love Maggie Q. She’s fucking awesome, but this is beneath her. It’s so superfluous it’s barely worth mentioning. Same goes for Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson. These are all incredible actors across multiple genres, and it’s 100% clear even from the trailer that they’re all just cashing checks.
You want to know how lazy and predictable this movie is? They kill off Jackson IN THE TRAILER! Yeah, even they know there’s no point or intrigue to any of this. You know the father figure dies, I know the father figure dies, and they know the father figure dies. So they don’t even bother with the pretense and just show him dead not even a third of the way into their own teaser. And if there’s some twist where he’s somehow not dead, you know it’ll be bullshit of Winter Soldier proportions.
I almost feel bad for the sizzle editor who put this together. A trailer has two jobs – to tell you what the film is about, and to get you to pay to see it. It accomplished the first task easily. I know basically every plot point this movie could possibly have from these two-plus minutes. Unfortunately, that also tells me all I need to know to make sure my wallet stays fucking closed. The poor guy who had to make this is screwed either way. Either he tells the truth and the movie is shown for the waste of time it is, or he lies enough to convince people to watch and gets blamed when Lionsgate gets sued for false advertising. Catch-22 there, buddy. I don’t envy your position.
Sweet Girl – August 20
Oh goody, Aquaman’s going to save the world from Big Pharma. Yay.
This is a uniquely American problem, as there are several movies and TV shows from the last several decades that basically boil the conflict down to the fact that healthcare in this country is unaffordable and often inaccessible because it’s a private industry run by pharmaceutical and insurance companies. It’s so bad that when Michael Moore made his documentary, Sicko, even Fox News had to admit he was right. This is yet another entry in that field, a true “Only in America” subgenre that has yielded one good property – Breaking Bad – for all its output.
Jason Momoa’s wife dies of cancer, leaving him a widower with a teenage daughter. After a drug company pulls access to medicine that could have saved her, Momoa threatens the company’s CEO on live television that he’ll be coming for revenge. So of course, the company has unlimited mercenary and law enforcement resources to come hunt him down first. Action cliché abounds, leading to an apparent climax on top of the baseball stadium in Pittsburgh. Lord knows that by the end of the trailer, I wanted to jump off the roof myself.
But even weirder than this standard-issue fight fest with “don’t you touch my daughter” overtones is the title. The trailer shows us that the daughter, played by Isabela Merced (the live-action Dora the Explorer, which also ended up in this column), barely has any real role in the movie if it’s to be believed, and yet the title is about her. But given the heavily-edited and remixed version of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” that plays throughout, it almost seems like the title was chosen just to fit the motif of the song, which is just weird as fuck. It’s like they knew there was nothing new or exciting in this film, so they decided to name it after a needle drop that may only be used in the teaser rather than the movie itself. What the frick?
Okay, now that I’ve told you what to avoid this month – or more accurately, one specific week – it’s time for this month’s “Redemption Reel,” a look at a trailer that surprised me with its quality, regardless of what I think of the prospects of the actual movie.
Swan Song – August 6
Udo Kier is one of the ultimate “Oh yeah, THAT guy”s in cinema history. A versatile character actor, he’s got over 200 film credits to his name across the Americas and Europe, ranging from recent works like Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot to modern classics like Dancer in the Dark and My Own Private Idaho, not to mention a slew of TV and voiceover work. The man has been around the block quite a few times, and now, at the ripe old age of 76, he finally gets a major starring role, and it’s about as eccentric as you can imagine, and equally as fascinating.
In Swan Song, Kier plays a retired makeup artist and drag queen named Patrick. As the last request of one of his deceased clients, he’s pulled out of his nursing home and taken across the country to do her hair one last time for the funeral. Just on premise alone my eyes are wide in wonder. Seeing Kier dance, prance, talk shit, and wax poetic along the course of this very offbeat road trip, I find my jaw dropped at the sheer level of inspiration this undertaking had to have required. I mean, for fuck’s sake the man one-ups Liberace by coming on stage with a candelabra on his head!
I have no idea what to expect if I see this film, but I know I’ll be in for a ride. This could be a complete train wreck of epic proportions that turns into a John Waters-esque cult favorite. It could end up being the sleeper LGBT hit of the year. It could be a complete non-entity. It could give Udo Kier the kind of long overdue exposure and recognition that Paul Raci got from Sound of Metal. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but I sure as hell want to find out.
That’s all for this month, folks. Stay cool, stay hydrated, stay masked if you need to, and stay safe.
And seriously, fuck anything and everything to do with the Kardashians. If Caitlyn Jenner becomes Governor, I may go door-to-door beating people with hammers.
Join the conversation in the comments below! Will you see any of these films? Should others have been added? What would be the title of your sex tape? Let me know!