Bad Movies Done Right — Long way down the Holiday Road

Last year was tough for everybody.

With threats ranging from economic meltdown to swine flu to octomoms, it’s time for a break from the stress of the real world. It’s time for a vacation.

When planning a getaway, there are plenty of choices to pick from. From the budget-conscious safety net of SeaWorld to the extravagant escapism of a sunny island beach, there is no shortage of travel destinations to turn to this year.

When picking your vacation getaway, though, why not turn to the greatest source of insight mankind has been blessed with since the Magic 8 Ball: Movies.

The aisles of your local video store are filled with solid advice for planning the perfect vacation.

For example, here are some places movies have taught us never to visit.

Europe

Whether you’re being bitten by a hungry werewolf on the English moors, having your daughter sold into sex slavery by fiendish Armenians or just being taken from your hostel and tortured by a group of wealthy and powerful businessmen looking to get their jollies, your European trip will end in tears. Guaranteed.

Movies have taught us to fear the unknown and the old equally. Europe is chock-full of both. Between cults that are all too willing to sacrifice you to their pagan gods and the French, there are few reasons to jump the pond and visit the old country.

If you’re looking for a taste of culture, why not take a trip to Epcot instead?

The Cabin in the Woods

Your boyfriend’s uncle has a great cabin in the woods that would be just perfect for a kegger? You know of an abandoned shack in the forest that you can bring those girls from class for a make-out session?

Sounds too good to be true, right?

It is.

That cabin may seem like the perfect place for a party, but chances are you won’t be getting down with boogie fever. Instead, you’ll probably be exposed to flesh-eating bacteria, some kind of crazed supernatural slasher or demons called forth from the pit by a curious archaeologist who reads aloud from the Necronomicon.

Your standard “cabin in the woods” scenario almost always ends with death, mutilation and quiet sobbing. If you’re not being disturbing by a Blair Witch, your car is breaking down on the way to the cabin and you’re being hunted down by crazed rednecks.

Instead of exposing yourself to that kind of horror, why not just suck it up and spend time with your parents for vacation this year? There may not be any less quiet sobbing, but nobody will chase you around with a machete.

Probably.

The Future

Back to the Future Part II may have sold you on the idea of a time-traveling vacation this year, but trust me: Hovering skateboards are not worth the risk of ending up in any of the other post-apocalyptic futures humanity has waiting for it.

The lure of jetting into the future to pick up sports stats with the intent of making a killing in the present day may tempt you, but when you’re being hooked up to wires and used as a battery for robots, you’ll be wishing you’d listened to my advice.

If you do decide to travel to the future, you may come across Christian Bale (either battling SkyNet’s robotic armies, fighting off giant dragons or acting cold and emotionless as he displays awesome gun-fighting skills).

Whatever you do, though, don’t adjust the lights while he’s making an important speech. Do that, and you and Bale might just be done, professionally.


Bad Movie of the Week — Cheaper by the Dozen 2

There is no doubt in my mind that I could have gone my entire life without having seen Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and I would be none the worse off for it.

In fact, truth be told, up until a few weeks ago, I had completely forgotten that there was a sequel released to the 2003 Steve Martin comedy. More so, I only have vague memories of the original film.

But enough about how forgettable Martin’s film repertoire has been of late. I could spend 1,000 words poking fun at a man for whose work I still have fond, if obscured, memories for. Doing so, though, would break my heart.

Originally released in 2005, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 has recently been released on Blu-ray (odd, considering the fact that the original Cheaper by the Dozen is still exclusive to DVD).

For those who may have similar shaped holes in their memory when it comes to the Cheaper by the Dozen saga, the films follow the Baker family, a clan 15 members strong (including 12 kids and one son-in-law). As patriarch Tom Baker, Steve Martin and his wife Kate (Bonnie Hunt) must wrangle children who range in ages from early childhood to young adult. Among the actors who constitute the child side of the Baker clan are Piper Perabo, Tom Welling and Hilary Duff.

When Tom begins to feel his family drifting apart, he plots one last hurrah as a complete unit and books a summer vacation at a lake house for the entire family.

Once at the house, though, Tom encounters an old rival (Eugene Levy) who has done well for himself as of late and, spurred by mutual jealousy, the two pick up old habits again — prompting a war of the families.

Levy plays Jimmy Murtaugh, the father figure of a 10-member family unit including a trophy wife played by Carmen Electra, a daughter played by Jaime King and a son played by future wolfboy Taylor Lautner.

From there, the movie follows a pretty straight path towards mediocrity. The director, Adam Shankman (a man who is dangerously close to being labeled a hack) follows a strict recipe when it comes to crafting standard family friendly fair. There are pratfalls, cute animals, even cuter kids and plenty of parental/child conflict to last a very tedious ninety-plus minutes.

If you’ve seen one of Steve Martin’s family movies of the ‘00s, you’ve got the general gist for what to expect from Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

The large cast of actors trudge through their scenes — the younger kids obviously having a blast while the older actors let the occasional look of world-weariness and necessity for a paycheck slip through their masks.

As I patiently stared at the screen and waited for the movie to end, I couldn’t help but wonder who exactly would want to watch this movie?

Even my mom, a woman notorious for her taste for terrible films, would grow weary of Cheaper by the Dozen 2 by the halfway mark. The problem with the film is that it lies in that nebulous zone between bad movies and bad movies so bad they become good once again.

Not even enjoyable for its spectacular awfulness, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 is just pure and simple fluff — as forgettable as it is uninviting.

While the image may look nice on Blu-ray, 1080p resolution can’t turn a bad movie into anything but. For those mysterious audience members who demanded the film come to Blu-ray, though, Fox has delivered a few special features to wrap upon this turd sandwich up in a tapeworm bow.

Showing this to an old person to distract them from the thought that one day soon they will die is the only reason I can imagine why someone would put this movie into their Blu-ray player.

An audio commentary from the director and a trio of featurettes should provide a few more hours of subterfuge for Grandma.

Robert Saucedo is full of subterfuge when it comes to dealing with grandparents. Visit him on the web at www.robsaucedo.com.

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