Rewind Review: Step Up 3

Step Up 3, or 3D, depending on which version you are seeing is likely to go down as the worst film of the year. Firstly, to comment I did not view the film in 3D, however, it doesn’t seem as if much of the film would’ve benefitted greatly from it just a few scenes here and there but it really isn’t worth the surcharge.

What needs to be said up front is that this film does have one true redeeming quality and that can only be conveyed by backhanded complement, so that should give you some sense of just how good it is. The film manages to be rather entertaining and close to magical when dance routines are being done, however, there is not nearly enough screen time dedicated to dancing throughout.

There are, however, plot complications that are unnecessary, contrivances which are laughable and all of which are cliché and bring next to nothing original to the table. It is the first film since Gamer, last year, which made me think that perhaps a bright thirteen-year-old wrote it. If that were true the writing would be pretty good as it stands it was not written by a thirteen-year-old and it is abysmal. There are too many disparate elements thrown together seemingly only behind the strength of the notion that “That would be cool.”

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There is a dance contest which The Pirates, the troupe we are “rooting” for due to the protagonists, is about bragging rights but it’s also about the cash prize. Why do they want the money? To avoid foreclosure on their dance home, of course. This place is like a dancer’s equivalent to the Batcave and yet all 100 (give or take) people who are in there somehow can’t afford the rent but the editing bay, foam pit, soundproofing, boom box room, etc, they’re all manageable.

This rivalry between troupes is also rather hilarious because sometimes you can’t tell if it’s going to break out into West Side Story or a Kung Fu movie. Neither of which are really fitting here but get squeezed in anyway.

There is not only a very scripted-sounding documentary opening but a film within the film as one of the protagonists, Luke (Rick Malambri) is a budding documentarian. Yes, he’s the next Baryshnikov and Errol Morris rolled into one. But wait, there’s more, there’s a whole other plot which shares equal time for the first half of the film, vanishes and comes back; Moose (Adam Sevani) and his two lives, dance and Engineering, at NYU. As if that wasn’t enough Luke’s love interest, Natalie (Sharni Vinson) joins the troupe as a spy turns out to be Luke’s archrival’s sister and no one was ever the wiser.

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I actually could go on. The contest to pay for a space is clichéd enough without adding the twin betrayal-reconciliation love plots and passion versus reason plots into the mix.

I could continue but dead horses need not be beaten. So what could make myriad bad plot devices worse? Bad acting, of course, come on down. Granted take this comment with a grain of salt as most involved in this film are primarily dancers but still too much of it was flat and ineffectual. The chemistry between both couples most of the times seems forced and the only one who gives their all and is somewhat winning is Adam Sevani. What’s more infuriating is that this film had another wonderful thing going and ruined it by cramming too many recycled storylines into. Had the film been simpler and had more dance numbers it could’ve been good. This was a musical, to an extant, that actually addressed a musical phenomenon of people breaking into song and dance in the streets realistically by having onlookers react to it. Being that it was in New York for the most part that allowed for some funny lines which at times distracted you from more “schmacting” by the bit players, but there was not nearly enough of that to save the film.

But that’s not all, the last thing that bears mentioning is the brief but comedically bad use of CG. It involves Icees, a grate, wind and unrealistic movement of said Icees when blown out a straw into the wind. It seems like it could not possibly be serious and it made me wonder if Woody Allen is missing an early draft of Everyone Says I Love You.

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I suppose one other redeeming quality is that despite this being a very bad film it is not a painfully bad but is actually enjoyably bad in the tradition of Troll 2 but nowhere near as good/bad. The few things that were infuriating were listed above and they over-complicated what in a simpler state may have been a passable film. In the end it was an unmitigated disaster.

2/10

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Bad Movies I Love (Part One of Four)

This is yet another post that has been inspired by Bob Freelander and his wonderful blog Rupert Pupkin Speaks. Check it out, if you haven’t already.

I’ve ruminated on this list long enough I believe. In the spirit of my recent post about lists not really being finished, I’ll just go with what I have at my disposal currently and spitball it. For the mutual convenience of myself and whomever may read this, I will split the list into four posts.

Now, I did, as most who have compiled this list recently, have to examine what makes a movie both bad and one I can enjoy because of that. There were a few different directions I could’ve gone with this list. I could’ve picked some films universally considered to be bad that I like and I don’t care who knows it (A few of those can be found here). I could’ve picked the rare film that’s so bad that it’s good, which in my mind are few and far between, and I won’t argue if you believe there’s no such thing.

What I decided to do instead was to pick movies that I find to be bad, however, that I still enjoy certain things about them (badness included), and in many cases I have given them more than one viewing due to their uniquely awesome awfulness.

Now, without much further ado, my selections:

Troll 2 (1990)

To put it simply, Troll 2 was the first movie that ever struck me as being so bad that I had to have it. That and its all out ridiculousness are what really prompted me to acquire it after I randomly saw it on TV. Little did I know at the time that I was not alone in my ‘enjoyment’ of it. Only when I read online about Best Worst Movie‘s impending release did I learn about its cult status. For that alone, it belongs here because that doc proves there’s something unique about bad movies as opposed to other artforms, and the fact that Stephenson embraced the phenomenon and spun it into something quite special makes it even better.

This Island Earth (1955)

The story I have with this movie is a bit similar to the one above; I only came to know This Island Earth through Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. Later on, I learned that it was seen by some as a bit of a controversial choice as it does have a legion of admirers, and I started noticing it popping up in many films like E.T. and Explorers.

However, when you’ve seen something enough (and sometimes it doesn’t have to be that much) it’s easy enough to separate how bad it is from how bad MST3K is making it look. The film is quite silly, it’s characters range from transparent to dimensionless, the dialogue ranges from trite to awkward and it’s more unintentionally funny than anything else.

When thinking upon it, I can see the attraction to some, but it’s no Forbidden Planet or anything of that ilk in my book. This is a movie I’d find hilarious without MST3K’s help. However, the dialogue, the characters, the pauses and the plot all serve up so many softballs that the guys really hit it out of the park early and often. It is almost as if the movie was made to be lampooned by them. In fact, a friend of mine unfamiliar with both this film and the MST3K format, thought it was!

Essentially, it’s the kind of bad movie you could never, ever hate, but I do find it bad and hilarious. “Not even a moth equipped with a lighting bug could fly through that!” says Joe about the fog. Hilarious indeed.

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

This entry is one of quite a bit of distinction; when I was writing a paper on Stephen King in a horror/sci-fi class I made this film the fulcrum because not only is it the only feature film King ever directed, but it’s also based on one of his short stories, “Trucks.”

Partially due to the paper, I’ve seen this film quite a few times. Try as I might to like it, and though I can find good in it, it’s a film where I have to agree with his own assessment of it; it’s not good. However, it’s the kind of not good worthy of repeat viewings simply due to some of the factors involved: His direction, an on camera appearance by Yeardley Smith (aka The voice of Lisa Simpson), Emilio Esteves’s awesomeness, the AC/DC score, the vending machine kill, Holter Graham, Pat Hingle, Stephen King’s almost Creepshow-over-the-top cameo, and some of the humor.

By this point, I’ve listed so much stuff that you’d wonder what makes it bad? Well, the story just doesn’t work, it’s not one of his better short stories to start with and the film ends up being too scattered to be as effective as it could be. For a more in-depth explication, I will be posting the aforementioned paper in a serialized format in September.

Santa’s Slay (2005)

Here’s one I did a 61 Days of Halloween post on. This movie is essentially what this list is about for the most part; if you’re going to go down, go down with guns blazing. You’d think that a film that featured wrestler-turned-actor Goldberg as Santa would have that as its weirdest component, but that’s not nearly the oddest thing about this film. This film is essentially about how Santa’s homicidal maniac tendencies have been thwarted by the fact that he lost a game of something akin to curling 1000 years ago. The casting is odd, but at times inspired and features a good turn by Douglas Smith, and it is trying to be funny often and succeeds. Therefore, it’s one of the better bad movies on this list.

Tourist Trap (1979)

Another way of sneaking on to the list aside from general watchability, some originality and being funny is by having one truly standout scene. Tourist Trap after a while just doesn’t cut it for me, it really doesn’t. However, I will always recall the plaster death scene. It’s the kind of thing that can redeem the decision to watch the movie in its entirety. The rest of it is either been there done that or not really that well executed, but this one idea, is sure to get under almost anyone’s skin and is truly well done.

The next five will be up tomorrow!