Tag Archives: Michael Bay

FIFTY SHADES OF MARKETING

17 Feb

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1. Fifty Shades of Grey/ Universal Wknd/$ 85.0 Total/$ 85.0
2. Kingsman/Fox Wknd/$ 36.2 Total/$ 36.2
3. The SpongeBob Movie/Par Wknd/$ 31.7 Total/$ 94.8
4. American Sniper/Warner Wknd/$ 16.5 Total/$ 304.2
5. Jupiter Ascending/Warner Wknd/$ 9.2 Total/$ 32.4
6. Seventh Son/Universal Wknd/$ 4.1 Total/$ 13.4
7. Paddington/Weinstein Wknd/$ 4.0 Total/$ 62.2
8. The Imitation Game/Weinstein Wknd/$ 3.5 Total/$ 79.6
9. The Wedding Ringer/SGems Wknd/$ 3.2 Total/$ 59.6
10. Project Almanac/Paramount Wknd/$ 2.8 Total/$ 15.8

LONELY MOVIE WEEKEND CHOICE #1
Fifty Shades of Grey opens at number one and this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Make no mistakes, it’s bad (the very fact the lead character’s name, Anastasia Steele, is presented without a hint of humor or irony tells you that), but just as my definition of good is a bit higher than others, so my definition of what sucks is much lower. Despite its attempt to seem modern and edgy, the story of 50 Shades of Grey (and Twilight for that matter) is the same one your mother and possibly grandmother have been reading in Harlequin novels for decades: stories of bad boy princes and pirates who are inexplicably brought down by the virginal heroine (yes, Anastasia is a virgin, because god forbid a woman have some actual idea about her sexuality) they cannot resist her. Only now rather than be tormented by the events of Spanish Civil War or The Crusades or whatever tumultuous time period those books were set, she’s now tormented by the hero himself. While the literary ancestor of Anastasia Steel (a name which would fit perfectly in those), had to fight her way through various kidnappings and the fall of the czar as she made her way from Moscow to Venice, this one has to deal with a lover who won’t let her actually sleep next to him or know his past and insist he’s bad for her while stalking her cross-country. Oh, and there’s the occasional spanking. Somewhere, trapped by the sexy pirate Taggart McGirth on his ship The Thruster, Constance Hymen rolls her eyes in disgust. Now, there’s an old rule of thumb that bad books can make good movies because you can change things and if any book need it, then this was it was this one. Unfortunately for them the author (and I use that term loosely) has a background in the entertainment business and she knows what happens to books, so her deal gave her a certain amount of control over the film. The end result is a film so empty and devoid of any sex appeal I was on the verge of reading it despite the many, many, MANY negative reviews saying how awful it was. My curiosity as how something so bland could be so successful consumed me, but then it dawned on me that’s probably why something that started off as Twilight fan fiction (it suddenly makes sense now, right?) could find such an audience. Because it was awful and simplistic, not despite it. Since when are we surprised that ineptitude soars while quality sinks? Surely not in this post-Twilight-Nicholas-Sparks age. But as empty as the books seemingly were they became even moreso when the opportunity to merchandise it took hand and the result is a movie that it so ironically chaste that beyond the nudity there are exactly two uses of the word fuck and absolutely no sucking dick. They wanted the built in audience these books contained, but at the same time wanted to keep them safe enough so as not to put off anyone and draw in even more people (preserving those marginal percentages that only business majors know or care about). Now that makes no sense given the audience would know exactly what and was isn’t in the books (“Where’s all the dick sucking!?! Where’s that tampon!?!”), but the end result is whatever tiny edge they had was dulled and you get something that looks like it escaped from the Lifetime network and into theaters. There is more graphic and honestly arousing sex on your basic cable show, much less pay cable. I mean, I know it’s the Pacific Northwest, but is it really so cool and temperate that no one sweats when they fuck!?! Maybe in the two sequels to follow (it made almost $100M in a weekend from a $40M budget with another $150M overseas) they’ll address it.

LONELY MOVIE WEEKEND CHOICE #2
Now, if opening 50 Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day was perfect programming to grab the lonely, sexually frustrated female audience, then opening Kingsmen: The Secret Service was equally perfect counter programming to get the lonely, angrily sexless male audience. Both were counting on an audience that would be dateless this lover’s weekend and both were right and rewarded. The difference this is actually entertaining and delivered on what its source material promised: comedic, silly ultraviolence. This is based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and the best description of his work that I ever read was that it was something an angry 15-year-old would love, which is to say he understood the heart of superhero comics better than anyone else around him: angry virgins. This wasn’t a superhero comic but it still applies and carries over to the film. Our hero is a smart, capable guy, but the world is in his way (not his own personal choices). His chances to be better are derailed by the fact he’s such a good guy and had to take care of his mother, while she’s married to a guy who is a low level thug and beats her. Typical bullshit, geek self-serving-pity. Fortunately for him his father was a recruit of a secret intelligence agency and died in the field so one of its top agents feels a debt is owed and our hero is recruited to be James Bond times ten. His training begins just as The Kingsmen stumble upon a plot hatched by an insane corporate billionaire to save the world by killing most of the people one it. The violence is graphic but exaggerated deliberately to maximum silliness and there’s actually metatextual commentary on how dour modern secret agent films are, as opposed to the wonderfully silly ones with would be world conquerors in the conversation between the cool, bespoke secret agent Colin Firth and the eccentric megalomaniac (he plans mass genocide, but hates the sight of blood, and has an assassin sidekick with blades for legs) Samuel L. Jackson. Needless to say this is clearly a love letter to the crazier Bond films though believe it or not, even more British. The movie is actually partially driven by the class awareness that still exists in England to this day (both our hero and his dad are working class and their recruitment is considered an “experiment”) and ironically gives it a depth that it’s desperately trying to avoid in favor of simply being entertaining.

THAT 21ST CENTURY CAREER
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water is down to number three, followed by American Sniper at number four and Jupiter Ascending down to number five and starring in this is Mila Kunis who must have thought she grabbed the brass ring when she got the lead in a Wachowski big-budget science fiction action film. Clearly she didn’t read the script, which showed her as a princess who constantly needs to be saved along with a dozen other problems. While on one hand she’s actually having a somewhat successful career going from Oscar nominated, overrated indie fare like Black Swan to empty big budget vehicles like Oz The Great and Powerful to crass comedies like Ted and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (hell, she was even in the remake of Annie), on the other hand none of those were truly starring vehicles for her. She was the female lead alongside Justin Timberlake in Friends with Benefits which tanked (ironically her fiancée Ashton Kutcher’s version with Natalie Portman was hit) and now this where she is flat out the title character. Clearly it did not go well and while The Wachowskis are at fault, it won’t be the same black mark on Channing Tatum’s career (also equally varied) as it will be for her. You know, ‘cause she’s a chick and it’s an action movie. Forget they don’t actually allow her to be an action star, which is odd for them. Trivia: she played the younger version of Angelina Jolie in Gia.

YOU KNOW NOTHING OF THE CONTRACT YOU SIGNED, JON SNOW
The Seventh Son is down to number six is Seventh Son and also in this for about 5 minutes as a previous Seventh Son is Kit Harrington, limited as to the roles he can take when not shooting Game of Thrones as his contract doesn’t allow him to cut his hair! This is how he winds up here and in that Pompeii movie last year. Though I guess he could play a musician…or a poet…or just someone pretentious in the present day.

THE OTHERS
Paddington is down to number seven, followed by The Imitation Game holding at eight and The Wedding Ringer down to number nine.

CINEMATICALLY TRASMITTED DISEASE
Finally, Project Almanac closes out the top ten at number ten and this is part of a small genre empire Michael Bay is clearly building. He’s producer on this as he was on Ouija and The Purge films. Because their budgets are so low they’re pretty much guaranteed to make money, which means they will continue. He’s like a rash. An itchy ugly one that spreads the more you scratch it.

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JUST TED’S BLOODY ADVENTURE

27 Oct

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1. Quija/Universal                                        Wknd/$ 20.0    Total/$ 20.0
2. John Wick/LG-S                                      Wknd/$ 14.1     Total/$ 14.1
3. Fury/Sony                                                  Wknd/$ 13.0    Total/$ 46.1
4. Gone Girl/Fox                                           Wknd/$ 11.1     Total/$ 124.1
5. The Book of Life/Fox                               Wknd/$ 9.8     Total/$ 29.9
6. St. Vincent/Weinstein                             Wknd/$ 8.1      Total/$ 9.2
7. Alexander & The Terrible…/Disney     Wknd/$ 7. 0     Total/$ 45.5
8. The Best of Me/Relativity                      Wknd/$ 4.7      Total/$ 17.7
9. The Judge/WB                                         Wknd/$ 4.3      Total/$ 34.4
10. Dracula Untold/Universal                   Wknd/$ 9.9      Total/$ 40.7

I CAN’T SEE A TOMORROW ANY LONGER
Quija opens at number one and we should all be ashamed of this. A movie based unapologetically on a board game? With Michael Bay as a producer? For a moment I thought there was hope when we banded together as a people and rejected Battleship, but now…I just don’t know.

YOU NEED TO LAUGH A LITTLE AS BODIES HIT THE FLOOR
John Wick opens at number two and if the plot of this seems familiar it’s because it’s pretty much the same plot as The Equalizer which came out a month ago: a retired assassin goes on a killing spree when the Russian mob crosses him. Both end with showdowns in the rain (though an artificial in the case of The Equalizer) and both star an aging leading man, in this case Keanu Reeves now in his 50’s. Yeah, you a old muthafucka. The difference being this is much better, starting with the utter lack of pretense of saving someone or righting some wrong. Nope. John Wick is out for revenge, pure and simple and will kill anyone who gets in his way. It just so happens everyone he kills is a bad guy. If a cop had killed the puppy left to him by his late wife the way the son of the Russian Mob boss does you get the feeling he’d have wiped out the New York Police Department with the same lack of hesitation. Not that NYPD is anywhere to be seen as every action scene leaves more bodies on the ground than the last act of Hamlet (one cop is seen in New Jersey and knows better than to get involved…which is authentic Jersey). No, this is one of those films with a romantic fantasy depiction of organized crime, where they have their own hotels and clubs and everyone knows and respects everyone and there’s discipline and honor. Hell, there even seems to be a dress code. Pretty sure the inability to exist in a world of rules is what makes people into criminals, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s fantasy and it’s fun and the latter is what helps to elevate it over The Equalizer. There’s a dry sense of humor about all the carnage and nowhere more than in the primary antagonist. The first rule of action films is that your hero is only as good as your villain and there’s a good one here in the Russian Mob Boss. Now, in every action movie someone delivers the perfunctory expository monologue about how dangerous and deadly the hero is. Richard Crenna’s speech about Rambo in First Blood is the benchmark of this. Here the mob boss gives it to his son and when his son says he can handle Wick, there’s almost a metatextual response of frustration from the mob boss who says “Did he not hear what I just said!?!” At that moment he became the audience who has seen dozens of henchmen ignore these speeches and wanted to yell at the screen the exact same thing. And it’s not just him. This humor comes from a variety of characters throughout the film, all nicely portrayed by character actors who lend the film texture generic actioners often lack. It’s also good to have them when your leading man is Keanu Reeves, whom I like, but is far from the most magnetic personality to hit the screen. In that respect, The Equalizer does come out on top.

FACTS IS FACTS
Fury is down to number three and my friends confirmed what I suspected: any movie with Shia Lebouf in it blows. No exceptions.

YOU KNOW WHO DID ASCEND? MIRA SORVINO. EXACTLY.
Gone Girl is down to number four and also in this is Kim Dickens who seemed positioned to be the next indie film “It Girl” as I seemed to see her in every other art film at the end of the 20th century and one of Showtime’s first attempts at a series (with none other than indie king Eric Stoltz and Justine Bateman’s huge nipples). Alas, she never ascended, but I’m still glad to see her around, especially in a major, A-list film like this providing solid support as the detective investigating the disappearance of Rosamund Pike.

SOMETHING’S GONNA STICK
The Book of Life is down to number five and providing the voice to one of the characters is none other than Channing Tatum, clearly the hardest working man in show business. I have to respect someone who doesn’t just strike the iron while it’s hot, but wisely. He’s made a wide variety of choices from silly comedy (21 Jump Street) to action (White House Down) to romantic drama (The Vow) big budget sci-fi (Jupiter Ascending which was supposed to come out over the summer) to Oscar-bait drama (Foxcatcher opening this fall) to this, which isn’t some Dreamworks or Pixar guaranteed moneymaker, but a little off the beaten path. It suggests he’s actually looking for things that are interesting.

BUT HE WON’T DO A GHOSTBUSTERS SEQUEL
St. Vincent enters the top ten and this may be the third of an unofficial trilogy of Bill Murray that started with Meatballs and continued in Rushmore of the jaded older man who bonds with a boy. This might explain my lack of desire to see it. I’ve seen it done before and so well I don’t see how this could be better.

WRITING FULLY REALIZED CHARACTERS IZ HARD
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is down to number seven, followed by The Best of Me at number eight and The Judge at number nine and also in this is…Leighton Meester!?! Blair Waldorf? Yeah, I don’t get it either. She’s Vera Farmiga’s daughter that Robert Downey Jr. makes out with not knowing who she is. This is an example the some of the weaker writing in the film. They want this little surprise twist without thinking of what it takes to exist, which is sadly common in any movie or TV show about a guy who leaves home and is gone for years. Now it would be one thing if Vera Farmiga had also left town, but as it stands we’re supposed to believe that for twenty years he hasn’t heard a single thing about his high school love from anyone in his family who all still live in the same town. We’re also told his mother was close to her, but somehow never mentioned that his ex had a child twenty years ago. And even though he loved his mother, apparently he also has never been home once in twenty years to visit her. We know he has never taken his daughter to his home, but apparently no one travelled to see her either. There’s a repeated line from Very Famiga about him going to a Metallica concert and never being seen again that’s never elaborated upon. Probably because they never thought beyond that line.

LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF LEONARD NIMOY
Finally, Dracula Untold closes out the top ten at number ten and also in this is Dominic Cooper, better known to you as Iron Man’s dad, Howard Stark. And how happy is he that Agent Carter got her own series that he can appear on and continue to draw from the Mighty Marvel Money Machine? Very happy indeed.

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NO, NOT A REMAKE OF THE DEBBIE REYNOLDS MOVIE

6 Jul

tammy-bachel_ger_58_a 1. Transformers 4/Paramount                    Wknd/$ 36.4      Total/$ 174.7
2. Tammy/Warner                                         Wknd/$ 21.2      Total/$ 32.9
3. Deliver Us From Evil/SGem                    Wknd/$ 9.5       Total/$ 15.0
4. 22 Jump Street/Sony                                Wknd/$ 9.4       Total/$ 158.9
5. How To Train Your Dragon 2/Fox         Wknd/$ 8.8       Total/$ 140.0
6. Earth to Echo/Relativity                          Wknd/$ 8.3       Total/$ 13.5
7. Maleficent/Disney                                     Wknd/$ 6.1        Total/$ 213.9
8. Jersey Boys/Warner                                 Wknd/$ 5.2        Total/$ 36.7
9. Think Like A Man Too/SGem                 Wknd/$ 4.9        Total/$ 57.2
10. Edge of Tomorrow/Warners                Wknd/$ 3.6         Total/$ 90.9

LIKE A TECHNICALLY PROFICIENT GUITAR PLAYER WITH NO SENSE OF MELODY
Transformers: Age of Extinction holds at number one and if you want to know why Michael Bay sucks but lack the film literacy than “It makes my head hurt” then watch the analysis of Tony Zhou wherein he breaks down the method to the madness. Simply put: Bay tries to pack as much into every scene as he possible can. Now on one level that makes sense when you’re dealing with giant robots fighting, but the problem is he’ll do it with two people talking and a scene with two people talking only needs to be about that conversation. Even when it’s just two robots talking it still needs only to be about that conversation, but with Bay it’s them the sky, the building and whatever the hell else he can cram into it with a camera that’s always in motion. But the analysis is only about the narrative of the film itself, not exploring why the screenplays are equally horrible. Nor does it delve into Bay’s need to have women appear in white or beautiful women in tight skirts, high heels and lots of cleavage in the background (cough “casting couch” cough). That’s fine if the character is visiting a modeling agency, not the Defense Department, but like all of his shots Bay likes to put things were they don’t belong.

A PROUD HOLLYWOOD STEREOTYPE, ER, TRADITION
Tammy opens at number two and like many a performer who has shone as sidekick or supporting character, Melissa McCarthy is not my idea of a lead because a little of her goes a long way. Not to mention the whole “dumb, fat slob” genre of comedy has always left me cold. I didn’t care for it with John Candy or Chris Farley or Jack Black and I don’t care for it here. It’s not helping that the advertising is leaving out that her character is in fact reacting to the failure of her marriage which suggests there’s a little more going on. Nonetheless, I wish her as much success as every fat bastard we’ve ever had to endure onscreen (it cost $20M and made $32M its first five days). I’m just not gonna help with it.

SCHIZOPHRENIA? NO WAY. IT’S SATAN!
Deliver Us From Evil opens at number three and this is yet another “inspired by a true story” movie complete with the actual police officer involved turning up in the ads for it, which only makes me think the requirements to join NYPD aren’t as strenuous as they might be. Then again, you don’t want to be the only police department to ask, “Do you believe in ghosts and demons” on the application. While this does fall technically under the “I Don’t Do Scary” rule it doesn’t look the slightest bit scary to me because it just seems so. stupid. Honestly, I’d respect it more if they hadn’t insisted it was based on real events, which means “serious psychological issues misinterpreted by religious nutjobs.”

THEME SONG: “TURN ON YOUR CELL PHONE LIGHT”
22 Jump Street is down to number four, followed by How To Train Your Dragon 2 at number five and Earth To Echo opening at number six and is Spielberg getting a check for this? It’s so clearly e.t.: The Extra Terrestrial for the camera phone generation it’s not even funny. You know how whenever Paul Rudd appears on a Conan O’Brien he keeps tricking Conan by showing footage from the painfully obvious e.t. rip-off Mac and Me? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if next time he uses this.

SADLY THIS DIDN’T STAY IN VEGAS
Maleficent is down to number seven followed by Jersey Boys at number eight and Think Like A Man Too at number nine and also in this ensemble cast are Wendy Williams, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Ronald DeVoe (from New Edition and BBD), Ndaamukong Suh, Cheryl Hines, Carl Weathers and Kelsey Grammer? There are Love Boat episodes with a less diverse collection of people. What the hell? You think it was anyone who just happened to be in Vegas when they filmed this? “Hey do a scene and we’ll give you a few grand in chips.”

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, BLAME COMPUTERS
Finally Edge of Tomorrow closes out the top ten at number ten and while people are looking for some reason to blame this disappointing return of a mostly positively reviewed movie on Cruise fatigue (no one really turned out for Oblivion last year either) I’m gonna put it down to the exo-skeleton armor they wear. Don’t ask me why, but even I, a science fiction and comic book loving geek who sees it all the time in print was oddly put off by it. It’s just unappealing visually. Equally unappealing were the CGI aliens. Honestly if there’s any fatigue at play here, it’s excessive CGI monster fatigue. They all look the same, like a swirling mass of pixels. Not so much threatening as boring.

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DUMB & DUMBER WAS TAKEN

28 Apr

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 1. Pain and Gain/Paramount                        Wknd/$ 20.0            Total/$  20.0

 2. Oblivion/Universal                                    Wknd/$ 17.4              Total/$  64.7

 3. 42/ Warners                                                Wknd/$ 1o.7              Total/$  69.1

 4. The Big Wedding/LGF                              Wknd/$   7.5              Total/$    7.5

 5. The Croods/Fox                                          Wknd/$   6.6              Total/$ 163.0

 6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation/Paramount            Wknd/$   3.6               Total/$ 116.4

 7. Scary Movie 5/Dimension                        Wknd/$   3.5               Total/$  27.5

 8. Olympus Has Fallen/FD                           Wknd/$   2.8               Total/$   93.1

 9. The Place Beyond the Pines/Focus         Wknd/$   2.7               Total/$   16.2

10. Jurassic Park 3D/Universal                    Wknd/$   2.3                Total/$   42.0

 

HEIDI KLUM AS MRS. MARCH

Pain and Gain opens at number one and these are dark times when Michael Bay can have a success with “real” movie meaning one about people and without copious CGI and explosions.  Next, he’ll be doing period dramas and don’t think they won’t let him. “Michael Bay Presents Little Women starring this season’s line up of Victoria’s Secrets models as Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth.”  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  This is like feeding a stray cat.  He’ll never go away now.

 

ROTTEN IS AS ROTTEN DOES

Oblivion is down to number two and I’ve got little to add to 21st Century Movie Buddy’s estimation of this Outer Limits episode dragged out to two pretentious hours and that run time is easily the biggest problem.  There are lots of utterly stupid movies, but so long as they move at an interesting clip you don’t have time to sit back and ask why the cops in Chicago are the worst in the world, which is why Harrison Ford is a fugitive to begin with (basic forensic evidence would have proven there was someone else there). Here, you’ve got far too much time to wonder why because the premise so efficiently set up in the trailers and commercials is needlessly dragged out. You don’t need to show us Tom Cruise going through his routine as a tech then have him tell Morgan Freeman what he does. It’s redundant.  And if we see him going off for introspection in the wasteland once, we don’t need to see it twice.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that this comes from a graphic novel that was never really written to begin with. Seriously. To circumvent the Writer’s Guild strike, this dirtbag writer/director pretty much betrayed his union by pretending he’d written a graphic novel to get around pitching the film, which was prohibited.  The end result: shit floats.  An unethical, untalented writer and director is rewarde with success.

 

LAWRENCE OLIVIER WOULD LAUGH IN BOTH THEIR FACES

42 is down to number three and also in this is Alan Tudyk best known as Walsh on Firefly and now Suburgatory as the wacky dentist/neighbor/best friend Noah. He plays an unrepentantly racist opposing ballplayer and he and the actor playing Jackie Robinson deliberately avoided being friendly due to their roles. Really? Whatever happened to fucking acting!?!  Remember that?  Why does everything have to be method?  Are you unable to use your cell phone too because they didn’t have them?  Do you turn down groupie sex because your character would?  Of course not. And actors wonder why people hate them.

 

PUTTIN’ THE BUSINESS IN SHOW BUSINESS

The Big Wedding opens at number four and have you noticed how all these wedding movies look exactly the same? All having established vets clearly looking for an easy paycheck and younger actors just happy to work with the big guns in multiple storylines centered around a wedding? Know why they keep making them? Because apparently no movie about weddings has ever lost money. It may not be a hit, but you won’t lose anything either.  I’ve no doubt some of them were also suckered into doing this after being told it’s a remake of a French film. Newsflash: the French make crap movies too.  The best thing about this movie will wind up being a drunken Diane Keaton talking about it on Ellen.  Unlike every commercial and trailer I’ve seen, that was truly funny.

 

LIKE MY HIPS, NUMBERS DON’T LIE

The Croods is down to number five, followed by GI Joe: Retaliation at number six and this means Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has two films in the top ten this week both apparently hits. I say apparently, because this one didn’t even make budget in the US and even when combined with overseas gross hasn’t reached the 3x budget rule of thumb to be profitable.  Likewise, Scary Movie 5  (down to number seven) didn’t even double its budget. I’d love to say this means the end of the franchise, but everyone knows evil never truly dies. Finally, while Olympus Has Fallen also feels like a hit, a $70M budget with only a $98M worldwide return says otherwise.  This may have been too little, too late for Gerard Butler’s leading man career.  Looks like it’s back to supporting Christian Bale and Angela Jolie.

 

A JOB WORTH DOING…

A Place Beyond the Pines is down to number nine and also in this is Ray Liotta who seems to always be playing corrupt cops. Sadly, when your name ends in a vowel you tend to have only three options: cop, criminal, cop who is a criminal.  Hell, DeNiro and Pacino are still doing it in their 70’s.  That said, watching him in one of a crew of some of the dirtiest cops ever in the movie Phoenix (it’s set in Phoenix, AZ) isn’t the worst thing you can do on late night cable.  Co-starring is Anthony LaPaglia who has played just as many cops, criminals and corrupt cops. I wonder if they joked about it on-set?

 

THE END…AT LEAST UNTIL THE SMELL-O-VISION RELEASE IN 2016

Finally, Jurassic Park 3D closes out the top ten at number ten.