Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Not-So-Quiet Earth

Left Behind: The Movie is based on a series of books of a similar name (I think the print version is called Left Behind: The Book), but they might as well have been titled Hotcakes because that’s how they fuckin’ sold, like muthafuckin’ hotcakes. Some dudes decided to make a movie out of it -- a trilogy of movies, eventually -- and that was ten years ago (TEN YEARS! TEN YEARS!) but I’m finally watching it now because my sister asked me if I could burn a copy of her copy for someone else to have a copy, and what could I do, NOT watch the fuckin’ thing?

Kirk Cameron, he’s like the Tom Hanks of Christian entertainment, so he stars in this movie as Ace Reporter, the ace reporter for fake-ass news network GNN and he’s in Israel interviewing this old scientist who created some kind of formula that will allow people to grow food even in the most barren lands.  They call this shit “The Eden Formula” or something, so you know what the fuck is up. Then the sky turns Wesley Snipes and then a bunch of CGI jets fill the air, headed to bomb the fuck out of Israel, but something happens that causes all of the Evil Jew-Hating Jets to explode. Ace Reporter, his middle name is Fearless, so he takes his fuckin’ Canon XL-1 and starts filming himself give a live report while the EJHJ’s are falling around him. He’s so into the scene, he doesn’t notice that he’s giving a report using a disconnected microphone from the camera, but I guess such is the power of the Holy Spirit that he still manages to make himself heard through the airwaves. That’s real Phantom Power right there, bitches.

Some old bearded guys in rags walk past the wreckage and one of them starts talking to Ace Reporter’s camera in English, even though later on when AR plays that shit back for his peeps in Chicago, the shit comes out in Hebrew. AR then meets up with one of those Jittery Smoking Whistleblower types who’s freaking out about some shit he found out about but he’s not sharing it. For reals, yo, this guy carries a small disc inside his fake expensive watch and Neener-Neeners it in front of Ace, saying it’s too important for him to share it or some bullshit like that.

The other star of the movie is Brad Johnson, a dude lucky enough to get cast in a big role in a Steven Spielberg movie, except the movie was Always and that was pretty much it for the guy as far as Big Movies went. Anyway, he’s this pilot who gets bitched at by his wife because he’s off to a last-minute gig flying from Chicago to London, even though today is his son’s birthday party. The son seems cool with it, he even asks Dad to bring him one of those big fuckin’ Beefeater hats those assholes wear. Moms, on the other hand, she’s not having it, she’s like How Dare You Go Work Hard To Put Food On Your Family’s Plate. She’s like How Dare You Go Off On The Job That Paid For This Big House, How Dare You! And rather than pimp-slapping this fuckin’ nag across the nag-hole, he’s like Whatever, Honey. He also has a teen daughter who straddles the thigh between Responsible and Rebellious. What I mean is that she wears a nose ring but she also has college exams to take and she’s serious about that shit.

What she and her pilot Daddy don’t take seriously, is Mom/Wife’s devout Christianity. I liked how Daddy Pilot and Pilot’s Daughter never specifically mention it, they just refer to “those people” she has over and the virtues of listening to them and pretending to give a fuck versus not even bothering to listen. Mommy also receives regular visits from a reverend played by Theo from Die Hard; Theo comments to DP how he hardly sees him at home nowadays, and DP’s response is something like “People still fly -- even on Sundays.” OMG -- the quarterback is toast!

Whatever, that was probably DP’s way of telling the reverend that God or No God, Chick-fil-A has no business being closed on Sundays. Literally, no business -- because they’re closed on Sunday. What the fuck, what is this day of rest shit, what is this bullshit? It don’t matter to Daddy Pilot. By the way, when DP is introduced, he’s washing his face even though he’s already dressed for work. I don’t know about you, but to me that looks like a clear case of I Didn’t Shower. He probably just sponged the more stinky areas but to me that’s a slap in the face to your fellow man. Fuck Daddy Pilot and his non-believing/non-showering ways.

So, Ace Reporter is on Daddy Pilot’s flight for whatever reason, and we’re introduced to a flight attendant played by Kirk Cameron’s wife, which I guess makes her like the Rita Wilson of Christian entertainment. Turns out she is Ace Reporter’s favorite flight attendant, and I know this because the first thing Ace asks her is “How’s my favorite flight attendant?”. He’s not bullshitting either, because thanks to him making some phone calls, Favorite Flight Attendant is now about to embark on a new career working for the U.N., even though she should find a new career in making bad choices because I think she’s banging Daddy Pilot, or trying to bang him, at least.

An old lady asks Ace Reporter to help find her husband, who it appears has disappeared without his clothes. Suddenly the other passengers start to freak out because their loved ones have disappeared sans clothes as well. Everyone starts crying and shit, looking for their babies and shit, no one knows what just happened. One fat goateed fuck even goes as far as being completely balls-out nuts, trying to open the hatch because he doesn’t want to end up like the missing passengers. This asshole must be the grandson of the asshole passenger from Airport, you know the one.  Anyway, it takes both Daddy Pilot and Ace Reporter to wrestle this fat red-faced fuck from opening up the emergency exit.

So it turns out that this shit is happening all over the world, approximately 142 million people (including every child on Earth) are now gone, vanished without a trace. We see lots of crying people, parents grieving over empty baby carriages, sad dogs stumbling around with loose leashes, etc. Back on the ground, DP goes back home with AR tagging along, and finds that nobody is home. He goes to his bedroom to find an empty bed with only his wife's nightgown and wedding ring left on it. Oh, and her cross pendant is delicately placed in full view, giving us a big hint as to what or who caused this shit. Naturally, this is too much for DP, who then grabs the nearest bible and Tommy Wiseaus that shit to the nearest mirror, shattering it (the mirror). Then, what I think happens is that DP is so impressed by the damage the bible made to the mirror, that he then picks it up to take a better look, then decides to read it from the very beginning.

During the first night of this, uh, happening, the country (I think) goes under martial law and Ace Reporter nearly gets shot for committing the crime of being outside his home after curfew -- either that, or the military guy with the rifle is a big fan of Julie McCullough and wanted to give this Kirk Cameron-looking motherfucker a piece of his mind. Anyway, turns out Pilot's Daughter is still around, so she and Daddy Pilot have the tearful reunion and try to figure out what the fuck is going on, while Ace Reporter charters a private plane in his attempt to figure out what the fuck is going on. Meanwhile, some foreign dude with blue eyes and blond hair is hooking up with the U.N., trying to save the world from starvation, in addition to trying to figure what the fuck is going on. His name is Nicolae Carpathia, by the way, just thought you should know.

You wanna hear (read) some fucked-up shit? Turns out Reverend Theo from Die Hard did not disappear, even though his family did and so has his entire parish. He ends up making like Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant and does the whole Why God/Fuck You God/I Love You God spiel. His crime, apparently, was that even though he spent every Sunday giving sermons and having answers for people, he never had complete faith -- he had doubts, the motherfucker -- and you know how it is with that asshole, if you're not with him 100 percent, then you don't get to share in His Kingdom, the motherfucker. Quit being such a needy fucking child, God.

Yeah, so that's the deal, by the way -- it's the Rapture that happened. The believers, the people who accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior and had ABSOLUTE COMPLETE UNQUESTIONABLE FAITH have been swooped up into Heaven while everyone else is assed out having to spend the next 7 years living through Tribulation, which means all the bad horrible shit with the Antichrist and all that fun shit, that frankly, is probably at least a tiny bit awesome to experience. I remember Patton Oswalt had a bit about something similar, something about how those who live long enough to experience the Apocalypse are gonna have some awesome stories to tell about it afterwards.

But on that tip, that always made me wonder about those who have to go through Tribulation, let's say they find Christ during that period, so they suffer through all the horrible shit that the other Christians didn't have to suffer through because they were all about the Notorious G.O.D. ahead of time -- wouldn't the Tribulation-era Christians (or Tribbles, for short), wouldn't they have, like, serious bragging rights?

O.G. CHRISTIAN: Welcome to God's Kingdom, so happy to finally see you here, my brother in Christ. Tell me about your last days. 

TRIBBLE: Man, I was starving and stinky, I watched loved ones die slow horrible deaths, then these assholes got me and beat me for days, and then after the beatings, they tortured me, and after all that, they chopped my fucking head off because I refused the Mark of the Beast. And now I'm here. Praise God. How about you?

O.G. CHRISTIAN: I went to church every Sunday, where we sang happy songs, listened to inspirational sermons and ate delicious meals after the service. 

TRIBBLE: Seriously? That's all you had to do to get here?


TRIBBLE: Man, that's some bullshit right there.

O.G. CHRISTIAN: Hey, we gave you so many chances to do it the easy way. 

TRIBBLE: I had things to do...


TRIBBLE: ...and it all just sounded so goofy...

O.G. CHRISTIAN: Sir, please -- 

TRIBBLE: ...plus I always sleep in on Sundays --

O.G. CHRISTIAN: Listen to me, ya deaf fuck! We offered you a chance when we coulda done something, we offered you a chance to give your life to Jesus Christ and you BLEEEEEEWWWWWW IT!!!

See that's why people like Daddy Pilot and Ace Reporter and Fake Pastor and Pilot's Daughter were Left Behind -- they weren't down with all that business, but after watching a videotape that was, uh, left behind by another pastor (played by real-life stereotypically fat & sweaty pastor Pastor T.D. Jakes), they realize that it wasn't radiation or aliens that took everyone else away, it was the Rapture, yo. The Rapture, muthafucka, back in yo ass in the 2K. DP now admits that what bothered him about his wife's beliefs was that it meant that she was looking to something else other than her husband in the Things To Look At For Help department. What an asshole. But that's all good now, because he's got a Bible practically fused to his hand now, plus, his daughter doesn't have that heretical nose-ring anymore.

Ace Reporter tries digging deep into Nicolae Carpathia's business, despite finding his Jittery Smoking Whistleblower friend dead in his apartment and while dodging the World's Worst Sniper. At one point, he enlists the help of a GNN colleague and I thought it was interesting that said colleague is a woman with henna tattoos on her face and hands, and weird might-as-well-be-Pagan symbols hanging from her neck. She also has a sassy black roommate and I think I was able to put 2 and 2 together there as far as what the movie was trying to tell me about those two characters -- and more importantly, why they were not among the Rapture's chosen. You know what the fuck is up. They shoulda just cast some lisping prancing dude and include a scene near the end where Kirk Cameron shakes his head and looks at the poor homo with pity and say something like, "It's not too late to change your life" and then the gay guy's like "Change? What do you mean? I was born this way!" and then a lightning bolt comes down and sets him on fire, and while Mr. Alternative Lifestyle is running around, screaming in fiery pain, Cameron looks up to the sky and winks and then a giant hand reaches down and they high-five each other. At least in Mel Gibson's version, it would play like that.

I'm getting tired, so I'm gonna wrap it up sooner than intended. In the end, it's a whole New World Order conspiracy that involves international bankers, the U.N. going bankrupt, and Nicolae Carpathia suddenly turning from Brother Teresa to a creepy piece-of-shit talking about how everyone will now look to him for guidance, since he was the one to get a 7-year peace treaty set up in the Middle East. Also, he has this plan to use the Eden formula to grow food in 10 various plots of land around the world that he happens to own. Yeah, you know what the fuck that means.

What's interesting is that all this shit basically happens at the end; the climax is really about Ace Reporter accepting Jesus Christ while shitty Christian Rock plays on the soundtrack, while the denouement is about Carpathia letting his Antichrist flag fly (Favorite Flight Attendant is among those poor souls choosing to be on Team 666). The movie ends with AR meeting Daddy Pilot and Pilot's Daughter in church, while AR's narration basically says that the next 7 years are really going to suck, but at least he has his faith and faith is all you need and now he knows and knowing is half the battle G.I. JOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEE!!!!!

According to Wikipedia, the guys who wrote the book series ended up suing the filmmakers because they thought the movies were shit. It basically came down to them thinking that in addition to watering down the story during the adaptation process, the movie was ultimately way too cheap for its ambitions. They want to see these movies get a much better looking treatment. I kinda agree with them; I never read the books, and since I don't read, I probably never will, but I think the premise is kinda cool -- how would something like the Rapture happen in real life -- but yeah, it's kinda cheap-looking and occasionally dull. I also have a feeling that the filmmakers told, like, half of the book's story in this movie, which is why this shit ends on a bullshit Golden Compass note. It wasn't that bad though, it was watchable enough for me, also it wasn't like I had anything to do at the time, so that helped. It was watchable enough that I'll probably watch the other two sequels, just to see where they're going to take this shit next, and whether or not they have the budget to pull it off -- plus, they're on Netflix Instant, so yeah, that would've happened eventually.

More entertaining was the 20-minute video of the film's premiere, included in the DVD special features; you had some chick host who looked like she could be related to Cheryl Hines talking about how this 100-million-copy-selling series of books is now a big movie, and then they interviewed some of the actors and premiere guests. They interviewed Tom Selleck, who it turns out, is a friend of Brad Johnson's and figures that the movie must have some value since his friend chose to be in it. They also interviewed actors like Corbin Bernsen and Nick Mancuso, who also seemed to play things on the secular side, saying that it all comes down to whether it's a good story well told. I think Johnson, Bernsen and Mancuso attend the Church of As Long As The Check Clears, so that's where they're coming from. But then they interviewed Lacey Chabert, who was pretty open about reading the books and believing in the message. Supposedly, she was gonna play Pilot's Daughter but scheduling issues prevented her from doing so, which is why they cast someone else who was vaguely Chabert-esque.

The DVD also included trailers for Christian movies starring the aforementioned Bernsen and Mancuso (the latter apparently playing the same role in three of them -- Satan and/or the Antichrist), in addition to Kirk Cameron, formerly nutty-but-now-just-merely-kooky Margot Kidder, annoying OCD-having piece-of-shit Howie Mandel, and last-but-not-least, Sir Gary Busey. I'm gonna be honest with you, I want to watch these movies, for the same reason I want to watch movies in general -- because they're movies. I don't know if they're any good, and I wouldn't bet any money on them being good, but Jesus Christ, they've got to be entertaining one way or the other. It's all I ask of these motion pictures.

In short, if you like late 90's/early 00's Christian pop music, then you'll love the DVD menus for Left Behind: The Movie.