“F This Movie” Loves Movie Marathons!

I was delighted to stumble across Patrick Bromley’s F This Movie weblog and podcast and find an impressive number of 24-hour movie marathon ideas.

Patrick recently held his first full 24-hour movie marathon for his 40th birthday, but also creates hypothetical 24-hour movie marathon schedules just for fun. My favorite was his “Before They Were Famous” 24-hour movie marathon – featuring early work by Scarlet Johansson, Jeff Goldblum, Sylvester Stallone, and many others.

Take a look at this index of his 24-hour movie marathon ideas below. Support his work by checking out his website and podcast, won’t you?

24-Hour Movie Marathon Ideas from “F This Movie”

Genre Marathons
movie marathons featuring an actor
Movie Marathons Featuring a Place
  • Movies based in Los Angeles – I think Hollywood is a little biased on this one – lots of movies are set in L.A. I guess we’ll just settle and say these are the best movies set in L.A.
  • Movies based in New York – Big things happen in New York, as any New Yorker will tell you…without asking. Take a peek at the best movies set in New York.
  • Movies based in Chicago – Chicago, the city less full of itself than L.A. and New York. Check out the movie set here.
Movies From a Particular Year
Other Movie Marathon Themes

  • Movies Set in Cold Weather – Ok – we’re really reaching for a theme here, but it is a fact that many movies are set in cold weather. Yup.

Baby Movie Marathon!

My wife and I are expecting our fourth baby by the end of the month. Over the course of three deliveries at the hospital, we learned three things:

  1. Newborns are super-cute but don’t do a lot
  2. Nurseries help us sleep better at the hospital than we will at home
  3. Daytime television is super-boring

And by super-boring, I mean nonstop Law and Order, infomercials, and Judge Judy knock offs. Ugh!

This time around, we are planning ahead. We have a baby movie marathon planned! It won’t be 24 hours. We aren’t going to watch movies all the movies all at once. But we’ve got ten – count ’em – ten movies picked out and ready to go.

Our picks for the baby movie marathon trend toward action, comedy, and comic book oriented. We love watching these genres and most of these movies will be  easy to start and stop watching as we get interrupted (yep – Thor. He’s got a hammer. He whacks bad guys with it. Got it).

As usual with our movie marathons, each movie will be new to at least one of us. Bonus: they are all movies that are not quite little-kid friendly. It’s a real treat to watch movies for adults when our house is filled with kids seven and under.

The Baby Movie Marathon Lineup

The lineup is for kid #4’s zero-th birthday is:

La La Land


John Wick Movie PosterI’m really looking forward to John Wick (85% rotten tomatoes), which I didn’t know even existed until John Wick 2 was released in theaters to a ton of hype. And we’re both looking forward to Bad Moms, since neither of us really fits the definition of “queen bee soccer mom”.

It takes all kinds to make a world, right? Some parents give birth at homes in kiddie pools. We give birth in hospitals and have movie marathons!

Hollywood Nights 24-Hour Movie Marathon 2016 Recap Part 2 – The Experience

In part 1, I reviewed the movies playing at the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan’s 24-hour movie marathon. In part 2, let’s recap what event itself was like.  I hope I can convince you to come next year!

The Event

The Emagine theater in Novi is an 18-screen theater in a large shopping district conveniently located off Interstate 96. The doors opened to the movie marathon crowd at 9:00 AM for check-in. The volunteers and fellow movie goers mingled a bit at the entryway. Everyone was friendly and there was a good vibe going.

At check-in, if you’ve met the minimum fundraising goal, you got a wristband which gets you a free pass to any movie, any time, throughout the day. You also got a goodie bag, a refillable bucket of popcorn, and a refillable cup for fountain drinks. Food, drink, shelter, and free entertainment. You basically have everything you need to survive for the next 24 hours.

24-Hour Movie Marathon Check-In at the Emagine theater.
24-Hour movie marathon check-in at the Emagine theater.

The goodie bag contained an assortment of candy and a few coupons for local businesses. And I was delighted to see they included a toothbrush and toothpaste. My hat is off to the foundation for thinking of the breath of the guests at 2:00 AM after about 10 sodas and an indeterminate amount of popcorn.

24-Hour Movie Marathon Goodie Bag
The 24-hour movie marathon goodie bag. It included candy, toothpaste, toothbrush, and coupons to local businesses.

The goody bag also included a few free raffle tickets. A few smart volunteers sold more tickets to marathoners later in the evening. I bought about 20 and put most of them on the necklace from a local Jeweler in hopes of getting free brownie points with my wife. I also put a few on a giant meat and cheese gift case.

Children's Leukemia Foundation Movie Marathon Raffle
The movie marathon raffle included jewelry, a meat and cheese gift box, pies, and coupons to local businesses.

The prize drawing was at 9:00 PM. Alas, it was not to be. My numbers were not drawn..

Foundation volunteers raffle ticket prize drawing
Foundation volunteers drawing raffle tickets.

Dinner was catered by Buffalo Wild Wings and featured wings in three different sauces, fries, and a salad option. Thanks to them for volunteering to feed us fundraisers!

The theater had a self-serve soda creator, the Coke Freestyle. I realized the tremendous potential this device contained at a movie marathon. What if I tried all the diet coke flavors over the course of the movie marathon? I had to collect them all!

Soda machine
Collect them all!

And collect them all I did. My official report is as follows:

  • Diet Coke with cherry, vanilla, cherry vanilla, and lime were all pretty good.
  • Diet Coke with lemon – meh – not as good as lime.
  • Diet Coke with raspberry – we are starting to enter some weird territory here.
  • Diet Coke with orange – I do not endorse this flavor combo. About as good as mouthwash and orange juice.

I learned after the fact that the Coca-Cola freestyle has an app because…well – why not? I could have increased my efficiency by pre-selecting my drink mix on my phone prior to using the machine. Ah well. There is always next time.

As far as the theater itself went, the Emagine theater was big, clean, and looked nice. This theater was unique: it has a bar with cocktails and multiple local beers. I would have appreciated the novelty of a drink and a movie, but I stay away from the alcohol on movie marathons (caffeine only!). One theater had leather seats with large armrests. I do appreciate the trend toward luxury seating in movie theaters.

The Gear

As I mentioned in my previous post, I brought a variety of gear to get me through the marathon. Here are some highlights:

  • One spare external battery was all I needed to keep my cell phone alive for the duration of the marathon. No need to plug into anything else.
  • The facial cleansing wipes felt awesome after a full day and night of movie marathoning with no shower. I’ll be bringing those again!
  • I brought a sleeping bag in case I needed it, but staying awake during the movie marathon was a slam dunk this year, and driving home was a non-event. I don’t think I’ll need to pack that again.


The Hollywood Nights 24-Hour movie marathon was a great event! I’m looking forward to attending again, and I hope I see you there next time!

Around the World In a 24 Hour Movie Marathon

Foreign-language movies are hard. There is the obvious language barrier, of course, but accessibility is a challenge too. Why go seek out some obscure movie from another country that most people have never heard of, when Hollywood manufactures a new blockbuster every couple of months and pipes it directly into every movie theater in the nation?

I think we all know the answer. There is a real sense of adventure in being immersed in a new culture, and introduced to new sights, sounds, and ways of thinking. And you can do it all without buying an expensive plane ticket! I say: if you haven’t had the time to explore world cinema before, do it all at once with an international movie marathon!

I’ve polled Empire Online’s 100 greatest films of world cinemaWhat Culture’s 50 world cinema films to see before you die, and Sight and Sounds Top 50 to construct an international movie marathon schedule that has movies from eleven unique countries and a variety of content. These movies range from silent classics to modern techno-music chase movies. I hope you find a little something of everything in this list. Enjoy!

International Movie Marathon Movies

Seven Samurai

Seven SamuraiIMDB Summary: A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

My take: This three-hour epic from Japan was an early discovery in my movie marathoning career. What really struck me was the authenticity of the story. These aren’t hollywood ninjas jumping all around the screen. One of my most memorable moments from this movie is a duel between a samurai and a bandit. The samurai is perfectly still, while the bandit fidgets and twitches nervously. The bandit loudly and awkwardly lunges at the samurai, who kills him with a single stroke. Now that’s badass.

It’s also fascinating to compare this movie with the classic american westerns. Some, like The Magnificent Seven, are literal copies of Kurosawa’s classics. I would watch this movie again!


AmelieIMDB Summary: Amelie is an innocent and naïve girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

My take: If you find the world of “French cinema” intimidating, then try Amelie. This movie is quirky, but it feels so relatable. Amelie is a lonely, quiet girl who learns that she can make people happy by finding what they want the most. So she sets off to do so in some pretty fantastic ways. Eventually, she might just find happiness herself. That might sound like a cliched plot – but this movie is so funny, happy and goofy – it still has a place in my top shelf of all-time movie favorites. If you want to laugh and feel good, you should check out this movie.

Battleship Potemkin

Battleship PotemkinIMDB Summary: A dramatized account of a great Russian naval mutiny and a resulting street demonstration which brought on a police massacre.

My take: You don’t hear much about Russian cinema here in the United States. This movie is consistently in the top charts as one of the best movies of all time. and reportedly stands up to modern viewing remarkably well. I wonder if, as a silent film, language is less of a barrier? I’ll have to watch to find out someday.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth PosterIMDB Summary: In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

My take: I also don’t hear much about Spanish-language cinema. That seems like a shame, since there seems to be plenty of good spanish-language movies out there, and the entire continent south of the United States speaks Spanish! Pan’s Labyrinth is the late-night show for my movie marathon 2017. Some call it “A Fairy tale for Grown Ups”, with a mix of fantasy, horror, and adventure. It is one of the most successful Spanish language film released in the U.S., so it seems like a good place to start.

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One InIMDB Summary: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

My take: A Swedish vampire love story, but oh – so not sparkly. This movie is all about a bullied boy, and a strange little girl, who turns out to be a vampire. Together, they find a way to overcome those darn bullies…by viciously massacring them – along with a good number of people throughout town. This movie will warm your heart, right after ripping it out.


Mughal-E-AzamIMDB Summary: Inspired by true events, a 16th century prince falls in love with a court dancer and battles with his emperor father.

My take: The world of Indian films is vast, and increases in size every day. I have to admit it is hard to know where to start. Mughal-e-Azam seems like a good start. It took 16 years to complete. It was the most expensive Indian film ever made. It was shot three times in three different languages. It is three and a half hours long. In other words – this is an epic. Like all good epics, it is set in classical times, and features kings, princes, forbidden love, sword flighting – and a good dose of Indian musical numbers.


PersepolisIMDB Summary: A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution.

My take: This Iranian animated film caught my eye when I first read Roger Ebert’s four-star review. It is a coming-of-age story of a girl in Iran during the Iranian revolution. “Finding yourself” may seem difficult to American teenagers, but what about those who are growing up in a country that is changing in fundamental, and hostile, ways? What do you do with that? Where do you fit in?

Sidenote: This movie is technically another French film….made by a French-speaking Iranian and set in Iran, Germany, and France. Does this count as an “Iranian” film? I hope you can give me a pass on this one.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Crouching Tiger Hidden DragonIMDB Summary: Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically skilled, adolescent nobleman’s daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life.

My take: This Chinese movie is my personal favorite Kung Fu movie. It has everything. Incredible fight scenes. Multiple love stories. Drama. Character growth. Loss. Near-magical secret martial arts fighting techniques. Philosophy, and an ending to make you think. I was lucky enough to see it in theaters when it was released in the U.S. After seeing it the first time, I remember thinking: “I’m going to need to see this three more times.” And so I did see it four times in the movie theater alone.

Bicycle Thieves

Bicycle ThievesIMDB Summary: In post-war Italy, a working-class man’s bicycle is stolen. He and his son set out to find it.

My take: This Italian film was Sight and Sound Magazine’s greatest movie of all time in 1952. Since then, it has dropped to 33rd best film of all time. It tells a simple story. A man needs his bicycle to get work. His bicycle is stolen. He searches for it. Realistic human drama ensues. While I have not seen this film yet, something about it seems to connect with those that do. We feel for this man who wants to provide for his family, but life in poverty keeps him in poverty. sometimes we just have to watch movies like this to feel empathy for our fellow humans.

Run Lola Run

Run Lola RunIMDB Summary: After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

My take: This German movie is so….German. Lola has to save her dopey boyfriend from sheer death by coming up with 100,000 Deutshmarks in 20 minutes. How could she possibly do this? You’ll find out – three times! This film delightfully plays with time and how slight variations in the choices you make every day can dramatically change the outcome. Deep? Yes! Full of heart-pounding techno music set to Lola sprinting around town? Yes! At 80 minutes, this movie is short, sweet, and oh so much fun.

City of God

City of GodIMDB Summary: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.

My take: The novel this Brazilian film was based on was written by a man who grew up in the slums of Rio De Janeiro and escaped. This movie tells the tale of those who live there, in the lawless, violent cityscape that it is. Roger Ebert compares the movie to Scorsese’s Goodfellas – another excellent organized crime drama. While I haven’t seen the film myself yet, the storytelling and camera style is said to bring an urgency and a sense of realism to the desperate live on the streets of Rio. I hope to catch it someday!

International Movie Marathon Schedule

So now you know all about the movies – how do they fit into a 24-hour movie marathon schedule? Lucky for you, I have pre-packaged the 24-hour international movie marathon schedule for you below. Think you are up to the task?

Start TimeTitle
11:00 AMStart
12:00 PMSeven Samurai
03:45 PMAmelie
06:00 PMBattleship Potemkin
07:15 PMPan’s Labyrinth
09:30 PMLet the Right One In
11:30 PMMughal-e-Azam
03:00 AMPersepolis
04:45 AMCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
06:45 AMBicycle Theives
08:15 AMRun Lola Run
09:45 AMCity of God
11:55 AMFinish

Hollywood Nights 24-Hour Movie Marathon 2016 Recap Part 1 – The Movies

The Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan’s 24-hour movie marathon is over, and it was great! I thought the foundation put on a fantastic event, and I’m pleased to say that I saw 10 of the available 13 movies in the 24 hours that I had. I’ll give you a movie marathon 2016 recap in two parts. For Part 1, I’ll give you my review of the best Hollywood has to offer as of November of 2016.

Movie Marathon 2016 Recap Part 2 will review the event itself, and what it was like to spend more than 24 hours of my life in the movie theater (spoiler alert: it was awesome!).

Read on for part 1 (watch out: some mild spoilers below!). The movies are presented in the order I saw them.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Award Winner: Weirdest movie of the marathon

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is difficult to describe. It is X-Men meets Harry Potter meets The Terminator meets Groundhog Day written as Young Adult fiction and filmed through the Tim Burton dark-and-wacky lens. Does that give you the picture? This has to be the weirdest movie I’ve seen since Labyrinth.

Try to follow me here: A boy has a weird grandfather and neglectful parents. The boy’s grandfather is killed and has his eyes removed, but not before saying some dying mumbo-jumbo to the kid. The kid is traumatized. Child psychologist suggests he goes to a Welsh island previously mentioned in the mumbo-jumbo to get closure. Neglectful dad brings him to the island (?? Really?? That must have cost thousands of dollars!!) and ignores him. Kid finds Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children.

Ok. Take a deep breath: turns out the peculiar children have superpowers and are living the same day over and over again in a time loop since the 1940s because it is the safest refuge from a group of villains who look vaguely like a cross between slender man and the monster from Cloverfield who want to eat the children’s’ eyes so that they can be human again and/or get superpowers from the children’s home head-mistress who can control time and might be the key to eternal life but the villains find them so the kid, who turns out to have superpowers of his own, needs to lead a final climatic battle in a carnival and kill their leader once and for all so all peculiar children everywhere can be safe. Whew. Got all that?

Living in a time loop is intriguing. Infinitely re-living the same good day seems like it would be nice for a while. But ultimately it seems like a burdensome way to hide from villains. For one thing, it introduces one of the major ethical dilemmas from Interview with the Vampire – where children are forced to be eternally young. Is it really ethical to keep people trapped as children and under the thumb of parental figures forever? I think vampire Claudia would say “no”!

I get it – the time loop provides some security since it is hard to find and get into. But couldn’t you just set up a peculiar children bunker and, if anything goes wrong, use your time-control powers to go back and correct the problem? This is the entire plot of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Basically anything could go wrong, but as long as one time-controller survives, everything should be fine.

One more highlight – Samuel L. Jackson plays one of the most cheerful psychotic mass child murdering villains I’ve ever seen. Nothing really seems to get him down, and he is very goal-oriented. If only we could all live our lives like that (without the eye-eating, of course).

Hacksaw Ridge

Award Winner: Best movie of the marathon

Hacksaw Ridge is a great movie. It was directed by Mel Gibson, so it has his unique thumbprint of gory violence and religion, but it works. The reason it works is because the mixture of violence, religious beliefs, and bravery in battle is the real-life story he is trying to tell. Our hero Desmond does not want to stand idly by while a war is going on, but is adamant that he cannot personally take a life of another human being. So, he doesn’t – and yet manages to personally save the lives of 80 people in the battle for hacksaw ridge.

I think what is the most interesting to watch is the drama of holding on to your beliefs even as the entire world turns against you. Especially when the entire world has a point. His fellow soldiers are right when they say that the Japanese won’t show him any mercy, and that he needs to kill to protect his friends. But he holds on anyway, and he finds a way to save lives.

What we all need to think about is – what do we believe, and what would it take to give that up? This movie talks about war stripping away layers of yourself. This is also a theme of The Walking Dead. In this movie, the Desmond never wavers. In contrast, the main characters of the  The Walking Dead are ground down season after season until they give up on civilized rules, and become hardened killers just to survive. Is anyone really like Desmond? Does everyone have their breaking point?

I saw Hacksaw Ridge and Dr. Strange back-to-back in this movie marathon. Mel Gibson calls out an interesting contrast between his movies and the Marvel movies, calling the comic book movies “violence without conscience“. This is something I think about sometimes when my kids watch Star Wars or other similar fare. The violence in these movies is stylized and nearly bloodless, yet people are dying on the screen nonetheless. Are we teaching our kids that violence is nearly without consequence?

Maybe, but I agree with the New Yorker that Mel’s obsession with violence tends towards pornographic. I think it works in this movie, but I hope ol’ Mel is seeing a psychologist.

Doctor Strange

Award Winner: Most fun movie of the marathon

Doctor Strange is a lot of fun. I confess, I did not enjoy The Avengers: Age of Ultron or Captain America: Civil War as much as thought I would. I think it is because those movies feel more like the director is picking up action figures and bashing them together than it feels like we have a plot with depth and character development.

This movie is different. Here, we have a character who has it all, loses it all, and reinvents himself through will, determination, and his talent for memory and critical thinking. I like that. If that is the foundation of your movie, then special effects and action enhance the plot, rather than being the entire basis of it.

And what a set of visuals this was. I always thought MC Escher paintings needed more action sequences. Why move through time and space to defeat your enemies when you can bend time and space itself? Am I right? I won’t belabor the plot, since it is still ultimately a Marvel comics superhero origin story, but I enjoyed some of these thoughts:

  • As a super-dimensional evil being, can you really hunger for “earth most of all” when there are an infinite number of dimensions to consume? I don’t think that’s how infinity works.
  • Magic is explained as writing a sort of source code of reality. I dig this, both because I’m a software engineer and it reminds me of the “Wiz” series of books by Rick Cook where the same concept is explored.
  • Artifacts can be containers of magic. This reminds me of the quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In many ways, aren’t we already there? I can ask Amazon Alexa almost anything, my mobile device allows me to talk to anyone in the world, hot water just comes out of a faucet, etc. etc.


Award Winner: Most adorable movie of the marathon

I came into this Trolls not wanting to like it. How good could it be? It’s based on a decades-old collectible toy that has cute hair but ugly faces and seemed to enjoy being nude most of the time. But, watching this movie is like watching a puppy. You can’t stay mad at it for very long. Maybe it’s the neon pop dance parties, hourly hugs, or general fuzziness of everything in this entire world (really – look closely – nearly everything is fuzzy). Whatever it is, I thought it was a fun time, if not particularly deep.

The Accountant

Award Winner: More-entertaining-than-it-should-have-been movie of the marathon

I found The Accountant more engaging than I thought I would. It is a story of a man somewhere on the autism spectrum who seems to live a decent high-functioning life as an accountant. But as the story goes on, more of his childhood and personal life is revealed that shows how bizarre his past really is, and what a genius he is despite his disability.

In short, I’m not totally sure what to make of this movie. The accountant is effectively a superhero with brutal martial arts skills, is a brilliant detective, ninja-like in his ability to slip in and out of situations, and the best technologies at his disposal acquired through accumulated wealth. Wait – that means he’s basically asperger batman.

Thinking about the accountant as Batman is more weirdly appropriate than you might think. This dude had a messed up childhood, and lives a tortured life today. Yet, he exercises a form of vigilante justice enabled by the police and assisted by a…butler or sorts. Is he good? Is he evil? Is he both?  Probably bad, since he doesn’t seem to mind killing his enemies. Batman would just have a fist fight and string ’em up for the police.


Award Winner: Most thoughtful movie of the marathon

I really enjoyed Arrival. I do not necessarily agree with all of its premise, but I’m a sucker for thought-provoking science fiction. Quick plot summary: Aliens arrive. They want to talk. Humanity tries to talk to them. It turns out communicating is harder than it looks, but if you can do it, I’ll blow your mind.

With that stellar plot summary out of the way, let’s review the main sci-fi hook of the film: How you communicate can alter your perception of time. The movie states as a given that language can affect how you think. That is a more controversial topic in science than the movie let’s on. Take this excerpt from the linguistics society article on the subject:

Here’s one more example. Whorf said that because English treats time as being broken up into chunks that can be counted—three days, four minutes, half an hour—English speakers tend to treat time as a group of objects—seconds, minutes, hours—instead of as a smooth unbroken stream. This, he said, makes us think that time is ‘stuff’ that can be saved, wasted, or lost. The Hopi, he said, don’t talk about time in those terms, and so they think about it differently; for them it is a continuous cycle. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that our language has forced a certain view of time on us; it could also be that our view of time is reflected in our language, or that the way we deal with time in our culture is reflected in both our language and our thoughts. It seems likely that language, thought, and culture form three strands of a braid, with each one affecting the others.

This movie’s thesis is the Aliens can communicate an entire concept all at once, rather than as a sequence of sounds or a written representation of a sequence of sounds. Thus, the Aliens think of time all at once, and not as a linear sequence of events. If humans think of time in this way, it enables them to see the future.

The movie lost me a bit on that part. Perhaps my mind is not ready to accept a non-linear view of time – but how could a human start perceiving future events that cannot possibly be predicted just from a simple shift of worldview? I don’t think the movie really explains.

Still, this line of thinking allows you to explore the concept of “If I knew the future consequences of my actions, even if I knew it led to personal tragedy, would I still make the same choices? Would I still enjoy the journey even though I know how it ends?”. My first reaction to this was revulsion, as in “No! Of course I wouldn’t want to make choices that end in tragedy!”. But you have to stop and think – ultimately every story ends in death.  Trying to avoid death just means you’ll avoid life. The point of life is the journey.

That said, with my engineering mind, I can’t help but think I would attempt to find an optimal path through all possible future states to arrive at the best possible outcome (I found an optimal path for this movie marathon, didn’t I?). This movie took a more fatalistic approach to the future.

Go see it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Almost Christmas

Award winner: Most mediocre movie of the marathon.

Ok.  Imagine, if you will, the following concepts (stereotypes, if you will):

  1. Christmas movie
  2. Large-family reunion movie
  3. Sitcom

Now, put these concepts together. Whatever you visualize, that is Almost Christmas – another movie off of the Hollywood Christmas movie assembly line. Ready to be amused by long-standing sibling rivalries? Ready to be sad due to dealing with the recent loss of a loved one? Ready for a “very special episode” on drug abuse? Ready for everything to be resolved at the end? Oh, and Christmas sets the scene and is the excuse to bring everyone together? Then Almost Christmas is for you!

It wasn’t for me.

Sidenote: A subplot is “Where did mother’s prized tin can of recipes go? Will we ever find it?”. It was in the kitchen cupboard. You know, where it probably would be. Really movie? Really?

Shut in

Award winner: Worst movie of the marathon

I knew Shut In was trouble the day before the movie marathon when it had zero critic reviews on RottenTomatoes.com. I believe this is typically done for terrible movies that the studio wants to protect from bad press. My fears were confirmed mid-way through the movie marathon when I checked RottenTomatoes and it had an astounding 0% rating. That’s a special kind of awful if not a single critic, even the horror movie nerds, gave it a positive rating.

Here’s the problem: horror movies can be bad, as long as they are funny or at least unique in some way. For example, at my last children’s leukemia foundation movie marathon, I enjoyed watching the bad horror film The Purge since it made me think of what a ridiculous world the movie was portraying. Shut In commits the cardinal sin of being a boring horror / thriller movie. The only scares you’ll get are in the theater, where they can turn the volume all the way up and play a BIG NOISE(!!!) for a jump scare.

When a movie is boring, you start noticing things you shouldn’t. Like:

  • Why doesn’t our heroine ever close the front door when she wanders outdoors in the middle of the night investigating some spooky noise? Doesn’t she know she’s letting all the heat out? And letting axe murderers and raccoons in?
  • Why doesn’t our heroine ever turn the lights on when she wanders around indoors investigating some spooky noise? I think lights generally help the search effort.
  • So she finds a disabled kid in her parked car in her closed garage in the middle of winter with the car windows broken…and she doesn’t call the police? I don’t think a five-year-old has the upper-body strength to punch holes through car glass. Just sayin’ that maybe our heroine should have thought something suspicious was going on.
  • Speaking of the police, where are they anyway? The psychologist of the heroine is able to drive from the city to the country, have a slip-off car accident on the snow and ice, walk up to the house, get captured and finally get killed before the police arrive? Or is the movie saying the psychologist didn’t call the police even though he knew there was an intruder in the house before he even left? The dude was just going to handle this one on his own?
  • Is this movie really saying the child psychologist, who has a very close relationship with her step-son, totally missed the fact that the step-son is an obsessive psychotic killer???? I think her clients should ask for a refund.

In short, imagine a thriller without thrills, actors doing things because the plot needs them to, and REALLY LOUD JUMP SCARES(!!!) and you have “Shut In”.

Jack Reacher: Never go back

Award Winner: Most clichéd action movie of the marathon

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is a sequel to Jack Reacher. I never saw that movie. This movie is dumb. However, I had a lot of fun trying to figure out what the heck was going on with no context from the first movie.

So I give you – the plot as far as I could figure it out:

Jack Reacher is a freelance do-gooder who fights crime related to military bases (and no other crimes, apparently). Jack is a former commanding officer of the Army military police who is used to working alone (??? He is??? Who did he command, exactly???). Jack does not have any money, so he stays at seedy motels, but he is also somehow able to instantly get places without a car or money. Hitchhiking and magic seem to be involved.

Jack has various super powers, including but not limited to:

  • He can break car windows in a single punch without a cut or breaking bones in his hand
  • He can beat up guys in airplanes, producing audible punch sound effects, without anyone noticing
  • He can make the bad guys temporarily forget they have guns at crucial moments and have them engage in punching and kicking before they start shooting.
  • He can survive a fall onto concrete from about 2-5 stories without noticeable injury (note: bad guy also has this power).
  • He can look at a picture of a girl and magically find her as she is walking around some random location in the city

Because Jack is such an interesting super-hero (clearly), all the Army military police just can’t wait to talk to him about current Army business. He quickly learns that a new commanding officer is being framed by some military contractors who want to cover up their money-making scheme for smuggling drugs into the country in weapons crates.

Jack quickly starts committing crimes to help exonerate the MP commander – including breaking her out of military prison, running around restricted areas of airports, threatening, assaulting, and killing various people. Thankfully for him, there are no police anywhere to be found – in the city, during a major parade in New Orleans, or in the airport.

As Jack leaves a trail of destruction, he learns that he might have a daughter. The would-be daughter tags along for most of the movie so that she can be put in peril, and so she can show some street smarts. P.S. She isn’t his daughter. Her involvement in this movie is pointless.

Through an inexhaustible source of energy, Jack beats up bad guys at various locations until the drug smuggling plot is uncovered. Then it is back to his life of hitchhiking and freelance military-crime fighting. The End.

Oh, and he inhabits an alternate universe where the following are true:

  • Pay phones exist
  • Catholic high school girls are instantly friendly and accepting of a new schoolmate from a rough background.
  • All of the Army’s internet systems are easily accessible via an internet café and a 1990’s style website.


Award Winner: Most preposterous movie of the marathon

Sorry everyone. I call time-out on Inferno. Sure, this movie is mostly filmed in Italy so it is very pretty. Also, we get to visit sites of historical interest with a professor who can spit out factoids like pop-up video (for example, I learned that the root word of “quarantine” if “40”, which is the number of days ships were kept isolated in Italy when suspected of carrying disease). However, the basic premise of the movie makes no sense.

Here’s what drives the entire movie:

  1. An billionaire is concerned that human overpopulation is going to destroy the planet.
  2. The evidence he cites is the non-linear growth of the human population. It took humanity about 100 years to go from 1 billion to 2 billion,  50 years to go from 2 billion to 4 billion, less time to reach 8 billion (although wikipedia seems to think it would still take a total of 50 years), and so on.
  3. His solution is to release a deadly disease that will kill half the world’s population.
  4. For security purposes, he ensures that only he knows where the delivery system has been placed. But he leaves a series of Dante’s Inferno-based clues on a little projector, and in various historic artifacts, so that his small cadre of followers can figure out where it is if anything happens to him.
  5. Something does happen to him, and the game is afoot!

I would presume this evil billionaire isn’t stupid (he seems to be some technology or medical CEO). So you think he would notice that, if he killed off half of the world population, that would push back the problem of overpopulation by, oh, about 50 years (per his own logic). So his “solution” doesn’t really solve anything. In fact, he may still be living when we are right back in the same situation as before!

Further, being a tech-savvy evil billionaire, you would think he could afford a thumb drive with 128-bit encryption which contains a file that says “World Killing Virus is at the Opera House!”. Heck, buy a few thumb drives, tell the minions the password and you are all set! It seems as if this would be a far more secure and efficient system than a set of cryptic clues on historic artifacts in museums.

Also, it would probably be a good idea to have redundant world-killing virus delivery systems, just in case something goes wrong with one of them (as it did in this movie). He’s an evil billionaire, so you’d think he could afford more viruses in plastic bags.

While we are at it, maybe he should just buy a plane or 10 and airdrop the killer virus into major cities, rather than just leaving it somewhere were someone could find it and mess up the plans.

So, in short, the scenery was nice. That is all.