Movies shape the way we view the world: Who didn’t want to go to Vegas after watching The Hangover or defy all rules of chronology upon seeing Pulp Fiction?
Sadly, major motion pictures are expensive, so most of us have to limit ourselves to our dreams and illegal downloads.
Repeat, most of us. But hey, here’s to the men who thought, “I ought to be in pictures” and actually wrote the check.
Sepp Blatter’s United Passions
We’ve addressed FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s fondness for giving World Cups to nations that kill thousands of guest workers. There is another side to Sepp, however: soccer movie fan! But since you can only watch Rodney Dangerfield’s Ladybugs so many times, FIFA shelled out roughly $25 million to make one about their history, starring onetime Reservoir Dog Tim Roth as Sepp himself. The film has so far pulled down a 0% rating from rottentomatoes.com, with critics describing it as “deplorable”, “one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory” and “a squirm-inducing heap of propaganda.” It’s an even bigger disaster at the box office, with an opening weekend take in the U.S. of $918 from 10 theaters (that’s $91.80 a theater… or roughly one customer per screening). Watch the trailer for yourself, which feels like an outtake from Tropic Thunder, only less plausible.
Saddam Hussein’s The Long Days
Say this for Saddam Hussein: He really liked Saddam Hussein. Once he became president of Iraq in 1979, he commissioned massive statues and paintings of his likeness, forced government officials to read a 19–volume biography of his life, and produced a six-hour film about himself called The Long Days (which, naturally, was based on a book by Saddam Hussein). Made before the Kuwait invasion when Saddam was troubling-but-not-yet-universally-despised, the film was edited by Terence Young, who’s slightly better known in the West for directing three James Bond films, including the first installment of the series, Dr. No.
Joseph Stalin’s The Fall of Berlin
Ever find yourself watching a World War II flick and thinking, I really wish this did a better job of reflecting Joseph Stalin’s sensibilities. Prayer answered! Yes, you can pick up a copy of “Soviet Cinema’s Ultimate Stalin Film”, which was overseen by the man generally “credited” with causing more deaths than Adolf Hitler. Featuring a score by the legendary composer Dmitri Shostakovich, it’s a portrait of how the Soviet Union (and Stalin) bested Nazi Germany despite the general crappiness of the rest of the Allies. Also, there are a surprising amount of accordions.
Tom Arnold’s The Kid & I
Vanity films aren’t always created by monsters like Stalin or Sepp Blatter. Sometimes loving parents make them. Really, really rich loving parents. This Tom Arnold movie about making a movie for and starring his rich neighbor’s child with cerebral palsy… actually was a movie made for and starring his rich neighbor’s child with cerebral palsy. Directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne’s World and The Decline of Western Civilization trilogy) and financed by billionaire leveraged-buyout specialist/devoted dad Alec Gores, it’s inspired by True Lies, but unlike that film boasts the acting of baller Shaquille O’Neal, wrestler Goldberg and former hooker-and-coke aficionado Pat O’Brien.
McDonald’s MAC and Me
You know how E.T. loved Reese’s Pieces? What if E.T. also loved soda and Big Macs and… oh, pretty much the entire McDonald’s menu! Movies often have to walk the tightrope between product placement and storytelling—witness the first time James Bond reached for a Heineken—but none have so brutally fallen like MAC and Me. Nominally the story of the friendship between a boy in a wheelchair and a “mysterious alien creature”—yes, this is an acronym—it becomes a full-on ad by the time of the dance-off at a McDonald’s, earning Ronald McDonald a Razzie. Again, this was an actual movie. As Paul Rudd has been proving to Conan O’Brien for more than 15 years.
Mr. Burns’ A Burns for All Seasons
Ably directed by Steven Spielberg’s Mexican non-union equivalent Señor Spielbergo and featuring a stunning piece of supporting work by Tommy Tune as “Smithers,” Mr. Burns’ ultimate star turn was cruelly denied Oscar glory by George C. Scott’s haunting performance in Man Getting Hit by Football. Boo-urns!