Ahoy, squirts! Quint here about to head off to bed so I can be chipper for tomorrow's flicks at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, but I noticed another review by our own outlaw Vern trickle in via this fancy electronic mail box. I couldn't help but immediately read it... laugh out load at least a dozen times and then post it up for the rest of you folks to enjoy. Without any further ado, here is the man himself!
I'm only watching number movies this week. You saw my review of 2001 MANIACS. I'm planning on seeing THE THREE BURIALS OF (whoever it is, Miguel Arteta or somebody) but there was this screening of Walt Disney's new picture EIGHT BELOW INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY, so I went to that first. This is a dog movie, and usually a movie like this would have a trailer set to either
a) "Bad to the Bone" or
b) "Atomic Dog"
and then the poster would say, "Every Dog Has His Snow Day" or some stupid shit like that, and the dogs would be wearing sunglasses and possibly giving a thumbs up, if dogs had thumbs. This one had a corny but serious trailer with no talking dogs, and the poster says "The Most Amazing Story Of Survival, Friendship, And Adventure Ever Told." Well shit, I like most of those things. Especially friendship and adventure. Survival I guess I could take or leave, but when combined with friendship and adventure, and when it's amazing, that might be pretty good. And they can't say that in the ad if it's not true, so how could it go wrong?
I'll try to cut to the chase here because I saw that Master Worm already reviewed the movie a couple days ago. So I'll back him up, this is actually a pretty decent adventure movie. Paul Walker plays Jerry, a guide for Antarctic expeditions who gets pressured into taking a scientist (Bruce Greenwood) on an unsafe journey looking for a meteorite. They're worried the ice might crack so they take a sled pulled by eight dogs instead of a snowmobile. Jerry loves the dogs, he calls them his "kids," he talks to them, and basically acts like he's their coach. The section of the movie where they journey to the mountain to look for the meteorite is well executed, with lots of tense moments where it seems like a person or dog could go at any moment. In fact, the first time you even saw ice crack a kid in the theater started bawling. Actually, I think I would have to blame that on the general pussyness of the kid and not the movie itself. Come on parents, what the fuck are you doing with these kids, jesus. But it's pretty suspenseful anyway.
Before long Greenwood bites it, Walker and the dogs save his life, and they almost get stuck in a sudden storm. When they get back to the base they're forced to evacuate, and there's no room on the plane for the dogs. Jerry of course is the dog coach so he wants to stay, but they convince him they'll come right back for the dogs if he just goes with them.
Fucking liars. If dogs are man's best friend, then what kind of a man betrays eight dogs? The worst part is that Jason Biggs plays a wacky sidekick character who they say is a cartographer, but he never actually does anything to help anybody until near the end and even then it only takes basic map skills. Obviously the smart thing to do would be to leave this fucker in the snow and take a couple of the dogs in his place. I'm sure it crossed their minds but it was probaly too hard to decide between the dogs. Anyway, the rest of the movie is divided between two Amazing Stories of Survival, Friendship and Adventure: Jerry traveling around the country all bummed out trying to find somebody that can fund a trip to rescue the dogs, and the dogs themselves escaping from their leashes and trying to survive by eating birds and crap. It's hard out here for a pooch.
I really liked the scenes with the dogs on their own, unleashed, etc. I'm not sure it was quite as great as Master Worm said, but it was some pretty good shit. Somebody in the talkback from his review mentioned Caroll Ballard. Okay so I admit it, I fucking loved FLY AWAY HOME. It was a long time ago though and I'm a different person now. EIGHT BELOW INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY is not as artful or authentic-feeling as a Caroll Ballard picture, this is more like old Disney movies. But that's okay.
Definitely my favorite part of the movie is a weird section where the dogs come across the corpse of the whale from FREE WILLY and start eating the fat fuck. Finally he's good for something. Before I was even able to process this landmark crossover between children's animal films, a fucking BIOLOGICAL MUTANT jumps out from INSIDE the dead orca! According to the movie this was "a leopard seal, more leopard than seal if you ask me" but the thing looks like a fucking dinosaur or one of them animal-human hybrids we're supposed to be on the lookout for. I mean the body is all seal but the head looks like a dinosaur with sharp teeth and everything. I noticed seal puppeteers on the credits but it looked all CGI to me which was a weird touch in a mostly organic old fashioned movie. Anyway, it is my belief that this is actually the seal from the movie ANDRE. I haven't seen the movie but I'm sure there is something that causes him to mutate at the end. He was always jealous of Willy's sequels so as soon as that kid-jumping showboat got free, Andre tracked him down and slit his throat. How embarrassing that right when he's wearing Willy's blubber Ed Gein style some heroic, hungry dogs come along and catch him in the act.
Although it's set in 1993 for some reason, EIGHT BELOW INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY is based on a 1983 Japanese picture known in the US as ANTARCTICA. That movie was supposedly based on something that actually happened to Japanese scientists one time. Personally, I felt that Paul Walker and Jason Biggs were not very convincing as being Japanese. But otherwise they do okay. I actually don't have a problem with Paul Walker like the Worm and many other online individuals do. He's stiff and square but he has a nice guy quality that makes me like him. I think I described him before as the popular jock guy in high school who was too nice for you to hate. I guess alot of people do hate him though. So think about this. He's one of the stars of Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima movie FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. And I don't know about you but I'd bet a WWII drama directed by Clint Fucking Eastwood would have a pretty good chance of getting the top Screen Actor's Guild Award, the best ensemble. Which means it is very possible that in the near future Paul Walker of 2 FAST, 2 FURIOUS will soon have a SAG Award, just like Ludacris.
Anyway, even if you hate Paul Walker, you'd probaly admit he's a little better than usual here. It's hard not to feel for a motherfucker just trying to save some dogs. I mean, I'm no dog fan. Dogs eat cat shit out of the litter box. Dogs eat their own vomit. Dogs bark messages to you asking you to kill. And they eat babies and shit. Fuck dogs. But these aren't ordinary dogs, they are dog heroes. Come on you fucking money people, let the dude save his hero dogs. Enough of this red tape, those courageous pooches are dying out there!
The movie is not perfect. There's some lame comic relief moments here and there. Luckily no dog shit or ass-sniffing jokes, just dog slobber. Also there's a couple laughably corny moments. My favorite was the part where Bruce Greenwood has turned down a chance to help search for THE GREAT AMERICAN COURAGEOUS CANINE HEROES WHO SAVED HIM FROM CERTAIN, PAINFUL DEATH, and you can't really tell if he feels guilty or not. And then he comes across his kid's crayon drawing that says, "My hero: the dogs that saved my daddy." (Not pictured: the human who deserves at least as much credit as the dogs. I guess kids hate Paul Walker too.)
I was a little disappointed though. I could swear the trailer had a line where Greenwood yelled "Those dogs saved my life!" and then he or somebody else said, "There's eight heroes out there!" That would've been some funny shit, but it's not in the movie. Must be one of those lines made just for the trailers, like "Now you'll have to deal with both of us!" from THE NEGOTIATOR or "We will win these star wars, and we will have the revenge of the sith!" from whichever star wars that was.
There is one kind of goofy thing in the movie where whenever they come back to the dogs they write the date on the screen, then "DAYS ON THEIR OWN:" and then a dramatic pause before they write how many days it is. It's just funny because I figure if you really want to know how many days it is you could just remember the date they got stuck there and add it up yourself. But the dramatic pause makes it seem like you have no clue which direction it's gonna go. Is it gonna be more days? Is it gonna be less days? Anything could happen!
I enjoyed the corny bullshit but what makes the movie surprisingly decent is a certain amount of restraint and good taste. I guarantee you that at least one guy at Disney, if not a whole roomful of guys, was tearing out his hair thinking it was a big mistake not to make the dogs talk. You can just imagine what Eddie Griffin would be saying in some of these scenes, too. They could've and would've Cuba Goodinged the shit out of this movie, but by some miracle they didn't, and for that they deserve something. A cookie I guess, something like that. Of course, they could always fuck it up if there's a sequel, and I think there could be. I think this will be a big hit. Not because it's good, but because it's for kids and is advertised on TV. There's a scene in the movie where the dogs break into someone's base and eat all their rations. The poor bastards are gonna come back there thinking they have enough food to survive the winter and they're gonna find the place trashed and probaly dog shit all over the place. So the dogs will come save them but this time they'll be wisecracking dogs that keep getting hit in the balls by various obstacles. And they'll come across the mutant seal monster again but at the end he'll rescue them and become part of the team. Because they're gonna have to add a couple more members if they're gonna call it NINE BELOW.
By the way in case you're wondering SIX OUT OF EIGHT BELOW is the final score. Spoiler.
p.s. There has been some complaints in the talkbacks that you can't tell what I'm saying about a movie, so here is the review translated into Shalit. "EIGHT BELOW is GREAT BELOW! Mush your pups right to the theater for a funtastic good time. It turns out you CAN teach a dog new tricks, if there's eight of them and the trick is to stay out in the snow for a long time! These bitches will leave you in stitches, and a fearsome encounter will SEAL the deal! (inside a dead whale.) You'll sit up and beg for more! And vomit and then eat your own vomit and then lick your owner's face! etc. What I'm trying to say through the medium of dog puns is that this movie is pretty decent but it wouldn't surprise me if there was better movies out there I should be seeing. what the fuck is wrong with me. the end."