Mashed mediocrity

Resident Scope movie-snob Jonathan Adams bought tickets for Crank and Barnyard, but couldn’t put them together.

So many terrible movies are released each week, it’s hard to decide which ones to actively despise and which ones merely to ignore. A person could easily become despondent if he stopped long enough or often enough to consider just how much money and resources go into the creation of these most despicable or ignorable products of our culture. In fact, that person is me, and I already have.

Lately, however, I’ve begun to consider that perhaps the onus is on all of us (as disenchanted viewers at the multiplex) to redeem these monuments of mediocrity, by converting them into something wonderful and original and our own! In the world of pop music, DJs on the internet make mash-ups by synthesizing the vocal track of one song with the music of another, or other similar permutations, frequently achieving a result superior to either of the source materials. Why not, says I, watch two big, dumb movies at Empire Theatres, from the most disparate genres I can find–and consider afterwards in my review how the two might be mashed-up to produce something wonderful and original and my own!

This sounds like a more interesting idea than it actually turns out to be.

Crank is a high-speed action movie which might look familiar if you’ve ever watched a disturbed child playing Grand Theft Auto as if he were taking revenge on his parents. The story concerns a man who wakes up to learn from a video his nemesis has made that he has been poisoned with an injection known as a “Beijing Cocktail” giving him only one hour to live. He phones an acquaintance who knows about pharmaceuticals, and is told the only way to postpone instantaneous death is to keep his adrenaline at a maximum level of secretion. He accomplishes this by running around a lot, beating people up, and ingesting a bottle or two of epinephrine which he steals from a hospital. By such means, he manages to stay alive long enough to confront his nemesis, the scoundrel who botched the poisoning job from Scene 1.

Barnyard, on the other hand, is yet another cloying CGI animated children’s movie which follows every convention that has been established in that genre, from the hyperactive musical numbers to the knowing jokes aimed squarely above the heads of all the children in the audience, intended as a distraction for the little brats’ parents from their misery. The movie’s educational aspirations are pitched at such a height that its main characters are a group of male cows with udders that we are apparently asked to interpret as phalluses. One of these, named Otis, suffers the loss of his father at the beginning of the movie, and must learn to overcome his cowardice and protect the other animals from a pack of coyotes, who intend to eat the adorable little chicken characters. One night Otis fails to protect the chickens from the coyotes, who spirit them away to their headquarters at a junkyard. “You’re a meaner!” declares a little chick, as the coyote prepares to devour her. “Meaners gotta eat too,” says the coyote, as he bursts into a sinister cackle. Absenting that cackle, this coyote might have seemed like the voice of reason in the movie.

How much improved could these two idiotic films be with just a few substitutions here and there! Why not let’s construct a screenplay transplanting the protagonist of Barnyard to the setting and general plot of Crank. Now we have a confused hermaphroditic cow who, on top of the troubles inherent in his identity just spoken of, must now deal with a Beijing Cocktail running through his bloodstream. And so then … uh … oh boy. Do you know what? I don’t need to go any further. Suffice it to say this mash-up experiment was something of a failure, proving only beyond a doubt (to myself at any rate) that some shit is indeed shit irredeemably.

Crank and Barnyard are playing at Empire Studio 12, Avalon Mall. Call 722-5775 for times & prices.