For those of you new to WorldsGreatestCritic.com, or those of you who haven't been here lately because there hasn't been an interesting or funny word written on this site since approximately the Truman Administration, we've had a few titanic traditions over the years! The most currently seasonal and relevant of being the infamous Christmas Turkey! Generally unlike the saga of the dread Thanksgiving Turkey, the Christmas Turkey, each year we showcase an enormity of a bad movie whose crimes are at once heinous and innocuous, a shocking dichotomy that can only be reconciled through the Magic of Christmas!
See, we're talking about movies like Christmas Evil, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Can't Stop the Music, The Amityville Curse, Captain America and Santo vs. Spider-Man and the AWFUL Italian rip-off of Aliens, strangely called Terminator II!
Each one is horrible and painful to endure, but each, in some obvious and/ or sickening way, has something to do with families and Christmas type stuff, you know.
This brings us to what just might be the KING of all bad children's movies... as in, perhaps, the Burger King... or, to be much more evilly accurate, the Big Mac of all BAD children's movies. Yeah, keep the "Burger", but shake your way right on over to the King's biggest competitor... McDonald's because this year's Christmas Turkey is that Supersized cheese burger of interplanetary suckitude known on EVERY circle of HELL as... Mac and Me.
Sound vaguely familiar? Perhaps that's because its infamy is known throughout most of the galaxy and many alternate dimensions beyond ours. Its gravitational pull is so magnificent that it borderlines on the metaphysical and metafictional. The main character is LITERALLY SUCKED out his own environment and in between the sliced buns of a really horrible movie. At least his introduction is honest.
The rest of the film... is anything but honest. See, right around the time the evil empire headed up by the vicious warlord Ronald McDonald was invading Monkey Wards stores with their line of itchy-ass children's apparel known as "McKids", their Stormtroopers were attempting to invade movie theatres with a blatant and obvious One Hour, Thirty Nine Minute and Eighteen Second McDonald's commercial that attempts to hide its malevolent evil by masquerading as nothing more than a blatant and obvious One Hour, Thirty Nine Minute and Eighteen Second rip off of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial!
And part of me would love to tell you that this is one reason that Mac and Me should get something of a pass for being what it is, considering the heart-touching core of this movie being a cute kid in a wheelchair who befriends an, and I'm not making this up, "Mysterious Alien Creature". That part of me should be surgically removed, cremated, buried in the desert, nuked and then all of the soil for a one-mile radius should be sucked up into a NASA probe and launched into the heart of the SUN.
Mac and Me doesn't get a pass for being cute and attempting to touch your heart... it's even more deplorable for wrapping its nightmarish self inside the printed McKids blankie of sweetness to disguise its overtly and sadistically commercial nature AND, hopefully, distract from its all-too-pilfered plot in order to hopefully both bore its way inside the skulls of children, cause a massive obesity epidemic and manage to be mentioned in the same sentence as E.T. over and over again. That last part was, quite obviously, a complete success, but not, I'm sure, in the way its creators intended.
I haven't seen anything this mean spirited coming out of a McDonald's tie-in since I YouTubed those old-ass Mickey D's commercials in which smilin' Willard Scott, dressed in a most frightening and shiver-inducing early Ronald McDonald costume literally seduced and enticed little kids to eat french fries from HIS CODPIECE. Not kidding... wish I fucking WAS... but Not... Fucking... Kidding!
Ugh, okay, so I've already ruined the beginning of this movie for you (you'll thank me because reading about the damned thing is much better than WATCHING it), but, in essence, when NASA sends this douchy vacuum cleaner-like lander to... what, Mars, is it? Fuck, I don't know... its only in-story claim to desolation appears to be that it's devoid of a McDonald's. Anyway, not only Mac (played by a puppet), but also his entire alien family is SUCKED up in a HORRIBLE special effect, like melting Silly Putty and transported to Earth. In what plays like a prototype for ol' Commander Data's hippie marionette scene in Inde-fucking-pendence Day, the family breaks out and flees to the desert, but somehow leaves little Mac behind, Home Alone-Style!
I couldn't have been all THAT surprised if Mac had turned (like Kevin, AKA, the "other Mac") to the screen and put both of his hands up to his cheeks with a shocked look. Alas, Alack, Mac's visage is not nearly so endearing... but just as surprised!
Now, I can understand having a weird-ass look on your face if an Electrolux from another planet appears and sucks your whole family into one of the less desirable parts of South Los Angeles County, but let me tell you, that look of some unholy combination of wide-eyed shock and having just drank a fifth of lemon juice never leaves any of the aliens' rubbery faces throughout the entire movie. It's like they're constantly going "OOOO!" and never quite stop being impressed. The audience does, though. Hell!
So, basically Mac is lost in the suburbs and is an alien and the government is looking for him and he desperately wants to find his people and go back to his crappy home. He has a silly way of attempting to "phone home", too, which kind of looks like what we used to do with our hands at Van Halen Concerts, but anyway...
By now you surely get the idea of what a huge-ass rip-off Mac and Me is. I'm surprised they even credited Steve Feke as a writer instead of an "adapter". Of course, more than half of the blame must also go to malevolent co-writer Stewart Raffill who also directed this turd bird... then followed it up two years later with an abomination called Mannequin Two: On the Move!
What could this duo of wickedness have in store for us? Well, hell, do you recall those insipid McDonald's 30 second spots with all kinds of "hip" characters in then-fashionable (now flinch-worthy) attire having a GREAT time at McDonald's and usually dancing around as if they're in some massive Fosse musical until the lunk-headed slogan-du-jour like "Food Folks and Fun" or "It's a Good Time for the Great Taste of McDonald's" or "McDonald's and You" (look again at the title of this blight) drips greasily down the screen? Well the characters in this ass-cramp literally walk RIGHT INTO THAT HAPPENING, man!
Really, we zoom in on a boom box and find the hip-clad agents of Satan all in a line doing their amazing synchronized dancing as Raffill does a slow pan and reveal to the Golden Arches! Then we're dragged inside to find that every man, woman and child in the greater Southern LA County area is not only ready for unhealthy burgers but also has learned the same damned dance, which they, the uniformed employees, a teddy-bear-suited Mac and even Ronald Mc-Damned-Donald (here played by Squire Fridell but listed in the credits as, no shit, "Ronald McDonald as Himself") all perform together! Not only is this blatant in its deplorably obvious product placement but also comes off as EXTREMELY cruel to the kid in the wheelchair!
It's like... "Hey, kid, hold my burger while I show you what people with operable legs can do! But roll back out of the way, crip!"
When that scene was interrupted by menacing government agents, I was both grateful AND needed a long, hot shower!!!
The references to McDonald's never stop... including and especially in the very name of the title alien, not to mention that one of the characters wears her McDonald's uniform the entire damned time! At one point the kids actually lead their visitors in a charming rendition of "Old MacDonald had a Farm", at which point any attempt at subtlety dies like a bug on a windshield!
However, McDonald's only DOMINATED the market for product placement here and far from cornered it. You don't have to watch even vaguely close to catch promotions for Skittles Bite Sized Candies, Coca-Cola, Carnation Ice Cream and the groovy SEARS corporation. The reason you don't have to look too hard is that each product is clearly displayed for the camera by eager actors who hold these fine products up with big smiles, often pointing out how much Mac really likes each item, regardless of the likelihood of this shit.
And people, please, the SEARS thing? This family moves to a beautiful home in Southern California with a great view, a great yard (that they comment on the size of) and two damned stories... in Southern California... so that the mom in the family can work at a Sears store. Yes... she's working... at Sears. Good Lord, have you SEEN how much even small houses cost in Southern California? Shit marble, how many pairs of corduroys does this woman expect to sell to be able to keep up with an LA County mortgage?
Sigh... I've avoided name-checking the cast in this film as much as I could for fear of an Anti-Defamation Lawsuit coming my way, but since IMDB lists them, I figure screw it!
Oh No! The Actors who found themselves TRAPPED in this overlong Cinematic Seat-Stain of a Commercial! SOUND OFF!
- Eric Cruise (Jade Calegory) - The aforementioned wheelchair bound kid who befriends the E.T. Ripoff and likes to eat at McDonald's.
- Janet Cruise (Christine Ebersole) - Eric's bubbly Sears-employed mom who is only barely getting over her husband's (weakly implied) death by enjoying many of the quality tasty products at McDonald's.
- Michael Cruise (Jonathan Ward) - Eric's fuzzy older brother whose character is separated from that of "Mike" from E.T. mainly because of his lack of profanity and love of McDonald's.
- Debbie (Lauren Stanley) - Eric's new neighbor and potential best friend (if not for the attention-hogging presence of "Mac the Knife" over there). Debbie also serves the purpose of plot device for getting the characters to the local McDonald's.
- Courtney (Katrina Caspary) - Debbie's attractive older sister who is easily convinced to join in the chaos. She's also the chick who wears her Golden Arches embroidered McDonald's uniform throughout almost the entire movie... in case we're to forget she works at, endorses and probably smells like McDonald's.
- Mars Mother (Elena Moure) - Mac's shameless mom who spends most of her time flashing the audience and caring for Mac's unnamed sister (played by another unnamed puppet)! If only she knew the joys that await her at the local McDonald's!
- Mars Father (Jack David Walker) - Mac's (drumroll) dad whose initial character seems to be merely clumsy, but is slowly revealed over the film's long-ass runtime to be a dangerous sociopath! A dangerous NAKED Sociopath! He really loves Coca-Cola, and polyester suits from Sears (when he's wearing anything), leaves a swath of explosions and destruction in his wake and I have little doubt of what his favorite restaurant must be.
- Extra [Uncredited] (Jennifer Aniston in her first screen role) - She has a comparable amount of screen time in Mac and Me that Holly Gosh Darned Hunter had in The Burning, but how the hell can I resist pointing out that Jennifer Aniston was in Mac and Me?
This is, of course, before she rocketed to superstardom in the untenable Leprechaun and the more recent Marley & Me (note: not a sequel).
If you're wondering where exactly to look for the former Mrs. Pitt, it's a safe bet that she's probably at McDonald's!
- Dancer [Uncredited] (Nikki Cox in her second screen role) - Yes, Nikki Cox was also dancing around that haunted McDonald's, pre-stardom, either because the casting agent saw something in her, or she just happened to wander in wanting some McNuggets. Still, before you guys go fast-forwarding through the film, fantasizing about sexy Nikki bouncing and jiggling around in all her shapely glory, don't bother... she was ten years old when this blight on the skin of celluloid was released.
But imagine Nikki and Jennifer starring and dancing together at a later date... inside or outside of a McDonald's!
- Himself (Ronald McDonald) - so credited (with the capital H and everything) possibly to subliminally imply that the smiling, dancing, white-faced mascot of the well-known Eatery is, in fact, some sort of bad-diet Deity.
Still, his Royal Burgerness takes time out of his supernatural restructuring of reality into a tasty, fun-filled McDonaldland to make a personal appearance at the very franchise where Mac (dressed in a teddy bear suit so that Mayah McCoy, instead of some rubber-ass puppet can portray him) is dancing and giving the big Martian middle finger to the douchey government agents who are raiding this particular McDonald's with WILD disregard for the fact that they might be interrupting a dance competition featuring and presided over by the yellow-suited Dark Lord of the fried sandwich himself.
All Hail McDonald's!
To those who may think it unfair to judge a film based on its commercial sponsors and product placement, trust me, these facts only serve to make Mac and Me all the more hilarious. However these elements in and of themselves hardly form the core (or "patty", if you will) of Mac and Me's wretchedness. Every plot point or device is borrowed, the characters are thinner than the ketchup layer on a McDonald's "Regular Hamburger", the special effects are hardly special and are definitely not effective, the small amounts of uniqueness in the twists quickly fizzle and are forgotten quicker than those early McDonaldland appearances of Grimace when he was a villain with four arms. The dialogue is just as fitting and well-delivered as you would imagine, considering the above.
Yes, folks, even at its most "adorable", even if you turn off the parts of your brain that cry "Bullshit!" when you look at the horrible aping of E.T. and the stupefyingly obvious product placement, even considering the (unproven) rumor that Mac and Me was made to benefit the Ronald McDonald House children's charity... it's still a Bad, Bad, Bad movie!
And after a farcical and painfully contrived ending (that sucks), the screen is filled with the horrifying threat of "We'll Be Back!", an ominous warning that was sure to keep parents jumping at every bump in the night for many years to come. At least, those parents who actually watched the damned thing. In fact, these frightening superimposed words were meant as a promise for the planned sequel... a sequel that was shelved not only for the universally and overwhelmingly negative reviews but mainly due to the fact that the box office return amounted to no more than 49% of its already meager $13 million budget! Yes... All of this for a more than fifty percent financial loss, not counting marketing costs.
Good on ya, Mickey D's.
It's kind of a shame, really... I would kind of like to see a sequel to Mac and Me (assuming I was wrong about Marley & Me's status as a follow-up). I picture "Mars Father", now skilled with his revolver, has risen to great prestige as a blue polyester-suited doctor who lives a double life as a board member of McDonald's where he works with their Joker-faced CEO to cause the human race to become supersized with obesity and he soon reveals that the entire set of events from the first film were the opening salvos of an alien invasion and the Martians are now on the way, joined by the remarkably similar looking extra-terrestrials from The Ice Pirates (also directed by Raffill) to begin culling and herding humanity. Mac, now grown and flirting with his own superpowers, joins Eric (whose lower half has been replaced by powerful robotic prostheses) in forming their own resistence cell to stop the atrocities now taking place on Earth. Joining them will be Aniston, Cox and Caspary, all still hot, as well as Birdie the Early Bird and her Top Gun Air Force, The Hamburgler, who recently escaped from a Maximum Security Penitentiary to aid "the Cause", Grimace, now with his extra arms back, the naval might of Captain Crook, the special armored forces of Officer Big Mac (who has formed an uneasy alliance with The Hamburgler and Captain Crook after years dedicated to putting them behind bars), the rallying leadership of Mayor McCheese, who raises the spirits of the heroes with his inspiring voice filtered through Mike the Microphone, Deputy Field Marshall Uncle O'Grimacey, now the leader of both the Happy Meal Gang and The McNugget Buddies (former turf war veterans) and the Fry Guys, who act as explosive Petards in the Freedom Fighters' conflict against the Martian Hegemony which threatens them all. It is only the constant conflict between Ronald and Mars Father at the high points of the invasion that show weaknesses at the top of the order. If they continue to clash, how can they maintain control of their generals when Mac and Eric's relentless attacks threaten to take down the entire invasion force from the bottom up?
I think we'll call it "Mac and Militia" or "Mac and Me and Vengeance" or "Mach 10 and Me" or even "Mac and Mechant"! This... is... GOLD!
But until then, all we have is the original monstrosity known as Mac and Me! It's a horrible movie that refuses to rot a way and vanish, much like those French fries in Super Size Me! Holy crap on a stick is this movie bad. And no matter how you look at it, it's unredeemable. Movies like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace are just as bad, but are so well-intentioned and innocuous that it's impossible to hate them. Mac and Me has no such claim to innocence or good intentions. Its intent was to sell Happy Meals with Cokes, Skittles and Carnation Dairy Products, hopefully while you're already wearing clothes purchased from Sears. To be fair, this one might just be our most edible Christmas Turkey to date... But dudes and chicks, never forget, this one isn't really a juicy burger, nor even a turkey burger, nor even a cheese turkey burger... no, no no, folks, this Turkey is most assuredly, a DOG!!! A Christmas Dog for you readers out there in McDonaldland! Merry Christmas, everybody, if you can enjoy it... Trust me, folks, this one is most assuredly in BAD taste. See you in the next Golden Arches free reel!