It’s week two of the Rotten Challenge verse Nate, a.k.a. this dude who showed up in the Comments section. Week one was a clear victory. Week two, not so much, but man if it wasn’t close. I’m even tempted to call it a tie (but I’m sure he won’t want to). This week we’ve got bird watching, feet loosening, aliens invading and Doug prevailing.

Just remember, I'm not reviewing these movies, but rather predicting where they'll end up on the Tomatometer. Let's take a look at what This Rotten Week has to offer.

Footloose
Confession time: I absolutely love the original Footloose. I know the entire soundtrack by heart (and have been known to scream “Let’s here it for the boy!!” time and again), get pumped every time I see Ren (Kevin Bacon) karate kick that little punk Chuck in the face, and can recite the speech Ren gives the town hall meeting when he’s petitioning for the school dance. Oh and my high school buddy Keith used to scream “Lithgow!” every time he saw my dad (similar hairline, both ministers). So yeah, I don’t take a Footloose remake lightly. **

** It’s also worth it to mention I’m totally straight, love drinking beer, watch football every Sunday, and shoot guns every once in a while. Here’s to hoping this paragraph countered any damage I did in the opening one.

I’m almost never a fan of the remake (and you shouldn’t be either). Typically they are creatively lazy and thinly-veiled cash grabs regurgitated for a “new generation”. It’s the bottom of the barrel film-wise and frankly I wish they’d all just go away. Come up with a new idea please. Or at least just come up with the same idea and call it something else. But then a dude like Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow - 82%, Black Snake Moan - 66%) grabs a hold of something like a story of a punk kid reviving a town out of a danceless slumber, by taking the appeal of the original (yellow VW, skinny black ties, damn the man attitude) and turning that retro factor into an actual good flick.

From the looks of the trailer, some of the script is word-for-word true to the original. And while that’s a ballsy (or maybe lazy) move, it seems to work here as initial reviews are fairly toe-tapping. It’s a teen movie but critics don’t care, let’s DANCE! The Rotten Watch for Footloose is 76%.


The Big Year
Is there anything in the world more boring than nature? None of the animals can talk. The plants just sit around doing absolutely nothing. It’s dirty as hell. There’s nowhere to plug in a charger of any kind. Nature blows. So color me confused to find out there are not only people who love getting out in it, but actually get giddy with excitement to do something hyper specific like track down as many species of birds as possible in a calendar year. Their ornithological orgy is a akin to me seeing how many times I can yawn in a given time period.

The Big Year is supposed to be a “heart-warming” comedy about three guys (Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson), who set out to find birds and maybe even themselves along the way. And it really depends what trailer you watch to get a feel for what director David Frankel is going for here. The official trailer is a slapsticky mess that makes me think its pretty much over comedically for Martin, Black and Wilson (if it isn’t already). But I’ve seen another that tugs on the heartstrings a teensy bit. The latter is preferable, but I’ve got a feeling the former is going to win out. If that happens, The Big Year is in big trouble.

Now Frankel does have a knack for making animals have a personable and quasi-endearing side. He did it with Marley in Marley & Me (63%) and with Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (76%). But here he’s tasked with reigning in his big three actors who are clearly past their prime. And he’s got them bird watching to boot. This flick’s in trouble. The Rotten Watch for The Big Year is 42%.


The Thing
Here’s a little lesson that I think all scientists can learn from movies. It’s pretty simple really. If you ever stumble upon any kind of alien life form, dead or living or you're just not sure, do yourself and everyone else an enormous favor. Don’t get that “new discovery ego”. Just go ahead and leave it alone. Walk away. Pretend it never happened. Because if we’ve learned anything from all aliens, except dudes like E.T. and Alf, it’s this: extraterrestrials want nothing more than to kill us dead. That’s it. It’s their only goal. And the more attention we give them, the more bloodthirsty they get.

Movie like John Carpenter’s 80’s cult classic The Thing should have taught us the lesson back then. Bunch of bro’s working out on in the Arctic get taken over by an alien who copycats the hell out of everyone on the base, and then kills them. But hey, I guess it’s time for a little reminder because this latest version of The Thing (a prequel that inexplicably uses the exact name as the original) has that same alien taking over the same base, except its different scientists and these scientists actually came before the original scientists. Got all that? No? Doesn’t matter, critics are going to hate it and so will you.

Now I’ve been wrong about horror movies before (see: Crazies, The, but when you look at sort-of first time Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen’s template here (unseen baddie is picking people off, everyone turns on each other, monster pretty much wins in the end), it’s hard to see anything worth getting excited about. And though critics liked Carpenter’s original, this is the remake this week that doesn’t get the love. The Rotten Watch for The Thing is 22%.


RESULTS


Recapping last week.

Doug's Scores

Real Steel (Predicted: 55% Actual: 59%)

Ides of March (Predicted: 86% Actual: 82%)

This week total score, off by - 8% (Grand total difference - 29%)

Real Steel garnering this much critical acclaim (is that the right word here?) is simply baffling to me. But the prediction was damn close and we’ll take it as a resume builder. Ides of March was also within five percent and counts as a clear win. Overall, a spectacular week. One of my best. Unfortunately Nate was just a smidgen closer. Now, I could probably tip my hat to the guy, but I don’t really roll like that, so I’ll just drum it up to luck. And I’m still winning anyway.

Nate's Scores

Real Steel (Predicted: 58% Actual: 59% - missed by a mile.)

Ides of March (Predicted: 84% Actual: 82%)

This week total score, off by - 3% (Grand total difference - 35%)


And here are Nate's predictions for next week: Footloose 74%; The Thing 28%; Big Year 36%.

Next week a spy is reborn, women play basketball somehow, some more house haunting and it’s all for one and one for all. It’s going to be a Rotten Week!

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