Thursday, June 1, 2017

This place really is the worst.

Unless you have kids, or work with them (or in my case, both), you might be blissfully unaware of the influences quietly molding the future leaders of our country. And I would argue, vehemently, that your lack of knowledge about the latest trends and fads makes you a better person. Because knowing what passes for the best thing ever, might make you want to kill yourself...

...with a fidget spinner.

If you have, know, own, or just the worst, are an elementary school student, you're likely all about Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. As a mostly-functioning adult, however, I've never read a single page of his eleven (or so) books featuring the douchey awfulness, er, wimpy-ness of one Greg Heffley. But my students have. And more importantly, my son has.

After bitterly not sleeping through Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, the fourth film in the franchise, I'm starting to rethink my ludicrous stance of taking my son to any film he's legitimately interested in seeing. Like, majorly reconsidering. See, I'm trying to foster a healthy love of actually going to the movies (the day he illegally downloads a movie is the day we have an actual fist-fight) in both of my kids, but after director David Bowers 'film', maybe piracy isn't the worst thing in the world. I mean, that way he would have only been stealing an awful movie. But this? This robbed me of my f--king soul.

Not that you care, in the least, but here's a short summary of The Long Turd Haul. Instead of allowing her three boys to just lay around all summer and be annoying a-holes, Mom decides the Heffley's need to load up the car and head out on an epic to visit their beloved Meemaw. They're going to get off their devices and spend some time as, you guessed it, a family.

As bad as this idea is in reality, it's even worse in a shitty movie. Not only is the original cast replaced with way-less likable actors top-to-bottom (though Alicia Silverstone in reading glasses has a certain adult film charm), but almost every single minute of this road-trip movie made me long for a texting high-schooler to come along and end it all. The jokes aren't funny, the running gags beyond terrible, and the series of unfortunate events unfolds like an infinitely worse version of Vacation [review]. The new one.

There's part of me that feels like this is something I dreamed of doing in the 90s.
At an Aerosmith concert, perhaps?
You might not know that the young protagonist Greg is the worst person alive (uh, he is), but the Yays and Boos sure do. After this one, they've drawn a line in the sand with crappy kids' flicks. Okay, their drafting their line in the sand, as the Captain Underpants movie comes out this Friday. Though, don't worry, I'm taking him to Wonder Woman instead.

There was a time...when I was so broken-hearted...
  • My older brother has this weird talent (/medical condition)...where he finds something sexually attractive about every single woman on the planet. I've always marveled at this. I'm not trying to say that Alicia Silverstone isn't pretty...but when I found myself, uh, making the best of it, I had this weird moment of (pathetic) clarity. And yes, I realize this makes no sense to anyone but me...but, you know, I don't care.
  • Surprisingly, at times, reality seems to penetrate the candy-coated shell of this low-brow kids' flick. For example, when the family realizes that they've packed too much shit (try and go anywhere with my wife, I dare you), Greg suggests they tow the boat...and fill it with their stuff. Yeah...that's brilliant.
  • Also in the same, er, boat, was the decision by Greg's dad that the 47-hour car ride would be the perfect time to ween their littlest off of his binky. To my fellow dads out there, look me in the eye and tell me you haven't done this. You forget something utterly important, and you look your wife in the eye and say, Nah, we didn't need that anyway. And you say this as if you planned it, actually considered it, instead of the reality: you totally f--king spaced on it.
  • This is stupid, but the littlest kid, Manny, well...he wins a pig. Oh, cheap laughs will certainly ensue, but that little porker is adorable (I saw people with pigs at the park...and let's just say I could be swayed. Oh, and they're reunion at the end? Even a heartless a-hole like me enjoyed that bit of high-speed film.
  • Dude, as far as puke scenes go, that bit on the Gravitron was fairly epic. No lie, just thinking about being on one of those...makes me want to barf all over myself.
  • If you're a thirty-seven year old d-bag like I am, there's a safe bet that you bought yourself one or two (or nineteen) punk-cover compilations in your (misguided) youth. The punk cover of John Denver's Country Roads makes a welcome appearance in this flick, and for a second, all was right in the world.
  • I'm always a sucker for scenes where someone is trapped in a bathroom while someone takes a gnarly shit. Here, well, it ain't quite You sank my Battleshit!, but it's at least in the neighborhood. 
  • Speaking of good 90s jams, the whole-family Wannabe jamboree was the right kind of lame, you know? 
  • And finally, even if I'm still lamenting the fact that all I had to do for an hour and half was perv over a chick that reminds me exactly how old and desperate I am, my son had a pretty good time with this one. I'd say that hurts my soul a bit, seeing him enjoy something so flat-out terrible, but he's seven. No need to be a bitter douche about everything...yet. He's got thirty years to hone that personality disorder (that's assuredly buried deep in his DNA).

Zoo-wee mama, do I want to fight this kid's haircut.
  • The whole Diaper Hands meme-thing made me want to walk off a cliff playing Pokemon Go.
  • Adults, do you know how many kids watch people play videogames? No, seriously. They're too lazy now to actually play them. (the character that represents this phenomenon is a super-douche, by the way)
  • Mom packs lunch for the road trip. Of course she does.
  • I actually enjoyed the momentary #notmyrodrick hour on Twitter. Like, way more than I should have. The previous Rodrick? Kind of a cool/dick older brother. This time? Nothing cool about him. But he is a dick.
  • But worse than the actor? Sweet Jesus this character is terrible. I've never wanted to punch an Asian woman so hard in my life (as opposed to all the Asian women I wanted to punch softly?)
  • What was with the Beard-o family? Those kids were terrifying. And the dad? He's like the head hillbilly in a movie where someone tells Ned Beatty he's got a real pretty mouth.
  • Your boy Tom Everett Scott, replacing the fiery Steve Zahn as Dad, seems pretty uninterested. Though, when I think about where my head's at on a family road trip...seems just about right.
  • I don't care if that next bathroom really is 37 miles away (been there), there is no way I'm letting my son piss in a f--king bottle. And yes, that's featured here.
  • Pig farts. *punches air wildly* Just...why? Why did it have to be pig farts?
  • Okay, real quick. There was a minute where Alicia Silverstone looked exactly like Garth. Garth Algar. And I wasn't any less into her.
  • Little kids are the worst in movies (and maybe in general). Good thing Manny goes all Optimus Prime's trailer and disappears whenever it's convenient.
  • Wait, wait...wait. How dare you, Everyone Involved, how dare you recreate a scene from Psycho? Do you think kids are going to get the reference? Cause the only thing I got was furious.
  • The big knee-slapping finale? When the family lands their boat in Meemaw's pool, seemingly from out of the sky. The response from all the elderly party-goers, mere inches from a shockingly bloody death? A hearty chuckle of course!
  • And finally, yes, my son enjoyed this flick, but kiddo, what's with all the spoilers? Seriously, he went into some nerd-trance and just started blurting out the end to each scene before it happened. Like, dude, I had no idea that all those birds were going to dive into the car to eat the cheese curls. NO IDEA.

I have exactly eight and a half days until summer vacation, where the thoughts and interests of middle school students will be, quite literally, the furthest thing from my mind. Obviously, my son will still be around, so I can't just watch adult movies and sniff glue for ten weeks straight. But, I can take him to other movies, show him what a decent plot looks like, and that there are jokes that don't involve farting animals.

Maybe we'll even watch a good flick when we're away at the beach. The beach that's a three-hour drive away. The beach where we'll go and spend some much-needed family time together. With her parents.  


I'll start charging the iPads now. 


  1. I have no desire to see Alicia Silverstone in anything anymore. My husband and son watched the first two? (three?) Diary movies but don't want to bother with this one since it's a different cast. I'm glad this is there thing and not mine lol

    1. Ha! I actually was never a big fan (I preferred Liv Tyler in all the video and never had a huge hard on for Clueless...), but in my case, I was trying to make the best of it. It's super weird seeing her pop up all these years later....

      The old cast, for what it's worth, was pretty solid, so I get what your boys did. My wife bailed on this without hesitation.

  2. My daughters made me watch the original movies. They won't be doing the same with this because, believe it or not, they saw the trailer for it and went with the "they're ruining my childhood" complaint. They did the same with the new Power Rangers. Don't you have to be at least 18 to go with that? Guess not.

    Isn't "we didn't need that anyway" a valid reason(/defense)?

    Great reference to Deliverance.

    I'm don't mind looking at Silverstone, but then again, I may possibly have the same medical condition as your brother. It worsens (or is that betters?) as you get older.

    And not to piss you off or anything, but my summer break started today at about 12:15 EST.

    Okay, so that was totally to piss you off.

    1. Wow. You can have your childhood ruined...mid-childhood? Totally seems fitting for someone under 18 to say that. While I'm fully with them in regard to this crapfest, they are making a mistake with Power Rangers. Yuge.

      "We didn't need that anyway" has gotten me into all kinds of trouble. That said, I stand by this logic.

      I'm going to assume that all guys have this condition, but it cracks me up sometime. We were at a department store in South Carolina and I swear the woman helping us was a grandmother. We walk away and he's like, "she was okay, huh?" NOTHING HAD CROSSED MY MIND.

      And, yes. Fully pissed off at you. I still have two more THURSDAYS. TWO!!!!!

  3. "the fourth film in the franchise"

    this is a fucking franchise?!

    "My older brother has this weird talent (/medical condition)...where he finds something sexually attractive about every single woman on the planet. I've always marveled at this. I'm not trying to say that Alicia Silverstone isn't pretty...but when I found myself, uh, making the best of it, I had this weird moment of (pathetic) clarity. And yes, I realize this makes no sense to anyone but me...but, you know, I don't care."

    It does make sense to me. Hold're married. I'd probably hump the chair while watching Silverstone by this logic.

    I hope your son liked Wonder Woman! And I'm sure when your daughter is old enough to see it it's gonna be awesome. Cannot imagine seeing something so inspiring when I was young. I'd probably be well adjusted by now. Not...this mess. Entertaining mess, but still.

    1. Yes. There are more of these. LOTS more. (and I'm sure...more to come)

      I think it actually gets worse when you're married. Guys, we're always bad. But a decade into marriage...the imagining/evaluating/couch-humping? So much worse.

      Matty totally dug Wonder Woman...but passed out by the end (a confirmed DNA test that he is indeed my wife's offspring). I think my daughter will totally adore it too, as she's the kind of kid that would zip around deflecting imaginary bullets with her wrists after watching it. But...we'll give a few more years.

      No mess. Just entertaining!

    2. "No mess. Just entertaining!"

      You just wait for my lip-reading essay in tomorrow RF's. I'm myself horrified at what I am about to unleash.

      Hopefully by the time they do the sequel she will be old enough to see it in the cinema, I hope WW sequel is gonna be one of the first films they do since they pretty much already wrecked Superman beyond fixing and Batfleck seems to be at constant flight risk