Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mac and Me

In Mac and Me, the 1988 McDonald’s produced movie that definitely does not rip-off E.T., a family of MACs (Mysterious Alien Creatures) with serious blood sugar issues get sucked into a NASA space probe and dragged back to Earth. Being able to make electronic items and other random things explode, they aren’t held captive for long, and the littlest MAC, let’s call him Mac, finds refuge with some kid, let’s call him Eric, and his completely-different-from-the-family-in-E.T. family.
  • This movie bears absolutely no relation to E.T., and it is purely coincidental that the title fonts resemble the fonts you might find on a bag of Reese’s Pieces. = +2pts
  • What do we do on Mars? Oh, you know, wander aimlessly around the desert, suck shit out of holes in the ground with all these straws we happen to have. You know, that kind of thing. = -7pts
  • Why did these aliens who resemble geriatric famine victims with no motor control fail to win America’s hearts? = -17pts
  • Getting sprayed with a fire extinguisher full of shaving cream. = +3pts
  • Ok, the joke about California being full of suburban, middle class white kids pretending to commune with the Great Earth Spirit is actually pretty accurate. = +5pts
  • In E.T., the first person to see the alien was the little sister of a kid named Eliot, but in Mac and Me, the first person to see the alien is the little girl next door who’s not related at all to the kid in this movie, named Eric, so this film absolutely does not constitute any sort of copyright infringement. = +12pts
  • Doo dee doo, just eatin’ a bag of Skittles in my wheelchair…nothin’ to see here, just this giant bag of deliciously endorsable Skittles… = -7pts
  • It’s fitting that Eric watches the Snorks on T.V., because the Snorks were also absolutely not a rip-off of any other show, like the Smurfs. = +3pts
  • This scene . = +53 pts
  • We’re pretty sure that “Schizofreakia” was the name of an early ‘80s Rick James album. = +8pts
  • In a strategy that is in no way similar to Eliot’s leaving a trail of Reese’s Pieces to attract E.T., Eric leaves a trail of…soda straws? = +7pts
  • Hey, everybody! In the middle of an emotionally and physically traumatic fight involving a vacuum cleaner, I just coined a term: MAC. You know, for Mysterious Alien Creature? Can everybody please use this term for the rest of the movie so that it catches on? Hello? Everybody? ....hello? = -25pts
  • Hey, everyone in the neighborhood! All of our dogs chased a Martian down the street and ran him up a tree and won’t let him go, and now there’s a horrible ‘80s ballad blaring all over the place. Is this the apocalypse? Does anyone care? Hello? Anyone? …hello? = -25pts
  • Mac doesn’t look so good – let’s keep him on his strict diet of high fructose corn syrup. = -17pts
  • Government agent who is hunting for MACs: Whaddya think? Should we follow the people with the giant moving teddy bear making bleep blorp sounds? = -5pts
  • Ronald McDonald is the least surreal element in this classic scene  involving break dancing, football players (also break dancing), and an alien in a teddy bear outfit, break dancing. = +75pts
  • Yet another out-of-control wheelchair scene, and the only available clip of it on YouTube has been dubbed over with the Benny Hill Theme . = +2pts
  • Thank God, they’ve finally put a shirt on Mac. = +10pts
  • The whole Mac family doesn’t look so good, either. Corn syrup, stat! = -7pts
  • While playing Simon Says with the Mac family, the kids accidentally start an interplanetary war by signing insinuations that Mrs. Mac commits brbleplzr with a soda straw under the Great Zygrschisx.  = -13pts
  • The scene where the Mac family wanders into a grocery store seems prescient in the age of peopleofwalmart.com. = -5pts
  • We’re not sure why it was important to have made the Macs American citizens instead of, you know, putting them on a rocket back to their home planet, but we are fans of how they’ve been forced to wear clothes. = +12pts
Total Score: +64 pts
Available on: YouTube

References are vague, and sources disreputable, but it’s probable that Mac and Me contains the very first instance of the now classic cinematic technique of break dancing at McDonald’s. Prior to 1988, the technique had been used in cruder forms, and with limited success, most notably in Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse’s can-can at Mickey D’s in An American in Paris, and in Gone with the Wind’s cotillion at McDonald’s, which was ultimately cut from the film after test audiences rioted. Post -1988, the McDonald’s break dance became a staple of great filmmaking, lending poignancy and flare to such moments as the Confederate vs. Union dance-off in Glory, the tragic conclusion of Herzog’s Grizzly Man, and most recently, in the stirring climax of 47 Ronin, delivering a damning statement on the debilitating societal effects of the capitalization of milkshakes and dance. Even the allusion to milkshakes in There will be Blood was director P.T. Anderson’s veiled attempt to incorporate the spirit of McDonald’s and break dancing into his film, but audiences failed to respond to the subtle reference, and critics were non-plussed by what they regarded as Anderson’s contempt for tradition. Ironically, the break dance scene had been included in There will be Blood’s script from the beginning, but mid-way through filming, star Daniel Day Lewis severely strained his latissimus dorsi, making it impossible for him to do the worm. In later interviews, Lewis stated, “The chance to do a McDonald’s break dance was my sole reason for doing the film. After my injury, I was devastated, and my performance reflects the pale shadow of a man that I had become. Fortunately, I received a call from Spielberg, and was soon able to pop and lock my way through Lincoln.” In conclusion, while Mac and Me, like many Merchant Ivory productions, has long been criticized for being visually lush yet emotionally empty, there is no denying its lasting influence on cinema. To paraphrase Mr. Lewis’ final statement on the subject, “I sought the dance of Mac and Me, but ere I danced, the dance chose me.”

Score Technician: Alex Pearlstein

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