The JOE-DOWN Presents: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2016

Fifty. Joe Brown and I watched 50 (REDACTED) movies this year for this blog, along with 26 episodes of “Fuller House,” which nearly drove both of us frothing-at-the-mouth insane. When we started this, we were not sure what this was going to really be, but I think both of us agree that we truly hit our stride with “Urban Cowboy,” a film about John Travolta’s love for a mechanic bull.

We watched 50 movies and wrote 49 blogs and recorded one podcast for this. Because we are masochists, a lot of the films we watched were pretty (REDACTED) bad. But we did watch some legitimately good films as well, because nothing is beyond our snark, not even Prince.

We decided to do a year in review of the films we watched, categorized into segments ranging from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, along with a few others.

The Good

Can be good as in it was a good film or good as in it was stupid fun to watch and review.

Brown: “Urban Cowboy”

This movie is not good. But it was the movie where I felt like, as a duo, we found our groove. All thanks to John Travolta and his love of the mechanical bull.

While the gold standard for bad movies seems to start with Nic Cage, I think John Travolta has become our go-to for overacting and general absurdity. And really, this was a fun movie to pick apart because every character was just so unlikable.

And I want to say this again: This torrid love of this movie is sparked by Travolta’s obsession of a mechanical bull. And that kind of love was never matched after I picked this for a Valentine’s Day selection.

From the review:Brown: Instead, Bud gets insanely jealous of anyone else who rides the mechanical bull that he assaults Wes and Sissy because of it. At one point, Sissy tells Wes that they’ve only been married for a week. You got beat up over a mechanical bull, get that marriage annulled. Now.”

Honorable Mention:KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

Brief thoughts:

Froemming: Like we mentioned, this is where both of us started hitting the stride of what the JOE-DOWN has become. While fun to review and watch, this is a pretty terrible film with a terrible message: Abusive husbands are keepers, ladies.

Brown: The whole idea behind the JOE-DOWN was that we’re both pop culture nuts who were influenced by things like “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and “How Did This Get Made?” And we only had one goal: Make each other laugh. And this is really where I feel we found that dynamic.

FOOTLOOSE, Kevin Bacon, 1984, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Froemming: Footloose

I know this is an odd choice in a year we watched both “Fargo” and “Creed” (which are simply better films) but this was perhaps the most fun I had reviewing a film here. For whatever reason, I got a hair up my ass and ventured back to a persona I had writing satirical columns in our college newspaper: Angry Writer That Is Pissed At All The Wrong Things. Here, I sided with Lithgow’s character Rev. Shaw, who hates dancing because his son died in a freak car accident after a night of dancing (which fit right into how ridiculous I came off).

The best part: I told Brown I was thinking about approaching the review this way, and I don’t think he believed me until I started writing away.

From the review:Froemming: This is a movie about an idyllic town with strong family values that is suddenly terrorized by an out-of-towner who mocks the laws and blasts Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” non-stop in his car. I, too, would be upset by Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) coming along and making a mockery of everything I hold dear with his perversion for dancing and love of Kenny Loggins’ music.

In other words, I didn’t see this as teens being oppressed, I saw it as out of control kids terrorizing a town while under the influence of dance-crazed maniac.”

Honorable Mention:Fargo.”

Brief thoughts:

Brown: The 80s are ripe with cheesiness and few things matched “Footloose.” I mean, it’s a town that bans dancing like it’s some Quaker settlement in the 1800s. And Kevin Bacon is miscast so badly as a Chicago street tough that it is this perfect elixir of terrible, yet brilliant.

Froemming: I still stand by my views that dancing is immoral and should be a life sentence in prison. Rev. Moore, your change of heart still has me fuming.

The Bad

A film that was just bad that stood out the most to us.

Froemming: Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants

This is where I believe we started venturing into choosing films just to torment the other. A film that was in no way marketed, made or even intended to be viewed by a person like me, watching this was tough. Making fun of high school girls felt weird, but at the end, they were so insufferable that I felt we did OK here.

From the review:Brown: What was it that drove you insane? Was it the everlasting friendship of four girls who are “The Breakfast Club” without the charm, the fun or the marijuana? Or how their four summers are intertwined by jeans? Now that I think about it, this movie is a two-hour commercial for Levi’s: The jeans that fit all shapes and sizes. I hate pants shopping because that is NOT how it works.”

Honorable Mention: Most of the other 49 films we watched.

Brief Thoughts:


Froemming: After watching this I felt like Christian Bale’s Batman after having his spine snapped by Tom Hardy’s Bane. And I imagined you giving the speech about what would break first, my spirit or my body.

Brown: Grease 2

Like Froemming, I’m never going to admit to being a fan of musicals. There are a few in there where they are at least fun with a catchy song or two.

“Grease 2” did not have a catchy song. It had songs about using bowling as one of the most unsexy euphemisms for sex ever if it wasn’t for a song later in the movie where plant reproduction is used to excite a bunch of teenagers. I mean, I get it, I was young. But plants never got my juices flowing.

Then, a greaser tries to rape a girl by saying they’d be having sex for America. I don’t claim to be a moral authority, but holy hell, this movie is just wrong.

From the review:Froemming: The moral of the story is this: Conform to what the popular crowd wants, it is the only way to be a success in life. Not only is this a garbage moral, it is a garbage film.”

Honorable Mention: “Halloween” (Rob Zombie version)

Brief Thoughts:

Froemming: This….this is what you deserved Brown. No, nobody deserves a musical with a song about bowling. If there was a common thread in a lot of the films we watched, it was, for some reason, bowling.

Brown: I had a friend return back to Minnesota from Florida for Christmas and we went bowling for a little get-together. With all the bowling things we’ve seen on the JOE-DOWN, I high-kicked and twirled on the lane… It didn’t help my score and I think I’m not allowed to hang out with these people anymore. I blame Adrian Zmed.

The Ugly

A film so bad it was almost intolerable to sit through and hard to review.

Brown:  “Be Cool”

Look, the objectively worst movie we saw in the first year of the JOE-DOWN was “SLC Punk 2.” But a bunch of no-name actors playing in a movie that was clearly a nostalgia grab, what could you expect?

Now, “Be Cool” committed what I think is the worst sin in any movie: It bored me.

Granted, I watched this movie in the late morning before review time, but through the first hour I was legit doing the sleepy head-bob. I needed to pause the movie, get some breakfast and some coffee just so I could slog through this uninteresting plot with bland characters.

What separates this from “SLC Punk 2” is that the cast should have made this movie at least interesting. Travolta, Uma Thurman, The Rock, Cedric the Entertainer, Andre 3000. Nope, they were all as bored as I was.

From the review:Brown: So to borrow a bit from Jason Mantzoukas in “How Did This Get Made,” I think this entire movie is a “Jacob’s Ladder” for Vincent Vega from “Pulp Fiction” where we’re shown the hero’s journey he’d go on had he not been killed. It shows Vincent becoming Chili Palmer and leaving Marcellus Wallace’s crime syndicate for the entertainment business. You see the faces of Mrs. Wallace (Thurman) and “The Wolf” (Keitel) in this dream sequence as the reformed Vega tries turning a small-time entertainer into a multi-platinum star.

If this was the “Jacob’s Ladder” I thought it was, I’m glad Butch took care of business against Vega in the apartment.”

Honorable mention: “Rock Star”

Brief Thoughts:

Froemming: Yeah, I was not expecting this to be as bad as it was. It had all the materials for a decent film except for a coherent script. And it was just a slog at times to sit through. Also: I despise smug Travolta, and he is nothing but smug in this film.

Brown: This movie was soooo phoned it, it should have been sponsored by Bell Pacific. If you’re bored acting in it, I’ll sure as hell be bored watching it.

Froemming: SLC Punk 2

This was a bad call on my part. I figured since the first film was pretty decent, that the sequel would be OK. Boy was I (REDACTED) wrong. I think it was only an hour long, but felt like a four-hour odyssey into unwatchable (REDACTED). Not only was it a slog to sit through, I struggled with the review because these are normally supposed to be fun, but revisiting this just made me more angry.

From the review:Brown: No question here, though, Heroin Bob is the most grating part of this movie. He talks down to the viewer and speaks like a Valley girl while bringing everybody up to speed. And it never stops. I wrote in my notes: I’m glad you’re dead, Heroin Bob. I’d like to think I’m not that cynical but man, his job alone in this movie ruined it for me. Everything else just made me go from disappointed to annoyed, all the way to seething”.

Honorable Mention: “Be Cool”

Brief thoughts:

Brown: This is unquestionably the dumbest movie we ever watched. If Heaven is real, when I step up to the pearly gates, I’m sure an angel will slap me across the face for wasting 80 minutes of my life on this (REDACTED).

Froemming: This was so misguided on all levels that everyone who was a part of making this should feel bad about it. You unleashed what is perhaps the worst movie I have ever seen.

The Guilty Pleasure

A film that we probably shouldn’t have enjoyed, but ended up having fun with it.

Froemming: Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs

I was way more entertained by this movie than I should have been. Everything about it was ridiculously idiotic, yet I still enjoyed sitting through it. It was one of those films that are a bad kind of good.

From the review:Brown: OK, so right away we are whisked off to Montana and we have some non-descript mining going on. And when we zoom in, something seems afoul because there are men armed to the teeth with shotguns and assault rifles. And, my favorite part, big wooden boxes that say “EXPLOSIVES.”

Then we meet Sinclair, who you know is important because she’s got a clipboard. And she’s probably evil because sunglasses.”

Honorable Mention:Snake Eyes

Brief Thoughts:

Brown: I’ll touch on this later, but I still laugh at this movie for the sheer absurdity. They needed CGI flashlights! And, I don’t know if Eric Roberts’ liver has ever quite recovered.

Froemming: I really hope we get a sequel from this. I could watch this madness at any time. Bad CGI somehow makes it better.

Brown: “Escape From LA.”

I came into this review with such low expectations. I loved “Escape From New York” and thought this was going to be another unnecessary sequel. And when Froemming told me there was a scene that Snake Plissken started surfing with Peter Fonda, my hopes would have hit the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

And as it turned out, the movie was stupid. And it was stupid fun. And to this point, I think this is the one JOE-DOWN movie that was fresh to me that I’ve wanted to go and rewatch on my own free time.

From the review:Froemming: Add ‘amazing basketball player’ to Snake’s resume. Where he finds the time to shoot hoops is beyond me.”

Honorable Mention: “Flash Gordon”

Brief Thoughts:

Froemming: Of all the goofy action movies we have watched for this blog, they all pale in comparison in terms of greatness because those other films do not have Snake Plissken surfing with an obviously stoned Peter Fonda.

Brown: Kurt Russell should never play a character that isn’t Snake Plissken. Imagine “Miracle” with Coach Snake Plissken instead of Herb Brooks. Or, Snake Plissken in “Death Proof.” It would be an autobiography.

The Revenge

Films we picked purely out of spite to make the other suffer.

Brown: “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”

The amount of anger Froemming gets when I tell him that we will review the sequel is enough to justify “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” in this spot. This is the movie where I learned that I can feed off of Froemming’s angst and feel satisfied.

From the review:Froemming: How you managed to find a movie with more confusing subplots than “Batman v Superman” is beyond me, Brown. This movie could probably be used in an enhanced interrogation technique in Guantanamo Bay. Not since “Fuller House” have I been this angry at my TV.

Brown: That’s a little extreme…

Froemming: No it is not. That is pretty reserved for how I felt watching this movie.”

Honorable Mention: “Can’t Hardly Wait”

Brief Thoughts:

Froemming: I (REDACTED) hate you for making me sit through this.

Brown: We will do the sequel. Mark my words.

Froemming: Bring It On

I picked this out of pure spite after sitting through “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” Little did I know we would find some unintentional comedy gold here, especially when Brown realized the name of the high school, Rancho Carne High School, is translated to Meat Ranch High.

From the review: “Brown: I wish this vehicle had flat tires before it ever went on the road.

This may be the second-most 90s movie to exist (behind “Can’t Hardly Wait,” a movie we will have to do someday on the JOE-DOWN). What this movie does have is some of the most unlikable people ever to be printed on celluloid. Right from the opening song (because, yes, we needed that) all the way to the very sportsmanship-like ending, this was grueling.

To give you an idea of that, my first note: We’re 20 seconds in and I already hate this.

Honorable Mention:Hellraiser

Brief Thoughts:

Brown: I thought Kirsten Dunst was insufferable in “Spider-Man 3” as she, Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi collectively tried to ruin my favorite superhero.

Then, I watched “Bring It On.” Hopefully Meat Ranch High School burns to the ground.

Froemming: Unlike “Sisterhood,” this film has multiple sequels I can make you sit through.

Standout Moment

Part in a particular movie, good or bad, that sticks out the most.

Froemming: The Reproduction song from “Grease 2

This stands out as being one of the strangest, most insane musical number I have seen on film. It is sung out of tune by the teacher, and made me break out laughing non-stop during the whole damn number.

From the review:Brown: Mr. Stuart (who is a substitute teacher for a teacher who keeps having a mental breakdown as a recurring joke, because suffering is funny) singing like that actually made me laugh.

But yeah, our words can’t do this number justice. Just watch the clip, folks. I get what it was like being a teenager with these feelings a middle-school teacher tried in vain to explain, but this scene was a bare chest away from turning this into a X-rated movie.

Man, this movie is making me sound like my dad.”

Honorable Mention: The monologues from “Bronson.”

Brief Thoughts:

Froemming: I recently re-watched this number on YouTube and I still am in awe of how insane it is. If anything, this and the migrant worker with Mr. Clean popping out of Ramona’s closet in “Fuller House” gave me some really great chuckles.

Brown: Not only did this movie ruin Michelle Pfeiffer for me, it ruined Judas Priest because the Cool Rider looks way too much like Rob Halford.

Brown: The dinosaurs explode in “Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs”

Just as recently as this week, I was telling people they had to watch this terrible movie on Netflix. My only justification… the dinosaurs explode. I sold a high school friend of mine to watch “Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs” just by saying that.

I need to send his wife an apology card for that.

From the review:Brown: While attacking the dinosaurs, we found out that the creatures are attracted to the smell of propane because while living in the mine, their blood became methane. So we have, and let this sink in for a moment, folks… … EXPLODING DINOSAURS.

Froemming: YES! YES! A million times YES! Just when I thought this film couldn’t get any nuttier, they throw that at us. So, with a flaming arrow, Jenny makes a few explode at the bar. I had to pause the movie there, because tears were flowing down my face from laughing so hard.”

Honorable Mention: Kevin Bacon’s rebellious dance in “Footloose”

Brief Thoughts:

Froemming: The mere fact these dinosaurs had, for some reason, methane for blood made this amazing. This movie thumbed its nose at science more than the oncoming Trump administration could ever dream to.

Brown: Everything is so improbable in this movie that when you try to think of the science of a dinosaur blowing up due to methane blood, you say to yourself, “You know, it’s not that far-fetched.”

This movie destroys science more than teaching creationism in schools.

That’s a wrap on 2016…

Brown: As we head into year two of the JOE-DOWN (and really, this will last until we either get fired or completely lose our sanity), we want to thank anyone who has given the weekly blog a glance, commented to us on Facebook or shared their sympathy as we watched two seasons of “Fuller House.”

Because of the plethora of downright bizarre movies out there thanks to streaming services, be sure to keep an eye out every Sunday (starting with “Flashdance” next week) as we torture ourselves for the entertainment of others.

Happy New Year.

Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down:

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