The JOE-DOWN Reviews ‘Mac and Me’

Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “Mac and Me.”

The info:

The‌ ‌Movie:‌ ‌‌“Mac and Me”‌ ‌

Starring:‌ ‌‌Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward, Tina Caspary 

Director:‌ Stewart Raffill

Plot‌ ‌Summary:‌ ‌‌(From‌ ‌IMDB)‌ An alien trying to escape from NASA is befriended by a wheelchair-bound boy.

Rotten‌ ‌Tomatoes‌ ‌Rating:‌ ‌‌0 ‌percent‌

Our take:

Froemming: In 1982, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” took movie-goers by storm. Steven Spielberg captured the hearts of a generation with a simple story: A child befriends an alien from outer space that looked like a shriveled ball sack. The alien does not understand the environment around it, giving us all laughs when it downs a crap-ton of beer and thinks a child dressed like Yoda is his buddy from a galaxy far, far away.

Did I pick that classic for this week’s JOE-DOWN?

No.

I picked the Market Pantry ketchup equivalent to the Heinz that Spielberg gave to the world: “Mac and Me,” a movie more known for being Paul Rudd’s punching bag for years on Conan O’Brien’s various shows than anything else:

“Mac and Me” follows the same basic premise, but with a lot more questionable elements. Such as making the aliens nightmare fuel, killing off our wheel-chair bound protagonist (even worse in the alternate ending which we will touch on) and a full-on break-dance sequence at a McDonald’s that just comes out of (REDACTED) nowhere.

Brown, as I start downing Coca-Cola’s like water, why don’t you give us your initial thoughts? 

Brown: I was excited when you picked this. I love Paul Rudd movies!

Seriously, I’ve known about this movie for years, with it being one of the early episodes of “How Did This Get Made?” to any semi-popular YouTube movie reviewer making fun of it. 

Froemming: Also on the last season of “Mystery Science Theater 3000!”

Brown: See? All the greats cover it. Why not us? We’re in that same company, right? Right?!

*Deafening silence*

So yeah… I knew this movie had a reputation but like any Millennial, the only part I knew of was the scene of Eric falling into the reservoir or whatever it was. It was really (REDACTED) stupid and out of nowhere.

How little I knew. Basically EVERYTHING in this movie is stupid and out of nowhere. 

But enough talk, let’s get into it. Froemming, lead us off while I shake off my nightmares of Mac’s family.

mac-and-me

Froemming: We start off on a barren planet that looks suspiciously like Death Valley, where a NASA doodad (technical term) lands. We also see the source of all our nightmares, a family of aliens that all look like they are in a constant state of having a stroke and have a puckered butthole for a mouth.

Brown: The opening shot of this movie is a sickly alien sitting alone on a desolate planet. I feel like “Watchmen” needs to sue.

dr. manhattan

Froemming: At least Dr. Manhattan sometimes wore underwear in the graphic novel. These aliens are acting like life is always being at Woodstock. Dirty (REDACTED) hippie aliens. 

Well, they get close to the doodad, and literally get sucked into it as if their bodies are made of the same material as Stretch Armstrong’s elastic arms.

And thus begins what will probably be a month’s worth of terrible fever dreams for myself seeing this. 

Brown: It dawned on me pretty early: These aliens are the Jackoffasaurs from “South Park.”

The biggest complaint I have about anything in this movie is WHY THE (REDACTED) DID THE ALIENS HAVE TO BE FLESH COLORED?!

Froemming: To paraphrase Michael Bay: Because shut the (REDACTED) up, that’s why.

Brown: These things are sentient skin tags! They’re just beyond disgusting. Yeah, ET didn’t look great. Even Alf had a phallic schnoz. But these are BY FAR the ugliest interpretation of aliens… or really any creature ever devised on film. H.P. Lovecraft and Tom Savini combined couldn’t make up such nightmares.

Froemming: These aliens look like hallucinations William S. Burroughs would have had while on a heroin binge. 

Well, the doodad comes back to Earth, where a bunch of scientists and government agents (one looks suspiciously like MLB legend Keith Hernandez) and awaiting to see what data it gathered or whatever.

Then our alien friends bust out of the thing like they were the Beastie Boys about to fight for our right to party

Brown: … How did the doodad return to the planet?

So we find out that these aliens have a power where they can pulsate electricity from their hands. It’s how the family is able to escape this space droid… thing. But before it’s even able to take off, there are hoses breaking and sparks flying out of the damn thing. I would think something that is receiving that kind of damage would be marooned on this planet (that I’m assuming is a moon of Saturn?). 

*Deep sigh* I’m asking for common sense in a movie allegedly paid for by McDonald’s. I’m the idiot here.

Froemming: These aliens break out and run amok on the streets, causing about as many car pile-ups as the Blues Brothers. The youngest one, Mac (I have no memory of when he gets the nickname) just runs off and ends up in a van with the Cruise family. We learn that the mother, Janet, has uprooted the family from Illinois to a sweet, brand new house and high-paying job in the lingerie department at a Sears in California…

*Checks notes*

*Rubs temple* Holy (REDACTED) this movie makes zero sense…

Brown: Mac got his name randomly in the middle of the movie when Eric refers to him as a Mysterious Alien Creature. That was absolutely a placeholder name in the script before McDonald’s came in and DEMANDED some product placement. 

Because MY GOD, this movie is egregious with the product placement. This is a world where Coca-Cola has replaced the water supply, Sears is a bustling business that people are willing to move their families halfway across the country to work at for what I assume is an entry-level position AND where McDonald’s is more or less the rec center the breakdancing group is trying to save in “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.”

I’m just gonna drink Pepsi for the rest of time in protest of this movie. I would also go to Burger King but I actually got some food-borne illness from one of their burgers this month so (REDACTED) the King. I’ll go with… I don’t know… Arby’s.

Froemming: You’ve become David Puddy.

Brown: That’s right.

Froemming: So Mac steals a ride with this family, and drinks Eric’s can of Coke. We then learn that this should have really been called “Product Placement: The Movie.” Between McDonald’s, Coke, Sears, Skittles and whatever the hell else they raised money from, they saw the power of product placement from the Reese’s Pieces moment in “E.T.” and ran it right into the (REDACTED) ground. 

Brown: Skittles have taken a turn downward since they replaced the green skittle from lime to green apple. 

I just had to speak that into existence so they’ll switch it back. Do the right thing, Skittles.

Froemming: The Cruise family then make it to their nice, three bedroom home where Eric has his own, private bathroom. How much was Sears paying their entry-level employees in 1988? The mom is making money hand over fist. THIS IS CRAZY TALK!

Brown: I want to point out quick that Sears, Roebuck and Company’s world headquarters is based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Why did the Cruise family have to move to California to take a job for a company that’s based in their home (REDACTED) state? The mom hasn’t worked for 10 years so this can’t be a job high up the corporate ladder. What the (REDACTED) is going on in this movie?!

*Deep sigh* I’m asking for common sense in a movie allegedly paid for by McDonald’s. I’m the idiot here.

Froemming: Those are all excellent questions. And I have no answer to them. And, I doubt, do the screenwriters.

And right away, Mac starts his creepy, creepy mischief by running around outside naked like a maniac, and the neighbor girl, dressed like a Native American for some reason, sees him. And Eric is now being traumatized by the weird, electrical effects of this alien, such as powering up his remote control cars and keeping his TV’s power on, even when it is disconnected from the electrical outlet and power cord. 

Then, at night, Mac redoes the whole living room so it looks like it has been taken over by vegan hipsters who forage food like Andre in “The League.” 

And when the mom wakes up, she thinks it was the work of her youngest child, who I should remind us all, is wheel-chair bound, so it is not like he is climbing ladders to get things on the wall.

This movie makes zero (REDACTED) sense. 

Brown: You know, with the neighbor girl Debbie dressing like a Native American, if that made it in a movie today, Social Justice Warriors would have a field day with her. I’ll start it now: #CancelMacAndMe

Then, watching Eric’s brother Michael operate power tools the night before, Mac starts taking a power drill to the wall and cutting a hole in the front door with a circular saw like we’re in a horror movie. Though to be fair, with the way the aliens look in this picture, Leatherface looks human to me now. 

Also, I had to take a screenshot of this moment. I know it’s not the case, seeing when this movie took place, but I swear I thought the deer head in the Mac-destroyed living room was wearing a MAGA hat. Observe.

screen shot

Froemming: LOCK MAC UP! LOCK MAC UP!

Now, Eric is down because he thinks an alien is ruining his life, and I assume Trump saw this movie and now thinks the aliens in this movie are what Mexican people are like. 

Brown: To be fair, Eric doesn’t know if it’s an alien yet. For all he knows, a nude toddler is ruining his life.

Froemming: So Eric decides “What the hell” and rolls toward a steep hill that leads to a cliff that drops 30 feet into a reservoir, which is probably where hobos go to the bathroom. 

This kid is so (REDACTED) stupid. And we get the classic Paul Rudd moment where Eric’s brake breaks, and he falls to what should be his death, but because of the power of Mac, survives without a single scratch! 

Brown: The only power of Mac’s that had been established was the electrical fingers. So Eric should be dead. Not because of the fall, but because Mac introduced electricity to water and made the reservoir an electric chair. 

But no, this movie plays fast and loose with its rules and its ignorant white kids making teepees in the neighborhood. 

Eric gets checked out and he’s fine. And I wish we still lived in a world where doctors with apothecary bags made house calls.

Froemming: Gotta love doctors in the ‘80s. Here, take this sedative kid. Enjoy the magic carpet ride of prescription drugs.

So Eric’s family and doctor believe he is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, because he is seeing this elderly naked toddler running around with electric hands and saving his life and whatnot. And looking at that description, that would make for a kickass Black Sabbath song.
Debbie says she couldn’t back his story up because they would not believe her and would probably dope her up on narcotics as well. 

What can they do? Well, they decide to set a trap for old Mac. With a vacuum cleaner.

How did these two kids know about Mac’s body being made from Stretch Armstrong’s elastic arms!?

Brown: I figured they had just watched “Ghostbusters” and thought, “Yeah, let’s do that!” Also, they get Mac into this trap thanks to Coca-Cola: the choice of gross nude child aliens.

The vacuum cleaner gag causes a power surge thanks to Mac’s electricity abilities that causes a house’s lights to flicker but doesn’t kill a wheelchair-bound child after falling into a lake. Michael finally sees that his brother isn’t a schizophrenic, which is a relief, I suppose. But this all happens when Mom comes home and Mac splits to wander the woods like a nude sasquatch.

All the while, Mac is missing his nude family, which we see starving to death and in tattered clothes in either the desert or their home planet.

My working theory on these aliens with no factual basis but because it’s more interesting than this movie is: These creatures are disrobed Jawas from “Star Wars.” I think they were excommunicated from their Jawa community for, well, never putting on their robes and freaking out the rest of the species.

MAC AND ME

Froemming: I would not doubt that. Except the mother and father are like 6 feet tall. 

Well, a new morning arises and the mom wakes up to find the huge mess from the other day is fixed, even the painting that has been in her family for 100 years, which I call bull(REDACTED) on. See, Mac stayed up all night doing this and the idiot Ms. Cruise thinks her two dingdong sons pulled this off. I would be shocked if they could pour a bowl of cereal, let alone do carpentry and home remodeling. 

Meanwhile, the government is on the dumbest X-File in history tracking Mac down, yet still can’t find the other three who were just roaming around the area without clothes or shelter or food. 

*Rubs temple* (REDACTED) this movie is idiotic. 

Well, they track Mac down to the Cruise family, where they look more like hired goons than government agents. And the brothers somehow recognize them? That is what Wikipedia tells me, and I will go with that, because at this point the movie is a blur of rage to me. 

Brown: Yeah, the brother connects the dots that the guy coming to their door asking questions is the same guy who was checking cars near the NASA base (or military base… whatever) at the start of the movie.

They all want to help Mac, but first, there’s a social obligation to fill as Eric and Debbie (who kept her Native American get-up at home, thank God) have a birthday party to attend at the happiest place in the world: McDonald’s. Not wanting to let Mac out of their sights, Eric stuffs Mac in a giant teddy bear. Whatever puts clothes on Mac, I guess. 

And this McDonald’s… OH MY GOD. I don’t have the words.

Froemming: You are welcome for the night terrors you will forever have from this scene, Brown. 

And this scene starts off bonkers, because it is a (REDACTED) breakdance scene that makes no sense at all. The only way to have made this whole thing better was if this song was playing:

Yes, Mac is hidden but can’t take a hint at McDonald’s: The Greatest Place Ever™ and keeps moving and whatnot. And around the time the hired goons get there, THE PLACE ERUPTS INTO A CHOREOGRAPHED DANCE ROUTINE! I mean, not since the ending of “Footloose” have I seen such a random example of choreographed dance in a movie. 

And Mac gets in on the dance, and he is busting a move on the counter where people order. And while this scene played out, I thought I was having a stroke because I could not believe what I was seeing. 

Brown: Look, we can never do this whole sequence justice so here, loyal readers, absorb this moment. Also marvel at how psychotic Mac looks inside a teddy bear.

When Mac remodeled the living room, I feel like he had “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” on in the background and decided to steal Pee-Wee’s dance moves.

No one has ever had this much fun at a McDonald’s. Not even ones with ball pits. Do McDonald’s ball pits still exist? God, I hope not.

Froemming: Mac in the bear costume with the cutout eyes looked like Leatherface.

Brown: Ronald McDonald is also at this party! 

Well, allegedly it was Ronald. You get out of here, Gacy!

Froemming: I think it was the real one, right? Looked like the real Gacy!

Well, the crew escapes in the van with the government on their trail. Why isn’t the FBI, CIA and a SWAT team chasing down this situation? I dunno, it was Reagan’s America I guess. But they get to a wind farm, and they said this was what the straws Mac had been laying around was supposed to represent. I disagree. I think Mac is simply a slob who never throws away his old cans of tasty, refreshing Coke. 

But here they find Mac’s family, looking somehow even worse than when I saw them an hour before in this movie. What will save them? Water? Medical treatment?

Nope. The refreshing flavor blast of Coca-Cola will revive these aliens. Because carbonated sugar water is their life blood. 

Brown: My working theory is that Mac’s family is dying of carbon monoxide poisoning inside the mine they’re hanging out in. They have the air sensitivity of a canary. At least the movie had the decency to put Mac in a shirt for the rest of the movie from this point on. 

With their blood sugar levels spiked with Coca-Cola, Mac’s family hop in the van to go… somewhere? I dunno. 

While stopping at a gas station, daddy Mac assaults a woman because he wanted her Sprite and chaos ensues. The aliens escape and wander into a grocery store to get pop and snack foods like a bunch of stoned teenagers going to the Kwik-E-Mart to look at shiny objects. 

Security rushes in and point guns at the aliens until Mac’s dad takes a gun. This gets the real police involved and we have the makings of a shootout.

… Why are we having a shootout in a family picture? Like everything else in this (REDACTED) movie, it just comes out of left field!

*Deep sigh* I’m asking for common sense in a movie allegedly paid for by McDonald’s. I’m the idiot here.

Froemming: Not only is this completely random, there is an alternative version of this where Eric gets (REDACTED) shot by the police.

Behold this insanity:

The screenwriters said “What this family film needs is for the police to shoot a wheel-chair bound child.” This is something that actually happened and it continues to blow my mind. 

Brown: You know, when the gas station starts to explode (because family movies ALWAYS need pyro), I did think “Wait, why is Eric slumped over in his wheelchair?” Sure enough, it was because he was SHOT in the alternate ending. Frankly, that least makes things make sense instead of, you know, Eric just being slumped over instead of trying to run away from the gunfire and explosions.

Froemming: Never fear, because the aliens walk out from the flames of destruction and all I could hear was this song in my head:

They walk over to Eric’s lifeless body and begin their cosmic whistling, which is another random BS power they have. This causes the boy to levitate and is brought back from the dead, where I assume years later, because of these aliens playing God, he will be like this:

Instead of what should have happened, which is this:

Brown: And for saving the life of one child, this alien family is granted American citizenship.

Wait, what the (REDACTED) did I just write?!

Yeah! Mac and his family are at a graduation ceremony for new American citizens. They didn’t have to learn the Bill of Rights or take the citizenship test or anything. For saving one cute white kid, they are automatically Americans. 

Apparently it’s easier for an extraterrestrial to become an American than it is for someone from a Muslim country.

Froemming: I laughed out loud seeing these aliens in human clothes. It was probably the most jarring thing in this whole (REDACTED) movie. 

mac-and-me-28

And then they jump into their car, and I swear I began having flashbacks, because as they started to drive it looked just like the “Full House” intro.

Brown: THEN, this movie has the audacity to think it’ll have a sequel when it says “We’ll be back!” 

I can’t even, Froemming. Let’s drink enough Coke to fall into a diabetic coma… or go to recommendations, I suppose.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

Froemming: This is not a good movie, but part of me wants to recommend it just so you know what an insane piece of cinema this was. I say check it out for its weird ass place in pop culture.

Brown: You know what? If you want to see a laughably bad movie, I’d recommend it. Just know what you’re getting into.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

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