Bad Movies Beware!
It’s been a while since I needed Tylenol Migraine Strength to finish a movie.
I watched this on the fly, along with The Incredible Melting Man, as part of a panel I helped design for ConCarolinas alongside Bill Mulligan, who has actually seen more crap cinema than I have. Given my background and how many old-school B-movies Dad subjected me and my brother to during our childhood, that’s impressive.
If you’ve been reading my reviews for more than five minutes, you know that I stick to a pretty basic formula: a little bit of small-talk, a run-down of the film with some spoilers, and the verdict where I break it down and tear the movie apart.
Yeah, this one may have to go a little differently.
Why? Because, in truth, I can’t really give you a clear synopsis of this gargantuan pile of hippopotamus s**t. Why, specifically, a hippo? Because the use their tails to fling it everywhere while they go, and that’s what the storyline and writing in this move does. I always tout The Sweetest Thing as one of the most random movies I’ve ever seen, but at least the film was coherent.
Even going back through my notes isn’t helping. The story is so jumbled and wayward that even my notes jump around like a kindergarten class after a school Valentine’s Day party.
I’ll do my best. I’d say you’d have to watch it to understand, but don’t do that to yourself.
Eddie is a simple sheep farmer who decides to hit Reno and check out the gambling scene. He strikes it pretty big, gets s**t-housed, and wanders into a small nearby town called Silverdale. There he finds a town that literally lives in the past. People dressed in Old West get-up, old buildings, very few cars, and places like a General Store and a saloon make up the town.
Eddie stumbles into the saloon, gets mugged by a whore, and starts a fight that he loses. The sheriff throws him out, and Eddie is picked up by Professor Clemens, who takes him back home and drops him off with the sheep.
You may now proceed with the jokes.
Eddie, still in a drunken stupor, goes to the pen and checks on his sheep. He passes out but wakes up again when there is lots of weirdness, camera randomness, and screaming sheep.
Meanwhile, either earlier in the day while Eddie was at the saloon or sometime the next morning (not really clear because this movie avoids transitions like Con Crud), we meet Mayor Silverdale. Not a coincidence, by the way. His family founded the town. Barnstable, the film’s Token Black Guy, offers to buy Silverdale so he can develop on the property and control the mines.
Silverdale refuses, and Barnstable leaves with the idea of approaching the people instead. Silverdale has Phillip, the local pastor and thug, follow him.
It’s about riiiiiiight THERE that this movie stops making any sense whatsoever.
The professor and his assistant, Mariposa, go to check in on Eddie and find that one of his sheep has given birth to a mutated sheep-beast of some kind. The movie then becomes two films in one, but both are told only in small clips that are completely randomized until everything comes together in the last twenty minutes or so.
No, seriously. The movie really isn’t comprised of much more than montages split up by random scenes that take place God-knows-when. Night, day, evening, that time between breakfast and lunch where you can’t figure out if you’re hungry or just want a snack because you’re bored, there’s really no way to tell.
Eventually Silverdale has an annual festival where they get together and celebrate the past and tradition. In other words, they all get together dressed like they do every day and play games and s**t. It’s kind of like leaving Best Buy and dropping by Granny’s Electronics Expo where you can still buy CRT televisions, Channel F consoles (Pong, people), and VHS players.
Barnstable gets into a shooting contest where he’s trying to shoot bottles for a prize, and the sheriff sets it up to look as if he shot the town’s beloved police dog. Barnstable spends an unknown amount of time in a jail cell (minutes, hours, who knows?), and then is set free and told to leave town.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mariposa and Eddie have somehow become a thing despite his love of sheep and her need to change her outfit every f**king camera shot. Mariposa and the Professor discover that a gas inside the mine leaked and caused the sheep to mutate.
The mutant sheep, but the way, is huge now. After some unexplained events that also include watching Mariposa and Eddie making out, the sheep escapes. Eddie, the Prof, and Mariposa escape the lab as it goes to s**t and they go looking for Sheepy McSheeperson.
The sheep hits the countryside as it makes it way toward Silverdale, terrorizing people along the way. Barnstable is on the run from Philip, and the posse and ends up at the lab. Soon the posse captures the sheep and puts it on display. Mayor Silverdale turns on the townspeople and chaos ensues while our heroic group tries to convince the town that the Mayor is crooked. Silverdale is trashed, the heroes go on the run, the sheep is killed, and Silverdale stands at the podium laughing maniacally as the town burns around him.
Yeah. Political much?
This review is slightly broken, but it’s not like the source material I had to work with was great to begin with. It may look like I held back on the spoilers, but I really didn’t. The pacing isn’t bad, but that’s about like saying that running towards a six-foot tall mound of horse diarrhea will get you there faster than walking.
I like to begin with the acting, which was on par with those little shows kids put on in elementary school. You know the ones: you go because your kid is in it, but it makes it no less painful and you spend most of the time wishing you had some heroin with you. It may have gone better if, well, anyone in the film knew how to act. Stuart Lancaster, who plays Mayor Silverdale, ends up being the token actor who knows what he’s getting into and goes over the top. His performance isn’t all that bad, and you end up hating the character, which is good because that’s the intention. The problem is the sea of wooden and forced line delivery you have to wade through to get to Lancaster’s little island of decent acting.
The audio is a hot mess, but it’s not the worst thing in the film. A LOT of saloon music and banjos, but nothing really memorable. The mutant sheep has a pretty generic monster roar-slash-growl, which was a little disappointing to me. If they’d found a way to work in a sheep’s typical sound and “monsterize” it in a way, that would’ve at least shown some effort toward uniqueness, but they leave a lot on the table and never really flesh out anything. The dialogue sounds forced onto the print, making everyone sound like they’re each their own little narrator.
Probably the biggest issue is the camerawork and overall look of the movie. Lots of landscape viewing and montages, and a LOT of wide camerawork, which really shot the movie in the foot when it came to scenes that would’ve benefited from a tighter shot. The shots also tended to be awkward, and it was most of those where the director decided to leave the damn camera static and let the awkwardness marinate.
NOTHING stayed consistent. Mariposa was the biggest culprit here. I swear the woman had more wardrobe changes than Elton John. She almost literally had a different outfit in EVERY shot. It was as if they dressed her for the action, which was already torn up from the writer/director’s apparent phobia of transitions. One scene she’s in her blue jeans and cowgirl vest, Sheepster the Mutant Cotton Ball escapes, and she runs it down while wearing this ghastly yellow dress. Eddie finds her, and I guess she decided the dress was as ugly as I thought it was because she changes clothes again for the next scene. It was like watching Indecisive Barbie have a wardrobe malfunction, Xanax playset sold separately.
Overall, this movie earns the full 6 Piles of S**t. Yeah, I get that it’s a satire and all, but a lack of effort and attention to minor details really takes away from any film, even ones that are supposed to be “So Bad It’s Good.” This movie is a s**t storm that got deposited onto a harmless roll of blank film after a night of cabbage and shrimp tacos covered in goat cheese and s**t sauce. Also, it apparently became remake fodder because we got a little diddy in 2006 called Black Sheep, which was reported to be funny as all hell.
I guess you CAN beat the classics.