I'm not driving all the way out to Mill Hoods to go to a houseparty, mostly because my rims are on the nicer side. So what better way to spend the evening than with a liveblog of the Red Letter Media film Space Cop? This will be the Blu-Ray version of the film (there's a digital download as well, though I believe they are the same version). The movie is 102 minutes, and just for fun one day you should watch the video while listening to first Is the Is Are by DIIV followed up with Limblifter's Limblifter, a sort of do-it-yourself "Dark Side of the Rainbow" that probably makes about as much sense.
Anyways, tonight's liveblog will start at 6:55pm MT (8:55pm ET, and 12:55am Greenwich Mean Time). Go get your popcorn (or booze) and we'll meet back here. This will mean it can be over in time for me to start Human Achievement Hour.
6:55pm: Slight delay folks, should be starting in a minute or two.
6:58pm: And we're underway with a 2058 version of Milwaukee.
6:59pm: Was that an Earth Alliance destroyer in the space shot? Jessi Nakles is the voice of your police dispatcher.
7:01pm: Did the Mayor of the Moon buy his moustache from Neil Patrick Harris in A Million Ways to Die in the West?
7:03pm: With a little help from Mike and a plot point borrowed by Demolition Man, Space Cop saves the day. Or seems to, until a key plot point is revealed a second too late. The gunman holding the Mayor had planted a bomb in the mines, killing untold numbers. Because we aren't told.
7:04pm: Opening credits. I'll say here too that I've heard that unless you're a fan of RLM's works (example: the "New Bean Factory" joke) this movie isn't going to appeal to you. That's one of the many questions about this movie that I hope to answer here tonight.
7:05pm: Our first hot dog sighting.
7:06pm: "Star Wort" isn't a bad name for a beer, frankly.
7:10pm: Oh God, it's the Patton Oswalt cameo. Apparently Oswalt is a big RLM fan, and I suppose it's nice to see a bit of "star power" [they couldn't land Simon Pegg, huh? -ed]. But I don't like Patton Oswalt. I don't find his comedy very funny (partly because he reminds me way too much of Orny Adams, the "up and comer" featured in the Seinfeld movie Comedian), and of course his politics leave much to be desired. I guess the one good thing I can say about him is that he's on the right side of the free expression "debate" (and how weird is it to have a debate like that). Good on him and all, but again we shouldn't be finding it special or praiseworthy that somebody opposes limits on free expression. I will say though, for the purposes of fairness, the Oswalt's "do I sign out" bit was one of my favourite parts of the trailer. As an extended joke, though, it isn't quite as good. "Wazzup"? Really? The holographic balloon was the highlight.
7:13pm: Now promoted to Space Traffic Cop, Space Cop is hiding behind a space billboard reading a space book when an alien in a "Kbutu" class scoutship speeds by. The pilot doesn't seem to be up to anything good, barreling towards a suspicious wormhole and a mothership. Space Cop puts pedal to the medal, and this is going to end just like Star Trek: First Contact isn't it?
7:15pm: The original plan of the aliens was to land in 1985 (the year of Buckaroo Bonzai), but instead end up going to 2007 thanks to damage caused by Space Cop's lasers. Some nice classic 80s synth music accompanies Space Cop as he stumbles through the jungles of Wisconsin. (A park in Milwaukee, which is odd since Milwaukee was the future setting. That wasn't really necessary, was it?
7:17pm: 8 years later, Space Cop is heading to "The Grabowski's" set where he resolves a domestic dispute at the minor cost of a baby. Hey kids, remember The Grabowskis? That was a good show.
7:18pm: I assume that in the 8 years he's been in our time, Space Cop has learned he doesn't have a signal. I'm also amazed it's still Jessi's voice doing the dispatch. Of course, it happened in Back to the Future III as well.
7:19pm: The stereotypically angry black police captain is pretty awesome, and he does the Samauri Cop gag. Not sure why Reagan is still on the wall in 2015, but I approve. Beats President Monkey.
7:21pm: The evil future ship is breaking into a BioTech lab and they mention that our primitive computers aren't compatible with their Future!Computers. This is true, actually. Try using your iPad and a 5.25" disk drive.
7:25pm: The pancreatic cancer lady and the Enron guy were a bit of a shame interrupting the flow of the laser fight. Quick cuts to Space Cop's timid partner work okay for quick contrast. Finally the laser blasts dislodge Mike's Past!Cop character, who keeps Space Cop from stopping the bad guys at a crucial moment, allowing them to fly away.
7:28pm: Hi Nadine! Jocelyn Ridgely makes her appearance as a Woman in Black. A brain in a jar with Mike's voice is being interfaced with a computer. The brain demands a new body.
7:32pm: "Cop from the past, meet cop from the future." Mike (Detective Ted Cooper) is a frozen Milwaukee cop from the past, wearing a sterotypical trenchcoat. They're on the tail the "Gold Digger" (Jay Bauman), who for seven years has been stealing gold, but only good. One of the cops jokingly surmises that an alien from the future used a short-range teleporter. If you watched the Half in the Bag episode where they reviewed Cowboys and Aliens you know that the gold is a clue, probably used for the brain's wiring. I also liked the "no smoking" gag.
7:33pm: Already Mike's "old timey" accent is getting old.
7:35pm: There are a lot of glory shots of Milwaukee up here. I almost got to go last year but I never got around to it.
7:37pm: The bartender is played by the same actor who played the Moon Mayor. They didn't even ditch the moustache. (I guess he did mention something about his grandfather being a lowly bartender in the opening scene). Special camero by Freddie the comic book artist as a solitaire playing bar patron. There's a nice gag about microbrews and the selection of beers in modern pubs.
7:38pm: The hack frauds are on screen together for the first time. Cooper's gold watch has caught the Gold Digger's eyes, who uses a future-device to teleport the watch off his hands. Space Cop is recruited for the exciting chase sequence, which has some great use of the sun's lighting.
7:41pm: Did you catch all the "celebrities with secret deformities" on the clickbait ad in Space Cop's helmet? Along with all the RLM regulars there's Freddie the artist, and both Colin and Jim from Canada. Porn on his HUD keeps Space Cop out of the chase, but a little shaky-cam later and Cooper has made the collar in Mike and Jessi's back yard. The Gold Digger tries to fight his way out, but Space Cop accidentally stuns him with his space gun.
7:43pm: First appearance of that Redlettermedia staple, the slowly running shot. Is there anybody who finds it actually funny?
7:46pm: Josh (The Wizard) and Freddie in the back of the bar, as Cooper's plan is put into action. Space Cop poses as a gold-loving rapper on a TV morning show in order to lure the Gold Digger into stealing gold.
7:47pm: A whole raft of misplaced fag jokes. The context seems completely out of place. They didn't exactly flow organically from elements of the script.
7:49pm: "We saw where he went, now we level the building. That's police work."
7:50pm: The "most treasured possession" gag wasn't nearly executed as well here as it was in the first attempt to do Space Cop a few years back.
7:52pm: Space Cop tells the story how his wife was killed in the future for revenge for past events that almost certainly will come into play later in the film.
7:53pm: It's the old woman "Carol" from that one Half in the Bag episode playing a receptionist. Space Cop's ID is just a hologram, and Cooper again wants to have a cigarette in a building.
7:56pm: Chike Johnson's character even has a picture of his alien family on the desk. Nice touch.
8:00pm: Strip clubs in movies always are very non-risque. And so few members of the clientele ever seem interested in the strippers.
8:03pm: A ripoff to the theme song to "Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers" plays in the background while Jocelyn awkwardly moves around on stage in frumpy clothing.
8:07pm: Space Cop is starting to put the plan together, and he and Cooper have the traditional police buddy cop movie "falling out" scene. The sudden appearance of rain that clearly only covers Rich Evans coincides with the emotional "punch" of the movie. The two cop's methods couldn't be more different, but Cooper figures out that "Aleon Steel" doesn't mean they're aliens that steal. As the thunder rolls, the two cops "break up" and go their separate ways.
8:08pm: Special appearance of the "Sith Droid" from Star Wars Episode IV
8:12pm: Rich Evans plays drunk Space Cop about the same as he plays Harry Plinkett on Half in the Bag. Space Cop drives to the home of the man who killed his wife in the future (who is of course 9 years old) with murder on his mind. Unfortunately he accidentally kills the boy's father, and the boy gets away. So yeah, it's Terminator 3 time travel rules, not Terminator 2 time travel rules. Space Cop dropped a train on the kid, but it's obvious that he didn't actually die.
8:16pm: Cooper is investigating the break-in at the cryogenics lab, where he discovers that a misunderstood genius was stolen from the cryotube. "Denise Grabowski" is the name of the reporter that shows the news story where the scientist promises an "X-38" device and is attacked by an angry mob. There are a couple good gabs that keep the audience interested as the plot is developed: the cryo-scientist accidentally played his voyeur tape, and Cooper almost drank weird science-poison.
8:17pm: The X-38 device is a man-made black hole that would serve as a power source. Mike, of course, stole this idea from the Romulans (that's what they use to power their Warbirds instead of a traditional warp drive).
8:19pm: And we're on our way back into space! They accidentally down a jumbo jet and temporarily go all Star Trek Into Darkness on downtown Milwaukee.
8:21pm: Now that the brain is causing evil, he's killing the aliens using the same tubes that the DVD/VCR combo used to attack Jay/Mike/Plinkett in Half in the Bag. Jay does what he thought Bobba Fett should have done in Return of the Jedi...says "bye" when shit goes south and walks away.
8:23pm: Speaking of Trek/Wars, just like Han Solo in The Force Awakens they boost the shields and ram into the alien ship, looking just like the USS Jenolin in "Relics" episdoe of ST:TNG.
8:25: Jocelyn the dying alien is shot, injured, and more than willing to give the cops the exposition they need to explain everything that's going on since we the audience are basically only half a step ahead of everybody else. Space Cop (Team Winner) goes to the lab to shoot the evil scientist brain, while Team Loser (Cooper) tries to reroute the power from the main reactor yadda yadda yadda.
8:27pm: THE EPIC FIGHT BETWEEN RICH EVANS AND JAY BAUMAN!
8:28pm: Len Kabasinski was obviously the Rich Evans stunt double, even before the ponytail and the gratuitous shirt ripping scene.
8:30pm: Space Cop's bloodlust takes hold, as he kills the (innocent) aliens down a hallway that was definitely inspired by some of the lighting in Alien. Sparks fly from the ceiling and moody lights fill the space.
8:33pm: Zorba and Cooper transfer the ship's power into Space Cop's police car, which is good news since Space Cop was totally knocked out by the brain. Bad news though, Space Cop's space gun is enough to give him the power he needs after all.
8:35pm: Space Cop comes through and saves the day though, smashing the jar and beating up the brain. Not thinking is sometimes the way to save the day, everybody.
8:38pm: A combination of a surprising number of extras (more than a first-season episode of Lois and Clark) and badly out-of-place stock footage is used as a Spiderman-like ceremony where Space Cop receives an award from the Mayor and goes home...to complain about the lack of recognition.
8:40pm: A nice post-credits sequence reveals the little boy did indeed survive the train wreck and is plotting his revenge against Space Cop.
9:03pm: Well that was Space Cop. It wasn't bad per se, but the pacing was fairly slow and the action scenes could have been done a little more energetically. This of course gets to the core of what most reviewers agree Space Cop did wrong: parts of it seemed to be intentionally bad (which the RLM gang is quick to describe as the "worst kind of movie") and other parts were done with a lot more legitimacy. Just like with their movie Feeding Frenzy some of the visuals really stick with you. I really enjoyed the Gold Digger chase scene -- until it held too long on the "heads up display infected by porn ads" joke. Likewise the fight scene in the cryo-facility: it had a decent amount of tension and then kept cutting to random opened cryopods, even though the cop sitting on the floor checking his phone worked just fine as a quick comic relief cutaway. Remember when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom kept cutting between both Short-Round and Winnie during fight scenes, and how that was a little too much? Well this movie repeated that sort of mistake in almost every scene.
And they didn't have to. With a little more streamlined pacing and action scenes choreographed to have more vitality, this could have been a quality action-comedy. There were several jokes that worked, several that didn't, a couple that you needed to be a Redlettermedia fan to even notice, and a tone that mostly held up from scene to scene. Too much of the bad acting seemed to be legitimately bad (which, again, isn't as good as just accidentally bad) and they were using a lot of obviously local actors who probably could have been directed to deliver their lines a little more like real movie characters might. Having both lead characters using a silly voice that obviously wasn't their own didn't help either: the scenes between these two were supposed to be the emotional core of the film but half the time you just wished they'd hired somebody with a funny different voice to play the part. I know that it's a necessary part of the charm of the film, and Redlettermedia fans are going to want to watch their favourite members of the team play major characters. But just like Jay was only in the movie for scant parts of the running time, Mike could have been as well. It would have required a significant re-tool, but the on-screen reality of the "cop from the past / cop from the future" gag just didn't work well for the audience.
Space Cop as a character though is the sort of thing that could definitely work in a sequel (which is setup in the post-credits sequence), though giving him a better foil to play off of is essential. If there is another Space Cop to be made (unlikely, but bear with me) or if one day somebody ends up remaking it with Hollywood money, that's the main thing that needs to change. An action with elements of humour or even outright gags can work (Lethal Weapon 2 comes to mind), but the action and the character interaction really needs to be played straight. Space Cop does a lot right, but gets these things wrong.
Also worth shouting out to how great the special effects looked. In fact, even though the ship movements were choppy in a few places, the VFX in general looked better than the live-action stuff. This created an odd inverse of the situation from old 80s B-grade scifi movies where the effects were so bad that you were taken out of the picture. Here you see a couple actors who aren't particularly convincing (Rich Evans and Mike Stoklasa) in relatively unprofessional costumes and often slapped-together sets, and then it cuts to a beautiful shot of an alien spaceship in orbit of the planet.
This is a rough movie to ultimately "rate". It's missing just a few too many low-budget charms for a movie of this type, and is self-aware enough that while fans of Redlettermedia may appreciate it, the general public almost certainly won't. The actors were playing characters that too often were aware they were just characters in a cheap independent film, which means they're in on the joke with us. It's better if we seem to think the joke is ours alone, or there's no joke (note: this is different than no jokes) and it's a straight-up flick the whole family can enjoy.
Unless they don't like swear words. Because obviously there are a lot.
Space Cop liveblog
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