3. Life's a Jungle
You know how I just said Phase 4 Films makes hack "original" movies, too? That's what we in the biz call foreshadowing. Bam! Behold Life's a Jungle, a movie about a big city dog who has to survive in the African wilderness after his dumb family loses him. An outcast at first, he eventually makes friends and learns to yadda yadda, you know the drill.
Here's a fun drinking game: take a shot every time you hear a stock sound effect. Only do this with the trailer. If you try it with the full movie you'll pass out before the opening credits hit the screen.
Pip sounds like Niles from Frasier's non-union Mexican equivalent, while his owner sounds like he's constantly on the verge of breaking into tears.
The large cast of animals gives many species a chance to suck. There's a sloth who sounds like a stoner, a stork and an anteaterish thing who talk like they're trying to turn the movie into African Safari Deliverance, and a rhino who sounds like he'd be more at home douching it up at the gym.
The movie is 100 minutes long and feels like it's moving in slow motion. Everyone walks like they're stepping through a wall of invisible molasses, and even the simplest scenes drag on to the point where it becomes surreal. If we didn't know any better we'd say this was some sort of Dadaist prank. In the end, Pip decides to stay with his new friends, and his former owner presumably kills himself as the credits roll.
2. Disco Worms
I'd like to share one final Phase 4 Films, uh, film with you, if only so you can verify its existence and reassure me that I didn't imagine it in a drug-induced haze. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Disco Worms.
Disco Worms was originally released in Denmark before being given English voice acting by Phase 4, and the fact that the voices clearly don't match the mouth movements is just one of many incongruities. Chief among them is the fact that this is a movie about discoing worms.
Starring a slumming Jane Lynch and a collection of Disco "hits," Disco Worms is about a lowly corporate worm who discovers an old disco album that he immediately falls in love with, prompting him to form a disco band and enter a song contest with the hope of finally earning some respect for wormkind. Unfortunately, his efforts are opposed by his soulless employers and this is a movie about worms that boogie, none of it makes any goddamn sense.
How did this movie get greenlit? Do Danish children love disco music? Do any children love disco music? "It's Saturday Night Fever with worms! The kids will love it!" the pitch from an executive drunk on his own insanity went, presumably.
To be fair, kids will watch pretty much anything, especially if their parents hate them enough. But so much emphasis is put on songs that children won't recognize that they appear to be trying to lure in the adult market as well.
Are disco loving oligochaetologists willing to watch a children's movie to hear songs they could easily acquire elsewhere an actual target audience? Did Jane Lynch owe money to loan sharks? What is going on in Denmark? There are so many questions we will never have answers to.
Foodfight! may be the first movie made by a supervillain. The story of Dex Dogtective solving a mystery in a grocery store is a thin excuse to cram as many corporate mascots and products into one movie as humanly possible. Foodfight! takes product placement so far it's like they shoehorned a movie into an infomercial.
That it's so shameless in its money grubbing just makes its complete failure even funnier. Foodfight! was originally supposed to be released in 2003, but it took until 2012 for it to reach the big screen. All those years in development hell produced a shambling monstrosity of a film; an undead, badly animated abomination starring Charlie Sheen and Hilary Duff.
Sheen, as the heroic Dogtective, sounds like he's reading his lines at gunpoint. Hilary Duff plays his cat girlfriend, the mentally challenged Sunshine Goodness, which I'm betting was also the name of a hippy porn star from the '70s. For a family movie Foodfight! doesn't shy away from double entendres and implications of inter-species sex, which seems like an odd way to sell Cheetos. But I'm not a marketing expert.
Sheen and Duff team up with the California Raisins, Mrs. Butterworth and other "beloved" mascots to stop a smutty Eva Longoria from replacing everything in the supermarket with products from the evil Brand X, a conflict sure to tug at your heartstrings. The Brand X forces march around doing Nazi salutes, just in case you didn't get that they're the bad guys.
To help you understand the scope of Foodfight!'s failure, back in 2004 the New York Times called the company making it "the new and upcoming Pixar." The schadenfreude is delicious, as Foodfight! fails at everything but unintentional comedy. It's pretty much the perfect movie to watch and mock.
Previously by Mark Hill: