by Adam M. Wilcox
These days I praise the existence of Electric Boogaloo: the Wild Untold Story of Canon Films which is the greatest documentary ever made. It chronicles the story of Canon Films who made famously bad knock off movies in the 70s and 80s, and that review will be coming at a later time after I have collected all of my thoughts about it. Mac and Me is a Canon film. Some of these movies have been buried over the years so that the world will hopefully forget about them, which makes Mac and Me a true “Lost Flick”. After watching movies like this, I am reminded of why I got into this business of watching these terrible movies. It is when a company like Canon films loves a movie so much, that they try to replicate their own version, but fail at every fundamental level. It is in this subgenre of famous knock off movies that I choose to live, because this is where the fun is to be had. Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax have famously made a career out of making fun of these lost flicks. It is because of my love for these movies, and my obsession with Canon Films that I go out of my way to track down these horrible movies. Mac and Me is a unique only in that while it comes from a place of love, it still fails in every aspect. Thanks to Netflix, and the newly rebooted Mystery Science Theater 3000, I had the pleasure of watching this dumpster fire over Thanksgiving break, and I have no regrets!
For those of you who have not yet seen, Mac and Me, is an E.T. rip off movie. It tries so desperately to take what made E.T. The Extra Terrestrial a funny cute family movie, yet you can’t help but to laugh out loud, and yet feel somewhat uncomfortable at this film’s ineptitude. The number one thing that makes most Canon films so famous, or “infamous” depending at how you look at it, is budgets. Canon COULD have made a fortune on shlocky action or horror movies, but for every A list Hollywood blockbuster movie, a Canon film was already scribbled on the side of an empty popcorn box before the movie was even rolling the credits. Watching Mac and Me is like watching any reality talent show. You see a young candidate with stars in there eyes, and you want them to succeed, and when you finally see them get on the stage, and the noise coming out of there vocal cords is something that resembles a cat in heat, that just got hit by a dump trunk falling off of cliff, you grab your hair, or hide your head in your hands and wait for it to be over, but a part of you is still watching, because you can’t look away. It’s the same reason you watch a scandal unfold on in the media, or drive slowly past a car crash, you just can’t take your eyes away.
Thankfully, Mac and Me don’t take too long to derail, as you see the first problem is in the design of the alien family that this story revolves around. These creatures COULD be impressive costumes, yet they all have the same face that basically looks like a pair of Googly eyes taped just above a dirty butt hole. I mean, this IS a family picture right…RIGHT?! So here is where the problem starts, these creatures have lost the ability to emote. In spite of how intense the scene may be trying to be, every one of these creatures looks like they got kicked in the privates, or started singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and got stuck on the “O” part…
The next part that makes this film frustrating is that it has an absolutely gorgeous score. It’s Alan Silvestri! Alan freaking Silvestri, the same guy that scored movies like Predator, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, and more recently Avengers Infinity War! I can only imagine how this poor guy felt when he saw this dumpster fire in action, if he even did at all. Admittedly, the music does bring this movie up a few notches, but if you close your eyes, you secretly wish you were watching the movie that this score was intended for, because it does not deserve music this good.
The movie revolves around Louis, who is confined to a wheelchair, and he, his older brother, and single mother are moving from California, to Illinois for reasons not really explained. Louis starts seeing “Mac”, which Louis names after “Mysterious Alien Creature”, because “Extra Terrestrial” was busy being used by a much better film around the same time. Anyways, Mac is the son of our alien family who happens to be stranded on our planet.
I won’t say the kids are too terrible in this movie, but what DOES seem strange, is that neighbor kids that were met only minutes ago, just wander into strange houses without knocking. The movie supposedly takes place in Illinois. Now maybe I just grew up in a rough community, but my mother and my friend’s parents would at least be asking why strange kids were in the house unannounced, or without permission.
Now where things start getting super weird is how product placement is used to drive the plot itself. I am not talking about a kid using Reese’s pieces to lure a mysterious creature into his house, I am talking about a kid that is constantly sipping a can of coke with the label right there in the frame so that there is no question he drinking COKE, not Pepsi, and not that Mr. Pibb nonsense either! Also, the aliens seem to use COKE as a primary means of sustenance! I cannot make this shit up! And then there is a scene where a music video breaks out in the middle of a McDonald’s, I think this is supposed to be a montage but the director forgot to say “ROLL THE MONTAGE” because it just kind of happens, and it is weird, and doesn’t seem to fit in with anything else.
The universe that the movie is trying to build has no set up. In E.T. we can forgive that an alien might have some powers either similar, or different to that of our own, but THAT movie goes out of it’s way to set up the ability to heal, telekinesis, or even psychogenesis. In this movie however, shit just happens where it might make a funny or cute scene. The power of these creatures remains a mystery all the way up to the last scene. Even a make believe movie has to have some kind of rules or structure. Mac and Me seemed to cut that part out for budgetary reasons even though all it costs is a modicum of common sense.
Also, unlike E.T., who is curious about our planet, and sometimes makes a mess in Elliot’s house, Mac is pretty much a destructive asshole. You don’t even see him ruining the house, you just walk into a desecrated house, after the fact, and oh by the way, here is Mac shoving a chainsaw through the front door. He’s not even building a spaceship, or a radar dish, he’s just tossing the joint because Spielberg always likes to ruin houses in his alien encounter movies!
When things do finally get serious, and the music shifts from whimsical to endearing in less than a millisecond, you WANT to feel sorry when tears are pouring out of Mac’s Googly eyes, but then there is that butt hole mouth again…ugh GOD that is distracting!
The last thing I want to touch on is you know how you almost want to give a movie a pass, and forgive all it’s earlier blunders and just say…it’s fine…it’s just ok. Nope. Even at a modest 1 hour and 39 minutes, this one goes on about 5 minutes longer than it should. The final closing scene of Mac and Me is the finally jaw dropping slap to the face, that honestly made me make the same face that our butt hole faced aliens had during the entire movie. It was weird, super awkward, and I kind of love it. 3 out of 5 cheese curds.