Friday, April 24, 2015

Debauched and De Bonted

By Hank Parmer

The Haunting (1999)

Tagline: Ghosts with the Most!

Space, 1999. A runaway chain reaction at the Lunar Nuclear Waste Dump has ripped the Moon from its orbit and sent it careening -- whoops. Wrong story.

Hollywood, 1999. A runaway collision of cash and ambition at Dreamworks Studios spawns a $100-million-plus rip-off of 1963's The Haunting.

This had been a longstanding pet project for Steven Spielberg. The original plan was for Spielberg to direct a script by horror-maven Stephen King, but creative differences eventually put the kibosh on that collaboration. For some reason, Spielberg ultimately chose to only associate himself with the feature as an executive producer.

So first Dreamworks needed to find someone else to helm the project. This would seem to be a tall order. By the time he directed the original film, Robert Wise had already made his mark in a variety of genres: horror, film noir, Westerns (including the Western noir Blood on the Moon), romance, war, drama, science fiction, musicals -- you name it, he'd directed an outstanding example of it. Wise, along with his co-director Jerome Robbins, had just won the "Best Director" Oscar the previous year for a little thing called West Side Story.

Yes, Wise would later direct Star Trek: The Movie, but right now we're talking 1963.

Earlier in his career, Wise worked with Orson Welles, editing such minor cinematic efforts as Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons. He cut his directorial teeth under the tutelage of Val Lewton, who produced a distinctive series of horror films for RKO in the 1940s which despite their shoestring budgets are still considered classics of atmosphere and intelligent scripting. Lewton's theory of horror was that people were more afraid of the unknown than things they could see, a philosophy at least partly born out of the studio's penny-pinching, but one which his directors used to unforgettable effect in pictures such as The Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and of course Wise's The Body Snatcher.

Wise intended The Haunting to be an homage to Lewton, showing what could be done when you combined his mentor's notion of horror with a respectable budget. Through his brilliant use of sound effects, sets designed to emphasize the claustrophobic atmosphere and unconventional camera angles and movement, he created a masterpiece of psychological horror that consistently shows up on critics' and viewers' lists of the most terrifying films of all time.


Dreamworks' first choice is Wes Craven, which at least makes some sort of sense. Craven, however, bails on the project shortly after filming starts. So who then is your logical second choice? Who else but the director of the immortal Leonard Part 6: Jan de Bont. 

But who then to cast for the pivotal role of Eleanor, a lonely, guilt-ridden, psychologically fragile woman who's spent the majority of her adult life caring for the invalid mother from Hell? The 1963 film featured Julie Harris, one of the finest actors of her generation. True to her Actors Studio training, she totally inhabited the character of “Nell”, using her off-camera depression to give her performance depth and sympathy.

So Lili Taylor is tapped for the part. Who, for all I know, may be the reincarnation of Vivian Leigh, but you sure couldn't prove it by this example of her craft. It may have been the script. It may have been the direction. Or it may be that she started gobbling Valium like Pez candies once she realized what she'd gotten herself into.

Oh, and that "what you can't see is even more frightening" bit? C'mon, this is 1999: You've got CGI and wads of cash. The viewer's going to see everything, dammit. And like it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Tragedy Of Ferguson

By Keith

Craig, we knew you when we passed -- like half-masted schooners in the dark of night -- staggering in different directions on Avenue A back in the 1980s. And we liked your gig with CBS Late Late Show. The puppets, the flirtations with gay culture and sexual preference, your robot friend Geoff as well as the many entertaining if not insightful interviews.

In a way your career trajectory seems 180 degrees opposite of Johnny Carson. Carson began at NBC as the host of a daytime game show Who Do You Trust before replacing Jack Parr on the Tonight Show. You've gone from late night to daytime game show host.

(Well, had to throw that in. Now on to more serious deliberations.)

Municipal Government or Gansta' Cartel? You Decide.

I've been sampling the Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department conducted by the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division published March 4, 2015.

Most revealing are the DOJ interviews with Ferguson residents. Each random encounter with FPD is an exercise in tragedy yet somehow no two are exactly alike.

There's variety and plenty of it.
Even relatively routine misconduct by Ferguson police officers can have significant consequences for the people whose rights are violated. For example, in the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. An officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also asked to search the man’s car.
Why yes, because pedophile ISIS operatives are always prowling around pickup basketball locations, with vials of Ebola virus stashed in the Igloo wheelie (back seat).
The man objected, citing his constitutional rights. In response, the officer arrested the man, reportedly at gunpoint, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code. One charge, Making a False Declaration, was for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”), and an address which, although legitimate, was different from the one on his driver’s license. Another charge was for not wearing a seat belt, even though he was seated in a parked car. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in his possession. The man told us that, because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years.
Quantum effects are not unusual in Ferguson, MO. Citizens may possess a drivers license listing previous address, a drivers license that is expired, and no drivers license whatsoever, an example of spooky entanglement of simultaneous states.

Let's check the Ferguson "Grift-O'-Meter for a tabulation of known fines incurred for this encounter.

Loss of job as government contractor: Priceless.

Please note the above estimate, as others to follow, omits any additional court costs associated with arrest.

Here's another example of a perfect day in another Ferguson Public Park.
 In June 2014, an African-American couple who had taken their children to play at the park allowed their small children to urinate in the bushes next to their parked car. An officer stopped them, threatened to cite them for allowing the children to “expose themselves,” and checked the father for warrants. When the mother asked if the officer had to detain the father in front of the children, the officer turned to the father and said, “you’re going to jail because your wife keeps running her mouth.” The mother then began recording the officer on her cell phone. 
The officer became irate, declaring, “you don’t videotape me!” As the officer drove away with the father in custody for “parental neglect,” the mother drove after them, continuing to record. The officer then pulled over and arrested her for traffic violations. When the father asked the officer to show mercy, he responded, “no more mercy, since she wanted to videotape,” and declared “nobody videotapes me.” The officer then took the phone, which the couple’s daughter was holding. After posting bond, the couple found that the video had been deleted.
In all fairness perhaps the attending officer was uncomfortable with not being "camera-ready" on this occasion. Bad hair day, no neutral-density foundation to wick up the shiny nose, etc. These are all legitimate considerations when appearing on HD portable video. Everyone wants to look their best on the job.

It's not revealed by DOJ whether or not this case was dismissed and no information on the amount of bond posted. Fines for parental neglect and public exposure were unavailable at press time.

Despite the lack of qualified personnel assigned for "last looks," FPD seem eternally vigilant to respond to random household disputes.
We spoke with one African-American man who, in August 2014, had an argument in his apartment to which FPD officers responded, and was immediately pulled out of the apartment by force. After telling the officer, “you don’t have a reason to lock me up,” he claims the officer responded: “N*****, I can find something to lock you up on.” When the man responded, “good luck with that,” the officer slammed his face into the wall, and after the man fell to the floor, the officer said, “don’t pass out motherf****r because I’m not carrying you to my car.”
The Justice Dept. doesn't elaborate on what happened to this resident after suffering a contusion that left him unconscious. Perhaps he had to crawl on all fours to the car, or perhaps the attending officer called Uber for the pick-up.

Using "reasonable and customary charges" it's fair to conclude that an ER visit (including CT scan) is upward of $1200. Then there is the issue of car-fare, since Deputy Dan wasn't feeling it. Cost of ambulance: $350-600.

Next we move on to one of the more creative civil ordinances enforced by the FPD: Manner of Walking. DOJ doesn't actually define the term perhaps because there is no clear definition other than jaywalking or creating a public nuisance.
Officers in Ferguson also use their arrest power to retaliate against individuals for using language that, while disrespectful, is protected by the Constitution. For example, one afternoon in September 2012, an officer stopped a 20-year-old African-American man for dancing in the middle of a residential street. The officer obtained the man’s identification and ran his name for warrants. Finding none, he told the man he was free to go. The man responded with profanities. When the officer told him to watch his language and reminded him that he was not being arrested, the man continued using profanity and was arrested for Manner of Walking in Roadway.
"Moon-walking", no doubt.

In February 2014, officers responded to a group of African-American teenage girls “play fighting” (in the words of the officer) in an intersection after school. When one of the schoolgirls gave the middle finger to a white witness who had called the police, an officer ordered her over to him. One of the girl’s friends accompanied her. Though the friend had the right to be present and observe the situation—indeed, the offense reports include no facts suggesting a safety concern posed by her presence—the officers ordered her to leave and then attempted to arrest her when she refused. Officers used force to arrest the friend as she pulled away. When the first girl grabbed an officer’s shoulder, they used force to arrest her, as well. 
Officers charged the two teenagers with a variety of offenses, including: Disorderly Conduct for giving the middle finger and using obscenities; Manner of Walking for being in the street; Failure to Comply for staying to observe; Interference with Officer; Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer; and Endangering the Welfare of a Child (themselves and their schoolmates) by resisting arrest and being involved in disorderly conduct.
Fodor's Guide expressly cautions against flipping the bird at white Ferguson residents. These young women didn't get the memo. As a result they engaged in child endangerment, a no-no in FPD's philosophy of community policing.

On February 9, 2015, several individuals were protesting outside the Ferguson police station on the six-month anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. According to protesters, and consistent with several video recordings from that evening, the protesters stood peacefully in the police department’s parking lot, on the sidewalks in front of it, and across the street. Video footage shows that two FPD vehicles abruptly accelerated from the police parking lot into the street. An officer announced, “everybody here’s going to jail,” causing the protesters to run. Video shows that as one man recorded the police arresting others, he was arrested for interfering with police action. Officers pushed him to the ground, began handcuffing him, and announced, “stop resisting or you’re going to get tased.” It appears from the video, however, that the man was neither interfering nor resisting. A protester in a wheelchair who was live streaming the protest was also arrested. Another officer moved several people with cameras away from the scene of the arrests, warning them against interfering and urging them to back up or else be arrested for Failure to Obey. The sergeant shouted at those filming that they would be arrested for Manner of Walking if they did not back away out of the street, even though it appears from the video recordings that the protesters and those recording were on the sidewalk at most, if not all, times. Six people were arrested during this incident.

Remember, multiply by six and you have the equivalent of a wild night out in Branson.

Duly noting our wheelchair-bound friend from the last encounter, we have arrived at the ad-hoc definition of Manner of Walking: Ambulatory While Black.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Good EVE-ning" Edition

Moondoggie, in Alfred Hitchcock Presents!
Cue "Funeral March of a Marionette"...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Doug Giles, Alphalfa Male

It's been quite a long time since we've checked in with Muscular Christian Pastor Doug Giles, the man whose sermons about the godhead come with a side of dickhead, but all good times must come to an end, so...
HEY, WUSSIES: Quit Asking, ‘How Many Are The Enemy, But Where Are They?’
I’ve been reading Steven Pressfield’s musings on warriors and warfare and this quote struck me like Ike Turner punching Tina when she fell flat while singing, “Rolling On The River”.
The rule in comedy is "always punch up, not down," but Pastor Giles is a confirmed contrarian and likes to take the opposite tack, in this case, literally.
“The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.” - Plutarch, Sayings Of The Spartans
Yes, the Spartans were manly, but unlike most men, they'd stop and ask for directions.
And that, my friend, is one of the big differences between a warrior and a wuss.
Or to put it another way, a wuss spends less time slathering on olive oil and wrestling in the nude, and more time learning how to use the Waze app on his phone.
A wuss, you see, looks for an excuse to run 
Which is why the biggest wuss in the world is Usain Bolt.
but a warrior looks for the opportunity to throttle the enemy.
Especially if she's a girl singer who's having pitch problems.
The strange thing is that nowadays, in our aggravated state of pussification
Wait -- are we wusses or pusses? I don't meant to question your testicle weight, but it seems to me a real man would dither less about his consonants.
one would call the inquirer of how many foes are arrayed against them “a wise calculator of the risks involved” and whether or not they are able to contend with what they have at hand or if they should retreat. When, in reality, such questions, often times, are nothing but cowardice masked in some shrewd sounding horse-crap that doesn’t make one sound like a scared quail.
Exactly. Custer eschewed bean-counting cost/benefit analyses and asked only the Spartan Question, and look how well that worked out for him.
That mindset afflicted an old friend of mine from Cali who was way smarter than I 
Smart enough at least to know we don't call it "Cali."
...when it came to books and business, who would always talk himself out of startups and personal goals because he always viewed how “insurmountable the obstacles were” rather than how he could possibly tackle his mountains. This attitude equated this brilliant, book-smart buddy’s being a stay-at-home dad versus an alpha-male butt-kicker.
Yes, why would any seemingly intelligent man settle for living life on his own terms and spending time with his children when he could let himself be browbeaten into disastrous investments and needlessly violent confrontations by a guy who works one day a week as the pastor of a pop-up church and spends the rest of his time shooting at tame ruminants on canned hunts using guns and ammo bought with cash skimmed from the collection plate?

I thought you said this guy was smart.
How sad.
I completely agree, although probably not for the same reason.
Politically speaking, I wish those who “represent us on the Right” would take this warrior mindset to heart versus rolling up in the fetal position and wetting their massive Republican diaper once they’re faced with the teeth of the liberal beast. 
What Doug calls "the teeth of the liberal beast" we call "the vagina."
The Left zealously sports this “die or be killed” attitude as they approach our culture wars, whereas those on the Right are mostly/merely butt-smoochin’ wind-testers, 
Point of order: if you're within smooching distance of the butt, do you really have to test the wind? It seems like it could only be coming from one direction. (I'd think tasting the wind would be a bigger issue...)
From an ecclesiastical standpoint, don’t even get me started on how this lame spirit has taken possession of the brethren’s craven soul.
I'm not sure I want to get you started on any ecclesiastical issue, Doug, since your clerical bona fides are based on leadership of a congregation which materializes, Brigadoon-like, in Ballroom A of the Ramada Inn, and your sermons -- judging by the care and thought you put into these Townhall columns -- probably consist of you standing at the pulpit, firing two cap pistols into the air and hollerin' like Yosemite Sam.
To say that the church has become a toothless lion to cultural corruption would be akin to saying Hillary Clinton sort of lies. Fortuitous, we are not. Unlike Jesus, most pastors would rather fly than fight; and I hold them primarily responsible for the coarsening of our culture because I believe the state of our nation is due largely, in part, to the “holy nation” within unwilling to make principled stands when holy writ and common sense demand a throw down.
So the next time you see tits on HBO, send a thank you card to Garner Ted Armstrong.
Here’s the bottom line, folks: if anything is worth doing it will be fraught with sick hurdles. 
Also diseased stumbling blocks and infectious pitfalls.
That’s life, Dinky.
Listen Doug, I think you should at least see me in the shower first before you start throwing around pejoratives like that.
The sooner we take on the warrior mentality, the quicker we’ll be talking about great victories. So, from now on, talk yourself into the battle instead of how you can get out of the battle.
I'm forced to agree with Pastor Giles -- although again, not for the same reason -- since I also think "tak[ing] on the warrior mentality" would be a great victory, allowing us to bring our fanged vulvas home by Christmas and easing the burden on our landfills, which are currently choking on massive Republican diapers.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Porn Spam From Ed McMahon!

Our usual Monday Morning Movie review is going to be a bit delayed this week, thanks to a back injury that's making it even more difficult to sit through an already difficult to sit through film. In fact, I could barely skim my email this afternoon; but one missive did catch my eye, from Publishers Clearing House.

Like Kentucky Fried Chicken and various rappers, PCH goes only by its initials now, because that's just how cool it's become. Gone are the days when it arrived in your mailbox -- a thick packet of newsprint ads with a smiling TV sidekick on the envelope -- and was primarily a delivery system for Franklin Mint merchandise and McCall's subscriptions. No, the new PCH looked at the rise of the Internet and realized that nowadays, the real money's in Unfortunate Innuendos.

Now I know some of you guys are scratching your heads and saying to yourselves, "They wanna sell me a 'Full-Size Hose That Fits In The Palm Of Your Hand!'?  Talk about coals to Newcastle!"  This impression is perhaps strengthened when you notice the product is called the "Pocket Hose," (I'm ignoring the "Ultra," because I think that part's probably just boasting.)  But here's the thing -- the tubing is upgraded (and don't even pretend you haven't degraded your tubing over the years, especially that one time in college), and most important of all -- No More Tangled Hoses! Granted, I've neither seen nor experienced this issue myself, but maybe it's a problem for gay dudes on a really busy Saturday night.

Anyway, the instructions say to "Just Turn the Water on -- Grows to a FULL SIZE HOSE!", so apparently it works on the opposite principle of those erections you wake up with when you've got a full bladder.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Keith!

I thought I'd wait until this headache went away before starting the party, but clearly it intends to stick around, at least until all the booze is gone, so you might as well don your conical chapeaux and blow your foo-flounders, while I go grab the cake, which was lovingly baked and decorated by some of the city's finest bigots. (Or so I assume; it was only recently I learned that bending over a table all day, squeezing a gooey substance from the tip of your piping bag as you whimsically inscribe and filigree pastries and baked goods in various shades of sugary pastels was a job for rugged he-men who are offended by the slightest whiff of gay stuff.)

Anyway, it's the natal anniversary of our good friend, and valued member of the World O' Crap writing staff, Keith.  So please be sure to sign the card, then join us in the Conference Room promptly at 2:45 for cake and a delightful punch Fran in Accounts Receivables made from Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail and Diet Squirt (she says the secret ingredient is a pinch of cardamon and a lot of love! Shhhh!)

In the meantime, please join me in wishing Keith the very happiest of birthdays. And of course...Sexy Birthday Lizard(s)!
Why do I always get stuck making small talk with this guy at these office mixers...?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

After You, After Earth

It's like Battlefield Earth meets Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and goes on a 10K Fun Run!

After Earth (2013)
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Writers: Gary Whitta, M. Night Shymalan (screenplay) Will Smith (story)

Will Smith is having a crappy day. He's on a space ship that appears to be in trouble, because oxygen masks have dropped from the overhead bins and his son Jaden is being a total puss about it; then the fuselage rips open and explosive decompression sucks him down the cabin toward Economy; and to top it all off, he's in an M. Night Shyamalan movie. But that's nothing compared to the uncontrolled skid our day's about to take, when we cut to Jaden lying in a field of clover after the crash and waxing poetic about what a paradise Earth used to be, and realize that Daddy's Little Diminished Return is our narrator.

Jaden rolls some grainy TV disaster footage, and in a mush-mouthed monotone explains that human beings ruined Earth by failing to convert to Scientology in time. Fortunately, a thousand years ago the Ranger Corps was formed to keep Mankind's few remaining picnic baskets safe from bears. They also led us to a replacement homeworld, Nova Prime, but our new alien neighbors, concerned about property values, spliced up a batch of legally blind monsters to prevent us from building tacky McMansions in the Delta Quadrant. The Mr. Magoo monsters don't need to see, because they can smell our fear hormones, but they were no match for "The Prime Commander, Cypher Raige" (Will Smith) "the original Ghost." It seems Ranger Raige is Daredevil, The Man Without Fear, and because the monsters can't smell his hormones, he can just saunter around and chop their heads off. "This phenomena is called 'Ghosting,'" Jaden explains, not that we asked him. At least, I think that's what he said; thanks to the mumbly, unintelligible way Jaden delivers the back story, he sounds less like he's narrating a sci-fi action movie and more like he's in a dentist's chair, counting backward from a hundred while the sodium pentathol kicks in.

Three Days Earlier. Space Cadet Jaden gets called to the office of head Space Ranger, Rocky Jones, who tells Jaden that he's tops in all his classes at the Academy and so darn awesome that it's actually kind of hilarious, but he hasn't achieved a state of "clear" yet, so he's going to hold him back for a year. Jaden is heartbroken, but he would never use the fact that his father is The Prime Commander in order to get special treatment, until he realizes that it worked pretty well getting him the lead in this movie, so he whines and says his dad is coming home tonight so he has to be a Ranger. Rocky Jones is unmoved, probably because he starred in a mid-50s kids show and hates the little bastards.

Prime Commander Cypher Raige has no fear, but plenty of rage, and when Jaden mumbles about flunking out, he screams at him for being a puss, stopping just short of punching him in the face and quipping, "Welcome to After Earth!"

Mother Raige reaches into the Movie Motivations Rolodex and pulls out the old "You're a Great Man but a Bad Father" speech. Will decides to take his son to the planet Effetos, where Jaden will presumably seem butch in comparison to the native Effetes.

Will and Jaden climb into a giant metal stingray and fly off into space. They've brought along a huge, mysterious tandoori oven containing one of the human-slaughtering Magoo monsters, but TSA drew the line at Will's cuticle scissors and 12-oz bottle of conditioner.

Suddenly, Will presses his high school class ring against the bulkhead, because he's sensing an asteroid storm. Sure enough, the Good Ship Stingray suffers "graviton expansion," which is bad, because it's nearly swimsuit season, and they get pelted with asteroids (me, I'm not a vengeful person, and would have settled for overripe fruit). Will orders the pilots to jump blindly into a wormhole, and through the wildest coincidence ever, it just happens to drop them off within convenient crashing distance of Earth. Which is where we came in.

By another amazing coincidence, Will and Jaden are the only survivors. But Will's legs are broken, and the tail of the ship, containing the distress beacon, is a hundred kilometers away, so his puss of a son is their only hope. Even worse, the puss wants a hug. Like I said: crappy day.

Will tells Jaden that they're on Earth, "where everything has evolved to kill humans," then hands the kid his personal weapon, a tubular Magoo chopper with multiple settings like a Swiss Army Knife, or a Vegematic.

Jaden walks through one of those fern-filled forests from a relaxation video. But when he's suddenly charged by a troop of enraged baboons, Will saves the terrified boy by quoting from a Zig Zigler motivational tape ("Recognize your power. This will be your creation...").  Jaden's creation is to run like a ninny until he falls into a river and gets bitten by one of those rubber cockroaches you stick on the refrigerator at Halloween, then go into anaphylactic shock. He manages to reach his epi-pen in time, but with this sequence Shyamalan has established just how dangerous Earth is to Jaden, and I fear that long before our hero reaches the tail section, he'll accidentally eat a Snickers and get felled by a peanut allergy.

During all the running and falling, Jaden breaks his asthma inhaler, and his dad says playtime is over, and he has to come in early. But Jaden is irked because he had to watch a Magoo kill his sister in a flashback, so he jumps off a cliff and turns into Rocky the Flying Squirrel. He glides around in front of a green screen, making pretty good time until he gets plucked out of the sky by one of those giant eagles from Lord of the Rings and wakes up in a nest among its hatchlings. He hasn't done much right so far, but one thing you can say for Jaden, he managed to be too big for a bird devour and vomit him into the mouths of its young. Let that be his epitaph. Please.

Jaden builds a raft, then floats downstream and hallucinates his dead sister, who tells him it was okay that he hid like a puss when she died, but he still feels guilty so he recites Moby Dick at her (I've found this is actually a good way to end most any argument. Not win, necessarily, but end). Then he suddenly comes down with hypothermia and starts freezing to death because even though the Earth is covered in jungle vegetation, the whole world ices over every night. I'm not sure how that works, but it's probably the reason humanity evacuated the planet, because I assume most people are like me and too lazy to put rubbing alcohol in their wiper fluid.

Fortunately for everyone concerned except us, the eagle who found Jaden unappetizing finds him again, and builds a nest to keep him warm, then freezes to death in his place. So everything on Earth has evolved to kill humans, unless Will Smith's kid is involved, in which case they'll happily commit suicide. I totally believe this, because I'm starting to feel the same way.

Jaden discovers the tail of the space ship and finds some more asthma inhalers in the junk drawer. He also comes upon the broken tandoori oven -- so the Magoo is loose. This is even worse than the Juice being Loose, because for one thing, it doesn't really rhyme. Jaden tries to contact Will, but he's in a dead zone and can't get a signal. Damn AT&T. The distress beacon won't work either, but by another amazing coincidence, the volcano from the cover of Dianetics is right next door, and Jaden realizes if he can just reach the top, he'll be able to call his personal assistant.

Sadly, Jaden's pussiness is also reaching a peak, and rather than "ghosting," he's overexcited and breathing hard and raising a cloud of pheromones so thick it's like the mosh pit at a One Direction concert. He tries to be stealthy by creeping into a lava tube, but the monster catches up with him in Shelob's lair. Will is watching all this somehow -- maybe the director sent him a screener -- but he doesn't seem any more interested in it than we are.

It's about time for one of those famous Shyamalan twist endings; perhaps the audience has been dead the entire time, and this movie is just proof that Hell exists. Instead, in an untwisted non-surprise, Jaden finally learns to "ghost," which seems to mainly involve playing dead, so I don't know why we didn't just fight the monster invasion with some well-trained Golden Retrievers.  Anyway, the Magoo can't find him. Jaden wields hisVegematic, and he and the monster play a weird game of "Marco Polo" to the death. Then Jaden notices that he's got full bars, and calls home. A rescue ship picks them up, and medics slave over Will as he bleeds out on a gurney. But when he sees his son, he insists on standing up on his two broken legs and saluting him as a Ranger. But the puss just wants a hug.

Really crappy day.

The End.

So, what have we learned from After Earth?  Never let them see you sweat, because your enemies can smell your fear, but fortunately, L. Ron Hubbard is like deodorant for your mind.