On Friday nights with nothing to do, one must celebrate excellence in whatever way possible. Excellent food, excellent friends, and excellent art. I totally gave up on the first one after lunch was the same Cookout meal that I had consumed for the three days prior. I then had a choice. Most sane people would think I would be able to enjoy friends and art at the same time. However (as I would learn this night) madness is far preferable, so I deviously convinced some people to join me in an endeavor that would fundamentally change us for the rest of our lives. I suggested a Cage-a-thon. No less that three straight Nicolas Cage movies were to be viewed, and if things were going the way I hoped they would, 3 was only going be the launching point. Am I a genius or a madman? The theme of the night was the yell-iest actor to grace cinema, so you can probably take a guess.
Before we could begin this sojourn through brilliance, some ground rules had to be set just in case the peanut gallery (everyone who wasn’t me) got out of hand.
- Nicolas Cage had to be the main character of any movie we watched. (This eliminated movies like Kick-Ass, which provide some great Cage moments, but not in the frequency that I wanted.)
- No movies rated above 20% on Rotten Tomatoes were allowed. (This also eliminated Kick-Ass, but also some of his other movies in which the critics decided to get it right. We wanted the underground stuff.)
- More than 10-minute breaks between movies were strictly off-limits. This was to allow for bathroom breaks, yelling breaks, and nothing else. The immersion could NOT be destroyed. This is perhaps the most important.
- Finally, this was a night of enjoyment. Plot was a rare blessing this night, so we encouraged laughing, comedic input, and (of course) yelling. However, everything in some way needed to relate to the Nicolas Cage. You may find him unbelievably unbelievable, but you will respect him!
These were the rules. I enforced the rules justly and sternly. And so the night began.
The first movie was The Wicker Man. If you have seen this movie, then you know that we did not dip our toes in the water on this one. I had no idea what to expect going into this movie, and the experience was amazing. The iconic lines of “NOT THE BEES!!!” and “HOW DID IT GET BURNED?” were matched by literally anything Sister Beech said with a voice that makes Sam Elliott seem soprano, and all of the children chanting “Phallic Symbol.” This movie was pure gold. People wandered in and out to watch Nic Cage roll down hills and punch women in the face, which was OK because the combination of the total absurdity of this story and the fact we were working with a shoddy HDMI cable that cut the audio about every eight seconds. It was a perfectly enjoyable way to begin the night, and as the movie came to an end highlighted by a young James Franco cameo, round 1 was over.
My biggest concern going into the night was movie-to-movie crowd retention rate. About fifteen others began this journey with me, and the last thing I wanted was to enjoy these American treasures alone. Luckily, Wicker Man made a good first impression, so we actually gained some viewers for the hidden gem of the night. Trespass is a 2011 movie starring our boy, Nic, and that other Nic. It also featured Ben Mendelsohn, a man known for some of the most iconic lines ever. I can’t even begin to paraphrase this movie. Hostages are taken. Those hostages then take hostages. The new hostages who still technically are holding the other hostages hostage then retake their hostages to keep their friends from being hostages. A woman does drugs while watching another family’s home videos and it is never explained again. Nic Cage may or may not be a successful diamond mogul, I am still not really sure. Home security installers are also pool boys and also robbers caught up with the drug scene (Editor’s Note: Somehow I’ve seen this movie three-now four-times, and this is about as accurate a summary as one can decipher). There is so much more that I wish I could say about this movie, but it was by far the most entertaining movie of the night. I searched high and low for some of my favorite scenes. Unfortunately this movie is so bad and so unknown, that all I could find was a trailer and a classic clip of Cage. So, I’m attaching both of them. Also, if you were wondering, this movie is on Netflix and you should watch in the very next moment you have two and half hours to spare. It only has a run time of 90 minutes, but you are going to need to use that rewind function a whole lot.
(Author’s Note: I had no idea Joel Schumacher directed this until making sure this link worked before posting. My appreciation for this movie just went up 1000%.)
Needless to say, Trespass was a lot to handle. Being one of the most stressful movies I have ever seen, our retention rate plummeted after I told people the next movie in the marathon. Too many people had seen the first movie in this iconic series, and not many people were down to watch the second one. I know what you’re thinking: 1. There is no way National Treasure 2 has below 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, in which case you are barely right (it has 35%); 2. Who hasn’t already seen NT2? Both are valid questions, but we were dipping into a series with much more character and much more fire. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is the follow up to the film that defined my childhood for far too long. I went through a stage where I would not go a week without watching the first installment. There was motorcycles, fire, motorcycles powered by fire, guns, guns powered by fire. That’s what I call a 5-tool player. It had everything 12-year-old Bennett could ever need.
We had about seven people for this viewing, and I was one of four people who stayed awake for the entire thing. I was baffled by this, because in terms of actual quality, this might have been the best offering of the night. Idris Elba came to take lessons from the Great One, and there was actually a plot, if we define plot by having a main character, a change occurring, and him winning the final battle. However, all of that shod was irrelevant, because we got to see Nicolas Cage literally piss fire.
There is not much continuity between this and 2007’s Ghost Rider, which was a big help to all of those who hadn’t seen the first one. This just took the absurdity of the first film, and set that absurdity on fire, and then tossed it the keys to a Badger 288. Beautiful.
We began this journey at 7 on a Friday night. At this point it was around 1:00 in the morning. This is the worst time, because I was tired, but also thought going to bed at 1 sounded pretty weak for a night when a movie marathon was happening. We couldn’t stop here. With only one other by my side, we boldly went where no man has gone before. Season of the Witch began just as hopelessly as you could imagine. I will preface my #HOTTAKES by saying I hate ALL movies that try to make the Crusades look cool. I expect whining about how awesome Kingdom of Heaven was, but I stand firm on this point. Nothing a director or costume designer can do will make me think that grown men fighting in night gowns accomplishes the bad-assery they were going for. However, Nic Cage and Ron Perlman came really close. I’ll be honest, I floated in and out of this movie. I remember there being a witch who wasn’t a witch, but was actually a demon, and that demon caused the black plague. Or there was another witch who was causing the black plague, and this demon was getting blamed. It really made no sense. All of the other movies we watched were not only bad, but enjoyably so. Whether it was the fact that they tried to pass Ron Perlman off as young at one point or the weakest accent I have every heard that tumbled off of Cage’s tongue, this movie was just bad. It was a slightly depressing end to the night. My once insatiable appetite had been ruined. How could Nic, renowned in Hollywood for how picky he is in selecting roles, make such a grave miscalculation?
This tragedy may haunt me for a long time, however the good memories far outweigh the bad. Here are some of the lessons that St. Nic taught me:
- If you’re in a tight spot with a cult, dress as a bear and flagrantly punch women in the face.
- Find a nice sports coat. When all other clothes become tattered and worn by your adventures around a forgotten island, it will stay clean and unwrinkled.
- Lying to people who are holding you hostage never has any repercussions.
- If your wife seems to have a personal relationship with someone holding y’all hostage, think nothing of it. They probably went to high school together or something.
- Piss fire.
- Pissing (especially fire) in a priest’s holy water is not a good way of making friends.
I had at least 11 other lessons I was going to write, but National Treasure just came on TV. I would be a fool not to watch it, right?