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HOW TO ‘SABOTAGE’ A GOOD TIME

                           

For Hicksflicks.com, April 4, 2014

Many, many (way too many) years ago during my tenure as the Deseret News movie critic, most new pictures were screened in advance so reviews could run in the Friday paper, on the film's opening day.

But all too frequently a movie would slip in that was either an independent with no advertising budget to fund an advance screening or it was so bad the studio opted not to show it to anyone. Even national critics couldn't review those until they had opened.

Most such movies were either sleazy horror or stupid action/fantasy. And when they weren't shown in advance, I would attend the first matinee on Friday, opening day, to get a review in Saturday's paper. And often I was the only person in the theater.

But then I began to notice an odd trend, Men ranging in age from their 20s to 50s, usually dressed in coats and ties — I came to call them "The Suits" — also began coming to these 12:30 or 1 p.m. showings on Friday afternoons. Often they'd come alone but sometimes in groups of two or three. And as soon as the end-credits began, they'd jump up and rush out.

The first few times this happened I thought nothing of it, but then I began to realize that these guys were taking long lunches from the workplace to see movies their wives wouldn't be caught dead attending. I started calling these "Guy Movies."

I even wrote a column about it and received a few letters (and phone calls on a weekly radio show I did back then) from wives saying, "Aha!" after finding ticket stubs in their husbands' pockets.

                      

Now that I'm retired, freelancing from home and haven't been to a downtown movie on a Friday afternoon in years, I don't know if that kind of thing still happens (probably does). But now I've found myself caught up in the "Guy Movie" trap, although not surreptitiously, and I'm a lot older, and I don't wear a tie.

Several retired friends get together once a month or so for lunch and a matinee movie, a "Guy Movie" that our wives wouldn't be caught dead attending. And they're usually dumb action pictures ("The Expendables," "The Last Stand") and we're often the only people in the theater. And the movies are so bad that we whisper jokes to each other as the film progresses.

Case in point earlier this week: Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Sabotage."

                         

We've seen some bad movies together but this one took us to a whole other level, and it wasn't higher. Ridiculous plot, blood-and-guts on a horror-movie level, really stupid one-lIners, the f-word used so often that we wondered if the screenwriter had misplaced his thesaurus and there's little question that, other than Schwarzenegger's salary, the bulk of the budget went to squibs and blood bags.

Within just a few years Schwarzenegger has gone from A-list movie star to California's Governator to making embarrassing B-movies, which, were it not for his presence, would be going straight to video.

"Sabotage" makes "Commando" look like "Schindler's List." It's so bad that later in the day, the friend who suggested it sent me an email apologizing.

Hey, no need. I've seen worse.

In fact, having reviewed all of his 1980s and '90s movies, I've probably seen worse with Schwarzenegger.

I may need to rethink that. "Sabotage" just may be his very worst