Mac and Me

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Mac and Me
Mac and me movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stewart Raffill
Produced by
Written by
  • Steve Feke
  • Stewart Raffill
Starring
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Nick McLean
Edited by Tom Walls
Production
companies
  • New Star Entertainment
  • Vision International
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date
  • August 5, 1988 (1988-08-05) (Hong Kong)
  • August 12, 1988 (1988-08-12) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million[2]
Box office $6.4 million (domestic)[3]

Mac and Me is a 1988 American science fiction adventure film co-written (with Steve Feke) and directed by Stewart Raffill. It is about a "Mysterious Alien Creature" (MAC) that escapes from nefarious NASA agents and is befriended by a wheelchair-using boy. Together, they try to find MAC's family, from whom he has been separated. It stars Christine Ebersole, Jonathan Ward and Tina Caspary along with Lauren Stanley and Jade Calegory in their only film appearances.

Despite a measure of praise for Calegory's lead performance, the film met with widespread critical censure and failed at the box office. Reviewers noted imitation of numerous concepts from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and excessive product placement (mainly of McDonald's and Coca-Cola) as its principal flaws. The film was nominated for four Golden Raspberry Awards while winning Worst Director and Worst New Star (for Ronald McDonald). On the other hand, it received four Youth in Film Awards (now Young Artist Awards) nominations.

The film holds a 0% approval rating at review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes and is widely regarded as one of the worst ever made. It has however, attained cult status.

Plot

A NASA spacecraft has landed on an unknown planet and begins to take rock and soil samples. Four aliens discover it and are sucked up through its vacuum, after which it makes its way back to Earth. The aliens are able to escape from a military base by using their powers (with which they can destroy or heal anything they touch). During the escape, the youngest one hides in a passing van, occupied by a wheelchair-using boy named Eric Cruise, his older brother, Michael, and their single mother, Janet, who are moving to California from Illinois.

Shortly after the Cruise family arrives at their new home, Eric becomes suspicious of the alien's presence. The next morning, he finds that it ends up ruining much of the house and learns its identity, but is blamed alongside Michael by Janet for what has happened. After seeing it again, Eric tries to catch up to it, but ends up sliding down a hill and falling into a lake, where he nearly drowns, but is rescued by it. He is not believed at all when he tries to tell his family about its actions.

Later that night, he sets a trap with the help of his new friend, Debbie, who had also seen the alien. They trap it inside a vacuum cleaner, which malfunctions and causes the entire neighborhood to suffer a power surge. After it is released, Michael now believes Eric, but it leaves before Janet can be convinced. Eric's behavior towards it changes after it fixes all of the damage it caused to the house, and leaves behind several newspaper clippings which Eric believes are an attempt to communicate.

FBI agents Wickett and Zimmerman, who were present when the aliens had escaped from the base, have tracked down the youngest one to the Cruise residence. They are immediately recognized by Eric and Michael. Eric is forced to take the alien, whom he has now named MAC (Mysterious Alien Creature), to a birthday party at the McDonald's where Debbie's older sister, Courtney, works. Wickett and Zimmerman follow, but, now disguised in a teddy suit, MAC starts a dance number as a distraction and escapes with Eric on his wheelchair. Wickett and Zimmerman chase them through a nearby neighborhood and shopping mall with additional help, but they are rescued by Michael. Having witnessed the chase in the mall, Janet catches up to Wickett and Zimmerman and inadvertently learns from the former that MAC is indeed real.

Eric, Michael, Debbie, and Courtney decide to help reunite MAC with the other three aliens, which they learn are his family. With his help, they travel towards the outskirts of Palmdale and manage to find them in an abandoned mine. While stopping at a gas station, they accidentally alert security. After MAC's father steals a gun from a security guard, the police arrive and an unintended shootout takes place in the parking lot followed by an explosion, with Eric being caught in the crossfire and killed. Once Wickett, Zimmerman, and Janet arrive by helicopter, MAC and his family use their powers to bring Eric back to life.

For saving Eric, MAC and his family are granted citizenship, with the Cruise family, their neighbors, Wickett, and Zimmerman in attendance at the ceremony. The film's final scene shows MAC's father driving his family, along with the kids who helped them. MAC, who is chewing gum, blows a bubble that bears the message, "We'll be back!"

Cast

Production

Development

Producer R.J. Louis had previously worked on advertising campaigns with McDonald's, and had an association with their charitable arm, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). He explained that at the time, Ronald McDonald was "even more [well-known] than Santa Claus", but that E.T. was close behind, and thus felt that the next "generation" needed an E.T. of their own. Louis was required to negotiate the rights to use the McDonald's brand and its elements within the film. He pitched the project as a cross-promotional endeavor which could be promoted at its restaurants, and with its profits helping to support RMHC.[4]

Some have reported that the film was—at least partially—financed by McDonald's,[5][6][7] which Louis denies.[4] He did receive funding from Golden State Foods, a food service distributor closely associated with McDonald's; Louis had encountered its CEO in his efforts to pitch the film, and was attracted by its charitable goals.[4] Despite McDonald's specifying that they did not want Ronald McDonald to appear in the film, he nonetheless appeared in a scene set at a McDonald's, which featured an extended dance sequence.[4] The character also introduced the theatrical trailer.[8]

Louis noted that he was one of the first to leverage the chain as a platform for promoting films; Disney would later enter into a long-term deal with McDonald's to cross promote its properties, such as films, through in store campaigns such as Happy Meal toy distribution, although this relationship ended in May 2006, amid pressure to reduce the promotion of junk food to children.[9]

Despite this, Louis remarked that he was "still the only person in the universe that ever had the exclusive motion picture rights to the McDonald's trademark, their actors, their characters, and the whole company."[4]

Stewart Raffill

Stewart Raffill, who had made a number of family films, was brought on as director, despite the film not even having a script written yet. He says he was recommended to the producer by James Brolin, who Raffill made High Risk with.[10]

Raffill later recalled:

I was hired out of the blue. And the producer asked me to come down to the office. So I did and he had a whole crew there, a whole crew on the payroll. It was amazing. He had the transportation captain. The camera department head. The AD. The Production Manager. He had everybody already hired and I said, “Well, what’s the script?” And he said, “We don’t have a script. I don’t like the script. You have to write the script. You’re gonna have to write it quick so prep the movie and write the script on the weekends.”[11]

The crew aimed to distinguish the film from E.T. by having Mac be a member of a family, and having powers and skills.[4]

Raffill says the producer wanted to use an actor who was handicapped. "So he found a kid who had spina bifida. The kid had never acted before, but he was a wonderful kid. But when they finished it was as if the fact that they used a real encumbered person to play the person didn’t mean anything to even the people who lived in the world."[11]

Raffill says "the moment Disney heard we had this deal with McDonald’s, they went in and hammered out a three year deal to get all their toys put in their Happy Meals and have that relationship with Coca-Cola. As such, the McDonald’s people were then not particularly enthused with us as they now had Disney, but they had to fulfill their arrangement with us."[10]

Filming

In one scene, Eric Cruise (played by Calegory, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair in real life[12]) is seen rolling off a cliff in his wheelchair; Raffill noted that he performed a portion of the stunt himself, explaining that "it's very hard to do physical things when you're in that condition. It's very hard to make a wheelchair work, because it's not a very balanced thing. When you start going fast in a wheelchair, you place tremendous risk on the child, so you have to try and figure out how to do that in a controlled fashion."[4]

The shooting of Eric was explicitly shown in the Japanese VHS release of the film.[13]

Music

Soundtrack

The film's soundtrack album was released by Curb Records, featuring one track from its musical score by Alan Silvestri[14] and the theme song "Take Me (I'll Follow You)" by Bobby Caldwell.[15]

Track listing:

  1. "You're Not a Stranger Anymore (Theme from Mac and Me)" - Jara Lane (3:42)
  2. "Take Me (I'll Follow You)" - Bobby Caldwell (5:32)
  3. "You Knew What You Were Doing (Every Inch of the Way)" - Marcy Levy (3:30)
  4. "Down to Earth" - Ashford and Simpson (5:27)
  5. "Waves" - Debbie Lytton (3:44)
  6. "Send Out a Signal" - Larry Hart (4:31)
  7. "Wait and Break My Heart Tomorrow" - The Flint River Band (4:40)
  8. "Overture (Theme From Mac and Me)" - Alan Silvestri (4:24)
Score

In 2014, Quartet Records released a limited edition disc (1000 copies) of Silvestri's complete score.[16] The disc also includes "You're Not A Stranger Anymore (Theme From Mac and Me)" and "Take Me (I'll Follow You)," which Silvestri co-wrote for the film.

Release

Box office

The film premiered in Hong Kong on August 5, 1988, with a United States release following on August 12.[2] A box office failure,[17][18][19] it grossed $6,424,112 in the U.S.[3] on a $13 million budget.[2] It had a profit-sharing arrangement with Ronald McDonald House Charities.[20]

Critical response

Upon release, the film was widely panned as a duplication of Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).[12] Los Angeles Times critic Michael Wilmington wrote: "It's an amazingly bald-faced copy of E.T., even though this is E.T. in a sticky wrapper, left under the heater two hours too long. Almost everything in the earlier movie has a double here."[20] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post amended the famed "E.T., phone home" phrase to "E.T., call lawyer", and said: "Why is it so hard to like this film? Having seen it done so much better by Spielberg doesn't help, of course."[21]

The contrivance of the "Mysterious Alien Creature" being referred to by the acronym "MAC" (the McDonald's Corporation's signature product is the Big Mac), a dance number in a McDonald's featuring Ronald McDonald, and characters' wearing of McDonald's clothing, prompted Deseret News journalist Chris Hicks to declare: "I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie that is as crass a 90-minute commercial as Mac and Me."[5] Hicks, along with Caryn James of The New York Times, observed additional promotion of Coca-Cola and Sears[5][22]—the latter brand carried McKids, the McDonald's line of children's clothing.[5] James also took exception to the "awfully irresponsible" treatment of wheelchair-using main character Eric Cruise, who is placed in potentially dangerous situations before MAC intervenes.[22] Calegory's lead performance, however, was named as a highlight by several critics,[12] and the filmmakers have garnered praise for their use of a disabled protagonist.[12][13][21]

Common Sense Media's Brian Costello, in a retrospective review, noted the film's marketing of Skittles candy, and described its product placement as being "as obnoxious and tacky as you can get". He allowed, however, that the film is a "so-bad-it's-good E.T. rip-off".[23] Based on 24 critical reviews, it holds a 0% approval rating at review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 2.7/10. The site's consensus reads: "Mac and Me is duly infamous: not only is it a pale imitation of E.T., it's also a thinly-veiled feature length commercial for McDonald's and Coca-Cola."[24]

Accolades

9th Golden Raspberry Awards
10th Youth in Film Awards

Legacy

The film is widely regarded as one of the worst ever made,[13][25] with The Telegraph noting that it is "frequently pulled out in 'worst film of all time' arguments".[26] Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock cited it as the most egregious example of product placement in cinema history, as well as the "worst thing you'll ever see in your entire life".[7] It was also named the worst film ever in the San Francisco Chronicle,[27] as well as by broadcaster Simon Mayo[28] and writer/producer Damon Lindelof.[29] Michael Hayden of GQ India referred to it as "hands down the worst family movie in Hollywood history".[30]

It has, nevertheless, become a cult film.[4][28][31][32] Lindelof allowed that it is "the fifth-best alien comedy ever made",[29] and it has appeared in various "so-bad-it's-good" listings.[19][30][33][34][35][36][37] Jim Vorel of Paste ranked it no. 52 in "The 100 Best 'B Movies' of All Time" (noting that it cannot be "enjoyed un-ironically"),[6] while Cracked journalist Jeff Steinbrunner placed it at no. 1 in "The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History", calling it "unintentionally awesome" and "almost genius".[38] Complex wrote: "As an accidentally riotous failure, Mac and Me comes highly recommended, but its real purpose requires a line of shot glasses... everyone must take a shot whenever Raffill's film displays one of its countless product placements."[33]

The film is part of a running gag by actor Paul Rudd. When appearing as a guest on Late Night with Conan O'Brien and O'Brien's later show Conan, Rudd would perform a "bait-and-switch" by routinely showing the same clip from it (in which Eric Cruise, watched by MAC, loses control of his wheelchair and falls off a cliff into a lake) instead of showing clips from the actual films he was ostensibly promoting.[39][40] While giving an interview alongside Captain America: Civil War co-star Chris Evans in 2016, Rudd expressed his appreciation of its "blatant" advertising of McDonald's, "unearned" positioning of Bobby Caldwell ballad "Take Me (I'll Follow You)", and inclusion of a fly landing on MAC's nose, declaring: "I love it... it's so good".[28] Evans also professed to "love" the film, noting that he "grew up on it".[28]

Sequel

The film ends with the text "We'll be back!", but owing to its unpopularity, the planned sequel was cancelled.[41] Producer R.J. Louis spoke of the ending in a 2017 interview, and did not rule out a follow-up. He claimed there is public interest because home video sales made the original profitable for Orion Pictures, and opined that MAC would resonate with modern, young moviegoers.[4]

See also

  • My Little Bossings, a 2013 Filipino family comedy film similarly criticized for product placement

References

  1. ^ "Mac and Me (U)". British Board of Film Classification. July 22, 1988. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Mac and Me". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Mac and Me at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Patches, Matt (2017-04-03). "How McDonald's Bizarre 'E.T.' Knockoff Got Made". Thrillist. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  5. ^ a b c d Hicks, Chris (August 15, 1988). "Film review: Mac and Me". Deseret News. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Vorel, Jim (May 9, 2014). "The 100 Best "B Movies" of All Time". Paste. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Crow, Jonathan (April 22, 2011). "Morgan Spurlock Dubs 'Mac and Me' the Worst Film Ever Sold". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  8. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2003). Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 2004. Signet. ISBN 0-451-20940-0.
  9. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (2006-05-08). "Disney Loses Its Appetite for Happy Meal Tie-Ins". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-12-11.
  10. ^ a b "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Stewart Raffill, director of TAMMY AND THE T-REX, MAC & ME and THE ICE PIRATES". Bristol Bad Film Club. May 12, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Interview with Stewart Raffill Part 3". Slashfilm. 15 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d "When he tires of answering questions about why he's in a wheelchair, he simply dead-pans: 'Vietnam.': Out-of-This-World Career Still in Cards for 'Mac and Me' Star". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  13. ^ a b c Millican, Josh (August 8, 2018). "Alternate Mac and Me Ending Unearthed and It's Insane". MovieWeb. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  14. ^ "Mac and Me". Soundtrack.net. Soundtrack.net. 1988.
  15. ^ Bobby Caldwell - Film Usage
  16. ^ "MAC AND ME – Alan Silvestri". Quartet Records.
  17. ^ "Advertising is so much a part of life that it's understandable to find familiar products in films. But sometimes it goes too far". Los Angeles Times. August 29, 1999. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  18. ^ Chiaramonte, Tiara (July 12, 2013). "The Moment When Bruce Willis Became a Megastar". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Aswell, Sarah (August 3, 2017). "16 Movies That Are So Bad They're Good". SheKnows Media. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Movie Review Mac and Me Takes a Big McBite Out of E.T." The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  21. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (August 13, 1988). "Mac and Me". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Review/Film; 'MAC and Me,' Family From a Distant Planet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
  23. ^ Costello, Brian. "Mac and Me". Common Sense Media. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  24. ^ Mac and Me at Rotten Tomatoes
  25. ^ McGranaghan, Mike (March 21, 2017). "15 Movies With Bizarre Source Material". Screen Rant. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  26. ^ "Top 20 aliens in the movies". The Telegraph. December 19, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  27. ^ "Mac and Me". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications. January 22, 2017. McDonald's created an 'E.T.' rip-off called 'Mac and Me' in 1988... It's the worst movie ever made.
  28. ^ a b c d "Paul Rudd and Chris Evans interviewed by Simon Mayo". BBC Radio 5 Live. April 29, 2016. Event occurs at 10-14 minutes. Retrieved April 27, 2018. ...cult film flop, Mac and Me (page text).
  29. ^ a b Lindelof, Damon (March 14, 2011). "Damon Lindelof's Open Letter to Paul the Alien". GQ. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  30. ^ a b Hayden, Michael (November 10, 2011). "The 6 best bad films". GQ India. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  31. ^ McNally, Victoria (April 24, 2017). "Mac and Me Finally (?) Gets Figure and Pin Collection". Nerdist. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  32. ^ Burke, Carolyn (February 22, 2017). "4 Reasons The Razzies Suck (And Should Be Abolished Forever)". Cracked. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  33. ^ a b "The Best Bad Movies of All Time". Complex. February 22, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  34. ^ Ziegler, Andrew (April 30, 2015). "27 Unintentionally Hilarious Movies That Are So Bad They're Great". BuzzFeed. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  35. ^ Neptune, Niki (February 15, 2014). "Top 10 Movies So Bad They're Good". WatchMojo. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  36. ^ Orbesen, James (June 17, 2015). "10 Classic 'So-Bad-They're-Good' Films". PopMatters. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  37. ^ Good, Oliver (February 23, 2011). "Films that are so bad they're good". The National. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  38. ^ Steinbrunner, Jeff (August 26, 2008). "The 10 Most Shameless Product Placements in Movie History". Cracked. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  39. ^ Michael Adams (2010). Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic's Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made. Harper Collins. p. 247. ISBN 0061966312.
  40. ^ Rowles, Dustin (Dec 13, 2013). "Did You Know That the Amazing Paul Rudd Has Quietly Been Pulling Off One of the Longest Running Jokes in Late-Night History?". Pajiba.com.
  41. ^ "Sequel Baiting Endings That Didn't Work". Empire. Retrieved 2012-06-11.

External links

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