Sunday, December 29, 2013

That Dog Won't Bark: A Review of "The Langoliers" (1995)

"That dog won't bark," says David Morse frustratedly during a crucial scene during The Langoliers; his character, Brian, can't get any response on a radio frequency that, under normal circumstances, would be jumping with traffic ("like frogs on a hot sidewalk," he says).  It's a nice turn of phrase -- no surprise, that: it comes straight from the novel -- and it's one that could be used in more or less any circumstance to indicate that something is unwilling or unable to fulfill its primary objective.

In the specific case of Brian's ominously silent radio frequencies, the dog's unwillingness or inability to bark is surprising, unlikely, and extremely mysterious.  I'd argue that the movie itself is a dog that won't bark, too; in searching for a reason why that is, I'm tempted to simply channel my inner Roger Ebert and say it's because it's too busy gobbling like a turkey, since a turkey is what it assuredly is.  In that version of this review, I go ahead and end the blog post right there, feeling that all that needs saying has been said.  It's the blogger equivalent of throwing the microphone down after the punchline and walking off the stage.

But dadgummit, I spent several hours last night harvesting screencaps for this post, and if I don't use them, I'll feel like not only was that time wasted, but that it was hella wasted.  Can't have it.  Won't have it.  Gotta use 'em, and if I gotta use 'em, there may as well be more of this priceless text accompanying them.

When last I ranked all of the King movies, The Langoliers came in at #59.  That's pretty damn low, and part of me thinks it might be too low.  Is this movie really worse than Bag of Bones?  Or Children of the Corn IV?  Or the first season of Haven?  I could go either way on it, to be honest.  Lists like that one are 75% hokum at best; only a fool pretends otherwise.

Regardless of the specific placement, though, I stand by my assertion that it is a pretty damn bad piece of work.  And yet, I know it has fans.  Some of them may be reading these very words . . . right now.  Sometimes, it makes me feel a little bad to rip something apart in a review, because I know there will be people who theoretically might have their feelings hurt by it.  I'm not fool enough to think that the director of the movie is going to read this, or anyone associated with the project . . . but stranger things have happened, oh yes indeedy they have.

With professionals, though, I tend to assume and hope that they have developed enough of a thick skin to simply look at a bad review -- which is what this one is assuredly going to be -- and just sort of shrug at it and say, "Ahhhhh, fuck that guy.  He's just a schmuck on the Internet, anyways."  Which is true.  So I don't much worry about that.

What I do worry about sometimes is hurting the feelings of people who are just fans of whatever thing I'm ripping apart.  I've been on the other side of that, and it can kind of suck to have someone tear apart something you love.  For my own part, I can more or less keep my own opinions vital enough that they can weather whatever storms come their way.  And if they can't, they probably weren't worthwhile to begin with.  Not everyone is as hardened in their ways as I am, though; some people have more delicate constitutions, and might take some of the invective spewed forth on blogs like this one a bit more harshly.

To those folks, I'd like to issue a blanket apology, and also clarify my stance somewhat.  No matter what I say, nor how I phrase it, I am never looking down on you.  Unless I specifically say so.  Which, to be frank, I might.  But unless I spell things out with that much precision, please assume that whereas we might have a difference of opinion as to whether a movie -- The Langoliers, for example -- is good or not, my vituperative denunciation of that movie is not a vituperative denunciation of you, your taste in movies, or your aesthetic philosophies in the broader context of things.  As always, I invite rejoinders, rebuttals, arguments, and other forms of spirited defense of the points of view which are not my own.  I would ask you to be polite about it (or, failing that, to at least be witty in your rudeness), but otherwise, I generally enjoy it when people bring opposing viewpoints to the table.  I rarely lose in those scenarios; the end result is that I either gain a new perspective (in which case I win) or that I strengthen my existing viewpoint (in which case I also win).  What's the downside?

So, yes, if you feel The Langoliers is a brilliant piece of filmmaking, by all means, tell me about it.  Who knows; you might change my mind.

With that pre-apology out of the way, here is another.  I deeply apologize for the sheer amount of time I will spend during this review writing about breasts.  You will find that I have occasional cause to remark on the breasts of actress Kimber Riddle.  I suspect I may refer to them as "titties" at several, uh, points.  Please rest assured that I think women are awesome.  In almost all scenarios, they are superior to men.  If there was a signup sheet to turn our society into a matriarchy, I'd've signed it already.  I mean no disrespect.  However, titties are also awesome.  This is a simple fact, and you can't blame me for that any more than you can blame me for the fact that Pluto isn't big enough to be considered a planet.  I mean, look, I'd've invoked the grandfather clause and kept the cocksucker on the list of planets, personally . . . but I wasn't consulted, and the rules are the rules.  So don't blame me.  And don't blame me -- a heterosexual male blogger -- for noticing the breasts that are paraded around on the screen for nearly three hours during this movie.  They're there, I noticed 'em, I approve of 'em, and by Gan, you're going to hear about it.

Sorry about that.

So . . . if The Langoliers is a dog that won't bark, what do you suppose is the reason for that?  For me, it is a simple question to answer.  Two things: one, the novel itself isn't very good; and two, the tone created by writer/director Tom Holland is not sufficiently engaging to power me past the other deficiencies.
Oh, and a third: the pace.  Boy howdy, does this sucker move slowly.  I'm not one to complain about long movie.  Hell, I love long movies.  I recently indulged in a double feature of the first two parts of the Hobbit trilogy.  Not at home, either; at a theatre.  That was five-plus hours, and I was as happy as a freshly-slopped hog.  On Halloween 2012, I watched all three parts of Storm of the Century back-to-back-to-back.  Long, I don't mind.

Boring, on the other hand . . . boring, I mind.  And Tom Holland's The Langoliers is very, very boring.

A lot of this comes back to my first answer to the non-barking-dog issue: the source material.  King's novel -- or novella, if you prefer -- is less than three hundred pages, but even it moves slowly.  King is constantly having one character or another speak seven sentences when two or three words would surely have sufficed; he has Nick do that quite a few times.  Nick will say something like, "Now listen up, boys and girls!  I don't have time to be nice and diplomatic about this!  I'm a very busy man, and we are all in quite a jam here, and you all need waking up!  I don't have the time to do it properly!  I have no choice but to do it roughly, in a manner that might offend your delicate sensibilities!  Well, since that's what I must do, it's what I will do!  I don't have the time for anything else!"

If Nick was a compelling character -- or even an interesting one -- then this dog might bark.  But he isn't, and it won't.  If he was played by a compelling or interesting character in the movie, then even that might be enough to salvage it.  Imagine Samuel L. Jackson in the role, and you might have something.  We don't get Samuel L. Jackson.  We get Mark Lindsay Chapman, whose name almost rhymes with Samuel L.'s.  Otherwise, though, he not such of a much; I busied myself with trying to figure out if he was an Australian trying to play a Brit or if he merely sounded weird.  Evidently, he merely sounds weird.  (By the way, he evidently played Anton Arcane in some 72 episodes of the Swamp Thing television series that ran from 1990 to 1993, a fact which neatly relieves me of any remaining desire to see that television series.)

Nick isn't that bad in every scene, of course; and Chapman isn't, either.  But neither ever goes much farther than competent, either.  End result?  BORE-ring!  Part of a director's job is to spot issues like that and prevent them.  "Hmm," one imagines Tom Holland saying to himself; "this 'Nick Hopewell' is a boring character.  I'd better find a dude to play him who has charisma draining out of every pore!"

Mark Lindsay Chapman just isn't that guy.  Consequently, when he gets bogged down delivering some of those not-particularly-effective moments from King's long-seeming story, it feels like exactly what it is: unneeded dialogue being spouted by an uninteresting character who is being played by an uninteresting actor.

More such scenes come courtesy of the Bob Jenkins character, played by Dean Stockwell.

Jenkins, as you may recall, is a mystery novelist.  He's there to work out the specifics of the scenario for us all (the readers), as well as for his fellow passengers.  And that's fine; it's a necessity, because otherwise we'd have no clue what was going on, and the group of passengers would simply be stuck where they were until the monsters showed up and ate the world.  Imagine how dumb that would seem with no context.

The problem with Bob is, he's prone to delivering lectures.  And that might be okay if he'd just deliver them.  Instead, he is obsessed with hinting at things, then demonstrating them.

A sample goes something like this:

"Bob, do you know something about what's going on?"

"Yes.  Yes, I do.  I know something.  Or, to be more precise, I think I know something.  I don't want to say more about it until I'm sure, though.  So everyone follow me, so that we can spend fifteen minutes testing it by having you all do the exact opposite.  Your failures will prove me right, you see."

"And this will help us?"

"Yes.  Yes, it will.  Or, to be more precise, I think it will.  But until I know for sure, I don't want to say.  So follow me."

There are 78 scenes in which this happens.  I counted.  I might have added one or two to the final tally for effect's sake, but I swear to God, it doesn't feel like it.

The plus side here is that Bob is played by Dean Stockwell, whose five-season run on Quantum Leap had ended only a couple of years prior to The Langoliers.  He does his best here, and it's a good performance.  Nothing spectacular, but deeply competent, and if that sounds like faint praise, let me assure you that it isn't.  Bob is a very poor character; in the hands of anyone but a genuinely fine actor, he'd have been a disaster in movie form.  Stockwell keeps him at the level of being merely annoying, and this is really quite an achievement.  If you want to witness an alternative, listen to the audiobook and hear what Willem Dafoe does with the character; he makes Bob even worse than King had already done.  Comparatively, Stockwell is doing Emmy-level work here.

By the way, if I am ever paid to write and/or direct a remake of this movie, I plan to have Bob casually mention that he has a son named Leroy.  All in the hopes that somebody, somewhere will holler "LEEROY JENKINS!" at the screen.  Yup.

One other thing about Bob: I like his scenario in which all of this is an experiment being conducted by The Shop via rear-projections screens and/or psychotropic drugs.  Bob rules it out, for obvious reasons, but I'm tempted to invent a fanfic scenario of my own wherein it IS all the result of shenanigans by The Shop.  But it's The Shop in the far future, where they have the ability to create time portals and universe-devouring meatballs and whatnot.  That'd be fun, wouldn't it?

One more other thing about Bob: check out these three screencaps, where he is first looking in one direction, and then in the other . . . and is then looking directly at YOU.  I dare you not to be creeped out by this.  In fact, I triple dog-dare ya!

Ah, the magic of prt sc.

Speaking of creepy, I suppose it's time to turn our attention to Craig Toomy.  Whose name I always want to spell "Toomey," for some reason.  With or without that "e," here he comes:

In the past, I've been none too shy about saying point-blank that Bronson Pinchot's performance here is abysmally awful.  Watching the movie again, though, I'm not sure I agree with my former selves.  I mean, honestly . . . isn't Pinchot simply performing the role as it was written (in the novel and, presumably, the screenplay)?   I'll freely state that the end result is annoying almost to the point of distraction, but should Pinchot be the only person shouldering the blame?  No.  Let's spread that blame around, and give both Holland and King their fair share.

I find that I don't have a great deal more to say about Craig Toomy.  Except to do a bit of pondering about how all of this stuff came to be.  I mean, let's face it.  Isn't it a bit coincidental that Craig just happens to encounter a bunch of razor-toothed monsters which bear a striking similarity to a tale his psycho father used to tell him?  It may not seem that way to some readers/viewers, and in fact, it didn't seem particularly coincidental to me until this most recent revisiting of the material.

In fact, though, it's damn coincidental.  Imagine if my father had spent most of his life lecturing me at semi-appropriate times about how if I didn't buckle down and REALLY apply myself, I'd end up getting eaten alive by anthropomorphized Ziploc bags.  Then, one day, after royally fucking up a major account at my prestigious international banking firm, I'm flying east to a meeting to determine the fallout of said fucking-up, when BAM!, what happens?  My airplane falls through a rift in time.  Later, a bunch of living Ziploc bags show up and start eating the whole world.

Now, you tell me: is that a mere coincidence, or are shenanigans of some sort afoot?  Because on the classic 1-10 scale, as far as coincidences go, with 1 being the least coincidental and 10 being the most, that motherfucker right there is a 10.

So, with that thought in mind -- that the odds of this being a coincidence are unlikely -- allow me to offer up a theory.  What happens to this flight is the product of Craig's mind.  In fact, Craig creates the entire situation.  Think of it as an "inscape" (of the sort Joe Hill writes about in NOS4A2) if you like, one Craig creates out of desperation and subconscious suicidal panic.  None of that is the book, of course, nor in the movie.  But it's kind of fun to think about, and I think my scenario -- which, you will note, directly contradicts my other one about a future version of The Shop -- also includes the possibility that Craig's inscape is being amplified and altered by Dinah's own subconscious mental powers.

Anyways, cut me some slack.  I had to do something to make this fun.

Speaking of which . . . it is titty time.

Alright, first things first: who can tell me what that type of hat is called?  Second: who can explain to me why anyone would ever actually wear one?  (And no, "because the nineties" is not an acceptable answer, even if it IS the only correct one.)

One of my favorite moments in the movie comes courtesy of this hat, when the plane is making its initial descent beneath the clouds.  Everyone is freaking out because nobody knows if there is anything actually under the clouds.  Bethany has been wearing this ludicrous hat the entire time, and the script calls for Bethany to pass out.  So, pass out she does, and as she passes, actress Kimber Riddle deftly swoops her head up to her head and knocks the hat off.  She never wears it again for the entire rest of the movie.  It's almost as if somebody said, "Fuck, we've got to get rid of this hat...!  But how to do it...?"  And that was the answer they came up with.  It's genius.

Also genius: somebody -- I'm looking at you, director Tom Holland -- decided it was a good idea to have Bethany get on this flight not wearing a bra.

I feel like I need the Budweiser Real Men Of Genius theme playing as I say this: I salute you, sir.  And speaking of salutes:

While I'm being a pervert, I might as well admit that I also deeply approve of the decision to have Bethany's shirt be a midriff-baring one that shows off Kimber Riddle's cute little belly-button for the entire movie.  That plus the no-bra situation is pure win.

I'm being sarcastic, by the way.  I mean, no, I'm not; not really.  But kind of, I am.

Let me explain.

See, the average man has two brains.  One in the one head, and . . . well, you get it.  The smaller brain speaks loudly and insistently, and the larger brain is tasked with the constant job of drowning the smaller one out.  Mostly, it succeeds, but sometimes, it fails.  This is what is known as Being A Man.  (See also subcategories, including: Consumption Of Bacon; Farting; Failure To Vaccum The Apartment; and Leaving The Seat Up.)

The small brain that works on this blog is always thinking impure thoughts when watching movies.  Bonnie Bedelia in Salem's Lot?  Hoo-buddy.  That's one example of something the small brain found intriguing.  You should have heard the din created by the one-two punch of Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle, or by Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street.  No blogging is getting done about those films, and let me tell you, it's a good think, because the larger brain would have had its work cut out for it.  It was rough going right there in the cinema, in fact; the small brain's impulse was to cause the entire body to leap out of the seat it was sitting in and make the mouth begin emitting "go-HOOOO-gah!" noises like in an old-timey cartoon.

It is an ongoing battle.  But the large brain is a seasoned veteran, and its won-loss record is approximately 147,097,663-14 all-time in such, um, head-to-head showdowns.

So while it is undeniably the case that when I'm watching King movies for this blog, the smaller brain is thinking its horrid thoughts, rest assured that the larger brain is ever vigilant, allowing only brief evidence of the smaller brain's existence to even be evident to the outside world.  The larger brain realizes that the smaller one has no place in most such conversations.

However, the larger brain also realizes that there ARE some movies in which certain decisions were obviously made with the smaller brain in mind.  And not merely Bryant Burnette's smaller brain, but the smaller brains of a great deal of the audience, too!  Whoever made that decision -- and for our purposes, Tom Holland is going to be cited as the primary defendant -- knew full well that placing a female character in a midriff-free tank-top without a bra was something that would engage the smaller brains of roughly 50% of the movie's audience.

This, friends, is what we call Exploitation.  It is a hallmark of B-movies, and the idea seems to be that if you throw a sufficient amount of titty into the film, you will hook a minimum of XX% of the audience for the entire time.  And let's have no confusion about it: there will be people who will keep right on watching a terrible movie simply to see how long it takes for the titties to show up again.  Even when the breasts are never actually bared, it will work on certain people.  (Let's not even mention how drastically the odds of staying tuned increased if one suspects the breasts might actually be bared at some point.)

It has to be said: I think Kimber Riddle is a very attractive woman in The Langoliers.  You may not agree with me; and if so, that's okay.  She's got a trashy sort of look -- complete with tattoos! -- that I personally find to be quite alluring.  So, yeah, sure; I'm more than happy to see her boobs bouncing around inside that tank top, unencumbered by a bra, for the better part of three hours.  These are things I approve of seeing.

But I find it kind of loathsome that Kimber Riddle was asked to do this.  Because what seems like three hours to you and I would have, in actuality, been anywhere from several weeks to several months for Riddle on the set of this film.  Imagine having to wear that -- and ONLY that -- at work for a period of months.  Unless you were an exhibitionist -- which, for all I know, Kimber Riddle might well have been -- this would surely make you feel self-conscious, degraded, and devalued.

Do I enjoy seeing a beautiful woman wearing something like that?  Yes.  Of course I do.  But unless the story absolutely demanded it, I would never even consider asking a woman to submit to conditions like that in a real-world situation.  And while the idea is that Bethany is obviously supposed to be a free-spirited party-girl, that idea could have very easily been put across without making it necessary that guys like me -- and like YOU, too, hmm? -- could practically draw a picture of Riddle's nipples after watching The Langoliers.  That shit strikes me as being deeply uncalled-for; at least, in this context, it seems that way.
I will sometimes give certain low-rent productions a pass on such things.  For example, when a girl pleasures herself using a dill pickle in the Troma classic Terror Firmer, I'm inclined to consult the clipboard, lower the rope, and let it right on through.  Why?  Because Terror Firmer is bold-facedly exploitative in nature; everyone is in on the joke.  Whether that was the case on-set, I cannot say.  But the dill-pickle scene there -- or any number of scenes in any number of other low-rent trash films -- seems honest to me in some odd way, and with that honesty comes a bizarre sort of purity.

Poor Kimber Riddle does not have the benefit of a similar approach in The Langoliers.  The camera doesn't leer at her, precisely (or is that "lier" at her?); but it comes close on more than one occasion.  Something about it feels mean and degrading, and while the aesthetics of it please the one part of me, the moral implications of it bother me even more.

But not so much so that I won't include some more screencaps now:

What are YOU looking at, David Morse?

What are you POINTING at, David Morse?!?

STOP THAT, David Morse!  Bad!

This, I think, is the prettiest Riddle looks during the movie.  Sigh...

And this has been A Journey Into Oddity, starring Bryant.

Moving on!  Nothing else to see here!

There's David Morse, playing Brian the Convenient Pilot.  Brian is, ostensibly, the main character, but he never amounts to much of anything.  In the novel, his character arc goes entirely unfulfilled; the arc is scarcely even present in the movie.  Morse is fine, but his taciturnity works again the movie somewhat.  Only somewhat, though; if the movie had had some less taciturn, it would only have drawn more attention to how little Brian actually has to do.

Morse would go on to do The Green Mile and Hearts In Atlantis, so he's a familiar face to King fans.  He's also got a role in the upcoming movie version of Joe Hill's Horns, which delights me.  I like Morse a lot, and am always happy to see him turn up.

Dinah is played by Kate Maberly, who was born in England and does a passable Yank accent.  She's pretty good in this movie; she isn't as annoying as a lot of young actresses might have been in the role.

Albert Kaussner is played by Christopher Collet.  Collet is pretty bad, I'm semi-sad to say; he's got several line readings that are quite awful.  But so does everyone else, so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on him.

The movie is a very faithful adaptation of the novel, but Albert's character is changed a good bit.  For one thing, the Jewishness is toned way down.  Perhaps Holland felt nobody wanted to see a kid in a yarmulke making eyes at the bosomy young tramp in the tank-top?  I dunno.

I'm fine with it.  Not a de-Hebrification of a character, mind you; but the toning down on Albert's odd fantasy life, which is omitted entirely.  In the novel, he imagines himself to be a cowboy hero, "the fastest Jew in the West."  It's all a little embarrassing; and while Albert's awkwardness is obviously a part of the story -- one that kinda/sorta works in the novel -- it would have been nearly impossible to replicate cinematically.  Thank Christ Jehovah this movie wasn't directed by Mick Garris; HE'D have tried it...

Patricia Wettig plays Laurel.  Having never watched thirtysomething, I don't have much to say about Wetting as an actress, except that here, she is saddled with one of THE worst scenes in the entire movie.  Daises; I'm talking about daisies!

Baxter Harris plays Rudy Warwick.  Who's Baxter Harris, you ask?  Well, he appeared in Home Alone 3, so . . . there's that, I guess.

Frankie Faison plays the ill-fated Don Gaffney.  He's perfectly okay.  Faison has never reached star status, but he's been working steady since the early eighties, and has been in a number of notable movies and tv shows, including The Silence of the Lambs, Do the Right Thing, and some 47 episodes of The Wire.  AND Maximum Overdrive!

One more cast member to mention:

Yes, that is, of course, the man himself: Stephen King in a delightful cameo playing a figment of Craig Toomy's imagination.  King appears to have been going through a bit of a portly phase at the time.  Which I say in the midst of a "portly" "phase" that has been going on since roughly 1997 and seems destined to not slow down until I'm onboard that ship in WALL*E.


A few other things bear mentioning, I suppose.  Let's start with the musical score by Vladimir Horunzhy.  It's pretty bad.  It's all synthesizer, and not in the lush, Tangerine (Firestarter) Dream sense of things, but rather in the drunk-hipster-playing-a-Casio-at-Starbucks sense of things.  But even apart from that, it just isn't very good.  Or at least, I don't think it is.  The score is buried so low in the sound mixduring most of the film that it is almost impossible to actually hear.  And a great many scenes don't even have score.

This is a more serious problem than it sounds.  Now, not everyone is a score-hound, and a majority of audiences more or less fail to even notice a movie's music, especially if it's background score.  But just because people may not notice it doesn't mean it isn't there, working its semi-invisible magic.  The canon of King-based movies is not particularly strong as far as scores go; there are a few standouts, though, including Thomas Newman's The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Pino Donaggio's Carrie, Harry Sukman's Salem's Lot, and Eliot Goldenthal's Pet Sematary.  One of my favorites is Danny Elfman's score for Dolores Claiborne, and it does a lot for that movie.  In part, that's because director Taylor Hackford knew what scenes needed score and what scenes didn't.

Tom Holland seems to have had no such knowledge in The Langoliers.  Or perhaps he asked for it, and then got such a voring score that he figured it was better to simply not use it.  Beats me.  All I know is, one of the major problems with the movie is that the score does nothing whatsoever to sweeten the movie's tone.  An intriguing, propulsive score could have livened the film up and helped considerably with the pace.

It was not to be.


"I used to just think it was party time, you know?  All the booze and drugs I could get.  But now...I don't know.  But getting shipped off this way just makes me feel like a pig in a slaughterhouse chute."

So says Bethany to Laurel when asked if she needs to go to rehab (which is where she suspects she was being sent).  In my review of Four Past Midnight, I mentioned how struck I was by certain parallels between 1990's The Library Policeman and 2013's Doctor Sleep.  Both deal with alcoholism in general and Alcoholics Anonymous in particular, and here again, in another of the stories from Four Past Midnight, the theme of addiction rears its head.

Also weirdly prescient in terms of future King novels is this bit of dialogue from Bob:

"[W]e're discovering the unlovely truth about time travel: that one can't appear in the Texas State School Book Depository on November 22nd, 1963, and hope to stop the Kennedy assassination.  One can't witness the building of the pyramids or the sack of Rome, or investigate the age of the dinosaurs firsthand.  No, fellow time-travelers; have a look around you.  This is the past. It's empty. It's silent.  It's a world with all the meaning of a discarded old paint-can."

This wasn't the first time King had alluded to the Kennedy assassination; he'd done it at least once before, in 1987's The Drawing of the Three.  Clearly, it was an idea that reared its head every so often until he finally wrote 11/22/63.

(By the way, in both of the above cases I am quoting the movie . . . but both scenes appear nearly verbatim in the novel.)


One of my favorite moments: as our cast of characters make their escape from Bangor, with the Langoliers nipping at their heels, there is a bit in which Brian sees several of the little turds swarming around the front of the plane.  "Get outta here!" he yells at them.  Now, these are supernatural -- or, at the least, extra-normal -- entities involved in cosmic-level reconstruction, and this idjit is yelling at them like he is Ralphie Parker's old man hollering at the Bumpus hounds when they come trotting over from next door.  Hilariously awful.


"Sweetie, that's just something his father made up," Laurel says to Dinah on the subject of the Langoliers at some point.

"Maybe once it was make-believe," says Dinah, "but not anymore."

I'm telling you...!  This shit is being created via inscape by Craig Toomy!


Speaking of fanfic-tional ideas, does anybody else find themselves fascinated by contemplation of what must have happened to the six survivors after the end of the story?

Let's face facts here.  These are survivors of a flight that would immediately become notorious.  At the end of the movie, there is an airplane that suddenly appears on a runway at LAX.  It should not be there.  It should be in Boston, but it isn't; and there are hundreds of people who were onboard who are now missing.

Brian, Bethany, Albert, Laurel, Bob, and Rudy are not going to be allowed to simply go about their lives.  Odds are, they are going to be scooped up by The Shop and interrogated for the next twenty years.  Or, failing that, they are going to become celebrities of a sort, hounded by people who want to know what "really happened" to Flight 29.

I nominate Joe Hill to write this at some point.


I've mentioned that the pacing is a serious problem, and my main piece of evidence for that is this: after our heroes escape from Bangor, there are -- amazingly -- still nearly forty minutes left in the movie.  In terms of airtime, that'd be nearly an hour (including commercials)!  It feels like it's never going to end.

That's about it, I guess.  I have random screencaps left over, which I shall now post.  Some of them may have textual additions courtesy of yours truly.  Some of them made me laugh.

Not so much THIS guy, however:

And now, leftovers!

This is the chick Nick has been tasked with assassinating.

In a scene not present in the novel Nick's handler gives him guff.  He's played by writer/director Tom Holland.

That's a CGI airplane, is what that is.

Oh, wow!  Nosehold!

I like this little scene, where Dinah is seeing through Craig's mind.

I do not believe fellatio ever actually occurs during the events of this film, but it seems to be strongly implied after Albert saves Bethany's life.

I believe I ought to have said "discomfits" instead of "discomforts," but I don't care enough to go back and fix it.

Holy moly!  I totally forgot to mention the incredibly sub-standard CGI!  Yikes, y'all; it's pretty damn bad.  Even in 1995, when this sucker aired, they were shoddy-looking; even by television standards.  Now, of course, they look -- literally -- incompetent.


Does that look like

Oh, that jumping-for-joy ending...

And that's all the langoliering that's fit to be langoliered for today.  I'll be back soon with a look at the BBC Radio adaptation of Secret Window, Secret Garden.  But it has to wait until this Sony Walkman cassette player -- never-before-opened! -- that I bought on eBay arrives in the mail.

Yes, I am a nerd.


  1. I second the nomination for a "Whatever Happened to the Survivors of Flight Langoliers" follow-up from Joe Hill. Absolutely.

    Still laughing at some of these screencaps and captions! Well done.

    I'm more from the Camille Paglia school of feminism, so I don't find Ms. Riddle's outfit uncomfortable in the slightest. I defer to any and all. She was definitely hot in this, though, and should be happy about being immortalized, even in a rather slight piece of cinema as this.

    God, yeah, that last jumping-in-the-air shot, with the daises. Oy vey. OY VEY FOREVER.

    I always think this film is directed by Mick Garris, correct myself, then forget again. I'm constantly amused by this cycle. I almost started writing "Wait, wait, who the fuck is Tom Holland?" then remembered this is my process, continuously, with this film!!

    So, I'm sure I'll write you again at some point and say "How about Garris' Langoliers, unh? Crazy, right?"

    I also second the digital re-casting of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Hopewell. I thought the romance angle between Nick and Laurel didn't really work in either the novel (all right, all right, novella) or the film, but I didn't quite mind the guy who played Nick.

    This is one of those damn things I occasionally feel the need to put in the player and let play while doing other things, and I've never quite figured out why. Just something about it. King channeling the Outer Limits, with all its awkward glory and unanswered questions and unresolved arcs. (And good call on the extraneous dialogue; it's so awkward when they go on and on like that.)

    1. My objection to the way Kimber Riddle is costumed is almost certainly a note I spent too much time playing during the course of writing this review. But for whatever reason, it really bugged me, so I figured hey, if that's what's on my mind, I might as well go with it. I don't know much about Camille Paglia, but my very limited knowledge of her leads me to believe I'm probably more or less in the same camp.

    2. You know, it's been an awful while since I read any Paglia; I should probably revisit her work and see how it hits me now. One of her books (and Ehrenreich's The Hearts of Men) had a profound influence on my thinking back when I read it.

      For the record, I don't feel you over-focused or anything. (In case that's how my comment came across.)

    3. I didn't take that way. That's my own self-assessment, though. And I knew it while I was writing it.

      Which is fine by me! I don't mind going off on tangents once in a while. My theory is: just write about what you're interested in in the moment, and at the very worst it'll end up being a passive reflection on the material.

    4. I've held off even brining up the topic of exploitation until now because of the honest possibility anything I write may come back to haunt me.

      I honestly looked up anything that might provide some kind of answer to the charges above.

      The best I've found is this: when some guy exploits a woman, it's signature note is that his interest stops at his own personal goals, and doesn't include anyone, least of all the woman, in his thoughts.

      The whole point of exploitation of that type, in other words, is that you quite literally have to have no regards for the other as a subject but an object. Indeed, it takes quite an delusional imaginative leap to the point where a guy sees the people around him as inferior, or as playthings, but unfortunately it happens.

      I don't know if that helps or not.


    5. Well, it's a complicated topic, and I'm probably nuts for even bringing it up. But there are obviously different types of exploitation, and different degrees of severity within each. I have no grounds to suspect that Kimber Riddle was, personally, exploited on-set; apart from the fact that she was in the same costume every day for ____ days, and that that costume was perhaps a bit less that dignified. But she may have not minded that at all for all I know.

      I don't know. Something about it just makes me feel a bit skeevy for some reason.

  2. The Langoliers disappointed me like no other King story. I was so into the whole notion of a lost world. When I found out what it was, my reaction was "that's all?!?!" It was a horrible letdown.

    Then I saw the miniseries. Having been so disappointed in the payoff of the story, I didn't think it was possible to be any more disappointed in the miniseries. Man was I wrong! Horribly cast, horribly scripted and horribly filmed, this miniseries took a half-good, half-bad story and made it all horrible. Not worth watching.

    1. I hear ya. I bet a LOT of people have had that reaction.

      I still think that a good movie could be made out of the existing story, provided that the director had some skill. Nothing could fix the story problems (except re-writing them), but if you flung enough good acting, interesting camerawork/editing/lighting/special effects, and a strong musical score at the problem, it would obscure it enough to make it entertaining.

      That definitely didn't happen the first time around.

  3. I'm late to the party here, but I have to second Brian's comments. Morse is the only one I can stomach. Bronson Pinchot truly turns watching this into a chore. I admit that it’s been so long since I read the story that I can’t reliably say if I enjoyed it or not … and since it’s so unmemorable I have to assume I didn’t. The film version is a mess. I’d rather pay middle school-aged kids to perform this on stage than sit through it again.

    1. Oh, man . . . I'd pay good money to see the Max Fischer Players stage an adaptation of this.

      I'd pay slightly less good money to see some equivalent troupe do same.

  4. It might be fun if they did it as an anime. Or ... Syfy could make The Langodeer with ornery, rutting bucks ... starring Mark Linn-Baker. You know ... to keep The Perfect Stranger vibe going.

  5. Ha ha. Thanks so much for this. I was just watching the Langoliers for the first time since forever and my researches stumbled me upon here. Many many Stephen King stories ended up being turned into garbage movies, but, frankly, I find Stephen King's garbage to be more appealing than 9 out of 10 Oscar winners. I won't need to watch it again any time this decade, but, you know, I'll probably watch it again.
    And thanks for the no nonsense (well, not much nonsense) assesment of the Kimber Riddle/titties-in-cinema phenomenon. I was actually blindly stuck in a "What IS it about her?" story when you woke me up. "Right. No bra." A very light, very poigniant revelation on how hetero men see movies, and how that must feel to female actors.
    Well done.

    1. Hey, thanks! That means a lot. I strive to always be honest when I'm blogging, and doggone it, sometimes I feel like I simply can't avoid putting on my objectification hat for a while. But I always feel bad about it, so I try to call myself out on it, too, to try and at least bring a sense of balance to things.

      I like what you say about garbage King movies. There really IS something appealing about most of them, isn't there? Even "The Langoliers," which is really quite trashy.

  6. Only bad reviews here, including the text that even approaches something about time travel. The film basically works the script and the ambiance of the past. This is all great!

    About the history of the Langoliers, told by the father of Tommy, it may have been told by several other rich parents and businessmen. And it came with one of the children of these many parents. Simple like that.

    And the soundtrack. I like the film appreciates the silence as the sound (or lack thereof) is highlighted in this time travel theory. So much so that only in the imagination you can hear the echo.

  7. Hilarious Captions. I literally laughed out loud.

    1. I like the ones when he's eating the sandwich. I made myself LOL with that.

  8. Something for your small brain:

    great pic here:

    My comment on this movie on IMDB:

    Yes, why do I (at least) enjoy repeatedly watching this movie every now & then? What is there about it that makes this so?

    Well, I think maybe I may have figured it out. I think there are several reasons: For one, is its simplicity. It kinda reminds you of an amateurish production, but a GOOD one at that. Maybe a secret desire in us to at last watch a GOOD amateur film and we wish ALL of them could be good.

    Next are the characters - what a wonderful mix; each played pretty well, although maybe a bit amateurishly (but, remember we want to see a good amateur film). The main characters all have a pretty strong presence. Probably almost everyone can relate to one of the characters. The budding romance between Laurel & Nick is touching (especially, their parting scene - "remember the daisies"). I could certainly fall for someone as sweet as Laurel!

    Third, the whole movie has quite a surreal feeling - the music track helps that - it is almost like a dream (or nightmare) - you can really kind of escape into this make believe situation.

    Then there is a bit of humor - Mr Toomey is almost laughable in a pitiful way - Bronson's overacting is a hoot. And of course, when the title characters come on screen, you really got to cringe AND laugh at them at the same time.

    Lastly, it just seems the entire cast enjoyed making this film - maybe not, but it seems that way.

    How about a Langoliers II? Somehow the same characters coincidentally find themselves all together on another flight 20 years later. Are all the actors still available? Imagine the possibilities! Hey, Stephen!

    1. Thanks!

      I am not the world's largest fan of this movie, certainly not if I'm using the big brain. ("Big" being verrrrry relative in my case.) That said, I do have an affection for it, and I think there's no doubt that a LOT of people still remember it very fondly indeed. That makes me happy!

      I dunno if I'd be down for a Langoliers II, but I do believe a quality remake could be a big hit.

  9. This was a fare if over egged review of a film that had very little going for it. The story was crap, and the dialog was for the most part pathetic. Some of the lines sounded like they were written by a 12 year old. The main character played by Dean Stockwell was just annoying. I really don't understand why an actor of his stature would want to act in a movie that was so badly written. Stephen King must have written it in his lunch time. Most of the cast I have seen in other things over the years, but what ever happened to Kimber Riddle after she appeared in The Langoliers. She just seems to have disappeared. Even Wikipedia doesn't seem to have any information about her.

    1. Beats me! She does seem to have decided that Hollywood was not for her. I hope it wasn't for any of the reasons that are so much a part of the daily news these days; but that wouldn't surprise me much, sad to say.

      I remember quite liking Stockwell in this when it first aired, but the last time I watched it, yeah, I agree: he was annoying. But so was the character, so I guess he just played what was on the page!

  10. Just read the story and watched the DVD I found at a used cd/movie store. It has it lol moments (facial expressions from the actors!!!), but honestly, I can sit through this movie with enough attention toward it compared to the Hollywood shit that people feel are the new coming. MARVEL FILMS CAN SUCK MY GRIMY BALLS. Rather watch a Dead Presidents type of movie before I go see the remake of Superfly...fuckin lame. Not sure if its because of Stockwell acting as Jenkins, but cmon dude, his character is just relaying theories and far-fetched ideas about the situation they're having to go through. That's amusing for a story where nobody get why the hell all the passengers have disappeared from a damn airplane. xcusemehIbendranking.

  11. Great film, watch it frequently, an easy to watch film, doesn't need to be over analysed as you can pull any film apart.

    1. No film needs to be over-analyzed.

      Every film needs to be analyzed.