Here's the thing: I was sitting in my living room staring up at the ceiling when the FedEx guy delivered this new video from Warner Bros. That forced a decision: Should I watch the movie or continue to stare at the ceiling?
Shoulda stuck with the ceiling.
On December 2, 2008, WB premiered "Bam Margera Presents: Where the #$&% Is Santa?" on DVD and Blu-ray. The question is, Why? No, not why did they debut an ostensibly Christmas-themed movie in December, but why at all? Especially on such a precious commodity as Blu-ray. Maybe the studio figured there were was a throng of youthful PS3 owners who might appreciate the movie's dull, redundant, juvenile, gross-out humor. I dunno. Life is a mystery to me.
If you're not familiar with former professional skateboarder Bam Margera, he's one of the writers, producers, and cast members of the "CKY" and "Jackass" movies. In "Where the #$&% Is Santa?" he's a co-writer, co-producer, co-director, and co-star. As you can guess, the movie is a combination of insulting gags, ridiculously inane stunts, and reality TV, where tattoos, body metal, profanity, drugs, sex, and crude jokes rule. As I say, the film is probably looking for a youthful audience.
In the film Bam and his friends decide to find Santa Claus and bring him home to West Chester, Pennsylvania, as a Christmas present for Bam's wife, Missy. They travel not to the North Pole, because that's where everyone else in the world thinks Santa hangs out, but to Lapland in northern Finland, because that's where they know he really lives. So Bam and his buddies set out for Finland, where they filmed on location, believe it or not, and the movie recounts their trek. It's a long way to go for nothing. My sister-in-law's husband is Finnish and wears a big white beard. I could have saved Bam and his chums a lot of trouble by pointing them in the direction of Oregon. Oh, well....
I said they filmed on location "believe it or not" because the film looks like a home movie, with just enough budget for a handheld 16 mm camera and, obviously, a trip to Finland. There may have been a script involved, too; it's hard to tell. There is a co-director, though, Joe DeVito, who has done a little TV work.
The movie opens with a snow fight in Bam's living room, and it goes downhill from there. The characters in the story, all playing themselves, seem to be having a great time, but for the life of me I cannot fathom why they thought anyone else would be interested in watching their antics.
The fellows appear to have made up the plot (and I use the word grudgingly) as they went along. The dialogue seems improvised, and the acting is nonexistent. It's just a bunch of people laughing, clowning around, and acting rudely for an hour and a half. Even the raucous music, which blares continuously in the background, is repetitive and numbing.
There is, however, a very nice Lamborghini involved, so the movie is not entirely hopeless.
Now, what do you mean, What's it about? I thought I told you. It's about a bunch of guys who punch and shove each other and swear a lot and laugh uproariously at their own non-jokes, and then once in a while get on their skateboards and show off a bit. Before they leave for Finland they begin a series of cruel practical jokes on one of their supposed friends, Brandon Novak, by tagging his newly bought junker car, kicking in its windows, dropping a tree on it, and then putting poor Brandon in a wooden box and rolling him down a flight of stairs. Hilarious.
At one point a character says "There's nothing good can come of this." Yep. Like "Jackass," there is nothing here but a succession of stupid stunts, like cutting down a tree with a person sitting at the top of it. Unlike "Jackass," none of it is even remotely interesting. "You are classless," says another character. How true. The filmmakers predicate their movie on its being as classless and clueless as possible. In fact, it's not so much a motion picture at all as it is an account of Bam and his friends horsing around for ninety-odd minutes.
The characters insult one another, talk childishly dirty, roughhouse, and generally bore the viewer beyond reason. They tease, they razz, they cuss, they drink, they fall down, and that's the movie. It's the logical outgrowth of reality television, I suppose, where the idea is simply to point a camera at somebody and hope for the best.
Imagine if your socially awkward teenage nephew and some of his equally inept pals decided to make a movie using a handheld camcorder. That's it. Crude, gross, offensive, and boring, "Where the #$&% Is Santa?" is more depressing than funny. It's unimaginable to me that anyone, no matter what his age or IQ, could actually sit through this thing (except, of course, the occasional dedicated critic, regardless of age or IQ).
Watching "Where the #$&% Is Santa?" reminded me of Fox giving Tom Green a load of money a few years ago to write, direct, and star in his own movie, "Freddy Got Fingered," the movie turning out so badly the comic actor practically disappeared afterwards. Who knows; maybe history will repeat itself.
Needless to say, the BD's video quality is not what most people have come to expect from high-definition playback. The filmmakers used a Super 16 mm camera to shoot the movie, and the results are variable, to say the least. Using a VC-1 encode and a BD25, Warners reproduce a 1.85:1 ratio image probably as well as they could. Still, the picture looks slightly blurry, with bright, sometimes oversaturated colors, and a heavily contrasted, glossy, glassy look. It is not unlike a standard-def television broadcast upscaled to 1080 resolution.
WB use ordinary, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 to reproduce the sound, which is OK because it's mostly dialogue, anyway, with a continuous background of cacophonous rock music. Much of it is bright and edgy. It's not particularly dynamic, either, so much as it is loud. Worse, most of it sounds like mono. There's a fairly narrow front-channel stereo spread, and I don't think I heard a noise from the side or rear speakers except some very sporadic and very faint ambient musical bloom.
The main bonus items start with a series of additional outtakes and scenes totaling about twenty-two minutes and playing just as poorly as the movie itself. Following that is a brief photo gallery of stills. In addition, there are twenty scene selections; a widescreen trailer; English and Spanish spoken languages; French and Spanish subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
There is nothing about "Where in the #$&% Is Santa," short of the Lamborghini, that I can recommend. And the thing that saddens me most is that while there must be a thousand truly talented filmmakers out there who will never find the financing for their projects, this utter waste of time not only gets a DVD release from a major studio, but a Blu-ray edition as well. Life is unfair.
Now, back to that ceiling.