In yet more alarming signs of the relationship between recreational drug use and pandemics, I noticed last week that “Jupiter Ascending”—a strong contender for worst movie ever—was trending on our local Netflix here in Italy. As a public service, therefore, I am devoting this post to a cautionary blast from the past. (Bear with it. It totally gets to the bad movie bits, but mojitos and carbs first. You’ll thank me.)
Scientific research, mojitos, bad movies, love tests, scones, and, um… mojitos
Fellow American expat Ellen Hawley published a thoughtful, well-documented, and scientific post here on the correct way to eat scones. (Clotted cream first and then jam or vice versa?) Actual scientists weighed in on the optimal size, weight, and cream/jam ratio. Her own research under carefully controlled conditions (tea time) supplied data. And, with all that, I think she still went for the wrong solution.
I know this because (as I described here when we moved into the Castle) I’ve been through the rigorous, real-world, applied testing otherwise known as a British Village Coffee Morning. But in the spirit of scientific rigor, my daughter and I decided to reproduce Ellen’s research as a lead-in to our traditional Bad Movie/Big Mojito night.
Scientific Research Project #1: Scone Assembly
Methodology: With minute precision—achieved only because this was pre-mojitos—we prepared and sampled scones. Our results are, we believe, definitive. If you put jam first and then clotted cream, the cream is reluctant to spread and achieve optimal scone coverage. You are at risk of bites that contain little or even no cream. An unacceptable risk.
Results: The possibility exists that those who have a lifetime of scone exposure and years of sconage expertise will be able to overcome that obstacle. But for scone-come-lately’s and other Americans, I recommend clotted cream topped with jam.
Scientific Research Project #2: Mojitos
Methodology: Pour rum, mojito mix, lime, and mint over ice.
Results: Yup. Works every time. (Isn’t science wonderful?)
Scientific Research Project #3: Love Test
With Project #1 resolved and our findings ready to write up for submission to various scientific journals, plus extensive in situ field testing of Project #2, we moved on to the next step of the evening. I’ve been hearing through the human resources grapevine about the Love Test, in which Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” theory has been adapted to workplace “appreciation” training. This is, naturally, HR’s fault. After many decades in the human resources trenches, I know that everyone hates HR because…well, because they’re HR. Sadly, many human resources executives cling to the cherished illusion that employees can be trained to appreciate each other (by which they mean, of course, appreciate HR). In fact, however, employees reserve all their appreciation for only two things—money, and being left alone. (Or three things if your company has Donut Day.)
Methodology: Never let it be said that I was unwilling to do my part to further scientific research. After careful preparation (see Project #2), I was ready to take the Love Test. The only free version was for couples, but their literature points out that the same theory applies to couples relationships (“love”) and to the workplace (“appreciation”).
The test was…bad. Have you ever taken one of those would-you-rather scenario quizzes? (“Would you rather be stranded forever alone on a desert island or in a Bergdorf’s dressing room with Donald Trump?”) Well, this was worse.
It’s more meaningful to me when…
A: I receive a loving note/text/email for no special reason from my loved one.
E: my partner and I hug.
It goes on and on like that. And on. The only ones I could answer definitively were the ones that mentioned presents, or the ones where somebody does stuff for me.
It’s more meaningful to me when…
E: my partner puts his/her arm around me when we’re in public.
C: my partner surprises me with a gift.
Results: According to the results, the love languages I speak fluently are Receiving Gifts and Acts of Service. Apparently, I’m really, really good at getting presents and getting other people to do stuff for me, but I suck at providing quality time and physical touch. On the plus side, for 99% of workplaces, that pretty much keeps me out of trouble and out of jail. Apparently, I rock the Love Test. Who knew?
Scientific Research Project #4: Can even mojitos help Jupiter Ascending?
Methodology: I know this movie has been out for a while, but we’re professionals. We knew better than to approach it without a judicious refill of the already-proven Project #2, and most movie theaters frown on that so we had to wait for Netflix.
Liberally fortified, we started the movie. In the first five minutes, we had a charming love story with the happy young Russian couple expecting their first child, which is obvious because the mom-to-be’s extremely pregnant naked belly is sticking up in the air for the proud papa’s enjoyment. He announces that the baby will be named “Jupiter”, and then home invaders break in and shoot him dead. For some reason, the mom gets on a boat, delivers the baby inside a cargo container in the middle of the ocean, and moves to New York to become a maid. Little Jupiter grows up to be Mila Kunis and cleans a lot of toilets until the aliens try to kill her while she’s having her eggs harvested.
We paused the movie and looked at our Project #2 glasses. Even by our rigorously low Bad Movie Night standards, this was bad. But, we told each other, this is for science. We refilled our glasses and bravely soldiered on.
My theory about the rest of this movie plot is this. Picture the Wachowski siblings sitting by the pool at their Hollywood mansion with pitchers of mojitos. They’re playing a drinking game while they try to think up something to make a movie about. Every time an investor calls begging to be allowed to throw money at their next project, they take a drink. There are a lot of calls because everyone wants to be part of the next Matrix project. They are each on their second mojito pitcher but neither of them can think of anything to make a movie about.
ANDY: I swear it’s true. We could make a movie about belly-button lint and investors would be lining up to throw money at us.
ANDY: Why not?
LANA: Hey, I have an idea. Back when I was ten, I wrote a really deep story about a girl named Jupiter who turns out to be an alien space princess. She has a boyfriend named Caine who’s an albino werewolf with space roller-skates. And occasionally, wings. She cleans toilets, gets a new outfit every two and a half minutes (usually while she’s completely unconscious), and gets rescued a lot.
ANDY: Cool. Let’s get Channing Tatum for the boyfriend. That way we don’t have to worry about him ever having to use more than one facial expression.
LANA: And hey, let’s really go out there…we’ll get Sean Bean to play a guy who’s half bee but he lost his wings. We’ll call him—wait for it—Stinger. And here’s the genius part—it’ll be the only movie where he doesn’t die. Oh, and we can have the space princess wear a blue gingham shirt so everybody knows she’s supposed to be a shoutout to Dorothy in Wizard of Oz.
ANDY: Does that make Channing Tatum her Toto?
LANA: She can be trying to jump his bones and it will all be like:
ANDY: Wait, wait I know. We can get Eddie Redmayne to over-play demented space king Balem who whispers most of the time but also screams a lot. Best pub quiz question ever! What actor was in the year’s worst movie the same year he won an Oscar?
LANA: And since we don’t have to waste money on an actual script, we can throw obscene amounts at special effects and sets. We’ll spend $176 million and be lucky to gross a third of that. I’ll bet the credits alone will take at least ten minutes to run through.
By now, both Wachowski siblings are laughing hysterically. They clink their pitchers, drain them, and go off to sleep it off. When they wake up, the contracts are waiting because Andy forgot to turn off his cellphone at the last investor call. Whatevs.
Results: We made it through the end of Jupiter Ascending, but only because we had plenty of Project #2 left and because we found this drinking game on TV Tropes:
- Take a drink every time Jupiter starts to fall to her doom, but gets rescued when Caine swoops in.
- Take a drink every time Petting Zoo People appear in the alien worlds.
- Take a drink every time Jupiter changes into a new outfit. Take two if she does it while conscious.
- Take a drink every time Balem has an outburst.
- Take a drink for every time pointless or unnecessarily lengthened exposition takes place.
What a great Bad Movie night. We each had another scone. For science.