Awfully Good: Mac and Me
While the crew of Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS might express remorse about reaching out to an alien planet this weekend, here’s another instance of extraterrestrial regret.
Mac and Me (1988)
Director: Stewart Raffill
Stars: Jade Calegory, Christine Ebersole, Jennifer Aniston
Is there a plot?
An alien separated from his family befriends a boy in a wheelchair.
What's the damage?
You may be familiar with MAC AND ME, either from your own personal nightmares or from Paul Rudd’s insistence on showcasing it every time he visits Conan O’Brien.
Everyone says this is a ripoff of E.T., but it feels more like some other space movie…
There is so much wrong with this movie but nothing more glaring than the title character (and his family). Though MAC stands for Mysterious Alien Creature, a more accurate acronym would be Mysweetlordrunawayitshideous Alien Creature. Whoever designed him clearly hates children, since the final product is more nightmare-inducing than anything H.R. Giger could imagine. The aliens were obviously made on the cheap (i.e, someone spray painted a yoda mask), but that unfortunately just makes them all the more horrifying—grotesque naked bodies lacking any defined features or genitalia, loose scarred skin that suggests "intergalactic burn victim," unnatural physical movements out of a horror movie, and a disturbing permanent whistling face that makes it look like he's ready to provide oral services at any moment. All that, coupled with his oversized, unblinking eyes and tendency to watch children from afar, makes Mac the equivalent of ET’s creepier, rapier cousin.
The horror, the horror.
So of course, as with Spielberg's sci-fi classic, they force this interplanetary abomination upon a poor child. But not just any kid…a kid in a wheelchair! (You can literally hear the studio executives high fiving each other for their bravery.) When Mac stumbles upon the handicapable Eric and his family, he unintentionally begins to create havoc around the house. He destroys furniture, tears up the walls, creates an indoor garden, and the mom blames her youngest son for it—even though he's a paraplegic in a wheelchair! And when someone blatantly breaks in to their house to drink Coke and take a shower, she nonchalantly suggests it wasn't an alien, "just one of the neighborhood kids"—as if that makes it okay.
Now that we've brought up Coke, it's a good time to mention MAC AND ME's other distinguishing feature—its amazing barrage of product placement. If I had to guess, I would say that the film's budget was entirely funded by McDonalds and Coca Cola. In fact, it goes beyond normal product placement to the point where both companies are integral to the movie's plot. Not only is Coke the only thing Mac will drink (he also subsides on Skittles for nourishment), but the carbonated beverage also literally brings him and his family back to life when they're dying.
C'mon, this is supposed to be a family movie!
Still, that doesn't hold a candle to whatever ridiculous deal McDonald struck with Orion Pictures. Characters cheerfully work at the fast food joint, randomly drop dialogue like “Why don’t you stop by for a Big Mac?” and at one point everyone makes the alien sing "Old McDonald" on the way to McDonald's. This all culminates in one of the most shameful sequences ever captured on film, where all the characters venture out to the Golden Arches for a birthday party and we're subjected to multiple musical numbers with the entire restaurant (including Ronald McDonald himself) breaking out in to choreographed dance for five minutes. At one point Mac, dressed in a bear costume (you haven't known true fear until you've seen an oversized living teddy bear with alien eyes cut out) jumps up on the counter and break dances for everyone until the pesky government agents come to chase him away.
Sentimental Moment: No matter what galaxy you're from, your "O" face is always the same.
If you think it can't get any worse, MAC AND ME's ending is one for the books. The police eventually catch up to the alien family at a grocery store, whereby the confused being grabs an agent's gun to see what it is. Everyone opens fire at what they clearly believe to be a Naked Rape Monster in their Piggly Wiggly parking lot, which for some reason causes the entire grocery store to explode and kills our wheelchair-bound hero. The police then completely forget about the aliens because a dead handicapped kid clearly takes precedent. However, instead of fleeing, the aliens return and we learn that their incessant whistling can actually bring humans back from the grave. Yay! Then, in a brave social statement, the filmmakers end the film with the extraterrestrial family being sworn in as U.S. citizens, where they will live with us and dress like people from the 1950s. All the humans happily KISS THE ALIENS (?!) and everyone drives off together in a pink Cadillac as "We'll be back!" is threateningly flashed on the screen.
Seriously, what is wrong with this movie?!?
Oh, and apparently Jennifer Aniston is somewhere in this movie as an extra. I wasn't able to spot her but my best guess is that she's in the McDonald's scene actively trying not to kill herself from embarrassment.
Cheesy jokes, shameful product placement and the world's worst Teddy Ruxpin.
1) The infamous "kid falls off cliff in wheelchair, alien saves kid in wheelchair" scene! (WARNING: Blatant stunt dummy.)
2) Some of the film's most embarrassingly bad song and dance moments.
I don't know who would be turned on by the aliens' disturbing nakedness. Maybe someone in Japan.
Play Along at Home!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- There's blatant product placement
- You're afraid an alien might molest someone
- A dolly or stunt track is clearly seen
- The movie forgets the main character is in a wheelchair
- There's a BACK TO THE FUTURE ripoff
Double shot if:
- Coke saves someone’s life
Thanks to Cary, Jake and Shawn for suggesting this week's movie!