I recently experienced a generation gap at a viewing party for the season premiere of The Pick Up Artist when I mentioned Bill Cosby’s Picture Pages and was greeted by a silent room of blank faces. Admittedly, all my friends are children between the ages of 5 and 7, so it’s not unusual to have these gaps in pop culture reference points, but it’s always kind of a cold water moment. To not know something new that people are talking about can make you feel out of touch, but it’s quickly remedied by finding out about it. While to talk about something that other people have never heard of is more alienating and uncomfortable, because those memories are the building blocks of your social personality. Which might in some cases explain Hollywood’s insistence on remakes. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that there is ever going to be a better idea than the one you fell in love with the first time, usually during your adolescence, which is the age when we’re all exposed to all the ideas, including the college idea that there are no new ideas. Ugh. College ideas are the worst.

But I would like to propose an even worse alternative to the standard generation gap, which is when the pop cultural reference point for something that you loved is replaced by the failed remake. Luckily, there is no Bill Cosby Picture Pages movie, so either you’re with me or go to your room. But as someone who never cared about the original Lost in Space, I can only imagine what Lost in Space lovers must have felt to see their beloved ’60s camp TV show turned into this late ’90s robodump.


Lost in Space is based on the TV show of the same name, which is itself based on the classic family story The Swiss Family Robinson, except that instead of getting shipwrecked on an island, the Robinson family gets shipwrecked on strange galaxies. In this movie adaptation, it’s the year 2058, and humans are getting ready to colonize a faraway planet called Alpha Prime. But the Earth is embroiled in a war against terrorists called the Global Sedition who want to stop the construction of the hypergate? This movie is confusing! The Robinson family is going to go to Alpha Prime first and get it ready. Somehow. So they get into their spaceship and go to sleep. But, Gary Oldman, a Global Seditionist, programs a robot to kill them and blow up the ship. But he gets double-crossed and is stuck on the ship. And then the robot starts a fire. And then everyone wakes up and fights the robot.

This movie is more than two hours long!

Then they use the ship’s hyper-drive so that they don’t crash into the sun, but without a hypergate, the hyperdrive will drop them randomly into the universe. Then they fight space spiders! Uh oh, a space spider scratched Gary Oldman! But the good news is that they found a Jar Jar Binks space monkey. Then they crash on a snow planet in the future. Then there’s about forty-five minutes of hyper-complicated time travel plots that’s insanely difficult to wrap your mind around for a movie this dumb, but basically there is a time bubble and they meet the future Will Robinson who looks like he’s been sleeping out in line for Phish reunion tickets for, like, a hundred years, and Gary Oldman is an evil CGI spider monster who wants to use a time machine to carry his egg sack back to Earth and turn it into New Spider Earth 2 or whatever, but then young Will Robinson reminds the robot about friendship, and William Hurt is not just a scientist he’s also a dad, and then in the end what’s important is family.

What?

As with any family-friendly science fiction movie, this one is full of half-heartedly laughable attempts at depicting children in the future. When the girl from Party of Five sneaks out of the house on the Robinson Family’s last night on Earth, Will Robinson warns her that if their parents find out “mom’s going to go thermal.” No. She’s not going to go “thermal.” You know why? Because it’s 2058 and moms haven’t gone thermal since ever, because that’s stupid and has always been stupid.

He bypassed his main operating systems and accessed his subroutines. Mystery would be so proud.

Then again, it’s just as laughable when they don’t update things. Like when Gary Oldman receives a call on his HOLOGRAM PHONE and tells the person “I thought I told you never to call me here.” HAHAHAHAH. Whoops. I hate it when I am trying to hide my illicit sexual affair and I keep getting those late night HOLOGRAM PHONE CALLS. Awkward!

Other than that, this movie is just an expensive toy that isn’t actually any fun to play with. If we were to keep with that awesome metaphor, it’s the kind of thing that would sit on the shelf and eventually disappear not because it was dangerous or harmful or out of any parental protest, but just because no one wanted it. It’s not the Worst Movie of All Time by any means, it’s just kind of shiny and stupid. Sure, Matt LeBlanc is kind of silly as an ace star captain, and yes, the girl from Party of Five seems like a human incarnation of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and no, space spiders are not scary, and yes, even the most casual use of time travel as a plot device will take a film into deeply complicated mindfuck territory because the space bubble was created by future Will Robinson’s time machine, but future Will Robinson would never have been able to create the time machine if it wasn’t for the space bubble in the first place, AND THAT’S JUST PART OF MY LONG TREATISE DEALING WITH THE PROBLEMATICS OF TIME TRAVEL AS IT RELATES TO NEW LINE CINEMA’S LOST IN SPACE (1998). But there are worse movies. I know. I’ve seen many of them.

This movie did provide me with a new saddest thing, something that I believe is unique to modern big budget Hollywood franchise films of the past 20 years or so, which is the eternal cliffhanger. At the very end of the movie, the Robinson family is forced to use the hyperdrive to escape from a black hole, but as we know, the hyperdrive is unpredictable! There’s no way of knowing where the Robinsons will end up! Except there is. They will end up in a discount DVD bin at a Big Lots somewhere. It’s called dramatic irony.

BASEBALL DETECTED!

Next week: Smart People. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (38)
  1. william hurt.
    john hurt is the old guy.
    just saying.

  2. Brad  |   Posted on Nov 24th, 2008 0

    Can you review “Domestic Disturbance”? That movie is hilarious bad.

  3. You forgot to mention that Gary Oldman plays his part as a combination of Adolf Hitler and Colonel Sanders, with a perpetually shifting accent. Spooky. The new robot looked cool though, shame he wasn’t able to kill everyone.

  4. Gabe, you had me at Picture Pages.

  5. JWilliam  |   Posted on Nov 24th, 2008 0

    I would like to suggest “Doomsday,” a movie so awful it kept me up the night I saw it.

  6. Pretty much any cast member from “Friends” equals the kiss of death for a movie.

    May I suggest “Black Book” for a future installment of “The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time?” It’s basically an erotic sob story of a young Jew girl during WWII who falls in love with a Nazi she’s supposed to be seducing to help the resistance. They make a big deal about said girl dying her pubes blond so she can be Aryan enough for her Nazi man. But he still figures it out in the seduction scene, and he’s all like “Are you a Jew?” And she makes him grab her boobs, and says urgently, “Are these Jewish? Are these Jewish?” Then there’s the whole subplot where a doctor is importing chocolate and insulin from the British. By the end of the movie, Hot Nazi is dead and everyone else, even her resistance friends, want to kill her. The doctor shoots her up with a ton of insulin, and she’s dying, but thankfully, since the British always airlift chocolate and insulin together, she is able to discover a chocolate bar in the doctor’s office and she stuffs her face, recovers, and escapes. Ta-dah!

    • Eli!  |   Posted on Nov 24th, 2008 0

      OK – pretty far from the greatest movie of all time, but it’s not that horrible. Cate Blanchett is OK in it, and there are loads of WAY worse Paul Verhoeven movies you could choose from. Showgirls and Hollow Man are good examples.

      • Alfred in Brooklyn  |   Posted on Nov 25th, 2008 0

        Cate Blanchett is not in Black Book. The lead is Carice van Houten, a dutch star. And quite a foxy one… Hubbahubbahubba…

  7. tato  |   Posted on Nov 24th, 2008 0

    smoking aces!

  8. That teenage girl in the movie is the lamest.

  9. Marie Antoinette!
    Sofia Coppola spent so much time making everything pink and frilly that she forgot to write a plot. Oh well!
    and, in keeping with a Jason Schwartzman theme,

    I Heart Huckabees!
    When MARKY MARK is the best part of a movie, you know something is wrong.

  10. I can’t remember if this is the one where Gary Oldman has the inexplicable southern accent or if that’s another WMOAT candidate.
    By the way, I’m pronouncing this “Double-ya moat”, can we all get on board with that?

  11. Shout out to Mortimer Ichabod marker! Also I would like to nominate Ellen Degeneres’ aptly named foray into heterosexual romantic comedy “Mr. Wrong” as a candidate for WMOAT.

  12. JMAC  |   Posted on Nov 24th, 2008 0

    Lost In Space is candy floss compared to Twister (not the Helen Hunt one). Not even Crispin Glover can save that movie, and if you hate Cripsin Glover too, then boy you’re really up bad movie creek without a paddle.

    Also, the Mexican is so bad Quentin Tarantino wouldn’t touch it.

  13. I’m writing an emphatic second for “Marie Antoinette.” It was excruciating!

  14. I think I may have suggested this before, Don Juan DeMarco. Egad, such a turd.

    And bravo Gabe, you are a strong man.

  15. I’m glad I’m ancient enough to have fond campy memeories of the original Lost In Space TV Show! “Danger Will Robinson!”

  16. B.C.  |   Posted on Nov 25th, 2008 0

    Jesus, PLEASE, PLEASE, Eye of the Beholder! Please! I’ve seen someone else begging you to do this one, and…oh God, it is so awful. There are no space monkeys, but there are two actually good actors (ashley judd, ewan mcgregor) forced to behave as though they are in ten movies at once, ten equally horrible and totally incomprehensible movies.

    • Amy  |   Posted on Jan 5th, 2009 0

      OMG, yes I concur. Eye of the Beholder makes no sense and I definitely saw it in the theatres. Does anyone even understand what happens in the end?

  17. Annie  |   Posted on Nov 25th, 2008 +2

    THE ASTRONAUTS WIFE

    (or, OR I totally second Mr. Wrong)

  18. hissie  |   Posted on Nov 25th, 2008 -1

    picture pages pciture pages time to get your picture pages time to get your crayons and your pencils!

    picture pages picture pages open up your picture pages time to watch bill cosby do a picture page with you!

    YAY!!!

    Please don’t talk shit about Marie Antoinette, that movie is the bomb, dawg.

  19. While on a trip from the U.S. to Japan on Malaysian Airlines, the in flight movies were Flubber with Robin Williams, For Richer or Poorer with Tim Allen and Kristie Allie, and Home Alone 3 with Scarlett Johansson and Marian Seldes. All of these meet your criteria, I think. No one should ever be forced to watch these films back to back while hurtling across the ocean with no option to throw themselves in.

    • I had a similar experience on a flight, where my choices were between Garden State (ugh), Wimbledon (the tennis romantic comedy with Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany), or Cellular (cell phone thriller with crazy Kim Basinger). Obviously, I chose Cellular, the least eyegouge-inducing of the three.

  20. meggieb  |   Posted on Nov 26th, 2008 +1

    I still suggest a Sandra Bullock double feature would be particularly great for this hunt: The Lake House and Premonition. Love and Death through inexplicable time travel! ((shudder))

  21. I had such a crush on Lacey Chabert (the girl from Party of Five) when this movie came out. And when Mean Girls came out. And right now.

  22. alex  |   Posted on Nov 28th, 2008 0

    one word: stigmata

  23. TS  |   Posted on Nov 30th, 2008 0

    The Family Stone. It must be re-nominated since it seemed that everyone agreed with this choice. Also, since Dan in Real Life and Smart People are being represented, may I nominate another terrible dysfunctional family flick…

    Running With Scissors. Truly cinema at its worst.

  24. please do titanic & the notebook. pleaseeeeeeeeee

  25. edc  |   Posted on Dec 1st, 2008 -5

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  26. The worst movie ever is called “the woman in the dunes”. It’s japanese, and there is no fighting, neon, or boneable chicks. It’s the gay. Stupid, film and literature class. I didn’t know Frank Mller wasn’t considered literature.

  27. I was about 10 years old when I saw this movie, and even then I thought it was ridiculous.

  28. One of the reasons LIS:the Movie is so awful is that it’s pretentious.

    The original LIS was cheesy but it was up-front about its monster-of-the-week style. The movie tries to be serious, with terrorists and all that stuff. It just didn’t fit to send a family into space on the one mission that must succeed to save humanity, or somthing.

    Not to mention the costuming: was the boob-enhancing space armor supposed to motivate daddy or the pilot to work harder?

  29. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT think Lost in Space was the worst movie ever made!!!
    For me,the worst movie ever made from the selection I have seen so far was Grease 2!!
    Two of a kind and Xanadu were pretty bad but their soundtracks were excellent so imo save them.
    Strangely all these 3 movies I mention are linked to Olivia Newton John,speaking of which,I’ve heard on youtube that John Travolta has made quite a few lemons during his career that other people swear are the worst they’ve seen but Lost in Space was no way near the worst thankue!!

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