Review (2008): The Day the Earth Stood Still: It’s no Bill & Ted

There’s Ted. Where’s Bill? And what’s with that big talking blender?

The Day the Earth Stood Still (PG-13, 1 hour, 50 minutes): About 20 minutes into this … thing, as I’m watching Keanu Reeves emerge from the big orb that’s landed in Central Park, I’m wondering, “Hey, there’s Ted, where the heck is Bill S. Preston, Esquire?”

As in Bill in Bill & Ted, the adventuresome slackers from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

Ted without Bill is bogus and not excellent.

And this remake of a 1951 classic sci-fi thriller was bogus.

A quick synopsis: An alien, Klaatu, and his giant bodyguard robot named Gort, land in a massive orb in New York. Obvious that they’re not your garden-variety tourists, they’re greeted with violence right away, and Klaatu is shot by a sniper. Klaatu tells Gort that he’s cool, stand down this time. For the next hour, Klaatu stoically warns earthlings that their days on the planet are numbered.

It’s not a good movie, certainly not one to pay full price to see. The thrills weren’t there. The tension was forced. The special effects could have been better. Actually, more scenes of Gort would have been better. With a head like an old-fashioned blender, he looks intense and would definitely be the final piece in the Dallas Mavericks’ search for a dominate big man.

The cast tried hard, but couldn’t put enough lipstick on this pig. As you’re reading this, Kathy Bates is no doubt erasing this experience off her lofty resume. Jon Hamm probably wishes he’d hid out on the set of Mad Men until this movie’s casting agency moved on. Jaden Smith, the son Will Smith, will just shrug his shoulders when someone asks about his part. And expect John Cleese to break into his silly walk if you ask him about the experience.

Strange product placement: While on the lam, Klaatu and his earthling companions make a stop at a McDonald’s. I really hope that’s a sign that McDonald’s will have Gort action figures. The old Gort was cool. But the new one is better. If you see one, let me know. I’ll pass on the Klaatu action figures.

Redeeming scene if you’re a Cowboys fan: The swarm of nano insects destroys Giants Stadium in a matter of seconds. If this movie really happens, count on the Dallas Cowboys to have a solid homefield advantage.

Best time for a bathroom break: If you don’t see Gort, go anytime. Gort rocks.

Availability now: It’s on DVD and on cable. In fact, I prefer the trailer from the original. It’s below. Click here for the trailer for the remake.


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