So it’s been close to a year since the already classic “The Creature who wandered into Butt Lagoon” (Which will be henceforth referred to as Butt Lagoon) came out in theaters last thanksgiving. An outstanding display of incompetent film making, Butt Lagoon gained an immediate following among fans everywhere, mostly for how bad it was. This movie has had some time to settle down into pop culture, and with a new movie season upon us now, it’s the right time to go back and do a follow up review. See if the film holds up now that the hype has died down.
To properly review the film, you have to look at its troubled production history. The film was in turmoil from the start. The casting of Mark Sanchez, the budget inflation, the inferior director choice. The film had been hyped for years as a giant return to form for The New York Jets, a longtime power studio who specialized in classic films such as “Kissing Suzy Kolber”, “Jaws” starring Ron Jaworski, “The exodus of Noodle Arm, the saga of Chad Pennington” and “Salsa-verde: Vinny Cuts loose”. NYJ films were always fringe, but they never disappointed. Then they started casting young but unproven Mark Sanchez in all of their features, and the studio has been in turmoil ever since, possible culminating in the disaster that was Butt Lagoon.
For the first few years the Sanchez Experiment was alright, but few would agree Sanchez was the reason. The films mostly gained acclaim based on the superb acting of supporting cast member Darrelle Revis. Revis brought bravado and star power and constantly stole the show. But for Butt Lagoon, Revis began demanding too much money and NYJ films grew tired of his act and largely cut him from the picture, writing a death for the character in the first act. The studio seemed determined to make Sanchez a star. Then, the casting snafu of Tim Tebow.
Tebow was a beloved child star with a huge cult following. After being miscast by insane director Josh McDaniels (a saga that would make a good story on it’s own), he switched agents and tried to recapture some glory by coming to NY. He was cast, but as Sanchez’s stunt double. The problem is, Sanchez did all his own stunts. The other problem was Tebow, with his natural bumbling goofy charisma, would have been perfect for Butt Lagoon, and Rex Ryan, the director, just couldn’t see it, despite the Producers of the film pushing him on it. Rex’s outright defiance of the studio and insistence on making a “deep, engrossing horror film” instead of the “lighthearted horror comedy” the film should have been, ultimately sunk it.
So with all of this leading up to production, is the film any good? No. And yes. Taken by itself, Butt Lagoon is a terrible, boring film with 5 minutes of complete insanity. The monster, the Butt, played by veteran actor Brandon Moore, has his moment in those 5 minutes, as Sanchez, trying to escape Butt Lagoon, ends up running straight into him. For 5 minutes the film is entertaining as Sanchez loses the sacred artifact, gets it back only to run into the Butt and lose it again, then lose yet another chance to get it back when it’s taken from his buddy during kickoff. Then the film becomes dull again.
But if you remove Butt Lagoon from it’s own little vacuum and view it as a meta piece on the horrors of a studio, it becomes the masterpiece everyone says it is. The film, trying to be something, ends up saying more about NYJ films failure, studio mismanagement, and a director gone mad. it’s a horror film made for the studios that make films. A major blockbuster level horror for the major studios. No one would have cared if that little indie studio Arizona Cards had a film with Kolb running into his lineman’s ass, but because it’s such a big film, from a major studio, it’s a masterpiece, a film about studio hubris, and about itself. It will be a landmark film for years to come.