EDSBS FILM CLUB: THE PROGRAM, ACT 3

The EDSBS Film Club's examination of The Program concludes with Part 3. Parts one and two may be of interest to you. Now that we've finished it, follow along here.

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1:00:14 Writing is a lot like cutting out biscuit dough - no matter how meticulous you are, you're going to have some scraps. But scraps can be tasty, too, and that's why Spencer and I have taken the time to unearth this full and complete list of Alvin Mack's Unused Accusations:

  • "Hey! Motherfucker, I knew you looked familiar! You're that pencil-dick Nazi scientist thought he could go hide in Argentina and escape justice! Uh-uh, baby - I'm about to give your brain a Nuremberg trial where the only sentence is DEATH!"
  • "You! You're that stringy pork stuck in my back teeth? I paid $11 for some shit you called an artisanal po-boy on ciabatta? You the fucker who put this locally sourced horse cock in my po-boy? RICH BOY SANDWICH MAKIN' FUCKER! I'M GONNA FLOSS WITH YOUR ACL! THIS AIN'T EVEN FRENCH BREAD."
  • "URSULA! HEY! Don't you ignore me, you dick-suckin' octopus bitch. You think you can just steal some nice mermaid lady's voice and get away with it? TIME TO KISS THE GIRL WHICH IS WHAT I HAPPEN TO CALL MY DICK."
  • "Oh, I see you tryin' to hide, February. You're the worst month! 28 days or 29? MAKE UP YOUR MIND WHILE YOU DIE, BITCH."
  • "I can't believe you showed up here, motherfucker. After what you did? Oh, don't even pretend like you didn't represent to investors that the housing market would continue to rise while privately betting against it because you knew mortgages were being given out in a manner which did not fit standard underwriting practices! TIME TO SNACK ON YOUR HEART, BITCH."
  • "Hey. HEY. YEAH, YOU. You're the guy who signed Drake. You take care, motherfucker, but it don't matter. I'M GONNA FUCKING MURDER YOUR SOFT ASS."
  • Oh, I remember you. You thought I wouldn't find you, but I did, Old Yeller. Rabies ain't nothing to joke about! What kind of frontier dog doesn't know that? I'M GONNA RAISE A PET BEAR AND NAME IT RAPEHAM THE FOURTH AND LET IT LOOSE ON ALL ADORABLE DOGS LIKE YOU!!! THIS HEART AIN'T BREAKIN' TWICE BUT YOUR SKULL WILL! THE BEAR WON'T DIE LIKE A PUNK! I'VE NEVER BEEN THE SAME MOTHERFUCKER! NEVER!

1:00:32 The suspension of disbelief is an important element of any fictional enterprise. For instance, here someone picks up an A-gap blitz in college. No one ever does this, most especially a Michigan offense in 1992 chocked full of Lloyd Carr-edness. The quarterback hanging in there for certain obliteration, though? Pitch-perfect and ripped straight from the era's headlines. That's when we liked 'em tall, immobile, and bleeding from the ears due to massive hemorrhages throughout the brain. The brain's like an orange! If you want the juice, you gotta apply some pressure! (This is excerpted from Charlie Weis' classic Charlie Weis Football: Fat Contracts And Sweet Sacks, or "How your program can make the Hawai'i Bowl on just $8,219 a day.") --O/S

1:02:34 Joe Kane's trademark catch-phrase is "Let's put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner," which suggests that they went to bed without getting any dinner and, you know, maybe you should go to the grocery store at a normal hour. Or maybe they had dinner without you and now you have to drive around and find a Taco Bell that's still open? That's sad, Joe Kane. No wonder you throw a pick that gives Michigan the win. -- RHJ

1:03:44 Assembled shlumpy press members: "Where's Kane?" Oh, just doing his usual George Michael pose against the wall in between bathing himself with stadium relish.

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We like this moment because it's both "a little something for the ladies," and because it's also a transparent attempt to show off Craig Sheffer's workout regimen for the film. "Yeah, I was eating like 1500 calories a day and using the Thighmaster a lot. I also took step classes, the elliptical, and rolled around on a bouncy ball for like three hours a day. The 90s had a lot of stupid workout shit. Rollerblading. Eric Nies Core strength. Empty Nest."

1:04:14

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Your wardrobe lady HATED YOU, Halle. Just fucking hated you. You're a patch away from being a Century 21 sales lady and an oath of office away from being the black Barbara Boxer. Possible fictional subplot: her character wears this to conceal the full body suit of sexually explicit Thundercats tats she has. The one with Panthro and Schnarf is too obscene to describe even in the most ginger of periphrasis here. --O/S

1:06:50 A democratic society like ours encourages a variety of opinions about crime and punishment. We all generally agree, however, that sexual assault and attempted rape are super bad. So even if the victim's not pressing charges, it's time to suspend Lattimer, right, Terry Bowden?

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"Coach, he's never tested positive. If we suspend him now without any proof, hell, he could sue us for jeopardizing his draft status."

Dammit! Of course you're right, Terry. What was I thinking addressing this as something other than a steroids issue? (And, yes, this is definitely SEC +1). -- RHJ

1:08:55 Joe Kane never barfights. He tussles symbolically.

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For fashion's sake, you must applaud Kane for throwing a pair of pleated pants where they belong. And formally speaking, Kane's toss is textbook krav maga, so this is really like The Program's claim to be a Bourne prequel. Those trophies, though? They belong to the local high school's forensics team. You may expect a lengthy complaint about your ruffianism in the mail, Mr. Kane. --O/S

1:09:00 No one in movies DUIs with subtlety. Joe Kane slaloms like Brad Wesley singing "Sh'boom" through traffic, because DUI is always easy to spot, especially when it's a convenient plot point. --O/S

1:09:45 You would not normally expect a coach to be so calm about losing his starting quarterback (especially when he's already thrown the backup off the team) for four games, but Mr. Caan's contract clearly states that you get him for one take and one take only. That craft service shrimp cocktail is not going to eat itself. -- RHJ

1:12:05 Joe Kane clearly misreads both Cover 3 defenses and how fire alarms work.

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Thanks, dick. Your symbolic gesture is the reason some poor English major was stopped mid-handjob by the bleating of a fire alarm. Do you know how long it's going to be until he gets another one? MONTHS YOU ASSHOLE. LONG SAD MONTHS. --O/S

1:13:04 Treating a disease like alcoholism involves a number of complex steps, like standing around in a robe in a room by yourself and yeah that's it apparently. -- RHJ

1:14:54 With Kane out for a month, Winters has no choice but to try and get Billy Zabka reinstated. Mustering all the skill of a tenth grader being forced to try out for the debate team so he can improve his resume for college applications, Coach Winters manages to win over the committee by cursing out a professor and shrugging.-- RHJ

1:14:56 "Mr. Collins was on track to get his degree." "In what, swimming pool management?" Auburn grads from the Stanley McClover School Of Swimming Pool Management, please direct your angry emails to one Mr. David S. Ward, Writer/Director of The Program, and not us. It's harder than it looks, dammit. Who's gonna laugh when the green fungus that's taken over your backyard leisure pond reaches up and eats your daughter? Huh? HUH?

1:17:23 Ok, everyone shut up, because this is my favorite scene in the movie. An emotional Lattimer, realizing he needs to make some changes in his life, searches for the courage to rely only on his own talent and hard work. It's time for the drugs to go.

And that's why he tries to flush hypodermic needles down the toilet.

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FILMMAKERS: please note that this is the best way to show character development. Need to portray a gang member's willingness to leave behind his life of crime and make his mother proud again? Have him flush a handgun. Want to show that a newly empowered young woman has moved on from the man who controlled her and kept her from growing? Flush the ex-boyfriend. What was American History X missing? A weeping Ed Norton, trying in vain to flush a thermos with "RACISM" written on it. -- RHJ

This is the greatest thing ever written on this site. Please note that in the record. --O/S

1:18:28 The first rule of writing is "tell, don't show." This is how we, the audience, learn that ESU has mostly weathered Lattimer's three-game suspension by beating Boston College 14-10, losing to Texas 13-0, and beating UNC 14-13. With two games left in the season, ESU has now played one team from the SEC, the Big 10, the Big East, the Big 8, and the ACC. I'm going to be pissed if it turns out this team was in the MAC all along. -- RHJ

1:18:35 Lattimer returns to a joyous, affectionate welcome by his teammates who have all just been wildly inconvenienced by him. He will be weaker on his return, because the screenwriter has no idea how steroids actually work. His hair, however, is a thing of wonder. Just look at it. It's the flaxen weave of an angel's flowing locks. It's the pubes of a unicorn straightened and interwoven with the molten treasures of Persian.

It's so ineffably beautiful only a sailor on shore leave could properly capture its beauty, because Lattimer is beautiful and gay, and sadly realizes neither. It gets better, Lattimer, but not before you grow breasts, start lactating, watch your testicles shrivel, and cry for three months on end. On the positive side, Fleet Week is only six months away! YAYYY FLEET WEEK!

1:19:32 There are so many things The Program gets right about Alvin Mack's career ending injury, but let's focus on the most important one: when you shred your knee playing football, it definitely sounds like a cartoon character taking a big bite of Corn Chex. -- RHJ

There's no actual contact on this play. Just want that in the record. The fake leg twisted sideways matches Carl Weathers' fake arm in Happy Gilmore. Put it all together and you get a clumsy, misshapen figure of indescribable horror. Put a scroll with the words "Breathe, and play quarterback" in its mouth and it walks to Louisiana and becomes Jamarcus Russell, the most successful golem quarterback of our time. --O/S.

1:21:13 Fortunately, the loss to Iowa doesn't really matter much because a win next week against Georgia Tech still makes ESU conference champions! That all but confirms that they're not playing in the Big 10. The SEC is probably out as well, since they had a championship game by 1992. But you know where a three-loss conference winner would be totally normal? WELCOME TO THE ACC, ESU. (ACC +10). -- RHJ

1:22:10 James Caan smothers Alvin Mack, ending his misery just the way Alvin would have wanted him to.

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Not a single royalty for stealing this scene for Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood? You'll be hearing from David S. Ward's attorneys. --O/S

1:22:50 Do it for you. Do it for the team. Do it for the boys.

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FLEEEEEET WEEEEEEEK.

1:26:51

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Joe Kane walks through South Bend, Indiana's poshest neighborhood. -O/S

1:27:22 It's possible all the men in the Kane family are alcoholics because they've grown up thirty yards away from a smog factory. -- RHJ

1:29:50 AND NOW A SCREENSHOT OF NOT-GAY LATTIMER HAVING URINE INJECTED INTO THIS BLADDER THROUGH HIS INTUBATED PENIS.

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AGAIN THIS IS PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT.*

*sponsored by the United States Navy.

1:32:30 Look, Bobby Collins, there's a lot that can be forgiven in this world. You can sleep with Coach's daughter behind his back. You can cheat on an exam and then show up to your academic hearing with no tie on because hey I gotsa be me. But you cannot throw a backbreaking interception deep in your own territory late in the first half. (In the unfilmed sequel to The Program, the Atlanta Falcons trade up in the fourth round of the 1994 NFL Draft to take Collins.) -- RHJ

1:33:42

[James Caan sort of lazily tips over a table of gatorade]

David S. Ward: "James, could we do that with a little more energy? That's good, but I'm gonna need a little more energy."

James Caan: "I'm sorry, can we do that take without your trailer on fire?"

Ward: "I'm sorry, what?"

[looks behind him and sees that Caan has set Ward's trailer on fire.]

Caan: "Your cat is inside."

Ward: [runs screaming] "CONCERTINA! I AM ON THE WAY!"

Caan: [laughs] [strokes Concertina the Cat, who is now loyal only to him] --O/S

1:34:34 Joe Kane's father does not show for the game. His uncle, Empty Seat, does. Uncle Empty Seat never missed a game, and that's why Joe loves him. Points awarded to the film, though, for putting a legitimately rotten shit of a father in the movie instead of the redeemed drunk. --O/S

1:35:14 The millionaires waited, trapped in the glass box. They knew not what the clown had in store for them, but they knew it would be grisly. All his tests were.

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Also, the clown's voice sounded a lot like James Caan's, but they would forget that as the purple gas crept down from the vents, and their checkbooks disappeared again. Homecoming was like this every year at ESU, and it was the best.

Joe Kane's first series back is a fumble, a hammered short pass, and a sack, or as it is referred to in the modern game, the Half-Brantley. (No INT.) He then completes two passes to running backs for long gains and scrambles, because ESU has no wide receivers, just cameramen running routes and filming while backpedaling. Again, this is no different than the 2010-2011 Florida offense. This is only confirmed by the toss sweep run to the short side at the goal line.

I am now spitting blood. Thanks, The Program.

1:39:17 Well, thanks a lot, shitty film editor. You've basically ruined my little conference game. -- RHJ

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(SEC +25)

1:41:20 "It's 4th down, you're up by three, there's a minute left, and your opponent has no more time outs. If you choose to punt the ball out of bounds, turn to page 47. If you want to fake the punt and try to pick up a first down to kill the clock, turn to page 102. If you want to punt the ball straight to the fast guy on the other team because these people didn't pay good money to see a movie about sound special teams strategy, turn to page 68."

"PAGE 68: You have been captured by a subterranean society of ant-people. They slowly burn you alive with formic acid." -- RHJ

1:42:08 Bro who dives ten yards shy of Darnell Jefferson on the punt return? A FULL TEN YARDS SHY, FLOPPING AS IF YOU'VE BEEN SNIPED FROM A DISTANCE? I want you to know you are deeply appreciated.

1:43:16 There is one - and only one - reason I wish we would bring back the days when a regular season game could end in a tie: I really really REALLY want to see Tom O'Brien coach a team to a 0-0-12 record. -- RHJ

1:43:46

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Hmm, where have I seen this man before? Ah, yes. He's amateur boxer Brian Sutherland of Shelby, North Carolina.

1:44:19 Imagine if this scene had taken place in 2012. Georgia Tech message boards (which I assume are a thing) would have EXPLODED with "JOE KANE'S FUMBLE WAS AN INCOMPLETE PASS GAME SHOULD HAVE BEEN OVER REFS CHEATED." -- RHJ

1:45:15 ESU's wide receivers, laden with steadicams and gear, applaud as running back Darnell Jefferson brings in the winning touchdown.

1:48:22 You have to look closely, but when Joe Kane offers Kristy Swanson a six-pack of Sprite, there's a look on her face, ever so briefly, that says "I can't believe I turned down Cliffhanger for this bullshit." -- RHJ

That's an obscene amount of sugar, Joe Kane. HEISMAN WINNERS DON'T MESS WITH THEIR GLUCOSE LEVELS LIKE THAT. --O/S.

FIN 1/1: At the end of the day, I learned that ESU is, depressingly, an SEC school (SEC 30, ACC 11, B10 4). I learned that Joe Kane doesn't need to slide when he runs because he possesses the strong cranial crest of a parasaurus. And I learned that you shouldn't ever take steroids. Unless you're not naturally talented. Then you should probably take a lot of steroids.--RHJ

FIN 2/2: We learned that it's hard to do anything more than be bowl-eligible if you turn your wide receivers into slow, machine-laden cameramen. We learned that James Caan can phone in a role almost as well as Sir Ben "Thunderbirds" Kingsley, and that if you do more than one take with Mr. Caan or critique him in any way, he will set your trailer afire and steal your cat.

We learned that Halle Berry once wore nothing but large hand-me-downs from a lesbian real estate broker, and that her father, like all responsible black fathers in the 1990s, wore sweaters. We learned that steroids are bad. They will make you huge, and strong, and awesome, and that in the end you'll probably still have time to cycle down, pass a few drug tests, and steal money from the NFL with a rookie contract before pulling a Marinovich and running away with your millions.

The learning doesn't stop there, though. No, we learned that there are things that matter more than football in life. Six things, to be precise.

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This film ends with product placement. Perhaps this is the perfect metaphor after all. You endure the drama of an entire season, flailing through the currents to find some meaning in the emotional tumult of your fandom, and at the end someone promises you the secret. Then they hold up a sugary carbonated beverage and implore you to have a real good time.

P.S. Here's what happens to Joe Kane after the film. That and the last title can all fit on his huge, endless forehead.

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pps. Christopher Walken played Lattimer's dad in Batman Returns.

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Awwww.

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