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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Mammoth (2006)

I thought that I’d end my October 2023 movie review marathon with my all time favorite Sci-Fi Channel original. I watch this one every year but somehow had never covered it for the site. I’m guess I kept thinking I had already covered Mammoth, but I hadn’t. I also suppose it was a spoiler telling you that it is my all-time favorite from the Sci-Fi channel. Oh well, onto the review.

There is a frozen mammoth carcass being studied by a scientist named Frank. He leaves work late to take his daughter, Jack, for her driving test. We see that he is late when she is watching old movies with her grandpa and Frank’s Dad Simon. This is our primary family unit and main characters along with a man in black type who happens to be a lady named Agent Powers as well as Jack’s boyfriend Squirrelly.

Okay now back to the story. While poking around the frozen mammoth Frank accidentally activates a doohickey that calls to space. We see a spaceship shoot something to Earth in response. It crashes into the museum and turns into some living liquid that then animates the mammoth’s corpse. It goes on a rampage killing folks and doing alien invader type stuff. This includes crashing a high school party filled with thirty year olds. Eventually our heroes figure out that while they can’t destroy it they can refreeze it which leads to an exciting showdown at a factory where they do just that.

This is a simple movie that takes the standard low budget formula that was used not only in these made for television Sci-Fi channel originals but also for the cheapie fifties flicks that I love as well and has some fun with it. Fun is the operative word here as this isn’t the sort of movie that should be taken seriously. The story is filled with all the tropes you would expect including a monster stomping around unnoticed by anyone not top billed, government agents who show up with all sorts of mysterious technology, and some bumbling slapstick from characters who only seem to exist to be incompetent. That last bit is what makes Mammoth such a good time as instead of trying to be serious it leans into the jokes and laughs. Let me give you some examples.

We have the boyfriend, Squirrelly, who stumbles around putting himself in danger along with a couple of sheriff deputies that lean more into silly dialogue that shows them to be less than intelligent. There are also some goofy bits with a one handed medical examiner who along with the sheriff have a huge secret that is only revealed when needed to crack some wise. There is even a funny throwaway gag with what I’d like to call Jurassic dentures. Trust me if you watch Mammoth you will know exactly the scene I’m talking about. I’m thinking that either this was added back in after it was broadcast or if it did air on cable the censors missed what was implied.

Even the actors playing straight man, or I suppose men get to have some fun with goofy dialogue. Vincent Ventresca, who plays Frank, gets to have fun with dialogue talking about having a daughter and worrying about all the wieners as well as the classic “Did you give her the WEED?”. But the one who is clearly having the most fun is Tom Skerritt playing Grandpa Simon. He is the true believer of the family and has all sorts of fun with is conspiracy theories as well as thinking the gorilla suit wearing singing telegram is the lead creature of an invasion of space monkeys!

The special effects aren’t great. As is the case with most Sci-Fi channel originals this is all CGI and hasn’t held up well. Though it probably wasn’t great to begin with. The mammoth stomps around but does very little interaction with the actors. Most of the kills are hidden either behind the mammoth or some other object like a car or building. The best gag in the movie is probably the hand in the morgue. Even that is played for laughs as we see it scurrying around in the background. Truthfully, I appreciated that they knew the limits on what they could do and had fun with it. If they tried to be serious then the bad CGI would have likely been a dealbreaker for me.

I’m telling you guys this is a silly flick and a lot of fun. You just need to turn off your brain and have a good time. If you want a serious or scary creature feature then Mammoth isn’t the movie for you. It is one of those perfect excuses to invite some friends over, crack open a beer, and laugh your ass off.  I highly recommend it.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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