I Watched This On Purpose: Bio-Dome

Sometimes, even The A.V. Club isn't
impervious to the sexy allure of ostensible cultural garbage. Which is why
there's I Watched This On Purpose, our feature exploring the impulse to spend
time with trashy-looking yet in some way irresistible entertainments, playing
the long odds in hopes of a real reward. And a good time.

Cultural infamy: Critics and audiences alike found the 1996 Pauly
Shore/Stephen Baldwin vehicle Bio-Dome to be an abomination unto
the Lord, an affront to the gods of cinema, and also a very bad movie, bad
enough to be considered the gold standard of crapitude in Shore's oeuvre. It
currently holds the distinction of having the single lowest Metacritic score in
history (it scored 1 out of 100), though
it does have a comparatively robust 8 percent approval rating on Rotten
Tomatoes. Co-star Kylie Minogue has called it the single biggest mistake of her
career. It won Shore a Golden Raspberry for Worst Lead Actor, helped destroy
his film career, and popped up as a punchline on Family Guy, Futurama, and the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Albuquerque."
But can Bio-Dome also be
considered a crucial part of Christ's master plan for humanity? According to
one of its stars, the answer is "Yes."

Curiosity factor: Jesus led me to Bio-Dome, or rather,
it helped lead Stephen Baldwin to his current calling as Jesus' emissary among
the young, stupid, and totally X-treme, which in turn led him to write a book
called The Unusual Suspect, which I'm
covering for a blog feature called "Silly Show-Biz Book Club." Here's my main
man Stevie B on why Jesus wanted him to follow a potentially career-making turn
in The Usual Suspects by playing
second banana to The Weasel:

I can honestly
say that part of God's plan for my life was for me to ignore the advice of my
managers and make a movie that was universally panned by the critics. Yes, God
wanted me to star in a film about two brainless slackers who spend their days
watching television, making out with their girlfriends, and drinking large
quantities of various substances… The film was brainless and pointless and
hilarious and God wanted me to make it. I didn't think like that at the time.
Making Bio-Dome played right into my
usual, let's have a good time attitude. God had other plans, I just didn't know
it at the time.

When I say God wanted me to make
this movie, I do not mean to imply that He approved of everything in the film.
The film contains stuff that does not reflect the life I now live. I haven't
even allowed my children to see it.

I know some people think the
movie kept my career from really taking off the way it could have after The
Usual Suspects.
People who think that don't
realize that without Bio-Dome I
could not have the career I have today, and I'm not talking about movies.

The critics may have hated Bio-Dome, but kids loved it. They loved it when we
first made it and they still love it today. Everywhere I go I have some kid in
his late teens or early twenties come up to me and tell me that this is their
favorite movie. Most have never seen The Usual Suspects, or 8 Seconds or Fled, or One
Tough Cop
or any of my other sixty movies,
with the possible exception of The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas. But they've seen Bio-Dome over and over again. That's why God wanted me to make
the film.

I didn't know it ten years ago
when I agreed to become Doyle Johnson, but God had already called me both to
know Him personally and to impact the youth culture in America with the Good
News of Jesus Christ. I didn't know it because I didn't know Jesus at the time.
One of the reasons kids will listen to me today is because they recognize me
from the movies. But not just any movie. One movie: Bio-Dome.

God had me make this film to give
me the platform that would later become my life's work. At the time I just
wanted to goof off with Pauly Shore for a couple of months. God knew that, and
He also knew the plans He had for my life, plans He made sure came to pass.

Oh sure, Stevie B could have used The Usual Suspects' buzz to make a movie
that wasn't terrible or wasn't an embarrassment to him and his family, if not
to mankind as a whole, but Stevie B don't play by the rules. Here's Stevie B's
take on why Stevie B does it Stevie B's way:

Instead of
playing by the rules I agreed to be in a movie called Bio-Dome with Pauly Shore. Some of the people representing me
told me to hold off on the picture even though the studio was offering me a ton
of money. Instead of listening to them I read the script and nearly wet myself
laughing over what I could do with the part. At the time Pauly Shore was hot,
he was funny and I thought we world work well together.

But that wasn't even my logic for
doing the movie. All I wanted to know was whether it was funny and could I have
a good time making it. I didn't do the movie for any other reason than
Stephen's own personal will and desire to serve himself. My attitude was: I
want to have a good time, so take a hike, it's my career. That's why I did it.

Did Bio-Dome keep me from reaching the pinnacle of Hollywood? I
don't know. Maybe. But it also had some far-reaching positive effects I'm even
now just discovering.

How can you not be just a little
curious about a universally panned comedy with divine origins? To find out why
God wanted Stevie B to make Bio-Dome, I decided to check it out for myself.

The viewing experience:

Bio-Dome opens with a bright, shiny assault of rapid-fire
images with an immediate message: "Don't watch this film unless you're really,
really high." Everything else about the film reinforces that message. Bio-Dome is far too sacred, some might even say
religious, an experience to be wasted on the sober and lucid. It is an
invitation to turn off your brain—preferably with the aid of
mood-altering substances—recalibrate your attention span to "nonexistent,"
and give in to your inner moron.

The fun starts with Tucson Junior
College student Pauly Shore smashing roommate/best friend/partner-in-idiocy
Stephen Baldwin in the head with a book to fake a concussion so they can avoid
attending a dreary Earth Day function with their environmentally minded
girlfriends (Joey Lauren Adams and Teresa Hill).

After uncovering this sinister
plot, Adams decides to teach the dunces a lesson by pretending she and Hill are
headed to a "kegger party" (where they'll undoubtedly consume "drink beverages"
and "liquor booze") with buff collegiate swimmers. Consumed with jealousy,
Shore and Baldwin take time out from giving themselves hobo pedicures (by
chewing their toenails), and head to the nonexistent party to keep jocks from
macking on their ladies.

The dumbass duo ends up at the
titular biosphere (boy, there's a phrase I don't use very often), under the
mistaken impression that it's a mall. Then nature calls, and Baldwin is in
desperate need of a place to drain the lizard:

Through a series of
misunderstandings, the boys become trapped in a biodome with a group of
scientists funded by cranky millionaire Henry Gibson, and led by William
Atherton, playing yet another cranky, easily angered authority figure.

Rather than admitting to the
mishap and ejecting Shore and Baldwin, the researchers decide to use them as
the human personification of the Chaos Theory. Shore and Baldwin soon come to
understand the ramifications of being part of the biodome experiment:

Stupid and manic doesn't begin to
describe either Bio-Dome or Shore and
Baldwin's hyper-caffeinated performances. They're whirling dervishes of
misplaced energy, bouncing off walls, ricocheting off each other, indulging in
silly dances, and generally making giddy, gleeful, unapologetic asses of
themselves. The two communicate in a singular dialect that at times sounds
almost like English; it combines surfer patois, elementary Ebonics, homemade
slang, and nonstop pop-culture references.

For its first half-hour or so, Bio-Dome is almost transcendently stupid. It borders
on avant-garde in its contempt for linear storytelling and comprehensible
dialogue. Like Boat Trip, Bio-Dome is
so crazily over-the-top and shameless that it almost becomes a parody of
idiotic, high-concept comedies.

But that level of numbskull
kinetic energy is difficult, if not impossible, to sustain for an entire film. Bio-Dome gradually becomes a more conventional, less
inspired slobs-vs.-snobs comedy, with Shore proving incontrovertibly, "Just
because we're stuck in a bubble doesn't mean we can't cause any trouble."

He and Baldwin wreak havoc
throughout the carefully planned ecosystem with their madcap antics. For
instance, they uncover a stash of munchies and a nitrous oxide tank, and enjoy
a laughing-gas-fueled freakout. It's an exquisitely redundant development,
since they behave like drug-addled delinquents even when they aren't huffing
gas. Bio-Dome is essentially Stoned
Idiots Amusing Themselves: The Movie.
probably the nicest thing that can be said about it.

In a wholly unexpected
development, Shore and Baldwin teach the uptight scientists (including a
shamefully fully clothed Kylie Minogue) how to loosen up and have fun, and the
scientists teach the boys a lesson or two about maturity and the importance of
preserving mother Earth. But first, Shore and Baldwin break free from the dome
and throw a giant party that contaminates the biosphere and puts the entire
experiment in jeopardy.

Just when it seems that all is
lost, they decide to complete the experiment anyway, vowing to stay in the dome
for the full year and rallying the troops. With the help of about half a dozen
montage sequences set to upbeat pop songs, the slobs and the squares unite for
the sake of environmentalism and scientific progress.

This entry would be more
eloquent, but I'm afraid watching Bio-Dome broke
my brain. I must now learn how to operate with a blown mind. Bio-Dome runs out of energy well before the halfway
mark, but in light of Baldwin's explosive revelations about Bio-Dome and the role it has played in his ministry, I think
the film's aesthetic qualities are irrelevant. Bio-Dome doesn't exist to please critics or audiences. It
exists to lead easily entertained dumbasses with low standards to Christ.

I can only imagine the number of
times some glue-sniffing Bio-Dome
aficionado spots my man Stevie B on the street and says, "Hey, aren't you that
idiot from that moronic Pauly Shore movie? I love you! That's my favorite
movie!", only to have their hero Stevie B gaze deeply into their eyes and
retort, "I sure am. Incidentally, have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and
Savior? Not only is Christianity totally X-treme, but heaven is like Bio-Dome, only better!" Bam! Score another saved soul
for the Stevester. Bio-Dome isn't
merely entertaining halfwits. It's saving souls. It's doing God's work, one
dumbass at a time.

How much of the experience
wasn't a total waste of time?
About 30 percent.
That is, of course, if you take God out of the equation. But why would you?

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