Michael Bay came to feature films from commercials, and for both good and ill Harry Stamper’s (Bruce Willis) men are recognizable not just from old movies but also from TV beer ads. Having a wild night before blastoff, singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” as they head for space, even parking on the asteroid’s surface, they might as well be cheering on the Bears in their La-Z-Boys. Their dreams are beery too: Before signing on, they negotiate permanent freedom from taxes. What they really want, though, is a license to rewrite the rules, a standard bad-boy prerogative. But a token of what’s wrong with the movie is that Steve Buscemi’s weaselly coward conveys the ethos the best, and unlike Friar Tuck, he doesn’t surprise us or redeem himself. “You and your men are the biggest mistake in the history of NASA,” a career astronaut tells Stamper. He’s wrong, obviously — in movie crises, you’re supposed to trust the misfits. Too bad for “Armageddon” there isn’t more strength in their numbers.

The Waterboy
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