thinglets: Ten Film Plots That Should Not Have Been Greenlit

Below are ten short plot summaries for films that have, shockingly, ALL been made. I have not put the name of the film at the beginning of each entry in case you'd like to play a "Name the Film" game. There is a link contained in each entry that points to the IMDB page for the film. Prepare to be dumbstruck.

  1. "A Texas Ranger is assigned to protect the only witnesses to the murder of a key figure in the prosecution of a drug kingpin -- a group of University of Texas cheerleaders. He must now go undercover as an assistant cheerleading coach and move in with the young women."
  2. "A deservedly struggling young comedian, lands a menial job on a cruise ship as the Miss-Universe contest is being held on-board. The Big Man On Deck for this voyage is the ship's comedian and all-around ladies' man. As an assorted array of thugs, Panamanian mercenaries and terrorists try to storm the ship, the young comedian hopes for one big chance to prove himself and enter the exciting world of cruise ship comedy."
  3. "After separating from his wife, a former agent quit the spy business and became a restaurateur. The government has asked him to come back and save the world again. The evil antagonist has hypnotized animals into doing her bidding, and plans to use them to take over the world! It's up to the agent to save the world, as only he can battle her Vegetarians and man-eating rabbits!"
  4. "When "street smart" rapper applies for a membership to an all-white Country Club, the establishment's proprietors are hardly ready to oblige him. Unwilling to accept that the club views him as unfit for membership, he purchases land that contains the 17th green - willing only to exchange the hole for a membership. This sets the stage for an outrageous assault on the country club and its membership committee as he and his fun-loving, streetwise crew disrupt the goings-on at the club with their irreverent attitudes and a back-and-forth prankfest."
  5. "A father's psychic abilities are put to the test when his two daughters are trapped inside of a corn maze haunted by the spirits of two young girls who disappeared a year earlier."
  6. "A professor introduces Paul to the practical-joking Kathy. Paul and Kathy seem to hit it off rather well but, during a meteor storm, a meteorite fragment strikes Paul, burying itself deep in his skull, which has the unpleasant side-effect of causing Paul to mutate into a giant reptilian monster at night and go on murderous rampages."
  7. "On the night of a big fashion show, world-famous French designer is poisoned. The same night, his murderers are trying to kill a member of the popular rap group. As the designer dies on the street, a midget witch tries to do something to save him. The next day, as the body of the designer is buried, his soul wakes up to find himself in the rapper's body. Both souls are trapped inside the rapper's body, and every time he suffers a blow, they switch personalities. A tough black rapper becomes a fruity fashion designer and then back again."
  8. "After the death of his brother, a street dancer goes to attend university. But his efforts to get an education and woo the girl he likes are sidelined when he joins in his fraternity's effort to win a step dancing competition."
  9. "Jack is a struggling baseball pitcher who has great natural talent but keeps choking under pressure. Traded to a class A minor league team, he is appalled to discover his third baseman -- and roommate on the road -- is a chimpanzee. While the chimp can actually hold his own on the diamond, Jack feels there's something a bit undignified about having to look after a monkey, and it doesn't help that the chimp has poor hygiene and a chronic case of flatulence."
  10. "An unemployed cartoonist moves back in with his parents and younger brother. When his parents demand he leave, he begins to spread rumors that his father is sexually abusing his brother."

Podcast Forty Two - Loading the Cannons

Concerning the death of originality in the summer blockbuster movie season, snippets of a life lived in and around hockey and...

by special request...

a special reading of a letter from Linus Torvalds explaining the penguin as the Linux logo as read by... Morgan Freeman!


lovehate: Hollywood's Canon Fodder

I hesitate to create a lovehate about the state of ideas in Hollywood, as the concept of derivative plot lines and characters has, it itself, become derivative. I'm sure as far back as silent film, people have been talking about the overabundant repetition and hackneyed ideas. When the legendary silent film "The Great Train Robbery" was such a success in 1903, it didn't take long for the "Little Train Robbery" (1905) to be made with a bunch of exploited children.

So I do understand the irony in the fact that whining about lost creativity is an artistic constant and hardly news-worthy. I only bring it up at this time because, in looking over the next few months of films that will likely challenge records at the box office, there's precious little originality that isn't a sequel, reworking, or retelling of an existing franchise or historical success. And I guess what really bothers me is the hundreds of millions being spent on precious few derivative blockbusters while anything independent or original has to scrape by with a few hundred thousand. The yearly Oscar for best original screenplay is being reduced to precious few to choose from.

Starting with Wolverine on May 1st, while I certainly don't begrudge the makers extending the Marvel brand a bit further with what is likely the most popular character of the X-men franchise. The fact that this film will capture the Comicon crowd is not lost on me, yet does take the place of at least a few original screenplays and character sets that should see the light of day.

I've always loved Star Trek, and I'm sure I will like the May 8th release, but was it really necessary to rework the original characters? The history established by the past television series and films cannot help but paint this story into a corner. We know which characters cannot die because they are around decades later. Where's the original Sci-Fi these days?

And then let's run the summer blockbuster list:

Angels and Demons - Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code prequel which is two years too late in terms of maintaining the wave of the series original popularity, but not like we'll look for a new alternative to film or anything.

Terminator Salvation - Yet another sequel with Christian Bale playing a dark and brooding anti-hero. Suffers, again, from the same plot issues as Star Trek, being stuck into an existing mythology.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - Ben Stiller + sequel = banal.

Land of the Lost - While I know I'm deriding remakes, I really looked forward to this one until I heard Will Ferrell was attached. Now it becomes a de facto sequel of every other movie Will Ferrell has ever made.

The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 - Again, LOVED the original. Isn't there another screenwriter out there who can write a train heist film? You couldn't do much worse than Money Train.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -  Is this the one where Jar Jar and Michael Caine fight a robot shark from a future dystopian world? I suppose to ask for another writer to come up with an original story about trucks that turn into intelligent robots would be too infringing... how 'bout next time we go with Voltron instead?

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - In a genre where originality should be most abundant, we have to sit through yet another Ice Age... when does it all melt? All I can do is thank Pixar for UP at the end of May. I don't have much idea what it's about - and that's a very good thing.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Hasn't Harry got a nice job as a clerk in a central London office by now? Aren't the characters on crack benders somewhere? I think we should conscript Jon Lithgow and create a Harry Potter and the Hendersons combined sequel.

All these along with new iterations of G.I. Joe, Final Destination (not so final was it?) and Halloween makes me wish for a time like the 70s when, for all of the historical nostalgia about a "golden era" of directors and films, at least we had some original stories. But I guess that's when this 30 year-old funk that we're in now started.

I know that some of these films will be great, but it reminds me of the ominous parallels to the literary criticism of T.S. Eliot's canon. Essentially, there will be films that are part of the canon and those that aren't and those that are there were always desitined to be there and those not should not have expected more. How many of the sequels and remakes we watch over the next year will serve more as cannon fodder than find a place in the canon?