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We all know that Hollywood has been running out of ideas for a long time. Remakes of classics, remakes of trash, remakes of remakes—inspiration is clearly wearing thin. However, I was still shocked when I recently stumbled on a television trailer for a movie coming out this year called Battleship. That’s right. As in, the timeless board game by Hasbro. Now brought to you by Universal Pictures, starring a bizarre mash-up of a cast which includes Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, the ubiquitous Taylor Kitsch, and the omnipresent Liam Neeson. I watched the entire trailer on the edge of my seat, not because it was exciting but because I was just waiting, waiting for the moment when someone would say it. Someone had to say it!
Can you believe it? A full-length commercial and they didn’t even have the good-humor and self-awareness to use the line, “you sunk my battleship.” Come on! If you’re going to cinematize a board game, at least have the decency to be in on your own joke. Regardless, I think this is the dawning of a great new era of board game-inspired films, a trend which should fuel the movie industry with fodder to spare us the remakes for at least a couple of years. Here are my suggestions.
Chutes and Ladders. Zany comedy of errors featuring ensemble cast which includes Jon Lovitz, Mr. Bean, Ron Howard’s brother, Duane “The Rock” Johnson, Mila Kunis, David Spade, a lesser but still hot female cast member of Gossip Girl, former child star Jonathan Lipnicki, and somehow, Glenn Close. Characters somehow each come into possession of a secret treasure map which supposedly leads to a cave which contains the booty of some scary-sounding pirate. I dunno, Captain Scruffbeard McGnarly, maybe. In an improbable sci-fi twist, the cave only exists in a fourth dimension which can be accessed through a difficult-to-find system of tunnels, chutes and, of course, ladders. Wacky falling and climbing into variously exotic settings ensues. Several characters’ misdeeds send them back from whence they came. Ultimately Glenn Close (who is the original source of the map) reveals, once all the characters have made it to the cave, that there is in fact no treasure, she has been toying with them. They all get a ten minute head start before she embarks on her true mission, which is to hunt the most dangerous game of all: man.
Candy Land. Nightmare meets fairy tale in this Tim Burton landscape in which an innocent brother and sister team (played by Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder made up to look freakishly youthful) wander through a strange land made of candy in search of a lost puppy or something. All the time-honored favorites make cameos, including Gloppy, a loveable molasses swamp monster, Lord Licorice, a misunderstood member of the Candy Land gentry, Princess Lolly, a self-absorbed nitwit who sends the kids in the wrong direction, and Jolly, who lives among gumdrops and is in fact himself some sort of gumdrop bug-Jabba the Hut mafioso type creature, who kidnaps the children and takes them to see King Kandy and Queen Frostine in the hopes they’ll make a prisoner exchange. You see, they’ve been holding his brother, the lesser-known and criminally insane Jujubee, in their chocolate dungeon for the last decade. Ultimately the lost dog reappears and takes a big bite out of Jolly’s midsection, thereby freeing the children and ensuring that Jujubee never again sees the light of day. Then there’s a party and everyone goes swimming in the fondant pool and hops around on marshmallow clouds as the credits roll.
Sorry! Incredibly frustrating Colin Farrell action flick in which a guy is trying to reach his wife and kids after a natural disaster which has separated them, but all these jerks keep getting in front of him and knocking him back to the beginning of his journey. Along the way, not much happens. Running time: 236 min.
Monopoly. A Wall Street-esque drama about a group of hungry businessmen and a few hapless amateurs who spend an hour and a half attempting to outwit and outrun one another in an effort to buy up the best and most property in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They’re each playing their own dark game, attempting to manipulate the others like pawns on a chess board. Or, er, like a little metal shoe on a Monopoly board.
Operation. Incredibly disturbing horror picture about an underground club of wannabe surgeons who take turns practicing on each other. The first rule of Surgery Club is “wash your hands.” The second rule of Surgery Club is “don’t talk about Surgery Club.” The third rule of Surgery Club is that everyone has to take turns on clean-up duty.
This ought to hold them for a while. After the board game movies dry up, they can move on to such riveting projects as “Gin . . . Rummy,” “War,” and “Tag: The Epic Saga.”
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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