Since it’s summer blockbuster season — “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the old summer blockbuster carol goes — I thought I’d share with you some of my ideas for summer blockbuster movies. Please do not steal these ideas, or I will hunt you down, restrain you, reveal my diabolical plan for killing you, and then permit you to escape.
A disaster film that truly “blows” … you away! Windologist Jack Weatherman discovers that his worst nightmare/fondest dream is about to come true: Cool breezes from the Atlantic Ocean are heading for the East Coast at a deadly, leisurely pace! If people don’t act quickly, they’ll find themselves refreshed and killed within a matter of days.
Jack rushes to Washington to warn the president, only to discover that there are TWO Washingtons, and the president is in the one surnamed D.C. So he rushes to that Washington to warn the president, but his advisers tell him not to worry about the rantings of a crazy windologist. Evacuating coastal citizens to the midsection of America would be both costly and boring.
Fortunately, an insane old professor named Winston Stodgy believes Jack’s foretelling of doom, and the two set about finding a way to stop the cool breeze from reaching the coast. But they are too late: Before they know it, the breezes have hit New York City, which is soon in rubble, the State of Liberty lying face down in the gutter with her dress up around her waist. Other cities on the East Coast may or may not be as unlucky; cities other than important ones (i.e., New York) are not shown. People panic, and there is mayhem. Cats and dogs live together. It is mass hysteria. The president, now aware of the danger, goes on television with with an impassioned, concerned look on his face and tells America to brace itself and be brave. When his handlers insist on whisking him away to a breeze-proof bunker, he refuses, saying he won’t hide while the people he serves live in terror. He rushes out into the breeze and is stoically killed instantly. His handlers drag his corpse into the bunker and find a look-alike to take his place (but we leave that for a different movie).
Meanwhile, an alcoholic former fighter pilot named Slushy has an idea: Fly his plane directly into the breeze as a means of diverting it away from the mainland and back out to sea. Even though this plan makes absolutely no sense from a scientific standpoint, Jack and Winston tell him to do it, even though it is deadly (and impossible). Slushy says goodbye to his estranged children, flies into the breeze, and America is safe … for now. Every character who has a name survives, except for the aforementioned Slushy, who dies nobly; those without names die.
“Intense Deadly Murder of Death”
An action film like nothing you’ve ever seen before! (Note: Assumes you’ve never seen an action movie before.) Joe Gruffton is a homicide detective who doesn’t play by the rules. He’s a one-man wrecking crew, and he’s surly and sometimes he beats up perps, but he’s a good cop and he gets results. So what if he’s a bit of a “loose cannon” or a “borderline sociopath”? He gets the job done!
But Joe’s life and career are on the line when he stumbles into a ring of international drug smugglers/kidnappers/terrorists, run by Ivan Drbckz, a darkly handsome man with a vague European accent who commands a squadron of ugly, foreign-looking henchmen. When Joe’s partner is killed by Drbckz for getting too close to the truth — the truth was really hot, and it burned him when he approached it — Joe vows to the man’s widow that he will find the killers and bring them to justice, or possibly just kill them. His sergeant tells him he’s too personally involved with the case and suspends him, but that just makes Joe angrier and more personally involved.
This leads to a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in which all bets are off and the stakes are high, which makes it even more disappointing that all bets are off. After a high-speed chase through the city in which fruit stands are knocked over and many non-fatal accidents are caused, Drbckz leads Joe to an abandoned warehouse in which all the machinery still functions. As they grapple, Drbckz explains his motives to Joe, somehow finding the strength to speak despite being repeatedly punched in the face and whacked with a crowbar. Levers are pulled and switches are switched, and it ends with Drbckz hanging by one hand over a vat of molten lava (this was a molten lava factory). Joe briefly considers letting him die, but remembers his job is to uphold and protect the law, and part of the law is not killing people, so he pulls Drbckz to safety instead. Then, when he turns his back, Drbckz — in a move that surprises everyone, because we all thought this was a drug lord who had scruples — tries to push Joe into the vat, but Joe darts out of the way and Drbckz goes in instead. As the old saying goes, he who lives by the vat dies by the vat.
“Comic Book Man”
A super-exciting superhero movie based on the comic book “Comic Book Man.” Kent Parkerson is an ordinary man, until one day he’s in an accident involving some kind of science-y thing, and he wakes up the next day to find himself … Comic Book Man! He has all the powers of a movie hero who’s based on a comic book! (In the comic book, Comic Book Man has all the powers of a guy who’s about to be made into a movie.) He must keep his identity a secret as he pursues the evil Dr. Comic Book Man Hater and attempts to thwart his plan of destroying Comic Book Man. A must-see for all fans of Comic Book Man! Ask your mom for some money and a ride to the theater!
“It Head to Be You”
A light-hearted, unpredictable romantic comedy about a stuffy, uptight man and a carefree, irresponsible woman who meet — and don’t like each other! Except then eventually they do. But at first they don’t!
It starts when Jenna McTramp meets a man in the elevator on the way up to the trendy magazine where she works and insults the man’s taste in neckties, before accidentally spilling her hot coffee all over him, resulting in third-degree burns. (You knew this romance would be red-hot, but you probably didn’t expect me to take it so literally, didja?!) To make matters more hilarious, it turns out he’s her new boss! His name is Gavin Straightly, and he does NOT like Jenna or her attitude, nor she him or his. Jenna’s chubby, dateless friend thinks they should get together, though, and so does Gavin’s less-attractive, wisecracking roommate. But they can’t! Jenna already HAS a surly boyfriend who doesn’t love her, and Gavin already has a ditzy girlfriend who cheats on him. So they’re already taken.
Anyway, then Gavin and Jenna have to work on a project together, redesigning their magazine to make it filthier, and they totally start to like each other, in spite of their many differences, her immaturity, his prison record, and their fiery hatred for each other. Trouble is, Gavin’s been lying to Jenna about something: He doesn’t have a head! The “head” she sees atop his shoulders every day is an elaborate prosthesis, complete with mechanical mouth and furrowing eyebrow action. He lost his real head in a car accident a few years back, and he’s ashamed to tell her. Now, he’s in too deep: What will she say when she learns the truth, and that their love is predicated upon a lie, i.e., the lie that he has a head?
Well, sure enough, the truth comes out like a debutante at cotillion when Gavin’s fake head falls off in the street and is crushed by a truck. Jenna’s feelings are crushed, too, though this is more a figurative crushing. She breaks up with Gavin, and they miss each other while it rains and while a Norah Jones song plays on the soundtrack. Then, while Jenna is addressing Congress on an important magazine-related issue, Gavin shows up and apologizes to her — and this all goes out LIVE on television! Jenna takes Gavin back, and they all live happily ever after and have little headless babies.
What glee I feel in coming up with stupid ideas for movies that are based on cliches! Maybe it's therapy for all the bad ones I see -- REAL movies, that are almost this stupid, that grownups decided to make.
"Cool Breeze" came from a Garrens Comedy Troupe sketch back in 1997 or 1998, after the spate of weather-related disaster films that included "Twister," "Volcano" and "Dante's Peak." It was then-director Lincoln Hoppe's idea, and he and I collaborated on the writing of it. My favorite part was one where the breeze was approaching a farmhouse and the farmer fired several rounds at it with his shotgun. Then, out of ammo, he threw the empty gun at the breeze before it killed him -- you know just like people always do in movies. It's such a hysterically desperate move, to have failed to stop your attacker with bullets and to therefore simply hurl the weapon at him, hoping, I guess, to give him a concussion or something.
Not coincidentally, the film "The Day After Tomorrow" came out just before this column was published, reminding me of all the fun disaster-movie cliches (because it had all of 'em). I'd been thinking about the romantic-comedy template for a while, too, though.