This weekend at multiplexes around the country, two tired concepts will battle each other for box office supremacy.
In one corner is Just Go With It, yet another Adam Sandler comedy about a self-absorbed man-child who gets entangled in a messy situation thanks to a series of wacky, contrived circumstances. This time around, he recruits Jennifer Aniston to pretend to be his soon-to-be ex-wife after the girl he likes mistakenly thinks he is married with two children. (Not to be confused with Big Daddy, in which the girl of his dreams mistakenly thinks he has a young son, or I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, in which the girl of his dreams mistakenly thinks he is married to Kevin James.)
In the other corner is The Eagle, yet another movie about Roman soldiers and slaves. This time around, Channing Tatum plays a (mouth-breathing, charisma-less) soldier who is enslaved while attempting to retrieve an Aquila (a.k.a. the Roman eagle standard) that disappeared along with an entire legion. (Not to be confused with season one of the TV series Rome, in which Julius Caesar sends out two soldiers to retrieve a lost Aquila or Gladiator, in which Russell Crowe plays a Roman soldier who gets enslaved.)
While we won’t know until Monday which tired formula will reign supreme (for what it’s worth, my money is on Adam Sandler), what’s clear is that the winner won’t be moviegoers.
For the record, I really love Adam Sandler’s early films. I am also a sucker for Roman stories (I am currently digging season two of Spartacus). But I feel like Hollywood is overdoing it with Roman stories lately and Adam Sandler’s shtick got tired long ago. I think it would be for the best if we could just take a break from these types of films for a while.
But sadly, I know Hollywood won’t stop making Adam Sandler or Roman soldier/slave films anytime soon. They love to squeeze every last dime they can out of an idea. Until people stop seeing them, Hollywood will keep churning them out.
At first this bummed me out, but then I had an epiphany. I realized there was an obvious solution right in front of me that could save both genres. It came to me thanks to another film coming out later this year – Cowboys and Aliens.
For years, the Western genre has felt stale and boring. Same with alien invasion movies. But somehow, when you stick them both together, you get something exciting and new. It’s like getting chocolate in your peanut butter or combining AC/DC with the Ghostbusters theme – two things that felt overly familiar combine to become a new creation that’s even better than the sum of its parts.
So that is why I’m working on a new Adam Sandler screenplay entitled Rome If You Want To. The film is about a self-absorbed man-child named Farticus whose military genius father is grooming him to one day take over the legion. Farticus has no interest in being a soldier, he prefers to instead spend his days muttering in baby talk and sword fighting an imaginary penguin.
Farticus falls for a lovely Naïveia (Anne Hathaway) who, as wacky circumstances would have it, is only interested in dating gladiators. Upon hearing this and sensing opportunity, the legion’s most promising and weasely soldier, Douchiclese (Cary Elwes), goads Farticus into fighting in the upcoming games.
In a zany training montage, Farticus and a group of ragtag slaves (Kevin James, Chris Rock and, of course, Rob Schneider) are taught by a crazy-eyed veteran gladiator (Steve Buscemi). Thankfully, like always, Farticus is so naturally talented and athletic that he picks it up easily and is able to vanquish all foes in the arena using his patented “hit them in the groin, then fart in their face” technique. Eventually, he defeats Douchiclese too, marries Naïveia and takes over the legion. Then role credits and toss in a few outtakes as the ticket buyers head for the parking lot.
The Roman setting will, at the very least, make Adam Sandler’s tired formula feel different. And Sandler, limited as he may be as an actor, is still better than Channing Tatum and he will be able to bring a new energy into the Roman soldier/slave genre. It’s a win-win situation, especially for me, since I get to cash in by selling a screenplay that takes about five minutes to write.
If this mashup works, I have a few other ideas I’m working on to freshen up comedy films:
Eddie Murphy once again dons a fat suit and gawdy dress to play an boisterous, zaftig woman. Only this time, when she heads to the mall to try on new church hats for Easter Sunday, the place is overrun by a horde of angry zombies. She must fend for herself when her son, who is tired of being called “Hercules, Hercules,” shoves her down in order to save himself.
Larry the Cable Guy gets to branch out in a period piece where he plays an English monarch who must give an important speech to rally his nation during a time of war. However, before he can give his speech, an unorthodox teacher must come in and break him of his habit of speaking like a slack-jawed Southerner.
The local townspeople living in Salem in 1692 begin to believe Jack Black is a witch after they witness him doing cartwheels and practicing karate while spouting off unfunny gibberish. In order to avoid being burned at the stake, he must renounce his over-the-top comedic style.
And finally, I want Jimmy Fallon to be pitted against a pack of ravenous wolves. Not in a movie though – this one I want to see in real life.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at email@example.com.