Monday, February 05, 2007

Untapped Goldmine

As Hollywood studios look for new source material to make predictable yet entertaining movies, no media is off limits. Studios do this because the risk is less and borrowing from other sources often means a built-in fan base. From remakes of old movies to adaptations of TV shows, video games and comic books, it's all fair game. Even theme park rides are getting their turn on the big screen. One market, however, remains a gold mine of untapped movie potential: workout videos. Workout videos, for the most part, are all the same in their routines, but vastly different in their themes and target audiences. As long as the exerciser gets to pretend to do or be something else, the video has a market. Humor columnist Dave Barry once wrote "we drive our cars to health clubs so we can run on treadmills. We pedal furiously on exercise bicycles that do not go anywhere. We take elevators every chance we get, but we buy expensive machines that enable us to pretend we're climbing stairs." Now in applying this principle to movies, the studios must be able capture the imagination of audiences just as the workout videos have done. They can do this through catchy tag lines and solid casting, all while remaining loyal to the fans of the original source material. Below are actual workout videos that would translate seamlessly to the silver screen. I've even gone a step further and provided a brief synopsis and a few casting ideas. Let's see how many movie clich├ęs I can hit in the process.

Title: Abs of Steel
Tagline: Go ahead, take your best shot.
Synopsis: This is a super hero movie about a flabby, middle-aged insurance salesman by day who fights crime on the mean streets of St. Paul, Minnesota by night. His super power is, you guessed it, his abs of steel. He lulls unsuspecting bad guys into bar fights where he leaves himself open for a sucker punch to the gut and his opponents make the mistake of their lives. Of course the street scum at play here are always dumb enough to punch him in the stomach with their other hand even though they have severely broken their first hand. After one unfulfilling night working the bars, he decides he's ready for the big time and crosses over to Minneapolis to take on a super villain is who is not dumb enough to fall for the sucker punch. Yet somehow our hero triumphs in the end and saves the girl and the twin cities.
Cast: Tim Allen, who seems to have a knack for playing middle-aged guys with one last shot at redemption. I'm waiting for him to show up in a Disney sports movie as a recovering alcoholic coach that leads a team of misfits to glory. Also starring: Michelle Pfeiffer as the middle-aged damsel and Dick Van Dyke as the villain, a role that will shock and disappoint his Diagnosis Murder fans.

Title: Bikini Body Camp
Tagline: Summer camp just got a little skimpier.
Synopsis: Your basic sexy teen comedy about a summer camp where all the girls are hot and wear bikinis and all the guys are losers but will stop at nothing to "get some." There will be a stern camp counselor who gets his comeuppance in the end. The protagonist, though goofy and not without his quirks, would be endearing and able to overcome his earlier examples of poor judgment that alienated him from the woman he loves. The girls would be little more than eye candy, except for one intelligent girl (who would be hot without her glasses, but the filmmakers want you to focus on her brains). She is only at the camp because the extra-curricular activity will look good on her Ivy League college application. In the end she would hook up with our protagonist even if it's asking too much of the audience to suspend disbelief in the notion that those two would have anything to talk about.
Cast: Your run-of-the-mill no-name teens that are currently starring on the CW and can use this film as a way of crossing over into movies.

Title: The Firm
Tagline: Power can be murder to resist.
Synopsis: A young lawyer joins a prestigious Southern law firm only to find that it is run by the mafia. He also discovers his bosses are watching his every move. He must somehow escape this life while trying to save his marriage, which is in jeopardy because he was stupid enough to fall for a woman on the beach that was planted by the firm. There is another dirty secret: the evil firm has been vastly over billing its clients, creating one of the most intriguing and dramatic white collar crime dramas ever.
Cast: Tom Cruise and a grizzled Gene Hackman, with smaller parts by Hal Holbrook, Jeanne Tripplehorn and an even more grizzled Wilford Brimley.

Title: Belly Dance: East Coast Tribal
Tagline: The hips can be a very dangerous weapon.
Synopsis: This gritty street drama takes a look at the ever looming war between the East and West coast belly dance gangs. This would be the most violent of the many dance movies out there. The music, just like in the workout video, would be provided by Freek Factory.
Cast: Salma Hayek (from Mexico) and Penelope Cruz (from Spain) on opposite sides of the war. Both would play Egyptians, which we all know have the most violent mafia among all of those that have immigrated to the US.

Title: Fit Mama
Tagline: She's hip, she's fit, she's back for more action.
Synopsis: This would be the cornerstone piece of a Big Momma's House trilogy. In it, we would see our black Mrs. Doubtfire slim down (by getting a smaller fat suit) in order to bust a drug smuggling ring operating out of a gym. The fat jokes would be replaced by more black jokes and even some white jokes at the expense of the inept sidekick. In fact, if we make him Jewish as well, there are a lot more jokes to be made, all in good fun of course. The key is to have the Jew make the Jewish jokes and the black guy, or "brother," make the black jokes, but since he's a minority, he also gets to make a few white jokes as well, as long as they're about whitie's lack of rhythm and/or inability to dance.
Cast: Martin Lawrence and David Krumholtz (that nerd guy from Numb3rs).

Title: Yoga Booty Ballet
Tagline: This masterpiece is about to get a master piece of whoopin'.
Synopsis: An uneducated yet charming streetwise black girl from the inner city gets accepted to a prestigious ballet academy by way of a clerical error or affirmative action; either way she doesn't fit in, but she is undaunted. At first she struggles to find her groove, but then she receives support in the form of the nice white girl who finally has found favor with the snobby rich girls but forsakes it for true friendship. The two quickly rise to the top of the ballet class with their unorthodox street style of ballet dancing. The rich girls will stop at nothing to bring down the duo, even if it means spreading lies that reach the white girl's love interest, a handsome but shallow pretty boy. In the end all but one rich girl come to embrace the two and the white girl realizes she loves the guy that grew up next door to her even though he is kind of ugly (although not as much when you take off his glasses), since he's nice and has been supportive the whole time. As the closing song swells the white girl starts kissing him without any doubt that he loves her back even though she has treated him poorly. Meanwhile the black girl, who has made her point and doesn't need love, is happy just the same. But wait, the eccentric nerd who you may or may not have noticed in the background the whole movie professes his love for the black girl and the two realize that love is in store for them too.
Cast: A young Queen Latifa-type actress who is not afraid of the physical comedy and Hilary Duff or Amanda Bynes as the white girl. The rest would be more CW actors who, although 32, would play teenagers.

Title: Semper Fit: The Marine Corps Workout
Tagline: In this army, it's survival of the fittest.
Synopsis: A lone marine must save a small African village from a volcanic eruption and rescue the hot but impetuous journalist from the clutches of evil, blood-thirsty war lords, all while trying to honor the memory of his father, who may or may not have been on the take. With the help of an older mentor who knew his father the marine will employ state-of-art gadgetry and a general disregard for authority as he makes a lot of stuff explode. But be aware, the evil war lords have sent a deadly sexy secret agent in to seduce and distract the marine. It's only later that we discover she is really good at heart, but the war lords have kidnapped her scientist father and are using him to build a device that makes volcanoes erupt.
Cast: Some hunky martial arts expert as the marine, a blond with a penchant for overacting as the reporter, some R&B artist turned actress as the secret agent, a washed up 80's action hero as the mentor and Yaphet Kotto (from Homicide: Life on the Street) as the kingpin war lord.

Title: Special Ops: Navy Seal Workout
Tagline: In this navy, it's survival of the fittest.
Synopsis: See Semper Fit above, but this one would take place in the Caribbean instead of Africa and instead of remembering his father, he is searching for his older brother who mysteriously vanished 8 years ago. We later learn that his brother is in league with the drug lord (instead of war lord) who wears a white suit and colorful shirt with an open collar. He would also have at least three rings among his 10 fingers and perhaps a scar from some violent event in his past that has served to make him the cold-hearted killer he is today. And he would smoke a cigar in almost every scene of the movie, especially the scene where he shows us, the audience, how cold and heartless he is by calmly killing one of his henchmen who has made a small error in judgment and underestimated our hero. Also, unlike Semper Fit, this one would have an obvious twist at the end where the mentor turns out to be a bad guy, but that's OK, because the brother gains redemption by defeating the mentor in a grueling one-on-one fight that is happening at the same time the navy seal is fighting the drug lord, who is surprisingly limber for a rich guy his age. Meanwhile, the two girls are engaged in a bitter cat fight that is rife with snarky dialog.
Cast: The same type as in Semper Fit, but with a Latin R&B artist as the secret agent and Erik Estrada (from CHiPS) as the drug lord.

Other workout videos that would make great movies: David Carradine's Tai Chi Workouts, Samba Party: Brazilian Rhythm Celebration, The Pit Workout (featuring Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell), Minna's Emergency Workout, and Pilates of the Caribbean.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sign me up for Bikini Body Camp. But, I want Salma Hayek in there somewhere. I don't know...make her the hot camp counselor, tree hugger, granola girl who must be in a bikini or less in every scene.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Incredibly compelling storylines from basically... nothing. You have a great sense of imagination...