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Five Movie Franchises That Deserve the Lego Game Treatment

Five Movie Franchises That Deserve the Lego Game Treatment (photo)

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Anyone who’s ever brought and played through a licensed property or movie tie-in game–especially the ones aimed at kids–knows that they are the devil’s own coding. The shoehorned sensibilities, unoriginal design and general trying-to-hard vibe not only make you want to smash whatever console you play them on, they drain any enthusiasm you might have had for the movie they’re based on.

However, the glowing exception to this experience has been the various Lego action/adventure titles of the last few years. Development studio Travelers Tales has made winning games out of the mythos of Batman, Harry Potter Indiana Jones, both “Star Wars” trilogies and the “Star Wars Clone Wars” cartoon series. They’ve all been fun, pick-up-and-play experiences that turn the worlds of the central characters into hilarious, breakaway brick playgrounds. The characters don’t talk so they act out pivotal moments in the mythos with mime-like physical action. For example, when Darth Vader has to tell that he’s his father, the Dark Lord of the Sith whips out a Polaroid of him-as-Anakin and Padme.

Like any good Lego experience, you get to collect bricks and build things in the assorted Travelers Tales games. Usually, the buildables are vehicles or gadgets but “Lego Indy 2” had a deep crafting system that let you play with the environment, too.

To celebrate the release of “Lego Pirates of the Caribbean” this week, a few humble suggestions follow as to what other entertainment franchises would make great Lego games. One big caveat: Travelers Tales was brought by Warner Bros. a few years back, meaning that the majority of their future work will likely be WB prperties. Still, a gamer can dream, can’t he?

“The Fast & the Furious”
Let’s face it, for all the too-cool street racing drama, the “F&F” movies are basically superhero films where driving is the superpower. A Lego version of the NOS-fueled films would maintain the car fetish that runs through all of them, with players collecting Lego studs to build blocky versions of the high-powered autos. Best of all, crashed cars wouldn’t be a tragedy in “Lego F&F;” they’d just get rebuilt with a few button presses.

“Karate Kid”
There’ve been four wildly different movies that have borne the Karate Kid name and The Lego games so far have been mostly platformers, with run-jump-shoot action. “Lego KK” would give players a chance to see what a fighting game with the snap-together sensibilities would look and play like. Punching somebody’s head off would literally be punching somebody’s head off. And the laughs to be had in translating the various training sequences and big showdowns would surely be comedic gold. I’m guessing the Sweep the Leg, Johnny scene would have to involve a broom.

“James Bond”
If the Lego games specialize in one thing, it’s cheeky humor. Excepting the deadly grimness of the current Daniel Craig incarnation, all of the onscreen incarnations of Ian Fleming’s superspy have had healthy doses of sarcasm. That’s right in line with the Traveller’s Tales Lego vibe. The gadgets and fantastic vehicles of 007’s world would fit perfectly in the established template, not to mention all the exotic lairs, locales and hideouts of the various Bond villains. The often racy antics of James Bond would have to be toned down but who doesn’t want to face off against a Lego Jaws or Chop Chop?

“Zorro”
Traveller’s Tales always manages to put in a lot of visual flourish to the animation of their stubby-limbed Lego-fied characters and they’d put that to good use in a game starring the 19th Century masked swordsman. The developers could mix and match the best parts of the many interpretations of Don Diego’s swashbuckling alter ego, with levels built around horseback riding, swordfighting and whip-wielding. Carving that ‘Z’ into the blocky torso of an old-timey Spaniard bad guy would be too much fun.

“Howl’s Moving Castle”
Real-world Lego play always involves copious amounts of imagination and the oeuvre of animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki sports the same wild-eyed dreaming as that of a kid playing with those timeless colored bricks. In particular, “Howl’s Moving Castle” offers the kind of grand sweep that Traveller’s Tales have gotten really good at portraying in their games, with “Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars” as the best recent example. The modernized fairytale aesthetic of “Howl’s” would give TT a chance to stretch their legs artistically and the darker textures of the movie would be great for slightly older kids to gobble up in playable form.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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