DID YOU READ

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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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