Transformers grossing $700 billion internationally last summer didn’t just guarantee a sequel — as you may be aware, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is out this week — but another, more unique, Hollywood development: the optioning of a bewildering string of childhood-entertainment entities. The list of utterly plotless board games, toys, and comic strips at some stage of feature-film development now includes Battleship, Monopoly, Stretch Armstrong, Ouija, Hot Wheels, Candyland, Magic 8-Ball, and Bazooka Joe (seriously). Eventually, professional Hollywood screenwriters will have to pluck a few arbitrary elements from their assigned properties and conjure up a plot from thin air. Since that sounds like fun, we decided to give a few of them a try ourselves.
Amid a series of high-stakes naval battles set during the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, an ultimate face-off looms between two hot-shot admirals with a past: Admiral Takahashi (Ken Watanabe) and Admiral Ivanov (Rade Serbedzija) were best friends growing up in Maryland and attending the elite Academy for Maritime Warfare. The two fell out of touch after graduation; that is, until the war broke out, and they answered their ancestral countries’ call of duty. While the body count rises, we see through flashbacks how the young Takahashi threw the Academy’s annual hotly contested Battleship™ tourney to young Ivanov, helping his buddy finally win the approval of his father, the Academy’s taciturn headmaster. During the final showdown, Ivanov at last returns the favor, purposefully guiding himself, along with a boatload of unwitting sailors, to a watery grave. Moments before his communication system cuts out, the teary-eyed Ivanov delivers one last crackly, proud message to his old mate: “You sunk my battleship!”
A team of top criminal operatives is assembled by a shadowy figure in order to pull off the most brazen heist in Atlantic City history: simultaneously knocking off the money trains on four railroad lines (the Pennsylvania, the B&O, the Reading, and the Oriental). Known to each other only by their code names — Iron (Chris Evans), Boot (Scarlett Johansson), Thimble (Erika Christensen), and Top Hat (Darius Miles) — the crew pulls off the impossible plan … but is nonetheless apprehended by the police, who were clearly tipped off by the double-crossing shadowy figure. After going directly to jail, the criminals realize who’s behind it all — insane billionaire Stanley Monopoly, who plans on using the heist to drum up support for his state-of-the-art new railroad line, Montrak. They bust out, expose Mr. Monopoly, join historical-railroad-preservation societies — and attend Top Hat and Boot’s wedding.
When King Kandy (Oliver Platt) is dramatically abducted, Princess Lolly of the Lollipop Woods (Anne Hathaway) recruits hard-nosed, pint-size private eye Charlie Mack (Bobb’e J. Thompson) to save the day. At first his head-cracking, streetwise ’tude doesn’t quite jive with Candyland’s refined citizenry: Gramma Nutt of the Peanut Brittle House (Tyne Daley) is particularly scandalized when, upon attempting to hug Mack hello, she is told to “back up off me, woman!” But, while he picks up the trail of evil Lord Licorice (Rufus Sewell), Mack and the colorful characters of Candyland find they have more in common than they think. After busting the case and returning the King to his Candy Castle, Mack approaches an overjoyed Gramma and tells her, “I’ll take that hug now.”
Ever since his high-school sweetheart, Jennifer (Cameron Diaz), left him for a calculus teacher the night before prom, nebbishy airline pilot Jack (Jim Carrey) has never had much luck with the ladies. But when he visits a sympathetic storefront fortune teller — and walks out with a real-deal Magic 8-Ball — that all changes: Armed with knowledge of the near future (Jack: “Will she like it if I take her salsa dancing?” 8-Ball: “It Is Decidedly So”), he’s able to bed a string of beautiful ladies. It’s all smooth sailing until Jennifer waltzes back into his life … at the same time his feelings bloom for beautiful but shy flight attendant Stella (Isla Fisher). In the climactic which-girl-will-he-choose scene — that, owing to a series of hilarious contrivances, is taking place on a window washer’s platform on the 97th floor of the Empire State Building — Jack queries the 8-Ball only to get “Ask Again Later” at the worst possible time. He goes with his gut, asking Stella to marry him. Her response? “Signs Point to Yes!”
It’s the summer of 1963 and a gang of restless high-school graduates in a small Texas town — led by the hard-living “Bazooka” Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a James Dean type in a mystery-enhancing eye patch — are ambling toward the rest of their lives. But when Joe’s best friend Mort (Jesse Eisenberg), a brainy kid so pathologically shy he’s been hiding the lower half of his face in a turtleneck all his life, announces he’s off to Austin for school in the fall, Joe realizes it may be time for him to make some moves of his own. Will Joe escape his dead-end town? Will Mort talk to a girl? Will we get a backstory for the goddamn eye patch? Yes, yes, and maybe.