May 8, 2012
Plot device power rankings: Summer movies assembled edition

Guess what happened in theaters? Geeks won, the universe was tipped out of balance and something Joss Whedon made chalked up more than $200 million in just three days. So, either this is the end of days or we’ve reached a shiny new era of cinema bliss. I’m betting on that apocalypse thing. Good thing there’s a team of civically minded heroes ready to fight back evil.

Summer just started, and it’s likely going to destroy Manhattan again. And again.


1. ASSEMBLED. Somewhere the Justice League just got back from a matinee and is very sad. Stop crying Aquaman, you’ll just dry yourself out. (Last week: N/A.)

2. You know, just your average fish-out-of-water story, complete with a hilarious authoritarian regime and matching costumes. Captain America gets this reference. (Last week: N/A)

3. Tim Riggins fights animals on a pathetic, non-flying helicarrier (Last week: On the Streets of Candyland)

4. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt go on the greatest adventure ever: Sweet mediocrity and poor release date scheduling. (Last week: 1)

5. Jason Statham doesn’t fling a shield at bad guys, just the rib cages of his dispatched enemies. (Last week: 4)

6. Edgar Allen Poe must confront his emotions and stop a killer. Bruce Banner does not approve. (Last week: 2)

7. Kids viciously murder each other, Black Widow scolds them for doing it wrong. (Last week: 5)

8. Are we sure Steve Harvey isn’t another manifestation of Loki’s plan? (Last week: 6)

9. Nick Fury fixes a sandwich, threatens Zac Efron for wasting everyone’s time by playing a heart sick soldier. (Last week: 8)

10. Pirates can be cute AND dangerous, or, give your kids a movie without Thor/Loki-sized sibling tension. (Last week: 7)

Holding steady this week:

19. What will these kids do with this newfound power?

27. The government, always so sneaky with the weapons and such!

31. Near future drama where Steve Jobsian figure threatens the existence of humanity.

36. The Tweet came FROM WITHIN THE HOUSE!

53. We’ve learned so much about ourselves from this foreign culture we’ve visited and now will forget about again

56. White people have problems too.

April 27, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Blah Blah Blah, Just Give Us the Avengers Already Edition


Like the small boulders tumbling ahead of the inexorable avalanche, this week’s movies at the box office are enjoying their brief moment in the sun before being swept under. 

Seriously, it’s like the guys who held the world title when Muhammad Ali was stripped of his title; sure, their name’s in the record books, but they’re not getting their own video game. 

So head out to the cinemamegaplex this week, soak up some middling place holders in cool, uncrowded conditions, and watch the staff batten down the hatches, ‘cause the Summer officially begins next week.

And it’s wearing a cape…


1.  Jason Segel and Emily Blunt play out the attractiveness gap with Apatow-ian aplomb, comedy all-star support.  (Last week: 12.  Next week: 4, with shield-bruises on its back)

2.  John Cusack is Edgar Allan Poe, chasing a serial killer in the first screenplay made entirely of message board posts.  (Last week: 13.  Next week: running down to #5, with arrows whizzing over its head)

3.  You guys enjoy your little time at the top; we’ll be over here impatiently tapping a hammer, shield, and longbow, and looking at our watches. We’re heroes.  We can wait… (Last week: 4)

4.  Jason Statham punches a coupla guys.  Does not wear spandex whilst doing so. (Last week: 15)

5.  Yeah, we know you have arrows too, kids, but the grown-ups are here now.  (Last week: 3)

6.  Self help book-based romantic comedy looks for book titled, "How to Survive a Huge Second Week Box Office Drop."  (Last week: 1, due to the “tallest midget” clause)

7.  Wallace & Gromit’s pirate pals sail the clayey sea, are choice for moms who don’t want their kids watching ScarJo in a bodysuit. (Last week: N/A)

8.  Zac Efron’s a traumatized, hard-bitten Iraq War veteran in love. In a movie that someone thought was a good idea.  (Last week: 2)

9. TIE: Downer multi-character tragedy starring no one and 40s gangster flick starring the second male lead from Felicity.  (Last week: N/A, sooo N/A…)

10. Juliet Binoche in a steamy NC-17 drama about hookers?  Yeah, we’ll slip it into the top 10. We’re only human.  (Last week: non…non…oui…)

And holding steady this week:

17.  One of our best indie filmmakers is back!  On about 40 screens.

20.  Cool-looking sci fi indie that guy at the bar will want to talk about waaay too much.

38.  Based on an inspirational African-American true story not told through white protagonist’s point-of-view.

55.  I can comfortably drive the speed limit.

70.  Movie starring non-Alec Baldwin brother.

Photos courtesy of Filmdrunk, Movies With Butter

April 27, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Hunger Games Finally Toppled By Self-Help Book…and Indifference… Edition


Well, our long national nightmare is finally over, as the weapon-wielding throngs of hot teens in leather tongs has, after a month at the top, succumbed to…a self-help book?

Yup, in the absence of anything better to do as they wait, slobberingly, for The Avengers next week, audiences semi-thronged to an African-American omnibus romantic roundelay based on the comedy stylings of standup (and Family Feud maven) Steve Harvey’s relationshippy humor tome Think Like a Man.  Which should be an encouraging sign, in that the cast, director, and writer of the #1 movie in America are all black.  Except, you know, that it costars a notorious woman-beater and isn’t supposed to be very good.

At least Tyler Perry wasn’t involved…


1. Black actors’ showcase takes the top spot!  Until next week, until HULK SMASH!!!!!  (Last week: Not #1.  Next week: Not #1)

2. Nicholas Sparks posits a world in which Zac Efron portrays a heartbroken, hard-bitten soldier, officially writes science fiction now.  (Last week:  Him?)

3. Young adult franchise falls to #3, dries eyes on 350 million dollar bills.  (Last week: 1, sitting on a big pile o’ money)

4. The only reason we’re not #1 this week is because we had to go fight Ultron.  (Last week: speeding towards the top spot like Thor’s mighty Mjolnir!  This week [and all weeks]: we are nerds)

5. Monkeys!!  (Last week: Monkeys! Monkeys! Monkeys!!!)

6.  Nyuck, nyuck, ny- oh forget it…  (Last week: Why?)

7.  "I make the best, most surprising horror movie in years and you people don’t go to see it?  Well then maybe I won’t let you see my Avengers movie…"- Joss.  (Last week: you guys are trying Mr. Whedon’s patience)

8.  Thousands die so, a hundred years later, a megalomaniacal jack-off can make a billion.  That, my friends, is Hollywood math.  (Last week: 4. In 1912: soggy)

9.  Alyson Hannigan slums it, adorably.  Everyone else thanks you for the paycheck.  (Last week: 5)

10.  Julia Roberts is a wicked witch. In this movie.  (Last week: Calling her agent)

And holding steady this week:

23.  Gary Marshall’s Arbor Day.

34.  Gary Marshall’s Black History Month.

57.  Gary Marshall’s World Hepatitis Day.

88.  Tom Berenger. 

Photo courtesy of TVWriting2011.

April 19, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Mowed Down by Pretty Teenagers Edition


As Hollywood continues to trot out sacrificial lambs to be photogenically-slaughtered by pretty teenagers (at least until The Avengers comes along), we’re in something of a holding pattern here in Power Rankings headquarters.  Not that there’s not cinematic grist for our particular critical snark-mill…it’s just that the comedy bread this week is a little thin.  Kinda mealy.  Seriously, you’re gonna be hungry about an hour after devouring this week’s…


1. Pretty (mostly white) teens armed with medieval weaponry take on evil government.  Or, what Ted Nugent sees when he masturbates. (Last week: 1, with an arrow)

2. Imposter Three Stooges’ pantomime comedy violence no match for that cute chick with the arrows.  (Last week: N/A- everyone too busy averting eyes from painfully-unfunny trailer to rate it)

3. Brilliant man makes brilliant horror comedy, comes in third. Will have his revenge on May 4th.  PS: If you spoil this movie for us, we can legally kill you.  (Last week: we can’t tell you)

4.  100th anniversary of infamous tragedy.  15th anniversary of James Cameron exploiting it to take all your money.  (Last week: 3[D])

5.  Third sequel or no, it’s hard to hate anything Alyson Hannigan does… (Last week: 2)

6.  Mythological monsters comprised of digitized ones and zeros fall to oiled abs, slumming thespians.  (Last week: 4, due to undiscriminating audiences)

7.  Julia Roberts tries to poison pretty ingenue for suggesting she’s too old and that her time has passed.  In this movie.  (Last week: 5. Next week: botox)

8.  Guy Pearce gets a Soloflex, tries being Snake Plissken in space.  (Last week: N/A.  A long, long time ago: was in movies like L.A. Confidential and Memento)

9.  Zac Efron plays an Iraq War vet in love.  No, seriously… (Last week: No, seriously…)

10.  Romantic comedy where Chris Brown plays a man who turns the tables on his woman, presumably doesn’t beat her mercilessly.  (Last week: Court records sealed)

And holding steady this week:

21.  That movie that almost won that award at that film festival that time.

37.  Title with too many big words.

42.  Thriller with plot twist spoiled in trailer.

55.  $20,000,000 thriller starring noted bigot makes less than $1,000,000 worldwide.  (And we laugh and laugh and laugh…)

67. Documentary about that problem that’s totally going to kill us all in a few years if we don’t do something right now.

Image courtesy of Vital

April 9, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Pretty Teens Slaughter the Competition Edition


Maybe you’ve noticed the arrow-riddled PG-13 corpses of box office pretenders all over the lobbies of your local multiplex, but, if not, let us clue you in…

Ain’t nobody unseating The Hunger Games.

Not this week, not the last few weeks, maybe not even next week. 

You just don’t mess with a teenaged girl with a bow and arrows, and a massive corporate advertising campaign.

You just don’t…


1.  Damn kids today….always killing each other in world government-sanctioned tournaments.  Why, back in my day, kids just died in textile factory fires, and they liked it!! (Last week: 1)

2.  Slumming stars who’ve moved on, also-rans grateful for the work, and maybe, just maybe, a dick in a pie. (Last week: 12.  Next week: past its expiration date)

3.  Big boat sinks again, but this time Kate Winslets’ nipples are comin’ at ya!  (Last week: Just a tingly feeling in James Cameron’s wallet)

4.  Respected actors look embarrassed, try not to envy young stars abs, think of the paycheck.  Occasionally, a monster attacks.  (Last week: 2)

5. Julia Roberts is an evil, youth-envying queen.  In this movie.  (Last week: 3)

6.  TV show-based movie keeps hanging around like those two suspiciously-mature high school students.  (Last week: right here, teenaged peer group.  Um, got any weed? That’s what you kids call it, right? Oh, what a giveaway!!)

7. Rhymedy-blimedy, poetry-shmoetry, blibbedy-blobbedy, give me your money already.  (Last week: Seuss)

8. Ewan McGregor goes fishin.’  That’s pretty much it. (Last week: still beating John Carter)

9. Big budget would-be blockbuster expected to make Hunger Games money is looking up at an art movie about fishing.  (Last week: not #1, which is all that matters)

10.  Legendary Hollywood bully bullies MPAA bullies into re-rating bully documentary, sees no irony.  (Last week: 15?!  You think I’m takin’ 15!?!?  No, no- what’s that you got in your backpack- a 10?  Yeah, I’ll take that…for now)

And holding steady this week:

19.  This week’s Jesus-y propaganda buoyed by busloads of church folk.

27.  It’s like Twilight- but with mummies!

33.  It’s like The Mummy- but with creatures from the black lagoon!

48. It’s like the Creature from the Black Lagoon- but with giant rabbits!

88.  It’s like a movie- but with Jamie Kennedy!

Photo courtesy of Gizmodo.

April 1, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Teen Beat (Literally) Edition

Dear, sweet, bow-happy Katniss, that girl can’t help but go a-murderin’ every other film that comes in her line of sight. It would be a bloodbath if not for the PG-13 rating, thank the gods.

This week’s Plot Device Power Rankings have indeed been bested by the Tween Juggernaut (actually, I’d watch a movie called “Tween Juggernaut”), but it’s also got plenty of new entrants just salivating to take it down. Like a documentary on bullying! How appropriate. And let’s not forget Greek Mythology, which if I understand it correctly boils down to Liam Neeson is punching things again. Man that guy likes punching.  


1.) The odds, and the bank, continue to be in Katniss’ favor, or Running Man: The Teen Years! (Last week: 1)

2.) Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson romp through Greek mythology in THREE DIMENSIONS. (Last week: XXVLI)

3.) A hooker with a heart of gold bests a fair tale princess. I’m just assuming that’s the only reason the world wanted a decidedly quirky Snow White remake (opposed to, you know, the other Snow White remake…) (Last week: N/A)

4.) Hollywood once again provides the answer to the question the public continues to forget: Channing Tatum? Him? (Last week: 2)

5.) Twixt and Twain the beast did romp, hither and yon, in 3D it stomped, it’s fiery orange ‘stache a message betrayed, ” GREAT SEUSS! WHAT CASH WE’VE MADE THIS DAY!” (Last week: 3)

Read More

March 25, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Insatiable Hunger Edition


Gee, I wonder what’ll be #1 this week.

But I kid the latest young adult fantasy franchise juggernaut we all must watch, as per court order.

All other contenders be but mere pretenders in the kingdom of the murderous teens murdering murderous teens, but we at Brannigan’s Law, as ever, vow to cast our gaze past the franchised billboards plastering the cinematic landscape and note the rise and fall of even the least hype-happy cinematic trope trying to grab some screen time.  Even if destiny decrees that a huge heap of slaughtered Dr. Seuss characters, TV show adaptations, fallen would-be blockbusters, and assorted unheralded indie so-and-sos lay bleeding at the feet of some pretty teenagers…with your wallet in their sights.


1.  A PG-13 Battle Royale makes teen-on-teen murder wholesome…and all the money in the world.  (Last week:  6)

2.  Half-decent TV show-turned-movie’s success opens the floodgates for a resurgence of soul-destroying TV show-turned-movies. (Last week: 1)

3.  Beloved environmental fable co-opted by multinational corporation and sponsored by environment-raping car company.  “Funny, there’s this weird spinning sound coming out of this grave.”  “What’s the name on it?”  “S-E-U- something…”  (Last week: 2)

4.  Insufficiently-bouyed by competent studio press, John Carter slams back to earth (I mean Mars.)  (Last week: 3.  This week: 4, just because studios aren’t putting anything up against The Hunger Games))

5.  Someone locks Stephen Dorff in a car trunk, asks us to care for 92 minutes. (Last week: N/A.  Dorff’s career: N/A)

6.  Everyone needs some deliriously-batshit martial arts fun once in a while.  (Last week: Ong Bak [which may be Thai for 33])

7. The next generation of douchebags throw a coming-of-age party. (Last week: holding steady at 7, due to youthful staying power)

8.  Dexter’s attempts at indie romance slightly undermined my audience’s conviction he’s about to stab that nice girl in the face. (Last week: no sudden movements…)

9.  Even Will Ferrell’s goofs mint money. (Last week: cinco.  Next movie: an opera? in Hungarian? Downton Abbey: The Movie?  We just don’t know..)

10.  Forget money for college, kids- join the army and become a movie star! (Last week: ten-shun!)

11.  2012’s ‘Eddie’s making me sad’ release.  (Last week: 9)

12.  Did somebody say….dance?!?!?  (Last week: always 12)

13.  Uneasy alliance between ‘steamy’ and ‘stiff-upper-lippy’ British drama.  (Last week: I say, that would be indiscreet… [fiddles with monocle])

14. It’s like Kill Bill, only this time it’s a right-wing aborted fetus out for revenge!  (Last week: 666.  In Rick Santorum’s America: mandatory)

And holding steady this week:

22. Kate Hudson in script Reese Witherspoon thought wasn’t good enough.

41.  Rob Schneider in script Adam Sandler thought wasn’t good enough.

56.  One Wayans in script another Wayans thought wasn’t good enough.

77.  Tom Arnold in script Tom Arnold thought wasn’t good enough. 

Image courtesy of movie

March 17, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Mixed Blessing Edition


With the Lorax’s fuzzy, petrochemical-fueled deathgrip on the top spot starting to weaken, and John Carter’s Martian gravity-aided triple-jumps failing like Wile E. Coyote’s, the top spot this week belongs to a Starsky & Hutch-style spoof of an old TV show. 

And while we hear it’s not the abysmal, soul-crushing butt-burger it by all rights should have been (note to Colombia Pictures: feel free to use that quote on the poster), we’re more than a little pants-crappingly terrified at the impending resurgence of crappy TV shows-turned movies this is going to unleash in the near future. 

Boy Meets World: The Movie?  Already optioned by Sony. Silver Spoons: The Movie?  Rick Schroeder’s on board for a cameo.   Just the Ten of Us: The Movie?  Billy Ray Cyrus already has a treatment in place for his existing daughters and eight of his next ten ejaculations. 

Hug your loved ones close and stock up on some canned goods, people- it’s gonna be a rough few years…


1.  Above-average TV show spoof dooms us to future below-average TV show spoofs.  (Last week: Just when we think we’re out…)

2.  Dr. Seuss clearly meant for the Lorax to shill for environment-rape.  Almost certain… (Last week: 1 [carload of kids in a gas-guzzling SUV])

3.  Tim Riggins leaps over the competition, heading for the…OHHHHHH!!! Pancaked by Jonah Hill!!!  That’s gotta hurt!  (Last week: 2.  Last week’s email from one Disney exec to his wife: Oh sweet mother of crap…  Honey- remember how we were gonna buy that summer house?…)

4.  Jason Segel and Ed Helms team with the Duplass Brothers, refuse to mumble, everybody makes much more money, is funny.  (Last week:  mrmnnshhrrsnnn…)

5.  Will Ferrell opens a foreign-language goof of a movie.  Is officially bulletproof.  (Last week: dieciséis.)

6.  The next Young Adult film franchise you’ll have to ignore approacheth.  (Last week: 8

7.  Teens have a sex, drugs, and high-def video party.  Helen Lovejoy asks, “Won’t somebody please think of the children!?!?”  (Last week: 6)

8.  Wait, that killer’s been to Best Buy’s electronics department...  (Last week: It was right behind you…)

9.  Eddie Murphy selling out his comic legacy would be more understandable if he was, you know, making money off it…  (Last week: 4.)

10.  See kids, join the military and become a movie star!  (Last week: 7.  Number of stuntmen in Afghanistan: 0)

11.  The fifth movie Nicholas Cage made in 2011.  (Last week: even Nick can’t remember)

12.  Smart-people comedy we thought people would care waaay more about #1.  (Last week [forgetting that people suck]: 3)

13. Smart-people comedy we thought people would care waaay more about #2. (Last week: Seriously, fuck you guys…)

14.  Tyler Perry is Helen Lovejoy’s favorite director.  (Last week: 9)

15. American History X director invites Adrien Brody to save the American educational system.  (Last week: N/A.  This week: curb-stomped by TV show movie, others)

16.  Post-apocalyptic gangs fight for territory by playing Dance Dance Revolution. (Last week: the goofiest made-up movie premise ever.  This week: bumped up 4 spots for pure, batshit insanity)

17.  That Denzel movie’s at the bargain theater; wanna go?  Yeah, I guess…  (Last week: 10)

18.  My head-clonk made me forget I love you.  Will your size-18 neck make me remember? (Last week: 15. Or was it…)

19. Frenchy stuff.  (Last week: ummm…croissant?) 

20.  Indie stuff.  (Last week:  ummm…soy latte?)

And holding steady this week:

27.  I never learned to read!!

34.  Rape-based detective thriller (not based on Swedish best-seller.)

45. One word: snowmobiles.

49. Two words: snowmobiling puppies.

53.  I never learned to snowmobile!!

99.   Quirky smart-people comedy. (We’ve learned our lesson…)

Image courtesy of Sony Pictures.

March 9, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Big Budget Barbarian Beaten By Cartoon Blob Edition


As we edge sloppily into Spring, Hollywood has, as ever, trotted out its first would-be mega-hit of the year.

You heard that “would be” part, right? 

Yup, poor Tim Riggins' nascent film career as “that guy with the abs and the dreamy eyes” is gonna hit a little speedbump (possibly before getting t-boned by the utterly ridiculous-looking board game movie Battleship this Summer.)  But it’s okay, Tim (I mean Tyler)- we here at Brannigan’s Law will always have clear eyes and full hearts for you.  Even if you, you know, lose.  And I mean lose big


1. "I am the Lorax!  I speak for the SUVs!"  (Last week: 1)

2.  Tim Riggins can jump really, really high.  You know, not over a little Danny DeVito-sized gremlin, but still- pretty high.  (Last week [in the studios’ dreamy-dreams]: 1, with three sequels.  Last week [in the eyes of everyone watching those confused, weak-ass trailers]: 2.  Maybe.)

3. Adam Scott + everybody from Bridesmaids paired up in different combinations?  Yes, please.  (Last week: 1, in smart-person world)

4.  Eddie Murphy can’t talk, or a magic tree will die.  No, seriously.  (Last week: N/A.  In 1984: N/C [not conceivable])

5. Gimmicky P.O.V. horror. (Last week: 83 [thanks to Apollo 18]. This week:  Look!  A gimmick!)

6. Gimmicky P.O.V. sex comedy for parents to take way too seriously.  (Last week: 2)

7.  Military propaganda is the new entertainment.  You know- for kids!  (Last week: 3. In 1984: War is Peace) 

8. Latest YA-fiction based fantasy franchise backed with the Hollywood hype machine?  YOU CANNOT RESIST IT!!!  (Last week: 9)

9.  Tyler Perry likes Jesus, and he’d like you to know that.  (Last week: 5)

10.  Denzel’s 2012’s project that’s slightly beneath him. (Last week: 4)

11. Smart people making smart/silly comedy too smart/silly for you people.  (Last week: why do we even bother?)

12. I won zee Oscar and all I get is zis lousy twelfth place?  (Last week: 14)

13. Doctor Who acts all cute, cannot travel through time.  (Last week: N/A…or was it???)

14. Ewan McGregor does mildly-interesting, worldly things.  (Last week: so N/A)

15.  My head-bonk means I don’t remember you, but your abs say let’s stay married.  (Last week: ummmm…)

16. Screw civil rights!  These full-lipped spy guys want to kiss me!  (Last week: Still classified.)

17. Mr. The Rock continues to save little white kids from CGI dangers.  (Last week: 11)

18.  Cage pisses fire on bad guys, his acting legacy. (Last week: 9)

19. Horror flick starring Christian Slater…and no one else.  (Last week: N/A.  In 1984: 6 [with a Nicholson impression])

And holding steady this week:

28.  Body-switch comedy model #28, [high-powered lawyer/street urchin he insulted])

33.  True-life sports story…about woman athlete.

47. Body-switch comedy, model #47 [high-priced call girl/hamster])

58.  That foreign movie you think Entertainment Weekly gave a B+ to that one time.

80. Body-switch comedy, model #80 [gerbil/hamster])

Photo courtesy of disafterdark.

March 3, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: These kids and their damn movies

Look, we get that films are a family thing, a cultural pastime you should enjoy with the little ones in your life. If reading early can encourage a life of literacy, then watching movies early should make them better film watchers. Right? RIGHT? Aw damn who are we kidding. Hollywood produces a crap-tonage of movies for kids, either explicitly or implicitly, whether from the Dr. Seuss catalog, or just pulling a tried and true plot device out of the bin. Damn kids.


1) These kids have no idea who Theodore Geisel is, but at least they don’t have to watch Mike Myers in a horrifying cat costume and burning man hat (Last week: N/A since 2008 and Horton Hears a Who)

2) These kids are going to learn about life, love, and growing up by throwing an impossible raging party that SWAT should probably shut down.  AND they have no respect for Matthew Broderick and his monkey. Fucking kids. (Last week: Holds a ceremonial “Teen Party Comedy” ranking at 25)

3) Kids love soldiers. And their country. And are woefully vulnerable to quasi-real military adventures  (Last week: 4)

4) Tyler Perry helps kids cross the street. I’m assuming that’s what happens.  (Last week: 5. How does he DO THIS?)

Read More

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »