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 BMX.com.

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.

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 poster.com.

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.

February 25, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: #1 for the Wrong Reason Edition


New comedy from the director of a cult favorite!  The least-convincing serial killer-hunter in recent memory!  The nakedest propaganda since WWII!  Precipitous box office drops test the mettle of three of our most grizzled leading men! That and more in this week’s Plot Device Power Rankings!


1.  The fact that much of the creative talent behind the brilliant Wet Hot American Summer has a new movie is lucratively ignored by those wishing to see Jennifer Aniston and her new boyfriend.  (Last week: N/A despite the valiant efforts of US Weekly)

2. Amanda Seyfried’s bug eyes help her spot predators from all sides. (Last week: N/A)

3. Denzel’s enduring manliness allows him to survive a 50% second-week drop.  (Last week: 1) 

4. US Military makes action/recruiting films now!  We officially live in Soviet Russia!  (Last week: Classified) 

5. Tyler Perry churchy in a suit. (Last year [when Tyler Perry was churchy in a dress]: 3)

6.  I love you!  Who am I?  I love you!  Who am I!  I LOVE YOU!!  (Last week: 2)

7.  Slicky-boy government assassins trample civil rights to pursue Nordic blonde for Teutonic breeding purposes.  We officially live in quirky Cold War East Germany!  (Last week: 3) 

8. Nicholas Cage, on the other hand, shatters like a skull-headed Hummel figurine when dropped 65%.  (Last weeeeeeeeeeeek: 1)

9. The Rock falls 65%, too!  It looks like he’s finished!! 1…2…thre…NOOO!!  (Last week: 5)

10. Australians can make xenophobic paranoid action fantasies, too!  John Milius tells FOX news he’s available for interviews again.  (Last week: N/A. In 1984: Wolveriiiiiiiiines!!!)

11. George Lucas is still very creative…at finding ways to get your damned money. (Last week: 6)

12.  Starless, microbudgeted superheroes make good.  (Last week: 7)

13. Artsy-smartsy Frenchy-wenchy quirky-wirky!  (Last week: 4 [in very specific areas], N/A: you know, everywhere else)

And holding steady this week: 

19.  I’m silent, but I’m Oscar nominated!  Also I won many Cesars, does that help?  Hallooo?? 

27.  Foreign film with guns, no boobs.

44.  Biopic of famous chef.

53.  Singing nuns, no boobs.

80. Biopic of famous sous-chef.

102.  Biopic of Burger Chef.  No boobs. 

February 13, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Lowest Common Denominator Edition

Now, we’re not saying that Hollywood screenwriting, for the most part, comes down to a simple re-jiggering of well-nigh-exhausted formulae, but…

Oh wait, yes we are…

There’s something for everyone in this week’s crop of recycled crap fine film offerings at your local megaplex.  Aging action stars!  Suspiciously-familiar syrupy romance!  The Rock sequel-ing all over the place!  And it’s all brand new!  You know, if you don’t look to hard…


1. Denzel Washington + hunky younger (white) co-star + ‘splosions + car chase = how did Tony Scott not direct this? (Last year, when it was called Unstoppable: 10)

2. The Notebook - Ryan Gosling + Rachael McAdams again- Nicholas Sparks + that guy with the abs - Alzheimer’s + amnesia = What you have to see this weekend if you want to watch sports ever again. (Last week [and always, always…]: 8)

3. Loudly-formulaic, family-friendly adventure - Brendan Fraser + The Rock = No One Notices the Difference  (Last week: N/A. Next week: N/A)

4. Superhero franchise - 80% of normal budget + Cloverfield cameras - hammy star villain one liners = something twice as good as Hancock which will make 1/5 the money. (Last week: 3)

Read More

February 3, 2012
Plot Device Power Rankings: Not Harry Potter, Totally Unrelated, Completely Grownup Supernatural Thriller Edition

                                The 2012 box office continues to plod along, splashing in puddles while its studio parents, with mounting irritation, try to hurry it along because it’s getting late and jacuzzi payments are coming due.  Belabored metaphors aside, ain’t no one goin’ to the movies these days.  Could it be that this year’s movies, relying as they have on certain hackneyed plot devices, are uniformly disappointing?  Naaaah- can’t be that. I blame the critics. 

So, in this week’s utterly critic-proof crop plot devices, we’ve got a child star dressing up in gran’pa’s suit, low budget superheroes, aquatic mammalian feelgoodery, and more!

PLOT DEVICE POWER RANKINGS for WEEK 5 of the 2012 Movie Season!

1. Mega-popular boy wizard fights new supernatural evil in period big boy clothes (for 1/20th the box office take)  (Last week: 25 [10 on Broadway])

2. What, you think Liam Neeson won’t punch a wolf in the face?  ‘Cause he totally will. (Last week: 1)

3. How do you combat superhero-movie bloat?  Shoot it on your cell phone!  (Last week: a shaky 34)

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