We love cowboy movies -- almost as much as we love alien movies. And wouldn't you know it? 'Cowboys and Aliens' opens on Friday. It's like they made this movie just for us. Let's hope the Harrison Ford / Daniel Craig / Olivia Wilde flick kicks off a new craze in Hollywood: the Movie Genre vs. Movie Genre movie, which will, of course, become its own genre. Got it?
We've got a couple ideas to help continue this trend, and we thought we'd ask you guys for your thoughts on what the ultimate genre-vs.-genre battle would be ... and what would win.
To do that, we've arranged a tournament in which you will vote to determine which genre advances to the next round. We'll narrow down the field every day this week, and on Friday, we'll have our championship fight, with the top two contenders for King (or Queen) of the Movie Genres.
We've split the contestants into two teams: the One-Worders, and the Genres That Take a Bit More Than That to Explain-ers (or GTTBMTTE-ers, for short). Take a look, and then vote for which genre you think is better. (And be sure to check back in tomorrow for Round 2.)
Here are your first-round matchups:
It's the Living Dead vs. the Bad News Bears in this contest of brain-eaters and miraculous, come-from-behind victories that bare even less resemblance to reality than their back-from-the-dead opponents. Zombies are enjoying a bit of a resurgence these last few years, with such awesome works as 'Dawn of the Dead,' '28 Days Later' and 'Zombieland.' On the other side we find 'Rudy,' 'Hoosiers' and 'Major League' -- all of which we love dearly. Hard to predict the outcome here, much like Ed O'Neill couldn't foresee Rick Moranis calling for the Annexation of Puerto Rico.
How would Vito Corleone handle those annoyingly high-pitched chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore? We have a pretty good idea what Sonny would do, that's for sure. Both of these genres have very deep roots. Movie gangsters began appearing in the 1930s with films like 'The Public Enemy' and 'Little Caesar,' while Talking Animals have been an often-endearing, sometimes-tiresome staple of Hollywood dating back at least to early Disney cartoons like 'Cinderella,' 'Bambi' and 'Dumbo' -- classics, to be sure, but the genre also gave us the recent dud 'Zookeeper' and too many iterations of 'Dr. Doolittle.' The Mobsters genre has been quite prolific, producing such loved epics as 'Goodfellas' and 'The Untouchables,' but keep in mind that it also gave us, well, 'Mobsters.'
As Captain Jack Sparrow in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise, Johnny Depp has reinvigorated the Pirates genre, but it's a tall order to go up against a legend like 'The Maltese Falcon''s Sam Spade. We also dearly love 'Muppet Treasure Island,' but we think even Kermit, Animal and Gonzo might have trouble going mano-a-Muppet with tough-as-nails P.I. Philip Marlowe. Perhaps we should be asking what's more hard-boiled -- the Swedish Chef's latest concoction, or Humphrey Bogart's last line of dialogue?
Yes, we know that apes are not monkeys and that conflating the two is biological heresy. Anyway. From next month's 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' to 'Every Which Way But Loose' to 'Bedtime for Bonzo,' monkeys have been cinematic dynamite for decades, which makes it a tough opponent for the Manic Pixie Dream Girls genre (populated with characters Wikipedia defines as: "having eccentric personality quirks, unabashedly girlish and serve as the romantic interest for a brooding or depressed leading male protagonists"). One of the youngest contestants in our tournament, the MPDGs claim Natalie Portman in 'Garden State,' Zooey Deschanel in '(500) Days of Summer' and Kate Winslet in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' as their standard-bearers -- a fine collection of films and an even finer collection of actresses.
Superheroes sure seem dominant at the moment, what with 'Thor,' 'X-Men: First Class,' 'Green Lantern' and 'Captain America' all released in the last three months, but if ever there were an antidote to Spandex-clad, muscle-bound freaks bashing the bad guys, it's 'The Notebook.' Or 'The Last Song.' Or 'Message in a Bottle.' Or 'A Walk to Remember.' Not much for us to say here -- you know which side you're on.
Ha ha, insert easy joke about characters in Merchant-Ivory movies being robotic. But seriously, some of those movies weren't half-bad. In fact, we're not ashamed to admit that we actually quite enjoyed the Henry James adaptation 'The Wings of the Dove.' Sexy! As for Robots, just remember that for every amazing flick like 'Robocop,' there's an equally atrocious 'Robocop 2' (or '3'). For every 'Terminator,' there's a 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.' Just sayin' -- it's not as uneven a matchup as it might first appear. Also, 'Dangerous Liaisons' was pretty damn good. (Yeah, we know it's not 19th-century, shut up.)
We're not quite sure how Martin Lawrence's 'Big Momma' series is so popular, but one inarguable fact is that the title role and lead character is a guy in a fat suit. Playing a woman. Eddie Murphy has also gone to this well a few times, with some success ('The Nutty Professor') but more recently with failure ('Norbit'). John Travolta ('Hairspray') and Tom Cruise ('Tropic Thunder') have also put on the padding, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Meanwhile, there are now twelve 'Friday the 13th' movies,' ten 'Halloween' films, nine 'Nightmare on Elm Street's, six 'Saw's, five 'Chucky' entries, and 'Scream 4' just left theaters. Which is more improbable? Hard to say, but it's quite clear that each genre has its formula -- and audiences seem to have no problem with either.
The Vampire craze in theaters has really picked up over the past few years, notably with the 'Twilight' franchise, but also with lesser-seen, high-quality flicks like 'Let the Right One In' and 'Thirst.' Blood-suckers have been big-screen fixtures going back all the way to 1922's 'Nosferatu,' but there have been plenty of clunkers along the way too ('Van Helsing,' 'Vampire in Brooklyn'). Meanwhile, the Plucky Street Dance Team genre started in the '80s with flicks like 'Breakin'' and its awesomely named sequel 'Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo' (though you could make a case that 1961's beloved 'West Side Story' belongs here as well). The past decade has seen numerous installments, such as 'How She Move,' 'Stomp the Yard' and the venerable 'Step Up' franchise. While the Vamp genre's spectrum of quality and stories is vast, you pretty much know what you're gonna get from the PSDT family, so your vote here shouldn't be hard to pick.