Pop Culture

How about ‘Badgers on a Hovercraft’?

“Snakes on a Plane” takes simplicity to new heights. Not only is the entire concept of the film in the title, it's become a marketing sensation. Internet buzz on "Snakes" has compelled the studio to make changes to the film, upping the rating from PG-13 to R to satisfy fan demand and give star Samuel L. Jackson more Jackson-appropriate dialogue.

While anticipation for the film is presumably at an apex, there's no guarantee that buzz will translate into box office. However, should the stars align for “Snakes on a Plane,” audiences can anticipate a bevy of similarly themed concepts to roll out of Hollywood like cars off an assembly line.

So what will happen if this “animals on a vehicle film” really takes off? Here are some predictions:

‘Snakes on a Plane 2’The problem with the original concept is that it appears to be a one-shot deal, but Hollywood always figures out a way. In real-life Jackson's character would never get on a plane again, but if he did, at least he would check it for snakes first. Fortunately, common sense never stops a sequel.

Jackson's character could be lured onto a transatlantic flight by a free ticket only to find that a zookeeper's cage has broken open in the cargo hold. Either that or the same thing will happen to Paul Walker or Lucas Black as they try to replace Jackson. Then again, the character might swear off planes only to get trapped on another type of vehicle with the slithering beasties or some other type of animal altogether. C'mon you say? Somebody made “Speed 2,” right?

‘Spiders on a Train’It's simple, combine “Runaway Train” with “Arachnophobia” and you have “Spiders on a Train.” A train is running out of control and only Bruce Willis can stop it, providing he can keep from being bitten by the poisonous spiders crawling everywhere.

‘Badgers on a Hovercraft’At some point Hollywood is going to run out of either vehicles or animals and that's where Roger Corman steps in, executive producing this “we'll never be out of animals or vehicles” knock-off. Did anyone besides me see “Dinocroc”? Corman can do anything. Besides, badgers are both mean and dangerous on land. Hovercrafts make them extra angry. Expect this to go straight to video.

‘Meerkats on a Boat’
There's a comedy in the concept somewhere, so what better way to achieve high concept bliss than by combining the success of The Discovery Channel's “Meerkat Manor” and “Snakes on a Plane” and putting those lovable animals on a boat, out of their natural element, and see what kind of fun transpires. If you loved “March of the Penguins” you'll love “Meerkats on a Boat.”

‘Speed 3: Scorpions on a Bus’What better way to revitalize a dead franchise than to infuse it with some deadly creatures? It's one thing to contend with keeping your bus above 55 miles per hour to prevent a bomb from going off. Try doing it when that bus is infested with scorpions.

‘Wasps on a Space Station’
Inevitably, somebody will put the concept into space. Imagine a colony of wasps launched into space for testing only to get loose on a space station thereby threatening and trapping everyone. Naturally, radiation will cause mutation, give them an alarming intelligence and extra long stingers, making them super deadly and a threat to depressurize the station at any moment.

Perhaps “Snakes on a Plane” is a sign of bigger things to come though — a way for simple-minded film executives to convey meaning without bothering to come up with a title. This raises the whole possibility of future ideas, from historical epics to cop buddy films to romantic comedies, utilizing this easy-to-understand format. Imagine:

  • Human interest: “Undereducated Man Beats Long Odds”
  • “Lethal Weapon”-type cop film: “Personality Opposites in a Squad Car”
  • Romantic teen comedies: “Pretty Girl in an Ugly Suit”
  • Sports film: “Misfits Overcome Adversity”
  • Sad drama: “Woman gets Cancer” or “Man in a Car Accident”

And think about how many old films could be re-released to take advantage of the new marketing concept:

  • “Citizen Kane” would be re-released as “Rich Guy with a Sled Obsession”
  • “Lawrence of Arabia” would be “Flamboyant Man in the Desert”
  • “Jaws” would be “Shark in the Water”
  • “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” would be “Black Guy Dates White Girl”
  • “Star Wars” would be “Men in Space”
  • “Top Gun” would be “Guys in Jets”
  • “The Exorcist” would be “Girl Possessed by the Devil”
  • “The Shawshank Redemption” would be “Man in Prison”
  • “The Lord of the Rings” would be “Small People on a Journey”
  • “Se7en” would be “Cops Searching for a Serial Killer”
  • “Das Boot” would be “Men in a Submarine”

So, be aware when you go to see “Snakes on a Plane.” You're sending a message to Hollywood and it might change cinema forever.

Jason Katzman is co-creator and writer for Shadowculture's Mr. Cranky.

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