Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pittsburgh Stealers: The 80s movie blockbuster

Dear Honest Matt,

I am a 97-year-old professional Crimean War re-enactor suffering from a condition known as “Explosive Bone Syndrome.” Now, I haven’t much time left on this world, and I have to know, ‘How would this year’s Super Bowl play out as a stereotypical 80s movie?’ In the name of Florence Nightingale, please help an old man see through those rose-colored lenses.


Wow. It is really tough to not indulge a request like that, despite my longtime struggle with 80s movies. I actually missed the boat when it came to many of what people now refer to as classics of the era and if you named your favorite 80s movie, there is about a 65% chance that I either have not seen it or have only seen it in the last three years.

While others were growing up with the shared bonding experience of having seen all these movies, I was busy studying the works of Locke and Hobbes (incidentally a two great names for a late 80s/early 90s buddy cop movie), the mathematics of Archimedes and Newton, and pursuing my hobby of listing things I have never actually done.

I have though, seen enough parody and lived through enough of the 80s to know how to string together a serviceable version of what a campy 80s movie should be. We need both our good guy and our bad guy to be over-the-top extremes of each side. We need a sidekick and an innocent female victim. We need blundering henchmen for the villain, and a plot that will end with virtually no consequence with the villain having learned his lesson in the end. If we can work in a musical montage, a muppet and a robot then we win a prize.

Are you ready Ebenezer? Here we go.

We open the movie with “I’m Alright”, by Kenny Loggins playing over a shot from an airplane looking down over the city of Green Bay, showing from above whatever landmarks Green Bay has to offer. (Some Orson Welles slept here plaque or something? Your guess is as good as mine.) The shot eventually takes us over to Lambeau Field and the camera zooms in and cuts to the clubhouse, where players are seen drinking a beer while watching game tape on one TV with women dancing on another screen. Others are lifting weights. The mullet count reaches four before we see our mustache-sporting hero, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, loom into the doorway. A heavy shadow falls before him. He drops his duffel bag as the song skips off the record. He glares at his teammates watching the television. 

Rodgers: "You think those [explitives] in Pittsburgh are just sitting around the clubhouse? You think they are drinking and following the tube with a week to go before the [explitive] Super Bowl?! GET YOUR [EXPLATIVE] [EXPLATIVES] IN GEAR! NOW!"

The players in the clubhouse stare at Rodgers and occasionally look over to each other. Wide receiver Donald Driver (playing the one-last-hurrah Murtaugh to Rodgers' Riggs), matching the wild stare with Rodgers, finally cracks and begins laughing. Rodgers cracks up as well. The music begins again and someone off-screen tosses Rodgers a beer. Sounds of "Nice one," and "You almost had me, man," echo in the background as Rodgers and Driver walk over to the couch to catch the game film. 

Rodgers pulls out a children's drawing. The picture depicts a sloppy version of a Packer throwing a football outdoors to a child in a hospital bed in a hot air balloon. The drawing is signed, Tracey. (Tracey was the most 80s girls name I could think of.)

Driver inquires, and Rodgers admits that, with the impending NFL lockout, he doesn't know how he will be able to support the orphanage he helps run next year. He begins reminiscing about the kids, and a flashback goes to a 9-year-old girl performing the chorus to "Blasphemous Rumors" by Depeche Mode on the ukulele. (She sings "I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors but I think that God's got a sick sense of humor. And when I die, I expect to find Him laughing," in her most cheery voice. Sorry, that was the best I could do to show her underlying sadness covered by naive childhood happiness.) 

Head coach Mike McCarthy interrupts the flashback by walking over to Rodgers, and in a solemn tone, hands him a note.

McCarthy: "Aaron. They've struck first."

Rodgers opens the note to read out loud for the audience, “No harem [sic] will come to her if you lose.” He looks up, astonished. "Tracey."

Driver: "No harem? They are going to put her in a bordello? Who would threaten to put a 9-year-old in a bordello? Man, I’m getting too old for this s#!%.

Quick scene change to the Steelers' clubhouse. It looks like the bat-cave, with lots of machines with blinking lights that will never be explained. Ben Roethlisberger is yelling at his offensive line. For an 80s villain, we‘ll keep Roethlisberger‘s helmet on and give him one of those LaDainian Tomlinson visors so we can only see his mouth. He is like an evil Robo-Cop. We‘ll also give him the voice of Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe. Let’s also call him Colonel Roth since it sounds like Colonel Wrath.

Colonel Roth: "Harem?! You dunderheadss can't even spell harm right? H-A-R-M. God, your athletic sscholarshipss must have come with a dissclaimer for your professsorss. It looks like I’m going to have to do this myself. 

Roethlisberger wrings his hands menacingly since we cannot see any expression on his face. The audience has no idea what it is he will have to do himself, since the girl is already in their possession. Some sort of PR cleanup perhaps? I don’t know.

Rodgers and Driver climb into their Big Rig, which has “The Crusader” written on the side in a garish paint job and head for Pittsburgh in what will be the only cinematic quest in history that starts in Wisconsin and ends on Pennsylvania.

Along the way they  run out of gas and are helped out by a wizened muppet badger named Buckles and learn a lesson about sharing. 

After Rodgers questions his own ability to see the rescue mission out, they run into some road-orphans (they could exist) who lift his spirit, and he and Driver take them on a clothes-shopping spree at a nearby Sears (gotta have product placement) to the giddy musical montage of the Go-Gos "Vacation". The kids, no longer stuck in itchy burlap, give Rodgers and Driver some powerful words, and the two learn an important lesson about forgiveness.

Finally, at a diner, the pair stop a robbery, and Rodgers yells at Driver for sticking his neck on the line so close to retirement when he has his own kids to worry about.

Rodgers: “What are you even doing on this mission? You have no ties to Tracey.”

Driver: “You think a guy like Colonel Roth would stop at her? My daughters are in just as much danger until we put an end to his madness.” (Foreshadowing like a superstar)

The two share a man-hug. And Rodgers pulls back and holds Driver at arms length at the shoulders. He looks him in the eye, and as we are waiting for him to say something profound and dramatic, we get, “Let’s go get him.” 

Uugghh. Massive letdown for what could have been a great dialogue moment. Whatever. Also, the two learn an important lesson about chainsaw safety earlier in the scene.

The pair pull into the Pittsburgh and charge into the cave/clubhouse to see not only Tracey, but Driver’s two daughters in a cage dangling over a pit of magma and surrounded by the Steelers offensive line. Colonel Roth sees them approach, alerts them to a bomb set for 5 minutes on top of the cage and runs out an escape hatch, cackling.

Big fight scene. Lineman die or are subdued with use of the following objects: rope, rock wall, aforementioned magma, gurney and rhinoceros horn. 

Driver dives for the bomb and hit’s a button to stop the timer at 3 seconds. Fan boys complain for decades about how no bomb could be diffused by a button. He lowers the girls from the cage and leads them out of the cave as a swarm of police cars show up. Rodgers follows Roethlisberger out the escape hatch.

The hatch leads out to the side of a sheer mountain where the two are to have their final showdown. The pair trade basic punches while taunting each other.

Rodgers: “You could never have beaten us in a fair fight. That’s why you took those girls. (A few audience members groan that a character is dictating causality that everyone already knew.) Well, here is your chance.”

Colonel Roth: “Your gang will fall at my feet jusst like the Jetss, and it will sstart with you!”

Roethlisberger reveals a knife hidden up his sleeve and charges at Rodgers, who sidesteps, allowing Colonel Roth’s momentum to carry him off the sheer mountain ledge. Rodgers looks over the ledge and Driver appears behind him and puts a hand on his shoulder. 

Driver: “You think he’ll get fined for a Hell-to-helmet collision?”

Credits roll over training camp the next season as Big Country‘s “In A Big Country“ plays. Apparently the lockout was avoided, and Packers players show the visiting orphans their new Super Bowl rings. The kids are giddy to run on the field, and as they take off down the sideline, the camera raises up over the stadium to show downtown Green Bay.


So there you go Ebenezer, your Super Bowl preview as an 80s movie. I think we can both garner that I am going with the Packers. We got everything in there but a robot ... and I kind of killed the villain instead of reforming him, but what are you going to do? 

Now that I’ve written my own 80s movie, I feel even more confident that I was right to skip the whole decade and let others take the best pieces of those movies and put them into the movies of today … which I still rarely see. Oh well. 

Let me know what you would have changed in order to make it the best stereotypical 80s movie of all time.


Blogger Eli said...

Once again, Good Sir, you have produced a "sports" article that I actually enjoy reading. Even with all your disgust for 80's camp, this was a fantastic outcome and I look forward to it's debut on the silver screen.

Well done, you!

January 29, 2011 at 9:20 AM 
Blogger David said...

Pretty much perfect as it is. Maybe a cameo appearance from Shownoff from The Last Dragon?! If it doesn't get bought as a script in Hollywood, it should definitely be a Gatorade commercial that airs during the game.

January 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM 

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