?It’s a sad world in which we live. Movie scripts by talented writers often sit on shelves, as unloved as a Milli Vanilli album. And what is made in their place? Movies based on board games that attempt to capitalize on a tiny bit of audience nostalgia. We’ve already loved Clue, but that had recognizable characters and a fairly substantial plot built in. Battleship? Magic 8 Balls? Monopoly? There’s not a hint of a plot in any of them, and yet all of them are optioned.
And not only them. Candyland is in development. So’s Magic: The Gathering, RISK, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and the Ouija board (wasn’t this called Witchboard back in 1986?). So what other tabletop games haven’t been exploited yet?
Jenga has been made into a videogame, which pretty much proves that the corporate machine has no idea what they’re doing when it comes to developing board games. But a movie could happen. It could be about several stone structures that are discovered and must be taken apart very carefully in order to discover an ancient African treasure (“Jenga” is a Swahili word). Would this make a good movie? No. Would it make back its original investment? Probably.
9) Mall Madness
Not enough movies take place in malls. Sure, you have that Living Dead film and that awesome scene in The Blues Brothers, but there just ain’t enough madness in malls for my tastes. So set some perky tween actresses in a mall with a ton of money that they need to spend on six items. But then set up obstacles, like parts of the mall falling apart, a sniper in the Spencer’s Gifts, wild dogs roaming TJ Maxx, and a puddle next to a sputtering electrical wire near the food court. It’s a little unbelievable, sure, but when things are on sale, people get serious with their shopping.
8) Axis and Allies
?We’re not going to be beat around the bush here. Axis and Allies is a lot like Risk, but amped up on PCP and Four Loko while driving a Humvee full of bees that’s on fire AND banging the Olsen Twins at the same time. This game had more pieces than most houses have books. So while the producers of Risk can have their little battles between Quebec and Irkutsk, Axis and Allies will just be Nazis vs non-Nazis going non-stop for two hours. Just people getting run over by tanks, bombed, stabbed, shot, engulfed, and exploded. THAT’S what makes it a better film. Oh, and in the end the Nazis are all shown on fire.
7) Ants in the Pants
?Ants are exposed to radiation and then like to eat genitals. They climb into pants to eat said genitals. This leads to situations where the army has to attack the ants, but since everyone in the army needs to be wearing pants, there are problems. Hilarity and horror ensue.
?When I was growing up, everyone I knew had Cootie, yet no one actually played it as a game. We’d put the cooties together and just talk about… life, and stuff. I grew up with really intellectual friends. To turn the game into a film, just have a mean scientist create these buggy things that take time to disassemble. Our heroes are up against the clock to take apart these biting insect robots before the scientist can create more! Ugh. That sounds like such shit. Know why? Because board games are only fun when you’re involved with the action. It’s why Jumanji sucked.
5) Pass the Pigs
?You realize they made a TV show about a talking Rubik’s Cube but they didn’t go so far as to try one with acrobatic pigs? ADORABLE acrobatic pigs? The game automatically gives the gang of pigs names like Jowler, Spot, and Razorback, and the whole thing can be about them being in an all-animal circus. Kids would eat this up, and sales of the game would go through the roof. NOTE: After thinking about this for a while, I couldn’t figure out how the pigs would lock trotters in order for them to pull of acrobatic stunts. I think this may have killed my idea in the crib.
4) Hey Pa! There’s a Goat on the Roof!
?To be completely honest, I had never heard of this game before starting work on this article, but the name caught me off-guard and I fucking love it. It’s from 1966 and it involves sticking livestock to the tops of things like barns and haystacks in order to earn pieces of a tin can. As stupid as this sounds (hey, we were in the middle of the Vietnam War), it would make a better premise for a film than Battleship, which should only be about a grid and different classes of boats if they want to stay accurate.
3) Uncle Wiggily
?I have no idea how Winnie the Pooh got all the attention while the universe of Uncle Wiggily has been ignored by the world. His creator, Howard R. Garis, cranked out a different Uncle Wiggily story, six days a week for THIRTY YEARS, yet no one really remembers him and his massive cast of friends and foes outside of a board game that’s still selling today. Fuck a movie, give this rabbit his own damn show on PBS. He could learn those kids about math somethin’ good.
2) Fireball Island
Hellz yeah. Concoct any plot you want, hire Tim Curry to play the evil guy in charge of the island, but as long as you have a giant idol vomiting fire, you’ve got a hit. Hide out in caves, leap off bridges, whatever, just don’t get torched by the fireballs. This would be totally sick and totally worth coming to the screen.
1) The Settlers of Catan
?A board game about building frontier settlements could actually make for a decent film, as long as you take out the endless scenes of people trading sheep for wheat and striving to build long roads. The settlements rally against bandits and armies, while maintaining churches and universities. And the third act can be about obtaining ore, something that really comes into play later in the game. On second thought, this sounds really dull, in a pastoral way.