10 Things I Learned This Week

1. Universal is now basing movies on toys that aren’t even released. The studio has acquired a mysterious monster from Mattel, around which “Hairspray” team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman will construct a musical. No word on what the creature will be, or the sort of showtunes he/she/it’ll belt out. “It will spin the monster […]

Last Updated: September 20, 2010 @ 2:43 PM

1. Universal is now basing movies on toys that aren’t even released. The studio has acquired a mysterious monster from Mattel, around which “Hairspray” team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman will construct a musical. No word on what the creature will be, or the sort of showtunes he/she/it’ll belt out. “It will spin the monster genre on its ear,” teased producer Craig Zadan. I’m guessing a zombie Liza Minnelli. With spinning ears.

2. Toys definitely R U, with the studio also announcing “Stretch Armstrong," based on the '70s Hasbro action figure with limbs that could elongate nearly four feet. Brian Grazer, whose hair has similarly elastic properties, is producing. The Imagine Entertainment bigwig is also behind the — sigh — reboot of “The Incredible Shrinking Man." Stretchy men? Shrinking men? All he needs to do is make a giant grasshopper pic and he’ll be the 21st century Bert I. Gordon, the '50s filmmaker whose initials “BIG” summed up his obsession with size. Come to think of it, what is Brian’s middle initial?

3. Good news for fans of comedy — Halle Berry’s returning to the thriller genre with “The Surrogate”! After the big yuks we got from “Gothika” and “Perfect Stranger," this womb-of-doom project sounds like it’ll have the laugh-o-meter tipping into the red. Bonus — it’s to be directed by Paul Verhoeven, comic auteur best remembered for “Showgirls."

4. “The Hangover” and “Land of the Lost” both represent a weekend of easy, breezy laughs. The former offers fresh comic faces, while the latter’s a return to form for old favorite Will Ferrell. Their simultaneous release emphasizes the cruelty of the comic continuum, although it’d be perfect if Seth Rogen also had a movie out. Just how long will it be before we’re looking at Zach Galifianakis’ movies and saying, “He needs to change up his shtick!” I’m saying around 2011, when “The Hangover 2," which begins shooting later this year, is released.

5. “Flight of the Navigator” and “Short Circuit” are both getting remakes. As these were both kiddie sci-fi fantasy flicks released in summer 1986, I’m thinking that Hollywood has just started using a random assignment of year, season and genre to determine these projects. I gave it a go. It came up with “Spring 1988, Thriller,” which means we should soon see remakes of “Masquerade," “Little Nikita” and “Frantic." Why not?

6. With films “Howl,” “Darlings” and “On the Road” on the horizon, beats are the new black. I’m all for cinematic versions of the personages of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and their stories, but I wonder if the Gen Y kids will get it. And if they do, exactly how do you shorten “Copacetic, hep cat?” in text language.

7. Aint It Cool News’ Harry Knowles is reporting that Sid and Marty Krofft’s “HRPufNStuf” is to get the feature film treatment. I’ve got five words for you, studio executives: “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters."

8. I’m getting tired of the remake news. “Highlander” is getting the reboot. Insert “There can only be one” joke here.

9. Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno” is a film I can’t wait to see. But I’m getting worried. Fake MTV award stunts kinda put the question in my mind about how much of the film has been orchestrated.

10. “How to Talk to Girls” — a self-help book penned by a fourth-grader — has been picked up for big-screen treatment by Fox. Stu Zicherman and Ben Karlin have been tapped to adapt. With the former known for his work on “Elektra” and the latter as former producer on “The Daily Show,” look for the film version to feature at least one scene in which our nine-year-old hero tries to impress a girl dressed in red leather by making droll gags about the Obama administration’s failure to follow through on banking re-regulation.

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