Picks Column: Sequels And Trilogies
Sequels, prequels, trilogies, series, remakes ... half of today's "new" movies aren't really new.
It makes sense from a business standpoint, but as a creative connoisseur, it stinks.
Hollywood's blueprint is similar to that of NFL teams. Find a formula that works and stick to it. It's risk-averse. Apparently that happens when you invest hundreds of millions of dollars in things.
Take The Hangover, for example. A well-received comedy. A financial success that also received a 79-percent approval rating.
The Hangover II and The Hangover III followed. The second version got just 34 percent approval, but grossed more than $586 million worldwide. Viewed as a much worse movie from a critical standpoint, it made more than $100 million more than the original.
So what did Hollywood do? Produced a third. Rotten tomatoes rating: 19 percent. It still grossed more than $350 million worldwide.
Yes, I know, we have to make an exception for my favorite movie franchise of all-time: Fast & Furious 6 went down smooth. They gave us just what us Fast fans want. As comedian Adam Carolla once put it, sometimes you're in the mood for a Twinkie, and if so, the Fast movies hit the spot.
But I'm terrified Anchorman 2 will dilute the original, one of the most quotable movies of all-time. But Scary Movie 5? Iron Man 3? Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2? Really? We can't do better?
It's been a while since I've seen a movie in a theater (outside of Fast 6), so forgive me for not being able to produce a ready example, but as a rule, I'd rather see an original that's a solid B- than even a decent remake, redux or re-release.
So forgive me if I'm not thrilled with this week's college football slate.
Oklahoma-Texas? I doubt it'll be different than the blowouts of 2011 and 2012. Oregon-Washington? Northwestern-Wisconsin? Didn't we see a version of those last week? Rutgers-Louisville? Isn't every Teddy Bridgewater massacre the same?
I'm not mad, college football. I enjoy watching you. After all, we knew the Hangover II probably wasn't great, but many of us went to see it anyway. It's all relative.
But there just aren't many must-see games. It's sequel week.
Which probably means we'll see a couple of huge, exciting upsets.
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET (Los Angeles)
USC 24, Arizona 21
What, you were expecting a Rutgers-Louisville breakdown? The fun, more laid-back approach by interim coach Ed Orgeron may be just what the Trojans need after more than a season of weighty expectations, angst and disappointment. After all, what's the point of attending USC and playing football if you can't have a little fun? And if Washington can limit this Wildcats paper offense to just 13 points, the Trojans' defense can slow them down enough to win as well. Getting running back Silas Redd back isn't as great as you may think because USC isn't having much trouble running the ball anyway, but on the other side, the defense will be able to gang up on Ka'Deem Carey without much else to make them fret.
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Baton Rouge, La.)
No. 10 LSU 31, Florida 17
The Gators aren't as awful as some expected after replacing quarterback Jeff Driskel and defensive tackle Dominique Easley, but LSU's offense suddenly is carrying the Tigers. If you watched how conservative coach Will Muschamp got against Arkansas in a 30-10 win last week, you realized he doesn't completely trust quarterback Tyler Murphy. After scoring a touchdown on its opening second-half possession, the Gators produced four first downs and four punts in the next quarter and a half and gave Arkansas numerous chances to get within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Florida won't be able to hide in this one, and LSU's defense is capable of taking advantage of mistakes.
Kickoff: Noon ET
No. 11 Oklahoma 42, Texas 17
What, you were expecting Washington-Oregon? (The Huskies don't really interest me. They seem like a boring version of Northwestern: A solid team with a limited ceiling and floor. Despite the three-point loss at Stanford, the Cardinal controlled that game in my eyes.)
So much for Texas pride. I don't know that Mack Brown will be "fired" after this one, but he can't continue as the Longhorns' coach after another blowout loss to Oklahoma, which would drop the team in burnt orange to 3-3. Brown is on record saying he doesn't want to retire, so will that eliminate the politically correct version where he announces next week he'll retire after the season? This isn't as messy as Bobby Bowden's final days at Florida State or Joe Paterno's at Penn State, but Brown is done in Austin with a loss here.
Vegas has Oklahoma as a 13.5-point favorite, likely to move to two touchdowns by kickoff. The Sooners won the last two games by a combined 118-38. Forget David Ash's concussion issues and the offense. The Longhorns allowed BYU to score 40, Ole Miss to score 44 (and then Alabama shut out the Rebels), and even gave up 30 to Iowa State. The Texas run defense ranks 117th out of 123 FBS teams and allows 248.4 rushing yards per game. That's awful. Blake "Belldozer" Bell, are you feeling selfish? Because 400 yards through the air and on the ground, and five touchdowns, are there for you if you want it.
Under The Radar
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (New Orleans)
East Carolina 27, Tulane 21
The term "logical fallacy" applies when (mostly fans) start saying "Team A beat Team C by this margin, and Team B beat Team C by this same margin, therefore, Team A is equal to Team B." (Don't ask me which logical fallacy. I'm a nerd, but I'm not that good.)
So that's exactly what I'm going to do. Ohio beat North Texas, 27-21. Tulane beat North Texas, 24-21. Ohio crushed Akron, 43-3 — the same Akron team which almost beat Michigan — and beat Marshall by a field goal, a team similar to East Carolina.
That doesn't mean Tulane is as good as Ohio, but the Green Wave are capable of playing decent football. Tulane was awful on the road last year and just came off three consecutive road games before knocking off the Mean Green. They went 2-1 with a loss at Syracuse.
Shane Carden is terrific and I give a slight edge to East Carolina's defense, but the Pirates face their third consecutive road game and have faced the likes of Virginia Tech and North Carolina. Tulane may be a difficult game for which to get excited, and Joe — I mean Nick Montana, and more specifically, Ryan Grant, will be able to score. Grant and ECU's Justin Hardy each have 40 catches, but Grant has more than 100 more yards.
No. 2 Oregon 42, Washington 21
No. 6 Georgia 35, Missouri 24
Wisconsin 35, Northwestern 21
No. 9 Texas A&M 42, Ole Miss 31
Michigan 24, Penn State 21
Baylor 49, Kansas State 28
Colorado State 35, San Jose State 28
Virginia Tech 24, Pittsburgh 14
Georgia Tech 27, BYU 26
South Carolina 28, Arkansas 10
No. 5 Stanford 31, Utah 14
Last Week: 13-2
All rankings refer to Football.com's Power Dozen.