Upon the release of the near-unwatchable yet wildly successful Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I challenged Slate readers to come up with their own movie titles and tag lines based on a toy from their youth. And you rose to the occasion like a Jenga set. Here are some favorites from the hundreds of submissions that poured in over the past week. (Thanks to Slate interns Adrian Chen and Inci Atrek for helping me cull through the inbox.)
A favorite category was titles that stressed the peculiar gender melancholy of the action figure. Adrian Lewis suggested When Barbie Met Gumby, with the tag line“It’s possible for a man and a woman to just be friends when neither of them have sexual organs.” Christa Dahlstrom imagined Malibu Ken and Barbie’s Endless Plastic Summer, and Erik Tramontana proposed He-Man and the Infinite Sadness. He-Man’s rubbery, hypermasculine frame seems to have haunted a lot of your childhoods. Jeremiah McNeil contributed the hilarious He-Man: Briefs of Rage and Shawn Bean the meta-grammatical He-Man: The Tyranny of the Unnecessary Third-Person Pronoun.
But traditionally girlie toys inspired their share of titles, too. Donald Oral came up with Betsey Wetsey: Après Moi, Le Deluge! Dan Hieb contributed Strawberry Shortcake: Whipped. And Joe Silber’s ominous tag line is poster-ready: Night of the Cabbage Patch Kids—This Time, Your Vegetables Will Finish You. A reader identifying him- or herself only as Cavanaugh envisioned aCabbage Patch slasher film called The Coleslayer. Poor Mr. Potato Head was the object of much imagined mayhem (Steve Hurst: “In the fryer, no one can hear you scream”), but perhaps my favorite Potato Head-themed title simply stole from a pre-existing movie: Mr. Potato Head: Eyes Without a Face (Alyson Garber). Two separate readers, Ben Coccio and Kelly Pickett, dreamed up the same tag line, inspired by the infernally catchy Monchichi ad jingle: Mon Chi Chi, Mon Chi Chi: Oh, So Soft and Deadly.
One endearing subset of entries imagined plotlines based on the less-than-cinematic destiny of real childhood toys: I loved Dominic Bertelli’s Lego Ship Apocalypse: Menace of the Mom Expecting Company and James Priest’s Lego Pirates: Journey Through the Bowels of My Little Brother. James Lebo lodged a kind of retroactive consumer complaint with Voltron: Awkward Connection at the Hips.
The second-banana status of Go-Bots, a cheap Transformers knockoff, was highlighted by several titles: Jeff Ryan’s Go-Bots: Revenge of the Trademark; Shawn McKinnon’s Go-Bots: Waiting for Our Loud Overlong Movie that Critics Hate; and Joe Trabucco’s heartbreaking Go-Bots: Revenge of the Poor Kids.
Then there were the many titles that made me laugh through their sheer absurdity. Teddy Ruxpin: Ursine Upheaval (Mark Gaberman). Pet Rock II: Satanic Moss Insurgency (Dominic Bertelli). Lincoln Logs: Rise of the John Wilkes Booth Logs (Christopher Fannon). I have no idea what Rainbow Brite: The Lurky Dismal Sanction means, but I like the sound of it (as well as the sound of the name of the guy who contributed it, Travis Horseman).
There were more equally funny entries than I have room to list here, but Ken Schoenwetter takes the grand prize for two contributions, the first complex enough to include a pitch with casting. In Silly Putty: The Blob of Turin, “Tom Hanks battles ancient societies and the Vatican over the real story behind a mysterious image found on a gob of vinyl.” Ken’s second entry, by contrast, is a model of elegant simplicity: Slinky: Death Spiral. Ken, if you e-mail me your mailing address, I’ll think of some appropriate prize (a toy, perhaps?). Thanks to all who contributed.
Even the illustration accompanying this column is a reader submission, designed by James Sambrook. (I would have been afraid not to publish James’ entry, given that his e-mail signature identifies him as an employee at the “Lethality and Effectiveness Branch” of the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va.)