#400. Genre Mixers

Mark Twain is quoted as writing, “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn, and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely, but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” This is as true when he wrote it as it is today. While many genres of film have been done and overdone, the truly “original” stories come from combining and mixing genres together in interesting and unique ways. Sometimes, bringing two genres together helps both genres to fill in the weaknesses of the other. While not incredibly common or successful, these movies are certainly unique. This week’s two films highlight some notable “genre mixers.”

Cowboys & AliensCowboys & Aliens
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

Something about the wide-open spaces of the western genre makes it wide open for genre-mixing possibilities. Of course, other genres, like science fiction, have drawn inspiration from the classic westerns for their characters and plots. After all, we wouldn’t have Star Wars (1977) and its many sequels/spinoffs if it weren’t for westerns and samurai films. Few movies have actually gone so far as to combine the two genres of western and science fiction outright, though. Not that this is a new mixing of genres, as films as far back as Westworld (1973) have combined these two genres to moderate success. Perhaps it’s the emptiness of the open plains and the emptiness of space that draws these two genres together. More recently, movies like Cowboys & Aliens (2011) have been less subtle about combining these genres.

Soon after Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) stumbles into the nearby town of Absolution, aliens attack the old-west city and abduct some of its citizens. While Jake doesn’t remember much, the mysterious bracelet on his wrist activates and allows him to shoot down one of the alien crafts. Joining together with other townsfolk, Jake sets out with a posse to pursue the injured alien from the downed ship. With his memories returning, he remembers that the aliens are abducting people to learn their weaknesses. These aliens are also interested in obtaining gold, which was how Jake came to be an enemy of Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Jake stole gold from Dolarhyde in an attempt to bargain with the aliens to get his wife back. Now recalling where the aliens were based, Jake leads the group of westerners to ambush the aliens while also learning that one of the posse members is actually a friendly alien in disguise.

The Warrior’s WayThe Warrior's Way
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

While Star Wars set samurai films and westerns in space, rarely have these two genres been combined together directly. Both have similar elements in the characters and settings, even to the point where a movie based in one genre (like Seven Samurai (1954) or Yojiimbo (1961)) can be easily transferred over to the other (like The Magnificent Seven (1960) or A Fistful of Dollars (1964), respectively). An additional genre of the supernatural could easily be combined to samurai films or western films—the latter of which was seen with Jonah Hex (2010)—since there’s a lot of unknowns that can be introduced in both genres. Now, going so far as to combine the samurai, western, and supernatural genres together in a single film is a feat only The Warrior’s Way (2010) has been able to accomplish.

After becoming the best swordsman in the world, Yang (Dong-gun Jang) is tasked with killing the remaining member of his enemy’s family. He refuses to complete the task because this individual is only a baby girl. Running away from his homeland with the baby girl in tow, Yang finds himself in the old west town of Lode. To help the citizens protect their city from a corrupt Colonel, he unseals his sword, which immediately gives away his location to his pursuers. Partnering with the sharpshooting town drunk and a woman who scarred the Colonel years ago, Yang is able to repel the enemy of the city shortly before the samurai arrive to destroy him. He must defeat their leader so he can live a life of peace. Can the greatest swordsman in the world overcome these overwhelming odds, or will his bloody past finally catch up to him?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 combined classifications

#399. Daniel Craig

Separating a character from an iconic role can be difficult. In some ways, audiences will always associate the actor with the part that made them a household name. This is especially true of long-running franchises who have singular main characters. I’m sure plenty of people knew who Daniel Craig was before he portrayed James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), but he certainly made his name known after then. It’s weird to think people were upset that someone with light hair and light eyes could play James Bond, considering how he’s really owned the role for the last 13 years. This name recognition likely earned him many other parts over the years, but occasionally he’s able to break out of that “action hero” typecast and have some fun. This week’s two films highlight some non-James Bond roles for Daniel Craig.

The Adventures of TintinThe Adventures of Tintin
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

While most of Craig’s roles have been more action- and drama-oriented, there have been a few instances where he’s done something a little against type. Even in family-friendly fare like The Golden Compass (2007) to doing voice work in foreign animated films like Renaissance (2006), Daniel Craig has mostly used his versatile talent to play somewhat similar “hero” archetypes. Occasionally, he’s been able to portray distinctly different characters, even to the point where movies like Logan Lucky (2017) have used the phrase “introducing Daniel Craig” in their trailers. Sometimes, he is almost indistinguishable to the point where an audience gets to the credits and learns that Daniel Craig was in the movie (except for an uncredited cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)). For me, this was the case when I reached the end of The Adventures of Tintin (2011).

Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine (Daniel Craig) unsuccessfully tried to buy a model of a ship from a young boy named Tintin (Jamie Bell). The model of the Unicorn was stolen when Tintin went to the library to investigate its past, which led him to suspect Ivan of the theft. While Tintin’s model was broken the night before, he finds that Ivan already has a model of the Unicorn, and it’s fully intact. Upon discovering a scroll that was hidden in the model, Tintin realizes why Ivan wants the duplicate model. When Ivan sends men to kidnap Tintin and retrieve the scroll, the young protagonist meet’s the ship’s drunk captain, Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis), who has been overthrown by the crew’s mutiny. Traveling with Tintin to find the third Unicorn model and scroll, Haddock realizes he’s the great ancestor of the Unicorn’s original captain. With the third scroll found, Ivan’s relation to the Unicorn is also revealed.

Cowboys & AliensCowboys & Aliens
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

While Layer Cake (2004) likely earned Daniel Craig his spot as the most recent James Bond, movies like The Invasion (2007), Defiance (2008), and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) helped bridge the gaps between Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), and Skyfall (2012), respectively. While his time as James Bond is coming to an end with his most recent portrayal next year, one wonders what kinds of films he’ll do next. As mentioned before, much of his work has been action- or drama-oriented, so movies like Cowboys & Aliens (2011)—which fuse both western and sci-fi genres—have shown he can somewhat break out of these genres and into others that lie adjacent to them. I’d certainly like to see him in either a serious western or sprawling sci-fi in the future, but for right now I have to stick with Cowboys & Aliens.

Waking up in the middle of the desert with no memory of who he is, a mysterious man heads into the nearest town to learn that he is Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) and that he is wanted by the law. After being captured, Jake is almost handed over to Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), who was the victim of Jake’s thieving ways. Jake’s one saving grace is that aliens attack the town and abduct many of the townsfolk, thus adding confusion and chaos to the situation that allows him to escape. With the appearance of the aliens, Jake remembers that he stole Dolarhyde’s gold to give to the aliens and that the mysterious bracelet on his arm is a weapon, which he uses to down one of the alien craft. As Jake regains the remainder of his memories, he teams up with Dolarhyde to take down the aliens that are stealing gold and abducting humans so they can learn our weakness and conquer Earth.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 characters played by Daniel Craig

Bacon #: 2 (Quantum of Solace / David Harbour -> Black Mass / Kevin Bacon)

#398. Small Animation Studios

When you think of full-length animated features, what studios come to mind? Obviously, there are heavy hitters like Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks. These companies regularly put out high-quality movies and have collectively dominated the animation realm for decades. To stand out, some lesser-known animation studios have had to find a niche and stick to it. Whether it’s the classically-drawn anime of Studio Ghibli, the Claymation of Aardman Animations, or the stop-motion work of Laika, these studios have also created incredible animated films, but perhaps not at a rate that’s nearly as fast as the bigger animation studios. And yet, with the proliferation of better technology and faster processing power, there are plenty of lesser-known animation studios that are starting to compete with the “big three.” This week’s two films highlight some lesser-known animation studios.

EpicEpic
Year: 2013
Rating: PG
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

While the bigger animation studios are mostly their own entities, some of the lesser-known studios receive much of their backing from large film studios, essentially making them an “animation subsidiary” of the larger conglomerate. Recently, Universal has relied on small studios like Illumination to create hits like the Despicable Me franchise. Even before Illumination became a prevalent force in the industry, studios like Blue Sky have been making animated movies for Fox since the start of the millennium. It hasn’t been until somewhat recently that these animation companies are known for their filmography, especially as they define the “look” that makes their studio distinctive. Blue Sky has seen success over the years with franchises like Ice Age and Rio, and especially with The Peanuts Movie (2015)—their most critically-acclaimed film to date. Personally, I like the charm of films like Epic (2013) from their catalog.

When Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) chooses a leaf pod to be her heir as the Queen of the forest, a group of enemy Boggans chase after her and attempt to steal the seed. If they can get the pod to bloom in darkness, a blight can spread over the forest. A few Leafmen warriors come to her rescue but are too late to prevent her death. To save her forest, she magically shrinks nearby human M.K. (Amanda Seyfried) down and gives her the task of delivering the pod to a safe place where it can bloom in light and revitalize the forest. If M.K. can perform this task, she’ll return to normal size. When she arrives at Moonhaven—with the help of the Leafmen warriors—M.K. places the pod in the light of the full moon, only to have the light go out by the bats controlled by the Boggans’ leader, Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). It’s up to M.K. to use her father’s technology to drive away the bats and save the forest.

The Adventures of TintinThe Adventures of Tintin
Year: 2011
Rating: PG
Length: 107 minutes / 1.78 hours

Sometimes there are so many companies involved in producing a movie, it’s hard to tell where one ends, and the other begins. With subsidiaries and partnerships, sometimes the only way to have a novel idea for a film come to fruition is via the combined effort of multiple companies. While studios like Nickelodeon Movies are partially known for their animated fare, the real workhorse behind the motion-capture animated film The Adventures of Tintin (2011) was WingNut Films. Having previously shown how superior their motion-capture work was in films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) and King Kong (2005), Peter Jackson’s WingNut Films was able to create a fully-digital film with The Adventures of Tintin (2011). The argument then comes as to whether or not using motion-capture makes an animated movie truly “animated,” but the result is still stunning, nonetheless.

Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a young boy who has a knack at finding great stories and great adventures. After buying a model of a boat called the Unicorn, he suddenly finds that a lot of people have interest in it. Tintin is disappointed when his canine companion, Snowy, knocks the Unicorn over and breaks it while in pursuit of a cat. Unbeknownst to Tintin, the model held a secret scroll which rolls under the furniture during the scuffle. When he learns there is more than one model of the Unicorn, Tintin also leans that each holds a scroll with a piece of a puzzle that leads to a treasure. Shortly afterward, he finds himself imprisoned on a ship, flying through a thunderstorm, and walking through the desert—all thanks to his new friend, Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis). Haddock’s ancestor is tied to the Unicorn legend, much like Haddock’s rival, Ivan Sakharine (Daniel Craig). Who will get to the treasure first?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 semi-obscure animation studios

#397. Miniature Worlds

“It’s a small world, after all.” While we often associate this song lyric with our ability to meet people from our different spheres of influence who happen to be in the same place at the same time, what if this repetitive stanza from an amusement park ride is taken at literal, face value? A world that would be considered “small” includes many dangers we normally wouldn’t think about in our standard sizes. These small worlds can be magical in their details that would normally be overlooked by much larger people. Some creatures are so small that they only ever know the worlds we would consider “miniature.” Sometimes, we get a chance to experience a difference in scale ourselves through the magic that is the movies. This week’s two films highlight what it’s like to live in miniature worlds.

Toy Story 2Toy Story 2
Year: 1999
Rating: G
Length: 92 minutes / 1.53 hours

Toys have the innate ability to mimic the world around us on a smaller scale. This is partly due to the children who play with these toys being able to manipulate the world of the toys to suit the situation they want to reenact. In instances like The LEGO Movie (2014), or its 2019 sequel, the scale comparison is difficult to find, since everything around these miniature plastic people is built to suit their smaller scale. However, in movies like Toy Story (1995)—and its four sequels: Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), and Toy Story 4 (2019)—the challenges of being a toy in a human world become readily apparent. The few yards between houses can seem like an enormous canyon. The many stories of a tall apartment building can seem like an impossible height to climb. A classroom for children can seem like a prison camp. Perspective shifts are common when dealing with miniature worlds.

When Andy (John Morris) leaves for cowboy camp, the toys go into rescue-mode when his mother decides to hold a garage sale and get rid of some of Andy’s old toys. While the rescue operation succeeds, Woody (Tom Hanks) is a casualty to the garage sale when he’s stolen by toy collector Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight). Now it’s up to the rest of the toys to figure out where Woody was taken and rescue him. Once in Al’s apartment, Woody learns he’s to be part of a Japanese museum exhibit celebrating the 1950s television show that spawned the toy line in the first place. After Woody’s friends find him and convince him that life in a museum is no existence for a toy, Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer) kidnaps Woody to ensure they all go to the airport together. The race is on to get to the airport and retrieve Woody—and his newfound friends—before the plane leaves for Japan.

EpicEpic
Year: 2013
Rating: PG
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

While most toys will never experience the human world at human size, there are plenty of instances in the movies where humans are shrunk down and interact with the miniature world. In some instances, humans will have the chance to interact with the inhabitants of the smaller world, like in The Secret World of Arrietty (2010). Sometimes, someone will gain the opportunity to shrink down and experience this little world themselves. Occasionally, this shift in size is intentional, like in the superhero films Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). Sometimes the shrinking is accidental, or outside the person’s control, like in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! (1989) or Epic (2013), respectively. In both cases, when people manage to survive the smaller world, they grow to appreciate their larger world when they return to normal size.

Professor Radcliffe Bomba (Jason Sudeikis) has been researching the forest around his house for years in the hope that he can discover a society of tiny beings known as the “Leafmen.” His daughter, Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried), has come to live with him and—in true teenager fashion—demands that she be called M.K. After an argument with her father, M.K. leaves the house only to moments later have to chase after their dog as he races into the woods. As she searches for the dog, she finds Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles) as the tiny woman falls to her death. With her last bit of magic, Tara shrinks M.K. down to the size of the Leafmen and requests that she protect a pod that will either sprout in light and rejuvenate the forest or sprout in darkness and spread destruction. It’s up to the Leafmen warriors to stop the evil Boggans and protect M.K. so she can get the pod to sprout in the light.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 small settings

#396. Tim Allen

While it seems most actors strive to eventually escape from the small screen of television for the big screen of movies, some of these actors find the realm of Hollywood is a lot different from their experiences in television. Of course, Hollywood also scopes out actors who have proven themselves successful in television so the name-recognition can transfer over to the movies they’d star in, thus bringing in more money. This transition can often happen at the end of an actor’s popular television series, sometimes as a way to continue their career past the finale of the series. But what happens if the movie career doesn’t pan out? These actors will often fade into obscurity or will return to the medium that made them famous in the first place. Tim Allen seems to be just such an actor. This week’s two films highlight some of the best of Tim Allen’s movie roles.

Galaxy Quest!Galaxy Quest!
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

It’s truly no surprise that Tim Allen trended toward comedies during his time on the big screen. His origins in stand-up comedy helped land him the leading role in the television show, Home Improvement, after all. Perhaps due to the family-friendly nature of his television show, most of the roles he ended up portraying in cinema were in movies considered to be “family-friendly,” even if the humor in them was prominently slapstick in nature. Movies like Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), Galaxy Quest! (1999), Big Trouble (2002), Christmas with the Kranks (2004), and Wild Hogs (2007) all seem to exhibit these traits. By the time he directed his first film, Crazy on the Outside (2010), the novelty of his Home Improvement fame had mostly worn off. Since then, he has successfully transitioned back to television with the show Last Man Standing.

Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen) has been riding high on the ego-stroking fan conventions for the cult science fiction television show, Galaxy Quest. While his co-stars have usually had to endure his off-screen antics with eye-rolling sighs, they inevitably go along for the conventions, since they were part of the show as well. When Jason is approached by some individuals he thinks are fans, he soon finds himself in outer space aboard a perfect—and functional—replica of the spaceship from the show. It’s at this point when the Thermians reveal themselves to be actual aliens in need of assistance. They are unaware of the fictional nature of the show and believe these actors can help them defeat the warlord who wants to see their race obliterated. With the initially-reluctant help of the other actors, Jason manages to re-live his time on Galaxy Quest by going on an actual galactic journey.

Toy Story 2Toy Story 2
Year: 1999
Rating: G
Length: 92 minutes / 1.53 hours

Tim Allen was fortunate enough during his movie career to have leading roles in at least two franchises. The Santa Clause (1994) was his first significant foray into cinema during the height of his popularity. This film spawned two sequels, The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). While it’s been more than a decade since the last Santa Clause film, Tim Allen is still acting in the Toy Story franchise, with the fourth installment set to release this year. Much in the same way The Santa Clause propelled him into the movies, Toy Story (1995) has allowed Allen to expand his craft via voice acting. While most will know his performance as Buzz Lightyear in films like Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010), and Toy Story 4 (2019)—along with a smattering of short films set in the Toy Story universe—he also used this skill in the live-action film, The Shaggy Dog (2006).

After Woody (Tom Hanks) is accidentally sold at a garage sale, it’s up to Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) to rescue his friend from the cheese-snack-encrusted hands of the toy collector, Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight). Buzz learns Al is the eponymous owner of “Al’s Toy Barn,” and sets out with the other toys to get Woody back. Meanwhile, Woody learns he’s actually the lead character from an iconic 1950s television show known as Woody’s Roundup. At this revelation, Woody decides that being on display in a museum wouldn’t be so bad since Andy would eventually grow up and get rid of him anyway. When Buzz finally arrives in Al’s apartment to save Woody, he has to remind the stuffed cowboy that toys are meant to be played with. Unfortunately, just as Woody is about to escape, he’s taken away to the airport. Buzz must race to catch the plane and make sure Woody isn’t on it.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 terrific Tim Allen roles

Bacon #: 2 (For Richer or Poorer / Wayne Knight -> JFK / Kevin Bacon)

#395. Galaxy!

Every evening, when humans look up at the sky and see the stars twinkling above, many of them wonder what lies beyond our galaxy. Sure, we’ve explored outer space a little bit, but there’s so much more we haven’t even gotten close to discovering outside our solar system. This speculation of what lies beyond the sun’s gravitational pull has fueled science fiction writers for decades. With so much potential in the galaxies beyond our own, the results are almost fantasy in comparison. Over time, computer technology has improved to the point where filmmakers can also capture the wonder and awe tied to the unknown beyond the galaxy. While the science of these movies might not be accurate, they help answer the “what if” questions. This week’s two films focus on settings located in far-off galaxies.

Guardians of the GalaxyChris Pratt
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes / 2.02 hours

With the current limitations of physics preventing humans from exploring the rest of the galaxy, there’s a lot we don’t know about when it comes to the beings and technologies located in other galaxies. Many people consider humans to be “alone” in our galaxy, but that still doesn’t stop many others from searching for other forms of sentient life. Others are convinced that we have been visited by aliens from distant galaxies. These visitors have allegedly abducted humans from Earth, but what if these humans eventually learned to live their lives in these new galaxies? While humans would be rare in these situations, we’d still have a unique perspective that likely wouldn’t be present in other alien communities. Could humans use these attributes to save the very galaxy that so few of them have visited?

Despite being abducted as a child in the late 1980s, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has made the best of the situation and is now traipsing across the galaxy under the pseudonym of “Star-Lord.” As a treasure-hunter and mercenary, Peter finds himself in possession of an orb that has attracted the attention of several individuals. After an incident on Xandar, the individuals who want the sphere have been captured and sent to jail in the Kyln. Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) team up with Peter, who also manages to convince Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) to not kill Gamora and join them on a mission to confront Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) instead. When the orb is revealed to hold an Infinity Stone, the fight is on to protect the galaxy by preventing Ronan from giving the power to Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Galaxy Quest!Galaxy Quest!
Year: 1999
Rating: PG-13
Length: 102 minutes / 1.70 hours

When something becomes popular enough, eventually it becomes a parody of itself. Movies like Spaceballs (1987) made fun of Star Wars (1977) for the somewhat ridiculous space opera that it is. Similarly, the original 1960s run of Star Trek has spawned numerous parodies over the years. With a cultural influence that can’t be ignored, Star Trek has been lampooned by other television shows like The Orville (which itself actually takes the ideas presented in Star Trek pretty seriously). In terms of movies, though, Star Trek’s one notable parody would have to be Galaxy Quest! (1999). The original series of Star Trek was so ridiculous by the standards of the late-1990s, that it was easy to create a somewhat “meta” comedy based on the television series that has lasted for so long and spawned numerous imitators.

After the show Galaxy Quest became a cult sensation, fans began holding regular conventions for it. The cast of the show would regularly make appearances at these conventions, especially Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who portrayed the lead, Commander Peter Quincy Taggart. When he agrees to help the “Thermians” during a convention, he quickly learns aliens are real and that they used the television show to construct a working replica of the spaceship. Unfortunately, while the specifications for the ship were mentioned in Galaxy Quest, none of the aliens who made it know how it works. Enlisting the help of his former cast mates, Jason has to overcome their perception of him as a narcissist to help the Thermians defeat Sarris (Robin Sachs), a warlord who wants to see the Thermians exterminated.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great galactic adventures

#394. Chris Pratt

Have you ever noticed how some actors just seem to burst onto the scene? Like, one day they’re on a moderately-popular television show, then the next day they’re starring in many successful movies. Sometimes, a bit of luck is involved when an actor chooses to make a concerted effort in developing their film career. If they make the right choices and pursue the projects that end up making them stars overnight, then they’re almost immediately established as an A-list celebrity. Actors like Chris Pratt definitely fall into this category. As the television show Parks and Recreation increased in popularity, he was given more chances to expand his acting to the big screen. Then, almost suddenly, he had three starring roles that propelled him into the limelight for years to come. This week’s two films highlight the meteoric rise of Chris Pratt.

The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

Partly because Chris Pratt became a household name almost overnight, there are many films before his breakthrough that show he paid his dues with smaller roles before moving up to the big time. Bit parts in movies like Wanted (2008) eventually led to roles in movies with more critical prestige like Moneyball (2011), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), and Her (2013), all three of which were nominated for Best Picture. Of course, most people knew him as lovable Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, which is probably why one of his breakout films was also a comedy. What also helped was the franchise potential of the films he starred in during 2014. While The LEGO Movie (2014) was his first starring role, it essentially guaranteed he would be back to play Emmet Brickowski in this year’s sequel, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019).

In a world created from a wide variety of LEGO bricks, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) blends into the crowd as a construction worker who isn’t particularly unique. This all changes when he falls down a hole at his construction site and wakes up attached to the legendary “Piece of Resistance.” This item is the key to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from using the “Kragle” to freeze the entirety of the LEGO realms. A resistance of “Master Builders” is dead-set against this plan, since it means all creativity that comes with rearranging and rebuilding would be eliminated. As the rebellion tries to get Emmet and the “Piece of Resistance” to Lord Business’ headquarters, the enemy attacks and leaves a wave of destruction in their wake. In a last-ditch effort, the Emmet infiltrates the base and soon finds the “reality” of the situation is outside his control unless he can become a Master Builder himself.

Guardians of the GalaxyChris Pratt
Year: 2014
Rating: PG-13
Length: 121 minutes / 2.02 hours

While The LEGO Movie started a franchise, the other half of Chris Pratt’s success seems to have come from joining larger franchises that were already well-established. Even if Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) wasn’t its own successful franchise yet, it was part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, which helped spur some of its success. This led to two sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017) and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3 (2021), as well as the inclusion of Pratt’s character in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and its follow-up sequel, Avengers: Endgame (2019) a year later. And yet, the physical conditioning Pratt underwent to play the role of Star-Lord likely helped him land a starring role in the Jurassic Park (1993) reboot/sequel, Jurassic World (2015), and its sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018).

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has been wandering the universe under the pseudonym of “Star-Lord” for almost three decades, making the best of being abducted from Earth back in 1988. Finding a mysterious orb on planet Morag, Quill soon discovers that many others are interested in obtaining said orb. Due to the ruckus they cause in public, Peter is detained with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), an assassin sent to retrieve the orb, as well as with Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), a genetically modified raccoon and a “talking” tree, respectively. The trio escapes prison, along with Drax (Dave Bautista), who has a vendetta against Gamora’s adoptive father, Thanos (Josh Brolin). The four of them learn the orb contains a legendary Infinity Stone, which leads to an all-out battle over the skies of Xandar, which ends in the most unexpected of ways: a dance-off instigated by Star-Lord.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 prime opportunities for Chris Pratt to rise to stardom

Bacon #: 2 (Avengers: Infinity War / Mark Ruffalo -> In the Cut / Kevin Bacon)