Last week Out-Takes devoted every column inch, nook and cranny to the Facebook movie and its thematic associations with the NFL. Now that we've shared our admiration for the likes of DAVID FINCHER and AARON SORKIN - and since we're this-close to winging our way West - we felt it would be prudent to shine the spotlight on other movies currently in wide release. So, in honor of the U.S.'s two sexiest F's - Football and Film - Out-Takes presents the NFL at the Quarter-pole, and your Box Office Top 10 for October's opening weekend...
- THE SOCIAL NETWORK isn't just a wildly profitable, overexposed, quasi-fictional banter-fest, it's also what MARVIN LEWIS deals with on a daily basis over at Wide Receivers Corner in the Cincinnati locker room. Between those dating shows on VH1 and their co-hosting duties over at Versus, you'd think T.O. and OCHOCINCO wouldn't have time for, ya know, their *actual * jobs. (It's amazing, frankly, that they find time to tweet.) Turns out, the Celeb-reality stars aren't letting the awkward, petty humiliations of Jerry Springer-style TV get in the way. A month out, they've combined for nearly 50 catches and over 600 yards. Sure, Owens's 200 receiving yards weren't enough to prevent last week's loss to the not-so-hot-in-Cleveland Browns, but if CARSON PALMER keeps feeding these guys the ball - and opponents keep dropping his gift-wrapped interceptions - Cincy could make some noise beyond the chatter of its mouthy receiving duo.
- The LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS (aka "That Owl Movie") continues in Steel Town, USA, as Pittsburgh got off to a more than respectable and better than expected 3-1 start, all while their frat-boy QB - speaking of "getting off" - serves a suspension for antics leaning toward the criminal. (More on him below.) Yes, the Steel Curtain D, every now and then considered a thing of the past, is back with a vengeance - and, really, is there a more bull's-eye definition of "a vengeance" than "winning with CHARLIE BATCH under center?" Considering all those highlight reels being made by former NFL Defensive Player of the Year JAMES HARRISON, tackle collector LAWRENCE TIMMONS, and hair-crazy pitchman TROY "my first name sounds preppy, my last name does not" POLAMALU, the fact that their rare-do-well signal-caller is back in the saddle again - No means no, Ben - should be of little comfort to the other clubs in the AFC NORTH or, ladies-in-clubs-wise, anywhere inside the various Pittsburgh zip codes.
- WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS seems like the perfect movie to premiere amidst all this CBA B.S., the Goodell-brokered bickering between millionaires and billionaires. We don't want to go on (yet another) tirade about the disingenuousness lying in plain sight behind euphemisms like "enhanced season." Nor do we wish to revel too much in the continued failings of NFC East over-spender DANIEL SNYDER and his urge to keep up with the JERRY JONESES. But OLIVER STONE and GORDON GECKO make it damn near impossible not to bring back that whole "Greed is good" thing for a look under the hood. Greed is good? Greed works? Tell that to future NFL veterans, their tennis-ball-corked walkers and those concussion syndromes you pay lip service to, and little else. Sixteen games. Thirty-two teams. Do the math and the status quo.
- THE TOWN - BEN AFFLECK's terrific follow-up to Gone Baby Gone, which apparently wasn't beginner's luck - brings to mind the charmingly big-hearted small-timers of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ah, the Lambeau Leaps, the various, belly-led trudgings down Lombardi Ave., everyone with their cheese-heads, foam fingers and a Brisket combo con chili fries... Hard not to root for these folks, especially when the team they hold stock in plays such an exciting brand of football. And AARON RODGERS, an Out-Takes fave, hasn't even gotten his Mojo yet - sadly, he won't be getting his MARSHAWN, either. And don't forget the elements! What's more "small town" than the elements? Who doesn't love seeing the game played "the way it's meant to be?" (Besides a few ornery types on PFW in Progress, that is.) The hot steam of cold breath piercing through a pelting snow-scape, shivering, be-mittened fans swallowed up by ginormous jackets and mufflers...and not a treasonous Favre in sight! Speaking of...
As if these people didn't have reason enough to hate the Vikings, now they've got Minnesota fans mooning over RANDY MOSS again. (We assume the mooning is mutual - at least for the first few games.) *Monday Night Football *the week before Halloween - Favre-to-Moss bombs away on the frozen tundra - oughta be event TV. Wonder if the Worldwide Leader will give it any press...
- EASY A, the teen romp based on Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter - this generation's Clueless, we guess - gets our vote for most surprising grade at Film Geek Central (www.rottentomatoes.com). Apparently Superbad's * husky-voiced good girl, EMMA STONE, has got the goods to deliver a halfway decent movie. (STANLEY TUCCI and PATRICIA CLARKSON as her parents don't hurt, either.) But what does the "Ten Things I Hate About You*-ification" of the film industry have to do with football? We wondered that, too, until we ran into the woeful ARIZONA CARDINALS, who at the moment find themselves, by some miracle (call it The Janikowski Effect), perched at .500.
Don't let the 2-2 fool you. Led by Mike Timlin impersonator KEN WHISENHUNT, the Cards were dealt as creampuff a schedule as any playoff team could dare to hope for, the 32nd toughest slate of games in the league. Add to that a pair of blown chip-shots from the left leg of Oakland kicker Sebastian Jani-something, and you might think this team is blessed by Cinderella-story magic or Christine O'Donnell-ish witchcraft - she's not a witch, by the way, she's YOU - but, no. Despite all the prayers from BRENDA WARNER, these Cardinals are anything but blessed. Want proof? Check the QB depth-chart and Brenda's hubby on Dancing with the Stars. The guy who *should * be #1 is doing the two-step, twice-a-week on ABC. As for Easy A's, try "Arizona," and "Anderson," comma, "Derek" and his south of 60 QB rating.
- YOU AGAIN isn't just the greatest KRISTEN STEWART-BETTY WHITE vehicle ever, it's also our sentiments exactly when it comes to AFC Offensive Player of the Week and pretend-classy running back LADAINIAN TOMLINSON. What a joy it was, these last few seasons, watching his skills deteriorate along with his phony rep as a "real stand-up guy" while he rode the pine, pouting behind his Darth Vader visor during San Diego playoff games. Yet somehow, after all the years and nicks and bruises, whining tantrums and faux leadership, LT looks to be rejuvenated - and as a Jet, no less! (Psst...there is no less than a Jet.) So, much as it pains us, as masochistic as it may seem, we are bound to say, Tomlinson looks as dangerous, quick, determined and explosive as he has in years. So congrats, dammit.
- CASE 39 could be the answer to the question, "Hey - who's got proof RENEE ZELWEGGER's still alive?" but, come on, it's so much more than that. These days, when New Englanders think of the number 39, it's all they can do to avoid some odd form of emotional whiplash, rushing from "Ugh, friggin' MARONEY's dancing behind the line again!" to "Oh my Gawd, where can I get a friggin' WOODHEAD jersey?!" Yep, to witness this level of giddy joy at a job-switch you've gotta go back to a Times Square Starbucks, circa last Inauguration Day.
While regular readers know that Out-Takes doesn't completely buy into the Maroney-as-dancer meme, even we can appreciate the draw of the new kid, if for no other reason than that darting, diminutive RB can be described, without hyperbole, as "like a running back WES WELKER, but, ya know...punier." After last week's catch-and-scamper vs. Miami, expect the Patriots Pro Shop to be stocking up, pre-Christmas, on extra #39 jerseys, just in case.
- LET ME IN might be what those pesky KANSAS CITY CHIEFS are beginning to whisper to the AFC West and the rest of us, as Messrs PIOLI, WEIS, CRENNEL, VRABEL and CASSEL look to continue as the NFL's only unbeaten at 3-0. But we think the team that fits this category best is the HOUSTON TEXANS, who are beginning to look a lot like the contender so many have foreseen for so long. The offense finally has a dependable running game in rookie ARIAN FOSTER, who leads the NFL in rushing by more than 100 yards, and their aerial attack is downright scary, especially if ANDRE JOHNSON heals up fast. With perennial AFC SOUTH champ Indy losing games and ammo (not just bullets, but Bullits), this could be the time for GARY KUBIAK and his high-flying offense to crash through the post-season ceiling. "Let me in," indeed.
- DEVIL. Ya know, when running through column ideas, kicking it around with Mrs. Out-Takes, it can be tricky, especially given a conceit like this one, to connect the proverbial dots between film and football. And, hey, we don't always do it. Sometimes we opt to feature the NFL all by its lonesome, Hollywood shoved to the side. This one, though? This wasn't tricky. Not even a little. Considering "Big" BEN ROETHLISBERGER's past off-season - not to mention the one before that - the tawdry tales of a bully and his buds, treating the common fan with disdain, and young women with something more insidious than mere disrespect, the dots between this guy and M. NIGHT's trapped-in-an-elevator flick are eminently connectable. Okay, sure, calling him the Devil is a bit over-the-top, but who else fits the mold? MICHAEL VICK? As dog lovers, we guess so, but he's draped in "redemption" stories lately, plus now he's back on the bench. (That sound you hear is LOLA OUT-TAKES, at a safe distance, cavalierly doing her best Nelson Muntz. HA ha!)
- ALPHA AND OMEGA is all Greek to us (except for the "and" part), but it hit us pretty quick that the NEW YORK JETS - with all their cocky, swaggerlicious©, hard-knocked nonsense, Alpha Dogs coming out of their ears - are the perfect fit for this one. You thought they talked a lot before they won a big game, once they took down
the Pats and Miami, they almost didn't know what to do with themselves. Almost.
Now SANTONIO HOLMES is due back from suspension, BART SCOTT remains an unabashed loudmouth, TREVOR PRYCE just signed up for a position in the "President Ryan Administration," and BRAYLON EDWARDS, while maybe not "talking" trash is surely stammering and babbling trash, after a few cold ones, his car keys jingling nearby.
Here's hoping the Omega for all these Alphas comes sometime long before February 6th.
Earlier this week PATRIOTS NATION transformed itself into dual shock-absorbers when their team won a decisive and surprising victory on a Monday night in Miami, only to do something else decisive and surprising a couple days later, when they sent RANDY-being-Manny MOSS back from whence he came (sorta). While it's easy to get all hot and bothered about compensation - trust us - it's important to breathe deep, stand tall and believe in those around you to get the job done. Say what you will about BILL BELICHICK, but the man doesn't shy away from taking swift, bold action when staring down the barrel of anything detrimental to the team.
Call it the Audacity of Nope. And remember TERRY GLENN.
John Cockrell is a writer for USA Network's "In Plain Sight," and a screenwriter, whose other work has run the gamut from "Sesame Street Parents Magazine" to Playboy TV's "The Weekend Flash." (He figures everything else is pretty much in-between.)