Split Decision: Spinning Off
Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!
This week’s question:
In honor of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, what is your favorite spin off movie?
I think I answered Penguins of Madagascar for a recent Split Decision query, and I believe I also responded with my enthusiasm for the Transporter reboot, so I will gush about my girl Sandra Bullock who mambos her way through Ocean’s Eight, a spin-off of the Ocean’s Eleven film(s), which were of course updates of the original.
Bullock's distaff caper pic was frothy fun because of its game cast (Cate Blanchett may have been underused but still...) and its insistence not to take itself too seriously.
Creed is THE answer to this question. It might be the only spin-off (legacyquel in this case, but I think that still counts?) that I like infinitely more than the movie that spawned it. And that's not to disparage Rocky, which I like a great deal. But Creed makes me cry at the start of every single new scene, it's just so damn powerful. It's as beautiful as it is brutal and exciting as it is reflective. Few movies can boast that kind of impact.
Creed may be "the answer" to this question, but I direct you to exhibit A above. Tell me that face doesn't make you warm in the jellies. My eyes are watering as we speak! I was never a Shrek fan, but I loved the hell out of Puss in Boots. His spin-off movie is a fun watch, adding just the right amount of stuff you love about him without going crazy (Minions anyone?). I also second Gary's mention of the Penguins movie, which is also awesome, and yet again, they are the best thing about a well-loved and well-trod franchise.
Everybody knows Mad Max is the baddest free agent in the post-apocalyptic outback, but what Fury Road presupposes is, maybe he isn't? It's possible the first Mad Max movie in decades was a sequel and not a true spin-off, but George Miller reduced Max to a mumbling, growling blood source and gave newcomer Furiosa all the power and screen time, putting his most famous non-Babe character to work in service of a new creation. Fury Road belongs to Furiosa, and if the three Mel Gibson Mad Max films were about Max and his temporary allies, the Tom Hardy Mad Max film becomes the temporary ally. He's just a player in Charlize Theron's story.
Rogue One turned out to be a pretty great Star Wars film in its own way. It's certainly not perfect (with the CGI cameos being my biggest gripe), but it does offer us a different look into this world outside of what all of the main Star Wars movies give us. It also gives us a few new characters, and an especially memorable one in K-2SO. I had low expectations for this when it came out, but now I find it pretty high up in my rankings of all the Star Wars films.
Creed is the correct, factual answer, but Garrett covered that wonderfully. Although I've never seen Air Bud or its sequels, I do find it fascinating that its spinoff series (Air Buddies, Snow Buddies, Space Buddies, etc.) uses the term "Buddies" as shorthand for "stars a litter of golden retriever pups. Seriously, go look it up and see just how many damn Buddies movies there are, and then ask yourself if an intrepid adult film producer could ever get away with making Fuck Buddies.
You know what was a great spinoff? Jackass presents Bad Grandpa. As the Jackass crew grows older, sober, and more in touch with their own fragility, the creative forces behind the films saw fit to pump the brakes on severe bodily harm, and instead focus on the pranking aspect of the franchise. Bad Grandpa is very much in tune with the Jackass sense of humor AND boasts the distinction of having been nominated for an Oscar for its tremendous makeup.
Stay tuned for Ryan likely explaining the value of the Ewok movies.
While I will always speak in favor of Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and even the inferior Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, which I have not seen since I was child, I have to pick The Lego Batman Movie. While Batman functions as an almost-annoying joke in the original The Lego Movie, focusing entirely on him results in a comedic take on The Dark Knight that deconstructs the character in a way that rewards kids and adult Bat-fans alike. Who knew we needed a film for kids made from plastic bricks that manages to riff on Grant Morrison’s heady Batman run from a decade ago that also features Batman microwaving a lobster humidor? But now I can’t think of anything I needed more.