Plastic Fantastic - GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra
Vintage toy figure Action Man finally becomes a bona fide movie star in GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra. Why stop there asks Paul Dale?
It’s all come a little too late for me. It’s been a long time since I put my armless and legless Action Men (or GI Joes as they were called in America) in a shoebox and sent them back to Palitoy Ltd for repair. You could do that kind of thing in those days. Inbuilt obsolescence and corporate greed were not the common currency they are today. Unlike William Wellman’s ripe for rediscovery 1945 war film The Story of GI Joe (starring Robert Mitchum at the top of his game), GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra is not based on the real accounts of the much sinned against grunt but on the made up adventures of the 12in military action figure who has been delighting boys (and some girls) since 1964.
Stephen Sommers, the writer/director responsible for The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and Van Helsing has finally done the decent thing and given old scarface his own potential franchise as he takes on the evil Cobra Organization. Scripted by Stuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Collateral) and starring Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Pryce, Dennis Quaid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and coming in at a budget of $170m, GI Joe could be one of the best blockbusters of the year. Or maybe not.
What’s more interesting is that the film reopens the debate on whether it is ever a good idea to build feature films around toys that children have blackmailed their parents for. The successful Transformers films and 1986’s long buried My Little Pony: The Movie represent the two sides of this debate. But rather than have that discussion, let’s imagine film producers around the globe suddenly have pots of cash to green light films based on vintage toys. Here’s what I would be pitching:
1. The Cabbage Patch Dolls in September Having been chosen to be the official mascot of the 1992 US Olympic Team the undersized Cabbage Patch Dolls are taken hostage by fundamentalist terrorists. Only laconic security chief Atticus Sprout (played by Denzel Washington) can save them.
2. How Holly Hobbie Got Her Groove Back Holly gets an internship at a bitchy fashion magazine and stops dressing like a hobo (but stays true to herself).
3. Tonka Story of an indestructible miniature pickup truck that goes on a killing spree in suburbia after a thunderstorm. Based on a yet to be written short story by Stephen King.
4. It’s a Girl’s World When three sisters realise their unfeasibly large styling head can talk they set off on a road trip to repatriate her with her disembodied brethren.
5. Tiny Tears Knicker-wetting hi-jinks with the original home girl. Music by Stuart Staples from Tindersticks.
6. Oliver and Richard’s Wobbly Adventure The hard drinking life and times of Oliver Reed and Richard Burton as depicted by weebles who wobble but don’t fall down.
GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra is on general release from Fri 7 Aug.