“Under Siege,” the 1992 action movie starring Steven Seagal has often been described succinctly as “Die Hard on a battleship.” The mash-up of another movie with a different location was once a fairly-common method to communicate an instantly understandable movie idea. Anyone familiar with the escapades of Bruce Willis inside the plaster-dusty, unfinished floors and drafty elevator shafts of the Nakatomi Plaza can easily imagine a cartoon character like Seagal romping around the claustrophobic confines of a battleship, traversing expertly, fore to aft, like the Navy Seal he once was. Using the movie mash-up is now mostly frowned upon for being a lazy, trite, overused technique, although I recall “The Screenwriter’s Bible” extolling its virtues in an early 1990s edition.
Anyway, I recently saw a full-page ad for a new book by Brad Thor called “The Andalucian Friend” in which the headline screamed “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets The Sopranos.” That’s an intriguing mash-up, but what can you infer from it? Does a character like Lisbeth Salander – the girl with the tattoo – join Tony Soprano’s mob to commit cyber-crimes under the tutelage of Pauly Walnuts? Does she strive to take down organized crime, perhaps outwitting the clumsy FBI agents Harris and Grasso with her computer hacking elan? Who knows? The weakness of resorting to a mash-up is clear in this instance.
So, what about these other famous mash-ups? Can you figure out what’s going on?
“On the Road” meets “Running with Scissors”
Answer: Two men compelled by wanderlust and afflicted with OCD drive night and day, up and down a parking ramp searching for just the right space in which to stash a 1949 Hudson.
“The Grapes of Wrath” meets “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
Answer: When a bunch of addled Okie’s exhaust their psychotropic meds, they form a caravan and head out for the far side of the asylum. Tension arises after they ask a very tall Indian holding a broom for directions and are forced to wait for weeks until he finally answers “Mmmmmm, Juicy Fruit.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” in Viet Nam
Answer: After Scout and Jem discover a canister of napalm hidden in the knothole of their neighbor’s tree, Boo runs out from the bushes and declares his love for its aroma, especially in the morning. He also babbles something about a fellow named Charlie who don’t surf.
“Lolita” meets “50 Shades of Grey”
Answer: Frustrated by young Dolores’s inexperience, Humbert Humbert drags his little friend off to Christian Grey’s summer camp to tone up on the monkey bar manacles and an upholstered swing set