- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Playbook is a sports site, but we also do some pop culture. Why write one article about, say, the 2012 NFL season and an entirely different one about the upcoming fall movies? That’s a lot of work when you can just cover both topics at once.
"Resident Evil: Retribution"
Movie: In the fifth installment of the “Resident Evil” series, Alice fights against the evil Umbrella Corporation, whose flesh-eating virus is transforming the world’s population into the undead.
Team: This sounds exactly like the narrative of the 2012 New Orleans Saints. Alice can be Drew Brees and the Umbrella Corporation can be the NFL, or Alice can be Roger Goodell and the Saints can be the Umbrella Corporation. It all depends on whose side you’re on.
Movie: A star-studded cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon headlines a movie described by the studio as “an epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution."
Team: Big names? A ridiculous sense of importance in the universe? “Cloud Atlas” is definitely the Dallas Cowboys.
"Trouble with the Curve"
Movie: An aging baseball scout is given one final chance to prove he can still last in the business.
Team: San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner is more empty chair than Clint Eastwood, but he fits the description of someone being given a last chance. (Although, granted, this is about his 15th last chance.)
Movie: A bachelorette party devolves into a wild night of debauchery.
Team: Wasted money, disappointment, regret, shame, random injuries. Nothing feels more like the morning after an out-of-control, drunken bash than a Philadelphia Eagles season.
Movie: Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a man who starts a cult in the 1940s and sees it attract a large and dedicated following.
Team: The weird headwear, the hallowed home grounds, the fervent followers who fail to see that their investment is worthless. The Green Bay Packers organization is really closer to a cult than a football team.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
Movie: A shy, unpopular boy deals with the challenges of adolescence.
Team: Perks? A Super Bowl ring could belong to Alex Smith if he just stays out of the way and lets his more popular and talented San Francisco 49ers teammates have the spotlight.
Movie: Translated from the French as “the miserable” or “the wretched,” this classic tale focuses on the struggles of Jean Valjean in his quest for redemption.
Team: The Oakland Raiders have long been described as “wretched” and “miserable,” and the latter half of Carson Palmer’s career sure seems like a doomed quest for redemption.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
Movie: A group of dwarves head out on an adventure.
Team: While not physically smaller than their opponents, the Cleveland Browns sure give that impression on the field. Brandon Weeden is approximately as old as Gandalf, so perhaps he can help them.
Movie: Tim Burton’s black and white, stop-animation comedy horror film about a dog that is brought back to life.
Team: Amazing. “Stop-animation comedy horror” is the exact term used most often used to describe the St. Louis Rams' offense.
Movie: Liam Neeson just goes around trying to kill everyone again, repercussions be damned.
Team: When the director yells “action,” Neeson probably channels everyone on the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense.
Movie: “Skyfall” is the 23rd James Bond movie.
Team: Cool, calm and seemingly able to succeed at everything with ease, James Bond is really just English Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn"
Movie: The “Twilight” movies aren’t very good and don’t win Oscars, but they get a lot of attention.
Team: Team Tebow, Team Sanchez, with the media as the cynical, selfish and despised Kristen Stewart. The Jets aren’t very good and won’t win any trophies, but they will get a lot of attention. Maybe the Jets would be better at baseball.
"Finding Nemo 3D"
Movie: The fish return, only this time in 3D.
Team: The Fish return, only this time the Dolphins have a quarterback (or at least they hope so).
Movie: Ill-trained youngsters take on the North Korean military when it invades their town.
Team: Recent editions of the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Jaguars fit the description of young and ill-trained. But on a serious note: it’s a shame we’ll probably never see Kim Jong-un play in the NFL. He comes from an amazingly athletic family.
Movie: A man takes on multiple identities in a single night. “Holy Motors” received rave reviews at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
Team: Bad, mediocre, decent: the New York Giants take on multiple identities during a single regular season. But they somehow often receive a Super Bowl trophy at the end.
"Rise of the Guardians"
Movie: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy fight the evil Nightmare King, who is plotting to steal the innocence of children and cover the world in darkness.
Team: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy -- Redskins fans see Robert Griffin III as all that and more. And RG3 may be Washington’s last, best shot to defeat the Dan Snyder, a terrifying being who threatens to destroy the dreams of Redskins fans young and old.
"The Life of Pi"
Movie: A young man finds himself stuck on a lifeboat full of wild animals.
Team: Larry Fitzgerald must often view the Arizona Cardinals' offense this way.
Movie: A paralyzed, dying man in an iron lung seeks the help of his priest and a sex therapist in a quest to lose his virginity before his life ends.
Team: Holy crap, that sounds depressing. So depressing it could be a metaphor for the Buffalo Bills.
"The House at the End of the Street"
Movie: A family moves into a nice, new neighborhood, but soon discovers some of their neighbors have dark secrets.
Team: The Detroit Lions build a young, talented team, but soon discover some of their players have a dark side.
Movie: In a remake of Sylvester Stallone’s “Judge Dredd,” a cop plays the role of judge, jury and executioner.
Team: In a restart to Peyton Manning’s career, the new Denver Broncos quarterback again plays the role of quarterback, offensive coordinator and head coach.
Movie: Denzel Washington builds a successful career as a commercial airline pilot, but some questionable past decisions come back to haunt him.
Team: Mike Smith builds a successful career as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but some fourth-down decisions may forever haunt him.
"Chicken with Plums"
Movie: An acclaimed violinist loses his will to live after his prized instrument is destroyed.
Team: The Minnesota Vikings lose even more than normal after their prized running back has his knee destroyed.
Movie: After years of success, a hedge fund manager faces intense pressure under suspicions he is running a fraud.
Team: After six years in the NFL, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler faces intense pressure to produce and prove his career isn’t a fraud.
"Won’t Back Down"
Movie: Two mothers do whatever it takes to save their children’s failing school.
Team: Two Cincinnati Bengals players, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, do whatever it takes to save what was a failing organization.
Movie: After years as the villain, a video game character decides he wants to play the role of video game hero.
Team: After years of being viewed as the Baltimore Ravens’ weak spot, Joe Flacco decides he wants to play the role of team hero.
Movie: A man finds a box of videos in his house that reveal how the previous occupants died, setting off a series of creepy events.
Team: Andrew Luck watches some 2011 Indianapolis Colts game film that reveals how bad many of his teammates are, preparing him for a season of unfortunate events.
"Here Comes the Boom"
Movie: Kevin James plays a teacher who raises money for his struggling school by becoming an MMA fighter and quickly finds out he’s very good.
Team: The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans are struggling NFL teams who give a shot to their backup quarterbacks and quickly find out they could be very good.
Movie: Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn -- this is a movie built to win Oscars.
Team: Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Johnathan Joseph -- this is a team that thinks it's built to win a Super Bowl.
"Silver Linings Playbook"
Movie: A man struggles to move on with life after spending time at a mental health facility.
Team: The New England Patriots struggle to move on after losing another Super Bowl to Eli Manning.