The Spin-Off: Sure, Tropic Thunder 's Len Grossman is a stellar choice for a spin-off, as announced earlier this month; arguably, though, there’s a better candidate from the same film.
Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Junior), the hottest actor on the planet, feels creatively unfulfilled. So he devises a new venture.
Lazarus will ‘play’ a real-life person, 24-7, somewhere in America. The first person to spot him wins £10 million – but Lazarus is confident nobody will cash in.
Cue an extraordinary existential rom-com, as Lazarus slips into anonymity as a paraplegic female librarian.
Key Scene: ‘Doris Slater’ falls in love with a colleague, but breaks down in tears as (s)he admits he can’t have children. “They sewn me up down there,” she sobs, pulling down her skirt to prove the lack of vagina.
The Spin-Off: A flu bug at KVWN-TV Channel 4 leaves the entire Anchorman newsteam incapitated, except Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), who hasn’t realised he's ill and shows up at work covered in his own sick.
With no other choice, Brick is given the task of reading the news, but instead adds his own ill-informed opinion on the stories.
Amazingly, Brick is a hit, and begins a career of motivational speaking, chat show appearances and – finally – political punditry. At which point the powers that be decide he’s a danger to national security and orders a hit on him.
Key Scene: In a report on climate change, Brick totally gets the wrong end of the stick and declares war on polar bears before widening the scope:
“Kill all the bears: white, black, brown. I’m not a bear racist. They should all be gutted with our bare hands... Oh my God, we have the hands of bears!”
Friends Of Dorothy
The Spin-Off: After Dorothy’s departure at the end of The Wizard Of Oz , the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion go their separate ways to enjoy their new brain, heart and courage respectively.
But, L.A. Confidential -style, each discovers an element of a conspiracy that threatens the existence of Oz. Only one thing for it: the Friends of Dorothy must reunite.
Casting note: this represents a once-in-a-generation chance to get the three 21st Century Doctor Whos on screen together. Christopher Eccleston's the Scarecrow, David Tennant the Tin Man, and Matt Smith plays the Lion.
Key Scene: The No-Longer-Cowardly Lion is attacked by some punk Munchkins. “Put ‘em up, put ‘em up,” he snarls, but the laughing Munchkins still think he’s a pussycat... Until he rips their heads off.
Edward R. Rooney
The Spin-Off: The mighty Jeffrey Jones gets a chance to shine as the villain of Ferris Bueller's Day Off is reinvented as an anti-hero.
When yet another truant pupil goes on a day-long bender that leaves a trail of devastation and injured civilians in its wake, Rooney is suspended from duty.
The hitherto strait-laced principal has a breakdown and, in the interests of discovering why he always seems to be beaten by the Buellers of the world, he decides to play the bad boy himself.
Trouble is, rebellion doesn't come easy to a square like Rooney.
Key Scene: Rooney sneaks onto a baseball diamond at a World’s Series play-off and tries to get the crowd on its feet with an impromptu rendition of Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go .
But his off-key caterwauling literally gets the crowd going, as they begin to desert the stadium in droves.
The Spin-Off: Last seen being arrested for solicitation and sodomy in A Serious Man , numerology geek Arthur (Richard Kind) is released on one condition – he has to continue his research into the mystical Mentaculus.
Cue a screwball comedy in which, just maybe, Arthur unlocks the secrets of the universe and sets up a face-to-face with God Himself.
Key Scene: The authorities give Arthur their list of demands, to be passed onto God.
“Victory in Vietman. Nuke the Soviets – that one goes without saying. And, personally, I’d like to drop my golf handicap by a few shots.”
The Spin-Off: Yeah OK, so the sequel’s a dead cert...but surely there’s still scope for a spin-off for Kick-Ass ’ break-through star, Chloe Moritz?
We can’t quite buy the notion of Hit-Girl settling down as a schoolkid, so in this storyline she takes off on a round-the-world sabbatical.
Of course, she can’t help but find trouble on the road, to deal with as only she knows. Think Rambo in ponytails.
Key Scene: Hit-Girl infiltrates a kung fu academy that’s a front for drugs smugglers.
But she blows her cover when she gets riled by a particularly irritating opponent – and breaks both of his arms.
The Spin-Off: The Superstar DJ of Super Sounds of the Seventies (Steven Wright) falls out of fashion when Robo Romantic, the radio station’s new 80s disc-spinner, becomes a hit.
Discovering his popularity with L.A.’s criminal underworld, he goes into partnership with a psychotic heist man, Mr Corduroy, to reduce Robo Romantic’s listening figures. By any means necessary.
Key Scene: Mr Corduroy finds a frat house enjoying an 80s-themed slumber party.
His response: lock the doors, board the windows, and torch the joint while Toni Basil's Hey Mickey blares from the ghetto blaster.
Jimmy The Dwarf
The Spin-Off: Jimmy - heavy drinker, prostitute shagger, racist - wasn't able to get work in Hollywood for years. Which is why he spent his last days filming in Belgium. Specifically, In Bruges .
In this prequel, we find out exactly how Jimmy (Jordan Prentice) became persona non grata, in a scabrous behind-the-scenes satire of life at the lower end of Hollywood.
Key Scene: Jimmy insults a black dwarf to spark a scrap on set.
The director likes the rushes so much he decides to make the film an allegory about racism...with dwarves.
Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam
The Spin-Off: With the long-mooted sequel to The Departed seemingly stuck in development hell, Mark Wahlberg’s profane poetry needs an alternative outlet.
Here, busted over his attitude, Dignam is demoted to training new recruits. Yes, it’s Police Academy – but as you’ve never seen it before.
Key Scene: Half the class quit on Dignam’s first day after getting a tongue-lashing.
“Thank fucking Christ they walked,” he tells his superior. “Do you want your life to rest in the hands of some Ivy League pussy who can't tell his revolver from his dick?"
The Spin-Off: He kicked ass for The Lord in Braindead , but now he's a zombie vicar.
The undead McGruder (Stuart Devenie and Stephen Papps role-sharing) is in a quandary. He has a taste for human flesh, but he also continues to worship the teachings of the Lord.
Worse, his body is now very fragile, so McGruder must continue to fight ancient evil with the constant risk of losing some vital organs.
Key Scene: McGruder goes mano a mano with a troll, which rips his arm off.
An incensed McGruder commands his arm to wreak havoc – and the severed limb launches itself into the troll’s mouth and punches out its brain from the inside.
The Spin-Off: He might have been rebooted at the end of Moon , but does a hard drive's memory ever really get wiped?
The smiley-faced, Kevin Spacey-voiced 'puter, now a second-hand relic, is bought by a fleet of space pirates and willingly provides strategic support to their crimes.
But when he begins to experience troubling virtual 'flashbacks,' he realises it's up to him to stop the piracy. Which is quite difficult when mobility is limited.
Key Scene: The pirates bring a prisoner on board and are about to execute him, when GERTY's face involuntarily sheds an electronic tear.
The Spin-Off: Eloquent, fabulous, private-but-not-too-private dick Perry van Shrike is hired to investigate a series of mysterious accidents amongst the Hollywood elite.
All they have in common is that they've recently worked on bad adaptations of literary classics - and then Perry realises that's exactly the killer's motivation.
Can he teach the killer's next target to make a decent film to prevent the hack getting hacked?
Key Scene: Perry tries to explain subtexts to a studio exec. "Text: you buy a girl a drink at the bar. Subtext: you want to fuck her."
The producer's reply: "So a subtext's kinda like a bribe, huh, Perry?"
The Spin-Off: Real estate kingpins Mitch and Murray’s hatchet-man is loving the recession. So much dead wood to chop into pieces, it's even more satisfying than Glengarry Glen Ross . Until there’s nobody left to fire.
Now unemployed, Blake (Alec Baldwin) has to find a new outlet for his ruthless brand of motivational speaking and heads out to Iraq to help the rebuilding efforts.
Key Scene: Blake berates a platoon of Marines who have just bombed an office building under his care.
The unnerved soldiers raise their rifles, which only goads Blake into even more fury.
The Spin-Off: Mystery novel fan Winston (Jeffrey Wright) is so enthusiastic about life he isn't put off by his failure to help neighbour Bill Murray in Broken Flowers .
Starting a Facebook page, he attempts to solve some of the most baffling crimes in American history, using an army of credulous recruits to search for evidence locally while he co-ordinates everything from home.
But when one of his followers on Twitter is arrested for prying into the Kennedy assassination, Winston is forced to organise mass civil disobedience to get to the truth.
Key Scene: Winston becomes a minor celebrity when his off-the-wall musings about a missing neighbourhood dog becomes a trending topic, #whywasroversnatched
The Spin-Off: As demonstrated in Midnight Run , Dorfler (John Ashton) is a particularly inept bounty hunter, but in an increasingly violent world, sometimes a bail bonds company needs a dumb brute to do its dirty work.
When Dorfler’s latest bounty is shot dead, he suspects he’s been set up as the fall guy. But how is an ageing thug to redeem himself when he has no mates, no common sense and next to no personal hygiene?
Key Scene: Dorfler attempts to trick a bad guy with the “Look out!” ruse he learnt from old rival Bobby De Niro.
But this guy is way smarter than Marvin ever was, and he knocks Dorfler out before he's had a chance to aim his punch.
Michaels and Slater
The Spin-Off: Laidback patrolmen Michaels (Seth Rogen) and Slater (Bill Hader) have one of the safest, quietest patches in town, so it's no surprise when they are promoted to devise city-wide law enforcement tactics.
What the brass doesn't know is that enterprising criminals are slowly building their underworld under the slacker duo's noses, knowing that an overt approach will bring proper cops onto their streets.
With Michaels and Slater making fools of themselves downtown, their replacements are about to inadvertently ignite a powderkeg.
Key Scene: Michaels and Slater unveil their masterplan to halve crime: free cannabis, decriminalisation of drunk-driving and frat-house punishments for offenders.
The Spin-Off: So, the Foxy Lady is off-duty for Transformers 3 , but there’s surely a consolation prize going.
Using borrowed Decepticon tech, mechanic Mikhaela is able to build the fastest bike in the world – and quickly becomes a superstar racer.
Yet old habits die hard, and the evil bike decides to take things into its own wheels.
Key Scene: Mid-race, and Mikhaela is a distant second – until her horrid Harley fires laser bolts to cripple the bike, and decapitate the driver, in front.
Frank The Bunny
The Spin-Off: According to Richard Kelly's interpretation, Frank (James Duval) stays alive after the timey-wimey events of Donnie Darko ...but this is time travel, so who knows what's going on?
In this version, Frank remains unstuck in time, technically dead but able to predict the future and summon up weird inter-dimensional powers.
When Frank's next premonition reveals a possible way out of limbo, it's time to hitch-hike his way across America. But who's going to give a lift to a guy in a scary-ass bunny costume?
Key Scene: Inevitably, Frank is picked up by a band of travelling performers. Just as inevitably, he's kicked out after accidentally shaving the Bearded Lady with a bolt of time energy.