Most people know Lionsgate for it's classy award-winning fare like Crash and Monster's Ball or it's new-classic horror films such as Saw, The Devil's Rejects and Hostel. It's probably no surprise that home entertainment is where the company butters most of its bread. What most people don't know is that Lionsgate was built on buttering some of the worst bread ever filmed and packaged in your neighborhood video store.
Ever stroll around Blockbuster and...wait, let's take a step back... There's used to be these establishments called Blockbuster Video stores. If you can imagine, people used to get in their cars and drive to these stores in order to peruse the aisles of video cassettes and DVDs, wait in line to rent these items and then drive all the way back home, fumble with the disc, put it into a VCR or DVD player and finally watch the movie. Crazy, right?
Anyway, if you ever walked around a Blockbuster (or any video store, whatever those are) and noticed all those really horrible-sounding horror movies and action movies with nondescript cliche titles (Critical Impact, Imminent Destruction) starring people like Antonio Sabato Jr., chances are very good that those movies were distributed by Lionsgate. There was always only one copy available in the store and the artwork on the DVD cover seemed a little too good to be true (usually because it had nothing to do with the actual movie).
If you rented that movie based either on the packaging, quotes or something you read online between 2002 and 2004, well...that was probably my fault. Sorry about that. But to be fair, you really should have known what you were getting into when you rented Shark Attack 3. You saw Shark Attack and Shark Attack 2. So...duh.
Now, within this dreck there were usually four distinct genres that a movie fell into. The modern monster movie (Bugs, Spiders, They Crawl), the generic action thriller starring that guy you kinda remember (Project Viper, Turbulence 3), the romantic comedy/coming-of-age movie that couldn't look more boring (It Had To Be You, Double Whammy, Comic Book Villains) and finally the Urban Cheapie.
Of course, "urban" is the nice way of saying "mostly black people are in it." And there's certainly lots of good movies out there that fit that description. But I'm not talking about those kinds of movies. I'm talking about unbelievably unwatchable movies made for what seems like $150 starring a rotating collection of rap stars you've never heard of, stand-up comics you've never heard of, washed-up actors you barely remember and a cameo by a guy you kinda do remember so that they can stick his name and image on the boxart to make it look like he's the star of the movie even though he's actually only in one scene for two minutes.
Which bring us to the trailer for Lottery Ticket, starring Lil Bow Wow (or is it just Bow Wow by now?).
Now, two things happen in this trailer that happen in EVERY Urban Cheapie. First, the "daaaaamn, girl" moment.
Second, at some point in the film the main character and his comedic sidekick devise a plan so ingenious that they can't help but rub their hands together in a cliche way that only people in movies do that signifies they are just moments away from collecting the too-good-to-be-true reward just out of reach.
Now that we've established the basics, we throw in the who's who of random celebrity has-beens and kinda-weres (Keith David! Charlie Murphy! Terry Crews! Mike Epps! T-Pain! BILL BELLAMY!). And finally top it off with a name actor/celeb that we can slap on the DVD cover to make it seem like he's in the movie way more than he really is (Ice Cube!). BOOM. Done.
So what the hell does any of this have to do with Syracuse and why are you reading my ramblings on the topic of low-budget urban filmmaking? Did you notice the hat the generic, comedic sidekick was wearing?
Yeah, I think that's what I think it is. Best. Movie. Ever.
Update: Turns out the hat is actually promoting the .44 calibur gun, not the famed Syracuse number. Ah, the bliss that is urban cheapies and their consistent inability to grasp irony. (H/T: OrangeNYC)