There haven’t been many mainstream films or TV shows that do cycling justice. I’m not talking about films like “A Sunday In Hell” that skew more towards the cognoscente. I’m talking about the ones intended for mainstream, non-cycling audiences. Some, like “Breaking Away,” work well. Others, like “American Flyers,” and “Quicksilver,” are just various shades of embarrassing.
The latest entry in the cycling film canon is “The Flying Scotsman,” which is the story of Graeme Obree. I have not seen this yet. While it seems like a worthy film, the commercial prospects of a movie that uses the words “Scottish,” “cyclist,” and “washing machine” together in the promotional copy seem limited at best. A Lance Armstrong film has also long been in development, and Matt Damon, Matthew McConaughey, and Gary Busey have variously been attached as stars. But that may never see celluloid, and if it does, I’m not so sure it will be a good thing.
Nonetheless, I think we need more films and TV series about cycling. Here are just a few ideas that I think have vast commercial and dramatic prospects:
Idiocy In Motion: The Ted Shred Story
Logline: In a time when it’s increasingly difficult to get noticed, bicyclist, DJ, and renaissance man of retardation Ted Shred revolutionizes cycling and carves his own identity by riding a Bianchi Pista with a freewheel and no brake.
Why It Will Do Well: This guy goes through Vans like UPS goes through, well, vans. The product placement alone should offset production costs.
Casting: Vanilla Ice or Vin Diesel would be ideal, but really anybody who can convincingly play mentally handicapped. (Is that a swarm of bees I hear? Or is it Oscar buzz?)
Smooth Legs, Hairy Face: Cycling’s Greatest Facial Hair
Logline: Featuring Sheldon Brown, Tom Ritchey, Jonathan Vaughters, 1990s Bob Roll, that bald guy with the beard from Mavic Neutral Support, and many others, this documentary takes a whimsical look at some of cycling’s most captivating beards, moustaches, and sideburns.
Why It Will Do Well: Americans love four things: Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll, and Facial Hair.
The Odd Couple, starring Lennard Zinn and Jobst Brandt
Logline: In this remake of the classic 1968 film, arch-curmudgeon and uber-retrogrouch Jobst Brandt must share an apartment with Velonews technical expert and espouser of all things new and gimmicky Lennard Zinn. Sparks will fly and laughs will abound as neatnik Zinn tries to clean Brandt’s filthy drivetrain. Meanwhile, a drunken Brandt rants about the importance of stress relieving while trying to throw Zinn’s seven pairs of Ksyrium SLs out the window.
Why It Will Do Well: Zinn and Brandt are the Lemmon and Matthau (or Randall and Klugman if you will) of the New Millennium
On A Steel Horse I Ride
Logline: “Breaking Away” meets “Cool Runnings” by way of “The Commitments” in this sports dramedy about a group of working-class teens in a Welsh mining town who, denied entry into an upper-crust polo club, take up the underground sport of bike polo and ride lugged steel and moxie all the way to the World Bicycle Polo Championships.
Why It Will Do Well: This will be the feel-good sports film of the year. Promotional efforts will include top-tube pads and spoke cards with the film’s logo, fast food chain tie-ins, and die-cast collectibles.
Casting: The team itself will be comprised of unknowns chosen from open auditions, but the part of the coach will be played by either Daniel Day Lewis or Anthony Hopkins. The evil rich team’s coach will be played by Dame Judy Dench.
Logline: “Taxi” meets “Friends” in this sitcom set in a pedicab depot in New York City, in which five recent private college graduates from wealthy families turned pedicab drivers grapple with love, life, and liberal politics while trying to make it in the big city.
Why It Will Do Well: Pedicab drivers are the bike messengers of the New Millennium.
Casting: Fresh faces would do best here, but Danny DeVito reprising his dispatcher role would be priceless. Expect walk-ons by Al Gore.