Sunday, November 21, 2010


This is funny. If language offends you, skip it, but the familiar--no, overly familiar phrase--that pops up again and again will surprise you. Are screenwriters simply relying on hackneyed cliches? Of course. And you love it. That's what they're banking on. You want the familiar, the entertaining, the easy--not some offbeat creative and unpredictable "art house" movie where anything can happen. That's too close to real life! When you pay good money you want exactly the same thing you got last time, whether it's a comforting meal or a trite Hollywood movie, and what's wrong with that?

Nothing. Maybe we're just jaded. We're not snobs but we watch a lot of films, and after a while the patterns, cliches and formulas start cropping up. Sure, dissecting a film can spoil the fun, but after a while you scratch your head and say "haven't we seen this one before?" Well, you have and you haven't. Originality has never been the hallmark of the Hollywood screenwriter, and the hacks seem to crank out the same film over and over since most people enjoy these familiar stories and stock characters and boilerplate plots. While Art may challenge the mind with the unfamiliar, Entertainment gives us exactly what we (think) we want. Over and over. What are screenwriters writing this very minute? Revisions of last year's hits. They're not just playing you for fools, they're relying on proven formulas and you can't blame them because writing is hard. They go for the easy plot-twist, the easy laugh, the easy catch-phrase because it's easy, obviously, and easier than creating something highly original and creative that you probably don't want to see, anyway. Give the people what they want and never give a sucker an even break.

On the other hand, what is wrong with these hacks? Can't they come up with something new? They get millions to deliver this tripe and they should earn those damn Malibu beach houses and those Porsches and those hair-plugs. Regurgitating the same old cud just drives us to foreign films (that, generally-speaking, are more challenging) and literary novels (God forbid) and forces us to abandon the theaters in droves. Honestly, we love going to the movies but there is NOTHING of interest playing: a quick glance turns up a typical romantic-comedy, a children's movie, a slasher remake of a Japanese slasher, and a simplistic testosterone-fueled action picture that would make "Die Hard" look like "Little Dorrit." Forget the hassle! Thank God we have our Netflix and our little Roku box--which we love--or we'd have a hard time finding any good movies. That might sound snobbish, but grab your newspaper and tell us we're wrong. In the meantime, watch this collection of film clips.

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