Don’t ever let anyone tell you that TV is better than movies. Movies reign supreme, but sometimes the king gets a little fat and full of himself, and it seems as if there would be better entertainment options streaming from the closest handheld device. This problem usually begins with a fresh movie formula that turns into a cash cow, encouraging other studios, writers and producers to follow suit. Alas, these ideas are played out. We want to go to the movies, but not to see the same old schlock. Here are six examples.
6. Man Trapped in Building…
For awhile, it became a thing to pitch screenplays and feature film treatments as “Die Hard in a…” Die Hard was fresh—so fresh. A delightful romp. For those who were born years later, and came to the film after others like it were made, you were likely less impressed with the original, but this was the film that gave birth to the hothouse, action-thriller. It spawned a franchise—because it had to—and then it sparked similar ideas with twists. In 1994, we all fell in love with Sandra Bullock in what amounted to “Die Hard on a bus,” aka, Speed. Die Hard on a plane: Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford. Or Passenger 57, starring Wesley Snipes. Everyone picking up what we’re laying down? If this is gonna be done, it needs to be fresh with a mix up and twist—think The Raid: Redemption.
5. Paint-By-Numbers Romantic Comedies
Rom-coms have long been a thing. The best are beloved, and even considered classics: The Apartment; Annie Hall; When Harry Met Sally; Sleepless In Seattle; Clueless; Pretty Woman; Jerry Maguire. These are all examples of rom-coms that work, and stand out, regardless of following pretty standard movie formulas: will they or won’t they; hooker with a heart of gold; she’s neurotic, he’s analytical; they were meant for each other. Sadly, these stories have given birth to many paint-by-numbers rom-coms that have saturated the market, and all but killed the genre. Once in awhile, something fresh comes along, like 500 Days of Summer (which was good, not great), but it’s nice to see the twist. Rarely, rom-coms such as Roman Holiday or My Best Friend’s Wedding come along, irritate audiences and breaks hearts (no spoilers). Ultimately, this genre is moving along like an octogenarian.
4. Ugly Duckling Romantic Comedies
This rom-com niche warrants its own place on the list. None were listed in #5, as this genre niche is a real problem. Within every single one of these films, an audience is led to believe that a beautiful actress is less beautiful, then ready for the world when she is dolled up to stand by her man, or sit on the throne. This formula has been used and reused too many times. From My Fair Lady to The Breakfast Club, it doesn’t work. It’s fun to see character transformations—Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club—but trying to convince us Audrey Hepburn isn’t/wasn’t one of the most beautiful creatures to ever grace a movie screen? C’mon. And yet they try it time and time again. Rachael Leigh Cook in She’s All That? What part of Rachael is hard on the eyes?
3. 97% Of Horror Films
Horror films: are there more than three percent that aren’t disappointments? Why do they work so hard to follow formula? An audience member is supposed to be terrified—scratch that—they’re supposed to be horrified. And yet, the same bag of tricks is used time and time again. Yes, it sells. We understand. The 1970s gave birth to some of the most memorable slashers of all time, but it got tired. Now, it’s supernatural thrillers/horror flicks, and we can rest assured that every next movie based on actual case files will use the same tricks of the trade to garner a scare here and there. The freshest and best horror films often use unknowns, or they get into potential real life scenarios that are too heavy to bear. Not snuff, rather psychoses. We could go for another well-done found footage flick, but no more sequels for those films, please.
2. Race Based Comedy of Errors
Okay, we get it. People of different races often have cultural differences. Sometimes, films like Guess Who (2005), a remake of the 1967 classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, are trying to bridge a racial divide, but they really only serve to offer commentary. It’s not the issue of racism, or the fish out of water comedy that causes the problem in films like this. The problem occurs when a comedy of errors/fish out of water becomes low hanging fruit, and instead of satire, filmmakers offer audiences simple stereotype. White Chicks, Borat, Down to Earth, we’re looking at you. It’s a thin line, and nah, it’s not about the humor being offensive, it’s about it being too damn easy. Yes, it scores laughs, but it’s played out. Let’s move on. Speaking of moving on… on to #1.
1. Remaking Classics
Is there anything more annoying than taking a film that possesses cult, legendary or classic status and remaking it? It certainly may not be a classic, but here’s a great example for consideration: Footloose. We’re well aware Hollywood is prone to milking a cash cow until it is bone dry, then trying to slaughter the cow and sell it for beef, but if you’re going to remake something, it really should be superior to the original. These remakes aren’t better, they’re different. Hollywood demons will try to suck the soul from every great 1980s flick: The Breakfast Club; Back to The Future… The Karate Kid! Oh. Right. The hacks have already tarnished that legacy. Stop it, already. There are great, original scripts with fresh ideas, and twists on proven, profitable movie formulas waiting to be made. Make them, or re-release some classics in first-run theaters.