Plots That Are Played

I want to document, right now, before it happens again, the movie plots that are played to death and yet keep showing up, like Karl Rove at a Chinese buffet and unlike John Edwards after July 2004.

Did someone say “buffet”?

Plot Examples Comments
Man is tormented by a mysterious stranger, who turns out to be… HIMSELF. Fight Club, Secret Window, The Dark Half, Identity (sorta) This worked for Fight Club because 1) it was fresh; 2) it didn’t rely on schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder or some serious (and totally played) mental condition that might, I dunno, interfere with its sufferer’s life in some other way; and 3) you got to see both the characters interacting with their world in a way that made you trust your assumptions and yet did not contradict the revelation. This is called “foreshadowing.” “Foreshadowing” is something Stephen King is not on top of, and while I understand and support his idea that if the author doesn’t know where a story is going then the audience won’t, either, I think if the story takes a radical twist it might be nice to drop some clues earlier. Come on. Take notes from Monk or something.
Man is tormented again and again by a past crime and finally realizes… HE`S IN HELL! Former student’s short film, guest artist’s script, The Ben Stiller Show‘s “Low Budget Tales of Cliched Horror” sketch I nearly fainted of vindication when I saw the Ben Stiller sketch, which was faithful to the 1992 Tales from the Crypt-type shows all the way down to the font used for the credits. Radio shock-jock Damien Faustus refuses go to hell — to complete his pact with the devil — and realizes HE`S ALREADY IN HELL! Brawwk! Ohhh, what a great sketch. Great, great sketch.

Formative stuff. This is what I watched while my parents were downstairs watching 60 Minutes.

Young man is tormented when his girlfriend gets… KNOCKED UP. Alla time. All. A. Time. Check it out — if a chick has sex once, she`ll be knocked up. If she has it a bunch of times, she won’t. Ain’t saying nobody in the real world gets knocked up on the first time, but if movies had the same effect on viewers that they did on characters then some couples would pay $90,000 to see them.

The chicks in my class don’t write about getting knocked up — only the dudes. I don’t know why. It’s almost like, for chicks, the idea of reproduction the sense of suspense at the top of every menstrual cycle and the thought of an unknown quantity developing inside you is too complex to capture in a five-minute short. But for a young dude, it comes down to very finite moments like 1) having the sex, 2) getting told by your girlfriend that she is or thinks she is pregnant, 3) taking her to get an abortion (the only outcome or possible implied outcome in these stories, which should demonstrate the authors are also white). The problem for me is, if that’s the ultimate human drama you can imagine, you do not have the depth to explore it. Yeah, I said it. This reminds me of how I want to heckle “Brick” by Ben Folds Five, which I loathe so loathingly I just want to fall back and roll in it like a dog.

Of course, the vast majority of short scripts I’ve read and films I’ve seen kick ruthless ass, and I`ll be very lucky if my stuff is half as good. But my flimsy, hyper-competitive ego doesn’t want to talk about the the stuff that made me laugh out loud or get sneafy or anything. Especially not the three-minute short a dude made that had animation and musical counterpoint and all sorts of crazy genius shots that I still don’t know how he did and had me laughing pretty much non-stop. Newwww.


Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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No Responses

  1. :NS: says:

    Gotta chime in on the “Brick” hating. . . but I`ll deny I ever said so – Ben`s mom is a really, really good friend of mine and I would never tell her I can`t stand her son`s most popular song ever!

  2. supremegoddessofall says:

    those of us that are members of her site can read them, because all new comments can be read from a single page….

  3. :NS: says:

    Umm, yeah. I realized (again) that I am posting here in a thread that`s been unused for 14 months, so nobody will likely ever read what I wrote. Oh well, no harm anway, I guess.

  4. Sanguinity_ says:

    Totally off-topic, but I just caught your “find me a job” ad, and was stunned by how pretty you are. I`ve been reading your blog these last months because you`re smart and funny — but I`m now realizing that it sounds like I`m totally crushing on you, so I`ll stop. (And just in case you`re wondering why I ever ran across your blog, your quizzes get handed around on LiveJournal fairly frequently, and I started browsing what else was on your website…)

  5. Katie says:

    But you have to like “Song for the Dumped”, right? Right?

  6. supremegoddessofall says:

    you forgot: “Girl and guy who initially don`t like each other or are bitterly divorced survive natural disaster or attack by big monster-thing in which most or all of the rest of their party is killed and they therefore end up falling in love”. See Terminator (big monster), Alien v. Predator (big monster), Volcano (natural disaster – volcano), Joe and the Volcano (natural disaster – hurricane), Outbreak (natural disaster – plague), Jurassic Park (big monsters), Independence Day (big monsters), Six Days and Seven Nights (natural disaster – big storm), etc., etc.

  7. Tory says:

    Sanguinity — Heh — let us not speak of how many photo attempts and brightness/contrast adjustments it took to make me cute. I take your praise and rub it on my face like I do the soft spot between my dog`s ears. Thank you!

  8. Tory says:

    Katie — Is “Song for the Dumped” the one that goes “give me my money back, you bitch”? It`s catchy and I like it OK if the drummer wrote it.

  9. Katie says:

    Yes. “and give me back my black t-shirt” Haven`t listened to Ben Folds Five in a while and I think I`m going to pull it out today for that song (because my ex and I are currently dividing up stuff and it will give me the cajones to demand my walkman back even as I make a play for the Swiffer Wetjet). The video is awesome if you haven`t seen it–little girls making barbies and kens get mad at each other.

  10. staggerlee says:

    dude that song rocks. i was dating an evil biotch when i got to see ben folds five in concert… and i`m with tory when it comes to how evil “brick” is, but “song for the dumped” was sweet live.

  11. Katie says:

    Rock on, staggerlee. I`ve never seen Ben Folds but he does a lot of stuff with Weird Al and that makes him a-okay in my book.

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