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Thread: Movie Clichés That Get On Your Nerves

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    Movie Clichés That Get On Your Nerves

    It seems like in every movie where there's a dolphin or a chimpanzee, one or more of the characters will refer to them as a fish or a monkey, and someone (usually a scientist character, who happens to work with the animals in question) corrects them (sometimes--actually most of the time--in a rude manner). Perhaps my view of people is skewed, since I try not to hang about with people who are uneducated, but are most people that ignorant? Is it supposed to be funny that a character doesn't know the difference? What's the point of keeping this cliché going, which is has been doing since at least the '70s?


    This doesn't only happen in sci-fi--but from my reckoning this is where it started--whenever a ship, building, whatever with electrical technology in it is hit by a weapon, the electronics burst into sparks, flames etc. Sometimes even large chunks of foam that look very much like fake rocks explode out. Why there's explosives inside, why such high voltage and amperage is flowing through computers and pieces of technology with ambiguous function and why there's no circuit breakers is never explained. Seems like a problem someone in the fictional universes would want to fix, since it happens so often.


    Boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back, they live happily ever after. Done. To. Death. There's a few movies with this formula that I like--such as Say Anything...--but it has very un-cliché plot points that offset this cliché. Plus the acting is great.

    What about boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy finds someone else? Or boy meets girl, boy figures out she's possessive and kinda crazy, so breaks up with her and finds someone else. Or girl meets boy, girl falls for another girl, so breaks up with boy. Or girl meets girl, girl dies tragically, other girl kills herself because of the resulting depression. Or simply boy meets girl, they stay together and have a life of ups and downs like most people, then maybe get divorced ten years latter, "Because the magic's gone."
    Calm down, have some dip. - George Carlin

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    Neverending gun magazine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back, they live happily ever after. Done. To. Death. There's a few movies with this formula that I like--such as Say Anything...--but it has very un-cliché plot points that offset this cliché. Plus the acting is great.
    I love that movie. The plot, however--the "boy meets girl" aspects of it--has been going for literally thousands of years. Large amounts of great literature have that plot.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    I love that movie. The plot, however--the "boy meets girl" aspects of it--has been going for literally thousands of years. Large amounts of great literature have that plot.
    Exactly. It Has Been Done To Death!

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    Heinlein said human interest stories normally fall into three categories:

    1) Boy meets girl

    2) The Little Tailor (Someone who succeeds against great odds, or Big Guy brought down to size).

    3) The man who learned better.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back, they live happily ever after. Done. To. Death.
    In fairness, the timespan of the portrayed story in a movie is usually too short to really cover the "live happily ever after" part. It usually is "They were happy for the hours/days indicated in the movie." People usually don't want to think about what might happen after the characters have been together for a few months or years (especially given the number of characters that appear to be about as long-term compatible as oil and water). Unrealistic? Sure, but reality can be a bit depressing for a movie.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    This doesn't only happen in sci-fi--but from my reckoning this is where it started--whenever a ship, building, whatever with electrical technology in it is hit by a weapon, the electronics burst into sparks, flames etc.
    I get tired of that too. It's a stylized shortcut for showing "something bad is happening." As a shortcut, it really isn't much different from the giant sweat drop, face fault, or bloody nose in anime. It still gets old.

    I'm tired of time travel stories in general (books or movies) unless they have a new take on it. "Groundhog Day" and "Time travel as Deus ex machina" stories are insanely overdone.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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    TV Cliche

    One of my biggest dissapointments growing up is discovering that coyotes never hunt or eat road-runners

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    Capital post!

    What about boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy finds someone else? Or boy meets girl, boy figures out she's possessive and kinda crazy, so breaks up with her and finds someone else.

    I can deal with "boy meets girl", though truth be told I watch romances only on other people's time, if you catch my drift.

    What I can't stand in the genre, however, is the "chase". We all know it: the two lovebirds are depressed because they've "broken up". One is about to go off to Timbuctoo forever, and the other is just fine with that. Until they have The Talk with a supporting character who tells them that they really *do* love so-and-so, and hence the "chase". The boy/girl/whoever blunders through a chase scene to their one true love, often with a wacky supporting cast in tow, until there is the inevitable hug and kiss at a bus stop, a train station, or especially an airport. See: just about every boy-meets-girl movie over the past 20-30 years. I myself first noticed it in "Crocodile Dundee", which I otherwise enjoyed.

    There are good romances though, that stay good without straying too far from the formula. I recently saw "The Waitress" (in theaters as of this post) with a friend, a romance with an interesting, morally-ambiguous twist on the genre.

    Other clichés:

    --I've probably posted about this one before, but here goes: the ten-second time bomb. That is, every single time bomb the hero finds will be found within a minute of going off, and will be defused within ten. If the villain finds it, there will only be a few seconds left. I'm so over this one...there's a hilarious but easily-missed parody of this shameless plot catalyst in "Team America".

    --The comeback. This one is ubiquitous in action movies: the hero gets the life nearly pummeled out of him by the villain, but then suddenly turns the tables on his opponent and wins. Tied into this is death style: the villain must always have a spectacular death (falling into helicopter rotors in "The Last Boy Scout"). The hero must always have a pathetic or noble death, preferably with a last line or gasp.("The Wrath of Khan", anyone?)

    --The token scientist. A staple of sci-fi and horror films, this character usually wears a white coat, and is onscreen just long enough to bamboozle the protagonists with their technobabble and findings on species/weapon/technology X. Look for lots of Latinate words.

    --The mother of all clichés: the perfect method of execution, which must involve a long delay, many steps, and supervision--if any--by insufferable dolts. No firing squads here!

    I could go on and on...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back, they live happily ever after.
    Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

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    How about the scumbag who does one halfway decent thing and is automatically elevated to hero?

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    How about the terrible beatings and punishment the hero can withstand:

    - Falling from a height and saved by grabbing onto some magical thing with one hand. Something that even an Olympic-caliber gymnast couldn't do.

    - Taking a beating that would put 10 men in the hospital and come out of it with all his teeth and still able to defeat 20 more villians.

    ADDED: Also the hero's aim with weapons is superb but all the villians couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from 10 feet away.
    Last edited by Tucson_Tim; 2007-Jun-07 at 12:56 AM. Reason: Villian's aim

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    ...Gunshot wounds or brutal beatings that are quickly (next scene) recovered from, to the point where Our Hero can beat up ten more generic henchmen.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    For me, it's gotta be the "I can't stop gloating" bad guy. He's finally got the good guy at bay. All he has to do is pull the trigger and it's 'Goodbye Mr. Bond.' But no. First, the smug, gloating, self-congratuatory speech. "For too long you have foiled my designs, but now we know who's vision will be rewarded by..... Invariably this gives our hero time to come up with a cunning plan to turn the tables, or time for the sidekick/heroine to knock the baddie over the head with a heavy prop.

    They had a term for it in The Incredibles. They called it "monologuing."

    "He starts monologuing! He starts this, like, prepared speech about how "feeble" I am compared to him, how 'inevitable" my defeat is, how "the world will soon be his,' yadda yadda yadda. "

    Love that movie.

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    A couple more:

    The villain that is Just Evil. That is, he doesn't have any justification for what he is doing, he just does bad things so The Hero has somebody to fight.

    The evil government agents going after the good ET, preferably for dissection, with no concern that ETs that could manage to get here could also make WWIII look like a fun day in the park if we annoyed them sufficiently.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

    I say there is an invisible elf in my backyard. How do you prove that I am wrong?

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  16. #16
    how about mad scientists.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
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    I'm reading a book right now about the portrayal of librarians in film (because I read a lot of books about film), and I have to say, the book's right. Not all librarians wear glasses, are middle-aged, and perpetually wear their hair in buns. Not all librarians dress frumpily. Not all librarians are dour spinsters who go around shushing people all the time. (As in, I followed a friend of mine to work at the library the other day, and she was wearing a very bright skirt, no glasses, and her hair down. I chatted with her as she shelved and shelf-read, and one of the things we talked about was her boyfriend. And she's younger than I am.)

    Come to that, all smart women in film have glasses, even if they don't always wear them.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidlpf View Post
    how about mad scientists.
    But "mad" only because their petty and jealous peers who cast them out can't understand their genius.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Know View Post
    But "mad" only because their petty and jealous peers who cast them out can't understand their genius.
    Don't I know it.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

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    Plus, these 'mad scientists' mysteriously tend to work on things involving global-impact fields such as high-energy or lethal pathogens that can cause a lot of damage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Come to that, all smart women in film have glasses, even if they don't always wear them.
    And when they take off their glasses, their hair comes down and they magically become ten times hotter.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Remembered some more:

    Gunplay that doesn't obey Newtonian physics, e.g. a gunshot into the bad guy sends them backwards, but the recoil won't knock the hero on their back.

    Same thing goes for martial arts moves in movies that send the attacked flying across the room, but the attacker doesn't move in the other direction.
    Oh, and they get right back up after hitting said wall across the room at 40+kph.

    Tranquilizers, poisons etc. that work instantly or virtually instantly.

    Viruses or bacteria that upon exposure induce severe sickness within seconds to a few minutes.
    Calm down, have some dip. - George Carlin

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    Star Trek biology had enough barf-enducing cliches that I really don't want to think about them further.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    And when they take off their glasses, their hair comes down and they magically become ten times hotter.
    Quite. And, of course, they never have to show knowledge in their field, just assert that they're part of it. (I wish my best friend would stop going on about how unbelievable Denise Richards was as a nuclear physicist.)

    Speaking of things getting on people's nerves, can a mod fix the thread title?
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    just once, i'd love to see a movie that gets you REALLY involved with a character- while almost totally ignoring everyone else- only to have that character get hit by a bus or something else totally random and killed while on his way to save the world from a Flu pandemic or anything else besides middle eastern terrorists, Japanese gangsters, or corrupt former Communist officials in Russia.
    this would be in the first half of the movie.
    the second half of the movie would be about what the world was like for some random people that managed to survive it all- and they aren't from one of the major population centers, but rather from a small town somewhere that isn't full of people that are like what people in big cities on either coast think people in small towns are like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    (I wish my best friend would stop going on about how unbelievable Denise Richards was as a nuclear physicist.)
    Actually, she was just a nuc-u-lar physicist.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  27. #27
    How about looking into an eyepeice of a telescope and able to determine what is going on.
    From the wilderness to the cosmos.
    http://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

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    Hackers who type randomly for thirty seconds and say, "We're in!"
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Re: Movie Clichés That Get On You Nerves

    Well, there are lots of movie clichés that get on my nerves, but I can't list them here, because there are some things man was not meant to know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Hackers who type randomly for thirty seconds and say, "We're in!"
    Like in Independence Day where Jeff Goldblum was able to plant a virus into the entire alien fleet. Of course, since the aliens forgot to bring along their own satellites, they had to use ours, which gave us a backdoor into their system...

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