GitRant – Four Movie Cliches That Need To Die

I watched a couple of films recently that hit me over the head with a couple of really predictable clichés that should have long ago been consigned to the same cine-bin as cat-based jump scares and Matrix bullet-time spoofs. As the kind of spoddy tool who has seen far too many movies, these things leap out at me, sometimes ruining what could otherwise be a good movie. So here are my four top clichés that need to die, along with how you can fix `em.

GitRant - Cliches that need to die 11. THE BICYCLE JOKE

See: Far too many comedy movies, but special mention to beloved OAP sitcom LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE.

WHAT IS IT?

An old favourite this one. So called because I once read a list of “Crimes Against Comedy” by the writers of Father Ted, and this gag featured prominently. Taking the Last Of The Summer Wine example, it goes like this: Clegg and Foggy are persuading Compo to ride an old rickety bike down a hill. Or a bath or whatever. Compo flatly refuses. Clegg and Foggy try to persuade, cajole or perhaps even threaten Compo, but he`s firm. He`s not getting on that bike. No Way. Never. CUT TO: Compo riding the bike down the hill, THEREBY DOING THE EXACT THING THAT HE SAID HE WOULDN’T!

WHY IS IT USED?

Cutting out the intervening time and showing us that Compo lost the argument that we didn`t need to see invokes pathos and irony. It shows character dynamic and establishes a pecking order. It will also reinforce the Compo character as a running butt of jokes.

WHY IT NEEDS TO DIE:

Over exposure! It`s a lazy laugh which the people writing now probably saw 50 different times while they were growing up. It`s the visual gag equivalent of the Wilhelm Scream.

HOW TO FIX IT:

Have the same set-up. He`s not getting on that bike. No way. Never. CUT TO: the characters doing something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, like drinking tea or emasculating a donkey, while the Compo character says “I told you I wasn’t getting on that bike, you pair of rancid twats.”

GitRant - Cliches that need to die 22. The WATERFALL

See: Practically any action-y movie where our heroes end up on a raft/simply fall into a fast-moving river. Most recently seen in “The Revenant”.

WHAT IS IT?

There`s a fight, or a pursuit, or some danger and our hero/heroes are forced to hop on a log, raft, or simply jump/fall into a fast-moving river to escape. They leave their pursuer(s) standing on the bank, unable to chase them any further. They relax and congratulate themselves because everything is OK now! Well THINK AGAIN because there`s a fucking great waterfall coming up and our heroes better think fast or they`re going over the edge!

WHY IS IT USED?

Cheap filler set piece innit? Adds ten minutes mild peril to the runtime.

WHY IT NEEDS TO DIE:

Aside from it being overused, obvious, boring and predictable, this cliché was in a scene DELETED from Star Wars Episode 1. If George “I-forgot-how-to-make-movies-in-the-80s” Lucas thinks it needs to go, it should be a no-brainer for everyone else.

HOW TO FIX IT:

Our heroes leave their pursuer(s) standing on the bank, unable to chase them any further. They relax and congratulate themselves because everything is OK now! Then, a fucking piano falls on them or something.

GitRant - Cliches that need to die 33. The “YOU CAN`T STOP IT” GUY.

See: Ring, The Fly II, Drag Me To Hell, lots of horror films, this one.

WHAT IS IT?

There`s an army of the undead on the loose. Or a demon thingy. Or a freaky Japanese ghost lady. Our heroes have tried the police, the army, and writing to their local MP, but nothing`s stopping it. But there`s one hope left – they picked up a clue via an old book, a mysterious note or an internet search which leads them to a guy who has SEEN THIS HAPPEN BEFORE. They get in the Winnebago and head off to track him down. He lives in a run-down shack in the middle of nowhere, probably covered with pentagrams or some shit, and he`s usually an alcoholic. He threatens them with a shotgun when they arrive, but then our heroes are able to convince him why they`re there with some sort of evidence of the supernatural threat which BRINGS IT ALL BACK. When inside, he tells them to GIVE UP because NOTHING CAN STOP IT. But, he might give them a bit of advice or a talisman or something which may or may not come in useful.

WHY IS IT USED?

Exposition. It`s the writer`s chance to throw some back story at you and contextualize the threat. If the movie is a sequel, it`s a chance to reference the events of the previous movie. Also, it usually happens at the end of the second act when things are at their worst, so having your heroes hopes dashed by someone who has faced the threat before ups the dramatic tension.

WHY IT NEEDS TO DIE:

It usually feels cheap and crowbarred in, and is usually where most of the ambiguity and mystery is removed. And it`s obvious as hell. I recently walked out of a J-horror called GEKIJOUREI because they threw this cliché at me. OK, the movie was pretty crap even beforehand but that was the icing on the shit-cake.

HOW TO FIX IT:

The heroes explain that they`re here to ask him about the threat, and a look of pure horror floods the guy`s face as he simply turns his shotgun around and blows his own brains out. Leaves your characters end-of-second-act-fucked like you wanted and cuts out a boring scene. Job`s a good ‘un!

GitRant - Cliches that need to die 44. The MISSION IMPOSSIBLE SKIT WITH MUSIC

See: Ace Ventura, Paddington, that old advert with the fucking squirrel, ANYTHING.

WHAT IS IT?

Our hero has to sneak in somewhere, or climb up/down something. Accompanying this scene is the theme from the 60’s TV series “Mission Impossible”.

WHY IS IT USED?

I really don`t know. Until the Tom Cruise MI movies, nobody even fucking knew what that music was. I grew up thinking it was just the standard music for sneaking around and climbing up stuff. About 15 years ago there was a text-message service called AQA (Any Question Answered), where you would text them questions and they`d send you a (usually) accurate reply. I asked them how many movies had used this cliché and after a longer pause than usual, they replied that they didn’t know. I lost faith in them after that (that and the fact that they told me Cloud would beat Squall despite the fact that Squall is a realistic person and Cloud is an anime midget – it`d be like Ricky Gervais holding Warwick Davis at arm`s length in Extras). Wankers.

WHY IT NEEDS TO DIE:

This cliché is an AUTOMATIC FAIL. It`s like going the wrong way down a one way street on your driving test. Stop the car, get out, you`re done. The most recent film to do this was “Paddington”, released in 2015. 2015! I don`t care if the rest of the film was good, the inclusion of the oldest and laziest pop-culture reference in movie history ensured that I will always consider that film inferior to fucking “Plan 9 From Outer Space”. 2015 guys? You should know better.

HOW TO FIX IT:

Do the same scene, and start with that flute trill which opens the MI theme, but then replace the rest of it with “Peaches” by The Stranglers. Especially the grunting bit near the end.


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