The Art of the Movie Cliche

I had huge plans to go to bed early tonight.  Maybe read a little.  And then, while doing a final scroll through the cable guide, I find that Crazy, Stupid, Love is on.  I love this movie. So here I sit, about one or two commercial breaks away from the end, and already two hours past my target bedtime.

GoslingThere are lots of things I like about this movie, and not just because there’s a lot of shirtless Ryan Gosling.  Although that doesn’t hurt.  The movie is, however, guilty of a movie cliche – the big scene at a school assembly.  You know the cliche – someone grabs a microphone and reveals their true feelings in front of a crowded school auditorium, completely interrupting a play/talent show/graduation (Mean Girls, In & Out, Love Actually, About a Boy, etc.). Why does nobody wrench the mic away from the interrupter and drag him off stage?  How did moviedom decide that this was a normal and believable occurrence in life, and therefore a good plot idea?

And then there’s my least favorite – the dreaded slow clap.  The protagonist does something that warrants applause, and someone, usually the antagonist, will start with a single, slow clap. It will grow faster and faster until the rest of the cast has joined in and made it a big round of thunderous applause.  I HATE the slow clap.  When does this ever happen in life? Never, that’s when.  There have been many times when I’ve enjoyed a movie right until the slow clap.  And then I’m done.  I cannot give a thumbs up to any movie that employs this lazy plot device.  If it can even be called something as substantial as a plot device.

Hollywood is guilty of others, too.  The big scene at the airport is a doozy (which is a lot less dramatic now that only ticketed passengers can get past security). Really any mode of transportation will do, as long as it’s one last chance at love before someone slips away. Now that I think about it, Love Actually has the school play interruption AND the airport chase.  But because it lacks the slow clap, I can give myself permission to like the movie anyway.

I don’t have anything profound to say here.  Tonight is mainly wishing aloud that scripts would take a fresh look at love.  Love is dramatic and interesting and fun because it’s love. It doesn’t need to be dressed up with someone in an octopus costume doing the slow clap at a school Christmas play.

But if that someone could do the slow clap with all eight arms…I’d watch.


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