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5 Movie Plots That Hollywood Has Officially Done To Death

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A certain amount of familiarity is acceptable and maybe even desirable on film. We all expect the goodies to (mostly) win; we all want the guy to (usually) get the girl. But some storylines are officially just over, done, in serious need of wholesale replacement. The below are the most over-familiar examples, stories that we keep seeing, and keep wishing would go away. Not all the films below are bad, by any means – each of these plots has been done well a number of times – but they are now used up and wrung-out like last week’s laundry. Please, Hollywood, let them go.

The Plot
Probably-uptight workaholic learns what’s important in life

Examples
The Family Man (pictured), Liar Liar, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Baby Boom, Pretty Woman, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Jack Frost, Hook, Regarding Henry, Imagine That, The Ugly Truth, A Good Year.

Typical Case
You know the story. Our Hero is a hard-working type spends every waking minute in the office, obsessing over paperwork like Patrick Bateman obsesses over business cards and showing about as much interest in life outside the office as Bateman does in issues of women’s lib. If Our Hero has a love interest, it’s an anaemic and ill-suited one. If he or she has children, he neglects them and if he’s a he, there’s a 100% chance that he’s recently missed their Little League game. But one day, a fairy godmother / crazy accident / freespirited love interest comes along and changes all that.

Before you know it, Our Hero has thrown his BlackBerry to the wind and is bunking off to spend the day romping with his newfound supernatural friend / head-wound-inspired sense of wonder at the world / adorable child or lover. Cue hugs, puppies and future happiness, with a convenient deus ex machina providing enough continuing income so that their standard of living doesn’t abruptly plummet.

Honourable Exception
A Christmas Carol – the original and best.

Why This Needs To Go
In the current economic climate, this is just too much of a fairytale. Also, it’s boooooo-ring.

The Plot
Misfit yearns to fit in with the In Crowd, but learns the importance of being his- or herself

Examples
Marmaduke, Never Been Kissed, Teen Wolf (pictured), High School Musical, Camp Rock, The Princess Diaries, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Shark Tale, Bratz: The Movie.

Typical Case
Hey, no one’s saying it’s easy being a teenager. But it’s not easy in hundreds of different ways, so why do we see the same story over and over again? Here’s how it goes: Our Hero, who’s probably a teenager, has an eclectic group of friends. It’s possible that he or she has just moved to a new school and been adopted by these people. In any case, all is hunky dory until Our Hero, through a strange twist of fate, is noticed and adopted by the In Crowd.

Before you can say “Yawn already” they’ve abandoned and possibly betrayed their old friends, and cleaved to a more photogenic posse. Soon, however, fitting in requires more of Our Hero than he or she is willing to give, and they reject their new friends for the old, loyal posse – who they win back with an overt display of humility.

Honourable Exception
Mean Girls, which is good enough to forgive. Also The Devil Wears Prada, which at least spins it in a new way.

Why This Needs To Go
Because we get it already. Be Ourselves. OK. Only if you make no effort to fit in, you’ll still be regarded as a weirdo all your life, so films are lying to us, and should be stressing that there’s a happy medium somewhere.

The Plot
Person lies about something to get guy/girl, falls in love, is discovered and immediately dumped, wins them back

Examples
The Wedding Crashers, How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days (pictured), Maid In Manhattan, The Secret of My Success, She’s All That, She’s The Man, Step Up 3D, Failure To Launch, My Best Friend’s Girl, 10 Things I Hate About You

Typical Case
It sometimes starts as a comical misunderstanding, a case of mistaken identity perhaps. More often, it’s a deliberate but short-term ploy that spirals out of control and takes over the hero’s life. But soon Our Hero has seen the advantages of this charade – chief among them the chance to get close to a hottie – and decided to keep up the front. Cross-dressing, faking wealth, whatever: eventually the chickens come home to roost, all comes out (Our Hero //might// confess) and the hottie immediately lashes out, severing all ties no matter how baseless their outrage.

Our Hero sulks for a short time, and here the plot diverges. Our Hero may begin a charm offensive to win back their hottie, or the hottie may independently realise that Our Hero wasn’t so bad after all. Friends and wise old mentors could play a part. The important part is, by the fall of the curtain all’s forgiven and they’re all smoochy again. The moral? Lying will land you eternal happiness with the hottie of your choice, as long as you come clean at some point. Wait, that’s not what Sister Assumpta said about lying all those years ago in RE class. We’re confused.

Honourable Exception
Some Like It Hot, where neither Marilyn nor millionaire Osgood Fielding III blink an eyelid when their girl friends turn out to be boyfriends.

Why This Needs To Go
Sure, people sometimes lie to get what they want. But in real life they often explain themselves at a much earlier stage than in the movies, and are forgiven rather than dumped more often.

The Plot
Fish-out-of-water teaches unforgiving new town to respect his crazy ways

Examples
Crocodile Dundee, Elf (pictured), Lilo & Stitch, Cars, What A Girl Wants, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Step Up, Enchanted, Big, Legally Blonde, Kate & Leopold, Babe, Miss Congeniality, Sister Act, Beverly Hills Cop

Typical Case
Our Hero is introduced into a new and very different background. After years spent in the Outback / Vegas / the 19th century / a pig-pen, here they are in New York / a convent / the 21st century / a sheep pen – and boy are things different! Our Hero’s crazy ways make him or her stand out like Arnold Schwartznegger in a nunnery, but he or she makes a few efforts to fit in and is introduced to the delightful ways of this new environment after some early – and oh-so-hilarious – faux pas.

Still, it's a two way street, and before you can say, “Culture clash goes both ways”, people in this new town are saying G’day mate / singing soul music in church / speaking the language of flowers or, er, herding sheep with a pig. It’s a brand new day, a happier and more open place, and it’s all thanks to Our Hero! Three cheers and a parade in his honour please.

Honourable Exception
Edward Scissorhands, where the ending is very different to normal.

Why This Needs To Go
There’s an argument that these stories are about promoting understanding and fighting prejudice, in which case OK we guess. But the sad fact is that a single person doesn’t usually have //quite// such a seismic effect.

The Plot
Motley crew of misfits and rejects finds they’re better than the existing top dogs

Examples
The Longest Yard, Bring It On Again, Sydney White, The House Bunny, Revenge of the Nerds, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Major League, Mighty Ducks (pictured), The Replacements, Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj

Typical Case
This is not the story of the band of misfits who manage to get something done (think A Bug’s Life), but the specific case where the misfits triumph over a better-trained, better-equipped, plain-old-better side. It’s very, very common in sports movies. Our Hero, possibly an inspirational coach, occasionally a Playboy bunny, finds themselves charged with a failing team of something-or-others. We may be talking sports team, sorority house, school class or prison inmates. Our Hero sets about inspiring this misfit crew (there’ll be a fat one, a nerdy one, and a future star who just needs a confidence boost for starters) and in the space of just a couple of montages they’ll go from zero to hero.

But there’s still the Bad Evil Team, who probably humiliated Our Heroes at the start and have almost certainly tried dirty tricks against them throughout, waiting to be faced in the Big Final. With their matching uniforms and crew cuts, the Bad Evil Team seem unbeatable, perfect and poised. But what’s this? Our motley crew use their individual strengths and quirks to form a formidable whole, and on that last, crucial, toss of the dice / football / C-major chord, they bring it all home. Drinks are on Our Hero tonight, fellas!

P.S. – Bonus points if the inspirational player or coach is a son of Martin Sheen – Emilio Estevez (in Mighty Ducks) and Charlie Sheen (in Major League) have both taken this role.

Honourable Exception
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Hey, it’s funny. And Cool Runnings, because, you know, Cool Runnings.

Why This Needs To Go
Because usually the best funded team wins. Look at bloody Chelsea.

A Bonus Plot Element That’s DONE
The Run For Love

Examples
Love, Actually, Notting Hill, The Proposal, Pretty Woman, Valentine’s Day, When Harry Met Sally, Animal Attraction, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Kate and Leopold, Splash, Inner Space, Sweet Home Alabama, Norbit, She’s Out Of My League, Sleepless In Seattle, Made Of Honour (pictured), My Best Friend's Wedding.

Typical Case
This isn’t an entire movie plot; this is just a tiny element, but it’s so damn ubiquitous that we’re naming and shaming it here anyway. The run for love happens in far too many rom-coms to accept it unthinkingly anymore. It goes like this. Our Hero realises, finally, who he or she is in love with. But time is of the essence! Our Hero must get across town / country before the object of his or her affections disappears forever! Or maybe doesn’t, since half the time they’re not even going anywhere.

There’s a good chance Our Hero will be inappropriately dressed for this dash, an even-better chance that they’ll get a parking ticket or have the police trailing them by the end of the journey, and a 100% chance that they’ll be sweaty when they arrive. Not that their honeys ever seem to mind.

Honourable Exception
The Graduate, which doesn’t leave us on an artificial high. Oh, and Wayne's World 2 for spoofing it all.

Why This Needs To Go
Because it’s so badly thought-out that, quite frequently, there isn’t even a deadline that Our Hero is trying to fight. They’re just running to add some excitement to a movie that can’t provide excitement through the dialogue or characters.

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