Hollywood: The Evil Twin of Originality
When Was the Last Time Hollywood Had a Truly Unique Idea?
I love the movies! Picking one out for the weekend, however? Not so much fun. I look at the listings, watch the trailers and then visit IMDb.com for the latest ratings and reviews. And I still can’t seem to find a decent movie to watch. Is every movie just a rehash vaguely resembling something I’ve already seen before?
Maybe my standards are just too high. Then again, maybe it’s Hollywood.
For the record, I can’t blame Hollywood itself — I’m just using the name Hollywood to represent the movie-making industry in general. It seems to me, that the movie makers are trying to capitalize on recycled ideas that are starting to get … well … overdone.
I know there are a lot of original ideas out there. I’ve seen them in your writings here on Medium. I’ve seen them on the shelf in the bookstore. I might’ve even had a few myself.
So why won’t movie makers try something new? Nope, they’d rather stick to their four main recycling bins for which I’ve come up with my own classifications.
- Bandwagon movies
- Serial Killers
- Fights In Tights
Bandwagon Movies are movies that are made after someone else has a good idea and hits it big. The best example of this is Star Wars. It was fresh, it was exciting and it was like nothing we’d ever seen before. Then some other movie makers tried to capitalize on the success of Star Wars, jumped on the bandwagon and said, “Hey, we can do that, too.” (Except that they couldn’t) And we got bombarded with an avalanche of (bad) Bandwagon Movies. Do you remember Battle Beyond the Stars, The Last Starfighter, The Black Hole, Spacehunter: Adventures In the Forbidden Zone, or Starcrash? If you don’t, that’s okay, no one else does, either.
Remakes are movies that were made based on other movies. Remakes fit into two categories: Updates and Someone Else’s Idea.
Updates are obvious.These are older movies that have been remade for a more modern audience. As a kid I remember watching a movie about two dogs and a cat who become separated from their owners and set out together to be reunited with them. The Incredible Journey (1963) was a wonderful heartwarming movie that I and many other nostalgic movie fans still love today. The 1993 remake Homeward Bound wasn’t nearly as good, and somewhat forgettable. Although not all updates are bad, they are still a recycled idea lacking in originality. Other Updates include Footloose (1984, 2011), The Parent Trap (1961, 1998), Planet of the Apes (1968, 2001), Willy Wonka / Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (1971, 2005), and Ocean’s Eleven (1960, 2001) to name a few. Whether the original or the remake is better is for you to judge.
Someone Else’s Idea usually involves taking a foreign film and recreating it for the (North) American audience. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea — it gives Westerners a chance to see a good foreign film that they might not otherwise be aware of and in a context with which they may be more comfortable. The evil twin comes into play when those movie makers pass off these foreign ideas as their own. Often, movie audiences aren’t even aware that they’re seeing a Remake of a foreign film. Here are some of my favorite examples: The Birdcage (La Cage Aux Folles — France), Three Men and A Baby (Trois Hommes et un Couffin — France), The Scent of a Woman (Profumo di Donna — Italy), The Magnificent Seven (Seven Samuri — Japan), Vanilla Sky (Abre Los Ojos — Spain), The Lake House (Il Mare — Korea), and Point of No Return (La Femme Nikita — France). There are many, many more.
Serial Killers have nothing to do with homicidal maniacs. Serial Killers are the nth sequel in a movie series to the point where there isn’t even so much as a juicy pulp left to the dead horse they’ve been beating. Again, not all sequels are bad. There have even been some sequels that were better than their parent. But then there are those sequels that make us shake our heads and groan, “Another one??” We love Indiana Jones, but the newest installment in the series brings with it a slew of “old geezer” jokes. Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Hemorrhoid Cushion (thanks @normwilner). Indiana Jones IS The Artifact. Indiana Jones and the Lost AARP (@Steve Huff). Indiana Jones and the Hip Replacement. I mean, come on, really? At what point do Hollywood move makers say, “Maybe this is getting old.” Or maybe the lead actor is too old? A good idea can only hold out so long. Here are some other movies that didn’t get the memo in time and became Serial Killers: Star Wars (this one will undoubtedly be argued by diehard fans), Rocky (6 sequels), The Land Before Time (13 sequels), Jaws (4 sequels), Transformers (4 sequels), Rambo (5 sequels), Fast and Furious (7 sequels). There are so many movies that fit into this category, I had a hard time narrowing it down to these seven.
The last category is an entity of itself. Fights In Tights consists of pretty much every superhero movie ever made. Superhero movies seem to fit into all of the previous categories. They are Bandwagon Movies (name a superhero that hasn’t had a movie made about him or her), they are Remakes (of comic books and 1950’s TV shows), and they are Serial Killers (how many Batman movies are there now??). It all began with Superman and it’s been a nerds-with-super-powers dodge-ball game ever since. When movie makers couldn’t come up with another movie for our favorite DC and Marvel Comics superheroes, they began to pit the action figures against each other or force them to take sides. Movies like Avengers and Batman v Superman now bring a whole new meaning to the phrase Fights In Tights.
Hollywood move makers need to start paying attention to the groans and detached retina-inducing eyeball rolling and come up with some new — dare I say innovative? — ideas for their next box office production. I can suggest a few places to find those new ideas. Read a book, there are a lot of struggling authors with fresh views on the world. Watch the news. After all, people are always doing things that make us say, “Just when I thought I saw everything.” Or here’s an idea — get out of the office. A good dose of fresh air just might blow the cobwebs out of those Hollywood heads.