There are many movie clichés that drive everyone nuts: a slow, limp-ridden serial killer somehow chasing down a teenager running at full speed; people fleeing upstairs instead of downstairs and out of the building; the supervillain taking time to explain his evil plot before killing a guy…only to have it bite him in the ass later; the list goes on and on. There are, however, a few things that really, really drive me crazy. I don’t know why — they’re not any dumber than other movie clichés. For some reason, though, these just stick in my cinematic craw.
- Characters saying out loud exactly what they’re typing on the computer. Why? Why not just do a voice over? People don’t actually say out loud what they’re typing. (Actually, I did it once. The shame was overpowering.)
- Characters being chased by a car who continue to run straight ahead. Change directions! Guess what? Cars cannot change directions as quickly as you can on foot — especially if you can run off the actual road. They can, however, go much faster than you can on a perfectly paved road in a straight line. Sheesh.
- Characters barely escaping the clutches of the bad guy when the elevator door closes just in the nick of time…and then proceeding to take it directly to the ground floor. The bad guy knows which elevator car you’re in and knows you want to get out on the ground floor (unless you’re one of the aforementioned dolts who goes up). Maybe you could get off on one of the 25 other floors and then switch to the stairwell (remember to send the car to the ground floor so that he thinks you’re still going down)? Or maybe just hang out a little while on one of the floors before switching cars. He’ll have no idea where the hell you are. It’s a big building!
- Characters always finding a single open parking spot right in front of the busy downtown building where they need to go. I know for time and flow purposes, they can’t actually show a character circling for 10 minutes, finding a spot 5 blocks away, and then hoofing it. So have a valet. Have the character double-park. Do some fancy editing to remove the parking sequence completely. Don’t insult my sensibilities with a single open parking spot right in front of the door.
On the flip side, here are a few devices that I think are vastly underused in movies.
- Two characters reaching for the salt shaker at the same time, accidentally touching hands, gazing into one another’s eyes, and falling madly in love.
- The Lady and the Tramp variation of the previous device: two characters sharing a plate of spaghetti, inadvertently slurping the same noodle at opposite ends, and meeting in the middle for a saucy kiss. Now that’s movie magic!
- Some dude getting hit in the groin with a thrown object. One of the two things that are always funny. Always.
- Spit takes. The other thing that’s always funny.
- Having a cat save the day. It’s always a dog that does the saving. Hollywood is generally anti-felinic. Except for The Aristocats.