Friday, February 28, 2014

A Pundit of Clichés

I just recently came across a helpful page full of the most overused lines in movies, which consist of wonderful sentences such as:

“I won’t let you do whatever you want!”
“I love you!”
“Look out!”
“Let’s get outta here!”

While the notion of relying on repetitive lines is nothing new, it's the constant repetition of the very themes that these lines convey that cause discomfort among film critics and audiences.  To get an idea of whether the movie you're watching is heavily cobbled from multiple sources, just induce the drinking game whenever any character says any of the following.  If you're unable to stand up or see straight after 20 minutes, chances are that you're watching a B-movie of epic proportions.

As mentioned, the above phrases are used quite a lot in Anime, basically because (with few exceptions) the villain wants is pretty much that: does whatever he wants.  There was a forum that threw them all together to create the beginnings of a screenplay:

HERO/INE: “I won’t let you do whatever you want!”
MAIN SQUEEZE: “Look out!”
HERO/INE and VILLAIN fight; HERO/INE wins but VILLAIN starts self-destruct mechanism.
HERO/INE: “Let get outta here!”
MAIN SQUEEZE: “I love you.”

=The End=

Kinda predictable, but serviceable. However, jumble it up and...

VILLAIN: “I love you.”
HERO/INE: “I won’t let you do whatever you want!”
Villain and Henchman attempt to do whatever they want; HERO/INE pulls gun.
HENCHMAN: “Look out!”
VILLAIN: “Let’s get outta here!”

=The End=

Hmmm, still kinda predictable, though good enough for Cinemax, I suppose. Let’s roll the dice yet again...

VILLAIN: “Let’s get outta here!”
HERO/INE: “I won’t let you do whatever you want!”
MAIN SQUEEZE: “I love you.”
HERO/INE: “Look out!”

=The End=

Ends on a note of jeopardy, doesn’t it? Must be a sequel in the offing.  Of course, we could just turn it into a short film...

MAIN SQUEEZE: “I love you. Let’s get outta here!”
HERO/INE: “Look out! I won’t let you do whatever you want!”

=The End=

Hentai might go this way–

VILLAIN tries to hit HERO/INE with a battle-axe. Sidekick points at weapon–
SIDEKICK: “Look out!”
HERO/INE: (points at VILLAIN) “I won’t let you do whatever you want!”
VILLAINwinks at HERO/INE then laughs. Suddenly a lot of tentacles shoot out of VILLAIN’s butt.
VILLAIN: “I love you!”
HERO/INE and SIDEKICK both look at each other.
HERO/INE: “Let’s get outta here!”
Tentacles grab HERO/INE and SIDEKICK, then creepy synch music kicks in and I turn around to my friends and say,
ME: “Why did you guys rent this?!”

=feh!= The trick is not to ADD new dialog but to tell a story with what you’ve got. However, if we play with the punctuation...

Gestures to Hero/ine’s garments.
MAIN SQUEEZE: “Get out!”
HERO/INE measures anticipated distance with hands.
HERO/INE: “To here? Look!” [SFX: Zipper] “Out!”
MAIN SQUEEZE: “I love you!”
HERO/INE: “I won’t let you.”
MAIN SQUEEZE: “Do what you want!”

m’kay, let’s try this – The end of almost any episode near the end of a GUNDAM series run.

(Villain and HERO/INE stand in the remains of a space colony surrounded by broken giant robots after a tremendous battle that destroyed the colony)
(Villain points a finger at HERO/INE)
VILLAIN: “I won’t let you love me!”
(HERO/INE in a freeze frame, looking puzzled, as speed lines fly and camera pulls back)
(Before HERO/INE can react, the room starts to shake. Bits of the ceiling fall)
HERO/INE: “I–Look out!”
HERO/INE covers his/her face then reaches for VILLAIN.
HERO/INE: “Let’s get outta here!”
(VILLAIN turns back, looks over shoulder)
VILLAIN: “Do whatever you want.”
(VILLAIN walks away as room falls to pieces. HERO/INE stares, squinches one eye, then runs the other direction out of the decaying room in disgust.)

Like TVtropes, not all cliches are bad.  It's just when so many of them are overused and prevalent that the threads begin to show in the patchwork.  What would make for a much more interesting result is if somebody took the typically overdone phrases and reworked them into an entirely different meaning than the scenes they're usually associated with.  To shake things up, you could try to change things around so that some phrases would have completely different meanings.  The overall result would be something that would be much more interesting than the typical trailers that are released nowadays.

With this frameset in mind, I had the bright idea to try to garner a kind of mishmash screenplay that consisted of nothing but clichéd dialogue.  Go ahead and try it yourself!  See if you can convey something resembling a comprehensible story out of these standalone lines.  Fun!

After some imaginative re-interpretation, I came up with the following trailer for a movie that probably won't be coming out anytime soon.

Ubiquitous Studios Present:

Cliché the Movie

(Overhead view of a maternity ward, with booming overhead voice)
"I was born ready."

(Scene shifts to a maximum security prison years later)

(Business Woman nervously approaches a wild-looking man surrounded by guards)
Business Woman: "Are you sitting down?"
(Once the Wild Man sits down, metal bonds latch around his ankles and wrists)
(As soon as the Wild Man is secured, Business Woman yells at everyone else in the room) "Let’s get out of here!"
(Business Woman races towards the door, but no sooner is his back turned than the prisoner already slipped out of his chair, smashed the Business woman with the same chair he was tied to and proceeds to make short work of the defenses.)
Wild Man: "Ready is my middle name.  Is that all you got?  I’m just getting started!"

(A man presses his fingers to his temples, sending telepathic waves to his Friend across the room)
Psychic: "Are you thinking what I’m thinking?"
(the Friend looks horrified, and starts racing towards the psychic)
Friend: "Don’t you die on me!"
(Blood starts streaming from the Psychic's eyes and ears)
Psychic: "Tell my wife and kids I love them."

(A Priest is doing cardiac resuscitation on a possessed child)
Priest: "Breathe, dammit!  Cover me. I’m going in."
(Is just about to astrally enter the possessed child when he notices the victim's eyes suddenly look lucid)
Priest: (Mouths the words) "He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?"
(After a cursory nod from the child, the Priest releases some Holy Water from a spray can behind him)
(Devil screams) "No, no, no, no, NO! I’m not going!" [Cut to Devil going.]
(there's a relative moment of calm after the devil's been exorcised.  Then there's a knock at the door)
Priest: No. Come in. READY was just leaving.  You’d better come in.

(Wild Man and Business Woman are in an alley)
Wild Man: So, we meet again.
Business Woman: We’ve got to stop meeting like this.
Army Sergeant: (stepping out of the shadows) Well, if it isn’t Ready.
Wild Man: I’m just doing my job.
Army Sergeant: (Sneering) You give Ready a bad name. Calling you all Ready is an insult to Readies everywhere.

Army Sergeant: You’re either very brave... or very stupid.
Wild Man: Oh, yeah?! You and whose army?
(Army Sergeant outstretches his arm to show the impressive amount of men in the distance that was just obscured by his body)
Wild Man: (Looks excited) "Now that’s what I’m talking about!"
Army Sergeant: Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Business Woman: It’s not you, it’s me.
Wild Man: (Grinning maniacally, jumping around in glee) This just keeps getting better and better!

Psychic: (Talking to himself) You’ll never get away with this!  (Personality changes) Watch me.

Wild Man: Looking good. [Said into a car-view mirror.] (Revs engine towards Psychic)
Psychic: Time to die. (Levitates the car Wild Man was sitting in)
Wild Man: What the...? (Car flies over Psychic)
Army Sergeant: Follow that car!  (tracks overthrown arc of flying vehicle until it falls off the edge of a cliff)
Psychic: Now... where were we?
Army Sergeant: (to his troops) If I’m not back in 2 minutes, get out of here, blow the whole thing up and call the cops.
Psychic: You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Army Sergeant: (Calls out to PsychicWhatever you do, don’t look down.  (Business Woman looks down)
Army Sergeant: We’ve got company.
Wild Man: (Grinning maniacally, rapidly climbing up the cliff) I eat guys like you for breakfast!
Business Woman: (Exasperated) Oh now you’re really starting to piss me off!  Why won't you die?!
Wild Man: What part of READY don’t you understand?
Psychic: (sounding bored) You’ll never take me alive.
Business Woman: (Unholsters her gun) Okay, let’s call that plan B.
Wild Man: I always knew you’d come crawling back.
Business Woman: (Knocks out Wild Man on the head with gun handle from behind) Try to get some sleep.

Psychic: (Talking to himself) I’m not leaving you.  You have to go on without me.
Wild Man: Don’t even go there!  (I’ve always wanted to say that!)
Psychic: Ready when you are!
Wild Man: (Insulted) Is this some kind of sick joke? Oh haha, very funny.
Psychic: (Looks concerned) Did I just say that out loud?

(A Superpowered team is cautiously moving into hostile territory, until...)
Army Sergeant: Wait. Did you hear something?
Wild Man: (rubbing his popped ears) ...Yeah. A little too quiet.
(turns to see one of the crew noisily scratching an itch vigorously)
Scratch: It’s just a scratch.
(Next we see Scratch encased in a block of ice)
Fox: "How is he?"
Army Sergeant: (annoyed) "He’ll live."
Scratch: "I’m . . . so cold . . ."
(Other members of the team admire the handiwork)
Henchman1: "Is that clear?"
Henchman2: "Crystal."

Business Woman: It’s no use!  We’ll never make it in time! Stay here.
Friend: No way, I’m coming with you. This isn’t over!
Business Woman: I have a bad feeling about this.
Friend: What’s the worst that could happen? What have we got to lose?
Priest: Leave it. They’re already dead.
Business Woman: (Annoyed) Don’t you think I know that?!

Friend: You look like you’ve seen a ghost.
Psychic: What if?... Nah, it would never work. (Personality changes) ...and there’s nothing you or anyone else can do to stop me!
Wild Man:  You say that like it’s a bad thing.
Friend: Let’s do this thing! How hard can it be?

Psychic: (Rubs his head, suppressing his ginormous headache) If we make it out of this alive...
Friend: (shakes Psychic's hand congratulatory) That’s it! You’re off the case!
Business Woman: Note to self... (talks into tape recorder) What just happened?  What’s the meaning of this?

Scratch: (Looks at Fox wearing an attractive dress) It’s a trap!
Army Sergeant: (Stares at Fox's nether realms) She’s gonna blow!
Scratch: (Vehemently shaking his head in denial) Fox ain't Gay!
Army Sergeant: No, that’s what they want us to think.
Scratch: (Obfuscating Stupidity) In English, please.
Army Sergeant: As many of you already know, (yadda, yadda, yadda).
Scratch: (feeling betrayed, covering his ears) Too much information! (runs crying out of the room)
Wild Man: Yeah, you better run!
Army Sergeant: (Presses hard on Wild Man's shoulder) Leave it. He’s/She’s/It's not worth it.

Priest: Okay, here’s what we do... [and cut to a different scene]
Scratch: (Kneeling over a toilet) I just threw up in my mouth a little.
Army Sergeant: (Cleaning toilets) I’m getting too old for this crap.
Priest: Wait a minute, are you saying–?  (Looks at list of retirement homes)

Fox:  Leave this to me. I’ve got a plan.
Business Woman: Why are you doing this to me?
Fox: When I’m through with you, your mother won't recognize you!
(Once finished putting the Business Woman in a disguise that looks completely different from her usual Prima Donna getup)
Fox: Done... and done! You go girl!
(Rival Business Woman appears, sporting a friendly wave and smile) Hi, sis.
Fox: (expressions of confusion and incomprehension flicker over Fox's shocked face) Impossible!
Business Woman: Wait! I can explain! This isn’t what it looks like.
Rival Business Woman: (brings out her cell phone camera) Showtime!

Rival Business Woman: How long have we known each other?  We go back a long way.
Business Woman: (Looking hesitant, stammering, eyes darting everywhere) Well, well, well...
Fox: Aha! I knew it!

(In the public toilet)
Psychic: (hearing something in his head) "...Unless? Unless WHAT???
Priest:  What are you doing here?
Psychic: (surprised) I was about to ask you the same thing.
Priest: Hang on... if you’re here then that means... uh oh.  So, who died? (Sees his body amidst the rubble) ...Oh.  That’s not good.
Psychic: (Feeling embarassed) Awkward!
Priest: (Feeling despaired) Jesus H. Christ!

Scratch: (cowering in fear as debris rains all around them) This is not happening. This is not happening!  Make it stop!
Fox: (Not wanting to die a virgin reaches for the closest guy besides him) Shut up and kiss me.
Scratch: (Not wanting to be kissed by a guy, aims a gun at Fox's face) I’ll see you in hell first!  Lock and load!
Fox: (Looking regretful and terrified) Oh Hell, no!
Army Sergeant: (Slaps the nozzle of Scratch's gun down) Not on my watch!
Wild Man: (Looks at the caliber of the gun) I have GOT to get me one of these!
Business Woman: You just don’t get it, do you?
Wild Man: I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.
Army Sergeant: It’s called being Ready, you should try it sometime.
(Wild Man sputters and fumes over the secret being told without his permission)
Business Woman: (smirks at Wild Man's reaction) That went well!

Business Woman: Listen to me, and listen good, 'cause I'm only gonna say it once.
Wild Man: Let me guess -- Fire in the hole? (Points to a large hellhole filled with fire)
(Scratch comes shambling in)  Did I miss anything?
(Scratch is promptly incapacitated in a block of ice again)
(Army Sergeant turns away from Scratch to Wild Man) Now, where were we?
Wild Man: On Three. One, two..." (Promptly throws himself and Business Woman inside the hellhole)
Business Woman: Are you tryin' to get us killed?
Wild Man: (makes a somber expression) I've got a confession to make... (a demonic smile appears on his face) That's what she said over my dead body!

Rival Business Woman: What seems to be the problem, Officer?
Policeman: Honey, is that you?

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