Friday, December 14, 2007

100 Movie Clichés

Hey guys,

I used to post movie clichés periodically when I first started blogging, which were from
Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary and submitted by cinephiles from around the world. I still have a 60-page word doc filled with hundreds of clichés, which every screenwriter should know by heart, right? So I thought I’d share some hand-picked favorites in posts of 100. (This group only goes up to the E’s.)

I love ‘em!

See also
Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics.



1) 'Brains in vats' movie
Named for Wilder Penfields brain experiments in the mid-20th century, these are movies in which the reality of events is caused by some sort of device that makes the brain "think" it is experiencing those events. See "The Matrix" movies, "Existenz," "Total Recall," "Open Your Eyes," "Vanilla Sky" and others. Currently in vogue as a replacement for the dreaded "It Was All a Dream" movie. MIKE SPEARNS, ST. JOHNS, NEWFOUNDLAND

2) "Miss Blanche?" Character
Any character in a film who is a false hero and exists only to get killed for shock value -- usually seconds after theyve found out the villain. Examples: Detective Arbogast in "Psycho," the cop in "Misery," the brother in "The Stepfather," the football player in the remake of "The Blob," and, of course, the maid in "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" (The title comes from her last words.) ROB MATSUSHITA, Madison, Wis.

3) "Tell Me Where You Are And I'll Come And Get You."
Telltale line that finally makes obvious to everyone (except the hero) that the heros trusted friend or supervisor has gone over to the bad guys. JIM LEE, Cary, North N.C.

4) 'The Center of the World' vs. 'Freddy Got Fingered' Syndrome
The worse a movie is, the more forgiving the MPAA will be when rating it. Ed Pegg Jr., Champaign

5) 'This just keeps getting better and better'
Line uttered for no reason other than that it makes a great button for the trailer ("Men in Black," "EDtv," "The Mummy"). Michael Schlesinger, Culver City, Calif.

6) 'We've been expecting you...'
Whenever a hero fights his way into the villains fortress, escaping multiple assassination attempts, he will be caught and taken to the villain, who will invariably greet him with, "Weve been expecting you." GERARDO VALERO, MEXICO CITY

7) 45 Caliber Pick-Up
Almost all movie poker games involve a threat of immediate violence, even when the players are friends. Ian Waldron-Mantgani, Liverpool, England

8) Airline Flight Rules
Movie characters travel only first class. They are never seated near crying babies. All flights are full, but they are always able to walk right on and take their seat without waiting behind someone cramming a suitcase into an overhead rack. Although other passengers on the flight may recline their seats, the main characters can only be seated in the full upright position, because if they reclined the result would be an unattractive camera angle up their nostrils. JAMES

9) Alan Alda Rule
Any character in a murder mystery who is excessively helpful to the main character invariably turns out to be the killer (if theyre not dead by the second reel). Named for Alda because hes done it at least twice. BOB MATSUSHITA, Madison, WI.

10) Ali MacGraw's Disease
Movie illness in which the only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches. (This disease claimed many screen victims, often including Greta Garbo.)

11) All-Seeing Camera
The remarkable ability of a stationary surveillance camera or news camera operated by a lone cameraman to film or video an incident from several different angles and distances all at once. When played back, the resulting film or videotape exactly duplicates the original point-of-view of the audience, right down to the sequence of the montage. See "Enemy of the State," etc. MERWYN GROTE, St. Louis, Missouri

12) Angel Limited-Involvement Rule
Modern movie angels mostly seem to visit earth in order to smoke cigarettes, eat pizza, and show what regular Joes they are. Although famine, war, disease and higher prices torment the globe, they solve such problems as a guy who has stopped dating because hes lost his faith in women.

13) Anti-Anti-Auto Theft Device
Any actor can start any car by pulling any two wires from under the dash and touching them together to make them spark. This not only starts the car but it also defeats the steering columns locking mechanism. COLOM KEATING, Santa Monica, Calif.

14) Antiques Of Death
Straight razors, ice picks, paperweights, fireplace pokers, meat cleavers, crowbars, dueling pistols, ceremonial daggers, swords, sabers, battle-axes, giant marble ashtrays and other archaic, cliche weapons of mayhem that always seem to be handy for movie murders, even though few homes might actually have any such antiques readily available for an impromptu killing. MERWYN GROTE, St. Louis, Missouri

15) Archivist Killer Syndrome
Many serial killers could also find employment as the authors of double-acrostics and conundrums. In searching for such killers, hero detectives invariably find an abandoned apartment with newspaper clippings and photos on the wall showing the killers a) victims b) pursuer c) next victim and d) a message to his pursuers. See "In the Line Of Fire," "Seven." DAVID T. G. RICHES Etobicoke, Ontario

16) As Long As You're Up, Get Me a 2 x 4
When a fight in a bar breaks out, nearly everyone in the place begins fighting, spontaneously and without cause--even with people theyve have been sitting next to for some time. JIM SIMON, Villa Park, Ca.

17) Auto Autopilot Exemption
An actor required to deliver key dialogue while driving a car is allowed to take his or her eyes off the road and maintain steady eye contact with the front-seat passenger for up to five seconds without being subject to real-life consequences like rear-ending a cement mixer or taking out pedestrians. DAVID MAYEROVITCH, Toronto

18) Auto Death Knell
If a character dies in a car crash, he will do so in a way that causes the horn to blare continuously. JOHN SHANNON, Oceanside, CA

19) Autobiographical Cameo Perk
If a flattering movie is made about a person who is still alive, watch for that person to make a fleeting cameo in the film, a perk for relinquishing the rights to his existence. Examples. Melvin Dumar selling sandwiches in "Melvin and Howard," Jim Garrison playing Earl Warren in "JFK," Blaze Starr as a stripper in "Blaze," or Jim Lovell playing an admiral in Apollo 13.

20) Automatic Customer Bell
All establishing shots of small town Main Streets are inevitably accompanied by the sound of a bell ringing as a customer opens a door.

21) Awake and Ready to Scare
When a character touches another to check whether theyre sleeping or dead, the immobile person inevitably wakes up and grabs him in tune with a strong musical note. GERARDO VALERO, MEXICO CITY

22) Backlit Horizon Phenomenon
The ever-present white light whose source is always just beyond the horizon line where no practical light source would be. This phenomenon allows dramatic entrances to secluded locales, e.g., the appearance of the Ring Wraiths on the road in "The Fellowship of the Ring" and the appearance of the Nigerian soldiers in the jungle in "Tears of the Sun."PATRICK LEMIEUX, TORONTO

23) Backseater Mortality Phenomenon
Whenever the hero is the pilot of a warplane that has a crew of two or more, any crewman that is not a pilot is marked for death. See "Top Gun," "Flight of the Intruder," "Enemy Mine," "By Dawns Early Light," and "The Empire Strikes Back." JEFF CROSS, Marblehead, Mass.

24) Bad Guy Credentials Demo
In any movie where the villain is a really, really bad guy, whose dysfunction and malice transcend that of the ordinary evildoer, he establishes that fact early in the film by coldly killing one of his own men. (See Darth Vader, many Bond villains, Russian Mafia leader in "The Jackal," etc.) DIRK KNEMEYER, Bowling Green, Ohio

25) Bartlett's Law
Whenever one character recites a quote from memory to another, the second person already knows it, and tells him or her the origin. If it is from the Bible, the second person always knows which chapter and verse. MIKE PEARL, ORANGE, CALIF.

26) Based on a true story
Hollywood shorthand, meaning: Depressing, morbid, downbeat, including scenes so shocking or lascivious that no producer would include them in a movie unless he could excuse himself by saying these things actually happened. RICH ELIAS, Delaware, Ohio

27) Because It's Called Sound Effects Rule
In real life, when someone hangs up the phone on you, you hear a click and then silence (about 30 seconds of dead air before an obnoxious reorder tone). In the movies, when someone hangs up at the other end, you get a new dial tone immediately. JOHN FARMER Manhattan Beach, CA

28) Big Name Poster Rule
When entire trailer or poster for a movie consists of the names of the two stars, as in STALLONE-STONE or WESLEY-WOODY, this suggests that getting those two names represents most of the films budget, and that finding a script was a lower priority. MARK McDERMOTT Park Forest, IL

29) Big Wet Dog Shakedown
All wet dogs shake themselves dry only while standing next to well-dressed movie characters.Steve Wideman, Birmingham, Ala.

30) Bloody Fingertip Rule
If a character sees anything looking like blood, he must put his finger in it and hold it up before realizing that it is blood. Corollary: If the substance is not blood, the character must smell it or taste it before realizing what it is.Gerald Fitzgerald, Dallas

31) Bloody Steak Rule
When characters order steaks, they always ask for "rare," which people hardly ever order in restaurants, instead of "medium rare" or "medium," which is what most people order. This is because the kind of character who orders a steak in a movie would sound like a wimp asking for "medium." JER MORAN, HOUSTON

32) Bow Tie Rule
A young character wearing a bow tie is always an obnoxious conservative; an older character wearing a bow tie is always a liberal wimp. Stuart Cleland, Chicago

33) Brass Ring Rule
Any time you overhear incidental dialogue from minor characters about some impossible feat, occasionally attempted but never achieved, someone, usually the hero, will accomplish the feat within the last ten minutes of the movie. BRANNON MOORE Seattle, WA

34) Breaking Bad News
Anyone holding a vase or other glass object will drop that object upon hearing bad news. Usually the object will fall and shatter in slow motion, typically from multiple angles. TERRY MCMANUS, Chicago

35) Breathing Corpse Syndrome
No one in the movies or on television has ever looked convincingly dead, a condition much harder to fake than an orgasm. PROF. TERRY EAGLETON, Oxford University, England

36) Building Code Violation, cont.
Whenever an object or person is thrown through a glass window in a movie, it invariably shatters into vicious shards. Even in the future, safety glass is not used (see "Minority Report"). MARYANN MYNATT, BOLINGBROOK

37) Bullet Velocity Rule
In action movies, the speed of a bullet is slowed down enough so that the hero can jump out of the way. In sci-fi movies, the speed of light is slowed down enough for the hero to jump out of the way of a laser beam. The scientific formula is: Hollywood Bullet Speed = (Real Bullet Speed) (Importance of Character), where the more important a character is, the higher the number. Dave Edson, Eugene, Ore.

38) Bullitt Legacy Rule
Every movie set in San Francisco involves at least one car flying through the air on its way downhill. Manminder Singh, Hightstown, N.J.

39) Bureau Of Lame & Anemic Name Changes (Blanc)
Supersecret Hollywood Agency specializing in changing unusual and clever film titles into titles that are banal and uncommercial. Samples: "Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip," became "It Could Happen to You;" "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" became "About Last Night...;" "Stab" became "Still of the Night," "Cloak and Diapers" became "Undercover Blues," etc. MERWYN GROTE, St. Louis, Missouri

40) But Is It Today's?
In a time travel movie, the hero finds out the date by picking up a newspaper in a trash can. STEVEN SOUZA, Honolulu, HI.

41) C.P.S Rule
When a character drives somewhere in an overcrowded, gridlocked city such as L.A. or New York, there is always a Convenient Parking Space directly in front of his destination. JOHN JAKES

42) Ca-Chuck! Rule
All movie guns will need to be "cocked" before firing, and the sound made is always the "ca-chuck" sound made by a pump shotgun. Bad guys will never cock their guns until the last instant before firing at the good guys, and the ca-chuck sound will always alert the good guys in time for them to duck. In some movies, such as "Runaway," this rule even applies to revolvers. Tom Helderman, Grand Rapids, Mich.

43) Cameron's T's & A's I'm the King of the T&A World!
All feature films directed by James Cameron since 1984 have names that begin either with the letter A or with the letter T: "The Terminator," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Titanic," "True Lies," "Aliens," "The Abyss." Juha Terho, Helsinki, Finland

44) Candles at Wholesale Rule
In any movie scene involving candles, there will be hundreds or even thousands of them, even if the characters live in poverty. We are left to wonder how one person, or even everyone in the cast, could light them all before the scene began. See "Because of Winn-Dixie." R.E.

45) Carmen Coincidence
Whenever a movie shows a scene from an opera, it must have some creepy resonance within the films own plot. Ian Waldron-Mantgani, Liverpool, England

46) Cartop Chases
When there is a foot chase in traffic, the hero will inevitably jump up on top of a car that is stuck in traffic, and leap from car to car, even though it would be faster and safer to stay on the ground. (See George Clooney in "The Peacemaker." NEIL GABRIELE, New York, NY.

47) Casting is Destiny
Many Hollywood movies are shaped more by what the audience expects from their stars than by what their writers put into their scripts. RICH ELIAS, Delaware, Ohio

48) Catch-Up Movie
A film that frustrates the audience because the characters spend the bulk of the film slowly and laboriously learning information that the audience was given during the first 10 minutes. (See "In Dreams.") Stuart Cleland, Evanston

49) Cemetery Weather
Cemeteries generate their own weather. In a surprisingly large number of scenes at cemeteries, particularly if a funeral is in progress, it is raining --and not just sprinkles, but biblical downpours. G. W. ROLES, Washington, DC

50) Centered Passenger Rule
When there is one passenger in the back seat of a car, he always sits right in the middle, to be more easily seen by the camera.

51) Checker Cab Magnetism
Any character who calls for a cab in a New York movie will be picked up by an old-fashioned Checker cab, although they have not been manufactured in years and, at last count, there were only four still on the streets. AMY CASH, Elmont, N.Y.

52) Checkmate Reflex
To quickly establish the hero (or villain) as a true (but erratic) genius, he will play a game of chess early the movie, and quickly trash his opponent with a surprise mate-in-one. See Jeff Goldblum in "Independence Day." IVAR LABERG, Oslo, Norway

53) Child of Sorrow Syndrome
When the hero, regretting the choices hes made in life, returns home in defeat, his bitter self-indictment will be interrupted by his wife, who will say, "Im having a baby." (see "Mr. Hollands Opus," "Its a Wonderful Life," etc.) JIM BECKERMAN, The Record, Hackensack N.J.

54) Child Safety Rule
In any monster movie or disaster film, any child under the age of 13 must survive. In rare instances where a child is killed, the death may not be shown directly. GERALD FITZGERALD, Dallas, TX

55) Chinese Chase Rule
In any Asian city, or any city with a Chinatown, all chase scenes happen to occur on Chinese New Year, and lead directly through a parade. NEIL MILSTED, Chicago

56) Chinese Takeaway
If any American action film of the last decade contains a particularly inventive stunt, theres a better-than-even chance it was swiped from a Hong Kong action film the director recently saw on video. MICHAEL SCHLESINGER, VP for Acquisitions and Repertory Sales, Sony Pictures, Culver City, CA

57) Cleopatra in the Commissary Phenomenon
In any movie about the movies, in any scene shot on a studio back lot, countless extras walk around in outrageous period costumes that havent been used in years, and recognizable historical figures like Cleopatra, Lincoln and Napoleon are often seen lined up at the catering line for lunch. (See the two Redcoats in "Get Shorty.") GREG BROWN, Chicago.

58) Cliffhanger Lunge
Though unable to stretch his hand far enough even to meet the fingertips of the poor sap perilously close to falling to his death, when the support finally gives way and the hand slips even farther out of reach, the hero is suddenly able to lunge 2 feet and grab a wrist.Paul Chapman, London, England

59) Climbing Villain Syndrome
Villains being chased at the end of a movie inevitably disregard all common sense and begin climbing up something - a staircase, a church tower, a mountain - thereby trapping themselves at the top. Tony Whitehouse, Verbier, Switzerland

60) Clothes Make the Impostor
Whenever a hit man has to kill someone in a guarded hospital room, he will duck into a linen closet, emerge wearing a lab coat and carrying a clip board, and walk around the hospital as if invisible. None of the other doctors or nurses will notice that this guy has never worked there before. MICHAEL FURL, Kankakee, IL

61) COFKeyType (Computer Operation by Frenetic Keyboard Typing)
In almost all movies involving the operation of computers, the user operates the machine by incongruent and frenetic banging on the keyboard, ignoring the mouse and system graphic interface elements. This results in instantaneous, nanosecond access and downloading of data. (See "Jurassic Park," "Disclosure.") CARLOS GREENE, Mexico City

62) Coincidental Lighting
In any scene in a thriller involving a thunderstorm, when any character is looking for a pet or friend, there will be a deafening clap of thunder and a flash of lightning illuminating a corpse, or the murderer. If the character is searching for something, the lightning will illuminate the fact that the something is dramatically missing. JIM LEE, Cary, N.C.

63) Collapsing Staircase
When a character is rescued from a staircase during a disaster movie or thriller, the staircase always collapses the moment the rescue is completed. SCOT MURPHY, Highland Park, IL

64) Complimentary Dirt Rule
Explosions always enhance a stars looks by placing just the right touch of dirt across the cheekbones--never on the end of the nose. BRENDA YOU, Chicago

65) Contents May Have Shifted During Handling Rule
Any time the hero hands somebody a bag or box containing the Maguffin, if the recipient fails to look inside the bag/box, the hero has pulled the old switcheroo and handed the other guy a bag/box full of lead weights/old newspapers/worthless junk, etc. (See "The Score.") Mark Oristano, Dallas

66) Cooperative Shooter Rule
No matter what kind of cover the hero hides behind, it will stop enemy bullets. In "Beverly Hills Cop 3," Eddie Murphy uses a park bench for cover, and the bad guys to shoot all the slats and none of the gaps. DON HOWARD, San Jose, CA.

67) Crazy Collage Syndrome
Psychotic stalkers sublimate their destructive impulses by creating a collage of newspaper clippings, candid photos and charcoal sketches of their victims. This collage is glued to the wall of the stalkers one-room apartment, to be found by police officers bursting in just after the stalker has fled.Joe Zarrow, Herndon, Va.

68) Crime Sometimes Pays
Villains who outshine heroes are resurrected in sequels as quasi-good guy. Examples include "King Kong," "Godzilla," Jaws in the James Bond movies, the "Terminator" and "Rambo." Even more frightening: When villain become heroes, by remaining villains (Freddie, Michael and Jason). MERWYN GROTE, St. Louis, Missouri

69) Crystal Sideboard Rule
In any movie featuring an older businessman married to a younger woman, if his home or office contains a sideboard with cut-crystal decanters of dark spirits, there is a 50 percent chance the wife will be dead or in jeopardy by the end of the movie. These odds increase to 75 percent if the husband is played by William Devane, and to 100 percent if the movie is a "cable original." DAWSON RAMBO, Tucson, Ariz.

70) Curtain Going Up!
Whenever a character does something secret or embarrassing behind a curtain during a performance, the curtains inevitably open, revealing the person caught in the act. Recent examples include "Love Actually" and "Moulin Rouge!" Kevin Chen, San Mateo, Calif.

71) Dapper Demon Rule
Satan is always impeccably dressed in the movies, with suits, silk ties, expensive shoes. He never wears jeans and T-shirts. Sandals, shorts and a tank top would better fit the heat of the underworld. Steven Dalli, Los Angeles

72) Dead for Sure, No Doubt About It
In a movie, the absolute proof of the death of a character is when blood drips slowly from the corner of the mouth. This is in too many movies to document. An interesting variation was the dripping of liquid metal from the evil mutants mouth in "X-Men 2." As a physician, I can tell you that blood coming from the mouth after a fight is either, 1) a sign of a communication of the esophagus with a major blood vessel, which would be fatal, or 2) a cut.

73) Dead Man Sleeping
When a dead mans eyes are closed in the movies, the lids are shut with one hand, never two, and both at once, never one and then the other.

74) Dead Man Talking
A character who is dead before the end of the movie is still allowed to narrate the film, making you believe he survives, as long as it moves the story forward. (See Joe Pesci in "Casino," William Holden in "Sunset Boulevard"). RHYS SOUTHAN, Richardson, TX.

75) Deadly Tweener Syndrome
The Tweener is, in horror movies, that creepy character introduced at the beginning of the movie who seemingly lives between two worlds: The “normal” world of the main characters and the dark, creepy world of the cannibalistic or sadistic family, clan or tribe. The Tweener either warns the main characters to beware of a certain road or area, or directs them into the path of horror by offering a shortcut. Either way, the Tweener will later take part in the cruel

76) Delta H Of Crania
The factor in modern probability theory which accounts for the tendency of movie slot machines to pay off when smashed into head-first by someone in a brawl. Can also be applied to actuarial systems involving jukeboxes which start playing appropriately ironic songs under similar conditions. ANDY IHNATKO, Westwood, MA.

77) Deserting Before Dessert
No one finishes a meal in the movies. Meals are interrupted by important calls, the appearance of an ex-lover, or a trivial argument. No one eats more than two bites of a hot dog, cotton candy, popcorn. If dessert is served, it will end up in someones lap or dumped on his or her head. Only exception: STARVING MAN SCENE, which shows famished character polishing off the last speck of food, then placing his knife and fork on the plate to form an "X". MERWYN GROTE, St.

78) Disappearing Nude
A woman seen nude in bed with the hero in the opening scene will never be seen again. DAVID STEVENS, Irving, Texas.

79) Disbelief of Suspension
Rope and plank bridges are never shown in a film unless they are going to fail. Ropes will be cut, burned, or frayed. In the case of planks, someones foot will fall through the rotten wood. LIBBY WEBSTER, Columbus, Ind.

80) Disclosing Whisper Law
If a character is looking for an object, and the audience doesn’t know what the object is, the character will mumble it out loud to himself as he frantically searches for it. (See "Mission Impossible") RHYS SOUTHAN, Richardson, TX.

81) Disconnection
Any character who says, "I cant tell you over the phone..." doesn’t have long to live, and will die at the rendezvous: (a) without uttering a word, (b) mumbling a red herring, or (c) giving an obtuse clue (e.g., "Beware of the dwarf" in "Foul Play"). DON HOWARD, San Jose, CA.

82) Dispose of carefully
Despite the fact that they can be reloaded, the value of any revolver in a Civil War-era movie decreases steadily with each of the six shots that it fires. By the time the gun is empty, it has become worthless, invariably causing its owner to either (1) throw it aside or (2) chuck it at the enemy. Samuel Anderson, Moorhead, Minn.

83) Doggone It Rule
Movies put dogs in stories and then don’t let them do what a real dog would do. See "Fatal Attraction," where Michael Douglass family owns a dog that is home during the noisy and gruesome bathtub scene but never comes sniffing around to investigate. MARY STEINBERG, Chicago

84) Doing Radio
A characters lines describe what we can see happening on the screen. Critic Rich Elias tags an all-time classic when he observes that Jack, in "Titanic," says, "Lets get out of here! This place is flooded!" Tom Norris, Braintree, Mass.

85) Don't Leave Home Without It
A childs backpack invariably contains everything needed to survive most disasters, and is also a help in traveling back in time. See "A Kid in King Arthurs Court" and "Far From Home: Adventures of Yellow Dog." PRILLIE HULS, St. Joseph, IL

86) Don't shoot the piano player
In movies, whenever a person asks a pianist whether he or she knows a tune, the answer is always a nod, followed immediately by the opening notes. ALBERTO DIAMANTE, TORONTO

87) Don't Wait For Me
Whenever the hero in a movie says "If Im not back in 5/10/15 minutes, get out of here/blow the whole thing up/call the cops," etc., he will be late. But his companions will ignore his instructions and wait until the hero (who is always wounded) returns. There is a 20 percent chance that they will go out to look for him and also get wounded. ROLAND FREIST, MUNICH, GERMANY

88) Dorm Roommate Rule
When its two-to-a-room in a college dorm, its highly likely that the protagonists roommate will be a punk rocker/goth and almost certain that the roomie will have sex with someone in their bed while the protagonist tries to do homework. See "The Butterfly Effect." MATT MINTZ, MURRIETA, CALIF.

89) Dr. Exposition, I Presume
All movie scientists who are neither the hero nor working for the bad guy are always doctors, and are, without fail, in the story only to present a crucial bit of information or explain some scientific concept to the hero, following which they are killed while doing further research on the problem. BRANNON MOORE Seattle, WA

90) Dramatic Desk Sweep
In a fit of anger or frustration, main character dramatically sweeps everything off desk. We never see anyone replace items, but surface is in perfect order in later scenes. Only exception: If one item was a framed photo of a dead lover or family member, the glass will be cracked, giving photo deeper meaning. Kim Costello, Downers Grove

91) Dude's Landing
In any movie where greenhorn city folks arrive in rugged terrain, there is always a scene of a grizzled local old-timer, his eyes narrowed, watching them arrive. He wisely foresees what theyre in for.

92) E.T. Ratio
The more coverage Entertainment Tonight gives to a big stunt (such an the explosions in "Lethal Weapon," "Blown Away," and "The Specialist", the fall in "Terminal Velocity," or any chase scene), the greater the likelihood the stunt will be the only thing in the film worth seeing. MERWYN GROTE, St. Louis, Missouri

93) Ebert's First Law of Symbolism
If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn’t.

94) Economy Class Crashes
No airplane that disappears out of sight over a hill, treetops or buildings ever lands safely; instead, a fireball explodes behind the foreground object.

95) Either Enron, or a Ghost
In potentially ominous situations, when the skies are clouding over and something bad is about to happen, the electric lights will blink, stutter and buzz, as if possessed by a ghostly outage. ROGER EBERT

96) Eleventh Law of Cartoon Thermodynamics
by Trevor Paquette and Lt. Justin D. Baldwin Cartoon Law XI ============== Any given amount of explosives will propel a body miles away, but still in one piece, charred and extremely peeved.

97) Emergency Tour Guide
The person in every crowd at a disaster scene who fully extends an arm to point at the obvious thing that everyone is already looking at or running from. Example: The woman near the end of "Armageddon" who points at the fireball in the sky that everyone on the whole planet is already watching. CHRIS JONES, Snellville, Georgia

98) Empathy Deficit Disorder
Affliction where film audiences cant seem to understand that not every scene in which a character appears with a mental disorder is funny. See Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man" and Richard Gere in "Mr. Jones." The audiences I saw these movies with laughed from start to finish, thinking if the character was mentally ill and there was even one amusing scene, the entire movie was slapstick comedy. KATHLEEN WILSON, Roanoke, VA.

99) Ethnic Defaults
All Asian people know karate. All Latin people dance salsa. Any Russian character is related to some ex-KGB agent now working for the new Russian Mafia. ALEXIS S. MENDEZ, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

100) Eventually Suspicious Unsuspecting Suspect
He doesnt know anything, but they think he does. Hell probably never know anything, but they abduct and interrogate him at gunpoint, so they can find out what he knows. He somehow escapes, and motivated by his terrifying experience, he eventually finds out not only what they thought he knew, but everything else. RYAN WHITNEY, Washington, D.C.


GimmeABreak said...

Loved 'em. Will you send me your list?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant, especially loved the car ones, the ever-handy parking space and the inevitable blaring horn when a crash is fatal, laugh out loud funny.

Side question: my feed reader picked up a request from you for things we'd like to see included in your book, but it doesn't show up on your site. If you had anything to say about TV mini-series I'd like to hear it. (Such as six parters The State of Play and The State Within, not sure if you've seen them over there, which have much more in common with movies than with episodic TV. One of my projects is too big - refrain from calling it epic - to squeeze into 90 minutes and was thinking of that route.)

Christian H. said...

The Vlad Syndrome:

In any action thriller, at least one person is invariably impaled on a fence or spike after being thrown from something by the hero.
(Ricochet, The Glimmer Man, Live Wire, too many more)

Those physics ones are great too.

Laura Deerfield said...

I want to write something with all of the above cliches included, plus the dreaded RomCom cliche chase at the airport.

Anonymous said...

The wife and kids whose sole reason for existence is so that they can be kidnapped to get an action plot moving, and to show what a hardass the male lead is. Bo-ring. Frantic, Ransom, all the way back to Death Wish

DVD Menus - Half-talented graphic designers will always run a major scene under the menu, expecting that everyone has already seen the movie; ruining the movie for any viewer who hasn't seen it.

Tim said...

101. Blindsided SyndromeWhen sneaking around a dark alley/warehouse/forest character on screen cannot see past the edge of the frame, making it easy for the bad guy to enter the scene by putting a gun to the hero's head.

102. Abbot & Costello Poltergeist RuleThe line "What's wrong? It looks like you've seen a ghost" must never be said except to someone who has just seen a ghost.

Mystery Man said...

Tim - that's hilarious.


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