Readers attack Hollywood cliches

by Barry Koltnow

The Orange County Register (MCT)

1 February 2010


He is an unlikely candidate for movie hero.

To the casual observer, he seems to lack the peculiar inner strength and physical skills of a movie hero. His teammates/co-workers/fellow squad members mock him, and deny him respect.

But he perseveres; beating the odds and proving his detractors wrong. He emerges a tough, gritty, sweaty movie hero.

And we all know what’s coming.

The one guy who was hardest on him; the guy who mercilessly teased, taunted and tortured him for nearly two hours on the big screen, steps forward and claps once dramatically. A couple of seconds pass, and he claps again. He begins a slow, rhythmic clapping that means our hero has been accepted. Others follow suit until everyone is slow-clapping for our hero.

Carrying him on their shoulders is optional.

I would like to thank reader Ethel Metrosky for reminding us of this Hollywood cliche that needs to be retired. We demand originality in our films, and these tired bits have got to go.

Last week, I listed my own pet peeves, and invited readers to submit theirs.

You may not know this but the second greatest moment in a columnist’s life (the announcement of an “open bar” tops the list) is learning that his readers are smart. There is nothing worse than writing for dumb readers. They don’t get anything. You have to spell everything out for them.

But the readers of this column are way smarter than the columnist, and I appreciate that.

By the way, I introduced last week’s column with a tired movie scene in which a person is sitting with two friends while trashing a fourth person, who walks up behind the speaker. As the two friends try to warn him, the speaker says: “He’s right behind me, isn’t he?”

The first time I remember seeing that scene was in the 1991 comedy “City Slickers,” but a reader named Brian said he remembers the scene from an episode of the old “Hogan’s Heroes” TV series. If that’s true, I stand corrected. Perhaps Billy Crystal isn’t as clever as we think.

And Terry from Whittier suggested that the worst current offender is “NCIS,” the top-rated show on television. Although he loves the show, Terry said they use that bit all the time. On the big screen, you can see it in the new romantic comedy “When in Rome.”

Here are some other suggestions from my brilliant readers in Orange County, Calif., who believe it’s time for Hollywood to think more creatively, and to stop using these cliches:

— The expression “24/7,” stupid blue-collar fathers, kids who are much smarter than their parents, picturing suburban life as soul-less and materialistic and, finally, tart-tongued British judges on TV reality competitions. (Ray from LaPalma)

— A small group of friends are dishing on one of the people in the group when that person says “You know I’m right here?” (Maggie)

— The slow-motion bullet, not to mention the slow-motion lit-match or lit cigarette being tossed into a puddle of gasoline, all of which can be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” (Scott from Lake Forest)

— Suitcases that obviously are empty swinging to and fro in people’s hands. (Eva)

— In horror movies, when the lone survivor of a maniac’s attack runs back into the house where his/her friends were killed and runs upstairs and hides in a room where the maniac has no problem finding them. And, in crime dramas, there is too much romance. The investigator falls in love with the victim’s sister, or one victim’s family member falls for another victim’s family member or one investigator romantically pursues another investigator on the same case. “Stop romancing and start solving the crime” (Kristy from Cypress)

— “How about the pretty woman who is being stalked by a killer and decides what she really needs is a shower? We watch her lovely figure through the frosted glass of the shower door for a few minutes and then she is standing at the sink in a towel. She wipes the steam from the bathroom mirror and surprise! Guess who’s standing behind her?” (Susan from Huntington Beach)

— “I hate historical inaccuracies in movies, and made-up or composite characters.” (Joanne from Huntington Beach)

— The expression “Am I bad?” and the word “absolutely.” (Lynn from Capistrano Beach)

— “I have nothing against the song itself, but I’d like to see an end to the overuse of “Amazing Grace” in funeral scenes.” (the aforementioned Ethel)

— TV commercials and new programs that run at warp-speed, presumably to appear hip. “Every TV station is doing it, and it seems to be getting faster as each day passes. It’s as though it’s a race to see which entity can run something so fast that, eventually, no one will be able to discern exactly what it is.” (Bill from Newport Beach)

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