Attack of the Hollywood Cliches! (2021) Movie Script

Hi. Unlike you, I'm Rob Lowe,
and I love movies.
The fact is, I'd rather be watching
a movie than doing this right now.
But let's pretend I didn't say that
and just enjoy each other's company.
Thousands of movies
are released every year.
That's a lot of stories,
even though
according to screenwriting theory
there are only seven basic plots:
overcoming the monster...
and the other six.
It's little wonder that stock characters,
familiar story beats,
and convenient plot devices
have crept in over time.
Tonight, we celebrate the clichs
that have made cinema what it is today:
struggling for relevance
in the aftermath of a pandemic.
Over the next hour,
we'll be looking at Tinseltown's habit
of using
these handy cinematic tropes in...
Attack of the Hollywood Clichs!
We'll be asking questions like,
"Why do women being chased
by large, scary dinosaurs
have to do it in high heels?"
As we build to some
of my favorite clichs,
we'll be looking at some of the most
dramatic moments in cinema.
Some of the most controversial.
Sister is teaching the mothers
how to wash their children.
How other clichs have been raised
to a form of high art.
And of course,
how Hollywood deals with sex.
And violence.
And where better to begin
than with a familiar beginning,
from the world of romantic comedy,
it's the meet cute.
That magical moment in movies
when the love begins.
People watch romcoms to get high.
They wanna experience
that first sensation of love
so that when they see those two people
meet for the very first time,
when that moment, that spark,
that chemistry happens,
it feels so real to them
that they have that sensation
in their body.
There's always some funny, contrived
reason why you have the two people
who are gonna fall in love meet,
because it has to be interesting.
They can't meet
the way regular people meet.
-Lady, keep driving.
-Get out!
Some kind of embarrassing,
comedic, unlikely scenario...
that brings the two together.
I live just over the street.
I have, um, water and soap.
You can get cleaned up.
If that happened in real life,
you would throw
the rest of your juice in their face.
You'd be like, "No, get away from me."
In five minutes,
we can have you spick and span
and back on the street again,
in the non-prostitute sense, obviously.
Whenever two people
fall in love in a film,
whatever the genre, the clichs
of cinematic romance are ever present.
I hate the water,
and I hate being wet, and I hate you!
They don't like each other,
are engaged or married to someone else.
Jack, I'm engaged.
I'm marrying Cal.
There has to be a struggle
to go through or else it would be boring.
Of course, this being the movies,
male strategies vary from annoying
persistence to outright harassment.
Well, how about this for a coincidence?
A lot of films which are shown
from the male point of view
feature what you would
really call stalking.
You wanna dance with me?
Why not?
Because I don't want to.
-Well, will you go out with me?
-Hey, pal, she just told you.
-Why not?
Like in Twilight, when he
climbs up through her window
and says, "I like watching you sleep."
Do you do that a lot?
Just the past couple of months.
Stalking is sexy only applies
when it's men stalking women.
When women are persistent
or stalking male characters,
they become the villain.
I just wanna be a part of your life.
And this is the way you do it, huh?
Showing up at my apartment?
What am I supposed to do?
You won't answer my calls,
you change your number.
I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan.
Every story needs a lead character
who commands attention,
someone as unique, special,
and one-of-a-kind
as the lead in every other movie.
Since all aspects of your protagonists
have to be remarkable,
it's not enough for them
to just have a job.
Whatever that job is,
they gotta job the shit out of it,
especially if their job is the job:
the cop's job.
-You think I'm crazy?
In Hollywood,
if you want crimes solved
and the bad guys brought to justice,
top of the law-enforcement tree
is the maverick cop.
Now, that's a real badge, I'm a real cop,
and this is a real fucking gun.
The maverick cop is a badass,
he doesn't listen to the chief.
You wanna play some bullshit cowboy cop,
go do it in somebody else's precinct.
They are completely dysfunctional.
He's probably an alcoholic,
terrible father.
You're my daughter, in my house,
and you'll respect me, got that?
-Don't call me a fuck-up.
-Why shouldn't I?
Mom calls you one.
They only care about the job.
No bullshit. You wanna kill yourself?
You know why I don't do it? The job.
Destroying everything in their path.
Maverick cops keep coming,
but the poster boy for loose cannons
of law enforcement remains:
Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry.
You've got to ask yourself one question:
"Do I feel lucky?"
Well, do you, punk?
Dirty Harry is a really toxic
example of this clich.
That film tries so hard
to put us on the side
of this beaten-down cop
who really just wants to let go
and shoot a bunch of people.
He exists by his own rules
and he does what he has to do
to get criminals.
It's painted that the legal system
is either incredibly stupid
or run by bleeding heart liberals.
What I'm saying is that man had rights.
Well, I'm all broken up
about that man's rights.
Maverick law dictates
that there's only two things
these cops care about,
and they're both shiny.
Your badge and gun, officer.
It's a key moment in films
where the maverick cop
hands in their gun and badge, like,
"You are no longer someone
who should be in this position."
We know, the audience knows,
he's the only one who should have it.
You're making me do this.
Give me your badge.
Just take a couple...
In recent times,
Hollywood has moved away
from making maverick cop movies,
reflecting the disenchantment
with police officers
who take the law into their own hands.
We are led to believe
that they're gonna do the right thing
morally and ethically.
The reality is,
that doesn't appear to be the case
with a lot of police officers.
It is something
that should be rethought by filmmakers,
TV producers, and it is being rethought.
But the maverick cop
hasn't taken an early retirement.
On TV, there's room for clichs
to be worked into
three-dimensional characters.
Kate Winslet's Mare of Easttown
has a complex internal life,
but don't worry,
she's still a cop who drinks hard,
bends the rules, gets suspended...
Gun and badge.
...but still gets her man.
Hollywood loves a winner,
but not every character
in your story can be a hero,
unless it's set in the Marvel Universe,
which only 96% of movies are.
Some characters are so destined to lose
from the moment they walk on screen,
that they might as well turn up
wearing a coffin and get it over with.
You're a secondary character in a film.
Thanks, John.
You've got a dangerous job.
You're planning on calling it a day.
Tomorrow I'd like you to...
-I'm resigning tomorrow, Frank.
Big mistake.
Dead man walking,
American cinema loves to cue
people who are going to die by making
sure we know this is their last job.
They're about to retire, right?
I got three more days,
I wanna make the most of it.
Maybe there's a retirement party
planned for you later.
How about a speech?
And you've just got one more shift to do.
And there are other classic ways
to guarantee
death is just around the corner.
One way, you'll hear a character
talk about his family,
about his aspirations...
And I will marry a round American
woman and raise rabbits.
If they start reflecting
on what they gonna do next... dead.
Often in war films as well,
it will be the G.I. or whatever,
gets out a photo of his girlfriend...
and it's probably been in his pocket
for a while. Big mistake.
Please. Please.
So once you're dead onscreen,
your funeral will be attended
by loved ones
and a solitary figure who,
for some reason,
stands and stares from a long way away.
It also allows the director
to get the wide shot of the ceremony.
But The Fast and the Furious
takes it to another level.
While Paul Walker
watches a funeral from a distance,
Vin Diesel is watching Paul Walker
watch a funeral from a distance,
from a distance.
Of course, once the funeral is over,
the grave site is the perfect setting
to show a character's
fragile emotional state.
I love you.
Hey, Bubba. It's me, Forrest Gump.
And also a handy way
of explaining where we are in the plot.
I remember everything you said
and I got it all figured out.
Ed Harris does both.
And just in case you're not sure
who he's talking to...
There's something I've gotta do, Barb.
...the filmmakers
carved it on the headstone for you.
"His wife."
But it's not always just talking
going on in the graveyard.
Looks like there's one extra stiff
in the cemetery this morning.
One of the things I love most about cinema
is the way it transports you
from your everyday life
into an entirely fictional fantasy land
like Narnia, or France.
The French have a word for clichs,
but in cinema, one of the most
clichd cities is Paris.
But how can we tell we're in Paris?
Because the director makes sure
we can see the Eiffel Tower
through the bedroom window.
The loft window.
The train window.
From the balcony.
Through a clock.
that means the Eiffel Tower is on the top
of every invaders' to-destroy list.
Actors love working with props
because like all good co-stars,
they never hog the scenes.
And they're usually paid less.
An everyday seeming prop
can make even the most godlike figure
seem like a regular Joe.
Admit it, this grocery-bag baguette combo
I'm holding
has made me seem 26% more relatable.
I haven't bought or eaten bread
in over ten years.
The bag is only a cover
to stop me from inadvertently absorbing
the carbs through my skin.
All movie stars insist on it.
Often, lead actors
have to come across as regular Joes
who do their own shopping,
and a highly visible baguette sticking
out of the bag is parfait pour la job.
It can also be ideal for hiding behind.
The intensity of the performance
is matched only
by the quantity of the bread.
Still warm.
It's the best bread I ever tasted.
What a professional.
One expressive prop
that actors love is the apple,
despite it having
a shocking 19 grams of sugar.
Tell me when you got enough
so I can spit this shit out.
Eating in a scene
definitely is the cocky move.
It's kind of like the ultimate
"I'm here and I don't care."
Defending the Starship Enterprise.
Killing off an enemy army.
Or snacking between meals
while meeting a superior officer.
Lieutenant Commander Galloway.
An apple is the clichd way of saying,
"I'm too cool for school,"
while lowering cholesterol
and promoting gut health.
The way your movie is cast
depends on what kind of story
you're telling.
Some stories require a director
to thoughtfully curate
an ensemble
of subtly different personality types,
and some movies
just need a big guy who kills people.
Cinema likes
to tell us that the individual
can take on the system,
and one way it tells us this is possible
is via the one-man army.
You can see this right back
in the sort of Robin Hood,
Errol Flynn films.
You can see it going right through
the Western genre.
You see it, arguably, in James Bond.
It changed in the '80s
when your bodybuilders came into fashion.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, most famously,
Stallone, they all of a sudden
didn't really look like blokes we knew.
They looked superhuman.
When you get Stallone
behind that weapon of mass destruction.
Twenty men being blown to smithereens.
Totally satisfying experience
in carnage and destruction,
with an absolute disregard
for human beings,
um, which you want in those movies.
I think the invincibility
and the indomitability
of the '80s action movie macho hero
became the key
for them becoming franchises.
And then Die Hard came in,
a film that starts out
relatively realistically.
Bruce Willis seems like an ordinary bloke.
Drop it, dickhead. It's the police.
Hang on, John!
But then, by the time of part five,
basically, he could
take Superman down in part five.
The skills
are being physically very capable,
more than normal human beings.
They tend to be very much
the strong, silent type.
The one place
where the one-man army will speak up
is immediately after
or just before killing somebody.
We're married.
The master of the form
is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Consider that a divorce.
Sure, your main character
can run around firing guns
and bazookas at every school bus
like the hero they are,
but if they wanna earn our respect,
there comes a time when they'll
have to throw down those firearms
and pick up their fists...
with both hands.
Throughout the silent era,
characters on screen had to
express themselves physically
because people got bored
with the intertitle.
They laughed at the flowery prose.
So, what you get was lengthy fight scenes.
the first staged fist-fight for film
was the big fight
on top of and inside a train
in The Great Train Robbery.
Fast forward 100 years or so,
and we still have guys
beating up on each other
on moving trains,
just in slightly more expensive suits.
Something that I've loved
seeing in the last ten years
is fight scenes getting more gritty
and gross to watch.
The other kind of fantastic,
I think, clich,
that makes it more manageable
for us as an audience
is when all of the attackers
come out one by one.
In Oldboy,
in the amazing scene in the corridor,
you're placing your attention
on one kill at a time.
It's kind of very related
to video games, I think,
where this idea
that you might have all the skills
and you're punching through,
but it just never ends.
The master of these "take a ticket
and wait till you're called" fights
is the legendary Jackie Chan.
So Jackie Chan was my favorite.
The reason he was so popular
is he went against clich
and became the hero
who gets beat up the whole movie.
It's absurd what he's doing,
and it's without wires,
and it's death-defying.
I feel like he's the person
that has had the most influence.
And it's all in camera.
And Jackie Chan's influence
can be seen in movies ever since.
Now you have fist fights that,
um, defy physiology,
If you hit somebody 50 times
and they get back up again,
what is at stake?
What is finally gonna kill them?
The evolution of big-screen punch-ups
has seen the move more and more
from the balletic to the ballistic.
It's that hand-to-hand combat
where they're smacking
each other's hands so fast,
that if you want to see what's going on,
you have to slow it down.
And then later on,
the recent rise of movies like The Raid...
which are just nonstop fighting.
You can actually have a story
that is just people fighting.
From one type of intense
physical action to another...
Wait, Tarzan!
Sexy times and risqu nudity
have been a Hollywood mainstay since,
well, pretty much forever.
In early cinema,
while studios pushed the boundaries
of taste and decency,
there was a growing pressure
to clean up their act
and not present women
as being so free and promiscuous.
Take off your clothes,
get in here, and tell me all about it.
In the early 1930s, you had things
like Barbara Stanwyck in Baby Face,
who slept her way through the layers
of this giant New York bank.
-Have you had any experience?
You had these Mae West characters
who were living it large,
drinking, smoking, whatever.
When I'm good, I'm very good,
but when I'm bad, I'm better.
After a series of scandals
in the early '20s,
the press declared Hollywood
morally bankrupt,
and a new code of conduct,
written by a priest,
was championed by Republican
stick-in-the-mud Will Hays.
Reputable producers signed up Will Hays
to clean up the picture business...
That prohibited any sexual depravity
from being shown on screen.
The vulgar, the cheap,
and the tawdry is out.
By the '30s,
the Hays Code imposed strict rules
dictating what movies could
and couldn't show, mainly couldn't.
One of the actor's legs
had to be on the floor.
How are you supposed to fuck people
with one leg on the floor, I don't know.
But filmmakers
soon found ways to bend the rules,
and the cinematic clich
of sexual illusion became de rigueur.
How do you suggest the act of sex
without actually showing it?
Is it raining outside?
There's a storm outside,
so there must be a storm in your heart
and possibly other regions too.
You would go from them
in a sleeper cabin on a train
to the train entering the tunnel.
The first few times that happens,
of course it's joyful,
because those who know, know,
and those who don't
aren't offended or troubled by it.
In the 1960s,
the big studios had lost their grip
on all of the cinema chains.
Independent cinemas had begun to sprout up
and they were bringing in
exciting new films from Europe,
often which had exciting
and forbidden things like boobs.
I'll never forget you, darling Kerstin.
As more European films
were visible to the American audience,
Hollywood realized,
"If we're gonna compete,
we have to get rid of the Hays Code."
The solution was an age-based
film rating system,
which put sex back on screen,
much to the dismay of people aroused
by shots of trains entering tunnels.
Sex in films
is never really very convincing,
but at the same time,
it has its own stock set of clichs.
The music will be building,
bodies will look amazing at all angles.
Bras rarely ever fall off,
and you'll both finish at the same time.
It's so passionate.
Today, on-screen sex
may only be a right click away,
but there's still one shot
Hollywood movies don't show,
whatever the money.
It's that intensity, the build of music,
the build of passion.
We all know what's gonna happen,
we don't need to see the next bit.
So movies are once again
forced to fall back on suggestion.
A hand gripping the sheets,
a hand on a steamy window.
Or even fire being blown out
of the end of a spaceship.
A happy ending...
is always guaranteed.
Who wrote this?
Need a character to express surprise?
Give them a drink.
What's a hard-on, Daddy?
It's almost hard to find a comedy
that doesn't have some variation
of the spit take in it.
They used to call me anal girl.
A spit take is something
that doesn't happen in real life,
but you're gonna buy it
just because it's so fun to watch.
The spit take tells the audience
they've just seen something shocking...
Jeez, you smoke too?
...and is guaranteed to give any scene
an added spray of slapstick.
-What's this?
-Welcome. Oh!
-Whale what?
Sorry, did I scare you?
I didn't mean to.
I'm merely introducing our next clich:
The jump scare, which is...
Val Lewton was a filmmaker
who ran a low-budget unit
at RKO Pictures,
and he helped raise
a whole generation of filmmakers
who knew how to use mood
to really get to you.
In Cat People,
our heroine is being tracked,
creating a sense of terror.
And of course the final hiss arrives.
Yet it's revealed
that it's actually a bus' brakes
as it pulls up,
and the sequence ends that way.
This was the first time
anyone had used a false scare in cinema,
and the technique became known
as the "Lewton Bus."
Now the jump scare comes in many forms:
Things trying to get through
closed windows.
People throwing themselves against fencing
when you're having a hug.
And full-length coats.
Don't worry, it's not real leather.
Given that the first false scare ever
was from a bus
in a film called Cat People,
it's ironic that the filmmakers'
most clichd one today is...
...the household cat.
Cats are evil, and the clich
about them being scary
is one of those clichs
that's completely based in fact.
Cats are just lurking
around the house hiding in closets.
So they can scare a person.
And their malevolence
isn't even limited to planet Earth.
Cats are great for this,
because they are beings who exist
with us in our domestic spaces
but who couldn't give a shit
whether we live or die.
If you happen to live
in a pet-free environment,
there's always an option
to make people jump with a mirror.
A mirror scare is one of
the greatest clichs in all of movies.
They always work,
because the idea that you're alone
and you shut the medicine cabinet,
and then suddenly there's something
behind you is terrifying.
In American Werewolf in London...'s an amazing moment.
It's great fun, though,
that they can take something mundane
and give it that jolt, you know.
You're not real.
Every time we see a mirror,
or see somebody in a bathroom,
we're worried.
We are our most vulnerable
in the bathroom.
It's a very private place.
I think that that's easy to exploit.
You can also do fake-outs with that.
You can put somebody into a bathroom
and you can build tension.
You don't have to have anything happen.
When you do hear someone
scream in a movie,
chances are it could be our next clich.
But you probably didn't even realize it.
The Wilhelm scream is a scream
that was recorded originally in 1951.
The guy's walking through the Everglades,
then the alligator grabs his leg
and he goes:
Fast forward a couple of years later,
and some sound editor
is looking for a scream
because poor Private Wilhelm
is struck by an arrow.
Yeah, I'll just fill my pipe!
Out comes... Or let's say,
overlaid on top of him
is the Wilhelm scream.
Wilhelm's scream
began to show up in Hollywood
whenever a character was shot, pushed,
or obliterated by large plastic ants.
But when it was heard
in a galaxy far, far away,
it became an insider joke.
It pops up in Star Wars,
then George Lucas, Steven Spielberg,
and everybody gets in on it.
It's an industry joke.
Uh, Tarantino uses it...
He's not using that by accident.
That's him absolutely tapping
into the clich of the sound.
There's something about the pitch of it,
and it's strangely kind of reassuring
that even in scenes of mayhem,
you will hear the Wilhelm scream.
It's such a ridiculous in-joke now.
We need a new scream, in my opinion.
Hollywood likes to think of itself
as a paragon of equality,
but apparently if you look closely,
using a microscope,
which was invented by a man,
there are occasional minor differences
in the way men and women are depicted.
The Smurfette principle
refers to the lone woman
on a testosterone-infused adventure
who ensures the filmmakers
tick that diversity box.
Hi, Smurfette!
The term originates
from the iconic Smurf world,
where Smurfette is the only lady
in a land full of Smurf dudes.
This is a trope you'll see in everything,
from kids' cartoons...
What are you doing? Get down.
I'll teach that boy a lesson. The Avengers...
I'm always picking up after you boys. any kind of action film.
It is the most cynical construct
in a movie
where they'll stick a woman in there
to have the guys ogle her.
Or they'll stick in a woman
to look at the guys askance
and tell them how immature they are.
I don't understand the physics
of how my toes hurt.
Children. I work with children.
Whether you're a token female,
or leading lady,
chances are you'll find yourself
running to or from danger
in high heels.
You've automatically
given a handicap to the women.
They can't run in these heels,
but they don't discard them.
Even in recent films,
they're still staggering around
in the middle of the road.
The idea of women running in heels
goes back to the issue
of Hollywood glamorizing women
to the point
which is completely impractical.
With fast editing
and a leather outfit from a fetish store,
your heroine can become
even more cartoonishly depicted.
Where I do take issue
is when a character decides
what I need if I'm gonna fight
a bunch of people is high heels.
Like Catwoman. You cannot fight
in those. You'll break an ankle.
It takes a female character
who's a badass action hero,
and it makes her phony.
Another pet peeve. Sex scenes
with bras and fighting with heels.
No, I'm not doing it. Not doing it.
Time for another of Tinseltown's
stock female character clichs:
the manic pixie dream girl.
Blah, blah, blah, blah!
I make a noise or I do something
no one has done before
and then I can feel unique again,
even for a second.
She is always extremely pretty,
she's always "quirky"...
I gotta go bury this hamster
before the dogs eat him. Wanna help?
-Having a weird pet.
That's a classic manic
pixie dream girl trait.
This is Rodolfo, he's a ferret.
I am probably best known for coining
the phrase manic pixie dream girl,
and I coined that phrase in an article
that I wrote about a movie
called Elizabethtown.
And in Elizabethtown,
there is an unusually pure example
played by Kirsten Dunst.
And she is manic in the sense
that she talks and talk and talks.
I'm so happy we're here
having this conversation
at 3:00 or whatever time it is.
It's such a great time.
Everyone's sleeping but us.
It's nice to have a conversation with you
and that you're really listening.
Then dream girl,
this idea that it's a male fantasy
that we can be depressed,
we can have nothing going,
and this woman will find us
and she will set about
giving our life meaning.
I'm not used to girls like you.
That's because I'm one of a kind.
She shows him how to have fun
and he offers her
absolutely nothing in return.
It's a very, very potent fantasy for men
that there's one woman out there,
one magical woman out there
that will save you.
Often around two thirds of the way
into a movie, the writer realizes
there's still a lot of story to tell
and not enough time.
But it's okay. Just like in Beverly Hills,
you can simply cut out any flab
you don't like using scissors.
Enter montage mode.
Well, when we first started talking
about montages,
it would be about Eisenstein,
and the Battleship Potemkin,
and just ways of cutting
together images from different angles...
...that taught us that a movie
was not something
you shoot straight ahead like you would
if you were sitting at a play.
Battleship Potemkin
really introduced audiences
to editing for the first time,
and what you can do with editing.
This technique caught on,
and quickly grasping
the new cinematic language,
filmmakers began
montaging their brains out.
Apartment buildings, factories,
forests, ocean liners...
They're shorthand, really, montages.
Getting across quite a lot of story
in a short space of time.
With the arrival of one
famous sequence in the '70s,
the montage began
punching above its weight.
The training sequences in Rocky are
the gold standard of training sequences.
I don't think anyone has ever
beaten a training sequence,
a hard-at-work sequence, than Rocky.
By Rocky IV, 31.9%
of its running time was montage.
Almost a third of the film.
The rest was mainly him hitting someone.
The fact that movies
can make us really feel
the work that goes into making something
seem very beautiful and very effortless,
is, I think, an underappreciated clich.
The greatest of all montages is in,
of course, the South Park guys'
Team America: World Police.
What's brilliant about that
is that not only is it sending up
the clich of the montage,
but at that point in the story,
we do need a montage.
Little in the movies gets the pulse racing
quite like a car
following another car really fast,
but not quite fast enough to catch up.
Ever since the white-hot adrenaline rush
of 1903's Runaway Match,
action films have turned again
and again to the car chase.
In the hands of a skillful director
and skillful stunt drivers,
and in the right script,
it can be the defining moment in the film.
You know, Bullitt, of course, it is,
it's the defining moment of that film.
Over the years, finding new ways
to pump gas on the car chase
has been a challenge for all movie makers.
The French Connection is a car
chasing an above-ground subway train,
and every squeal, every can that gets hit,
every woman pushing a baby carriage...
it makes your stomach drop
at the potential for catastrophe.
But what's really under the hood
of a classic car chase?
The first thing I think of
when I think of car chases
is, like, shot of the handbrake...
car skidding around the corner.
That always has to be there.
There are carts and all types of debris
just flying everywhere.
A place where a car shouldn't be,
put the car there.
Going down stairs,
or you find something to...
Car chases are really hard to write
because you're describing
looking this way,
turning, things smashing,
and you're looking for, like,
what's slightly new you can do about it.
Go has, I think, actually
a really good car-chase sequence in it.
His car is stuck in an alley
in a really interesting way.
Car chases have such wide appeal
that whole franchises are based on them.
The Fast and the Furious started out
in the world of illegal racing,
but its car chases
have been genetically modified
into some of the most
ambitious sequences of all time.
The car chase is no longer
people on a road going very fast.
It has to be dropping out of a plane.
Cars jumping out of giant buildings.
Computer generated imagery nowadays
means that miracles are cheap.
The physics have completely disappeared.
So now Vin Diesel can jump from one car
and save his girlfriend mid-air
and survive.
You know that there
are no physical consequences
to what you're seeing,
so nothing seems at stake anymore.
But other recent films
haven't gone for CGI techniques,
producing nerve-jangling sequences
the old-fashioned way.
Baby Driver's subverting
the clich of car chases.
Often the music is
subservient to the imagery,
the imagery is driving
what you're writing to,
in that they're both
literally, like, together.
With Baby Driver, it felt like a dance
the way that they move the car
and the way they photographed it,
it was beautiful.
The synchronization between
the movement of the car chase
and the songs, it felt more like a musical
than it felt like a car chase.
Hollywood does not
have a great track record
when it comes to intelligent
portrayals of race.
Something that I am perhaps
the first cisgendered white man
brave enough to acknowledge in public.
Call me a trailblazer,
heck, call me a savior if you must.
It's not for me to say,
more for you to think.
Early representations of the white savior
may have been well meant...
Miss Jean Louise, stand up.
But from today's perspective...
Your father's passing.
...can be seen as the cinematic
Band-Aid for white guilt.
The white savior is a narrative
where a white person comes along
and saves a Black person
from their struggle or suffering.
What makes you think
colored people need your help?
-Why do you care?
Maybe you just wanna get
Aibileen in trouble.
The Black characters are tools
for the white people to become better
or, like, more fully show their humanity.
If you go back to, you know,
The Nun's Story with Audrey Hepburn,
she is literally standing there
as this white nun
telling Black women
how to wash their children.
Sister is teaching the mothers
how to wash their children.
That was probably the most
egregious examples of this.
The white savior has appeared
in many guises since then,
even as recently
as this Oscar winning tale
of a white man
saving a world-class jazz pianist.
Gentleman says that
I'm not permitted to dine here.
No, you don't understand.
He's playing tonight. He's the main event.
I'm sorry, but it is the policy
of the restaurant.
Green Book won Best Picture
in the same year
to add insult to injury that Black Panther
was out and BlacKkKlansman were out.
So if you're interested
in stories about Black people,
then there they are right there.
The yin to the white savior yang
can be seen in Disney's 1946 movie.
Song of the South,
depicting life on a plantation
just after the abolition of slavery.
Its central character, Uncle Remus,
has become synonymous
with our next clich,
the magical negro.
The Uncle Remus character is there
to sort of help this young white boy,
who lives on the plantation,
and he tells him these stories.
...without a song jumping right out of it.
This is another
old trope of the "happy sambo."
These terms are racist
and I'm using them in inverted commas.
Hollywood turns out for the
20th annual presentation of awards.
The guy that played Uncle Remus
in the Disney version,
James Baskett, became
the first Black man to ever win an Oscar,
although it was not a proper Oscar,
it was like an honorary Oscar
because they didn't feel that
he was competitive enough
to be in the Best Actor
or the Best Supporting Actor categories.
The term was popularized
by the director Spike Lee,
who identified that this offensive clich
usually came with mystical powers.
You often don't know
where this character came from,
why they're there, they just kind of exist
to offer guidance or wisdom.
Don't worry about the vase.
What vase?
That vase.
I find the magical negro trope
very unrealistic,
because I personally don't feel
like helping white people
with their problems on a day-to-day basis.
The John Coffey character
in The Green Mile
is a simple uneducated man
wrongly convicted
for the murder of two white children.
On death row, he puts the time
that he has left on earth
to the best possible use:
reassuring white folk.
Hello, boss.
It's set in a prison,
and then it's got
the white guard being forgiven
for executing a Black man
for a crime he didn't commit
by the Black man,
which is just such
obvious kind of reassuring,
soothing fantasy for white guilt
that I find it impossible to watch.
The magical negro clich was even
taken to its ultimately divine conclusion
with Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty.
I'm God.
Morgan Freeman plays a magical negro
exceptionally well.
He was a magical God negro,
like he is the God of magical Negros.
Man, Morgan Freeman has
redefined the magical negro, I think.
And in The Legend of Bagger Vance,
the magical negro perhaps
achieves his highest purpose:
improving a white guy's handicap.
I could've killed you out there.
Oh, no, sir, see, I set myself
directly in front of you.
Judging by how you was hitting them balls,
that's where I'd be out of harm's way.
One of the things
that's just so offensive about it,
that movie's set in the '30s
when lots of Black people
were getting lynched,
uh, the KKK was everywhere,
and yet this character
played by Will Smith
is just concerned with Matt Damon
getting his swing perfected
on the golf course.
It's just you, that ball, that flag...
Actors gotta get a check
just like everybody else.
I've done jobs I don't wanna do.
I don't think Will Smith is at home
re-watching The Legend of Bagger Vance.
Some white person somewhere
in, like, Ohio is re-watching it,
so I hope they're enjoying it.
Why bother dreaming up
a convoluted plot line
when a clich guaranteed to drive
any revenge narrative can simply be...
You killed my father.
Whether it's a classic Western...
You killed my father!
...or even an arachnid-based blockbuster.
You killed my father.
John Wick, on the other hand,
doesn't quite need as much incentive
for his killing sprees.
Animals in movies
often seem to sense things
their human stars
they're sharing the screen with don't.
Could it be they're somehow
more intelligent than we are?
No, half those idiots
still shit while they walk.
But they do have
an almost supernatural nose for danger.
God's creatures:
The Geiger counter of the supernatural.
There's something wrong.
If something spooky's going on,
they'll be the first to let you know.
Horses, tap once for the dead,
three times for the undead.
See? He knows.
Worried about your son
being the prince of darkness?
Simply cast a pack
of Beelzebub-sniffing baboons.
But in Hollywood,
evil's worst enemy is man's best friend.
The role of the dog is to warn you.
The role of the dog is to say
there's something not quite right here.
What's the matter, E Buzz?
From unseen ghosts...
What are you doing? wannabe vampires.
And it's not just the supernatural.
A sensitive pooch
can also sniff out earthly evil.
Ted Bundy, you've been busted.
Of all the things
it's dangerous to be in movies...
Henchmen, stormtrooper,
a cop two days from retirement.
...right up near the top of the list
must be gay or lesbian.
You know, Hollywood gets a rap
for making its gay characters expendable.
Listen to me!
One of Hollywood's earliest exploitations
of gay and lesbian relationships...
I have loved you the way they said.
...was The Children's Hour,
an unsympathetic account
of two teachers,
Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine,
who are accused of a lesbian affair,
which leads to one of them
committing suicide.
But while Hollywood may try to highlight
the issues of LGBTQ characters,
it does kind of seem
to kill them in the process.
At times when it's touching
on the actual misery
or torture of gay people,
I think it's actually okay as a clich.
So for instance, in Brokeback Mountain,
it's not a love story,
it's about persecution
over many, many years.
And so when that death finally occurs,
it's actually logically
dictated by the film.
He was only 39 years old.
Well, award season does really love
a biopic about a dead gay person.
They love a film
where someone dies tragically.
Yeah, I can attest to that
because I played a gay character
in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
And the character I played,
Jack Hock, did die of AIDS.
You did fuck your way
through Manhattan. I mean...
I'd like that on my tombstone.
So yes, that is obviously true.
In fact, around 40% of LGBTQ
characters nominated for an Oscar
don't make it to the end credits.
A great way to put a character in peril
is to rely on the tech and the tech fails.
In Mission Impossible,
when he's climbing that building,
you're like, "Cool."
But then you think,
now you're on the outside,
and that tech fails...
And so now you immediately have drama.
Who hasn't scaled a building
and forgotten to bring a glove charger?
Though most big tech fails
are more down-to-earth.
We've all gotten into a car
and turned that thing and it didn't start.
A few years ago,
everybody got a cell phone.
This is my last communication...
Oh, the battery died.
The tech has to fail for the story
to be engaging and for us to be like,
"What will they do next?"
Whether it be
cutting-edge climbing technology,
a car, or a cell phone,
the tech fail always signals danger.
Angry and seated at a desk?
Then do the angry desk sweep.
Has a maverick cop foiled
your master plan for making billions?
Are you a world renowned neurosurgeon
with busted hands?
Or a high-flying military lawyer
up against a five-star general?
Thank you for playing
"Should we or should we not
follow the advice
of the galactically stupid!"
But what the hell,
kick a chair while you're at it.
Maverick cop Jake Gyllenhaal
has a real challenge with this desk.
His stuff just doesn't go anywhere.
No wonder the keyboard gets a beating.
Every hero needs a villain
to go up against.
It's taken us a while
to get around to him,
but he's been expecting you, Mr. Bond.
If your hero is good-looking,
this means the clichd bad guy
has to be the polar opposite,
and the filmmakers usually
make it easy for us to spot who they are.
Allow me to introduce myself.
I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
We make them other than us.
We make them ugly, disfigured.
Some scar to say that they're evil,
even if they're a lion.
You're telling a story,
you're telling the audience
that your character has been
involved in nefarious activity
and probably physical violence
in the past.
...and fulfill your destiny.
The disfigured villain goes way back.
Back to silent film.
You have, obviously, Lon Chaney
in Phantom of the Opera,
with the hairpins
stretching his nostrils out.
The problem with that sort of
characterization is the fact that then,
in real life, it translates to people
who have those physical disfigurements
being seen by other people
as dangerous, as scary,
as someone to shun.
Certainly that equating of disfigurement
in some way turning you into a psychopath
is incredibly insulting.
A lot of villains
are more cultured than the hero.
You know, you'll have villains
who talk about their love of Beethoven.
You don't like Beethoven.
Loving the finer things in life...
You don't know what you're missing. a sense
that there is another side,
another side to them, which enhances
the fact that they're, you know, evil.
I ate his liver with some fava beans
and a nice Chianti.
They're often British.
That tends to be
a real subcategory of villains.
In Hollywood, they thought
that an English accent
was a shorthand for sophistication.
Do you intend to cooperate with us?
I'd like a simple yes or no.
If your baddie had an English accent,
then the hero was dealing with something
that wasn't just plain brutish.
There was something else behind it.
Somehow casting an English actor,
because we're cheap,
and you can say the dialogue,
and you can say gibberish dialogue
with great conviction.
History, tradition, culture,
are not concepts.
These are trophies
I keep in my den as paperweights!
The monologue is a clich
because it's the stuff of drama.
Everything that has transpired
has done so according to my design.
It's the writer allowing the audience to
understand where this character comes from
and why they're doing what they're doing.
I had a villain's monologue
in the final sequence of Logan.
I'm giving this verse
about why I've done what I've done
and killed his family, all this.
I realized we needn't stop perfecting
what we eat and drink.
We use those products
to perfect ourselves.
And halfway through my monologue...
he kills me, deservedly.
There comes a time when every movie
simply has to stop happening.
And that time is known as the end.
It's when all the narrative plates
you've been spinning
have to suddenly weave together
in a better metaphor than this.
It's time for
the movie's climactic endgame,
and there are only
so many forms that can take.
The shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho
with Janet Leigh is seen by many
to be the inspiration for our next clich.
And for locks on bathroom doors.
Hitchcock popularized this notion
that it would be women going through
these horrific circumstances,
and he set up this expectation
that women would play
a central role in thrillers.
Eighteen years later,
Janet Leigh's daughter,
Jamie Lee Curtis, played a role
which made her an icon of the clich
now known as the final girl.
The monster versus the final girl,
Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween,
symbolically stands as the first.
She is the blueprint, the prototype.
The final girl is the one girl
who doesn't have sex,
who's more innocent than her friends.
You must have a small fortune stashed
from babysitting so much.
Guys think I'm too smart.
Because she's not having sex,
she's somehow miraculously
more observant than all of her friends
and senses something wrong first.
If you want
a really good final-girl movie,
you need to take a group of friends...
If you listen to the old timers in town,
they'll tell you he's still out there.
They've all gone off
on a weekend party somewhere.
You need to give them
a spurious reason to go off
in different directions,
and get up to any kind of mischief.
That's another clich, another rule:
If you do the dirty deed,
you're gonna die.
One by one they are dispatched.
There's always a lull in these movies
where everyone thinks
the killer might be dead.
Then it all comes crashing down
and she has to prove herself again.
But she survives and she becomes
the audience surrogate.
I think slasher films
and all their clichs
would be completely dead right now
if there hadn't existed Scream.
Scream turned the clich
on its blood-splattered head
by dispatching assumed final girl
Drew Barrymore in its opening moments.
I think the Scream franchise
really addressed the horror fans
and their knowledge of the clichs,
and sort of turned it on its head.
What's the point? They're all the same.
Some stupid killer
stalking some big-breasted girl
who's running up the stairs when
she should be going out the door.
It's insulting.
But the final girl
has appropriately survived.
Today, she's better prepared.
Fuck your family.
We're now giving her power
towards the end,
and we're making people
scared of her towards the end.
Eat it, bitch!
She is sometimes more deadly
than the people
that she's actually
kind of fighting to survive.
And technically,
has a much bigger body count
than any of the would-be "killers"
in the movie.
I think it's kind of evolved
as a clich now
into almost
a kind of a comfort-food finale.
Next up: that explosive
movie clich, the ticking time bomb.
There's a bomb,
and there's a ticking clock.
If the hero doesn't act,
large amounts of people die.
So inherently dramatic.
-How much time left?
-Twenty seconds!
Doesn't matter what movie,
when you watch the numbers click down,
your heart is in your mouth.
In its classic form,
this clich always comes down to the wire.
You think?
Cut the red or the blue,
the red or the blue?
It's one of the great
non-action climaxes ever.
They look sexier now.
Often it's someone trying to hack in
and stop the countdown.
Cerberus has been deactivated.
If it's your hero defusing the time bomb,
you know he or she is gonna do it.
The fun thing for us is going,
"How close to one
are they gonna take it, really?"
And it goes to one so many times.
The must-have at the end
of a romance is the lover's mad dash
where one of the pair has a frenzied race
against time and geography
to declare undying love to their partner.
Often, that will involve
a last-minute lover's dash to the airport,
or to stop a wedding happening.
The Graduate's a classic one of that.
Oh, Jesus, God, no.
Having chased and convinced
their other half of their eternal love,
their reward is a passionate kiss,
usually in bad weather conditions.
It's when you're so wrapped up
in kissing the person you love
that you're not even aware
of the terrible weather.
And I think that's what happened
in Four Weddings and a Funeral,
was these two people
having all these obstacles
not to be together,
and finally, in the rain...
Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed.
Greta Gerwig, the director,
did that for the end of Little Women.
She wanted that end-of-the-movie shot,
and I remember chatting to her about this
and she was like, "I want it, I want it,
I grew up watching it, and I want it."
If things have gone right, at the end,
the audience is on the edge of their seat
wondering whether the good guy will win,
while knowing, with every
fiber in their being, that he will.
Hey, why don't you pick on someone
your own size?
The morality tale
demands that the hero kills the villain.
The better the death,
the more satisfying
the vanquishing of the villain is.
Someone falling from a great height
has been a classic way
to finish your story.
Brilliantly done in Die Hard, of course,
and it gives them a moment or two
to know that they're beaten.
It's a very satisfying moment
for the audience.
It's to enable them to feel safe.
You vanquish the villain so you feel safe.
And the more dastardly
the behavior of the villain,
the more karmic justice
we are praying for.
There's a blood lust that a great villain
creates in an audience.
Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.
At the end of a movie, we want
to have good overcome bad.
That's what drives that desire
to watch a movie with great heroes.
That everything's gonna be okay
and the world's not scary.
Until the contractually
binding sequel brings them back,
the last few moments of the movie
are for the heroes to bask
in their hard-earned glory
before riding off into the distance.
Well, as I said at the start,
I've been Rob Lowe,
and that's it
for our look at Hollywood clichs.
Nothing for me to do now except
jump on my horse and/or motorcycle
and ride off into the sunset
while rock music and/or hip-hop kicks in.
But that would ruin my suit.
So let's just abruptly roll credits
when I snap my fingers.