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Added by Larri on 30 Apr 2013 02:31
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Vive la Cliché!

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People who added this item 424 Average listal rating (270 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.3
The death of a partner

This is what makes it personal for our hero. The death of the partner who only had three days till retirement. There's a much bigger reason to hate the bad guys now that they crossed the line of hurting loved ones. If they were criminals with nothing more to them, who gives a hoot? Go and get rich or whatever it is you wanna do.
Clint Eastwood in particular has been through this so often it's no wonder he's always such a grump. And don't even get me started on James Bond. He's probably had more contacts killed than actual villains.

This has been parodied countless times, quite possibly the funniest spoofs coming from The Simpsons where, instead of a person, they would have a car or a spying hat that got wrecked only three days before retirement. My heart weeps for that poor spying hat.

Related: Last words
Often when a partner or a mentor, father figure, whoever, is about to die, they don't just die right away: they die the 30 second death that's enough to guarantee the dramatic last words. Head on the hero's lap, barely breathing anymore, they pass on their final message to the world. "Go get that son of a bitch," says Inspector Todd, and the revenge is on.

See how "Breaking Bad" violates this tradition in episode "Ozymandias." Jesus that's cold.
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 773 Average listal rating (520 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Octopussy (1983)


Accent villains

How endearingly simpleminded, not to mention xenophobic, is the thinking of a Hollywood writer. If your English isn't hundred percent pure, you're immediately suspicious. Add thick eyebrows to that and there's no defending yourself. You're an international supervillain whether you want it or not.
But goddamn how can you hate this cliché when someone like Alan Rickman starts talking with a German accent? Or Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark? French, that's an unusual one. Hell, I even loved Irina Spalko in the fourth Indiana Jones installment even though I was sure my quota for evil Russian accents was met with various 007 and Rambo movies.
I would be strongly opposed to this cliché if it didn't give the villains just that much more memorability.
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 2842 Average listal rating (1847 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.2


Mentor figure

A quintessental part of every version of the Hero's Journey: the mentor figure. The old geezer who spews out fortune cookie phrases, but really is there to tell you everything about kicking ass. Tends to start off as an oddball or a bit of an asshole, but over the course of the movie we see the caring side of the character and come to love them.
Not all the time does it exactly have to be a teacher for physical fighting, but a person who leads the main character to an unknown territory (literally or figuratively) and helps them overcome future obstacles. So, even Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech can be considered a mentor for King George VI. No wonder he was nominated for Academy Award, he played a mentor!

So far, the only mentor I haven't liked is Stick from Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (Frank Miller & John Romita, Jr). Clearly I need more background on this but that origin story alone didn't provide any motif or likability for the character. Love Miyagi, love Gandalf, but Stick is dick.

Warrior had a great organic twist on the mentor role without being snarky about it by having Edgerton's character's coach be this friend of his who's also very professional. And same age too. Pretty much every feature of his went against the obligatory coach/mentor type. The downside of that is the lack of memorability.
The more obvious mentor, Paddy (Nick Nolte) only got shit on for his past mistakes.
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 3013 Average listal rating (2024 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
Rocky (1976)
Training episode

To go with the mentor figure, there's the training montage which gives our hero unbelievable strength in a matter of minutes. But don't bother calling it a training unless there's an energetic sports song to pump you up.

The first thing that training montages bring to mind is Rocky and its fabulous sequels, but I challenge every reader here to hunt down a movie called The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Why? Cause this Shaw Brothers classic is essentially a movie-long training episode of the most epic proportions. I don't even remember what the climactic fight is about when finishing that training period basically proved to be a goal in itself.

Here's something by Muscles from Brussels.
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 188 Average listal rating (110 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2
Villain exposes self accidentally

...to a large crowd.
The reason I love this often final plotbeat is that after exposing myself to countless and then countless more stories where bad guys get their comeuppance by death, I've come to appreciate public shaming as a more devastating defeat.
The gist is, for anyone not familiar, that a person of power and popularity among the public unwittingly reveals their treacherous persona when someone secretly leaves a mic open and everything gets broadcast to the people - often gathered to a public place so that a visible outrage and turn in opinion has an audiovisually striking expression.

This procedure calls for a deeper understanding of humans as society than simply killing off someone obstructing peace, as assaulting popular entities will only make them even greater heroes in the collective mind. Then, if you try outing them after they are dead, people will only forbid you to "talk ill of the dead" because the dead can't defend for themselves.

It's a powerful piece of storytelling for it also makes the hero - as well as the viewer relating to the hero - something of a special, enlightened rarity in the middle of sheep who don't know the truth. From what I know, Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd was a precursor of said twist that had its inspiration in urban legend about a children's show host on the radio who called the audience "little bastards" when mistakenly thinking they were off the air. This cliché proved to be alive and well well over 30 years later as the Schwarzenegger dystopia The Running man utilized it in 1987, Weird Al Yankovic's cult comedy UHF in 1989, and even Batman in Batman Returns in 1992, but I have to say I did not expect Pixar to be the one to resurrect this glorious trope as late as 2017 with Coco to disgrace the national hero Ernesto de La Cruz who the main character Miguel idolizes so.
People who added this item 766 Average listal rating (513 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
Escape from execution,

brackets: usually hanging.

If you ask me, swashbucklers - be it a Western, a sea-faring adventure or something else entirely - always benefit from a scene of the protagonist escaping death, but it can't be just any type of death, no: I maintain, it has to public execution. Something with a large crowd gathered to witness the humiliating defeat of our main character, being the center of attention and suspense accelerated with a prolonged silence from aforementioned crowd.


- THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
- THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
- THE RETURN OF THE JEDI
- THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1993)
- THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
- TOP SECRET
People who added this item 293 Average listal rating (193 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
Flashforward opening

(Sometimes a cold open, too.)

Quite simply, this is the writer/director/storyteller dropping you in the middle of the story, giving a little whiff of what's to come as like a little teaser, before backing up to elaborate how we got to this point.
It was hard for me to get into the Mission:Impossible after parts one and two, but starting the third one with established protagonist Ethan Hunt tied to a chair in a dark room, with a gun pointed to his fiancée's head? After 4 long, accumulated hours of Mission Impossible, I was finally invested - and not a minute too soon.
I've also seen my share of high school comedies starting with the main character walking through the crowded hallways, but rarely have I seen them walk up to a teacher and declaring they're gonna commit suicide in the first minute.

A healthy cynic might point out that this is just a cheap way straight out of every marketing book to get the viewer to stay as long as the opening scene is explained. True; I wouldn't want EVERY movie to open this way - especially if your original opening that fits chronologically is strong enough to capture the viewer's attention. But it can also highlight a theme, strengthen structure through repetition or just shake up your film's form.

One thing though: let's keep the "You're probably wondering how I got here" voiceovers to minimum.


Also used in:
- GOODFELLAS
- EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE
- THE USUAL SUSPECTS
- "BREAKING BAD" PILOT
- KICK-ASS (the comicbook anyway, don't remember the movie)
- A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ENDINGS
+ dear knows how many others
(Wouldn't quite put Citizen Kane in this category...)

People who added this item 756 Average listal rating (508 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Subway action

+ extra points if it's a chase!

For whatever reason filmmakers really like to locate thrillers to subway stations at some point of the plot. Never a bus station, never an airport (well, sometimes an airport), always the subway.
But why is it? French Connection surely made the best case for it by having Fernando Rey bamboozle Gene Hackman from left and right, going back and forth between the car and the dock and ultimately hopping back in when Hackman thought he was out.
From then on all sorts of shenanigans have been taking place in subways. Brian De Palma seemed especially fond of the subway chase having it first happen in Dressed to Kill and again in Carlito's Way, while Michael Mann brought it to the new millennium with Tom Cruise chasing Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinkett-Smith in Collateral. Die Hard with a Vengeance opted for a bomb threat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with martial art action and Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 for a hostage plot. But whatever the fascination with the underground, I curiously never get tired of it.

Also:
- BLOW OUT (Seriously, De Palma?)
Larri's rating:
Chekov's shield

You may've never heard of 'Chekov's shield,' because it's a term I just made up, but if you've seen any movies in your life, you've seen it onscreen; it's the lucky [insert object here] a character keeps in their breast pocket or carries around their neck in a locket that stops an assault (usually a straight-up gunshot) on them. The object is often some personal item of theirs, a gift given by someone close to them, to give it more narrative heft. It can't just be a random object we never saw before.

Admittedly the one thing that keeps this from being tired is so many absurd comedic twists on it, the best one coming from The Simpsons episode "Homer and Apu," where a fatal gunshot on Apu is blocked by an earlier bullet lodged inside of him.


Seen in:
- THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1993)
- PROBLEM CHILD (in comedic effect - bullet stopped by prune)
- SLEEPY HOLLOW
- OCTOPUSSY
- THE SIMPSONS: HOMIE THE CLOWN (again, in comedic fashion)
- RUSH HOUR 2
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 540 Average listal rating (363 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.7
Black Rain (1989)
2 Cops befriend

Every buddy cop movie in existence (except Running Scared oddly enough) is based on this tradition. Two cops who initially don't get along find something in common during their investigation. Usually this difference of personalities is pushed even further by making them different colored or from different parts of the world. However, not both need to be cops. In Midnight Run Robert De Niro is escorting a Mafia accountant played by Charles Grodin, and DeNiro himself is a bounty hunter instead of an actual police officer. In 48 Hrs. Eddie Murphy played a criminal next to Nick Nolte to help him get the man who, in an another cliché I love, killed Nolte's partner earlier.
Nevertheless, it follows the same format, and even though I can tell what's coming right from the get go, I'm still eager to see how they manage to get there.

Even in a movie of wasted potential like Red Heat the best part was to see Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi bonding. It was almost as if The Soviet Union and The United States were one...

If you wanna see a flipside to that coin, see Running Scared or Mississippi Burning. As far as I can remember, Hackman and Dafoe's companionship didn't progress in any way, really.

Can also be seen in:
- LETHAL WEAPON (the one that popularized it)
- RUSH HOUR
- THE HEAT
- 21 JUMP STREET (2011)
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 5189 Average listal rating (3569 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
Batman (1989)
Superhero intervention

Superheroes tend to be the kinds of douchebags who wait until the last fraction of a second to save an innocent pedestrian from being mugged in a dark alley.
Very often this event takes place early in the movie, when the hero is starting out. You know, a little stretch and warm-up before tackling the big shots. Also, this is usually a fairly insignificant moment to the plot as it is, as I mentioned above, about stopping a grocery store robber or some other minor punk. Yet, I never get tired of seeing the hero overpower the little scum.

This is such a fangasm-moment that even Sylvester Stallone utilized this in Rambo not only once but twice. Even though they were both quite important occasions, it was still the kind of purposeful stalling that it counts as a superhero intervention.
Yes, Rambo is a superhero.
I wish I could say it was painfully obvious, but in this case 'pleasantly obvious' sounds better for me.
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 4302 Average listal rating (2975 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.2
Conflict with authority figure

What would a good ol' fashioned cop film be without quarrels with superiors. Probably quite a lot but it's a fun cliché nonetheless. This is often used to establish a character who's tough, does things their own way, and refuses to change their MO.
This conflict usually happens with a detective and their boss (preferably a pissed off, black chief of police, the kind Frank McRae spoofed at least twice in the 90s), but there's another instance where a bunch of cold Federal Agents or something similar takes over the situation. Now if you know anything about these kinds of movies, this is the ultimate low blow. How dare they try solving this when our hero has a personal grudge on the line!
Don't be surprised if you hear a "But this is MY case!" anytime soon in a cop thriller.

This was brilliantly satirized in Pasila, where the Finnish equivalent of FBI basically took over what was originally a police operation, telling others to "go home to your families and not turn this into any kind of authority issue!" but the main character is actually grateful for them cause he was "too tired to handle the case".

- "No, really, thanks!"
- "Don't start that shit with me, just get the hell outta here!"
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 1690 Average listal rating (1206 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
Escaping explosion

There simply isn't a better way to peak your action scene than a badass explosion and the hero jumping away from the flames. Whether we're talking about Hard Boiled, Predator or Con Air, great moments have been spent with these close-calls, but we know they're not all that close-calls: being actually caught by explosion is about as plausible as losing to villains.
So, no real suspense there, but who cares when it looks so gooood.

I should name the spectacular rooftop explosion from Die Hard as my favorite, but I'm gonna have to go with Rambo II where they just blow up entire WATERFALLS. How hardcore is that? Finished off with slo-mo running, of course.

Larri's rating:
People who added this item 1298 Average listal rating (921 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
Commando (1985)
One-liners

What would a true 80s action flick be without one-liners?
Getting killed is nothing, that's what happens, but to hear a wooden insult for final words must be the ultimate humiliation! How can you have your life flash before your eyes when some cock-a-douche stops your train of thought with "Stick around!" or stuff like that?
I'm sure Saint Peter himself at the Pearly Gates feels sorry for you for dying like that and gives you a foot rub just to make it easier in the afterlife.

Also, have you noticed something: clearly when the writers can't think of a good original one-liner, they use the
"xxxx this!"
solution.
Name this, dodge that, jump this and bake a cake. Even Quentin Tarantino blurts out a one-liner from a crummy old Arnold flick Raw Deal when describing Pulp Fiction in this AFI video below :D Check it out.

Larri's rating:
People who added this item 2757 Average listal rating (1871 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.6
obviously inspired by Cinemassacre: Smash through a window

Whether voluntarily or thrown by another guy, a good window smash is never less than a spectacle. I wasn't sure if it's the drop or the shattering glass that makes it until I remembered this scene from RoboCop, where RoboCop throws Boddicker three times through a window inside a drug factory. It's definitely the glass that breaks, although I am more of a fan of the thicker glass that really makes it look like it hurts, not that sugar glass.



Larri's rating:
People who added this item 2365 Average listal rating (1536 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Rush Hour 2 (2001)
Falling on a car

Relatives with the aforementioned window smash. Falling off a tall building is nothing if you only fall on the sidewalk that doesn't break or leave a proper sound. What fun is that? You gotta take a perfectly fine car with you as you go! Seeing - and hearing - that metal crumple and glass shatter, possibly with burglar alarm going off, is much more dramatic, and guaranteed to satisfy every man's need for needless destruction.

Lethal Weapon'll show you how it's done.


Seen also in:
- Marked for Death
Larri's rating:
People who added this item 1335 Average listal rating (814 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
Accidental solution

This is a regular for every mystery film out there. And a good chunk of 'MacGyver' episodes, as well. What we talk here is some kind of riddle the protagonist is trying to solve, but they've already given up and fallen into despair, until they notice an itsy-bitsy detail in the case that they overlooked before. Someone says a random word that's exactly the key to the problem or something.

-"Hey, want a Coke?"
- "Coke... That's it! It's not about heroin, it's about coke!"
:O :O!!

This is often paired with an acclamation, "YOU'RE A GENIUS!" to whoever happened to unwittingly utter those crucial words that made all pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
Okay, I don't think any mystery is THAT lame, but the point is no one ever solves a case until they face that moment of leaving the case be. If you've ever spent hours on a crossword, you know that's the right way to go. The rewarding way.

This can be seen in:
- ZOOTOPIA
- IN THE LINE OF FIRE
- THE USUAL SUSPECTS
- THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
- to prove that the cliché is not exclusive to films, Umberto Eco's THE NAME OF THE ROSE utilizes the cliché as well! But not the film adaptation.
Larri's rating:

Now that I got my most despised clichés outta the way in Clichés that belong to garbage, I'm focusing on the ones that I embrace instead. The ones I shouldn't like, but do. From little moments to story-sized clichés, seeing these pop up always lifts my movie-watching experience at least a bit.

But then again: is it a cliché if it still works? Or is it a classic?

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