When there are hundreds of movies made every year, patterns start to show up. Whether it’s the characters or the ending, there isn’t much in the way of originality in the movies. This is especially true with characters, whose archetypes have been mixed and matched since Hollywood’s inception. As time progressed, new characters have emerged, and been implemented and overused just like the old stereotypes before them. Here is a list of movie characters we’ve seen time and again the past few years, and that we’ll probably continue to see for many more to come.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl- Realizing your dreams and fulfilling your potential is one of the most common goals of movie protagonists. Young male independent writers/directors like to do this with the help of a leading lady. At first, these characters almost demand to be recognized as free spirits, but as soon as love and narrative momentum chains them down, they become muses whose only purpose is to help the main character fulfill their own potential while they are left unfulfilled. The phrase was first coined by critic Nathan Rabin, who used the term in his review of Elizabethtown. Find them in: Garden State (Natalie Portman), (500) Days of Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Almost Famous (Kate Hudson) and Elizabethtown (Kirsten Dunst)
Due Date Directed by: Todd Phillips Written by: Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland, Adam Sztykiel, & Todd Phillips Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Zach Galifianakias, Michelle Monaghan, and Jamie Foxx
Watching Zach Galifianakias’ Ethan Tremblay, an aspiring actor, act out a scene given to him by Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.)with amateurism and then turn it into an emotionally-charged turn reminded me of Mulholland Dr. The comparisons with that 2001 masterpiece and this forgettable buddy comedy should end there, but they don’t. A lot of Todd Phillips’ latest is a hallucinatory road trip filled with drugs, car wrecks, and bizarre tonal changes. Take my advice, stick with David Lynch.
Phillips could’ve done anything after he sailed away with the box office last summer with The Hangover. Instead, he decided to recycle his use of Galifianakias as the awkward, sympathetic idiot and pair him with Robert Downey Jr for a road movie based on Plains, Trains and Automobiles. It’s an appealing match-up ripe with potential, almost none of which is utilized. The two actors at the center were almost given too much freedom to be themselves, letting their personalities fill in the (many) blanks the script left out both plot-wise and on the laughing front.