Just like last time, I’ll give you a plot, and you figure out the title I’m referring to. Here we go:
There’s a new kid in town in Southern California. He’s a nice kid from the wrong side of the tracks, and he has a bit of a temper. That temper falls away when he meets Rich Blonde Teenage Girl (RBTG), who seems to like him even though she’s too rich and blonde for him.
But all is not well for our protagonist and his RBTG. You see, RBTG used to be involved with Rich Blonde Muscular Dude, who has a temper bigger than our protagonist’s and the fighting skills to back it up. And Rich Blonde Muscular Dude wants RBTG back.
Our protagonist and the Rich Blonde Muscular Dude get into scuffles over the next few weeks, each one escalating to new heights of violence. This all comes to a head when, late one night, Rich Blonde Muscular Dude tries to drive our hero off the road… and succeeds.
Okay: Guess the Title.
If you guessed “The First Half Hour of the First Karate Kid Movie,” you’re right! Here’s the scene:
But, wait! some of you might be thinking. That summary did not refer to the Karate Kid. It referred to the famous episode of The O.C. where (spoiler alert!) Marissa Dies! Thusly:
Did The O.C. steal the scene from The Karate Kid? I’ll let you be the judge.
Okay, here’s another one:
There’s a kid from the hood who is poor but pretty good at some Skill. But this kid needs training to succeed in the big Skill Tournament against the rich kids. Luckily, there’s a retired badass in town who is awesome at this skill. His teaching methods are a little unorthodox, and our hero grows impatient with him, but soon the kid realizes that this badass was teaching well all along. Eventually, the kid finds out that the retired badass is retired because his wife and daughter died, and he’s kind of screwed up as a result. But he pushes through his depression to teach the kid how to win the tournament. And our hero does win, without stooping to the low level of the evil rich kids. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Guess the Title!
All right, at this point, you’ve probably saying, “Yes, The Karate Kid, we got it.”
But is it?! Isn’t it also…
So Akeelah and the Bee is Searching for Bobby Fischer, but, you know, less good?
And they both have Lawrence Fischburne, ‘natch!
Oooh, how about this one?
This rich blonde guy with a fancy ride has learned about this ancient East Asian art of fighting, but he has no respect for it. He just rides around with his ridiculous gang and keeps winning fights, but you get the sense that he cheats and doesn’t do it the right way – and that he’s doing a lot more harm than good.
A slightly darker-skinned kid in jeans from out of town shows up with real familiarity with this fighting style that he learned from a legitimate guru. His fairer-skinned girl comes along with him pretty much wherever he goes and cheers him on from the sidelines.
First, the kid gets bullied around a bit, but then, a much stronger fighter steps in on his behalf, and then together they win a climactic battle and save all the legendary Pokemon!
. . .
That’s right, it’s _Terms of Endearment_!
I don’t know if you guys watch Heroes (way ripe for overthinking, I feel), but just in time for Karate Kid week, the love interest from “Karate Kid II: Kid Karatier” had a guest-starring role this week (and with several very touching scenes, I might add) as Hiro’s mother.
It’s also the first half of _Million Dollar Baby_ – or alternatively, the version of _Million Dollar Baby_ depicted in the trailers.
Heroes is a bit tricky because it has more self-consciousness than it has actual complexity. I would say it creates the illusion of sophistication by making aesthetic and symbolic reference to more sophisticated franchises.
I only watched the first season, which was all buildup and no payoff.
I mean, I could talk about what it means to set up a guy like Linderman and imbue him with this Joseph Campbell-esque mythological quality only to reveal that he has no narrative function, which in turn totally washed out the mythological quality. After all, myths are, first and foremost, stories, and mythological characters cannot persist if they have no myths (like all those random naiads and such that nobody cares about).
Linderman in Season 1 of Heroes was the Sarah Palin of television – media professionals crafted him, focusing on expressing the outward characteristics of the sort of person who would sort of lead to the sort of story that the audience wants to see – they mainlined a lot of superficial archetyping. They threw in a lot of cues that led the audience to draw conclusions that were deliberately chosen, but incorrect.
But once both archetypes had been created aesthetically, they needed to be realized narratively (because narratives are stickier than symbols and because symbols succeed on the strength of implied underlying narratives that are very vulnerable to refutation – the _Great Santini_ syndrome), and the actions, capabilities and apparent intentions of both characters took all the gas out of the work their teams had put into that first impression.
I can totally see Linderman from Season 1 pointing out the window of his office and saying, “You people don’t get it! I can see Russia . . . from my house!”
Have the subsequent seasons been worth watching?
1. I can’t believe I forgot about Searching for Bobby Fischer! Curses.
2. Also, I second Will on Heroes.
3. Fenzel, how much Pokemon have you been watching lately? I think we might have to stage an intervention. Or maybe I just need to watch more Pokemon.
(Meowth, that’s right!)
Searching for Bobby Fischer is my favorite movie ever.
@Shana: honestly, not much. But I have been eating a bunch of instant cup ramen noodles and reading too much Naruto, which has been pretty bad for my health and might be a gateway to wider abuse of cheap Japanese consumer goods.
By the way, much of my fondness for Pokemon comes from _Pokemon Puzzle League_ for Nintendo 64, which is the best of many attempts to repackage and resell _Panel de Pon_. It had a lot of sound effects, visuals and other bells and whistles, but otherwise had nothing to do with Pokemon. I played the heck out of that game and got pretty good at it. I used to play it with my little sister when she was like ten years old, and we would call out the catchphrases that were played whenever you cleared a chain or combo.
But seriously, I need a new cultural milieu to get excited about, because this is starting to get tedious :-)
I saw an episode of Heroes last night – first episode I’ve seen for a while. And I’m sort of unclear on what the appeal is. Yeah, it’s about people with superpowers, which is nifty. But if you don’t have enough money to actually show them using their powers, why bother? At least Buffy gave us a few good fights in every episodes.
@MisterBixby – It’s cool that was the lady from The Karate Kid II. I’ll take your word for it that if you’re a fan of the show, her role is touching.
Someone should do a post on which shows are easy to get into, and which shows can only be enjoyed by devoted fans. To a large extent, it’s about how serialized the storylines are, but maybe there’s more to it than that?
@Belinkie: (See I’m using the @ thing, too.) It’d be interesting to look at sitcoms, too. Some comedies use broader humor to bring in first time viewers while others rely on callbacks and in jokes that are much funnier to the devoted viewership.
Not that there are many scripted comedies on TV anymore. Actually, at the rate the networks are canceling shows and replacing them with reality shows and Jay Leno, I’ll be glad if there are any scripted shows left by next year.
Don’t worry, even if Queens ends up losing its King, Tyler Perry will never let you down. He’ll be pushing out material until he’s pushing up daisies.
_MONK_, people, _MONK_! Addicting, scripted, funny. Shazaam! And no, I haven’t seen every episode, which only proves the point.
I think _Lost_ is one of those love-it-or-hate-it shows, too. I’m definitely a lover, not a hater. But does anybody watch any reality TV, or is that… below… the Overthinkingit uh, cast?
How bout this:
Pupil meets teacher, but initially doesn’t know he was a great warrior. After realizing who he is, pupil commences training, but partly seeks to use his new skills for revenge. Elder teacher speaks mangled English and uses unorthodox teaching methods.
Hint: teacher is also considered to perpetuate negative stereotypes of Dagobans.
Isn’t that the plot of just about every shonen anime ever (except the girls usually aren’t blond) and about half of the Star Wars movies?
Yeah, strangely enough, in the shonen anime, it’s the guys who are blond.
The movie you described sounds like the quintessential teenage drama. Complete with stereotypical characters and predictable plot.
This could also have been:
Crazy Beautiful, The Outsiders (hair colors aside), all of the Step Up Films, and any other inspirational teen drama about believing in yourself and trusting your heart that has been made since the 80’s.