Two weeks ago, I challenged you to celebrate the beginning of summer movie season by besmirching classic movies with cliches. In other words, what would happen if the horrible brain disease that afflicts Michael Bay were to be weaponized and sent back in time by al-Qaeda agents intent on destroying America’s most enduring legacy: our Hollywood films?
As usual, I’m in awe of your creativity, and it wasn’t easy narrowing this down. First, I’ll give you my favorite entries for each of the four cliches. Then, I’ll reveal my favorite entry that combined all of them, and has earned its author a brand new OTI t-shirt.
CLICHE #1: ADD A ONE-LINER TO A FAMOUS SCREEN DEATH.
Chris conjured up a perfect Family Guyesque cutaway with this:
Man stands over Bambi’s dead mother. “Oh dear,” he says with a smirk, before lighting up a cigar.
The reason I love this is it immediately suggests a flood of other cliches, like a vengeful Bambi being trained in kung fu by a wise old otter, Bambi taking out every member of that hunting party with brutal efficiency, Thumper being skinned and left at Bambi’s doorstep in retaliation, and a final showdown between Bambi and the lead hunter in the middle of a driving rainstorm. I’d call it, Bambi: First Blood.
Honorable mention goes to Mark:
Chingachgook stands facing a bruised and defeated Magua. “You’re about to feel the Blast of the Mohicans!” He spins and smashes his blue warclub of death into Magua’s head, sending him plummeting off the cliff.
You have to admit, that would work great in 3D.
CLICHE #2: THE BAD GUY IS STILL MIRACULOUSLY ALIVE.
Squin really knocked it out of the park with this image. What I love about this is he included like 20 setup panels. You’re scrolling down and thinking, okay, where is this going? And then pow. Incidentally, we need to get a Kickstarter project going for a live action Wolfenstein movie. We could raise 200 million dollars like that.
Honorable mention goes to Mark again:
Jack and Marla hold hands while they watch the buildings collapse. Suddenly, Tyler Durden appears behind them and karate kicks Jack in the back, knocking him to the ground. “What part of ‘imaginary friend’ don’t you get?” shouts Tyler. Jack and Tyler resume their existential debate. Tyler realizes that Marla is the problem and begins attacking her. Marla, only seeing that Jack fell to the ground, talked to himself, and then started attacking her, grabs the gun and puts it in Jack’s mouth. “The first rule of Marla Singer is: you do not F*** with Marla Singer!” She shoots out Jack’s other cheek. Tyler collapses to the ground with another gunshot wound out the back of his head. Jack and Marla embrace.
In this case, the bad guy coming back to life is completely plausible.
CLICHE #3: INSERT ANCIENT PROPHESY.
Hands down, my favorite was this one from Squin (again):
Ancient Sumerian texts foretold a legend that would come to pass, a legend of a man and his miraculous wheeled device. A man who would cross the desert, walk on the site of a great battle, and befriend a murderous tribe before becoming an icon of his people.
Then there’s an image link as the punchline. But before I provide that, I just want to point out that this is a pretty accurate description of Road Warrior. I mean, he’s got the badass car in the post-apocalyptic desert, and he becomes the savior of a savage tribe. That’s what I thought it was going to be. Okay, now here’s the link.
And it totally works. Nicely done. Honorable mention to Trevor, who gives John McClane an even more useful mentor than the dad from Family Matters.
John: “What have you been smoking? There are terrorists crawling all over this building!”
Old guy: “Then your course work will be lighter in load. For it is written that a profane, balding cop would be my greatest pupil.”
John: “We haven’t got time!”
Old guy: “We always have time, it’s how we use it that defines us.”
CLICHE #4: ADD CRAZY CAR CHASE.
Chris goes art house with this one:
After losing to Death in chess, Antonius hops in a vintage 1973 Corvette and speeds off, with Death following on a motorcycle. Due to his superior handling skills, Antonius is not only able to get away from Death, but Death actually dies after flipping his motorcycle over a wild strawberries stand. Then, Antonius doubles back and (here’s a Clichemageddon double whammy for you) quips, “Death shall be no more, Death, thou shalt die.”
And for those of you who are like, “The Seventh Seal was made way before 1973,” I have to point out that this is a man who plays chess against Death. He’s not going to let the space-time continuum get between him and a sweet ride.
And speaking of art house, honorable mention goes to Mike:
[Elizabeth climbs into waiting barouche-landau and drives off. Mr. Collins leaps onto his plunging black charger and gives chase]
Mr. Collins: I say, I shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long!
Elizabeth [urging the horses on]: I am perfectly serious in my refusal! — You could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who would make you so!
Mr. Collins [leaping over ravine]: I cannot imagine that her ladyship would at all disapprove of you. And you may be certain that when I have the honour of seeing her again I shall speak in the highest terms of your modesty, economy, and other amiable qualifications!
Elizabeth [just making it onto a ferry, as Mr. Collins reins in at the shore]: I wish you very happy and very rich, and by refusing your hand, do all in my power to prevent your being otherwise.
Mr. Collins: When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on this subject I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me.
[Mr. Collins expression of steely resolve; dramatic chipmunk music]
Not sure what Chipmunk music he’s referring to, but I can totally see Keira Knightley pulling this off. She was in Pirates! Also playing an Englishwoman named Elizabeth!
Now it’s time for the entries that combined all four cliches. 2nd runner up is Steven, for his very involved script for Back to the Future Part 3. His entry is 1,070 words long, includes Marty being severely wounded with a spear, and ends with the oldest cliche in the book: it was all a dream.
1st runner up is Paul, who took Toy Story to a very dark place. Here’s how he hit all four cliches. (NOTE: This is my summarized version. Go read the whole thing!)
ANCIENT PROPHESY: “Hey Buzz,” said Woody, “I was just reading one of Andy’s old comic books, and an ad in there said that you’d have an upgrade coming this year!” (You see what Paul did there?)
CAR CHASE: Buzz tries to kill Woody, and Woody flees in the Barbie Corvette.
VILLAIN RESURRECTION: After being dismembered by Sid, Buzz turns up miraculously alive.
“Buzz? How?” questioned Woody as he choked.
“Buzz? My name is Charles Lee Ray.”
To my shame, I had to Google this. And it turns out that Charles Lee Ray is the name of the serial killer whose spirit winds up in the body of Chucky. That’s really clever, and I appreciate the veiled reference. And finally…
ONE LINER: Jessie blows up Buzz with some lithium ion batteries. And then she says: “To infinity, and beyond.” You have to admire how he turned the movie’s most famous quote into a perfect screen death bon mot.
But I think the winner has to be Brian, for his fantastic Michael Bayification of There Will Be Blood.
ONE LINER: As Plainview kills Eli with a bowling pin: “Looks like only one pin can dance on the head of an angel.” (NOTE: Daniel Day-Lewis also delivered that Last of the Mohegans one-liner. Coincidence?)
ANCIENT PROPHESY: Eli turns out to be the Third Revelation, which means….
VILLAIN RESURRECTION: … he comes back to life with telekinetic powers, leading to…
CAR CHASE: … a climatic car v. locomotive chase.
The whole entry is totally worth reading, but will probably ruin that movie for you forever. Here’s the money quote from Plainview:
“You know, losing my mustache and being chased by a zombie with telekinetic powers of magnetism taught me something about the human spirit. I’ve been a narcissistic jerk, and killing over oil and not caring for others is a no win game, oil is polluting- environmentally and emotionally. I’m gonna start using renewable energy from now on, Positive Thinking-the most renewable energy there is. I’m finished!”
Congratulations Brian! I’ll email you about the t-shirt soon. And once again, thank you to everyone who participated. We know you have a choice when it comes to procrastination, and we appreciate you wasting your time with us.
Well folks, that’s it for this round of Clichemaggedon. But this stuff is just too much fun to wait another year for, so I might have another fill-in-the-blank contest in a couple months. In the meantime, gather ye popcorn flicks while ye may, for before you know it we’re going to be neck deep in prestige pictures starring Meryl Streep.