Wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle
Clichés in movies have been a mainstay – and a well-worn trope – since the early days of cinema and it’s only getting worse. Modern cinema is so dumbed down and meticulously crafted now that many people have shifted to exploring the broader horizons of the big and small screen.
There’s a reason why Squid Game, Parasite and La Casa De Papel have been such massive successes in recent years. Of course, there will always be an exception but when was the last time you stepped out the cinema and were genuinely challenged by a film? And not in a “what the heck did those characters just say in Tenet?” kind of way.
Now, Mark Kermode has been highlighting these tropes and clichés in his informative and well-written ‘Secrets of Cinema’ long before Brooker’s cynical take on this.
Attack of the Hollywood Cliches is essentially as wide as an ocean and as deep as a puddle. Is that a clichéd line? You betcha, but prepare yourself as this special dives into all the surface-level fluff without the foresight, wit or comedy to actually dive deeper. And worse, not all the big cliches are actually discussed or mentioned.
What about the black man being the first to die in horror films? Where’s the empty coffee cups that our protagonist chugs down without blowing first? What about the sweat prints on the chest but not under the arms or back? There are many, many more that are missing and all of these are so common that it’s a wonder why they didn’t show up here.
The former is particularly surprising too, given this special dedicates a good portion of time to the way black people have been mismanaged over the years through the “magical negro” and “white savior” tropes.
From conventional plot beats to the big dramatic finale, there are a whole range of different clichés that are brought up across every genre of film. The only trouble is, an hour feels like nowhere near enough time to actually dive into these, discuss their origins and add some genuinely funny jokes.
Rob Lowe does well on narration duties though, and does have a few good lines, but beyond that the special doesn’t do enough to really stand out.
But the big question here is who. Who is this special actually for? Attack of the Hollywood Clichés is far too cynical to be an outright comedy, and way too simplistic for anyone who’s watched more than a handful of movies.
In fact, if you’ve read this far do yourself a favour and go and check out TV Tropes. It’s a great site full of all the different tropes that show up on the big and small screen – and a few you’ll undoubtedly never have realized existed!
As for Attack of the Hollywood Cliches though, if you can go in knowing this won’t test you or bring up anything you didn’t already know then you should find just enough to like.
Verdict - 5.5/10