Watching Jennifer Lawrence win her deserved Oscar last Sunday night–and better yet, seeing her respond so humanly to tripping on her crazy dress heading up the slippery stairs, I felt that she was someone that would be pretty great to know. While she accepted her award, I suddenly flashed-back to another favorite of mine who won in 1989, Geena Davis, for The Accidental Tourist. She too played a quirky, pushy character who knocks a self-pitying guy out of his funk. In both cases, you’re siding with her over the guy, yelling at the screen for him, to quote Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!”
Plot-patterns are fun to find. A professor I had once said that every good story is alredy in the Bible somewhere. The Book of Job is mirrored in Trading Places, as two powerful men bet on how a wealthy person will fare if everything is stripped from him.
Even last week, while watching the very entertaing Warm Bodies, I had that nagging sensation that I’d seen it before–and I didn’t really mind seeing it again. Then, as I was dumping the popcorn bucket on the way out to the lobby, I told my son, “That was Wall-E.” The main character finds himself in an apocalyptic world he didn’t create, collects trinkets in his sanctuary, meets a female and struggles to understand the mystery of holding hands. Then, when the path to un-apocalypse becomes possible, the remaining humans resist the change.
Nora Efron and Rob Reiner had to listen to a thousand comparisons between When Harry Met Sally and Annie Hall, but it’s still considered a great film. All romantic comedies end with a misunderstanding, followed by a chase across town. Generally, the fool is the guy, but once in a while you get the roles switched like Julia Roberts did in My Best Friend’s Wedding. There’s comfort in predictability, particularly in our recreation. There should be nine innings in baseball, four quarters in football and no teeth in hockey. We need the guy to get the girl, even if the guy is a robot or a zombie. Zombies have become such a part of our entertainment now that Warm Bodies didn’t have to spend any time making us all believe we were on the outskirts of Atlanta just seeing The Walking Dead from another point of view.
Even my own plotline has been tampered with lately. Sunday nights ended roughly for me as Downton Abbey stops for another year–and three characters check-out of my familiarity zone for good. Even with last weekend’s Academy Awards, I’ve now got to have something else to end my weekend on a special note.
Maybe I should take up ballroom dancing in Philadelphia.