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Ranking the 10 Most Generic Films of the Last 5 Years

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | March 6, 2012 |


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Brian Prisco reminded us of this in his review of Safe House a couple weeks ago:

There are only 8 stories in the world. Every single story can be boiled down to a variation or combination of these ur-myths: Cinderella, Achilles, Faust, Tristan, Circe, Romeo & Juliet, Orpheus and Die Hard. There are no new stories, just new ways to tell them. What that means is that you should be building a unique world and characters around the basic spine of a well-developed mythos. That doesn't mean that you take a story you know and change four elements.

However, changing four elements (or less) is exactly what screenwriters seem to be doing these days. I often believe that new movies are designed specifically for a new generation that isn't privy to, say, the 1980s or 1990s. Maybe they don't know all the tropes and formulas. Maybe schlocky generic movies seem new to them because they haven't been exposed to John Hughes' back catalog, or Die Hard, or any movie dated before 1998. But I don't think that's true: Thanks to the compressed nature of our popular culture, the Internet, shows like "I Love the 80s," movies within movies, movies that reference other movies, and movies that remake movies, as well as our cultural obsession with nostalgia, by the time you reach college, you've seen everything even if you haven't seen everything. It's not reintroducing an old formula to a new audience; it's laziness. Hell, we're lucky if a screenwriter changes four elements. Usually, it's just a matter of maybe changing the gender and adding a pop song and some profanity to an old script, and voila: New movie!

Hollywood has been completely homogenized, and the 10 movies below are the worst examples of it (far more egregious, in my opinion, than Safe House). They're not new movies; they're just new actors playing the same characters in the same, tired old formulas. They're barely even new titles.

10. The Vow

9. The Sitter

8. The Back-Up Plan

7. Eagle Eye

6. I Love You, Beth Cooper

5. The Haunting in Connecticut

4. The Ugly Truth

3. The Roommate

2. The Change-Up

1. This Means War


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