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What Great Stories Have in Common

Ever feel deja vu when reading a book or watching a movie? Here’s why.

The Hero Rant

Why are movie heroes so stupid? This seems to be a trend in movies lately. Last night we sat through two hours of pre-previews, previews, and, finally, the movie. Every protagonist we saw on the screen was a candidate for the Darwin Awards.

It didn’t matter who the hero was. Men, women, teenagers, and children. Animated people and animals. Each one had the IQ of a flea. As brief as the trailers were, it was obvious that the lead characters go through their respective movies oblivious, dim-witted, and destined to fail time and time again (until of course, the miraculous ending where most of them will persevere through a strange and improbable twist of fate).

None of the trailers we watched left us with a desire to see any of the movies. The movie we sat through was equally disappointing. It doesn’t even matter which movie we say we saw. They are all the same. Dumb hero and his equally dumb (except for one token thinking character) friends/colleagues/crew/family all get involved in impossible/improbable situations. The hero never learns. He keeps making the same disastrous decisions. His thinking friend repeatedly tries to warn the hero that his decisions are not going to work out, but the hero won’t listen. Things finally reach a crisis point, and the thinking friend seems to abandon the hero. The hero goes off alone on a final destined-for-disaster trek only to be saved at the last minute by the sudden return of the thinking friend who has all the dumb friends/colleagues/crew/family with him (for entertainment, we presume, since none of them will be of any help except by accident). Fortunately the villains seem to be just as dumb as the heroes.

Where are the heroes who can turn on a dime and make a clever and daring escape? Where are the heroes who can out-plot an equally brilliant villain? We love heroes who are leaders, who make mistakes, have doubts, but grow and learn, and in the end triumph because of their strength, growth, and intelligence. We want heroes we can cheer for. Heroes we can like.

We don’t seem to be alone in this longing. A boy, who appeared to be about eight years old, sitting in the row in front of us, turned to his father at one point during the movie and asked, “Why is that guy being so stupid?”

Good question. Why, Hollywood? Is this really the best you can do?

 

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