It’s not your imagination. Hollywood’s reliance on recombining movie plots seems to have deepened lately — partly because there are only so many stories out there, but partly because the industry really does think in units of interchangeable plot elements. It’s as though every producer were employing a movie-biz version of a bartending guide: Use a twist of this story line, a splash of that character. In most cases, unfortunately, the audience is shaken but not stirred. True, some new films are original concoctions, but most come straight out of Mr. Hollywood’s Mixing Guide. Here are some of the more exemplary recipes:
THE DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN OLD-FASHIONED
2 parts Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
1 part Trading Places
1 part Beverly Hills Cop
Splash of All the President’s Men
Serve warmed over.
THE JENNIFER EIGHT COLD TODDY
Blend equal parts:
Wait Until Dark
Sea of Love
Dead of Winter
The Silence of the Lambs
Pour over cracked ice; serve in dark glasses.
THE A FEW GOOD MEN CRUISE MISSILE
3 parts The Caine Mutiny
1 part A Soldier’s Story
1 Top Gun father-son conflict
Pour into Demi-tasse cup. Serve straight up with An Officer and a Gentleman husky-voiced female lead, and chase with a shot of Jack.
THE UNDER SIEGE RUM PUNCH
Mince five early Schwarzenegger films and all previous Steven Seagal movies; mix with:
8 parts Die Hard
Splashes of Das Boot, A Night to Remember, and The Hunt for Red October
Serve on the rocks.
THE BODYGUARD GIMLET
1 part The Fan
5 jiggers of the Sheena Easton episodes of Miami Vice
Dash of The Last Boy Scout Strain.
THE MIGHTY DUCKS SHIRLEY TEMPLE
2 parts The Bad News Bears
1 part Slap Shot
Serve in Flintstones jelly glass.
THE RESERVOIR DOGS SCREWDRIVER
1 part The Killing
1 part The Asphalt Jungle
Garnish over the top with slices of Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, GoodFellas.
THE HERO SOUR
1 part Meet John Doe
1 part Hail the Conquering Hero
1 part The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Splash of Rain Man
Season with bitters.
THE HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN MANHATTAN
Pour Home Alone into a new glass.