On trial: Is this a new twist on a classic type of story?
Why it was added: I wanted to remind writers that wild-and-crazy ideas were rarely as good as stories that started with classic templates and add one unique spin.
How do the checklist movies answer this question?
- Alien: Yes, the haunted house movie done on a space freighter.
- Babadook: The haunted hause / demonic possession movie.
- Blazing Saddles: Very much so: the appointed sheriff in a overrun western town was a classic subgenre, but this is a very new twist.
- Blue Velvet: Yes, an amateur detective story where the amateur is driven by impure motives.
- Bourne Identity: Yes, a spy story but the spy is trying to solve the mystery of who he is and what his mission is.
- Bridesmaids: A raunchy wedding-party comedy focused on the bridesmaids for once.
- Casablanca: Yes, the forbidden love romance with Nazis thrown in.
- Do the Right Thing: Sort of: The day-in-the-life-of-a-city genre had died out fifty years earlier, but this revived it with a new perspective.
- Donnie Brasco: Yes. Reverses the usual undercover story.
- Education: Not much of a twist. Just a very classic coming of age cautionary tale, but exceptionally well done.
- Fighter: Yes, a mix of boxing movie, crack movie, and family drama. But funny.
- Fugitive: It’s not much of a twist, just an exceptionally good version of a very classic thriller template.
- Groundhog Day: The “guy has to grow up and move on to the next stage of his life” romantic comedy gets a supernatural twist.
- How to Train Your Dragon: No, that’s pretty damn original. It has elements of the war movie, the gladiator movie, the coming-of-age movie, etc., but it’s really something pretty new.
- In a Lonely Place: It’s a “falsely accused” movie in which the accused doesn’t care to clear his name, and is guilty in his heart.
- Iron Man: A superhero origin but he’s a cocky middle-aged asshole instead of a young do-gooder.
- Raising Arizona: A zanier and sweeter rich-man’s-baby-gets-taken story.
- Rushmore: Yes, the love triangle.
- Shining: Yes, a non-gothic haunted house movie.
- Sideways: No.
- Silence of the Lambs: The serial killer hunt, but with another serial killer helping
- Star Wars: A fairy tale in outer space.
- Sunset Boulevard: Not really, it’s pretty original: part comedy, party noir, part satire.
Verdict: It’s out!
A new twist on a classic story is a great brainstorming idea when you're looking at a blank page. But if you're past that point it really doesn't help at all.
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