On appeal: Does the story satisfy the basic human urges that get people to buy and recommend this genre and sub-genre?
Why it was added: This is hugely important. It’s easy to come up with a perfect concept/character/structure, etc. only to discover that there’s no reason for anyone to actually like the story.
How do the checklist movies answer this question?
- Alien: Yes, lots of big scares and gory kills
- An Education: Sort of. It substitutes aesthetic pleasures for sexual, romantic, or crime pleasure. It’s entirely execution-dependent.
- The Babadook: Yes and no. It’s very scary, but there are no deaths! There is very little sexuality or transgression to be punished.
- Blazing Saddles: It’s hilarious.
- Blue Velvet: Yes and no. It’s an effective Hitchcockian/erotic thriller in the end, but it doesn’t “feel” like a thriller for most of its run time. What it feels like is an art film, and it mostly satisfies those viewers, but not entirely. It’s stuck somewhat between the two audiences.
- The Bourne Identity: Yes and no. It subtly replaces our normal spy movie expectations (gadgets, secret lairs), with more modest ones, then it fulfills those expertly: awesome car chase in a beat-up car, down-and-dirty fight scenes, etc.
- Bridesmaids: Lots of raunchy laughs.
- Casablanca: Yes and no. It’s got romance and international intrigue, but both are muted. This movie is ultimately execution-dependent.
- Donnie Brasco: Yes, lots of whacking and suspense.
- Do the Right Thing: Yes, it’s very funny also a satisfying drama.
- The Fighter: Very much so: All four sub-genres end heroically.
- The Fugitive: Very much so.
- Groundhog Day: Somewhat: Guys might feel it’s not quite raunchy enough for comedy or sci-fi enough for sci-fi, but seems too male-centric for girls at first glance. Of course, everybody loves it once they actually see it, but it’s a hard sell beforehand, and it had to build its own audience through word-of-mouth.
- How to Train Your Dragon: Lots of eye-popping 3-D, lots of action, lots of giggle-worthy-comedy, beautiful imagery.
- In a Lonely Place: No. No crimes are committed onscreen, there is no climactic act of violence, the crime is also solved offscreen, and the perpetrator is someone we don’t know.
- Iron Man: Very much so.
- Raising Arizona: Lots of big laughs, such as the big chase scene.
- Rushmore: Yes, it’s funny and touching.
- The Shining: Yes, lots of blood and scares.
- Sideways: Not really. It has little of the usual joys of the manchild-driven comedy (T&A, turning tables on snobs, etc.).
- Silence of the Lambs: There are only a few scenes of physical danger, but they’re exciting enough to satisfy all urges.
- Star Wars: Lots of swashbuckling fun and otherworldly imagery
- Sunset Boulevard: Pretty much. The movie goes down easy, despite its unusual elements: it’s enjoyably funny and creepy throughout.
The verdict: I’d really like to keep this one. I think maybe I should move it to the concept section?