Sunday, January 11, 2009

A game show coming to a tv near you

I've been having an ongoing conversation with some friends about movies coming out in doubles - specifically, our conversation has been about movies with the same plot that come out right on top of each other.

Meteor on a crash course with earth:
Deep Impact released May 8, 1998 (Tea Leoni, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, Elijah Wood, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, etc. etc. etc.)
Armageddon released July 1, 1998 (Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Will Patton, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, etc. etc. etc.)

Truman Capote writes about gruesome murder in small town:
Capote released February 3, 2006 (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Infamous released November 16, 2006 (Toby Jones)

Volcano inactive for centuries suddenly threatens to blow:
Dante's Peak released February 7, 1997 (Linda Hamilton, Pierce Brosnan)
Volcano released April 25, 1997 (Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche)

But it also raises another question--how many films out there, if reduced to plot, could be mistaken for other films? Check out these plot summaries. The one that caught my eye was this one:

Name that film:

A white man is born fatherless in the south with birth defects that lead many to think he may never walk nor live a normal life. His saintly mother believes in his potential anyway. At a young age, the man learns to walk and sheds his exoskeleton of locomotive aids. Around this time, he also meets the love of his life, a vivacious girl who grows into a bold woman who parts ways with the man to have her own wild adventures. Meanwhile, the man reaches adulthood, and puts in a wartime stint in the U.S. military. During this stint, the man proves at first an indifferent asset, but during his one firefight, he turns out to be very valuable, saving the day singlehandedly, while also witnessing the death of one of his best friends. The man also spends much time on a small ocean vessel, serving alongside a rowdy, grizzled, hard-drinking man of the sea. This salty sailor serves as one of our man's two best male friends; the other is a black man who first teaches our man the lessons of friendship before departing forever.

Our man wanders all around the world, his life brushing up against key historical moments of the 20th century. At some point he returns to his childhood home, and his mother dies. The man comes into considerable wealth through blind luck. Around this time, his lifelong love returns from her adventures, ready to commit to him. During their brief time together, they conceive a child. The couple part ways, due to the woman's perceived inability to take care of the man. He does not raise the child through its early years but later makes an appearance in its life. The woman eventually dies in bed from illness. The man's later years are hardly touched on, even though the movie has lavished much attention on his early and middle years.

The entire story dwells repeatedly on the theme of life's uncertainty and, in contrast, on the notion of fate or coincidence. The film's symbol for these themes is a small object seen hovering improbably in the air. A narrative frame scene punctuates the story, as does the main character's drawling voice-over.

Acceptable Answers: Forrest Gump; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (Both movies were written by Eric Roth)

That's show biz for you. Or at least Hollywood.

No comments: