Learning From Mediocrity

Watch great movies and you’ll likely be awed and intimidated that you could never write something just as great. However, watch a bad or mediocre movie and you’ll likely be bored and inspired because you know you can write something better. That’s why you should watch all types of movies so you can see what works and what doesn’t.

One of the latest mediocre movies is “The Angry Birds Movie.” While relatively simple and harmless, it’s also completely forgettable. One of the biggest problems is that “The Angry Birds Movie” essentially relies too much on familiarity with the video game to fully enjoy the characters. If you don’t know who these various bird characters are from the video game, you won’t get any kind of emotional engagement from the movie. These characters will use seem to exist.

First, look at the structure of “The Angry Birds Movie.” The first third of the movie is about how the hero is angry after being picked on all the time. Learning how the hero got so angry all the time is crucial to understanding the story, but the movie keeps repeating this idea over and over again until it becomes monotonous and dull without advancing the story one bit.

One scene shows the hero kicking a little bird in the air after the little bird had been kicking a ball against the hero’s house. Another scene shows the hero flirting with female birds, only to discover that the female birds were really flirting with another bird.

All of these scenes serve one purpose, which is to show how the hero got so angry and that he’s an outcast among the other birds. However, these separate scenes have no relevance or connection to any other scene, so they simply repeat the same point in different ways.

Imagine if in “Star Wars,” Luke told his uncle he wanted to leave the farm (which he does in an early breakfast scene). Now imagine Luke saying the exact same thing to his friends (which was actually in the script but cut from the actual movie). Now picture Luke saying the same thing to a bunch of strangers in a bar. Now imagine Luke saying the same thing to some other young people in school. Now picture Luke saying the same thing to some older people in a nursing home.

Notice how dull, repetitive, and pointless this would be to say the same point over and over again in different situations? That’s he problem with “The Angry Birds Movie.”

Once the first third of the movie hammers home the point that the hero is angry and an outcast, the second third of the movie deals with pigs (the villains) who come out of nowhere with no hint or foreshadowing earlier in the story.

Imagine if “Star Wars” never showed Darth Vader boarding Princess Leia’s starship in the beginning. Thens suddenly Luke finds himself captured by the Darth Vader on the Death Star. Suddenly Darth Vader’s existence wouldn’t make any sense because he would seem to have popped out of nowhere. That’s the problem with the way “The Angry Birds Movie” introduces its villain.

The villain must be hinted at early in the movie. In “WALL-E,” the villain is hinted at through the billboards that WALL-E passes on his way back home. In “Star Wars,” the villain appears right in the beginning. In “The Angry Birds Movie,” there’s no hint of the villain until he actually shows up. This makes the second third of the movie feel totally disconnected from the first third of the movie.

Now every story is about change so “The Angry Birds Movie” shows the hero changing from being an outcast to being accepted by the bird society. Yet none of the other characters change.

In “Star Wars,” Luke changes from timid to proactive, but Hans Solo also changes from selfish to selfless. Obi-wan changes from being a hermit to confronting Darth Vader and getting killed. In “The Angry Birds Movie,” only the hero changes. All the other characters have no goals of their own and don’t change one the beginning to the end. This makes for a flat, dull story.

By studying mediocre movies, you can see what not to do and identify what’s missing. That way you’ll be sure not to neglect those same elements in your own screenplay.

Watch mediocre movies. They’ll inspire you to believe you can write something much better.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”15-Minute-Movie-Method-book”]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.