If you saw “Finding Nemo,” it’s about a neurotic, overly protective father who tries to rescue his son after his son is captured by a scuba diver. In “Migration,” the story is about a neurotic, overly protective father who tries to protect his family by refusing to migrate.
Despite the similar story idea, the execution is what really matters. “Finding Nemo” is a great movie. “Migration” is an okay movie. Here’s the reason why execution is far more important than ideas.
In “Finding Nemo,” a scuba diver captures Nemo (the hero’s son) so this forces the neurotic, overly protective hero (Marlin) to venture into the scary ocean to get his son back. Without this inciting incident, Marlin has no reason to venture into the scary ocean, but because he has a strong goal (rescue his son) he’s forced to face his greatest fears.
In “Migration,” the father simply decides to migrate to keep his family happy. There’s no urgent need to do so, which makes the story feel far less important right from the beginning.
In “Finding Nemo,” Marlin has to keep overcoming obstacles and the threat of death to get closer to Nemo. This gives the story a single purpose so you know exactly what’s going on.
In “Migration,” the father simply wants to migrate south to Jamaica. There’s no sense of urgency (time limit) or reason (motivation) to go to Jamaica. To make matters worse, the father avoids following flocks of other birds heading south and winds up taking his family to New York instead.
In “Finding Nemo,” there’s the constant threat of death that Marlin must overcome. In “Migration,” there’s also a threat of death, but it comes form a chef hunting them rather than from various natural obstacles you might find while migrating. As a result, the threats of death in “Migration” feel weaker and more artificial, making it less satisfying.
“Migration” is a perfect example of taking a similar plot and making a different story. The problem with “Migration” is that it executes its ideas much less successfully than “Finding Nemo.”
The lesson for today is that ideas are never enough. Execution of your idea is what makes the difference. If you’re stuck for an idea, simply borrow the plot from another story and recycle it in your own story.
Rather than borrow the plot of a great movie, try taking the plot from a bad movie and executing it better. You’ll probably do no worse than the bad movie you took the plot from and chances are good, you’ll do much better.