Legendary comedian and filmmaker (and brother of Super Dave) Albert Brooks was on the Adam Carolla podcast yesterday, and one of the great things about Albert Brooks is that he doesn’t spend all his time kissing ass like the rest of these Hollywood phonies. Two of the great things about him are that he doesn’t kiss ass, AND he likes making fun of some of the same movie clichés we do. A large part of the 90-minute conversation covered bad movie clichés, and it was great to hear. Besides mentioning the precocious, articulate child trope I bitch about every chance I get (most recent example, 1:36 of the Crazy, Stupid, Love trailer — “She’s your soul mate, right? Go get her back!” HURRR), Brooks mentions a couple other obnoxious chesnuts aspiring screenwriters should avoid.
“There are things I can’t stand in movies, that can be so easily fixed. I don’t like peoples’ names. …I’m gonna talk to you for an hour, and I’m never gonna say ‘Adam.’ You can say ‘Adam’ if you’re gonna leave and I’m calling you, or you can say it if your pissed — ‘Listen, Adam, don’t f*ck with me.’ But just to say it all the time… it’s sloppy writing. I’ll tell you a fun game when you have nothing to do: watch Titanic and count how many times he says ‘Rose.’ It must be five thousand. [...] I think he even says it underwater.
And there are other things too in movies. I thought I could teach a writing class and just give like six things and make people better just for these six things. For instance, take the word ‘listen’ out. It’s a crutch. It buys you time.”
Of course, it should be noted that these are tips for writing good movies, not successful ones. As illustrated by the fact that Titanic is the second-highest grossing movie of all time (and still first in terms of attendance). In fact, if you’re an aspiring screenwriter looking to make a buck, it might be best to pack your script full of as many of these clichés as possible. It’ll make it seem more professional. “Ooh, this guy really knows what he’s doing,” producers will say.