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25 Cinematic Cliches I Never Wanna See Again

Robin Bougie
Posted November 17, 2005

And I hate every last one of them.Those of you that know me fairly well know that I adore making lists. I get a serious thrill out of it. In that light, here are “25 Cinematic Cliches I never wanna see again.” Enjoy!

25. That in period pieces, vintage cars are always freshly polished, painted, and clean. They never have scratches, dents or any signs of use.

24. Every time we’re introduced to a police precinct house, one or more colourfully dressed prostitutes are being brought in while bickering with their arresting officer.

23. Chinese food takeout in a movie always comes in those little white boxes, which I have never, in my life, seen chinese food arrive at my door in. I desperately want it to, but it never does.

22. If a bar or clubhouse has a pinball machine, it’s gonna get fucking trashed during a fight scene. (I’ve ALWAYS wanted my own pinball machine, so this one makes me wince)

21. That it’s only after the detective has been suspended (and obligatorily forced to place his badge and gun on the lieutenant’s desk) that he can properly crack the case.

20. That in war, only the enemy (usually the Viet Cong) were ever low-down enough to stoop to using booby traps.

19. People being chased by a car who run top speed down the middle of the street instead of simply ducking somewhere where a car can’t follow, which happens to be pretty much anywhere except the middle of the street.

18. Young gorgeous women constantly falling in love with men much, much older than they are. In other words: Fuck you Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood.

17. Chess players are always always brilliant, charming, upper class people, while card players are always sneaky, foul mouthed, and prone to cheating.

16. When an innocent cough is always a symptom of terminal illness.

15. Women that never have enough sense to keep running while being chased by an enemy unless a guy is pulling her along by her hand or wrist — despite the fact that this takes them far below the speed either one could go on their own.

14. That somehow singing in a moving vehicle always makes something terrible happen.

13. If someone dies with their eyes open, someone will close them by effortlessly moving their hand over the deceased face — and they will remain tightly shut.

12. If our protagonist goes to a sporting event, no matter who he is, his face will always end up on the fucking jumbotron.

11. Women that don’t sweat during sex.

10. That every helicopter shutting down emits the chirp-chirp-chirp sound, in spite of the fact that only the Bell 47G (the chopper on MASH) actually makes this noise.

9. If a hero is divorced (and most are), that he’ll have some contact with his ex-wife who will still have strong feelings for him even if she’s remarried.

8. All computer keyboards or control panels have thousands of volts just underneath their surface, and their malfunctions are indicated by a puff of smoke and a cartoonish shower of sparks.

7. That Native Americans invariably have mystical knowledge that can obtusely predict the future, or have a fundamental understanding of all things in nature .

6. That when a phone line is broken unexpectedly, someone will always frantically press the phone cradle button and yell “Hello? HELLO!?” with an emphasis on the second hello.

5. A splash of cold water in face will render the most inebriated person stone cold sober in a faction of a second. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.

4. When someone yells “You never backed away from everything in your life, now fight!!” while giving someone CPR or working to resuscitate a stopped heart.

3. Girls are always instantly attractive to every male if they take off their glasses and/or let down their hair, never mind that they were totally gorgeous actresses failing to physically portray a nerd in the first place.

2. Children or retards that are wise beyond their years/capabilities and that humble the adults around them.

aaaand: (Drumroll)

1. Dogs who always know who is evil, and bark at them.


116 Responses to “25 Cinematic Cliches I Never Wanna See Again”

  1. br
    November 19th, 2005 @ 7:28 am

    right-on list, but in regards to #2, I bet you hated Slingblade.

  2. Capt_Poco
    December 28th, 2005 @ 12:43 pm

    If someone dies with their eyes open, someone will close them by effortlessly moving their hand over the deceased face — and they will remain tightly shut.
    I never understood this and figured it was just a part of “movie magic”. I assume that at one point, the actors actually pantomimed closing someone’s eyes, but how do you close the eyes OF A CORPSE? Especially if they have rigor mortis, as you hinted at. And yet, a corpse with opened eyes looks creepy (not to mention hard on the actor playing the corpse). Still, you’re right this one makes absolutly no sense and is just a trope that people have been repeating forever without really thinking about it. Incidentally, do you know the first movie that did this?

  3. coder2000
    June 28th, 2006 @ 8:35 am

    Closing the eyes within the first few hours of death is easy because rigor mortis is not instant nor permanent. Otherwise they all seem bang on.

  4. Murat Sen
    June 28th, 2006 @ 8:52 am

    #23!I’ve been desperate about it to!And I’ve been blaming the chinese restaurants in my country for not delivering the food in those tall white boxes…

  5. Juankra
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    OK – How about spaceships that rumble in an absolute vacuum, or trucks with airbrakes that let go instead of locking up when the hoses are cut, or the fact that you can have a several minute chase scene between a 160mph car and a tour-bus, or a 60mph car and an 8mph person? Or computers that can be hacked into while turned off, or with the word “override”? Or – my personal biggest “movie decorum” peeve: “tracing a call” takes a minute – keep them talking while the guy with the ear-muffs turns dials…
    Anyway – thanks for a great list – these are just my personal ones that came to mind reading yours…

  6. Matt B
    June 28th, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

    Good list, but I have a a quibble with #23: whenever I order Chinese take-out, it almost always comes in those little white boxes (especially rice and lo mein).

  7. Nicky
    June 28th, 2006 @ 5:54 pm

    “That when a phone line is broken unexpectedly, someone will always frantically press the phone cradle button and yell “Hello? HELLO!?” with an emphasis on the second hello.” – We all do it. The “hello” is just the first word that comes into people’s heads and is used to confirm the silence is not simply the other person ignoring them. And if the phone had just gone dead on you, do you not think you’d start to panic? (hence the emphasis on the second hello) – I know I’ve reacted this way myself. So I don’t think it really counts as a cliche.
    “When someone yells “You never backed away from everything in your life, now fight!!” while giving someone CPR or working to resuscitate a stopped heart.” – also happens in real life. Not realistic in the sense that it’s not going to make a difference I know, but relatives do do it as they like to feel they are helping in some way, and not just watching their loved one die.
    Hope these suggestions are considered. Overall good site though!
    P.S. You missed off the common one about even in a pitch black room, it’s only ever navy blue. And that all duvet covers are L shaped so they cover a woman’s breasts but only come up to a man’s chest :p

  8. Vijchti
    June 29th, 2006 @ 4:13 am

    Capt_Poco, rigor mortis takes a few hours to set in while most of those eyelid movie moments occur right after someone dies. In any case, I think this was originally intended as a sort of symbollic end to a person’s life or the protagonist’s connection to them, but it got picked up by almost every movie since.
    I want to see just the opposite. The protagonist should walk up to a dead relative or loved one, OPEN their eyes, and start poking them with their index finger while saying things like “Oh, I always wondered if they were really squishy or not.”

  9. Steve
    June 29th, 2006 @ 9:50 am

    In any scary movie that has a child in it, the evil spirit will communicate with that child… and for some reason it will make the child draw.

  10. Bob
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

    My chinese food comes in those white boxes *shrug*

  11. Dreamcore
    June 30th, 2006 @ 9:45 am

    As does mine. Chinese food, that is. In fact…hmmm…your life isn’t like this?

  12. algernon carruthers
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 5:00 am

    A few more: 1) for some reason night time is always portrayed with blue light. 2) cars explode with the smallest damage (e.g. a bullet, a roll-over) 3) cigarettes can ignite a small stream of gasoline (yes, i tried it. didn’t work).

  13. trypple
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 11:04 am

    How about when the killer is chasing his prey and no matter how fast they run he some how turns up in front of them, i hate that.

  14. Car Chase Critic
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 11:51 am

    Whenever their is a car chase in a movie they always include three obligatory elements,
    1) A construction crew digging up the road with a big truck moving into the path of the pursuer and a worker with a stop sign who leaps out of the way.
    2) A Restaurant’s table & chairs, an old guys fruit-stand and two guys carrying a big sheet of glass will all be on the sidewalk when the cars go off-road.
    3) And finally a car will flip over after smashing into the back of a vehicle which just so happens to have a ramp fitted to the back of it. It does of course always land in a convienent pile of boxes and rubbish.

  15. Yohan
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

    Ive lived in both chicago and Newyork and atleast for me chinese food does come in thoes oragami-esque boxex or a normal foam box, but i never thought other cities didnt have them… actually now that i think of it they are quite common

  16. Cobalt39
    July 2nd, 2006 @ 9:17 pm

    What about the obvious items left in conspicuous places to “let us know” they will be important.
    Rven worse is that any man in a white tank top must be abusive or Italian, or both.

  17. Ditzy
    July 3rd, 2006 @ 12:04 pm

    For what it’s worth, the ones that really get to me are:
    if the main male and female protaganists in the movie have sex, they will spend the next morning shopping at an outdoor market, feeding eaching other off stalls and laughing and sharing jokes with the market traders, this is followed by a walk along a river.
    Cocaine is only ever snorted off a glass table so the camera can be positioned underneath looking up.
    In every prison, apart from the white supremicists, black gang members and gay latinos there is always one old timer who has managed to keep a pet. (He’s also very unlilely to survive the movie)

  18. Trina
    July 3rd, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

    Lol, I get the chinese food in the white boxes! Now one you should have on there was in the horror movies when the girl ALWAYS runs upstairs to get away from their killer….who would seriously do that!? But all these are dead on good job!

  19. Bob
    July 4th, 2006 @ 8:23 am

    As far as #7 goes…..we do.

  20. trin
    July 9th, 2006 @ 8:35 pm

    i totally agree…here’s a few i think u missed:
    -every person can be seduced into doing something they’re not supposed to do(ie. give valuable computer codes, etc.)
    -when someone is being chased by something like a rock or runaway car, they NEVR move off to the side, they always run straight and in the way of the moving object
    -the bad guys have more power
    -the good guys save the bad guys at crucial moments…whereas the bad guys never take pity…stupid good guys…
    -depending on the importance of the character, the fight that will invariably occur, will be different lengths…for example…the bodyguard? out in a matter of seconds…the real bad guy? could take forever…oy
    -the good guys always do badly in the first part of a fight, but suddenly, they have the strength to beat up that 7000 lb. behemoth…and the good guy wins
    -the chicks go for the nerdy guys…never in real life would that happen
    -plans always, always, always go horribly wrong, but the hero can figger it out…why do they bother with plans?
    -when someone says that it’s never been done before…or that no one’s returned alive…the hero always will
    -when u hang up the phone, there is no dial tone…try it, i’m right…by hitting the phone cradel just disconnects the call…that always bothered me
    i should start my own website…lol

  21. Blondie
    July 12th, 2006 @ 6:51 pm

    I always get annoyed when the team are sent off to destroy some bomb or save the world or whatever, and ONE of them has to sacrifice themselves for it. For once, it’d be nice if they team went off, saved the world, came back, the end!

  22. nomad
    July 13th, 2006 @ 6:02 pm

    how about every computer is a mac ) lol

  23. panicjanet
    July 14th, 2006 @ 8:28 am

    I agree with you, mostly. But dogs really do know evil.

  24. me
    July 14th, 2006 @ 11:23 am

    another wud be in shooting scenes… the good guy for some reas can take out 7 guys while the bad guys cant touch him and if they can the good guy goes all bad ass and stands to the pain and continues his masacre

  25. oh
    July 14th, 2006 @ 9:15 pm

    whenever they defuse a bomb it will stop on 00:01
    in XXX wiv van diesel, there is always a jumo for him to use on a motorbike or something

  26. SuperRob
    July 17th, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

    “1. Dogs who always know who is evil, and bark at them.”
    Actually, my dog seems to have an instinct about people. He usually likes everyone, but every once in a while, he meets someone who he just can’t stand, and will bark his head off at them until they go away. I can count on one hand the number of times he’s done this, but each time, he’s been right o the money.

  27. djabacus
    July 18th, 2006 @ 7:58 am

    get a real chinese restaurant.
    i have hundreds of little white boxes with micro-handles containing oriental delights that were delivered to my abode. in fact, if you want them, im sure i could send you some. :)

  28. Nad
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:00 am

    Any car parked at the curb that is driven off by one of the main characters, always makes the squealing tires sound.

  29. larsman
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:01 am

    got another stupid one:
    nearly all the bombs TIC TOC TIC TOC
    if i would be a bad guy with the idea to bomb something/someone my bombs would make no sound, so it would be harder to find it.

  30. Lando
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:02 am

    I passionately agree with #2. Normal children should act like children and not have vocabulary or poetic skills years beyond their age (unless the child is supposed to be unique of course).

  31. Doug
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:25 am

    I love when they have to break into the Department of Defense computer network and it takes 30 seconds and the computer ALWAYS makes chirping and beeping sounds. Real high tech stuff.

  32. skapirate
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:36 am

    Or shcwarzeneggar/stallone/vin diesel/any other subpar actor can take a couple rounds in the chest and not only remain conscious but still draw a pretty nice bead on the group emptying their clips into him? and yeah the sound in space thing and three letter passwords for the most secure computers still running dos apparently

  33. flipouk
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:36 am

    Everywhere in the World or even in the Universe, everyone speaks English, even poorly. Natives who speak a poor English have nevertheless no problem understanding the hero, who speaks English at full speed with a heavy American accent. Foreigners, them being Russians, Germans, French or whatever, speak English to one another, but they do it with their native accent :)

  34. What Type of Villain Are You?
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:37 am

    Linky, for a related commentary… (even mentions the chess and dogs things)

  35. Banan
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:55 am

    Addendum to #8: Computers always go “biip” or “ding” with every keypress or running process.

  36. Zyjek
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:18 am

    The only problem with this is that I know many Chinese takeout places that have the white boxes. Go to Tiki Port sometime in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

  37. irish
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:26 am

    If you are three days away from retirement then you are definitely dead.
    People always take a sharp intake of breath and sit bolt upright when they wake from a nighmare.

  38. Wayne Smallman
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:59 am

    – No one locks their car doors.
    – No one finishes a meal.
    – No one says goodbye on the phone.
    – The bad guys are nearly always British.
    – At that vital moment, the gun always jams.

  39. Marco
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:09 am

    Computers always make lots of beeping noises whenever they do anything.
    Good guys will never just shoot the bad guys in the head or anything quick and evil like that. Usually the good guys aren’t even at fault. The bad guys, if they die at all, will always die from their own mistake (after a long fight with the main good guy) whose gruesome details will not be shown. Examples: Taking a long fall, being crushed in a big machine.

  40. scott
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:19 am

    People complain about this stuff all the time, but it’s silly. Movies aren’t supposed to be real life. No one could be as unlucky as Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series – “accidentally” caught up in big terrorist plots not once, but three times. But who would want to watch a movie about an ordinary cop – giving tickets, interviewing idiots, filling out forms?
    Sure, all of those things are cliches, but most of them serve as a kind of movie shorthand. Nobody in the movie says “goodbye” before hanging up the phone – both parties just know the conversation’s over. Bad guys (used to) wear black hats (now they use PCs) and good guys wear white ones (or use Macs). It’s art, not reality. Get over it.

  41. cat
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:20 am

    Maybe its a west coast thing, cause my chinese take out or delivery is almost always in those white boxes. Now they have the ones without the wire so you can microwave ’em, sweet. Though if you do order something unusual or extra large portion you get the round pie tin with crimped foiled paper lid.
    Now only once have i gotten the rare and mystical red ornate soup container that you often see in movies. Usually a square bottom with a round top and a push down lid; “Chinese” red with lots of gold scroll work. One after another I got, “heyyyy, what did you get?! I’ve never gotten one those containers,” with all the self-doubt you’re imagining. Finally I marched before everyone and held it high and announced I was the choosen one and would be receiving a tithe of all their entrees.

  42. Anonymous
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:37 am

    Computer mice apparently do not exist in Hollywood. You could be enhancing some surveillance photo (also laughable) in Photoshop, but you gotta use the keyboard to do it.

  43. Chris
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:39 am

    You missed a big one!
    In a fight scene the good guy almost gets beaten but then by some miracle ends up kicking the bad guys ass.

  44. Scott
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:41 am

    I hate when the police are in a gunfight, they always step away from the car shielding them, and get shot. Also, when you have the main character being shot at by 20 gunmen, they all miss, and he picks them off easily while running and diving.

  45. REy
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:27 pm

    Let me add a few:
    -The villain always lectures the hero just prior to killing him, this of course gives the hero that edge he needs in order to react and kill the villain instead.
    -When at the mercy of a henchman the hero will be saved by a friend or friendly circumstance. After all heros are also quite lucky.
    -English speakers in all fictional historical pieces speak with a perfect British accent, even people that did not at first speak english.

  46. Dave!
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

    RE: #23 I get Chinese delivered in those little white boxes all the time…
    Other than that, great list!

  47. Brady
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    “23. Chinese food takeout in a movie always comes in those little white boxes, which I have never, in my life, seen chinese food arrive at my door in. I desperately want it to, but it never does.”
    I’ve only seen Chinese take-out that wasn’t in those boxes one time. And I lik e Chinese…

  48. kaimoku
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    What about the infamous “Enhance” function on all computers that lets you see the fingerprints on the desk in the night-vision image taken by the security camera?

  49. bigmell
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    What about people swimming, sometimes in the Ocean (salt water), normally at *night*, with their eyes open, able to see every detail, contour, and event of whatever plane or ship they crashed in.
    Also the absurdity of being able to hold their breath for minutes at a time with lots of physically demanding activity. Fighting, pulling someone free of something. All the while releasing a seemingly infinite amount of bubbles.

  50. dentor
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

    in new york, we actually get those white boxes with our chinese food, they are quite handy.

  51. Travis
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    I’ve only ever gotten chinnes food in those boxes. My whole life ( 24, not long I know ). Sorry.

  52. bob
    July 18th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    I dont know about number 23. In indiana they half of the dishes always come in the little white box

  53. szembek
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

    Lo mein usually comes in those white boxes, order some next time and it probably will for you too.

  54. Chip Stone
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:30 pm

    1) When the assault team or bad guy or escaped hostage crawls through the ventilation shafts, which are all sparkly clean and not at all dusty, and are also strong enough to support body weight even though they’re just thin sheets of aluminum.
    2) When the phone line gets cut or someone hangs up and the other end immediately gets dial-tone. As a telephone repairman, this one just bites my ass.

  55. john.
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

    When the hero is stooping over examining something, and the ‘friend’ who is about to stab him in the back is always seen in the reflection of something.

  56. Sco
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

    Those poor henchmen who get knocked out cold for the rest of the movie with one punch/kick/vase-smashed-on-head.

  57. Opacho
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

    Whenever a character is carrying a bag of groceries there will always been a loaf of french bread and/or celery (other leafy top veggie) sticking out of the bag. Always.

  58. The Living Rockumentary
    July 18th, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

    Nice list.
    Here are a few others cliches:
    The streets in the city are always wet at night.
    Bands/Musicians always know how to play any song even ones that haven’t yet been written until that very moment.
    If a man and a woman really hate each other and argue all the time, they secretely love each other.
    Highschool students are eloquent 30 year-olds.
    Nobody ever finishes a conversation. Just as they say the most shocking or climactic statement, the scene changes. We never get to see them wrap it up and leave the room.
    Hand-on-face punches sound like explosions and often have the force to instantly knock someone out.
    Little kids sing nursery rhymes when things get spooky.
    Every apartment in NYC, even the ones owned by poor students is an enormous loft.
    The guy will take his glasses off dramatically in order to see something more clearly?!?!?

  59. greenman
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:37 pm


  60. Lacero
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:37 pm

    Do you know anyone who turns off their TVs during a breaking news story or when they’re about to speak?
    Also related:
    TV news playing in the background always foreshadows the movie’s plotline.

  61. Anonymous
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

    You’ve been ordering from the wrong chinese restaurant… I’ve gotten plenty of those white boxes in my lifetime.
    And some dogs can sense “evil”.
    And women don’t always sweat during sex.
    I hate when a movie is supposed to take place in another country that doesn’t speak English, but yet they do… and with british accents. (Like Troy… give me a break!!!)

  62. Mark
    July 18th, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

    All chinese food, except for soup, comes in those little white boxes. I’ve never seen it NOT come in those white boxes.

  63. Chris
    July 18th, 2006 @ 3:03 pm

    23. Chinese food takeout in a movie always comes in those little white boxes, which I have never, in my life, seen chinese food arrive at my door in. I desperately want it to, but it never does.
    I have never NOT received my food in those little boxes…order from somewhere else man

  64. jb
    July 18th, 2006 @ 3:04 pm

    But… but… but…. dogs do know whether people are good or evil. That’s why I keep them around.

  65. dan
    July 18th, 2006 @ 3:10 pm

    I just watched Annapolis, a movie that appears to be the result of someone trying to string together every possible cliche from the “military bootcamp” genre (including related sports movies, like “Remember the Titans”). After watching that movie, I’ll probably walk out of the next movie that has any of these cliches in it:
    -The rebel guy with a heart of gold enters the military, is treated especially hard by one instructor, who he later develops a bond of special respect for
    -The rebel guy meets a female officer outside of base and comes on to her in a charming, but inappropriate way (if he knew who she was)
    -The obstacle course that kicks every body’s butt at the beginning (one guy especially), but that everyone breezes through by the end
    -Lots of random scenes of doing calisthenics in the rain
    -The group of guys that at first seems too diverse and full of conflict comes to be a tight-knit team
    -Montage after montage

  66. frank
    July 18th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    My chinese food comes in those white boxes. Or, in white foam containers. Depends on where I order from. *shrug*

  67. Anonymous
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:07 pm

    How about the evil guy who has fiercely loyal army of henchmen, who are willing to die for him as he makes his getaway from a losing situation.

  68. emalen
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    Oh my gosh, I can’t believe no one has mentioned the one that bugs me the most!! Timers never happen in real time. The countdown will be on 30, they’ll cut away for 40 seconds of stuff, cut back, and it’s only on 15. Wtf?? Whenever there’s an alarm or a bomb or something like that, I always count to check it. I have never, never found one that was right. Come on people, all it takes is good editing.
    On another note, I’m on your side with the chinese food thing. The only thing I’ve ever ordered in my life that came in a little white “chinese food” box was steamed rice. All the entrees and other items come in styrofoam boxes, bowls, etc. (I don’t know if it’s a regional thing, but I live in TX.)

  69. Guspaz
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:44 pm

    I’ve never seen Chinees food in the paper boxes. I’ve only ever seen it in thin tupperware containers.
    Here’s another one: The protagonist is never arrested for murder, shooting in public spaces, reckless endangerment, or any other crime after shooting up the bad guys in public places. In reality, I imagine you’d get arrested and would have to claim self defense.

  70. fay
    July 18th, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

    At least 20 rounds of ammo exchanged with no hit. these people are only a few yards apart and perfect targets!

  71. CD
    July 18th, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

    In 99% of action movies…the protagonist and antagonist end up in a barehanded fight

  72. Dwayne "the canoe guy"
    July 18th, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

    How about:
    Bad guys use PCs and good guys use Macs?

  73. Babak
    July 18th, 2006 @ 6:24 pm

    If you don’t get Chinese take out in those little boxes, something is definitely wrong with your local Chinese restaurant or you are not in the US.

  74. Longview
    July 18th, 2006 @ 6:25 pm

    In the movies, whenever someone goes to the grocery store, they always buy french bread and it always sticks up out of the top of the bag.

  75. Paul
    July 18th, 2006 @ 7:16 pm

    A few that get my ‘goat’:
    1) Somehow shooting a computer/smashing a monitor renders the contents of the hard-drive irretrievable to FBI/Whoever
    2) Cars who lose their brakes but nobody thinks of changing through the gears/taking it out of gear/turning off the ignition to slow the car down
    3) Good guys with no gun-experience being crack-shots, bad guys who are trained killers struggling to hit a barn door
    4) Ridiculous images flashing up while someone hacks into the computer exchange/secret website
    5) People zooming in to almost infinite amounts on tiny little cctv footage
    6) bad guys fighting someone also seem to approach 1 v 1 rather than the 5 people all going in together and overpowering the person (ala the real life police you see in ‘cops’ or whatever)
    Great list though, most of those are true – i wish they had chinese near me that came in the white-boxes, i’d love that.

  76. e-diddy
    July 18th, 2006 @ 8:28 pm

    you all mention that you hate when a movie takes place in another country and yet everyone speaks english in a british accent… what about a movie that takes place in england in the time of the crusades and the protagonist speaks like he’s from ohio out of the 20th century???

  77. elkos
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:21 pm

    one more:
    When a couple is in bed after intercourse the bedseats are always shaped “L” not showing the female’s breasts and revealing the male’s chest (usually making me thing that I have to start going to the gym)

  78. Jose
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:29 pm

    How about these computer related annoying cliches:
    1)Computers with some super flash operating system (in current day to day movies)and that make those “digital” sound effects every time they stroke a key or click on a button
    2) Ridiculous zooming in to low-res digital photos or video footage
    3) While processing – the computer always makes a chirping electronic sound… Yeah right – no real life operating system does that.
    4)Computer operating systems have huge unrealistic font sizes – or worse, unrealistic abstract text scrolling superfast in the background indicating that the computer is “processing” something, or worse – having hundreds of screens open at once everywhere while trying to crack a simple code or password
    5) Really tiny files that make the progress bar and processing seem like it’s a HUGE file – I suppose they make these effects to make them more obvious, but they are annoying and not real
    These have always annoyed me…
    – Jose

  79. Jamie
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:51 pm

    I would like it if, just once, in movies where the heroes have to stop a ticking bomb, they cut the wrong wire and blow themselves up. Just once.

  80. Robin Bougie
    July 18th, 2006 @ 9:57 pm

    Thanks for all the great comments on the article, people.
    About the Chinese food containters, which seems to be what most of the comments thus far revolve around:
    In the 4 Canadian cities that I’ve lived since I’ve been ordering chinese food: Vancouver BC, Chemanius BC, Saskatoon SASK, and Calgary AB…. I have never once gotten chinese food in the white boxes — and I eat a lot of the stuff. It’s always in the tinfoil pie trays with the wax card lids. Sounds like perhaps it’s a regional thing since many of you are able to get the boxes. But here in Western Canada for some reason, it’s scarce.
    I’m told by a friend that ONE place here in Vancouver that they know of has the white boxes, but considering that there are probably about 5 thousand Asian eaterys in the Lower Mainland, that’s pretty terrible in terms of percentages.

  81. Myles
    July 18th, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

    Umm, to the guy who said girls never go for nerdy guys…

  82. wills
    July 18th, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

    #23 – Much like everyone else here, I always get those white boxes you seem to miss. try not ordering a combo item.
    #8 this one really pisses me off too.
    i think you miss the point of the “plot device”. realistically, watching me hack is not going to make for interesting film. it would bore the piss out fo any viewer, even one with an intricate knowlege, and interest in the subject. keyboards going click click click let the user know that someone is typing right there, since half the time they show online conversations as scrolling, rather than line at once.
    streets are always wet in city’s because it makes them easier to photograph.
    a lot of the list is spot on though… and is stuff that maybe hollywood should consider retiring.

  83. Brett
    July 19th, 2006 @ 12:57 am

    #23: Don’t know where you you all live, but Chinese food always seems to come in those white boxes when I order it.

  84. lang
    July 19th, 2006 @ 2:37 am

    i order chinese food all the time, and ive never seen it in anything except for those little white boxes. other thaan that, great list

  85. DCintheUK
    July 19th, 2006 @ 6:42 am

    What about…
    In a fight – when the good guy manages to get one over on the bad guy and floors him… he never finishes him off with a shot to the head (thus leaving it open for the bad guy to sneak up later in the film).

  86. Anonymous
    July 19th, 2006 @ 11:24 am

    Just to chime in along with everyone else–My Chinese food comes in the white boxes also.
    Also, to the person who said, “And women don’t always sweat during sex.” I think you’re doing it wrong. 😉

  87. esseppi
    July 19th, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

    Here are three additional ones to the already great ones presented in this blog:
    1) CARS: Stealing cars is always extremely easy, there is always one that is unlocked, and when inside, the two magic wires are readily available for the ignition. Also, during car hot chases, there will always be a section where the cars jump (San Francisco style), and as they land they cause a shower of sparks.
    2) TAXIS: Paying taxis never happens inside the car, but once the character is outside. In NYC the cab driver would run you over if you didn’t pay inside the car! Plus, in movies, people never ask for change, it’s always a generous payment.
    3) GUNS: When a character is aiming at someone with a gun or a rifle and the camera shot is from behind who is shooting, the gun is never aimed directly at the target, but always a bit off. Really annoyng.
    4) COMPUTERS: Computer screens always show words (like passwords, email texts, etc.) in gigantic fonts.
    5) MOTORCYCLES: Has any action movie hero ever stolen a motorcycle and then had to admit that he can’t actually drive it (e.g. knowing how the gears or the clutch work)? NEVER.

  88. esseppi
    July 19th, 2006 @ 2:33 pm

    Here are three additional ones to the already great ones presented in this blog:
    1) CARS: Stealing cars is always extremely easy, there is always one that is unlocked, and when inside, the two magic wires are readily available for the ignition. Also, during car hot chases, there will always be a section where the cars jump (San Francisco style), and as they land they cause a shower of sparks.
    2) TAXIS: Paying taxis never happens inside the car, but once the character is outside. In NYC the cab driver would run you over if you didn’t pay inside the car! Plus, in movies, people never ask for change, it’s always a generous payment.
    3) GUNS: When a character is aiming at someone with a gun or a rifle and the camera shot is from behind who is shooting, the gun is never aimed directly at the target, but always a bit off. Really annoyng.
    4) COMPUTERS: Computer screens always show words (like passwords, email texts, etc.) in gigantic fonts.
    5) MOTORCYCLES: Has any action movie hero ever stolen a motorcycle and then had to admit that he can’t actually drive it (e.g. knowing how the gears or the clutch work)? NEVER.

  89. moj
    July 19th, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

    a super-grainy cctv camera shot can be ‘enhanced’ using complex software to reveal minor details on a persons face…read car numberplates that are 89degrees side on from the camera

  90. katie
    July 19th, 2006 @ 6:58 pm

    nice list. I would add that “classic” scene in which the new kid enters the school and gets the attention of a pretty girl in class. They exchange witty banter/meaningful glance at which point the big jock at the back of the class glares at the new kid and mouths “your dead.”

  91. neilyn
    July 19th, 2006 @ 7:35 pm

    I always get those white boxes with my chinese food.

  92. calebx25
    July 19th, 2006 @ 10:00 pm

    I have one:
    26. Any time anyone removes handcuffs, shackles, or some for of rope from around their hands, THEY MUST RUB THEIR WRIST.

  93. ironwolf56
    July 19th, 2006 @ 11:51 pm

    I dunno if you’ve ever had handcuffs on you’d probably rub your wrists once they’re off too; they put those things on tight.

  94. Cheza
    July 20th, 2006 @ 3:58 am

    Ok I thought it was annoying how in the 007 movie, Bond diffused a bomb and it stopped right on 0:07. Get it? 007 T_T I was like “Hell no.” So not in all movies does the timer end in 0:01… at least not when you can make not-getting-blown-up a joke.
    I think it sucks that there’s always a damsel in distress and when there isn’t and it’s the girl that’s doing the saving, the movie turns into a romantic comedy sorta feel. Just annoying…

    July 20th, 2006 @ 9:04 am


  96. jimbo
    July 21st, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    1) The Bad guy is never dead until there is a close up on his face. If there is not a close up on his face he is not dead yet
    2) the Heros gun holds unlimited bullets

  97. Bush
    July 21st, 2006 @ 4:06 pm

    The american flag that allways shows up in all hollywood movies. Sooo stupid!

  98. Kuruteku
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

    Aw, american movies suck …

  99. Massey
    July 22nd, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

    Once the good guy gets captured the bad guy will, for no good reason, tell him his ‘super secret plan’ which once the good guy escapes, will almost always foil.

  100. GoatBoy
    July 23rd, 2006 @ 1:08 am

    If there’s a funeral every attendee is dressed in black and the headstone is already carved and placed.
    A gun that has an empty catridge is useless and must be thrown away in an exasperated fashion. Maybe after the character has to hold the gun sideways and look at despite several preceding click-clicks.

  101. Anonymous
    July 24th, 2006 @ 1:32 pm

    What about Romans that speak with British accents? Shouldn’t those be Italian accents?

  102. AppliedLuck
    July 24th, 2006 @ 4:03 pm

    The Hollywood Hangup:
    After a few seconds of receiving pertinent information over the phone, the actor hangs up without saying good-bye regardless of how close the persons relationship is with the character. Usually the length of time to get the information is far shorter than the amount of time the actor uses to relay the information.

  103. christina
    July 28th, 2006 @ 11:19 am

    You should read Mike J. Nelson’s “Movie Megacheese.” It goes through a lot of these sorts of things. Such as how stupid it is that chick flicks almost always require girls dancing around a table, listening to motown, singing into their hairbrushes.

  104. Saltie
    August 2nd, 2006 @ 1:46 am

    Not sure if anyone got these:
    – no one usually has morning breath (which is a good thing)
    – when a major character is out of a job, it takes less than a week to get one – usually without a resume
    – rattlesnakes usually pause for a two minute close-up, or long enough for the hero to get a stick/rock/gun to kill it with
    – in sci fi movies (which may be a category of its own), everyone can eat alien food without getting sick (usually eaten by characters who don’t even get their chinese food in white boxes!)

  105. WiredEyesOfHorse
    August 8th, 2006 @ 2:00 am

    In regards to #16, it is called FORESHADOWING. It is a very subtle way of showing what will happen; a subtlety not realized in most modern cinema.
    This method of showing someone has a terminal disease is over-used (and still used), but it was good for whoever first came up with the idea.
    Otherwise, the list is spot-on. It is hilarious. Somethings I didn’t even realized happened in movies until I read this list.

  106. Gus
    August 12th, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

    I have only seen my father, and my mother-in-law die (Cheers on the latter!), and in both cases their eyes wer closed. Their mouths, were however open, and despite repeated efforts, I could not keep their mouths closed,
    I have a furthur beef: Why are the stars of all movies/TV shows all good looking? What ever happened to people like me – Not beautiful, Not ugly, but always in a supporting role rather than a lead role?

  107. tommy100
    August 12th, 2006 @ 2:58 pm

    23. “Chinese food takeout in a movie always comes in those little white boxes, which I have never, in my life, seen chinese food arrive at my door in. I desperately want it to, but it never does.”
    I get the impression that the writer of this list is Canadian. And perhaps it is so that in Canada Chinese takeout does not come in those little white boxes. It may be a U.S. thing??? but it is pretty much real. Chinese takeout does and always has come in those little white boxes, eh…

  108. Me
    August 14th, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

    How about whenever the phone rings, it always has something to do with the plot!

  109. TC
    August 20th, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

    Saw the Movie Inside Man last night and twice Denzel Washington coughed. I kept thinking, uh oh, there’ll be a plot twist of cancer somewhere ahead, but it never came to pass. Kinda bothered me. the SO and I decided this morning that Denzel simply had a dry throat or cold or something and they left it in. Anyway, it is the ONLY movie I have ever seen that didn’t follow the formula. Sort of refreshing, really.

  110. Anonymous
    September 1st, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

    I have never had chinese food delivered to me in anything but those white containers.

  111. mel
    September 6th, 2006 @ 6:25 am

    amazingly no-one has mentioned that you can ALWAYS find a parking spot directly outside where you need to go. (and no-one ever puts money in the meter, either)
    ROFL at all the indignation over the chinese food containers. FWIW they only came to australia a few years ago and i’m sure it’s because of some twisted desire that life imitate american films.

  112. Cheryl
    October 9th, 2006 @ 9:02 pm

    When a gun runs out of ammo it gets dashed to the ground.
    I don’t have a gun, but from what I have seen in the movies, they must be really cheap and very easy to replace.
    I do have eight cats and none have ever made that alley-cat fight sound that all movie cats make when you come upon one. In my experience, that sound is made for animals on the verge of killing each other, not being shooed off a chair.

  113. Casey
    February 24th, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

    Those screen writers really need to think it through before making a movie.

  114. Foltor
    July 11th, 2007 @ 11:42 am

    No matter how far in the future, all computers that talk sound like a Speak-n-Spell.

  115. WTR
    August 22nd, 2007 @ 3:20 am

    I don’t get how the ship/squad/company is always in demand. You come into a starbase for a rest, or go to Bangkok or something, oops sorry, no time to rest..gotta go onto the next mission because there’s “never” other units/ships nearby…or yours is “The best unit/ship for the job”
    What the hell ever happened to down time?

  116. Spikez
    December 8th, 2007 @ 5:02 am

    The thing my father hated more then anything about movies:
    When a Good guy is surrounded by a bunch of bad guys and all of them has guns. The good guys starts fisting fighting and NONE of the bad guys thinks ‘hey…he’s/she’s fighting with his/her fist and we have guns…let’s shoot him/her’ then they all get killed or hurt to the point where they can’t move.
    Notice in Kill Bill she fights all these guys…they all have swords and while she’s kicking butt someone behind her should attack her…and I don’t mean just one person but ALL of them. My father would be like ‘Okay…now ALL should attack her, it’s sad it’s only one person at a time…it sucks’
    ever noticed that now in scary movies there is this one child who sees dead people or has something evil about them. It’s always about some scary child that has this creepyness in their voice or walks slowly with a dead like expression in their face.
    Why is it that in sex scenes the bed looks like it was just made. Or maybe a bit messed up but still it looks neat.
    The hero can’t fight a battle and then when all is lost…he somehow can now defeat the bad guy.
    I hate scenes where two people are about to kiss and suddenly something stops them. It’s like the timing is always bad but at the end when they do kiss the timing is right. LOL
    In Chicago Chinese food always comes in the White Boxes but at some places we won’t have the handles. I have never heard of one that didn’t so maybe the place you go to just plain sucks. Sorry… (grabs the chinese food box and lifts it in front of me) Here…want some? LOl.

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