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Hollywood studios have a tendency to produce suspiciously similar movies, sometimes within the same year. We're pretty sure that for a while there in the early '00s, every movie was The Matrix.

But then there are movies, sometimes decades apart, that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with each other ... and yet, when you look at them carefully, they turn out to be the exact same thing. Movies like ...

6
Home Alone (1990) is Die Hard (1988)

The Plot:

A resourceful, somewhat badly adjusted guy is left alone on Christmas eve, when a group of otherwise successful career criminals enact an overly elaborate plan for a robbery. The only thing they weren't counting on is this one-man wrecking crew who, almost single-handedly and against all the odds, completely whoops their asses.


Plus: Gluttony as a sign of badassery.

The Films That Share It:

Die Hard and Home Alone. No, seriously. Hear us out. Both films star a completely normal person who, as a result of being distanced from his family, finds himself trapped in a place invaded by criminals, soon realizing that he's the only one who can do anything about it. He's unequipped, outclassed and lacks any resources (also, shoes).

In both movies, the protagonist must use his wits and improvised weaponry to take out the bad guys one at a time, punctuating everything he does with a glib one-liner or weird facial expression.


"Yippie-ka-yaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!"

But the villains in both movies are pretty different, right? You can't compare Hans Gruber and his team of highly trained professionals to a couple of assclowns calling themselves "The Wet Bandits." Unless you consider the fact that, in both movies, the increasingly exasperated leader of the criminals initially attempts to deceive the protagonist by passing himself off as a good guy, but the protagonist is more clever and sees through his bullshit.

Oh, and at one point, both villains suffer a great fall.


Also, only one of them has won an Oscar, but not the one you'd expect.

But as intelligent, resilient and supernaturally lucky as the protagonist is, he doesn't do everything himself: The final blow is delivered not by him, but by another character who was a complete stranger at the beginning and is now an unlikely friend.


Home Alone gains a few points by not having an analogue for the limo driver.

And thus, the protagonist is reunited with his family, safe and happy once more ... until the same thing happens two years later, except on the East Coast. This time, there's more running around outdoors, so at least he gets some fresh air. And then it keeps happening a couple more times until everyone stops caring.


Critics haven't decided which one's worse: Home Alone 2: Home Aloner or Live Free or Home Alone.

The Major Difference:

The age of the protagonist is the most obvious difference, along with the magnitude of the explosions he causes and his general body count (we're not sure, but we think Kevin killed only two or three guys). In fact, we can see Home Alone starting life as a rejected pitch for a Muppet Babies take on the Die Hard franchise, with Macaulay Culkin playing young Johnny McClane, a kid with a tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you consider the fact that Kevin likely had to change his name and go into witness protection after pissing off so many criminals, maybe it still works out.


Although if that was the case, you'd think he'd have learned the dangers of going barefoot long ago.

5
Little Miss Sunshine (2006) is National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

The Plot:

A dysfunctional family that's grown apart reluctantly piles into a car for a troublesome trip across the country to California. Hijinks ensue. Not everyone survives. In the end, the trip fulfills its purpose when unexpected circumstances bring the family together.

The Films That Share It:

Give or take a suicidal gay uncle played by Steve Carrell, National Lampoon's Vacation (the Chevy Chase classic) and Little Miss Sunshine (the acclaimed indie film) tell essentially the same story.


This guy's put on some weight, though.

Both films feature a family that embarks on a poorly researched trip inside an increasingly malfunctioning car that will become a running joke throughout the movie. Both go at the insistence of the head of the family (Chevy Chase in Vacation and Toni Collette in Sunshine), who believes that the best way to improve family relations is by cramming everyone into an enclosed space for several hellish days.


Exactly how many filmmakers have been traumatized by this same situation?

Outrageous things happen, testing the patience of the family members and causing some to completely lose their shit.

And here's where things get strangely specific:

When the elderly relative they brought along for no good reason (the old aunt in Vacation, the drug addict grandpa in Sunshine) suddenly drops dead in the middle of the trip, the family decides that the best way of mourning the deceased is to carry the limp, lifeless body around for a while before leaving it comically unsupervised.


No clear cause of death was given for Aunt Edna, so we're guessing it was a heroin overdose, too.

When they reach their destination, it's nothing like what they imagined -- in Vacation, the amusement park is closed, and in Sunshine, the beauty pageant is creepy and weird. In both cases, the head of the family intervenes in a way that wreaks havoc, to the point that cops become involved and things go downhill from there.

In the end, however, the police release them without charges and they head back home as a loving family (unless there are sequels).


Not pictured: Zombie grandpa.

The Major Difference:

National Lampoon's Vacation is pretty well regarded, but it didn't exactly win an Oscar (nor did anyone expect it to). Little Miss Sunshine won two, plus an Independent Spirit Award. What made the difference? We believe it was mainly the soundtrack. Here's a song from Little Miss Sunshine:

It's all moody and dramatic. It could make anything seem deep, even a static shot of a bunch of people in a car. National Lampoon's Vacation, on the other hand, used '80s pop. We're not saying you can take any '80s comedy, replace the soundtrack, add a minimalist poster and win an Academy Award, but some of them might be worth a shot. Weekend at Bernie's, anyone?

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4
Wall-E (2008) is Idiocracy (2006)

The Plot:

An average worker drone who just wants to quietly do his job gets caught up in an overly complicated government plan that goes on way, way longer than originally intended. Stuff happens, and the drone saves the human race.

The Films That Share It:

Quick, which of these images belongs to Mike Judge's cult sci-fi satire Idiocracy and which one belongs to Pixar's Wall-E?


Which one is present day Detroit?

The answer is we don't even know. That's because both movies take place hundreds of years in the future, at a point when man's neglect has turned the Earth into a big landfill covered by huge mountains of garbage. Also in both movies, a random occurrence interrupts the otherwise uneventful life of the protagonist, which is followed by an enormous avalanche of garbage and the protagonist crashing into an average, random citizen who quickly becomes a main character in the plot.

Eventually the protagonist finds himself transported to an unfamiliar world where he realizes that humanity has evolved into fat, useless morons. All right, so not everyone in Idiocracy is overweight and not everyone in Wall-E is stupid, but they're both making the same point -- both films are warning us about the dangers of complacency.


And being squashed by a giant red butt.

Both futures are shown to be dominated by huge corporations, and one corporation in particular controls the landscape and has taken over parts of the government (Brawndo in Idiocracy and Buy n Large in Wall-E). Said corporation uses a single, constant advertising slogan that is shown everywhere, and even fed to children.


Sometimes literally.

Still not convinced? How about the fact that the second halves of both movies center around the protagonist trying to save the plants of Earth, which, after much chasing and almost being crushed to death by machines, he accomplishes with the help of a recording made by his love interest?


But that happens in all movies.

This is followed by a scene where we think we'll lose the protagonist forever, but then a last minute gesture convinces him to stay with his love interest. Then there's an epilogue montage about how the world will be OK now (even though in both cases it probably won't).

The Major Difference:

Idiocracy grossed almost $500,000 at the box office. Wall-E grossed $500 million worldwide. That's a substantial difference, we think, and we're betting Mike Judge feels the same way.


"No, no. It's great not having a golden yacht filled with panda-fur rugs."

There's also the fact that one of these movies is rated G and the other is rated R: In the latter, the love interest is a prostitute who sleeps with several men through the course of the film, and the machines that try to squash the protagonist near the end are shaped like giant dildos. We'll let you guess which is which.

3
Galaxy Quest (1999) is Three Amigos (1986)

The Plot:

A group of out of work actors are mistaken for the famous characters they used to portray onscreen and find themselves involved in a dangerous armed confrontation. Overcoming their massive egos and cowardice, the actors band together to face the enemy and become true heroes.


Tim Allen's junk may or may not play a role.

The Films That Share It:

Admittedly, this isn't the most original movie plot ever. Since the endlessly quotable Chevy Chase/Steve Martin/Martin Short classic Three Amigos came out in the early '80s, films like Tropic Thunder, My Name is Bruce and A Bug's Life, of all things, have sort of used it as a starting point before veering off in other directions. Galaxy Quest also used it as a starting point ... and a middle point, and an ending point. It's basically Three Amigos ... In Space!


With stupid haircuts instead of awesome hats.

For example, in both movies the unemployed actors are recruited by a somewhat naive alien culture in which everyone appears to be completely unfamiliar with the concept of "acting." Both of these races happen to live in exotic, unrealistic locations: more specifically, outer space and Hollywood's idea of Mexico.


Honestly, both are pretty offensive.

In both cases, the actors remain unaware of the mix-up for way too long, believing the whole thing to be a job opportunity despite being surrounded by overwhelming evidence pointing to the contrary. Somewhat related to the last point, in both movies the actors are pretty dumb. The aliens need the actors' help to oppose a superior enemy, but their performing talents turn out to be remarkably inefficient against large amounts of loaded weapons.


Ridiculous hats are a sign of superiority anywhere in the galaxy.

When the actors finally realize what's going on, their first instinct is to ditch the aliens and run away, since they're not as brave as everyone thinks, nor are they in any way qualified for combat. However, instead of bowing to their (frankly, justified) cowardice, they instead regroup and decide to face the enemy head on. Also, at one point they find themselves in a desert that conveniently resembles the sets of their respective serials.


Mexico and outer space are lousy with Styrofoam and matte paintings.

In the end, they defeat the bad guys thanks to an unlikely last minute move enacted with the help of the peaceful aliens, whom they encourage to stand up for themselves from now on. The day saved, the team is prepared for its next adventure and rides off into the sunset.


Or into the sun (we think).

The Major Difference:

These endings are pretty similar, except for the fact that the "riding into the sunset" scene in Galaxy Quest happens within the recently renewed show that the actors (plus one of the aliens) have gone on to star and presumably find money and success in. The characters in Three Amigos, on the other hand, are really seen galloping into the Mexican desert to fight for justice and most certainly died a few hours later.

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2
Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) is Stargate (1994)

The Plot:

A brilliant young scientist obsessed with a fabled ancient civilization is taken in by an unknown benefactor and sent on a mission to explore a lost world. There, he falls in love with one the locals, helps them fight their oppressors and ultimately decides to stay with them.


Yes, we know he wasn't in the Stargate movie. We're just saying.

The Films That Share It:

Atlantis: The Lost Empire is a Disney animation without talking animals. Stargate is a Roland Emmerich film without U.S.-centric disaster porn. Neither is particularly famous, but don't worry: If you've seen one, you've seen both. For starters, they both star the same nerdy scientist guy, doing the same weirdly specific job.


Standing in front of the same blackboard, with the same stupid face.

Seriously, how many movies do you know where the main character specializes in cartography and linguistics? Well, now you know two. In both films, the protagonist is mocked and ignored by the scientific community due to his obsession with an ancient civilization that supposedly disappeared, leaving only stories and legends. It's fair to assume that in both cases, his haircut accounts for at least some of the mocking.

After his latest failed appeal to even discuss his theories, the scientist is approached by a mysterious woman who offers him a job that lines up suspiciously well with his otherwise useless set of skills. Having nothing to lose, he accepts the offer and is recruited to decipher some ancient writings ... which happen to show a path to the lost civilization of his dreams.


The lesson here is that high ranking officials don't read.

Before the scientist can even figure out what the writings say, his employer has already assembled a small hand-picked team led by a military-type dude to go on an expedition into a strange world. Once there, the scientist immediately meets his love interest, who takes the team to meet her father. He is a) the leader of the local dudes and b) not pleased with the strangers.


"If I wasn't a wise leader, why would I have this white beard?"

The scientist learns the local language in record time and begins to explore the strange technology this world has to offer. The technology is very advanced, but also primitive.


"Bet no one else thought of that twist." -- two separate writers.

Eventually, the leader of the team reveals the secret reason he came on the mission -- the scientist tries to talk him out of it, but it's no use. Shortly afterward, an improbable battle ensues, where the normally peaceful locals fight superior forces and somehow prevail.

In the end, rather than return with the rest of the team, the main character decides to stay in this new world to teach the natives about their own civilization and also to make out with his new girlfriend some more.


Of course, Disney's protagonist has the rapiest eyes.

The Major Difference:

The military-type dudes in each film are actually pretty different: One of them betrays his own people and kills for money and power, and the other is not a Disney cartoon.

Another difference: Atlantis was such a big flop that Disney canceled plans for a spin-off series. Stargate, on the other hand, was a surprise hit and led to several spin-offs stretching across three decades ... one of which was called Stargate: Atlantis.


This in turn led to another spin-off, Stargate: Suck It, Disney.

1
Cars (2006) is Doc Hollywood (1991)

The Plot:

A young hotshot professional heads to California to attain fame and fortune, but a random accident strands him in a hick town in the middle of nowhere ... where he'll learn a valuable lesson and find true love.

The Films That Share It:

We're talking about Doc Hollywood, the Michael J. Fox comedy about a doctor who wants to go to Hollywood, and also Cars, the Pixar film about cars. These movies are so similar, it's almost like they're set in mirror dimensions -- and in one of those dimensions, every character is a talking car.


Guess which.

In both movies, the ambitious protagonist is about halfway to his destination when he ends up going off the road and destroying some property. He is then brought before the local judge, who sentences him to several hours of community service.


It's that, or going to prison and having his fuel tank forcibly pumped.

These two judges are practically the same character, but then again, so is every other judge who appears in a movie. At this point the protagonist is mocked by the local residents for his big-city ways, remaining arrogant until he makes a serious mistake that he fixes with the help of a small town veteran, who will become his mentor. That's ... a pretty specific sequence of events there, Pixar.

Oh, and then there's the shared love interest: a sassy, tomboyish female of his same species who teases him about his origins and general manners while showing him the beauty of living a simple life in a small town. Their relationship starts moving forward and they even go on a nice, if unusual, date.


Yeah, we're not sure how that's gonna work out, either.

So they're hitting it off pretty well ... and then the protagonist goes away to California anyway, even though she asks him not to, because apparently he's still a deeply selfish guy/anthropomorphic car. In California, he performs his job admirably but secretly feels nostalgic about his time in the small town (which we know because he closes his eyes and looks real serious).


Both movies end with the disclaimer that you shouldn't drive and/or perform surgery with your eyes closed.

Finally, he's offered a contract by the big company he was hoping for, but a visit from his quirkily unsophisticated friends convinces him to ditch California in favor of the small town, where he's reunited with his love interest.


What are the chances of two female movie characters loving self-centered assholes?

The Major Difference:

Did we mention one of these movies is about talking cars? Because that sort of eclipses everything else that happens in the film. It could be a straight rip-off of A Clockwork Orange and we'd still call it "that talking-car movie." Most of the audience is too distracted thinking about the disturbing implications of a vehicle-ruled society to even notice what it's ripping off.

Also, if you ever wondered what happened to Michael J. Fox and his girlfriend after the end of Doc Hollywood, you already know: He gets involved in a bullshit plot about spies and oil, and is upstaged by Larry the Cable Guy.

For more movies that are actually other movies, check out 6 Classic Movies You Didn't Know Were Remakes and 7 Classic Movies You Didn't Know Were Rip-Offs.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist is a remake of Will Sasso.

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