Six Disparate Movies With Uncannily Similar Plots
Coming up with an original idea for a movie is hard, but coming up with 200 more ideas just to fill in all the scenes is even harder. That's why Hollywood writers sometimes end up on autopilot and accidentally rip off the entire plot of some other movie they saw on cable at 2 a.m. like ten years ago. Or at least, that's our explanation for the existence of certain uncannily similar films. Such as ...
A Quiet Place And Signs
A Quiet Place convinced us that Jim from The Office could direct movies, while Signs made us wonder if maybe M. Night Shyamalan couldn't. But both are about a family dealing with a terrifying alien invasion, and both start with the main character losing a loved one (Mel Gibson's wife and John Krasinski's child) in traumatic circumstances.
So the protagonist is left taking care of two kids, one of whom has a health problem (deafness in A Quiet Place, asthma in Signs) that will help them later in the film. Both fathers pore over footage of the invaders like they're trying to figure out Game Of Thrones spoilers.
Despite the fathers' best efforts, it's ultimately the kids who discover the aliens' weakness. The kids also help out by using an audio device that everyone previously found annoying (a malfunctioning cochlear implant and a baby monitor).
We know both alien races are real bastards, because before attacking the families, they go after animals (a raccoon in Signs and the family dog in A Quiet Place). Both movies also have parts where the son is out in the corn fields all by himself, like some sort of idiot scarecrow for aliens, with a flashlight as his only protection.
Eventually, an alien gets inside the house, forcing a character to hide in the basement. With no other options, the family has to fight back by exploiting the fearsome alien's rather silly weakness (high-pitch frequencies and water) and then killing it. Our theory: A Quiet Place is a Signs sequel, and in the next installment, we'll find out the aliens are also weak against dirt, spicy food, and light breezes.
The Shape Of Water And Splash
Guillermo del Toro's The Shape Of Water has been sued for supposedly ripping off other sources, but that's impossible ... because it actually rips off the 1984 romantic comedy Splash, about Tom Hanks nailing a mermaid. In both movies, an underwater creature with an aversion to shirts is held captive at a super secret base.
The protagonist takes a liking to this creature, and decides they must smuggle them out before they're dissected or turned into a casserole. This leads to a complex escape plan called "Hiding the creature under sheets."
The heroes do this with help from a dweeby-looking scientist who initially wanted to study the creature, but then had a change of heart.
In order to keep the creatures comfortable, the protagonists store them in their homes' bathtubs. They have to add special materials to the water, because if they didn't, these movies would just become too unbelievable.
Both movies end with the heroes taking the creatures to the sea to release them. Of course, we need to add some conflict, so the government shows up in one final bid to recapture the fish-person.
The heroes jump into the ocean, and upon being kissed by the creatures, they can now breathe underwater too. Which is good, because they'll be arrested and executed if they ever set foot on land again.
Deadpool 2 And Looper
Deadpool breathed new life into the superhero genre. Deadpool 2 didn't really know how to do that again, so they copied the plot of Looper almost beat for beat. Both films follow a protagonist who is a hired gun, but we as the audience still like them because they're funny and/or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Both movies show us early on that the path to redemption for these men is to settle down with a loving woman ... both of whom die before their eyes (in one case, in a future where the protagonist looks like Bruce Willis).
Oh yeah, both heroes also live in worlds occupied by superpowered beings (telekinetic people and, you know, the X-Men). One such being happens to be an adorable kid who is destined to murder a lot of people in the future.
Due to this future destruction, an older, more rugged badass travels back in time to kill the child (Cable in Deadpool 2 and Old Man Willis in Looper). Both films are ultimately variations on the old "Would you kill superpowered baby Hitler?" moral dilemma.
Inspired by their respective romantic interests, the heroes end up sacrificing their lives to save the kid ...
... only for Deadpool to immediately come back, because he has more powers than Jesus, plus a profitable media franchise. Joe stays dead. The lesson? Be more like Deadpool.
Toy Story 3 And The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
In 1982, a lowly animator at Disney named John Lasseter pitched his bosses the idea of adapting the book The Brave Little Toaster as a CG movie. Disney was like "Cartoons made by computers? Ha!" and fired him within the hour. The project continued as a regular animated movie at another studio, but Lasseter did manage to make a CG Brave Little Toaster film 28 years later. It's called Toy Story 3.
Both Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story 3 star a bunch of (usually) inanimate objects with abandonment issues who venture out into the world to find their college-bound owner.
The objects feel bad when they realize their owner has lost interest in them, because he's more concerned with "updated technology" (laptops and cellphones in Toy Story, computers and snazzy '80s vacuum cleaners in Toaster).
The characters are eventually put into a sort of prison -- a spare parts shop / torture chamber in Toaster and a daycare full of destructive toddlers in Toy Story. Also, the moment when the broken appliances take revenge on the shop owner in Toaster is a lot like the scene in the first Toy Story when the disfigured toys scare the crap out of Sid.
The objects manage to escape, but that only leads them to a huge, scary landfill where an evil magnet(?) nearly gets them crushed to death.
Finally, the objects are reunited with their owners, though only one keeps them. To be fair, it would be weird if the college kid from Toaster showed up at some little girl's house and gave her a bunch of old appliances who talk like SNL actors.
Click And Goosebumps' "Click"
Both Click (the Adam Sandler movie) and "Click" (the Goosebumps episode) start with the protagonist trying to buy a universal remote control, and instead receiving a remote that can control the universe.
Early on, the mysterious man who apparently created the remote warns the protagonist to use it responsibly. Neither remote-holder listens, despite the fact that the mystery man wears a tie and must, therefore, know what he's talking about.
And so, both the family man played by Sandler and the teen boy in Goosebumps start using the remote to mute annoying people, fast-forward through boring stuff, pause family members while being berated, mess with color settings to make stuff look funny, etc. Only one of them farts on someone while they're paused, and it's exactly the one you'd think (the adult).
The protagonist uses his godlike powers to get ahead at work/school, but then the remote malfunctions and negatively impacts his family life (Sandler fast-forwards through important moments, and the Goosebumps kid can't unfreeze his parents). Both characters try to throw away the remote and fail -- in Sandler's case because it magically comes back to him, and in the kid's case because he's hopelessly addicted to technology and retrieves it from the garbage.
Things turn weirdly dark when Sandler fast-forwards his life away and dies, while the kid presses the power button and ends up trapped in a void for all eternity. But only the movie gets a happy "It was all a dream!" ending, because R.L. Stine likes giving kids nightmares as much as Adam Sandler likes making lots of money.
Inception And Paprika
Both Inception and the anime film Paprika involve protagonists using a device to infiltrate people's dreams, and both get trippy very fast. Early in Inception, we see Ellen Page's character place her hand on a giant mirror in the middle of the street, causing it to fall apart and reveal a different place behind it. It's one of those "How do they come up with this stuff?!" scenes ... unless you've seen Paprika.
Both movies also have scenes with a character's reflection showing a different person to indicate alter egos. Paprika's director loved this particular trick, and respected Hollywood filmmakers love stealing it from him (looking at you, Darren Aronofksy).
And you know how Inception uses an elevator to show the levels of a character's mind, with one floor containing a painful memory they've had to repress? Paprika has that old chestnut as well.
Then there's the famous gravity-defying hotel hallway fight from Inception, which is kinda reminiscent of a recurring hotel hallway dream in Paprika. Oh, and the title character herself briefly runs on a hallway wall, Joseph Gordon-Levitt style.
The whole concept of what's happening in the real world physically affecting the dream world is right there too, plus other general themes and ideas. That said, we'll admit that Paprika's plot is relatively straightforward compared to Inception's. Yes, Chris Nolan did the impossible: He brought a cult anime movie into the mainstream by making it more confusing.
Mike Bedard has a lot of opinions about movies, and you can read them by following him on Twitter. RG Jordan is not big on social media but he is big on working and eating food so you can contact him at RGJordan4@gmail.com if you think his words are funny or insightful.
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