Sunday, April 4, 2010

Learning from Movies

Old Dogs
(Spoil Alert- I will give away scenes and ending)

Every weekend my family has a movie night. Today we watched Old Dogs with John Travolta and Robin Williams.
I believe we can learn a lot from movies that can be applied to writing novels. Old Dogs was an enjoyable film. I’ll share a few moments I thought were done well. I’m sure you can come up with more.

First, this is a buddy movie. Unlike most others I’ve seen, these two characters are not afraid to hug and show emotion. John Travolta’s character freely admits he feels he has to come to his friend’s rescue.

Like romance novels, buddy films are about two characters who share a special bond. They meet each other’s needs. Also like romance novels, the couple reaches a point where their relationship is in danger, and then they reach an understanding after an often dramatic moment.

Like most Robin Williams films, the humor is done well. At times it takes place after a touching moment. For example, he teaches his son how to ride his bike. Robin lets go and the boy is gliding along well. Everyone feels great and then he crashes. Also, the two main characters fall into the water in the penguin enclosure at the zoo. They are oohing and ahhing over how cute the penguins are just before dozens of them attack.

At times the humor happens at the worse possible moment. The characters end up taking each other’s medication. The Williams character’s vision is off when playing golf with representatives of a company they want to work with. Everyone he sees has huge bug eyes. The Travolta character has partial facial paralysis giving him a huge smile during a bereavement gathering.

Also, I noticed the physical humor often occurred in twos. Getting hit in the groin by a golf ball is always funny. It’s hilarious when it happens two times in a row.

They also employed a common technique of connecting the ending to the beginning. Writers will often tie something from the beginning to the end so the reader/viewer feels as if they’ve come full circle. In this movie, it was tied more to the middle, but it was still effective. At the end both characters have the huge partial facial paralysis smiles after their medications are once again mixed up. Brings a smile to your own face as you are left with that feel good feeling.

Until next week,
Happy Writing!
Tina LaVon

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