They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If that’s true, then shouldn’t blatantly copying someone’s work be celebrated rather than admonished? Nope. Not at all.
Look, I’m not going to use this as a soapbox and say that only good ideas are original and that copying an idea is a mortal sin. “Star Wars,” possibly the greatest movie series of all time (the originals, of course) wouldn’t have existed if George Lucas didn’t have a boner for the films of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, or wasn’t such a “Flash Gordon” nerd. In fact, he originally tried to license “Flash Gordon,” and when that fell through, he created “Star Wars.” If you want to go back even farther than that, every adventure story has loosely copied the hero’s journey archetype since “The Odyssey.” That, I don’t have a problem with.
But there are just some movies that are unmistakably copies of other films. Insanely enough, a bunch of these movies that are just way too similar to each other CAME OUT IN THE SAME YEAR. I’m angry about this for some reason. Not sure why. Just take a look at these movies and tell me if I’m crazy or not.
“Antz” (1998) and “A Bug’s Life” (1998)
These two movies are probably the most on-the-nose comparison out of all of the films on the list, but let’s look at the facts. Both are computer-generated films about ants, and each movie centers around a young, quirky male ant trying to save his colony and win the princess’s heart.
The fact that these two movies are so similar is no coincidence. When legendary studio executive and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg was at Walt Disney Studios, he bought the story for “Antz” and took it with him when he founded Dreamworks Animation Studios. Executives at Pixar and Disney believed Katzenberg knew about “A Bug’s Life” and stole the idea, as “A Bug’s Life” was being developed while he was still at Disney. Katzenberg and Dreamworks raced to have “Antz” finished before “A Bug’s Life,” and while he succeeded in that regard, “A Bug’s Life” went on to be a massive commercial and critical success. “Antz” can be found in the “2 for $5” bin at Walmart.
“Friends With Benefits” (2011) and “No Strings Attached” (2011)
I think I speak for the entire male population when I say the film studios could have saved a lot of time and money by making a movie about Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis hooking up. It probably would have grossed more than a billion dollars. In its opening weekend.
While these movies actually have slightly different stories (Justin and Mila had never met before boning, whereas Natalie and Ashton had a history before they did the horizontal hora) they end the same way. The characters hook up with each other, then they hook up with other people, someone gets hurt because one of them caught the feelings, they realize they’re ultimately meant to be together, they run to each other, and kiss. Roll credits. Come on. These movies are way too similar and they were released within six months of each other. Who signed off on this? However, both movies made around $150 million dollars without hurting each other, so everyone wins, right?
Except us. They suckered us into seeing the same movie twice.
“Observe and Report” (2009) and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” (2009)
Oh boy. Two films featuring heavy-set, funny actor-comedians who play mall security guards, released within four months of each other. How delightful! 2009 was quite the time to be alive.
The teams behind both of these movies were aware they were making similar movies. Seth Rogen, the star of “Observe and Report,” was quoted saying, “We knew the whole time, actually. And we’re friends with those guys, so we would literally send each other pictures of the wardrobe, just to make sure we weren’t stepping on each other’s toes. They’re totally different movies.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Rogen, “Observe and Report” came in fourth in its opening weekend, behind the absolute juggernaut that was “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (the Hoedown Throwdown was EVERYWHERE). It was also the lowest grossing film Rogen starred in until 2011’s “Take This Waltz.”
“Olympus Has Fallen” (2013) and “White House Down” (2013)
Okay, I’ve got a pitch for you guys. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A grizzled Secret Service agent assigned to the presidential detail must protect the president from a terrorist attack on the White House. He also must keep the POTUS alive using only his insanely honed tactical and combat skills, witty one-liners, rugged good looks, and arm muscles.
Wait, you’ve heard that one? Of course you have. They released not one, but two movies with the exact same plot LAST YEAR. Granted, both had incredibly basic plots that have been done a thousand times before, and were released by completely different teams, but jeez. Couldn’t one of them have held off on releasing its film for a few months? “Olympus” came out in March, “White House Down” in June.
Also, we’re forgetting the fact that these are mindless action movies with all the substance of a Kardashian book club meeting. They will have absolutely zero impact on the American zeitgeist, so I guess that’s okay. They both made a ton of money, which proves that people will drop cold, hard cash to see shit blow up and terrorist ass-kicking, because ‘Murica.
“The Other Woman” (2014) and “John Tucker Must Die” (2006)
Every commercial I see for “The Other Woman” fills me with pure rage. First of all, there have been about eight or nine movies with the exact same title released since 1921. Was the title “Dude Bangs a Bunch of Chicks Because He’s a Heartless, Horny Douche” taken?
Let’s do a rundown here. Both movies have the dude. Check. The dude’s dating a girl. Check. But then he’s dating another girl. Check. And then all the chicks find out there’s another chick. Check. They hatch a devious plan, which includes spreading rumors about his sex life (check), giving him estrogen to make him more feminine (double check), and a bunch of other schemes that cause the girls to high-five each other in montages set to pop music (check, check, check–mindless entertainment jackpot!).
While the same studio produced both films, “John Tucker Must Die” was clearly geared at a younger, more specific audience. “The Other Woman,” on the other hand, is going for a much wider release, what with the brilliant casting choices of Kate Upton and Nicki Minaj. There’s also the fact that every trailer is set to “Timber” by Pitbull.
Meanwhile, “John Tucker” featured Arielle Kebbel as a nerd, Ashanti as the sassy cheerleader, Sophia Bush as a slutty vegan, and Brittany Snow as a loner-turned-hottie. It’s like the Washington Wizards versus the Chicago Bulls; you go with the younger, more aggressive team. It was directed by Betty Davis, who also handled Howard Stern’s “Private Parts.” Clearly, “John Tucker” is the superior film here.
But I’m sure the box office receipts will say something different. Let’s hope “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” can hang on to send this remake/ripoff to the bottom of the box office charts. Hail Hydra indeed.