The job of movies is not to depict life exactly as it is. Cinema aims to distil often huge stories into two hours and, as a result, there are some elements of reality that just don’t fit into these exciting tapestries. Sometimes it’s a matter of storytelling economy and sometimes it’s just because film scripts want to cut corners in order to keep things moving.
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Reddit users have been discussing these little elements of unrealistic storytelling, which pop up over and over again in the movies we love. They are sometimes bizarre enough to lift audiences out of the narrative but, for the most part, they’re just worthy of an eye roll and a snarky comment on the internet.
Here are the most common and annoying unrealistic tropes...
Drivers keep looking at passengers
Often, cars used to shoot dialogue scenes in movies have their head rests taken out. Once someone tells you that, you can’t unsee it. This is done, obviously, so that a movie camera can fit in the back of the vehicle in order to shoot the actors sat in the front. Often, this is to facilitate a scene in which characters chat to each other while making full eye contact, despite the fact one of them is operating a moving vehicle.
The Reddit user who pointed this out noted that “prolonged eye contact” between driver and passenger really bothered them, with drivers taking their eyes off the road for sometimes minutes at a time. Don’t try doing that on the M25.
Hackers never have to Google
In movies, all computer scenes essentially come down to one very clever person hammering a keyboard, while their face is illuminated by the blue glow of the screen. There’s no sense of pausing to think or to consider the right course of action. They just keep typing.
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One Reddit user noted their frustration at how cinema’s IT experts are able to do every task you can imagine on a computer without ever having to consult Google. Cinema’s faith in the Swiss army knife quality of keyboard hammering will never cease to be baffling.
Huge grenade explosions
Just about everything in action moves stretches credibility and certainly the Fast & Furious movies do things with cars that would make a physicist twitch on a minute by minute basis. For many users in this Reddit thread, though, it was the “nuclear level explosions” generated by movie grenades that got their goat.
Some pointed out that the problem is not that Hollywood makes grenades look more dangerous than they are, but that it’s the wrong type of danger. In an action movie, grenades are survivable unless you’re in the immediate path of the comically enormous fireball or cloud of dust. In reality, tiny pieces of flying shrapnel are far more of a risk — albeit a less cinematic one — and they travel far greater distances than a few feet.
New kids in class get full introductions
Being the new kid in school is always difficult, trying to find a place in a social hierarchy that is already deeply entrenched. In the movies, it’s even harder because you always wander in halfway through a class and receive a full, on-the-spot introduction from the teacher, as one Reddit user noted.
As with so many of the tropes on this list, this is clearly designed as a semi-organic way to deliver crucial exposition and establish a character as a fish out of water. But it clearly doesn’t ring true for many fans.
Basically any hospital scene
Hospitals are a minefield of inaccuracies on the big screen, with anyone who has any experience of emergency medical care — either as a patient or a healthcare worker — likely to spot an array of enormous faults. In the Reddit thread, the original commenter noted patients shown as being on a ventilator without intubation, but others pointed to the constant misuse of defibrillators and the way nobody ever bleeds after pulling out an IV drip.
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“Basically any hospital scene,” the top commenter concluded. Anyone looking for information about how the world of medicine works should stay far away from the movies.
"Let me show you..."
Montages serve a crucial purpose in movie storytelling, allowing for multiple locations to fly by with the passage of time compressed in order to keep the action moving. In many movies, however, this manifests in the “let me show you” montage, with characters seemingly pausing their conversation while they travel to different locations. This is particularly notable in heist movies, in which planning montages hop from place to place while voiceover explains how everything is going to pan out.
“They didn't talk about it during the drive? Did they just drive in silence?” asked the Reddit commenter who suggested this trope. Anything to make the exposition dump look cool.
"It's not what it looks like"
When a character is interrupted in the middle of a shocking situation, they seem to lose the ability to explain what’s happening. As one Reddit commenter put it, these characters can suddenly “only speak in incomplete thoughts or fragments” in order to maintain enough misunderstanding to keep the machinations of the plot going.
Perhaps the most famous example of this is the “it’s not what it looks like” moment, which is almost always followed by the shocked party storming away before any explanation can be offered. One of the first rules of the cinema is that no character who says “let me explain” ever gets to explain.
People waking up looking fresh
Movie stars are beautiful people for the most part and, if their films are to be believed, they look that good first thing in the morning as well. A Reddit commenter noted that characters always look “fresh as a daisy” when they wake up and, for some reason, never seem to need to rush straight to the loo when they get out of bed.
Women who seem to wake up with a full face of make-up were repeatedly mentioned in the thread as a particularly egregious example of this trope. There was praise, though, for Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids and that film’s awareness of the contrivance. She is seen waking up early in order to secretly apply some make-up before hopping back into bed.
If you’re a movie character, arranging a date is pretty easy. You just say “I’ll meet you later” and walk away. Questions about dates, times, locations and phone numbers are consigned to the cutting room floor, as parodied in a brilliant Saturday Night Live skit starring Kristen Stewart and Pete Davidson.
Obviously, these details are not the epicentre of vintage screenwriting and it’s an obvious casualty of the need to keep movies streamlined. Many Reddit users pointed this out and it was also noted that the Rebel Wilson romcom Isn’t It Romantic? also sent up this particular trope, questioning how Liam Hemsworth’s character would know where to meet for their date.
This is not a Game of Thrones scenario, in which rogue coffee cups show up in places they shouldn’t, but instead a case of actors simply not being convincing enough when it comes to wielding obviously empty cups. A Reddit user noted that these cups sound hollow when they’re placed on surfaces and that people seemingly have no problem drinking them when they would be scalding hot.
They wrote: “When was the last time someone handed you a fresh coffee and you immediately tip the cup 90 degrees and take a huge sip without ever checking the temperature?” That’s a sure-fire route to severe facial burns.
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