Several years ago, as I understand time, there was a website called ‘5-Minute Voyager’, which started off by doing irreverent summaries of episodes of Voyager. As the name implies.
They’ve now completely lost their groove. (At least, I think that’s what de-funked means.)
At the time, I was keeping a live journal, and decided to completely steal their style for a few potshots of my own.
Here’s the first, which I wrote after watching a few too many animated movies with identical plots down to quite some detail. I’m not one of those ‘There are only five plots’ people, who simplifies things to the nth degree: Man vs Himself, Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Woman, Man vs The Empire Brain Building. Those are set-ups, not plots.
No, I think there are several movie types where you keep seeing identical plots over and over again, down to quite a bit of detail; Pocahantas, Mulan, Treasure Planet, A Bug’s Life are a few examples. Ratatouille had the distinction of being told from the point-of-view of the small, furry animal sidekick… who in turn had a small human sidekick… Monsters Inc was given a last-minute reprieve, but apparently the original script ‘idea’ would’ve followed the formula. (Which is not to say any of these are bad movies, either. Just very formulaic.)
I decided to blame Disney for it, without really any reason.
On with the show:
Our Hero, a child (or child stand-in): Look at me! I’m having fun!
Tiny piece of a greater machine: Help! I’ve broken off, and though I’m small, my fall is destroying the greater machine!
Hero’s Mother-Figure: Hero, by removing that small but significant piece, you just trashed our village / my business.
Hero: Yeah, it’s almost as if it’s symbolic of something. And, aren’t I cute?
Hero’s Mother-Figure: No! You just cost me a ton of money, you’re not only endangering our ability to make a living, you’re endangering our ability to -be- living. If you’d stop daydreaming, and stop playing around and trying those useless inventions, we could maybe survive.
Hero: No. I never wanted to do this! I wanted to be… a lumberjack!
Mother: You’re a loony!
Hero: I’m the Hero. I will rise above my station to be part of Cool Clique. I’m gonna watch the Cool Clique, then have an adventure. Someday I will be part of Cool Clique!
Hero’s Mother-Figure: Don’t you–
Ominous Stranger: Adventures! Adventures! Get your tutsi-fruitsi adventures!
Hero: I’ll take one.
Hero: Wow, what a cute little animal. Perfect for a sidekick.
Hero: I will pet him and squeeze him and hold him and name him George.
Absent Father-Figure: Kids, here’s the message of -this- movie, and this one only, are you ready for it? It’s a surprise! It’s: “You can do anything you believe in!”
Kids: Yay! I’m gonna jump off that ten-story building, because I believe I can fly!
Disney: Ach, what’re you doing, laddies? Do you want us to get sued?
Kids: I jumped off the bottom. I’m not stupid. But, yeeesss, I believe your message. Anything I believe will happen… yeeesss…
Evil Woman (most likely): I’ll get that Hero! And his little sidekick, too! He’ll never be part of Cool Clique!
Evil Woman: Sorry, I mean, Sidekick, betray Hero for me.
Evil Woman: Now that’s taken care of, Trusted Lieutenant! You have Hero in your power. Let Hero go.
Trusted Lieutenant: Sounds like a plan.
People of the new place: Who are you? You look like Cool Clique.
Hero: No, I’m just dressed up!
People of the new place: Hey everybody, we just found one of Cool Clique!
Hero: Wow, it’s awfully nice of all these people to be awfully nice to me now that I’m away from home and my skills are suddenly so valuable. Just because I’m pretending to be part of Cool Clique.
People of the new place: Aww, we lubb you, Hero. You’re part of Cool Clique.
Romantic Interest: Especially me, but I’m going to pretend to be annoyed by you for now.
Hero: That’s okay, I’m really interested in somebody who’s bad for me. How do we rescue Absent Father-Figure? He’s our spiritual leader, you know.
Romantic Interest: I -could- help you, but I’ll just get annoyed at some imagined slight instead.
Hero: What’d I do?
Local Lackey: You’ll make it up to them in the next scene.
Hero: I’m on my way to rescue Absent Father-Figure.
Romantic Lead: I’ll help!
Hero: Wow, what a surprise! Yay! Now, let’s get all the people together to fight against oppression.
Romantic Lead: What an amazing, surprise plan! How did you ever think of it?
Hero: Luckily, Evil Woman hasn’t seen another Disney cartoon.
Local Lackey: I’ll pretend to be cowardly, but help save the day at the last moment.
Evil Woman: Hey, Romantic Lead, did you know Hero isn’t Cool Clique?
Romantic Lead: Noooooooooooooooooo! He / she betrayed us all!
Sidekick: Meep! Meep meep meep, meep… Meep!*
(* trans: Hero! I was going to betray you, but… Look out!)
Hero: Hi, cute Sidekick. Been off sneaking, have you?
Trusted Lieutenant: I’ll beat you up, Hero, while Evil Woman sets herself up for a fall. I mean, to beat you.
Hero: No, you won’t! Villagers, strike!
People of the new place: More money! Better conditions! More money!
Hero: No, you fools, attack!
People of the new place: But Romantic Lead told us you’re not really Cool Clique, so we hate you now!
Hero: I can too rise above my station! And you’ll win if you work together…
People of the new place: Get bent… hey why are we all talking at once like this? It’s as if we have nothing new to say. Oh, well…
Trusted Lieutenant: I’ll get you, Hero!
Romantic Lead: No! I’ve forgiven Hero, so I’ll save it! It really is Cool Clique, even if it’s not!
Trusted Lieutenant: I’m dying! but slowly, okay, to draw out the suspense.
Evil Woman: Now I’ll get you! But first, I’ll fall into a death-pit of my own devising! I’m dying! Wait, that’s not a good plan. I’m melting, I’m melting what a world!
Hero: Hey, I’m home, and I really am Cool Clique now! Are you surprised?
Hero’s Mother-Figure: No. But, Yay!
Hero: And, look, I’ve brought People of the New Place with me! We’re holding a parade in my honour, with Absent Father-Figure being all rich and generous.
Hero’s Mother-Figure: I hope he picks up the bill.
Hero: And I’ve proved that we can all become heroes, just by believing it!
Hero’s Mother-Figure: Really? (Picks out random people from the crowd.) What about her? Or him? Or them? Come to think of it, they’re all still just as poor as they were before. Have you really helped them?
Disney: Right, that’s it. You’ve been warned. Out! Out, damn spot, out I say!
Hero’s Mother-Figure: Damn, there goes my career.
(Another Disney cartoon gets made at ludicrous speed.)