Your favorite Idiot Plots (open spoilers)

And of course, the whole plot hinged on the absolute requirement that no one on that plane (who wasn’t in on the plot) would see the 10-year-old at all, ever. Because no one getting on a long plane flight ever pays attention to kids getting on the flight, nope, there’s absolutely no reason why you might care about that.

And the million teenagers who choose that time to have sex. I know I get really really horny when a killer is on the loose. :rolleyes:

Given what I know about teenagers (having been one, as well), this one really doesn’t strike me as so hard to believe. It may be idiotic, but it’s at least semi-realistic idiotic :smiley:

The most irritating plot point is one where people must act as if they’re not seeing what’s happening right in front of their very eyes, in a bizarre effort to keep the plot going forward/make the audience sympathize with the main character.

The X-Files was particularly bad at this, especially the first 4 or 5 seasons, when Scully kept on trying to disavow any “non-rational” explanation to all the strange crap that kept on happening to her.

But the worst had to be Evan Almighty, which had the entire cast thinking that Evan was crazy even though they could perfectly see all those animals following Steve Carrell and was given demonstrations of his miraculous beard-growing powerz.

I have a slight quibble about Alien being tossed into the mix.

If you start with the premise that the crew of the Nostromo are little better than slightly-better educated space truckers, working for an evil corporation willing to sacrifice a starship, crew, and cargo (probably insured to the max, so really the only thing they’re out is the deductible) on the chance of reaping billions, if not trillions of dollars (yen? euros? Space-credits?) by unlocking the secrets of the Aliens and marketing it for maximum profitability…the plot stands up a lot better.

The crew does seemingly stupid things because the capabilities of the Alien are unknown to them; the defenses and precautions they concoct are based upon the assumption that the Alien is little more than a dangerous, wild animal, let loose aboard a commercial-grade, made-by-the-lowest-bidder space-going Mack truck.

Then there’s the fact that the crew’s efforts are hamstrung by a science officer who’s secretly a plant, preprogrammed by the evil corporation to shepherd the progress of the Alien and protect it from the crew’s efforts to neutralize it.

Most of the gripes I hear about various sci-fi movies (even the better ones) are because people can’t buy into the basic premise of the fictional universe they’re seeing on the screen. IMHO, the great reason that they cannot buy into that premise is because they are thinking more like themselves, a person probably safely ensconsed in placid, middle-class surroundings, in a movie theater, with a bucket of popcorn and an even larger bucket of fizzy, carbonated soft-drink, than the protagonist(s) on the screen.

It’s a failure of imagination.

Granted, most movie plots don’t have the backstory or exposition to explain how some seemingly implausible (to middle-class suburbanites) set of circumstances arose to allow the movie plot to unfold in a seemingly implausible (to middle-class suburbanites) manner; that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

I will allow that in a lot (okay, most) movies, the characters do truly bone-headed things: they go out alone to investigate the strange noise they heard in the darkness; they pick up a kitchen knife to deal with a monster that could probably take most of a belt of ammunition fed through the barrel of an M-60 machinegun; etc., etc.

I just don’t think Alien is one of them.

As an alternative, consider the craptacular movie Timeline. I was gifted this piece of dren for XMas by my niece, and it was all I could do to sit through it without screaming at the TV screen. You send a bunch of people, archeologists most of them, back into the middle-ages, with little or no training in local language, customs, and, since advanced weaponry is prohibited, knowledge and training on local weapons.

Not only that, you drop them into the middle of a war-zone, where folks are going to be jumpy and suspicious of almost anyone “Not Us” by their definition.

And then you expect these people to snoop around looking for someone, and bring them back to the present?

Or, consider The Hulk. Another movie I can’t stand to watch. You have a guy, mostly emotionally dead to begin with, but who turns into this great, big, unstoppable green thing when he gets mad enough. How do you stop him?

Well, once I knew the trigger, I wouldn’t be pissing him off to start with, and then shooting at him when he turns all Hulk-y, making him even madder still. If he did Hulk out, I’d let him go, track him safely at a distance, let him cool off and revert back to normal human form.

Then tranq him to the gills, so that he feels nothing, ever again.

And then keep him like that permanently.

But then I’d do that to begin with as soon as I knew what the trigger was.

One thing I will acknowledge: most of us may have pride in our knowledge and abilities, as well as our individual accomplishments. But I also think most ordinary people would also be humble enough to acknowledge when they are in way over their heads, and either run away, or think super-rationally (as much as we can), and seek higher power (I’m not talking about praying to God here).

Most of the “evil” types in movies (heh, maybe even real-life) are sure in their power and abilities, and cannot concieve of a situation in which they are not in complete control. On this level, The Hulk works.

You are right. I withdraw my nomination. :stuck_out_tongue:

In Pitch Black when the one dude starts to freak out in their trek through the middle of the desert at night and promptly starts ripping up their gear (which is necessary for them to stay alive), I kept waiting for someone to rip his lungs out. I realize that most people tend to be squeamish about murder, but they did have someone in the party who didn’t share that trait, and well, given that a whole lotta people could die because dude decides to freak, the smart thing to do would have been to take him out.

Frankly, the movie Traffic showed people acting just insanely stupid the whole way through. You have the drug czar nominee with a daughter who’s a drug addict and she’s sent to a rehab program where she’s allowed to just walk away. Uh, hello? I’d think that they’d have her some place nice and secure. Then there’s the cops who just happily accept room service from the guy who rings the doorbell without thinking that, “Gee, we’re babysitting this guy to make sure that no one kills him and we’re going to let a bunch of unknown people in the hotel kitchen make his breakfast and deliver it to us. Perhaps it might be a good idea to have one of our guys handle this.”

I can’t imagine why characters who have successfully barricaded themselves in a shopping mall against a zombie horde would then leave that mall and its considerable resources on the theory that maybe they can get somewhere better. Classic stupid.

Ref: Dawn of the Dead (2004).

Some years ago the then president of the Crime Writers of Great Britain society railed against amateur sleuths etc.and said that there should be more gritty,contemporary realism in murder stories.

So heres my attempt.

Neighbours ring999and tell the police that they can hear shouting,screaming and smashing sounds next door.

Three hours later the police arrive at the house.
Finding the door ajar thay walk in.
Hearing sobbing sounds from the kitchen they go there and find a sobbing man covered with blood sitting over the corpse of a woman,saying again and again “oh my god I killed her I killed her”

They arrest him and take him away.

Hmmm somehow its not very entertaining but it is very realistic.

Personally I can never understand why when the Birds or the vampires or the zombies attack everyone decides to run away.We’ve got brains for gods sake,we know how to improvise.
So why dont we attack them?
Fight them on our terms and start attriting them?

Though I’d give that a miss with Martians but even then if I caught a cold I could leave lots of snotty infected tissues lying around.

Ditto with Saw II

That maniac going around putting everyone else in danger would have lasted less than 30 seconds in that group.

As soon as I saw the thread title, I wanted to mention two things.

First of all, the prize exhibit here has to be Flightplan, notwithstanding the earlier posts about it. I consider it the definitive masterpiece of movies that manage to make no sense whatsoever. The movie hinges on a kidnap plan, but the kidnap plan is utterly lacking in sense, plausibility, rhyme or reason. It wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, lacks even internal consistency, and is so full of holes you could use it as a new metaphor for something full of lots of holes. To sit through this film is to be filled with daunting curiosity about how anyone ever dared to pitch it to a studio, why any non-desperate star like Foster would agree to be anywhere near it, and why any studio would want to pick it up.

I am okay with the idea of ‘suspension of disbelief’. I am okay with the fantasy rule where you can have any premise you want so long as you stick to it. I am okay with plots that aren’t watertight, but can nevertheless provide some decent entertainment for 90 minutes. But Flightplan is blatant, self-evident nonsense from start to finish. Even the most placid movie-watcher finds themselves provoked to yell at the screen demanding answers to plot points that are left unanswered and that are, in reality, unanswerable.

It’s also grossly unfair and frustrating. If you have a scene where someone disappears in a seemingly impossible manner, that’s a good basis for intrigue and suspense. You pitch your wits against the screen-writer, trying to guess how the crime was perpetrated before all is revealed. It’s a fun game, one that both writer and watcher can enjoy. But it spoils the fun when the writer cheats, and doesn’t bother to come up with any even remotely plausible answers.

Some movies have a few moments like this. The bad guy is hunting Rambo in a vast expanse of thick forest or jungle. As he creeps around, Rambo drops on him from a tree. But how did Rambo know which tree he would walk under? It’s script magic, and we don’t worry too much about it. But when you build an entire film like this, one unanswered ‘How on earth…’ point on top of another, you end up with an insulting stupid mess. That’s what Flightplan is, and that’s why it reigns supreme as the greatest Idiot Plot of them all.

The second thing I wanted to mention is the TV series, Mission Impossible. This has always been one of my favourite shows, and for me part of the fun is that the writers never, ever worried themselves about plausibility. It’s pure hokum from start to finish, and every single plot involves the bad guys just happening to do exactly what the plot requires them to do for the crazy plan to work. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s fun, it’s fantastic and because everyone involved knows it’s just hokum wearing a straight face. It works because we want to see what the crazy plan involves and how it (theoretically) works. Every single episode is an Idiot Plot, but it’s generally a really clever Idiot Plot put together with great affection for the genre.

Some may see an inconsistency between my feelings about these two nominations.

Flightplan was pretty stupid, granted. It definitely had my wife and I scratching our heads at time, true.

But honestly, it’s a plot of near Einsteinian proportions compared to Evan Almighty, a film so cataclysmically stupid my five year-old was picking it apart: “Daddy, why don’t they believe Evan? Don’t they see the animals?” “Daddy, wasn’t that the same guy who was trying to destroy the ark? How’d he get to that building?”

Diogenes the Cynic goes into far more detail than this film was worth… and I still went to see it anyway. Talk about stupid! :wink: (Well, we wanted Sophie to experience a drive-in and this was the only appropriate thing for her to see).

From what I remember of teenhood, it wasn’t that being stalked by a killer would make teens horny, it’s that being stalked by a killer was insufficient to make them stop being horny.

OK, now I’m going to have to watch *Flightplan *just for shits and giggles. I remember being suspicious about it, and going to Movie Spoiler and congratulating myself for not bothering with it, but now maybe I want to see it for the badness itself.

I also agree that done in the right, lighthearted manner, silly plots requiring bad guys to be dumb at every turn or whatever can still be very entertaining. Also, if the lack of sense doesn’t leap out at you as you are watching, but only on later examination, a flick can still be fun. Case in point: Malice, a movie that does not stand up to the slightest sober examination, but is still a kick to watch, IMHO.

Huh. No mention of Die Hard 2. That was some serious weapons-grade stupid.
I can’t understand people who don’t view Totall Recall the same way, but… meh.

How about every movie, including Mission Impossible, where the charactoers are crawling around ventilation ducts that are large enough to do so, are strong enough to hold their weight, but worst of all, are clean and shiny inside.

Ventilation ducts are dirty, full of dust, fluff, and crap, even after only a few days in use.

When they get out of the ducting, their clothes are unmarked, and that stupid scene where there is an inline fan and the blades are spinning, no ventilation fan was ever constructed to have blades similar to an aircraft propeller. High capacity fans such as this do not even slightly resemble these efforts.

There isn’t even the tiniest impossible hope of somehow getting through between the blades either, you will have an impeller rotor with several hundred blades, rotating at anything up to 3600 rpm, though usually some number lower than that, probably 900 rpm in a 4 pole motor, but thats still fast enough for you not to see it spinning - in complete darkness, its amazing how there is enough light to see, and that light is usually blue too - why would it be blue ?

The other thing of course is the force of the draught, and the noise it produces along with the noise from the motor, you just would not hear anything at all, and you would also be very cold.

Great, now I’m gonna have the image of Stephanie Zimbalist selling blow jobs on Sunset Blvd. stuck in my head all day.

No, wait. I can live with that.

My response to your previous claim that Gattaca is idiotic. I, to put it mildly, disagree :).

Edit: And another response! I guess we’ve been around on this issue more than once.
Daniel

Idiotic societies have quite a bit of historic precedent.

Gay marriage will end morality in Western civilisation ZOMG! And that’s just the flavor of the month.