Movie Contrivance #18: Two People Tugging at an Object Until It Breaks

Recently I watched a movie that I never thought I’d watch, and I genuinely enjoyed it. It’s called Pitch Perfect–basically, it’s Bring It On for acapella instead of cheering. I’ve read a bunch of positive reviews about it, so when it was released on DVD last month, I decided to give it a chance. Plus, my brother was in a well-known acapella group at Yale, so I figured the movie would help me better understand what he did in college.

Despite the positive reviews, my expectations were low when I loaded the DVD. An hour later, I was literally singing and dancing along to the movie in between bursts of laughter. I dare you to watch Pitch Perfect without singing along. It’s not possible.

The movie also gave me fodder for another movie contrivance–this was one of the few shortcomings about the movie. There is a scene in which two characters are tugging at a trophy. As soon as the second person latches on and they start pushing and pulling, you know–you know–that either the trophy is going to break or it’s going to fly through the air and break something else. A few agonizing seconds later, sure enough, the trophy goes through a plate glass window.

The problem is, this never happens in real life. It only happens in movies. And sure, plenty of things happen in movies that don’t happen in real life, but when something happens in many movies, you start to wonder what these writers are thinking. Is that the best they could come up with?

Whenever I see this happen in movies, I cringe. And it’s not the good kind of cringe, like in Anchorman when you know Ron Burgundy is embarrassing himself. It’s the type of cringe where you know something bad is going to happen for no reason other than the writers got lazy and resorted to a movie contrivance instead of a moment of comedy grounded in reality that we can all relate to.

But as I say with all movie contrivances, prove me wrong. Have you ever gotten in a tugging match with someone else over an object?

4 thoughts on “Movie Contrivance #18: Two People Tugging at an Object Until It Breaks”

  1. I always suspected you were a closet Ace of Bass fan. Just admit that the only time you got really excited was when they started singing “The Sign.” It’s your jam, isn’t it?

    • I like how that song has become “the song” of my generation. It made an appearance in American Reunion as well.

      And yes, of course it’s my jam. Especially when sung acappela.

  2. Jamey,

    Actually, this doesn’t just happen in the movies. Watch two little kids fight over a toy and you’ll understand. I know, I know, you are thinking “see, cats don’t fight over things and break them.” But then again, you’ve probably never seen two house cats fight over a bird that one caught. Let’s just say the toy breaking is much prettier…


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