Hollywood is the Mecca of clichés, and it's only getting worse. As remakes, reboots, and adaptations saturate the market, even novel ideas succumb to triteness and tropes. With that in mind, here are the top 5 most overused professions in movies.
From Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men to Liam Neeson in Love Actually, architects have long been a staple of the silver screen. This trend makes a lot of sense, since having an architect as a character gives a filmmaker some major advantages. For one thing, the scale models that architects spend their lives perfecting make for great scenery, and watching them get smashed is always a treat for audiences. Architects are also usually highly stressed and overworked, making them ideal for the dad-who-isn't-home-often-enough trope. A lot of architects are also underpaid, and this is the impetus behind the entire plot of An Indecent Proposal, which stars Woody Harrelson as a cash-strapped T-square jockey.
2. Cute Shoppe Owner
And yes,“cute” applies to both the owner and the shoppe. Female love-interests running quirky stores like bakeries and book depositories has been a theme in rom-coms for as long as independent women have been tolerated in Hollywood. Stranger than Fiction, Chocolat, and The Muse all feature women who own and operate bakeries, and who use their skills to help attract the leading man. Even Meryl Streep has cashed in on this cliché, playing a lovestruck bakery owner in 2009's It's Complicated.
Even if you set aside the hundreds upon hundreds of legal themed films, there are lawyers aplenty in Hollywood movies. For one thing, lawyer jokes are as old as comedy itself, so it's a profession rich with stereotypes and cliches for lazy writers. There are several different tropes from which to choose. You can have the saintly pro-bono lawyer like Tea Leoni in The Family Man, or maybe the egotistical shark like Tea Leoni in the alternate reality of The Family Man. Of course, there are a few who managed to avoid the cookie-cutter, notably the firm of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson from Wedding Crashers.
Like architects, journalists give screenwriters numerous advantages in story-telling. Seamless exposition is one of the biggest hurdles writers face, but just one scene of a journalist reading from their notes can be as informative as a 10-minute dialogue. Members of the press are also notoriously ruthless in pursuit of the facts, making them ideal characters for the mystery genre. The Pelican Brief is the archetypal journalism film, with Denzel Washington as the truth-hungry leading man.
They say “write what you know,” so I guess it's no surprise that a lot of writers write about being writers, and especially about being writers with writer's block. The Shining, Limitless, and Barton Fink are all centered around struggling creative types who can't conquer the blank page. It's more than a little self gratifying to exaggerate the difficulty of one's own profession, and scenes about writer's block usually come off that way. The exception would be Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation, an extremely “meta” film that is about its own writing process. This film does not glamorize writing in the least, and succeeds because of it.