Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…but it’s not very flattering if you make a movie and try to pass it off as original when it is clearly a rip-off. I’m not talking about sequels, prequels, remakes or reboots. I’m talking about movies that pretend to be unique when they are so obviously similar to movies that already came out. David Spade had an SNL skit about this phenomenon: “I did a movie called ‘Black Sheep’. Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Tommy Boy’!” I’ve compiled a list of some such movies. If I didn’t mention the more obvious ones, I probably haven’t seen them.
1. ‘The Crow’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘The Wraith’!
…but probably not. Few people have. ‘The Wraith’, 1986, starred Charlie Sheen (shortly after his appearance in ‘Ferris Bueller’s day off’), Sherilyn Fenn, and ‘The Notebook’ director Nick Cassavetes. ‘The Crow’ was much more of a cult classic, and it inspired years of Halloween costumes. But the plot similarities are difficult to ignore.
‘The Crow’: A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée’s murder.
‘The Wraith’: Jamie, killed by neighborhood thugs, returns as a mystical figure named Jake (The Wraith) to gain revenge.
The main difference is the spirit vehicle. In ‘The Crow’ it’s a bird; in ‘The Wraith’ it’s a car. There are even similarly-named thugs: In ‘The Crow’ there’s Skank and Funboy; in ‘The Wraith’, Skank and Gutterboy.
Both films had some awesome lines:
‘The Crow’: “Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.”
‘The Wraith’: “I’d rather move to Nogales, and have the Gutterboy’s cretin children.”
2. ‘Friends with Benefits’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘No Strings Attached’.
Rom coms (both 2011) in which two inordinately attractive young and successful people decide to hook up on a fuckbuddy-type basis. Then, oops–shocker! One buddy falls for the other buddy who resists until they eventually realize they DO love the star of ‘That 70’s Show’! The life-imitates-art irony of this example is that the two stars of the respective films–Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher–are now married in real life. You could also do a ‘Maybe you saw it…’with Ashton’s ex Demi Moore’s movie ‘About Last Night’.
3. ‘The Prestige’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘The Illusionist’!
Ok, they only came out about a month apart in 2006, but come on. Same movie! Two dudes doing some magic + a chick. They both happened a long, long time ago and they both bored me so much I can barely remember them. Also, Christian Bale starred in ‘American Psycho’ and Ed Norton starred in ‘American History X’. Another funny thing is, both movies have chicks who slept with Justin Timberlake. That’s magic!
4. ‘The Fast and the Furious’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Point Break’.
‘Point Break’ (1991) is about a young undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of bank robbing surfers, falls for a girl in the gang, likes the gang and lets the bad guy go in the end. (Spoiler alert. Whoops, too late, sorry!)
‘The Fast and the Furious’ (2001) is about a young undercover cop who infiltrates a gang of heisting racecar drivers, falls for a girl in the gang, likes the gang and lets the bad guy go in the end.
Keanu Reeves is to Paul Walker as Patrick Swayze is to Vin Diesel. ‘Fast’ upgraded in the girl department, at least, by replacing the Lori Petty character with Jordana Brewster. The world of street racing and the surf culture are explored, respectively, and are kind of like characters in themselves.
The irony is that Paul Walker was also in a surfer movie (‘Meet the Deedles’) and Keanu Reeves was in ‘Speed’.
5. ‘Road Trip’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Overnight Delivery’.
It always annoys me when films are a box office success when they get their premise from another, more obscure film. Such is the case of the above mentioned films. 1998’s ‘Overnight Delivery’, starring Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon is about a college guy who, thinking his long distance girlfriend cheated on him, sends her a nasty break-up letter and a staged picture of him with another girl. Then he finds out he was mistaken and has a short window to intercept the package. Hilarity ensues!
‘Road Trip’, released in 2000, is about a college guy who, thinking his long distance girlfriend cheated on him, accidentally sends her a not-staged video of him sleeping with another girl. He, too, has a short window to intercept the package. Hilarity ensues! Of course, ‘Road Trip’ featured the brilliant Tom Green and had the line, “Are there any guys out there that are just NORMAL? HUH??!”
‘Overnight Delivery’ was just funnier and ‘Road Trip’, and ‘Road Trip’ had unnecessary unfunny humor featuring prostate-milking, Whale-on-toothpick action and Tom Green ass.
6. ‘Indecent Proposal’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’.
Only a year apart, both movies are about a couple in love who go to Vegas and gamble, but when they lose money, an older man offers a large sum of money to sleep with the woman. ‘Honeymoon’ is silly and funny and ‘Indecent Proposal’ is more sexy and depressing like most Adrian Lyne films. In both movies, the women fall for the older man but we don’t know if it’s because she a gold-digger or because their original men pimped them out! Either way, the moral of the story is, don’t gamble when your ass is broke!
P.S. Demi Moore being offered $1 Million is way more realistic than Sarah Jessica Parker being offered $65,000. Or even $1.
7. ‘Dead Man on Campus’: Maybe you saw it the first time, when it was called ‘Dean Man’s Curve’ (aka ‘The Curve’).
Hard to say who stole from who since they both came out in August of 1998, but ‘Dead Man on Campus’ was the only one I remember being in theaters. ‘Dead Man on Campus’ was the more comedic of the two, while ‘The Curve’ was a bit darker. Both films are about the clause that says, “If your roommate dies, you get an A”, but the end goal is approached in different ways in each film. I hope that after these films came out, colleges changed that rule, if it ever existed to begin with.