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Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Many Cross References, Plot & Narrative Devices, Archetypes & Tropes of Robin Williams Movies

Any time I chose to re-watch a film, I tend to keep a track of the various conventions, themes and devices that the directors use to convey meaning and understanding for audiences and viewers. By linking those ideas with the relative theme or device, I then understand and make sense of how they correlate with each other. 

trope is basically a word, phrase or physical thing such as an illustration or image that represents or supposedly represents a figure of speech. It can also refer to cliches and devices in movies, TV shows, video games, and anything that is related to visual entertainment. 

I often pay a visit to TV Tropes - it is nowadays one of my most frequently visited sites and a lot of the information I find on there is not only rather useful but also it is stuff I hadn't come across before or ever imagined. It's also useful in helping you write fan fiction or fiction of your own creation. 

Below is a list of various tropes such as cross-references, plot and Narrative devices that I have discovered in Robin Williams's movies, whilst I was re-watching them; do keep your eyes peeled for these as you re-watch these movies and as it makes you think about it on an extensive level. As ever, as and when I discover a few more of them, I will update this post and add them to this list. 

(credit: TV Tropes) 

Robin Williams Movie Tropes

Use Your Head >> Dale head-butts 2 drug dealers (Fathers' Day), Peter Pan head-butting pirates (Hook), Adrian head-butts a guy in a bar brawl, then tries to do the same to his friend, only that he is a head taller than he is (Good Morning, Vietnam) - character who attacks another character by using their own head as a battering ram 

Clap Your Hands If You Believe >> In Hook, Peter Banning/Peter Pan says to Tinkerbell he doesn't believe in fairies. Tink faints, awakes and tells him that fairies die when they are not believed in. She shouts at Peter to clap louder. wherein enough belief in something will cause things to happen, is also coincidentally known as the 'Tinkerbell Effect'. 

All-Star Cast >> Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins in Hook - any show or movie where the majority of the lead roles are played by big-name actors and actresses  

Crazy Survivalist >> Donald Quinelle of The Survivors was a hapless yuppie who turns into a rabid survivalist after losing his job - character who comes well prepared and highly armed with a knife, guns, hat and a huge supply of food and water 

Crazy-Prepared >> Donald Quinelle - character who is highly prepared for a highly unlikely scenario

Badass Normal >> Donald - character who has no superpowers but is useful by using intellect, martial arts skills or by being crazy prepared 

Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing >> Donald cutting himself free when tied to a chair - when someone is tied up, there is something sharp that the victim uses to cut themselves free 

You Must Be Cold >> Sonny taking off and wrapping his coat around half naked Donald in the bitterly cold weather - men are duty-bound to take care of women, a person who is cold. A man takes off his coat and gives it to him/her. Variation of this trope: male/male

Catch Your Death of Cold >> Donald stripping off his clothes as he is walking in the snow and Sonny saying to him he'll catch pneumonia and freeze (The Survivors) & Dale helping in Jack carrying Scott and as he does so, he says in reference to Scott ''he'll catch pneumonia'' (Fathers Day) - character/s exposure to cold temperatures

Defiant Captive >> Donald along with Sonny when he is held captive by an armed robber in a cafe and Joey O' Brien when he is held hostage by Tim Robbins's character (Cadillac Man) - a character who is captured but is certainly not cowed; resists attempt to control him/her, may attempt to reason with their captor or play mind games with them 

Faux Fluency
>> Robin Williams as Vladimir speaking Russian in Moscow on the Hudson - a film or TV show that requires a character to speak in a certain language, yet there are no other suitable actors available that are fluent in it, may create a situation where actors who do this do not understand what their own characters are saying 

Fish Out of Water >> Vladimir in America in Moscow On The Hudson - character placed in a situation unfamiliar to them

Mood-Swinger >> Dale Putley of Fathers' Day - though maybe referred to as bipolar their mood swings are more abrupt and frequent than periods of mania or depression 

The Woobie >> Dale Putley - term for type of character who makes you feel extremely sorry for them 

Mr Vice Guy >> Dale - an ultimately good character nonetheless with an obvious vice, whilst they may have their flaws, it never completely outweighs their good qualities or sense of right 

Dark and Troubled Past & Wacky Guy >> Batty (Ferngully) and Dale (Fathers' Day) - something terrible happened to that character in a past life that shapes a fundamental level of their personality

Plucky Comic Relief >> Genie (Aladdin), Batty Koda (Ferngully), Dale Putley (Fathers' Day) - i.e. the funny guy. Character whose role is to relieve tension with oddball and hysterical antics. Can stay detached, things may go downhill for them 

The Queen's Latin >> Batty when he goes ''Oh Caesar, Emperor of Rome!'' when Zak changes channels in Ferngully characters speak with British accents in movies that aren't set in Britain and the characters are not British 

Shifting Voice of Madness >> Batty when he changes accents in mid-sentence as a side effect of the electric animal testing he had to endure. The Animation production company for Ferngully gave Robin Williams an insane character so he can use as many voices in one role - character who uses multiple speech patterns that s/he rapidly switches between. Their erratic behaviour regarding their speech and mannerisms may also disturb others 

Split Personality Team >> Batty and Zak (Ferngully), possibly Dale and Jack from Fathers' Day - a character's multiple personalities change during a particular emotion, challenge or aspect of life 

Butt Monkey >> Batty Koda and Dale Putley - character/s who is/are always the butt of a demeaning joke or put them through hell story-line; are an easy target, bad things happen to them 

The Mentally Disturbed >> Batty and Dale - character/s portrayed as being unable to break out of their illness. Prejudice trope, s/he becomes a target for cruel humour and parodisation 

Screams Like A Girl >> A frightened Batty Koda in front of Pip's face making him jump back when Pip teases him by saying to him he loves his haircut (Ferngully) and Daniel as Mrs Doubtfire when his fake breasts are set alight on the stove in Mrs Doubtfire - is played for laughs and is sometimes associated with a non-action guy character

Cloud Cuckoolander >> Batty, Leslie Zevo (Toys), Patch Adams and possibly Dale - a character with their heads in the clouds, are oblivious to things everyone else takes for granted. More likely to be the plucky comic relief, its wacky antics can be used for a gag, especially when paired with a straight foil. By definition, they aren't stupid. Sometimes what they say and do, may come off as weird, over-the-top, awkward  

How The Mighty Have Fallen >> Donald Quinelle (The Survivors), Parry (The Fisher King), Daniel (Mrs Doubtfire) - person who once had it all, until they fell on hard times

Fallen on Hard Times Job >> Jack and Reno replaying a football game in The Best of Times - the last resort job to which has-beens or fallen heroes have resorted, in order to pay the bills 

Blithe Spirit >> Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning, Vietnam), Jack Moniker (Club Paradise), Dr Malcolm Sayer (Awakenings) & John Keating (Dead Poets Society) - free-spirited fish out of water who goes to a strait-laced land and shakes things up, despite the insistence by everyone that the way things are cannot be changed

The Last DJ >> Adrian Cronauer - character who has a lot of integrity but refuses to play by the rules, superiors don't like him very much 

Large Ham Radio >> Adrian (Good Morning, Vietnam) - person put in front of a radio mic, will instantly switch into a confident DJ persona complete with catchphrases and a smooth baritone voice 

Carp Diem >> Dead Poets Society - stock Aesop about living your life and fighting against the odds or seize the day 

The Cool Teacher >>Adrian when he teaches English to Vietnamese students in class, John Keating, Parry who used to be one (The Fisher King) motivates their students to learn, laugh at stern teachers, oppose the evil teacher at every turn 

Bar Brawl >> Adrian gets involved in one of these (Good Morning, Vietnam) & Jack is mistaken for an adult & gets involved in a fight (Jack) - fight scene where emphasis is less on fighting skill and more about destroying the place with glass flying, bottles used as weapons and very probably a chair is used as well

Hate Sink >> Sgt Major Dickerson (Good Morning, Vietnam), Dr Kaufman (Awakenings), Dean Walcott (Patch Adams), Mr Grundy (Club Paradise) - a character whose intended role in the story is to be so mean and despicable the audience wants him/her to fail & the hero to succeed 

Very Loosely Based On A True Story >> Changes made in Patch Adams, the romantic love interest Carin was based on Patch Adams's male friend and it appears that everything in Good Morning, Vietnam was fabricated. The real Adrian Cronauer was pro-war and Republican whereas in the film he was portrayed as a liberal and anti-war - writer of the film decides the facts of the story lack interest, punch and decides to improve on it/change it up

Bad To The Bone >> James Brown's 'I Feel Good' in Good Morning, Vietnam and later on Papa's Got A Brand New Bag in Mrs Doubtfire is used in scenes with happy people or it evokes a happy tone - song that has been used in so many films that playing it in a different film tells the audience exactly what's going to happen in the scene 

Jerkass >> Rainbow Randolph of Death to Smoochy & Maxwell Wizard of Autumn Rush - a character who is completely obnoxious. Even though they may have fans - yet the appeal of that character is that they are self-centred, crass, rude 

It's all about me >> Rainbow Randolph - part of the psyche that considers him/herself as a separate entity from the rest of society 

Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist >> Randolph - the main character has undesirable character traits where they act cruel - and yet they are supposed to be the good guy the audience roots for 

Clark Kenting >> (averted) Robin Williams's Daniel as Mrs Doubtfire - process by in which a secret identity is maintained over a long period of time by asking the audience to go along with a paper-thin disguise

Disguised in Drag >> Garp whilst attending his mother's women's only memorial service in The World According to Garp and Daniel as Mrs Doubtfire - any scenario where a man dresses as a woman for purposes of a disguise 

Most Writers Are Writers >> T.S Garp grows up to be one and Dale of Fathers' Day is a writer of poetry - main character of the film or show is a writer or reporter 

Hoist By His Own Petard >> Daniel's unmasking as the guy behind Mrs Doubtfire in the restaurant scene - character's own weapon or device becomes the cause of his/her's downfall 

Holding Both Sides Of The Conversation >> Daniel and the case/social worker in his apartment- when s/he is having a conversation with a person, even though that person is not there. The purpose is to convince the person they are lying to. May involve imitating or impersonating another person

Stalking is Love >> Daniel and his love for his children in Mrs Doubtfire and Adrian pursuing Tringh in Good Morning, Vietnam - character pursues his/hers love interest/loved ones, yet object of their advances isn't irritated by their efforts

Deadpan Snarker >> Daniel, Batty Koda around Zak in Ferngully, Jack Dundee (The Best of Times) and Rainbow Randolph (Death to Smoochy) - characters prone to making sarcastic, bitter, occasionally whimsical comments 

Hates the job, loves the limelight >> Daniel in the opening scene in Mrs Doubtfire - has been in the business for years, but has become jaded. The things that come out of his mouth wouldn't make it on live TV. Yet deep down, he loves his work 

Asian girl with White guy >> Vietnamese girl, Trinh and Adrian Cronauer (Good Morning, Vietnam) 

Put Me In, Coach & Down to the Last Play >> Jack to the coach during a football game between Taft and Bakersfield when the team are currently drawing/trailing behind in The Best of Times - underdog competitor sparks a miracle rally for the team or scores a win to help his team win & every American football game ends with a bizarre offensive play that the team thought of in practice 

Lovable Jock >> Jack and Remo (The Best of Times) - a nice guy by default 

Benevolent Genie >> Genie from Aladdin - nice genie is so ditzy their usefulness can screw things up, tends to be its master wishing it free

Dramatic Spotlight >> Genie - spotlight shines down on something, someone and s/he is saying or doing something that happens

Breakout character >> Genie - a minor character from a TV show or movie becomes more popular than the other characters

The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson >> Genie as Jack Nicholson in Aladdin a non-human character or magical creature who is in tune with the cultural zeitgeist of the time period when the work was made. But not the one the work is actually set in. 


Dynamic character >> Peter Pan/Peter Banning of Hook - when the character at the end of the story has a different outlook or personality from when they started 

Badasses wear bandanas >> Peter Pan/Banning in Hook in the scene where he attempts to steal Captain Hook's hook - character who dons a headband, reasons for wearing one vary

Action Hero >> Peter Pan (Hook) - protagonist who uses his fighting skills to achieve his goals in a story

Evil Lawyer Joke >> when Rufio shouts 'Kill The Lawyer' after Peter Banning reveals to him and the Lost Boys he is a lawyer as his main occupation. Only for Peter to reply with 'I'm not that type of lawyer!' (Hook) & when Dale asks Jack what he does for a living, Jack says: 'I'm a lawyer'. Dale utters under his breath 'bloodsucker' (Fathers' Day) - lawyers who often defend people or practices that are considered unpopular and/ or wrong are an infamous acceptable target. Stereotyped to be aggressive, shameless who profit from other people's misfortunes and misery

Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass >> Peter Banning (crouching moron) & Peter Pan (Hidden Badass), Hook - at first is a fool, looks weak and incompetent then things change and when s/he turns into a hero, kicks ass 

Adorkable >> Batty Koda (Ferngully) and Philip Brainard of Flubber - a fusion of dork and adorable. nerdy, sweet, has an endearing quality 

Becoming the mask >> Daniel as Mrs Doubtfire - s/he takes on a fake identity in order to gain something. As time progresses s/he gets used to it and grows accustomed to it

Hawaiian - Shirted Tourist >> Jack Moniker of Club Paradise - stereotypical dress for a tourist or person on vacation 

Welcome To The Caribbean, Mon? >> film contains every Caribbean trope apart from pirates (Club Paradise)

The Charmer >> Jack Moniker Jack-The-Lad, cocky, cheeky; is a bit of a Casanova type, but is generally kinder, decent and less concerned with having things his own way 

Helium Speech >> Jack uses a helium tank whilst infiltrating one of the ships (Club Paradise) - inhaling helium and trying to talk, causing vocal chords to vibrate at higher frequency, is used to comic effect 

Kill It With Water >> Jack hoses down, rather than kill Voit's cronies (Club Paradise)

Groin Attack >> Sonny karate-kicking Donald in the nuts (The Survivors), Dale having hot coffee poured on his privates (Fathers' Day), Peter Banning gets hit with one by one of the Lost Boys plunger arrows (Hook) - often played for laughs and a cause for amusing injuries 

Reed Richards is Useless >> Phillip Brainard & Flubber in Flubber - character has fantastic technology or invention far beyond our own, yet it only gets used to solve equally fantastic problems 

Absent-Minded Professor >> Philip Brainard (Flubber) - a brilliant scientist but often forgetful of things like the date, people's names etc. Can be so engrossed in his work, he loses track of his surroundings 

Abnormal Ammo >> the Flubber (Flubber) - a strange weapon or object/thing with unusual discharge 

Twofer Token Minority >> Armand and Albert from The Birdcage are gay and Jewish - character/s who represents 2 token minority groups 

Overly Long Gag >> the restaurant scene in Mrs Doubtfire where Daniel attempts to play both roles as Mrs Doubtfire and as himself - gag that goes on excessively far and beyond a tolerable length 

Crazy homeless people >> Parry of The Fisher King 

Crazy jealous guy >> Daniel over Miranda and Stuart in Mrs Doubtfire 

Cringe Comedy >> Rainbow Randolph and the fake penis scene in front of the kids in Death to Smoochy - humour comes from characters in the most embarrassing situations or of whom say the most offensive things 

Straight Man >> Armand Goldman (The Birdcage) - the guy who sets up the joke so that the funny guy can deliver the punchline 

Cowardly Lion >> Leslie (Toys) & perhaps Alan Parrish (Jumanji) - characters who become nervous, timid, reluctant to go anywhere near danger, but when push comes to shove they do whatever it takes to help them & their team-mates out alive 

Action Survivor >> Alan Parrish (Jumanji) - innocent bystander in dangerous circumstances, might find themselves trapped or pinned down

Coming of Age Story >> Alan learns to face his problems and sees his father as a source of inspiration, rather than childish egotistical fear - story about an adolescent making a leap from child to adult. In film form, this is compressed to several months

Character Development >> Leslie Zevo, Alan Parrish, Peter Banning/Peter Pan - the change in characterisation of a person with a different outlook or personality from when they started 

Insult Backfire >> General Zevo tells Leslie ''you're as big a fool as your father ever was'', Leslie feels touched and says ''Really?.... You think so?....Thanks - when a person's comments that are intended to sound negative - but instead of being insulted, s/he feels flattered

Straight Man & Wise Guy >> Sonny (The Survivors), Armand (The Birdcage), Jack (Fathers' Day) >> straight man & Donald (The Survivors), Albert (The Birdcage) & Dale (Fathers' Day) >> wise guy - odd couple duo who play off each other for comedy. Straight man approaches everything seriously, wise guy is a jokester who uses puns, wisecracks and wackiness 

Luke, I Might Be Your Father >> In Fathers' Day, both Jack and Dale are each told by the same woman, an ex-girlfriend, that either of them might be the real father to her son, Scott -  when the revelation exists not that a person in question is a character's but that he might be. Turns out he had sex with the character's mother; therefore possibility might exist. Thing is, they are not the only person who did so 

Buddy Picture >> Fathers' Day, The Birdcage and The Survivors - films or stories about 2 friends/people and their adventures. The 2 people also serve as dual protagonists

Linked List Clue Methodology >> when on the lookout for Scott, Dale & Jack go from one place to another, thanks to the clues they are given by the people they meet. They eventually find him - the main characters/heroes must investigate something through a system of distributed clues with each clue telling the heroes where the next clue should be found with the next clue leading to the next clue & so on until they get to the solution

Running Gag >> Dale crying or weeping (Fathers' Day)

Sensitive Guy and Manly Man >> Dale Putley is a depressed sensitive guy who is a bit of a poet also, whereas Jack Lawrence is a lawyer who likes to fight & is very sarcastic. Their ship is played straight as strangers who become best mates - two male characters with conflicting personalities in the hopes that hilarity will ensue. One is the macho guy who is rough, aggressive, loves sports, cars. The other is softer and loves poetry, literature & is more in touch with his feminine side. They may have an odd friendship.

Mirror Monologue >> Dale preparing for his meeting with his potential son by practising in front of the mirror & putting on silly voices & talking to himself (Fathers' Day) - a character talks to their reflection in the mirror. Tends to be a pep talk
Is also a 'Trick Dialogue' >> when a character is talking to someone else or not (see above for example) 

Everyone Hates Mimes >> when Jack mentions to Dale he hates them & if he ever sees one, he says he would 'smack' em' in Fathers Day - mimes are universally hated in fiction and are deemed an acceptable target, given their pure White faces and & refusal to speak. No real reason is actually given by the character/s for hating them

Concert Climax >> Dale, who is later joined by Jack tries to find Scott, only to run into the drug dealers, of whom he gets into a big fight with at a huge rock gig in Fathers' Day & Smoochy aka Sheldon is a public figure who is about to get shot by a guy at the rafters during a children's ice show arena full of kids. Only to be saved by Randolph (Death To Smoochy) - when climax of a TV show or movie takes place in some big public event such as a concert, performance or public gathering that the heroes, for whatever reason, have been brought to 

I Want My Beloved To Be Happy >> Weebo helps Phillip get back with Sarah (Flubber) and Tinkerbell tells Peter she loves him, only to be told he loves his wife, Moira & the kids. She tells him to go and save Maggie and Jack (Hook) - where character Y loves character X but realises a relationship between them cannot happen, so s/he decides to put character X's happiness above their own

Fairy Sexy >> Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. Her crush on Peter is also a main text as since she outright says that this is why she became his fairy companion, & kisses him after assuming human size near the end

First kiss >> Tinkerbell has her first ever kiss with Peter, & at first he seems to ask for ''more''

Manic Pixie Dream Girl >> Hook's Tinkerbell towards Peter - attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and invoking a childlike playfulness who is obsessed with the stuff-shirted hero, whom she will focus her crazy antics until he learns to live freely and love madly. May be featured as the protagonist's second love

All Love is Unrequited >> Tinkerbell confessing her love to Peter to him, only for Peter to say that he loves his wife, Moira in Hook - when one isn't allowed to reciprocate any romantic interest shown in them by the other person 

Bunny-Ears Lawyer >> Patch Adams in Patch Adams - character who is steadily employed because they are too good at what they do, despite displaying noticeable personality quirks 

Comedy As A Weapon >> Patch Adams dressed as a clown (Patch Adams) - character who uses jokes, puns, slapstick to fight an enemy or achieve a common goal

Gender Flip >> Carin is based on who was actually a man in real life and a male best friend of Patch (Patch Adams) - switching male characters into female ones, female ones into male ones 

Driven To Madness >> In The Fisher King, Parry's reaction after seeing The Red Knight appear is a condition that stems from an incident where he saw his wife being shot and murdered right in front of him - someone or something that attempts to drive another person to madness & to attack his/her's sanity 

Cutting the knot >> Peter Pan is about to fight Captain Hook - only to hear Maggie's cries for help and thus, she needs to be rescued (Hook) - hero only has limited amount of time to do something but has a problem: the very complicated problem that they need time to resolve 

Forceful Kiss >> Peter Pan and Tinkerbell in Hook (she doesn't grab him, she takes his hand, moves forward and kisses him but still) - character loves the other character so much s/he (or in this case it's a she) grabs them, pulls them closer and plants a kiss 

All Work vs All Play >> Miranda and Daniel (Mrs Doubtfire) and Peter Banning and Peter Pan (Hook) - balance between responsibility and having fun


What happened to the mouse? >> Stuart disappears right after the restaurant debacle in Mrs Doubtfire - minor character, plot line is suddenly dropped from the story without explanation, and without resolution

Foreign Remake >> The Birdcage & Fathers' Day are both American remakes of French Comedies, La Cage Aux Folles and Les Compares - movies, TV shows remade in a different country

Honest John's Dealership >> used car salesman Joey O'Brien of Cadillac Man - a guy who tries to sell you something, mostly used items & for shady prices, just to get more money out of the customer 


Abnormal Ammo >> The Lost Boys firing fruit and veg at Captain Hook's cronies (Hook) - ammunition that isn't bullets, real-life weapons such as guns

Ham to Ham Combat >> Robin Williams as Peter Pan duking it out against Dustin Hoffman's Captain Hook in Hook - when 2 actors/characters try to out over-dramatic each other 

Blade Lock >> Peter Pan and Captain Hook both lock their swords during their duel and Peter mocks Hook's voice by going,''Good form old chap'' - at any given time during a sword fight, expect the two blades to lock together, usually works best if the swords are crossed horizontally between the combatants, who stand close together and push, each trying to knock the other person off balance

Not that kind of doctor >> Dr Malcolm Sayer (Awakenings) is a researcher, not a clinician yet he accepts the job in looking after patients - guys with doctorates in Law, Science, philosophy distinguished from real doctors with titles such as professor 

Man Child >> Jack (inverted) who is actually a child and looks like a man, therefore child-man (?) (Jack) - an adult who possesses a very child-like demeanour. Emotionally, s/he is both simple and fragile though is almost always male 

Shrinking Violet >> Jack when he goes to school in Jack- is painfully shy and quiet who walks through the school hallways with their head down and avoiding all verbal contact, so to avoid attention. May result in bullying by other kids

Never Trust A Trailer >> Jack was marketed as Big with Robin Williams and the official trailer for Fathers' Day starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal - often a form of mismarketing (it's been said movie trailers reflect the movie the studio wanted to make, rather than the one that actually got made), may drive away people who would've actually enjoyed the movie

Mood Whiplash >> Jack is both a child-friendly comedy and an emotional drama, Mrs Doubtfire is a family comedy that is also a serious drama about parents divorcing and separating. In Good Morning, Vietnam, the film starts out as being humourous and irreverent but ends on a bittersweet downer - Contrasting moods evoked in a film or TV show

Protagonist/Character Title >> Jack, Patch Adams and Mrs Doubtfire - film or TV show named after their protagonists 


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