Quiz: How Clichéd Is Your Underdog Movie?

In honor of “Eddie the Eagle,” and “Race,” which are due out soon and appear from the trailers and early reviews to reliably follow the Hollywood triumph of the underdog formula, here’s a practice quiz. The more b)’s and c’s) you end with, the more clichéd your movie will likely be.

1. Your main character (MC) has _ obstacles to overcome.

a) 3 or less
b) 4-6
c) 6+

2. The other characters in the movie generally respond to the MC’s ambition with_

a) Benign indifference
b) Mild derision
c) Open fire hostility

3. If applicable, the MC’s family is_

a) Indifferent
b) Baffled
c) Actively hostile

4. If applicable, the character _

a) Was raised by people other than his parents
b) Grew up in dire poverty.
c) Grew up in an orphanage/ stayed in JD.

5. How many times is the MC told straight out things like, “You’ll never be able to do this.”

a) 3 or less
b) 4-6
c) 6+

6. How many inspirational speeches does the MC give?
a) None or one
b) Two or three
c) More than three

7. The best description of the MC’s mentor/trainer is _

a) A hardass with a heart
b) Someone with substance abuse/relationship issues who is antagonistic toward the MC at first
c) Someone like b) but with a tragic secret in their past having to do with the sport

8. The mentor’s actual training will consist of:

a) Exercises and advice to sharpen the MC’s skills.
b) Incorporating Eastern philosophy or something similar to bring out the best in the MC.
c) Barking cryptic orders during a montage plus at least one inspirational speech.

9. The strategy for the MC during the Big Event is best described as _

a) Going out and giving it his all.
b) Doing something legal, but that the rival won’t expect at all.
c) Employing a strategy that could get the MC seriously injured or killed if performed incorrectly.

10. Your MC will get _ montages (count all, not just training/competing ones)

a) None or one
b) Two or three
c) More than three

* Bonus point for each montage set to songs like “Walking on Sunshine,” or “All Star.”
* Bonus point if the song does not match the era of the setting.

11. The top competitor/ main rival will respond to the MC with_

a) Indifference: It’s pointless to waste energy worrying about every possible underdog.
b) A few snide remarks.
c) Sabotage

12. If your MC deals with an unexpected snag in his plans, it will be_

a) Something non-man made like the weather
b) A death or a sickness in the family.
c) The Powers That Be attempting to keep him personally from competing by invoking a rule.

13. If c), they do this because _
a) It’s a legitimate safety issue.
b) There’s some ambiguity in the rule’s description.
c) They are elitist, sexist, etc.

14. If applicable, does the MC’s family?

a) Attend the event to cheer him on.
b) Not plan on doing so, but is guilted into it somehow.
c) Is adamantly opposed yet arrives at the last minute.

15. If applicable, is the MC supported by:

a) His community or school.
b) His nation
c) Just about everyone including the judges once they see how brilliant he is.

16. When MC does compete, the following happens _

a) He wins and all is well.
b) He wins and gets a standing ovation. (If the spectators are already standing, they then go crazy.)
c) He wins, gets a standing O and changes history forever.

* Bonus point if there’s an end card saying something like, “X is widely considered the greatest in the world…” prior to the credits.

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The Imitation Game: An Abridged Version

THE IMITATION GAME: AN ABRIDGED VERSION

FADE IN:

1950’s GREAT BRITAIN

INT. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH’s home which is a complete mess.

RORY KINNEAR
“Good afternoon, BENEDICT. We’ve come to investigate the robbery. Looks like whoever did this really trashed the place.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Oh, do bugger off, would you? You’re bloody useless at this point unless you want to help me mop up. That’s all you appear good for. Now leave me alone to think my super-genius thoughts in peace.”

RORY KINNEAR
“What an excellent idea! That’s exactly what we’ll do.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
(not getting it)
(won’t get it for the entire film)
“Thanks, I knew you’d understand.”

Outside the home

RORY KINNEAR
(real line)
“Alan Turing is hiding something!”

RORY’s COLLEAGUE
“Subtlety is not this movie’s forte, is it?”

RORY KINNEAR
(rubbing hands)
“He’s had an awful odd response to this robbery, so I must get to the bottom of this and find out what he was doing during World War II. Since that information is apparently top secret.”

RORY’s COLLEAGUE
“Um, do you think you might just be the tiniest bit threatened by that fact that he’s a super-genius?”

RORY KINNEAR
“Oh, who cares about motives? Let’s get started.”

WORLD WAR II ERA-LONDON
AN OFFICE in BLETCHLEY PARK

CHARLES DANCE
(looks at Benedict’s resume)
“Let’s see – Sherlock Holmes, Julian Assange…Have you ever played a character with social skills before?”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
(not getting it)
“You’re the one with my resume, can’t you read?”

CHARLES DANCE
(shakes head, tries again)
“It looks as if you have an excellent shot at getting the Best Actor Oscar this year.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Well, there’s another British actor who played a mathematical genius, who also has a good shot – you really don’t understand the concept of odds, do you?”

CHARLES DANCE
“Wow, I’ve met some socially stunted geniuses before, but you’re in a league of your own.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Still, being the most brilliant mathematician in Great Britain. I can help you break the unbreakable Nazi code and win the war, even if I’m off-putting. That’s just because of my super-geniusness, which tends to make people want to punch me in the face. There’s going to be quite a bit of that coming up.”

CHARLES DANCE
“I hate you, but you’re hired! Rest assured, I will do everything I can to make your life miserable.”

A GATHERING of SEMI-SUPER-GENIUSES

CHARLES DANCE
“Benedict, meet your new colleagues on the Enigma project. This is your supervisor, MARK STRONG.”

MARK STRONG
“I also hate your guts, and will do everything I can to make your life miserable. Why there has to be two characters with basically the same motives and job, I have no idea.”

CHARLES DANCE
“And MATTHEW GOODE, an extraverted, womanizing chess champion. He’ll be your team boss.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
(hackles go up)

CHARLES DANCE
“Also ALLEN LEECH, who seems pleasant enough but has a secret. Plus a couple of other guys whose names we don’t need to know because they aren’t going to last.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Can you please get rid of them all? They’ll only hold me back.”

CHARLES DANCE
“Not for another couple of scenes. You’ll just have to suffer through their incompetence and humorous attempts to befriend you for now.”

MATTHEW GOODE
“So, Benedict, what would you like to contribute to this communal effort? We really need your help because the Nazis keep changing the Enigma code every night, thus rendering all our previous day’s work useless.”

MARK STRONG
“Meaning lives are being lost as we speak and supplies we’re sending to our allies destroyed in the blink of an eye, so your cooperation could really make a difference.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Nothing. Instead, I’m going to build a hideously expensive machine that will crack the code because it’s not possible for a human to do it, even a super-genius like me.”

MATTHEW GOODE
(hackles go up)

ALLEN LEECH
“Why don’t we all go out to lunch and work through this animosity? You know, for the good of our country’s future?”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“I’m not hungry. Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

A COUPLE of WEEKS LATER PRESUMABLY

CHARLES DANCE
“It appears that Benedict wrote to Winston Churchill to get permission to be in charge. So unfortunately, you will now answer to him.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“OK, those two incompetent guys – you can leave now.”

FIRED GUY
“Can I at least punch him in the face before I go?”

MATTHEW GOODE
“No, that’s my job.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Good, now we’re finally getting somewhere.”

CHARLES DANCE
(real line)
“Popular at school, were you?”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Actually, I was quite unpopular. But don’t just take my word for it, have a flashback.”

EARLY 1900’s

EXT. YOUNG ALAN’s SCHOOL

ALEX LAWTHER
“People keep beating me up because I am a budding super-genius. I hate this place.”

JACK BANNON
“Plus the fact that you don’t like your peas to touch your carrots at dinner probably has something to do with it, too. That kind of thing doesn’t go over well with boys of this age. Any age actually.”

ALEX LAWTHER
“Gosh, you’re perceptive.”

(to self)
Also rather cute.

JACK BANNON
“As your only friend from this time period, I feel obligated to inform you that in fact, things aren’t going to get better in this area once you graduate. But here’s a book on code-breaking to cheer you up.”

ALEX LAWTHER
“Well, thanks…I think.”

WWII GREAT BRITAIN – BACK at BLETCHLEY PARK

CHARLES DANCE
“That was an awfully quick flashback, but I get the gist. Now what?”

BENEDICT CUMBERBACH
“To replace the two men I just fired, I’ve put a crossword puzzle in the newspaper, and invited the finalists to crack yet another puzzle which is actually semi-hard and takes me six minutes to complete. Meet your new colleagues – MATTHEW BEARD, who looks about twelve but is actually integral to the plot, and KEIRA KNIGHTLEY.”

ALL MEN PRESENT
“But she’s a GUUURRRIRL!”

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
“That’s why we’re pretending to my parents that I’m here to work as a secretary. Meanwhile I’ll be helping Benedict crack the code in my spare time.”

ALL MEN PRESENT
“Whew, that was a close call.”

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
“Did it ever occur to you that maybe Benedict would prefer a non-violent colleague for a change?”

ALL MEN PRESENT
“What?”

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
(smiles through gritted teeth)
“Oh, nothing!”

FLASH FORWARD
1950’s LONDON – POLICE STATION

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“So, Rory, your colleague is out there sniggering at the fact that I had a sexual relationship with the guy who robbed me, and you want to know about my war work? I don’t get it.”

RORY KINNEAR
“Don’t mind him, he’s a little juvenile. Tell me about that machine you built, a precursor to the computer.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Well, I named it after my school friend, Jack, who died of tuberculosis when he was a boy. For a long time, it didn’t work the way I wanted, and then Charles and Mark decided that I was probably a German spy. Also, I got punched a lot for being an unproductive super-genius, until Keira taught me how to make friends. Then Keira’s parents decided that she had to return home, so we got engaged to keep her in the project.”

RORY KINNEAR
“That was a rather drastic step, if you ask me.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“But it was worth it, in the end. Listen, and you shall hear…”

FLASH BACK
WORLD WAR II LONDON
PUB – BENEDICT’s and KEIRA’s ENGAGEMENT PARTY

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“I care for Keira, but I don’t fancy her the way a fiancé is supposed to.”

ALLEN LEECH
“Okay, but if I were you, I’d keep it a secret.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“You seem blasé about this -any particular reason?”

ALLEN LEECH
(quickly)
“No reason.”

A few minutes later

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY’s FEMALE COLLEAGUE
“So I’ve been carrying on a flirtation with this German who keeps sending me messages to decode…”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“How do you know it’s the same person?”

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY’S FEMALE COLLEAGUE
“He always starts the messages with the same sequence of code numbers. Even though he’s technically not supposed to. Boy, you men wasted a lot of time trying to decipher the code when you could have just asked questions like this.”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Eureka!”

INT. THE WORK ROOM
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
(flips machine switch)
“Here we go.”

MACHINE
(hums along while everyone cheers and hugs)

MATTHEW GOODE
“Um, when did Keira Knightley become a member of our team? Oh, never mind, it worked!”

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
“We’ve broken the code and won the war, thanks in part to a woman. Let’s next make a giant collage of the war ships and their positions in the ocean.”

MATTHEW BEARD
(checking out board)
“Hey, my brother’s on that boat!”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“We can’t do anything about that now, I’m afraid.”

MATTHEW BEARD
“Wow, I know you’re supposed to be a cold-hearted bastard, but this is really going overboard.”

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
“Yes, but if the boat is rescued for no apparent reason, it will clue in the Germans that we’ve broken the Enigma code. Rotten luck, I know.”

MATTHEW BEARD
“As the only character who has a legitimate reason to slug Benedict, I’m going to make the decision to just depart in a huff instead. Good riddance.”

A little later

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“It appears that Allen is keeping a Bible with all sorts of suspicious notations in his desk. What’s the meaning of this?”

ALLEN LEECH
“I’m just trying to save paper, since there’s a war on – no, I’m really the German spy. But if you tell my secret, I’ll tell yours. Why smack someone when blackmail is so much more effective?”

FLASH FORWARD
LONDON POLICE STATION

RORY KINNEAR
“So then what happened?”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Then I found out that Charles already knew that Allen was a spy. I told Keira the truth, and then after the war was over, I was convicted of “gross indecency” and chemically castrated for a couple of years, which led to my becoming depressed enough to commit suicide.”

RORY KINNEAR
“But you made a difference that still has an impact today. You invented the computer! Isn’t that any consolation?”

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
“Still a depressing story overall, though, don’t you think?”

RORY KINNEAR
“I see what you mean.”

END