- Genre conventions shape audience expectations and influence how movies are perceived. The wrong genre can hinder a movie’s potential.
- Movies that deviate from genre expectations can create interesting character dynamics and explore different themes.
- Reimagining movies in different genres can highlight their weaknesses and reveal missed opportunities for storytelling.
A movie’s genre dictates how audiences approach it, based on the conventions and traditions of similar works. Since people can decide which movies to watch based on little more than the genre, studios will create movies in specific genres to meet this demand. The common characteristics of each genre are essential to the way in which people view movies. Film criticism tends to focus on how well-executed movies are, working within the ideas of their genre. Sometimes the problem is more fundamental than that, and the story requires a completely different approach.
There are plenty of movies that can offer a glimpse at how they could have panned out if their production had a different focus. Sometimes a comedy movie masks the serious drama of its plot. Conversely, some dramas can be so ridiculous that they might as well try to aim for laughs. There are plenty of horror movies that aren’t scary, or thrillers that fail to get the audience on the edge of their seats. Reimagining these disappointments in different genres shows that while genre conventions offer a level of universal understanding, they can also be restrictive.
10 The Dead Don’t Die Should Have Been A Detective Mystery
Actual Genre: Zombie Comedy
Adam Driver and Bill Murray play police officers in a small town where everything is not quite right. The actors bounce off each other wonderfully, aided by a stellar supporting cast, but The Dead Don’t Die amounts to a disappointing self-referential zombie movie. The age gap creates a fascinating character dynamic between Driver and Murray as partners. Both actors have shown they are equally as capable in drama or comedy, and if The Dead Don’t Die were about less supernatural evils, they could have made for an engrossing duo. Instead, the movie only shows glimpses of the potential of the two characters, before feeding them to the undead.
9 Bright Should Have Been A Children’s Movie
Actual Genre: Urban Fantasy
Bright attempted to subvert the tropes of the fantasy genre by showing humans and magical beings living side by side in a crime-riddled American city. The movie uses fantasy staples such as orcs and elves as stand-ins for different demographics in a social commentary about race, but the movie doesn’t develop the world enough for any of it to hit home. Bright tries to pull the same trick as Zootopia, but without the finesse. It could work if it shifted its focus towards the fantasy elements for a young audience. This might have also injected some more humor into an otherwise dreary affair.
8 The Good Dinosaur Should Have Been A Disaster Movie
Actual Genre: Animated Adventure
The Good Dinosaur imagines a world where the dinosaurs never went extinct, and they coexist with humans. The groundbreaking animation renders exquisitely realistic landscapes, but the plot doesn’t live up to these visuals. The Good Dinosaur‘s forgettable story means that it doesn’t rank among the best Pixar movies. Depicting the moments before the asteroid impacted Earth would have been very risky for a studio that generally prefers to stay on the lighter side of things, but it could have created a powerful story about family in a time of crisis. At the very least, it would have made for a much more memorable movie.
7 Avatar Should Have Been A Historical Drama
Actual Genre: Sci-fi
James Cameron spent 38 years on Avatar, and he was rewarded with record-breaking box office receipts. Despite its financial success and visual appeal, the plot of Avatar was fairly predictable. Avatar‘s story of imperialism could have been ripped straight from the pages of a history book about the British Empire or the depletion of the Amazon rainforest, to name just two examples. If Cameron had focused on one of these stories instead of creating a broad allegory with no real thrust, he could have developed a far more original plot. Without the splendor of Pandora, Avatar would have had to support itself with a strong story and nuanced characters.
6 The Voices Should Have Been A Psychological Thriller
Actual Genre: Horror Comedy
Ryan Reynolds stars as a factory worker whose hallucinations are so vivid that he believes his pets are telling him to murder women. If an actor other than Ryan Reynolds were involved, that would not sound like a funny idea for a movie. The Voices does provide some laughs for people who aren’t too squeamish, but its comedic moments create a layer of separation from its potentially fascinating premise. If the gags were stripped away, The Voices could have been a detailed character study of a twisted criminal. Due to the character’s hallucinations, the movie could toy with the confusion between what’s real and what’s in one’s imagination.
5 The Killing Of A Sacred Deer Should Have Been A Comedy
Actual Genre: Psychological Horror
After the absurdist comedy The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos and Colin Farrell teamed up again for The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. The psychological horror retained the unsentimental style of The Lobster, but it disposed of the satirical humor. The Killing Of A Sacred Deer was thick with intrigue and suspense, but could have benefited from utilizing Farrell’s talents as one of the finest comedic actors in the world. It wasn’t as refined as Lanthimos’ following project The Favorite, and some off-key comedy could have helped break up long and tedious stretches which bogged down the movie at times. The Lobster shows that Lanthimos can join comedy with drama expertly.
4 The Greatest Showman Should Have Been A Drama
Actual Genre: Musical
The Greatest Showman presents P.T. Barnum as an altruistic man who cares for a group of society’s outcasts. In reality, his circus bought and displayed enslaved people for profit. The Greatest Showman shares a positive mention of acceptance and self-love, but Barnum should not be celebrated. Any movie about Barnum’s circus should feature the viewpoints of his victims, and a musical is not the right genre for this. Songs from The Greatest Showman like “Never Enough” may be popular, but they distract from the true story of Barnum’s cruelty. A drama addressing the harsh reality of P.T. Barnum would be far more appropriate.
3 Persuasion Should Have Been A Romantic Comedy
Actual Genre: Period Drama
Persuasion’s attempts to splice Regency Era style with some 21st-century language were incredibly jarring. The movie looked the part, but it butchered some of Austen’s most beautiful quotes. This doesn’t mean that the movie should have stuck closer to the book. In fact, Persuasion didn’t go far enough. Netflix could have crafted a wonderful romantic comedy if it had brought the story into the modern world. Clueless and Bridget Jones’s Diary are two examples of movies that gave Austen’s novels an update. In both cases, their settings revitalize Austen’s humor, making her social commentary more accessible to a modern audience.
2 The Simpsons Movie Should Have Been A Musical
Actual Genre: Animated Comedy
As well as having one of the most iconic theme tunes in TV history, The Simpsons has produced a bewildering number of catchy songs. Some of the show’s best moments came from musical interludes, like “See My Vest,” “Baby On Board,” and “Canyonero.” Usually, the show could only fit one song into an episode, but the movie was an opportunity to take as much time as needed. Composer Alf Clausen could have snuck in one or two of the best songs from The Simpsons, or he could have worked with the writers to come up with a whole new musical set in Springfield.
1 Pinocchio Should Have Been A Horror Movie
Actual Genre: Children’s Fantasy
Disney’s Pinocchio is one of the studio’s most beloved classic movies, but it could have been a lot different if it had tried harder to mirror its source material. Carlo Collodi’s novel tells the story of a marionette crafted from a piece of wood that laughed and cried like a child. In this version, the doll kills Jiminy Cricket with a hammer before later being hanged and left for dead. Collodi wrote the story to warn children about the consequences of bad behavior. As an artificially created life form, Pinocchio also shares a few similarities with one of the most iconic horror characters of all time, Frankenstein’s monster.