Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas? What about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl character, does she have rules?
Bringing Up Baby (1938) – a screwball comedy that has been said to include an early example of a MPDG.
RULE #1 - THE MAN
1a. POV Character - The film follows Dr David Huxley (Cary Grant), the MPDG Susan Vance and other characters get little screen time time without him.
The Bechdel Test: Susan asks housekeeper Hanna to have David's clothes into town to have them pressed, technically it's about David. Aunt Elizabeth and Susan greet briefly and then discuss David, mostly, many times. If it does pass the test it only just does so based parts of conversations.
The Mako Mori Test: Susan has no real arc beyond landing David and looking after the Leopard her brother sent.
1b. Unhappy – He's about to get married to a woman who wants no domestic entanglements to interfere with his work:
i. Job – actual seems happy with his job.
ii. Relationship – About to enter a bad marriage.
iii. Belongings – Susan Vance accidentally steals his car and golfball, but no issue with his belongings before that.
iv. Bereavement – No bereavement.
v. Life – Seems OK with life.
vi. His life fell apart because of the MPDG basically in one day.
RULE #2 - T &A
Susan's dress is ripped revealing her underwear. David has a shower scene.
RULE #3 - GENRE
Bringing Up Baby is screwball comedy. Being very loosely a Rom Com and since I still have those rules lying around, I'm going to quickly apply them:
1. Not balanced (see #1a above,) being about the male. The couple are opposites, which is pretty definitional for a MPDG film. His has no quirky friends or family. He is engaged. Followed.
2. See #2 above, No level nudity. Followed.
3. She accidentally plays his golf ball. Classic meet-cute. Followed.
4. Nothing keeps them apart. Not followed.
6. They don't get together to break up. Not applicable.
7. There is no potential parting forever. Not applicable.
8. No real redemption as no real redemption is needed. Not applicable.
9. Happily ever after - see rule #10 below. Followed.
10. No sequel - see #10 below. Followed.
RULE #4 - MANIC
4a. Full of energy - brings chaos wherever she goes.
4b. Full of contradictions
ii. Sexual (for the time) steals his clothes, dares him to burst in on her showering.
iii. Romantic, not really but decides they'll marry.
v. Smart/dizzy – Stupid and dizzy, but seems to be able to out-think everyone else.
4c. Carefree - "You look at everything up-sided down"
4d. Quirky - Very.
4e. Unusual Things
i. Clothing – Flashy clothing.
ii. Transport – Cars, but usually someone else's.
iii. House – Mansion.
iv. Job – No job.
v. Objects – Has a leopard.
vi. Mix-Tape - Pre the mix tape era.
RULE #5 - PIXIE
5a. Tiny - Thin, but not short. Svelte.
5b. Cute features - not particularly, more angular than cute.
5c. Girlish - Not girlish looking.
5d. Clothing - Too fashionable to be pixieish.
RULE #6 - DREAM
6a. Dream Girl - Seems more his nightmare than his dream.
6b. Dream-like - The way she takes over his life in a day would make it all seem unreal it him.
RULE #7 - GIRL
7a. Female - Yes, she is.
7b. Girlish - As stated above, not really.
RULE #8 - HIS LIFE
She accidentally steals his golf ball and car and later causes him to slip over at a club. She then decides that he is following her around and his feelings of love for her is manifesting itself as conflict. She then tries to fix his problem and asks for help with her brother's leopard, convincing him she'd been attacked by a leopard.
She constantly lies to everyone. But doesn't have any dark secrets.
Happy ending as he admits he loves her. She does accidentally ruin 4 years of his work and talk over his protestations telling him he still loves her anyway, but happy not bittersweet.
Rules followed by this film: 2, 6, 8, 10.
Rules partially followed by this film: 1, 3, 4, 5, 7.
Rules no followed by this film: 9.
Rules no followed by this film: 9.
She has no secret but otherwise the film follows or partially follows the rules.
Remember to vote here to help choose the fifth set of rules to be tested.
Schedule for upcoming films for this blog.