30 Dec 2014


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?

But first, here is a warning about the dangers of Manic Pixie Dream Girlism:

The ten films tested were:
The result that follow, obviously, are influenced by the above choices.  Spoilers for all ten of these films may follow.


1a.  POV Character:  

Only (or almost only) centered on the male character: [20%]
Mostly Male centered with some of other (non-MPDG characters) getting solo screen time: [30%]
[*] Male character is the MPDG.

Mostly Male centered with some of solo screen time for the MPDG:  [40%]

Female (MPDG) centered:  [10%]
So only one isn't centered on the male, with another 4 giving the MPDG a small amount of solo screen time.  Tellingly Elf has a male MPDG and that character is the center of the story, so it shows that the MPDG can be the center of the story and the unnecessarily "male centered" complaint seems to hold up.  It should be noted that one of the

The Bechdel Test

Weak Pass (one conversation or parts thereof, etc): [30%]
Passes the test (But the MPDG doesn't):  [10%]
Full Pass:  [10%]
The 50% complete fail rate shows, again, complaints about it being a male centered genre hold up.  That three only just squeeze pass or that one makes it because the male character's mother has a strong role further reinforces that the problem is real.

The Mako Mori Test

Complete Fail: [40%]
Fail, but the female character is the center of the film: [10%]
A female character has an arc (But the MPDG doesn't):  [10%]
Unseen arc: [10%]
Full Pass:  [20%]
Once again the 40% - 80% fail rate (depending on how strict you're being) shows it's all about the male character.

1b.  Unhappy

i.  Job

Only one film begins with the character losing his job:
One has a writer who isn't writing:
In one he is eventually fired:
And in four he eventually quits
In others his job doesn't really come up much or seem to change.

ii.  Girlfriend

Only one film begins with him losing his girlfriend:
Although in three he is already out of a relationship when the film starts:
He loses his girlfriend during one (although, it was clearly going to happen from the beginning):
And is a kept man who breaks up with his lover in one:
In the rest previous relationships don't really come up.

iii.  Possessions

In three films the male character's lack of belongings is shown:
Throws them out:
iv.  Berevement

Only two films deal with bereavement:
v.  More out of life

Two films the character seems unhappy from the beginning:
In three he seems happy, but really isn't:
In one he's over-medicated:
vi.  Same day

In two films the life changing events happen in the same day:
The unhappiness/disconnectedness occurs frequently, but the source/symptoms vary.



Eight films feature suggested nudity or underwear:
One film features brief nudity (but not from the main cast):
One one features nudity from the lead characters:
Mostly "rom-com level" nudity.


No Sex:
Other characters have sex scene:
Kissing/Implied sex:
Sex scene
Mostly, it seems the characters have sex, but the films seem split over showing it or shying away from doing so.


Screwball Comedy
Christmas Film & Fish-Out-Of-Water Comedy
Personal Journey/Character Study (usually romantic drama/comedies):
Romantic Drama/Tragedy
Romantic SF comedy drama
A range of genres but focusing on stories about a (male) character.

Rom-Com Rules

How well did it follow the previously looked at Rom-Com Rules?  (Very rough results)


4a.  Full of energy

All ten films have a MPDG full of energy.

4b.  Full of contradictions
i.  Fun, but serious

Seven films have a MPDG that is both:
In the remaining two, the MPDG seems to be just fun:

ii.  Sexual/asexual:

In four films this dichotomy applies:
In six the MPDG doesn't seem to shy away from sex at all, being overtly sexual:

iii.  Romantic/shunning romance.

In three the MPDG seems to shun romance, but clearly is romantic:
In two, they shun romance, but discover love at the end:
[*] Just not with the male lead.

Three are romantics throughout:
[*]  Falls in love immediately, but doesn't seem to understand it.
One believes in romance but gets bored:

iv.  Honest & open/hiding a secret.

In six the MPDG overshares but it hiding something:
In one the character is honest, but not believed:

v.  Smart/ditsy.

Two characters seem to be both at once:
One character seems to be neither:
One character is just ditsy
One feigns ditsiness:
One seems smart, but is all surface:

And four are smart all along:

4c.  Carefree

True of six of the characters:
For two it seems forced, to cover their true feelings or rules they follow:

4d.  Quirky.

  • All ten MPDGs.

4e.  Unusual Things

i.  Clothing.

Six wear unusual clothing.
Four have some unusual aspect to their clothing:

ii.  Transport

Four have unusual transport:

iii.  House/living arrangements.

Three have unusual residences:

iv.  Job

Three have no job, living off family money, the proceeds of crime or a personal fortune:
Two work with small children:
Two have jobs that sort of fit being a MPDG:

v.  Objects

Certainly four:

vi.  Will make mix-tapes.

Only one did (and included an entire tourist guide/scrapbook)
One sings when she thinks no one else can hear:
One recommends "The Shins."

One picks the travel music:


Two fit one feature:

One doesn't match the description:

5b.  Cute features

Six have cute features:

5c.  Girlish

Seven are girlish:

 One only partially:

5d.  Pixie Clothing.
Only two do:

Five do a bit or at times


6a.  Dream Girl 

Six are his dream girl:
One is literally a dream girl for most of the film:

Two are his nightmare:
One is the center of the film:

6b.  Dream-like
All ten are dream-like.


Obviously, this one:

7b.  Girlish


It's all about his life and how she inserted herself into it in eight of the films:
Only two it wasn't:


In four she kept a secret about herself for most of the film:
In two her secret was blown pretty early:

In one she had no secrets (from the man), but couldn't stop lying to everyone:
And one had no secrets, but no one believed the truth:



Two have a purely happy ending:
Seven are bittersweet right up until the happy ending:


None have sequels, however Sweet November is a remake and an animated remake of Elf was produced.

The rules seems to mostly hold up, especially and unfortunately the ones about the MPDG only being there to support the male character's story.

Next Set to be tested:

  • Slasher Film Rules won the vote, so another set of them will be tested.
Remember to vote for the next set (which has been reset, so vote again if you'd voted previously).

~ DUG.

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