You gotta love Hollywood. Not content with simply remaking stale sitcoms, movie executives are now cannibalizing their own cannibalizations. "Breakdown" director Jonathan Mostow waxes philosophical about the authenticity of the suspense, the importance of the Southwest setting and the genesis of the story. How can he do anything else? After all, it's not easy to lecture about sitting down in front of your VCR, watching "The Vanishing" and then figuring out a way to change the story just enough to make sure you're not sued for copyright infringement.
"The Vanishing" was a 1988 Dutch film that got Americanized by the original director, George Sluizer, into a 1993 film of the same title starring Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland. The story centered on the obsessive quest of a man in search of his missing girlfriend and his eventual confrontation with the kidnapper. "Breakdown" centers on the obsessive quest of Jeff Taylor (Kurt Russell) for his missing wife, Amy (Kathleen Quinlan), and his eventual confrontation with the kidnapper, Red (J.T. Walsh).
The primary difference between the two stories is that "Breakdown" has a different title. Also, it takes place in the Southwest as Jeff's car breaks down and Amy accepts a ride from Red to go call for a tow truck. This film is also less a psychological thriller and more an action picture -- Jeff takes matters into his own hands, leading to a series of events that make less and less sense as the film unfolds.
Given that blatant, naked rip-offs are now deemed an acceptable expression of the Hollywood creative process, wannabe filmmakers ought to start bombarding film execs with their ideas. Here's mine: It's the story of a young kid named Puke who lives on a desert planet. After learning he's a great Jethri fighter who has unique access to the power of the universe, called "The Glue," Puke runs off to save princess Layme and defeat Barf Trader and his evil empire. Although his mentor, Dopi Ol Fogi, is killed by Trader, Fogi appears as a vision and instructs his apprentice to "Use the Glue, Puke," which he does, destroying Trader's horrible, space-going vessel, the Breath Car, at the last possible second.
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