Axel F – Hollywood Trope

For awhile I’ve been having this topic stew in my mind. Mostly because I’m not entirely sure I can articulate the necessary points I’m going to try and outline below. Let’s dive right into the issue at the heart of this and see where it goes.

The problem I have with Hollywood tropes lately, is it has become so badly written and executed, that its begun to filter over into the main stream, and people are recognizing that the writing for most shows, TVs, movies… Have become a cliché in of themselves. What do I mean by this? The writing has been boiled down, studied, focus grouped, and put to a community so much, that any creativity in the writing process, OR, the very trope the show or movie wants to use, has become a husk, and nothing more than a vehicle to rush through a plot point. Has AI taken over the writer room? Is that why storytelling has gotten so bad?

For example, Axel F, the new Beverly Hills Cop movie that was just released, has one of my personally, hated trope. That of the estranged Father/Daughter dynamic.

Axel leaves Detroit because once again, something happens in Beverly Hills, this time, it involved his daughter, who happens to be a defense attorney. She has been threatened, and accidentally uncovers a conspiracy involving the LAPD and corrupt cops. Trope number two, anyone?

What we find out is that Axel, fearful of some off-screen bad guys threatening his, then wife and daughter, forced Axel to move them to California. But he stayed behind for…. Reasons. In the process, of course the wife divorced him, because he was married to the ‘job’ and not family… another wonderful trope over used in film. But I digress.

Now, with context out of the way. Jane, Axel’s daughter, absolutely loathes her father for ‘abandoning’ her… Fair, right? Welllll…. The problem with this trope to begin with, is there are A LOT of issues at the heart of any decision as an adult, that affects your child. It is never as black and white as film boils it down to. I have SEEN when men do this to their children, there are genuine reasons why the child should be upset. So, what MAY be a very heart felt, and emotional conclusion by the end of the story, just ends up making Axel a douche, bad father, evil man. Because none of the nuances, the issues on what separated, were shown and experienced. It was all off-screen, and explained in dialog.  There’s even a line in there where Jane says he never tried to connect her, but it ended up that SHE TOO, had never tried to mend the relationship or contact him. She even admits as much later on in the movie. So, in the end, what was even the point? Did it move the plot any? Did having it lead to interesting character relationships? Were there any heartfelt, emotionally driven arcs that were mended or resolved? No, this is a friggen Beverly Hills Cop movie and should be treated as such.

I suspect that, like most films these days, the estranged father/daughter trope was used to setup trope number four, the girl boss.

Look, I’ve raised four WONDERFUL and strong women. One of them, whether she admits it or not, is almost exactly like me. And let me tell you, she is nothing like the hallowed-out shell that girl bosses come across now days. At any rate, that’s a topic for another time. Back to the issue I have with this whole estranged daughter trope.

Point blank. It’s overdone, done incorrectly every time, and is NEVER worth inserting into what SHOULD be a fun, nostalgic, action, popcorn blockbuster that Beverly Hills Cop is. Or should have been. You want to have the story poke fun at plot points, or things in past movies, or themes that older movies could get away with. Fine, do that, update Axel with new ideas. Hell, have his daughter even be there, we don’t NEED to have tension between her and Axel, its NOT NEEDED, it does nothing for the plot. In Die Hard, when Maclane finds out that Holly changed her last name, it mattered, it told a story, it was character driven, it told MORE, with less information. Holly was NEVER insufferable, she did what she could, and hell, you could even call her a girl boss if that makes you happy. She was acting as a leader would in that situation, without feeling hollow. Jane, was the complete opposite. Shallow, self-centered, unlikable as a character, had no redeeming qualities. Her ENTIRE purpose was to look down her nose at Axel, that’s it.

I dare you to name a father daughter movie, or has father daughters in it, that is heartfelt, genuine, and has, for better worse, a family. I’ll wait…

Come up with one? That’s because there are so few, that when they do show up, they get brushed under the rug and trampled on. The only one I can think of, that isn’t all trope heavy, is Lethal Weapon series, and the Murtaughs.

Now, granted, I have not seen every single movie on the list, if you google Father/Daughter movies on Google. So could there be more? Sure, I’m willing to bet there are. Some of those are close to being on my list of good examples of the father/daughter trope done right, like Father of the Bride, Logan, Hannah. However, those have other disqualifications that I’m not really going to get into here.

The bottom line is writing, storytelling in general, has been degraded so much, that it’s nearly impossible to just enjoy a movie for a simple, shut the mind off and watch something moments. And no, my daughter and I are not estranged. But I would like to actually see good father daughter movies that actually develop characters, rather than toss trope spaghetti at the wall, and see which one sticks. Not every movie has to be made to please everyone. And yes, that’s true in this rant, and context. Nostalgia and doing it badly is probably another topic, for another day. Story tellers in the visual media, need to do better. Those in charge need to let experienced writers do their thing, and make good content. Stop shoehorning every trope in the book into a film. And for god sakes, there are good fathers out there. Hire them to write your next father daughter interactions.

Was Axel F worse then Beverly Hills Cop 3? Oh yeah… Way worse.