Every year, there seem to be unintended themes emerging from movie releases. It’s almost as if the studios called each other to coordinate projects like friends in high school planning to wear matching outfits on a Friday. Sometimes this effect is unintentional, like when an emerging movie star manages to have multiple films comes out the same year (see Melissa McCarthy below); other times, it’s a result of executives switching studios and developing similar projects (like the infamous Disney and DreamWorks 1998 double-header grudge match of A Bug’s Life vs. Antz and Armageddon vs. Deep Impact).
This year is no different, producing a slew of movie doppelgangers. For the sake of creativity, I left the painfully obvious off. Still, who can forget offerings like Olympus Has Fallen up against White House Down as well as This Is the End paired with The World’s End? And, if you really hate yourself, you can watch a terrible trippleganger of A Haunted House, Scary Movie 5 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Whether it’s similar themes, the same actor in noticeably similar roles, or parallel stand-out moments in two films, this list of 13 movie pairings can provide a nice selection of companion pieces for your viewing pleasure.
1. Homefront and Mud
Though they came out months apart, and one of these was a respected award-bait film while the other was a piece of action escapism, Mud and Homefront covered similar ground. Both take place in the South. Both feature a hero trying to protect a child from an uber-sleazy villain. However, the doppelganger nature of these films becomes most apparent in the climactic scene involving a home invasion shoot-out.
2. Gravity and All Is Lost
This was the year for award film isolation. The location of these movies are about as different as you can get and still be near the same planet. However, both feature a (mostly) lone protagonist fighting against terrible odds in extreme environments. They also have very similar resolutions, not just in tone but in location. Of course, All Is Lost could also easily cross paths with Captain Phillips.
3. Identity Thief and The Heat
After Melissa McCarthy became a break-out success in 2011’s Bridesmaids, she has been on Hollywood’s funnywoman radar. It’s no surprise that studios started developing projects with her playing foul-mouthed characters similar to that role. Even though she’s a criminal with bad hair in Identity Thief and a cop with bad hair in The Heat, the characters are clear doppelgangers.
4. Inside Llewyn Davis and Frances Ha
One theme this awards season is the wandering bohemian. Noah Baumbach’s story of an inspiring (yet not terribly talented) dancer shares a lot of connective tissue with the Coen Brothers’ tale of a folk singer who can’t catch a break. Not only do both films show the struggles of being an artist in New York City, Frances Ha features black-and-white cinematography that is a different style but still similar to the desaturated look of Inside Llewyn Davis.
5. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jack the Giant Slayer
Not only was 2013 the year of fairytales, it was also the year of not-very-good fairytales. Here are two films that take children stories and give them unnecessary CGI updates. Other 2013 releases that share similar elements include Oz the Great and Powerful and Beautiful Creatures.