Author Topic: Manic Pixie Dream Girl  (Read 3564 times)

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Jeremy Blackman

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Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« on: September 03, 2011, 02:31:45 PM »
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I would just like to make sure everyone is aware of this archetype and is armed with the tools they need to be at least mildly wary of it.

Prime examples:

- Natalie Portman in Garden State
- Kate Hudson in Almost Famous
- Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown

This term was first coined by Nathan Rabin of The AV Club:

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.


My personal example is Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine. Her character and her performance pretty much ruined the movie for me. It was insufferable enough to approach parody.

(In fact, I'd be interested in MPDG-related parodies if anyone knows of any.)

Back to the AV Club's breakdown of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl phenomenon and why it's bad (this time from a different article)...

Like the Magical Negro, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype is largely defined by secondary status and lack of an inner life. She's on hand to lift a gloomy male protagonist out of the doldrums, not to pursue her own happiness. In the late '60s and early '70s, MPDGs often took the comely form of spacey hippie chicks burdened with getting grim establishment types to kick back and smell the flowers. In that respect, they mirrored mainstream culture's simultaneous suspicion and fascination with the open sexuality of the emergent counterculture ... But what does [the character] ultimately want? As is usual with Manic Pixie Dream Girls, the filmmakers don't seem to have given the matter much thought.

Streisand's character never really has any plausible motivation: She's just an anarchic change agent, pitched halfway between a screwball heroine and a cartoon character. Yet after spending a weekend with her, O'Neal is in a better place financially, romantically, and career-wise. Funny how things work out.

Thoughts/opinions? More examples of MPDG badness?

Or are there any movies in which this actually works? (The AV Club suggests Annie Hall.)
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pete

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2011, 03:54:13 PM »
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there was a thread dedicated to this - not sure where it went.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2011, 04:45:38 PM »
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Hmmm I did find 2 places where this is mentioned:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=11226
http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=10505.60

But nothing beyond that.
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matt35mm

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2011, 02:16:18 AM »
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I read a bunch of scripts for a screenplay competition recently, and there were a lot of these characters. It's always bad.

Stefen

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2011, 08:41:08 PM »
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This stupid annoying knocked up slut.

Let's go to a motel. We don't have to do anything -- we could just swim.

Ravi

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2011, 01:19:08 AM »
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I'm going to go ahead and say Zooey Deschanel in "The New Girl" will be a MPDG.

pete

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2011, 03:01:15 AM »
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Hmmm I did find 2 places where this is mentioned:

http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=11226
http://xixax.com/index.php?topic=10505.60

But nothing beyond that.

sorry I thought it was more extensive for some reason.

there are also variations of magic pixie - like when they're taken seriously, when they're the heroines. Juno's a great example, but also (once again) Lost in Translation and (to a much lesser extent) Ghost World.
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children with angels

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2011, 05:28:11 AM »
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This stupid annoying knocked up slut.



Nah - the point of the archetype is that she's not the desiring protagonist, but rather the desired object that helps the hero; Juno is very much about Juno, with Michael Cera as her Stable Pixie Dream Boy.
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pete

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2011, 01:04:27 PM »
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My personal example is Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine. Her character and her performance pretty much ruined the movie for me. It was insufferable enough to approach parody.



I hated it the first time I saw it too, but the movie seemed to have doubled back and show the insecurity behind the facade of a magical pixie, which made me more sympathetic to the characters in the subsequent viewings.

I also like in Science of Sleep when it was clear that our hero deeply wishes his crush was a magical pixie when in fact she was just a normal girl.

Another instance where the magical pixie worked was What's Up Doc. But that film was largely a cartoon.

One that really ruined it for me was Rachel Weisz in Brothers Bloom. She took all the fun out of a heist movie because she was capable of anything.

Nah - the point of the archetype is that she's not the desiring protagonist, but rather the desired object that helps the hero; Juno is very much about Juno, with Michael Cera as her Stable Pixie Dream Boy.

But can't there be a desired protagonist, such as Juno? She existed primarily for the viewers to revel in her eccentricity; though I think the magical pixie should come with a much stronger sexual component, which in the case of Juno it was largely missing.

There's a Korean film, and an American remake - called My Sassy Girl, which is sorta like the ultimate magical pixie girl movie, in which the whole point of the movie was about falling in love with a magical pixie and then realizing it gets old after a while and trying to figure out who that person actually is. The American remake was directed by Yann Samuell,  the French dude who directed Love Me if You Dare - which was also a movie dealing with the frustration of having fallen for a magical pixie.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2011, 02:03:21 PM »
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I think you're overstating the "magical" part of it though. A MPDG can be manic without being magical.

And yes, I should probably give Eternal Sunshine another chance.
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pete

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2011, 12:15:47 AM »
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sorry about that. I confused manic pixie with magical negro. I think my points still stand, no?
“Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”
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ono

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picolas

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2012, 08:26:48 AM »
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i managed to see Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz. it's not very good with tiny spots of good. a big pile of idiosyncrasies. the thing that struck me about it was how she's gender-reversed the manic pixie dream girl scenario. i never had much of an issue with it until i saw it from the opposite perspective. there has to be a better name for manic pixie dreamguy though. someone figure that out and copyright it.

Ostrich Riding Cowboy

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2012, 09:45:53 AM »
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Seth Rogen in Knocked Up?
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picolas

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Re: Manic Pixie Dream Girl
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2012, 09:17:00 PM »
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no because heigl isn't all up in that. he's more of a manic overweight dude trying to make things work.

 

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