Hollywood's slavish devotion to formula films does the movies a serious disservice. It makes audiences resistant to the pleasures of many fine films, if only because they feel they've seen the same movie a dozen times before.
Take "We Are Marshall," an excellent, inspirational film that opened in theaters Friday. Its story of triumph over adversity -- of how Marshall University and the surrounding town of Huntington, W.Va., fought through the emotional devastation of a 1970 plane crash -- is told with care and restraint. The movie's climactic football game is undeniably rousing.
But "We Are Marshall" is also about the 573rd inspirational sports film to be released in the past 10 years. "Remember the Titans," "Miracle," "Friday Night Lights," "Invincible," "Glory Road" -- all are based on real events, all are stirring as all get-out, and all use sports as a metaphor for life and how any adversity can be overcome
With so many films out there sharing similar themes, it becomes harder to stand out in the crowd. It might behoove Hollywood to leave the formula alone for a while, lest audiences tire of it altogether.
Chris Kaltenbach is a film critic at the Baltimore Sun, a Tribune company.