Lighter And Softer / Film

Animated Films

  • The Open Season sequels and rest of the series are like this, except for the short Boog and Elliot's Midnight Bun Run.
  • Believe it or not, there's the Italian animated film Titanic: The Legend Goes On, which made a Disney-like fairy tale out of a real-life disaster where over fifteen hundred people died. And the dog raps. And then there's The Legend of the Titanic, in which evil sharks tricked a dopey octopus into throwing an iceberg in front of the ship. Tentacles the octopus saves the day, and everyone survives. In the sequel the shark raps.
  • Some Disney DTV sequels.
  • While on the subject of Disney animation, some installments in the Disney Animated Canon tend to be much, much lighter than others, standing out because of this.
    • Dumbo is this in comparison to Fantasia. It was produced on a lower budget with less intricate animation, intended mainly to generate money and therefore more catered toward children, which resulted in (while still emotionally heavy compared to today's kids films) a more light-hearted adventure compared to the other movies of that era such as Pinocchio and the aformentioned Fantasia. Dumbo does an excellent job of proving Tropes Are Not Bad in this case, however.
    • The Aristocats, as both movies preceding and succeeding it had gut-wrenching moments and violent, possibly frightening imagery, if still as cartoony in execution.
    • Home on the Range takes this Up to Eleven, even by Disney standards. Whether this was a good thing or not depends on who you ask.
    • The second Winnie-the-Pooh movie in the Disney Animated Canon is this towards The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, faithful as both adaptations are to their source material.
    • The original Hans Christian Andersen version of The Little Mermaid ends on a by far darker note than the Disney version. The Prince marries another woman. The Mermaid is given a Last-Second Chance to return to the sea by murdering him with an enchanted knife, but unable to murder the man she loves she throws herself into the sea and turns into foam. That's right, she dies.
    • The Fox and the Hound , seeing as in the original book the title pair aren't friends and die at the end.
    • Although Hercules has some dark moments, it was intentionally created as a lighter followup 1996's much darker The Hunchback of Notre Dame and to a lesser extent 1995's Disney/Pocahontas. Notably, the take on Greek Mythology in the film is much more family-friendly than the original myths.
  • The Land Before Time. The first one, while still primarily aimed at children was very dark, featuring the child dinosaurs coming very close to dying several times, adults dinosaurs actually dying, including Littlefoot's mother, who fought a T-Rex, getting a nasty gash on her neck among other things. And then the incredibly controversial sequels came. Never Say "Die" was introduced, to the point where it seems the T-Rexes at most just want to scare the herbivores, and put very little effort into feeding. There are also big musical numbers , something the original never had, and almost all appeal for adults that the original had was thrown out the window.
    • This was par the course for every Don Bluth movie ever to receive a sequel. The most major example is The Secret Of NIMH II; it is far more lighthearted and family friendly than the very dark original.

Live-Action Films

  • The 1928 French film version of The Fall of the House of Usher takes some pretty serious liberties with the short story by Edgar Allan Poe. First, Roderick and Madeline are husband-and-wife instead of siblings, thus eliminating the Incest Subtext from the story. Second, and even more surprisingly, Roderick and Madeline escape the collapsing Usher mansion alive.
  • Simon Birch: While it ends bittersweetly and is still a drama, is much more light hearted than the novel its based off of, and ends with the main character having a normal and adjusted adult life, opposed to the novel, where Owen, whom Simon is based off of, dies rather violently, and Johnny, whom Joe is based off of, spends his days as a mopey, perpetually single man.
  • The Collection is much lighter and softer than The Collector in that it has a much happier ending and feeling in general.
  • This was done in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Executive Meddling ensured the next film would be light-hearted as well. Suffice it to say that it didn't work quite as well the second time.
    • While it has some high-intensity action, Star Trek Beyond is significantly lighter than its reboot predecessors Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Kirk has matured being much less abrasive and arrogant, and a lot closer to his heroic TOS personality, and the depiction of the Federation and Starfleet is much closer to the Utopianism of the TV shows.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, following the Darker and Edgier Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The trend continues in the next film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which is the most light and soft in the whole series.
  • Star Wars:
    • Return of the Jedi, also produced by George Lucas, was more kid-oriented than the well-received and Darker and Edgier The Empire Strikes Back, the previous film in the original trilogy. Interestingly enough, Lucas, who didn't direct either film, wanted The Empire Strikes Back to be lighter and softer; he was eventually convinced to keep it in its current form, and ended up hiring a director for ROTJ whom Lucas would direct through; nevertheless, The Ewoks and their antics are mostly responsible for the lighter tone, while the scenes that don't involve them (Jabba's palace, the Emperor, etc) are still pretty dark.
    • In the prequel trilogy, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones are noticeably lighter in tone, particularly the former, whereas Revenge of the Sith was substantially Darker and Edgier. (For comparison: In Episode I, Anakin is a kid; in Episode III he murders several kids.) In fact, it was the first PG-13 rated Star Wars film.
  • Evil Dead: The original The Evil Dead is a straight horror film. The remake/sequel Evil Dead 2 added elements of dark comedy and even slapstick to the mix. Finally, Army of Darkness focused mostly on wisecracks and slapstick action, playing like a parody of an action fantasy film.
  • Mad Max is an extremely bleak film with a bittersweet ending. Even though The Road Warrior takes place After the End, it manages to have a lighter tone than the original film. The villains are less psychotic, there are many more sympathetic characters, but the ending is still bittersweet. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome further lightens the mood, with a plot focusing on a group of tribal children who dispatch enemies with frying pans, and who aren't forced to face the machine guns and molotov cocktails of the first film. Mad Max: Fury Road brought it back to between the original and The Road Warrior, having higher emotional stakes because it's people instead of gasoline being fought over with the Wives, with heavy implications of their past experiences, along with an utterly disgusting villain (who has the same actor as the villain from the original movie), but it has a significantly more optimistic ending than the first movie.
  • RoboCop 3 intentionally toned down the extreme violence, profanity, and drug use of the first two in order to appeal to children. It bombed miserably.
  • The Joel Schumacher-helmed Batman films were considerably lighter in tone and content than the Tim Burton installments that came before it, in part because of the parental outcry over how dark Batman Returns was. (Never mind it was rated PG-13.) This more child-friendly approach went hand-in-hand with The Merch, and contributed to the artistic catastrophe of Batman & Robin, which led to a reboot to start afresh.
  • Within The Dark Knight Saga itself, The Dark Knight Rises. While it still maintains a comparatively serious tone to many other Superhero films, it's more of a straight-up action movie than its predecessor (which can be considered more of a depressing drama on psychopathy - in other words, impossibly dark), and even has a happy ending.
  • The Godzilla films of the 1960s-1970s Showa era were considerably more kid-friendly and light-hearted in tone compared to the very dark original 1954 film. In comparison, Godzilla (2014) is both this AND Darker and Edgier. While it lacked the family-friendly tone or camp of the Showa era, it still portrays Godzilla is positive light. Godzilla avoids harming humans and saves humanity by defeating the Mutos. Unlike previous incarnations , in which Godzilla is feared and despised even when he saves the world, this Godzilla is hailed as a hero with people cheering for him after his victory.
  • When Gamera the Brave rebooted the series after the dark and critically acclaimed Heisei trilogy, it went back to the child-friendly tone of the 60's films using a younger Gamera.
  • The original Dragonheart was about leading a revolution against a tyrant king. It featured countless war deaths, a boy getting run through by a stake, a man getting his eyes burnt out (offscreen), and a man getting slain with a battleaxe. The sequel, however, was about a boy raising a dragon and featured no actual violence (or real combat) whatsoever up until the last few minutes.
  • The Mask starring Jim Carrey already made things too light and soft for most fans of the über-violent original series to accept. Then (11 years later) came Son of the Mask, one of the most universally loathed movies ever, and kicked things down a notch, giving us a PG rating and sparing us the image of the Mask getting freaky with his wife. Although, let's be honest... none of us really wanted to see that.
  • Men in Black: The original comic series has the MiB's main scheme as controlling the world order rather than merely maintaining it and would even go as far as straight up murder to keep things under wraps. The slightly more family-friendly film series depicts the MiB as a highly secretive, but noble faction who simply make sure aliens don't mess with humans, the Earth or each other while living there and employ nifty neuralyzers instead of, well...12-gauges to maintain their secrecy.
  • Gremlins is a horror-comedy that's pretty dark, though it features a cute little furry creature so many kids saw it. Gremlins 2: The New Batch, despite the PG-13 rating note , is much lighter in tone. While there is still quite a lot of violence, it's much more absurd and generally played for slapstick. Most tellingly, the film even breaks the fourth wall to give Hulk Hogan a humorous cameo.
  • Park Chan-Wook, director of Oldboy (2003), said he wanted his film Im A Cyborg But Thats OK to appeal to younger audiences as well. The tone is lighter than that of his Vengeance trilogy, but the movie starts with a girl "charging herself" by slitting her wrist and jamming a mains lead into the wound, taping it up carefully before flicking the switch.
  • In the first Critters the creatures were fairly serious killing machines but had a low body count, they grew when they ate, and some of them died in very violent ways; in the sequel they killed many more people and the creatures have some violent deaths but they are pretty goofy and less intelligent than in the original. The other two films are pretty silly and the bodycounts are pretty low.
  • The Film of the Book of And Then There Were None fits this trope. While the book doesn't go more than a few pages without using a (mild, all things considered) swear word, has oftentimes graphic depictions of most of the deaths, and kills 'em all, the movie tones down the language to be Hays Code-compliant, never shows more than the feet or hands of any dead person (if they're shown at all), and gives Vera and Lombard a happy ending. In contrast, the Russian version is Darker and Edgier: You get a seriously twisted sex scene between the two "heroes", no gory discretion shots, fan service with a creepy context behind it, a Flashback Nightmare for a character who cheerfully dismissed his crime in the book, and the characters slowly going insane one by one. It's the most faithful adaptation of the book; it just takes the book's darker themes and expands on them.
  • The 5th Child's Play, Seed of Chucky, following the tradition of horror franchises eventually collapsing into self-parody. Even the Asshole Victim (played by John Waters) in the 5th is of Love to Hate quality thanks to Waters' comedic Large Ham performance, in contrast to the previous downright mean-spirited Hate Sink or The Scrappy ones in the preceding films.
  • The Warriors: The book the movie is based on is considerably Darker and Edgier. The gang (called the Devastators in the book) are Villain Protagonists with no redeeming features. Along the way, they brutally gang rape and abandon a random girl. In the film, the Warriors are a bunch of crude but proud street toughs who are unjustly accused of a murder. The girl that was raped in the novel is turned into a love interest in the film.
  • Oliver!, the 1968 musical adaptation of Oliver Twist. Granted, most musicals are this by nature, but still, the original book is pretty grim.
  • The 2013 version of The Great Gatsby greatly toned down the overtly nihilistic tone of the book, mostly focusing on the night life of the 1920s. Many did not take this down very well...
  • While they were still R-rated, each A Nightmare on Elm Street was more surreal and comedic than the one before it, peaking with Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which has Freddy doing a Wicked Witch of the West impression ("I'll get you my pretty, and your little soul too!") during the first few minutes.
  • The Russian 1994 adaptation of The Castle by Alexei Balabanov is much more idealistic and optimistic that the novel. It even added an ending to unfinished novel - The protagonist failed his quest, but he will have a nice new life as peasant. Made even more bizarre by the fact that Balabanov was (in)famous for his movies being incredibly cynical and depressing.
  • The Friday the 13th series gradually became campier until they began parodying themselves. Compare the tongue-in-cheek sci-fi based Jason X with the dark slasher movie tone of the originals.
  • All of the sequels to The Howling save for Howling IV: The Original Nightmare (which was closest to the novel), and Howling The Rebirth.
  • Compare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) with the second and third. The reason for the second movie being lighter and softer than the first was due to the Moral Guardians reacting to the use of weapons and a few instances of the word "damn" here and there. In fact, all Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptations are lighter and softer than the original comics, which include quite a lot of bloody murder and are not intended for children.
  • American horror films usually gets accused of this in spite of the "Splatter Pack" directors. Although most of them are foreign directors.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982) is an R-rated fantasy epic that contained considerable amounts of violence and nudity. It also has a large following of fans who consider it one of the greatest fantasy films ever made. For the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer the studio decided they wanted a more family-friendly Conan. The result was a PG-rated, more lighthearted Conan adventure that was poorly received by fans of the original film.
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes, in contrast to the previous and very dark Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (and more so if you watch the version with the original, uncensored ending).
  • Spider-Man 2 toned down some of the violence of the first film and was given a PG by the British Board of Film Classification. This was after Spider-Man was given a 12 rating by the BBFC and described it as one of the most violent films ever aimed at young children, saying that some scenes even warranted a 15. Many councils (who have the final word on film censorship in the UK) boycotted this decision, releasing it as PG or PG-12, but Spider-Man stayed in cinemas long enough for young children to be admitted more widely (under adult supervision) following the introduction of the 12A rating.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—the Galaxy is presented as more wondrous and grand than the dull, bureaucratic "Earth-society-but-bigger" version we tend to get, and the film ends with the new Earth being put in the place of the old one rather than being dismantled when construction shuts down as in the other versions.
  • John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China and Starman, compared to previous works like Halloween (1978), The Thing (1982), Escape from New York, Prince of Darkness and They Live.
  • James Bond had it a few times. After the too realistic and bloody approach from the Timothy Dalton years, came the more comedic Pierce Brosnan era. After Daniel Craig got too dark on Quantum of Solace (which many dissed as a "more Bourne than Bond") the series goes back to its lighthearted roots in Skyfall (Although by not much since it still lacks the same whimsy as the Brosnan/Moore era).
  • The 1938 A Christmas Carol is more light-hearted than other adaptations, and leaves out a number of crucial scenes detailing Scrooge's Start of Darkness and Bad Future.
  • Red Dawn (1984) was a depressing Cold War story about a resistance fighting a Hopeless War against the Russians. The 2012 version felt more hopeful.
  • The Crow is this compared to the comic book. Of course, the film is still very dark, but the violence was toned down, and the main character is less of a sociopath.
  • Jack the Giant Slayer is this compared to other recent fairy tale films such as Snow White and the Huntsman and Red Riding Hood.
  • The adaptation of the novel World War Z is lighter and softer, and also dumbed down for better or for worse. According to Brad Pitt it was too complicated for a summer blockbuster.
  • My Name Is Nobody is this compared to many of the serious Spaghetti Westerns it parodies. There's more humor, the violence is less brutal (no Gorn or torture), the Black and Gray Morality common to the genre is considerably softened (Jack Beauregard is rather jaded but has no real Kick the Dog moments, Nobody is rather idealistic in his quirky way, and while the Wild Bunch are Bad People, the film doesn't depict any atrocities at the level of what Frank or Angel Eyes get up to), and it ends happily.
  • Mirror, Mirror is probably the most light-hearted film version of the fairytale in which it was inspired (And also specially compared with Snow White and the Huntsman) There is much more comedy and slapstick, The Queen, while still a villain and a Jerk Ass with no redeeming features, has some comical traits and is somewhat less meaner, and also at the end of the movie is revealed that Snow White's father is still alive, in sharp contrast with every other adaptation.
  • Pitch Black was rated R for a good reason. The Chronicles of Riddick was trimmed down by execs to a PG-13 rating and while it was still uber-violent, it was mostly Bloodless Carnage, though the unrated directors cut has more blood.
  • The MGM Marx Brothers movies, starting with A Night at the Opera. Roger Ebert, though praising the film, found that their Signature Style was Comedic Sociopathy and anarchy, as opposed to later films, where they become more heroic and tend to take an active interest in the plot. For instance, in the last non-MGM film, Duck Soup, Groucho's character is basically a dumber and more frivolous Benito Mussolini; in A Night at the Opera, he's strictly a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • The famous 1939 adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the Judy Garland one everyone has seen) is much more sacchrine in tone than the original books. Yes, even with the Wicked Witch setting the Scarecrow on fire and threatening "And Your Little Dog, Too!". The original TinMan's backstory involved being compelled to chop himself to bits with his axe. The book had several beheadings, the Scarecrow performing Neck Snap on an entire murder of crows, the Wicked Witch enslaving Dorothy and the Lion after throwing the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman down a ravine, and so forth. Return to Oz was actually a much closer adaptation to L. Frank Baum's style.
  • West Bank Story, a modern-day parody of West Side Story, focusing on two fast food restaurants in the occupied West Bank. There is much less violence (and most of that is property damage for sheer comedy), no deaths, and a Happy Ending, all different to the original.
  • Evan Almighty was made as a family-friendly film, compared to the spontaneous orgasms and F-Bombs of the film it was a sequel of.
  • The Stepford Wives book and film were both intense thrillers. The 2004 remake, was more comedic in tone, and the scheme in this film, while still unpleasant, was less nefarious: Rather than kill the wives and replace them with robots, the wives are brainwashed with computer chips. Not to mention Walter, Joanna's husband, is able to stop the scheme rather than join in on it.
  • Into the Woods, compared to the stage show but only marginally. Gruesome parts like the Baker cutting The Wolf open and the stepsisters getting their feet cut up are given a Gory Discretion Shot. The death of Jack's mother is softened, while Rapunzel lives.
  • In-universe in Beyond The Lights. Noni ultimately sheds her hyper-sexual, bad girl image in favor of a more natural one that is closer to who she actually is. The trope is also played with as the content of her music shifts from focusing on sex and partying (industry standard) to discussing her coming to terms and dealing with her depression (hardly something discussed by budding pop stars).
  • The song "Keep It Gay" from The Producers lampshades the practice of softening up musical adaptations.
    "Whether it's murder, mayhem or rage. It's a pain. Don't complain. Keep it gay!"
  • Son of Kong was made to be a more light-hearted adventure than King Kong (1933). The body count is much lower than in the first film, and Little Kong is more cute and comedic than his destructive father.
  • Cinderella (2015) compared to Disney's previous live-action adaptations. In fact, compared to almost the entire Disney canon. This is the rare Disney film in which not a single character attempts to kill or seriously harm another at any point.
  • In comparison to his more grim takes on the Science Fiction genre, Ridley Scott's The Martian is considerably more optimistic and upbeat despite it's potentially dire premise (An astronaut gets stranded on Mars and must use his engineering skills to survive). Some critics have even argued that it maybe the lightest film he's ever done.
  • F/X: Murder by Illusion and its sequel F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion have more or less the same plot, but in the first film, Rollie Tyler straight-up murders the bad guys at the end, and then he and Leo McCarthy steal the loot from the bad guys. In the sequel, Rollie and Leo just knock the bad guys out or leave them to be arrested by the police (one bad guy is murdered by one of his accomplices, who then is stuck by Rollie and Leo trying to fly his escape helicopter alone, despite having no pilot training—what becomes of him is not shown), and they ultimately return the loot to the institution it was stolen from. So in the first film, Tyler and McCarthy are pretty dark antiheroes, but they are more or less straightforward white-hats in the second.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) was in the same vein as Gremlins: a horror-comedy that, while not especially dark, was made with adults and teenagers in mind. Some scenes are genuinely frightening, like the librarian ghost Jump Scare and Dana Barrett being held down in her armchair by grotesque monster hands and being dragged toward a demon dog, helpless to fight back. The movie is also full of casual smoking (almost every main character lights a cigarette at one point), swearing, and sex jokes that go WAY above young kids' heads (such as Ray Stantz, a human Ghostbuster, getting oral sex in a dream from a pretty girl ghost). Then they realized kids were seeing the movie and loved it, so they made The Real Ghostbusters (which ran from 1986 to 1991!) and Ghostbusters II. While the animated series took steps to break out of the Animation Age Ghetto (and was fairly successful), the sequel eliminated the majority of the swearing and sex jokes, and nobody except Ray Stantz is seen anywhere near tobacco (and Ray never actually smokes anything; he has an unlit pipe or cigar in his hand that he chews on in a couple scenes, but he never ever puts a lit cigarette in his mouth). That said, the second movie still has its share of actual scares, like heads impaled on spikes appearing in an abandoned, dark subway tunnel, and the villain silently locking two main characters into a claustrophobic dark room as soon as he realizes they've caught on to the link between him and the river of slime beneath New York and trying to burn them alive. The 2016 remake is also more of an out and out comedy.
  • Kull the Conqueror: When compared to the earlier (and later) Conan the Barbarian films, which this is a Divorced Installment of. In the Conan movies there are some pretty violent deaths, epically evil bad guys, and nudity. Because Kull was made with a PG-13 rating in mind, all of these are absent.
  • Snow White and the Huntsman is a rather grim Dark Fantasy film. Its sequel The Huntsman: Winter's War is more comedic and tongue-in-cheek. Notably Eric in the first film was a depressed brooder, and in the sequel is more quippy and upbeat.
  • Stardust is a bit lighter in tone than the book it's adapted from. The book had a lot more violence, sex and swearing - not to mention a Downer Ending. The film turns the violence into mostly Bloodless Carnage and inserts a lot more Getting Crap Past the Radar - overall emphasising the comedy. Neil Gaiman, who wrote the book, approved the changes.
  • Goosebumps in contrast to the books and TV show. The books were quite dark despite being for children - even darker in tone than Gremlins. The film is a Genre Throwback to them, with more comedy than outright horror.
  • Die Hard is much lighter than Nothing Lasts Forever, the novel it was loosely based on. While both the film and book respectively deal with John/Joe's fear dealing with the overwhelming odds, the book is much harsher about it by also showing the dehumanizing elements he goes through killing all of Gruber's men. In addition to that, the book has a much bigger focus on Grey and Grey Morality with the corporation the terrorists are raiding having been involved in crooked arms deals in the past, Dwayne T. Robinson is an outright Dirty Cop who also becomes an Asshole Victim in the end and Gruber's men manage to claim a lot more lives than in the film, where only Takagi and Ellis are killed, the latter of which has a far more tragic death with him tearfully begging for his life as opposed to the film where it's a result of his own smugness thinking he can control the situation.
  • The Secret Service is much more graphically violent than Kingsman: The Secret Service, with candidates seriously hurt and/or killed during training. Candidates are also required to kill in cold blood and agents are generally more sociopathic than the movie versions (doing things like immobilizing opponents before delivering no holds barred beatdowns).
  • Compared to many racing-themed movies both past and contemporary, Hal Needham's Stroker Ace eliminates the drama and grit of stockcar racing in favor of a more comedic look at the sport. Needham explores the antics behind NASCAR, including the between-race horsing around, sponsoring shenanigans, and pit crews having a laugh with each other. Its main character, Stroker, has almost no concern for winning or losing races; most of his conflict is with his sponsor, Clyde Torkle, and the humiliating advertisement gags he is forced to endure as part of his contract. Not even his rivalry with Aubrey James is taken seriously since Stroker doesn't even remember who he is half the time!
  • Believe it or not, Scarface (1983) to the film it's a loose remake of, Scarface (1932). Under the gallons of blood and frequent swearing, it's actually a good deal gentler in tone than its predecessor. This has a lot to do with Tony Montana being more sympathetic than Tony Camonte, owing to the fact that he has lines he won't cross and makes a good point about how he's really no worse than the societal elite that hypocritically looks down on him, just more honest. Montana's implied incestuous attraction to his sister is also left ambiguous, while Camonte's is as overt as The Hays Code would allow. Finally, their deaths also happen under different circumstances: Montana is killed on the orders of a more ruthless drug kingpin after he refused to kill kids to get his target, while Camonte dies in a shootout with the police after his actions cause a massive public outcry.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/LighterAndSofter/Film