Chicken Run. Helped along by what has got to be one of the most dramatic orchestral scores ever composed, this movie manages to make little clay chickens into heroes and make their story of escape from a farm feel like an odyssey.
In How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, a waiter arrives, bringing a covered dish, in which there's a smaller waiter with a smaller covered dish, and so on and so on, until the smallest opens his dish to reveal... a strawberry.
According to director Brad Bird, The Incredibles was built to be a combination of "the mundane and the fantastic". It indeed did its job well.
"I'm going to fly out now and recon this thing. When I get back, we'll work out a strategy. Are you with me? [Cue assembled multitudes of hard-bitten warriors, cheering loudly for the idea of sitting around for a while, and then figuring out what they're going to do later on that afternoon]
In Kung Fu Panda, Po's training is completed by Po and Shifu having an epic kung fu fight... over a dumpling.
The opening sequence of Toy Story 3, which is a kid playing with his toys, but now dramatized so we can see exactly what it looks like in his imagination.
WALL•E managed to make the audience stand up and cheer at the act of a fat man standing up, accompanied by "Also Sprach Zardustra".
Zootopia has Judy Hopps issuing 200 parking tickets in one morning as a Self-Imposed Challenge. Then the parking meter she's parked at goes over and she writes herself a ticket.
Films — Live-Action
The earliest films, from the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, all depict everyday people doing everyday things like leaving a factory after work, waiting for a train to arrive at the station in the Lumière Films. However, the fact alone that these are the earliest films in existence and a snapshot of what life was like in that time make them all incredibly fascinating to watch.
Documentaries about apocalypse in 2012 get into this. In one, the narrator is talking about the possibility of Earth's magnetic field shifting, causing technological breakdowns, spontaneous earthquakes, and other horrendous effects. Said narrator says all of this in suitably dramatic fashion...which is somewhat undermined by his giving exactly the same emphasis when he points out that "Your compass will not point in the same direction any more."
Any work revolving around shrinking or downright small people will indulge in this trope.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids has a group discovering how dangerous life while inch-sized: a broomstick and a lawnmower are really scary devices, a sprinkler is akin to a deluge...
Most scenes with Jedediah and Octavius in the Night at the Museum series show how epic the world seems when you're the size of miniature, and then the camera pulls back to human perspective. For instance, once they pierce a tire, it blows what to them is a huge wind gust, and then it's a miff hole deflating. Octavius also employs this while to reveal "I the most fearsome beast on Earth... the squirrel!".
Ant-Man has straight and deconstructed examples: either it shows an ant-sized hero facing a normal-sized world (a building model being shot has nothing on many a Scenery Gorn set-piece, a Thomas the Tank Engine playfield is a battlefield), or keeps the camera far away to not make it awesome (ants carrying the hero barely seems as anything from a human perspective!). An example that exudes dramatics is when a flying ant is shot, and its wing is showing falling down in slow motion.
The 2001: A Space Odyssey opening will make you want to give planet Earth a standing ovation. This applies to nearly every other long sequence in the movie, especially being that with the monkeys in the first act.
The climactic scene of Amadeus features the highly dramatic activity of ... taking down music dictation. ("G sharp?" "Of course.")
American Psycho and business cards. Extreme close-ups, slow motion reveals, tense narration - the main character even breaks down mentally and starts sweating and shaking when someone has a better business card than him. This is quite intentional, as the main character, as the title implies, is nuts.
Back to the Future: "Lou, give me a milk!" (slams a nickel onto the counter) "Chocolate!" He grabs the glass without looking, takes one epic swig of it, and slams the glass back down on the counter. Lou made his own contribution to the awesomeness of this moment by sending George's glass on a full-length counter slide directly into his waiting hand. It's a beautiful play on the concept of the swinging 50's.
Battlefield Earth: Invokedandinverted; John Travolta's character goes into a multi-minute monologue about how he's the best shot in the galaxy and will perform surgery using an energy pistol on anyone who tries to escape, playing up his own awesomeness. When the human translates (though we hear it all in English) he boils it down to "If you run he'll shoot you." Travolta's visibly annoyed that his epic speech was condensed into (for him) a few grunts. He then seems to realize that blowing the leg off a stationary, placid cow isn't the mind-blowing feat of marksmanship he'd hoped it'd be, so he starts trick shooting. Now, instead of watching a dreadlocked, 9 foot tall John Travolta shoot a cow, we are watching a dreadlocked, 9 foot tall John Travolta shooting a cow while pirouetting like a ballerina.
The Best Years of Our Lives turns the act of writing a check into heroism. Given that the check writer is a double-amputee (played by real life veteran Harold Russell) using his hooks, even though it's filmed without much flourish, it's enough to shame his banker friend into giving another veteran a loan with questionable assets.
The opening credits sequence of The Big Lebowski turns a bowling alley into god-damned Temple of Americana, all bright lights and shiny chrome like a vision of a future past.
Part of the humor of Blades of Glory is how seriously the protagonists take such a "sissy" sport.
Bowfinger does it with the arrival of FedEx. The reason is that it represents success for struggling bottom-feeding movie producer Bowfinger: every day the FedEx truck goes by, delivering scripts to working producers. Seeing the courier walking to his door is a validating moment of huge importance.
In Brooklyn, as two young women stand waiting outside the bathroom of their boarding house, one expresses her desire to be remarried:
I want to be standing outside my own bathroom, yelling at some fool with hair growing out of ears to hurry up and come out, wishing I was back here with you.
Parodied in the beginning of Bruce Almighty, using slo-mo as well as "cheesy inspirational music" to celebrate the creation of the world's biggest cookie. Later on, Bruce turns looking at a bowl of soup into an awesome moment. He splits it like the Red Sea. (Note: tomato soup.)
Bubble Boy has Jimmy reacting this way to pretty much everything he sees - which stands to reason, as he's spent 18 years in his house.
Jimmy: Dog poop? This is awesome!
A classic example comes near the end, when Jimmy's father gives him a mild Rousing Speech, then unlocks the car doors for his son.
A scene near the climax of Bullitt (a film which notably featured one of the most legitimately awesome car chases in the history of cinema, shot in a fashion that would seem almost minimalist by today's action movie standards) revolves around extreme document printing.
One of the things that makes A Christmas Story such a classic is how Jean Shepherd's narration makes a series of fairly normal events sound as world shaking as the Normandy Invasion. Which of course, is how it would seem to a boy Ralphie's age.
Drumline was a 2002 Nick Cannon vehicle that famously used elaborate editing, choreography and sound design—of the sort that you'd expect in a big-budget music video—for a story about an arrogant college kid joining a marching band. Many Millennials still remember it as "The film that made marching bands look awesome."
In Elektra, Elektra unpacks her toiletries to the accompaniment of the kind of disjointed editing and tense, thumping background music that usually accompanies things like billion-dollar heists and the assembly of homemade death-traps.
In Far and Away, Tom Cruise's character does his laundry with intensity.
The Fast and the Furiousloves doing this with the gear shifting. Each shift is easily several orders of magnitude noisier than Real Life shifting as they add dull THUD or CHUNK noises to the shift, and it makes one worry how badly damaged the transmission is to make such loud noises. May count as a subversion, as high-performance driving is far from mundane.
Taken to a new level in Furious 7. When Brian is introduced, we see him state intently, put his vehicle into gear...and move his minivan forward a few feet to let his son out.
In The FP, the sleepy mountain village of Frazier Park, California hosts intense gang battles that are settled by "Beat Beat Revelation."
This trope becomes part of the underpinning joke of the various films and media of the Ghostbusters franchise. As it turns out, once the Ghostbusters come along and apply a bit of practical science to the world of the paranormal, dealing with ghosts, otherworldly demons and extradimensional Lovecraftian horrors essentially becomes a form of glorified pest control. For example, in the first film the scenes where the Ghostbusters battle their first ghost could, with only a few minor changes, easily be a bunch of pest control officers trying to clear an infestation of rats or cockroaches out of a fancy hotel without any of the guests realising what's going on.
Lampshaded in High Anxiety. At the beginning of the film, Mr. Brooks' character walks through an airport accompanied by strident orchestral music. When he finally reaches the exit, he proclaims, "What a dramatic airport!"
Hot Fuzz does a reverse, instead of epic music and slow-mo, routine paperwork is rushed through in short, intense montages.
The commercial for "Brawndo" energy drink from the film Idiocracy has an over-enthusiastic announcer who shouts every other set of words. It's got electrolytes!
In Inglourious Basterds does this with Shoshanna putting on her makeup, preparing herself to get glorious revenge on the Nazi party.
At the beginning of Innerspace, a glass full of ice looks like something from outer space.
A robotic arm inserting the chip in the miniaturizer? Boring! A robotic arm inserting the chip with Jerry Goldsmith's music setting the mood? Awesome!
The climactic rugby match in Invictus ends with — the Springboks already being in the lead — the referee running out the clock, complete with slow-motion extreme close-ups of his watch as the seconds tick by with dramatic slamming sounds.
The opening of The Ipcress File has the main character getting up, getting dressed, making and eating breakfast, all to the accompaniment of one of the most haunting movie themes ever composed. However, this is deliberate and emphasizes the unglamorous take on spies found throughout the movie. It also establishes Harry Palmer as a forward-looking man of his time, as Britain comes out of post-war austerity. A man who grinds his own beans to make real coffee is something unusual. Later, he seduces a woman by cooking an omelette.
Casino Royale (2006) had some very dramatic music playing during James Bond's drive from the airport to his hotel. The clincher was that he was driving in a Ford Mondeo, which is a far cry from 007's usual Cool Car.
Dr. No and From Russia with Love, being the first two Bond movies (not counting the original, unofficial Casino Royale (1954) with Barry Nelson), use the Bond theme at every situation possible, even simple ones such as Bond's airplane arriving and 007 driving to the beach.
From Russia with Love contains James Bond CALMLY INVESTIGATING HIS ROOM! He does find a bug on his telephone, but the fact that the music is blaring loudly while nothing happens except for Bond looking at various objects - almost literally zero physical threats at this point - make it just a little overblown.
In Joe Versus the Volcano, the luggage salesman's reveal of "our premier steamer trunk" is bathed in light and accompanied by wordless, ethereal singing.
John Williams' bombastic score for Jurassic Park conveys majesty and danger in all the right places, such as the group seeing live dinosaurs for the first time and pretty much every scene of them in immediate peril. It also does this in quite a few of the wrong ones, too (like the breathtaking "ride to the Visitor's Center" sequence, or Sattler hurriedly running for the maintenance shed with nothing actually chasing her).
King Kong (2005) has Jack Driscoll typing the letters to spell out "Skull Island" onto his typewriter with odd camera effects.
Lighthouse: the main character types the main villain's name on her typewriter in dramatic fashion.
In one scene just before the climax of Iron Man, Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane turns the act of taking a sip of whiskey into a long, intense, incredibly menacing event. As one reviewer put it, "he drinks the shit out of a glass of Scotch."
Hundred-year-old super soldier and former brainwashed killing machine:[coldly and badassly] Can you move your seat up? Veteran who's flown dozens of combat missions in an unarmored flight suit:[also coldly and badassly] No. [Hundred-year-old super soldier coldly and badassly scoots to the middle of the bench seat.]
Les Misérables (2012) does this when Eponine belts out "But he never saw there!" as she puts on her iconic page boy cap during the "One Day More" number.
In La Moustache: shaving. The film has a very strong and powerful classical soundtrack that plays when Marc shaves his moustache off at the start of the film. Another is when Angès calls Marc's parents to say they aren't coming to dinner.
The Shoveler in the film Mystery Men manages to make an epic badass Rousing Speech that galvanizes the heroes into action and gives them the confidence to succeed. It's all centered around... not eating an egg salad sandwich.
This is egg salad. It's loaded with cholesterol. The wife won't even let me touch it. Hardly seems to matter now, 'cause chances are, we're already dead. Amazing is gone. There's no use waiting for the cavalry, because as of this moment, the cavalry is us. This is our fight, whether we like it or not. Just we few. We're not your classic superheroes. We're not the favorites. We're the other guys. We're the guys nobody ever bets on. But I'll tell you what I think. ... We're all in over our heads, and we know it. But if we take on this fight, those of us who survive it will forever after show our scars with pride, and say, 'That's right! I was there! I fought the good fight!' So whatdaya say? Do we all gather together, and go kick some Casanova butt? Or do I eat this sandwich?
Having shown the characters close up images of his devastated homeworld on the viewscreen, the alien character orders "Normal view" and we are treated to a static ten-second shot of our characters looking at a viewscreen now simply showing a planet, while the orchestra gives it the full dramatic PAH PAH PAAAAAAH!! PAH PAH PAAAAAAAA!! treatment.
Mike, Tom and Crow: "Nor-mal view! NOR-mal view! NOR-MAL view! NOOOR-MAAAL VIIIEEEW!!!"
It should be noted that MST3K:TM does this as well, with an awesome, inspiring musical cue underscoring the first transition into the theater — although it's most likely done tongue-in-cheek.
(A teenager starts drink a coke as if he were in some kind of soft drink commercial) Tom Servo: (As the teenager) I'm gonna drink the hell out of this coke!
Watching a lame spy flick:
Servo:HE CHECKS AN APPLIANCE!!!!(loudly hums the James Bond theme DAH-DUH-DAH-DAH!!!)
Mike: Does this tepid little scene really warrant DUHNN!!! DUHNN-DUH-DUHNN!!!?
The documentary The Nation State introduces all of the guest professors in the film by doing a black-and-white, slow-motion close-up as the professor turns his head toward the camera, with (in some cases) dramatic music playing in the background. An anthropology class bursts into laughter.
The Natural makes baseball seem like Ragnarok. Redford's character knocks the cover off of balls, wedges the ball into the net when he pitches, and at the end his homerun hit destroys the lighting fixtures, causing sparks and explosions to rain down on the field.
Office Space: the sequence in which the three protagonists infect the company's computer with a virus: slow motion, hip-hop music, and a sound effect of a gunshot as one of them clicks a mouse to activate the virus. (Lampshaded at the end with the words "That was easy.") The same devices are used when the photocopier/fax machine meets its ultimate fate, although in that case it starts to cross over into mildly disturbing territory.
Some mundane scenes in Dario Argento's Phenomena are coupled with sudden blasts of heavy metal music or the film's theme song.
Rocky turned running up the stairs into a cultural phenomenon!
The Room has a particularly noticeable example. When Mark shaves his beard, they zoom in directly on his face and play dramatic music... for no good reason. Since the entire movie consists of loosely strung together BLAM moments, what do we expect?
Saturday Night Fever: Only Tony Manero (and the actor playing him, John Travolta) could make walking down the streets of Brooklyn with a paint can in one hand (and two slices of pizza in the other during a brief period), swaggering to and fro as he checks out women and the scenery, seem like an epic moment of pure, distilled awesome. The soundtrack helps.
The typing of Schindler's List. Justified as this is Schindler's last hurrah, and every name that goes on the list is one more Jew that doesn't have to die.
In the German movie Schtonk! (the one about the faked Hitler diaries), the journalist when he reads the first entry. (He's a big fan of Adolf Hitler; the magazine in question in Real Life was rather on the left side, but for some strange reason still employed him.) What the (remember, fake) entry is about? "Hitler" writing how he suffers from too much gas, and Eva Braun saying he has halitosis.
Scotland, PA has a scene where Mac breaks up a food fight by kicking the two guys out of the restaurant. It happens in dramatic slo-mo, with an epic, orchestral score playing over it. Afterward, the entire restaurant applauds him.
At one point in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, while he is preparing for the face-off against Jason Schwartzman's Gideon Graves, the last and most powerful of the Evil Exes, Michael Cera's Scott Pilgrim ties his sneakers. No, make that TIES! HIS! SNEAKERS!
Secondhand Lions features a sleepwalking, nightshirt-clad Robert Duvall swordfighting with a toilet plunger, accompanied by clanging sound effects and an epic orchestral score. Its silliness is outweighed by just how awesome it is.
Showgirls lets us watch as Nomi Malone ketchups the fuck out of a plate of fries.
Slasher MovieSledgehammer features an obscene amount of slow-motion and freeze frame for such mundane things as a couple walking across a field and a girl plugging something into a wall socket.
Snatch.: Cousin Avi's airplane flights to and from England use a Darren Aronofsky-style "hip-hop montage" for comedic effect. In two seconds of screen time, he's moved halfway across the world.
The Social Network has one of the most exciting sequences involving computer programming in a movie. There are scenes of a sexy college party spliced in.
Spider-Man: Peter Parker designs his Superhero costume in a montage, complete with his notes ("Needs more color"), newspaper ads for the car of his dreams and the wrestling match, an image of a smiling Mary Jane, and Danny Elfman's themes; this scene segues into Peter's shooting his web in his room, with some more Elfman music.
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder gives us an in-universe example. One of the government broadcasts shows us the amazing new weapon of the Federation... the shovel.
Invoked by Bill Murray's character in Stripes, who begins humming overly dramatic music as they sign their enlistment papers and join the army.
The climax of ¡Three Amigos! has the Amigos and the people of Santa Poco defeat El Guapo and his gang with their talent of... sewing, specifically replica Amigos costumes.
Tommy - Pinball: the new religion! Pete Townshend wanted to keep the Rock Opera from getting too "pretentious". He also wanted the concept to appeal to the president of his label, who he knew liked pinball. Townshend also wanted an element that was "slightly sleazy" and teenage. Keith Moon also suggested to place Tommy's "miracle cure" following in a British holiday camp. The goofy, sing-along quality of the theme for "Tommy's Holiday Camp".
In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Simmons walks across a room, picks up a passport, and puts on a jacket. Pretty mundane stuff, except for the epic music and crazy angle/focus of the scene making it look like a spy movie.
The Tree of Life spends the whole movie in this mode. Especially prominent when immense music and frantic camera angles accompany scene after scene of kids running in a yard, kids sleeping in bed, kids snuggling with their mother, over and over and over again.
Triumph of the Will: Don't let all those uniforms and marching formations fool you; the vast majority of Nazis you're seeing in this movie are civilians, though some of them would be putting on their soldiers' uniforms and marching off to war soon enough.
UHF does this in a commercial for the fake film Conan the Librarian. A man asks Conan where he can find a book on Astronomy. Conan responds by lifting him up by the collar so that the man is inches from his face, and says in a menacing voice "Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System!?"
The Wizard loves to play mundane things as godlike artifacts. For example, the Power Glove is made to look like some high tech cybernetic enhancement, which is about the opposite of what it really was. Ironically, that scene shows just how "bad" it is, with the footage of Rad Racer being a mediocre at best performance (so much for his Informed Ability). And SUPER! MARIO! BROTHERS! THREEEEEEEE! (Then again, that game is pretty awesome.)
Pretty much any film by Edgar Wright is bound to have this in spades. It's mocked in Shaun of the Dead, taking the "tooling up" segments of horror movies (specifically the Evil Dead films), and making them things like getting ready for work. Hot Fuzz includes dramatic paperwork (with Dual Wieldingpens akimbo), dramatic murder-via-baked-beans, dramatic hitting-somebody-over-the-head-with-a-peace-lily, dramatic travelling-across-England, dramatic putting-change-on-a-counter, etc. The World's End keeps up the tradition by using over-the-top shots of beer note and tap water getting dispensed from taps. It's somewhat tongue-in-cheek.