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Serious Business / Live-Action Films

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  • 7 Days in Hell: Aaron pushing the Duke of Kent, which is reported by news channels around the world mere seconds after it happens. It's considered to be the most scandalous thing that Aaron's ever done and a definite low point for his career, even though Aaron had killed a man the very same day.
  • Akeelah and the Bee has a character named Dylan, whose father insists that he be Asian and Nerdy and beat the titular character in the national spelling bee by saying that if he comes in second place in anything, he'll be second place for life.
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  • Another Disney Channel example would be Alley Cats Strike. however, despite first guess, the Serious Business isn't so much bowling itself, but rather the rivalry between the city's two schools. Though in this case the True Companions are as bewildered by their schools behavior as anyone else would be.
  • American Psycho does this with a number of yuppy affectations, but most especially business cards. There's a serious rivalry in Patrick's firm about how good they look, right down to the subtle shades of white and the font. In fact, they're so serious, Patrick kills a guy who has business cards better than him. Or does he??
  • The Andy Hardy series finds Andy Hardy, a fresh-faced likeable boy in Everytown, America, usually having to deal with exceedingly small-stakes problems that he always treats as Serious Business. In Love Finds Andy Hardy, the big problems are 1) getting a date to the Christmas dance and 2) getting $8 so he can buy a used car to take to said Christmas dance.
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  • In Avalon, the eponymous game is so serious Ash makes a living out of playing it.
  • Balls of Fury does it with Ping-Pong table tennis... In a ludicrously over-the-top way.
  • In Band Slam, band competitions are "Texas high school football big."
  • The sport BASEketball from the film of the same name becomes serious business to many people very quickly, becoming one of the most popular sports in America only a few years after being invented by two drunk guys. And then the plot of the film is based around one of the team owners trying to make it Serious Business, trying to get the rules changed so making serious money is more possible.
  • As pictured on the main page, Walter in The Big Lebowski has bowling. He's willing to pull a gun over a rules infraction, and he'll even break the Sabbath to prevent a team member from quitting. And the whole story is kickstarted by a petty feud over a soiled rug that really tied the room together.
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  • In the Bill & Ted movies, the music of Wyld Stallyns has become the basis for the entire society of the future, curing diseases, fostering world peace, and improving people's bowling and mini-golf scores.
  • Mildly averted in Blackball. The film itself is a spoof in which bowling is a very serious business. When the hero sets up a rivalry with the (60 year old) reigning champion and falls in love with his daughter, he wants to show her some of the magic and importance of bowling. Her response: 'I HATE bowling'. He more or less accepts this.
  • Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story does this with professional paintball.
  • In the DCOM movie Camp Rock 2 there's a song called "Don't back down," which makes a rivalry between summer-camps out to be incredibly serious business. It's hilarious until you realize it's not meant as a parody.
    • Made even better by the lines:
    We can't back down,
    There's too much at stake.
    This is serious
    Don't walk away.
  • In Canadian Bacon, Canadian beer is Serious Business to Canadians. Casually mentioning that it sucks sparks a riot that almost escalates into a war.
  • The main character in Carry On in the Legion runs away to join the French Foreign Legion so that he wouldn't get arrested for apparently cheating in a cricket match. Looks like cheating in a cricket match in front of the upper-class is Serious Business.
  • Celtic Pride is about a couple of Celtics fans who kidnap the Utah Jazz star player so their team can win. In the end, all three men learn to just enjoy the game. That is until football season...
  • A Christmas Story: Told from the perspective of a child, everything is serious business. When Schwartz issues a "double dog dare," then skips the "triple dare" to go straight to the "triple dog dare," the crowd of boys are suitably impressed by the gravity of the situation. In another vignette, Ralphie decodes Little Orphan Annie's secret message like it's a matter of national security.
  • In Crossroads, blues music is apparently serious enough to sell your soul to the devil for, and motivation enough to break self-confessed murderers out of custody. The selling your soul is a Shout-Out to blues legend Robert Johnson who claimed to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to play guitar so well.
  • The Disney Channel movie Dadnapped is all about this trope, in which the main character's father is kidnapped by his fans.
  • In Death to Smoochy, children's television seems like Serious Business, until you find out that it pales in comparison to the importance of ice shows.
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story parodies sports movies by making Serious Business out of a children's ball game played by adults.
  • Duplicity plays this straight with the main plot; competition between two cosmetics companies is treated as Serious Business. Competition in the microwave pizza industry is dismissed as silly.
  • In eXistenZ, people are willing to commit murder over the eponymous video game. This was partly inspired by the trials and tribulations of the director's friend, Salman Rushdie. A major theme of the film is just how fanatically people can react to works of art.
  • Fanboys deals with Star Wars fandom.
  • Streetracing is handled thus in The Fast and the Furious series.
  • In King Vidor's The Fountainhead, the public views architecture with a fervor combining the World Series, the Super Bowl, the World Cup match, and whatever the Kardashians did last night. Not sure if it's the same as in the novel, but I suspect so.
  • In The FP is built around the inherent comedy of the gangs of Frazier Park dueling by playing "Beat Beat Revelation." For some reason this is abandoned in the final act, when a duel escalates into standard gunfights and fisticuffs.
  • Both Free Enterprise and Trekkies believe that Star Trek is Serious Business.
  • Deconstructed in Friday Night Lights with American football. The extreme passion people in Dillon, Texas have for the sport is implied to make things worse for the team, as it is their burden to make the town proud and most of them are fighting enough of their own battles without the pressure of a town's failed dreams on their backs. Also Truth in Television; football is very serious business in Texas and much of the rural South.
  • Furry Vengeance would have the animals tormenting Brendan Fraser's character because they aren't going to take well of his plans of tearing down their forest for a development.
  • God of Cookery is a film about a disgraced chef battling to regain his honour.
  • The crowd is really unnaturally engaged during all of the debates in The Great Debaters, to the point that it's kind of distracting.
  • In Green Street (or Green Street Hooligans for Americans), a visiting American learns that association football appreciation is Serious Business in the UK, falling into a circle where it leads to brutal gang brawls, mutilation, and outright murder.
  • Planet Terror: JT, the steakhouse owner, has a falling out with his brother, the sheriff, over his barbeque sauce recipe. Whenever they talk on the phone, the conversation turns to the barbeque sauce in under a minute. After they've both been shot, JT finally tells his brother the recipe, and the sheriff uses his dying breath to promise never to tell anybody the recipe.
  • The 1985 French-Canadian Tales for All series film La Guerre des Tuques (or The Dog who Stopped the War) involves all of the children of a neighborhood going to full-blown, out-of-control, friendship-shattering (snowball) war because a snow fort one of them made was just considered that cool. The titular dog is a Saint Bernard owned by one of the children and beloved by all... and she "stops the war" by getting killed as accidental collateral damage, knocking everybody back to their senses.
  • The movie Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, in which White Castle hamburgers are serious business. One other fast-food cook wants to burn down his restaurant for them.
  • The movie Hatley High, in which chess is very serious business.
  • The zombie film Hide And Creep has a precious moment of this toward the beginning, where one of the main characters enters a diner and orders Coke, only to find out that they only serve Pepsi. He then goes into a massive pro-Coke/anti-Pepsi rant, finally summing up that the diner was "like red China" for not giving the diners their choice of cola.
  • High School Musical,
    • Varsity basketball is serious business. Crowds flood the school hallways to get to the Big Game. When the protagonist misses one practice session, an intervention is staged.
    • As is theatre — at least in the mind of its teacher, if not in anyone else's.
    Ms.Darbus: (about play auditions) I will be in the theater until noon, for those of you bold enough to extend the wingspan of your creative spirit...
  • In Hot Fuzz, everyone's obsessed with Sandford winning the Village of the Year contest, taking it to homicidal extremes.
  • I Wanna Hold Your Hand, a film about Beatlemania, has a lot of this trope.
  • In a World…...: Voice-over work, specifically for movie trailers, which is treated as far more prestigious than other jobs that use the same skill set like advertising for products other than movies, voice coaching, narrating audiobooks, or voice acting for animation.
  • In Kill Bill, Hattori Hanzo invokes this trope by name while discussing Japanese pronunciation with the Bride. He also somewhat arrogantly speaks of the swords he makes with absurd reverence, and claims that his best one (which he makes especially for the Bride) is so perfect it could cause God to bleed.
  • The King of Kong is about all the drama behind Donkey Kong world records. "Donkey Kong kill screen coming up..." There was even more serious business behind the scenes. Careful editing played up the rivalry and made a less obvious villain out of one of the players.
  • Bowling seems to be pretty popular for this trope, as Kingpin also did it, what with Bill Murray's character getting his young, upstart rival's hand shoved into a ball return through a "misunderstanding" with some gangsters... who also bowl.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, the comic relief characters Charters and Caldecott consider the game Cricket to be Serious Business.
  • In The Last Starfighter the entire trailer-park drops what they're doing runs over when they hear Alex is about to break the record score on the Starfighter video game. They are all elated when he does, and Alex later tells his mother that this day will be remembered forever in the trailer-park. Possibly justified, as there doesn't seem to be much else to do there, and it's implied they have all played it at some point.
  • In The Lighthouse, lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake goes on a two-minute long Purple Prose rant cursing his companion to die at sea upon hearing that he doesn't like Wake's cooking.
  • In Mean Machine and The Longest Yard, association football and American football are Serious Business to convicted felons. However, their primary motivation is actually to hurt the guards on the opposing team as much as possible.
  • Men At Work: Do not mess with another man's fries.
  • The Mighty Ducks: The local newspaper not only covers the games of a bunch of 12-year olds, but features them with headlines, one including a dramatic "Face-Off" of the two coaches before the final game. The villain coach tells his team to intentionally hurt a player on the Duck's team due to him being on the Duck's due to re-zoning. Jesus Christ man, it's a game between 12 year olds!
  • In Mystery Team Duncan's use of the word "fuck" is considered more distressing than two double homicides.
  • Brazilian movie Os Farofeiros has a character who takes card games seriously to a violent degree. Once her Canasta (or more specifically, Buraco) partner misses her signals and does a bad play,note  she tackles her to the floor. And after splitting the fight, the woman's husband reveals she stabbed her brother-in-law for turning a natural canasta into a mixed one.
  • The third Otto movie (from Germany). Two eco-freaks arguing whether a used teabag belongs into normal garbage or natural garbage. Otto solves the problem solomonically: The content of the teabag is natural, the teabag itself is non-natural, but then there's the question about what to do with the string, the attached paper and the metal clamp.
  • This is Pee-wee Herman's reaction to having his beloved bicycle stolen in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. He likens the tragedy to that of a spouse or love interest being kidnapped (referring to his bike as a fellow "victim"), demands the police devote their entire resources to nabbing the thief, briefly wonders if the theft might be a Soviet plot somehow...and slowly goes insane, to the point where he frightens off some tough guys by roaring at them after they threaten him. Perhaps the most absurd scene is the one where he invites everyone he knows over to his basement and, for three hours, subjects them to an obsessive "court hearing" about the event, presenting as "evidence" everything he can think of in some way connected to that day, including what position the sun was in at the time the crime occurred. When one of his friends finally calls him out on this nonsense, Pee-wee reveals that he knows full well how ridiculous he is acting, but he just...can't...stop...himself.
    Pee-wee: The mind plays tricks on you! You play tricks back! It's like you're unraveling a big cable-knit sweater...that someone keeps knitting...a-a-and knitting...a-a-and knitting...
  • In Pitch Perfect everyone takes a capella far too seriously. Especially Aubrey, though Becca considers it a useless diversion at first. The sequel takes it even further, suggesting that rich eccentrics like to host a capella battles, complete with a Big Board and formalized rules. Though at one key point it's subverted, when Becca reveals her dirty secret that she's been interning for a job after she graduates, the rest of the team says they already knew, and even Aubrey states that she didn't expect Becca to dedicate her whole life to a capella.
  • In the documentary Please Vote For Me, a Chinese third grade class gets way too competitive over an election to be class monitor. It includes slander, threats and bribery. For third graders. Link to doc.
  • Played for Drama in The Prestige, in which two rival magicians, Angier and Borden, take stage magic so seriously that it crosses into obsession and fuels an vicious escalating feud between them. This eventually gets so bad that Angier goes completely insane and frames Borden's twin brother for murder (getting him hanged), while also cloning and killing himself dozens of times over, all just to pull off a hokey magic trick.
  • The 2005 documentary Pucker Up is about five people travelling to North Carolina to compete in the National Whistling Competition.
  • In RAD, the entire culture of a town is built around BMX. This is cited in Cracked's "The 4 Weirdest Lessons '80s Movies Really Wanted to Teach Us" as the most ridiculous example of a hobby that saves the world.
  • Robot boxing is very Serious Business in Real Steel.
  • School politics and Fraternities in most college movies are played to the hilt, such as in the Revenge of the Nerds films and Animal House. In the latter film, Doug Niedermeyer acts like a Drill Sergeant Nasty to the new pledges.
  • D Grade suburban cricket is this to Teddy and Colin in Save Your Legs!. To the rest of the team, not so much.
  • Jack Black's character puts it in exactly these terms in School of Rock: "Now, this is serious business here. We've got a mission. Putting on a great rock show is the most important thing. One great rock show can change the world."
  • Speed Racer has automobile racing, which has become by far the biggest global sport and has a major impact on the prices of the biggest corporations. Speed even explicitly compares signing with Royalton's company to making a Deal with the Devil.
  • Hip hop street dancing is Serious Business in Step Up 2: the Streets. This is cemented from the very beginning with a ridiculously dramatic opening monologue. It gets worse within the first 5 minutes, where a subway prank involving dancing is reported on the news as though it was a terrorist attack! (right down to the subway being closed down)
  • Ballroom dancing is Serious Business for the characters in Baz Luhrman's Strictly Ballroom.
  • Tag is about five friends who have been playing the same game of tag every May for thirty years straight, and go to great, somewhat dangerous lengths to tag each other. Best exemplified by Jerry, who has never been tagged and uses elaborate disguises and traps to maintain that record. The film eventually takes this to task in the final act, when everybody else confronts Jerry and make clear that the whole idea of treating this thing as Serious Business was for the sake of maintaining contact as they went their separate ways, while Jerry's tactics have become too damn slimy even for them (the faked pregnancy of Jerry's fiancee complete with faked miscarriage to be used as an "exit ticket" in case Jerry needed an escape from being cornered comes to mind) and they are just this close of stopping considering him a friend and ditching him, a revelation that makes Jerry accept that he missed the whole point.
  • In Tampopo, most of the characters treat the preparation, serving and consumption of food as serious business.
    • Even narrower that than. Not simply food, but noodle soup!
  • The Ten does this in most of its stories. Most of the plots are motivated by people obsessing over fairly ludicrous things. It might just be a statement on people taking religion overboard, but it gets pretty inane. For instance, certain segments hinge entirely on people obsessing over:
    • A man half-buried in the ground after a skydiving accident.
    • Cat Scan machines.
    • A normal ventriloquist dummy.
  • The Who's Rock Opera Tommy: Pinball is Serious Business! They even create a new religion out of it.
  • In the little-known Lisa Whelchel film Twirl, baton-twirling, of all things, is treated as this.
  • Wrist-cutting and being a ganguro in Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl is treated like this.
  • In A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Harold's father-in-law (played by Danny Trejo) takes Christmas and especially Christmas trees very seriously. Naturally the tree he brought is destroyed by Kumar and the title characters have to go out and find a replacement.
  • In Weekend by Jean-Luc Godard, anything related to the bourgeois lifestyle is Serious Business. Beware not to dent somebody's car. And for some reason everyone carries around a weapon or is insane.
  • Gently parodied and lampshaded in Whip It; the protagonist thinks rollerderby is a huge deal, but it's mostly because she lives in a small town that she hates and has nothing else going well for her. Her team's coach is obsessed with winning, but the rest of the skaters have a more relaxed view, and when they lose the final, they still celebrate because hey! They made it from last place to the final!
  • Played first for comedy and then for horror in The Wild Hunt, in which a group of LARPers take the game far too seriously.
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: Wonka's candy, especially his chocolate bars, are taken very seriously by the people of the world, and the early movie has a few scenes dedicated to showing it. One of the best examples is a woman whose husband had been kidnapped, and swears she'll pay any ransom. When they ask for all her Wonka Bars, she asks how long she has to think about it.
  • The Wizard plays with this trope in that in the world of the film, Nintendo is an integral part of the culture. Everyone knows it, everyone plays, and everyone's plugged in, to the point where "Video Armageddon" is greater than the Super Bowl.
  • Will Ferrell seems to have built his career around this trope: local newscasting in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the fashion industry in Zoolander, fraternities in Old School, and figure skating in Blades of Glory.
  • Christopher Guest's line of mockumentary comedies each deal with a different subject in this trope: community theater in Waiting for Guffman, dog shows in Best in Show, and folk music in A Mighty Wind.
  • Sometimes futuristic films will be set in a world where a bizarre game has replaced war:
    • In the original Rollerball, wars have been replaced by a brutal form of roller derby.
    • In Robot Jox, America and the USSR resolve land disputes not by nuclear war, but by gladiatorial combat between giant robots. The trope is almost inverted in the fact that the bouts are televised and treated like sporting events by ordinary citizens.
  • Ingrid Bergman's marriage to Roberto Rosellini was so badly received that she was slammed on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • Sound of My Voice: played for drama with an elaborate Secret Handshake that is required from all cult members to gain admittance to sermons from the cult's leader. Some sequences of the handshake look like a child's "patty cake" clapping game. It turns out the handshake was invented by a child.
  • The Caine Mutiny: Played for Drama: The disappearance of a quart of strawberries (which may or may not have never even been loaded to the ship) drives Captain Queeg into performing a full-blown investigation, with punishments (like denying time off) and interrogations (including Perp Sweating) galore. The fact that he places an incredible amount of effort into finding these strawberries instead of focusing on other important parts of managing his ship makes all the other officers believe he's insane and eventually becomes the cornerstone of the defense against the charge for the eponymous mutiny.
  • Norwegian movie Freske Fraspark (Spry kickbacks): Played for Laughs: A local sportsman wins the national skiing contest, and because he grew up in the border area between two municipalities, both of them claim ownership to him with cataclysmic results. The casualties count, among other things, a dead cow, 20 featherless hens, a broken arm, several bruises and a lot of spilled energy for nothing. The fact that the train stops for two more minutes on one of the stations is counted Serious Business as well.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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