You said the word "virus?" That's it! I'll use my Mac laptop to beat the aliens.

You said the word "virus?" That's it! I'll use my Mac laptop to beat the aliens.

There’s a little plot trick that the writer abuses used glaringly in Independence Day and The Hangover. It’s one of these things where the writer has gotten into a corner where there’s no way to solve the epic problem that he or she has created and needs a miracle plot device to get out of it.

It’s when out of nowhere, from casual conversation, the character who can’t solve the problem either says or hears something which triggers the thought that solves the entire problem.

Remember in Independence Day where Jeff Goldblum is sitting with his father, a.k.a. every Jewish stereotype rolled into one guy. The aliens have destroyed the world, they’re down and out, there’s no chance to succeed and the dad sneezes and says, “I think I’m getting a cold.”

Now any normal human being would respond by saying, “Bless you,” or “Stay away because I don’t want your cold,” but magically this sneeze has solved the entire alien crisis.

Jeff Goldblum says, “Wait, what did you say?” on the brink of revelation. And the dad goes, “I’m getting sick. I have a virus.” And because of this Goldblum goes, “That’s it!” By the dad saying he has a cold, suddenly Goldblum has realized that the way to defeat the aliens is to link it up to a Macintosh computer, create a network connection, upload a virus into the alien mothership, which will then pull down the forcefields around all their smaller ships and give the humans a chance to win the war.

Have you ever in your life had one of these moments of revelation, for real? Like someone says, “The Yankees got robbed today.” And you’re like, “That’s it! I’ll solve my financial problems by pulling off an elaborate scheme to rob Fort Knox and the blueprints just appeared in my head because you used the word “Rob.”

The Hangover did the same thing and it’s infuriating. When they find out the guy is on the roof by someone using the word, “Up,” or something. It’s a cheap move and never happens in real life.

I love, by the way, that I can totally buy the logic that aliens have come to Earth to destroy our planet, but I have a problem with the plot device used to defeat them.