We'll probably never see a film that's entirely devoid of "that only happens in movies" cliches, but there are certain devices that get phased out over time, usually because audiences stop taking them seriously. For example, people in horror movies don't say "I'll be right back" anymore, not since the Scream series made fun of it -- or if they do say it, it's done ironically, with a wink to the audience. Like polio, the "I'll be right back" virus has virtually been eradicated.

Another cliche that I thought had run its course is the Slow Clap. You know how it works: Someone gives a dramatic speech in front of a crowd. There are a few moments of silence. Then one person begins applauding, slowly at first, then picking up speed, and the rest of the audience gradually joins in, culminating in a tumultuous standing ovation. (A YouTube compilation of several such moments can be found after the jump.) Not Another Teen Movie mocked this cliche rather thoroughly back in 2001, vocalizing a thought that moviegoers had had in the back of their minds for a long time -- i.e., the Slow Clap is stupid -- and filmmakers have gradually been shamed into not using it anymore.

But now Love Happens is bringing it back, old school! The semi-romantic semi-drama, set to open Friday (unless this lawsuit prevents it), employs innumerable trite cliches over the course of its running time, but none so egregious as the Slow Clap.
Without spoiling anything, the main character, a self-help guru played by Aaron Eckhart, gives an impassioned and unexpectedly personal speech in which he reveals things he had not previously told anyone. His audience is stunned into silence. Then we cut to a shot of a particular audience member who figured into the story earlier. He is stunned like everyone else. I thought: He's not gonna do the Slow Clap, is he? There's no way. THERE'S NO WAY a movie in 2009 uses the Slow Clap without it being a joke. He can't possibly-- OH MY HECK HE'S DOING THE SLOW CLAP!

Love Happens was written and directed by men who are under 40. They are not old hacks who simply don't realize audiences laugh at the Slow Clap nowadays. They are people who should have known better. What were they thinking? How could they have thought we would take this seriously? If I were to interview the director, Brandon Camp, that is the first question I would ask him. In fact, it's the only question I would ask him, because the rest of the movie isn't worth talking about.

And now I'm trying to think: When was the last time we saw an un-ironic Slow Clap? I'm sure it hasn't entirely disappeared over the last several years; it's just become uncommon. What recent movies have used it? Can you think of any? Please share in the comments -- slowly at first and then gradually building to a crescendo, of course.