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What are the Different Movie Genres?

Margo Upson
Updated May 23, 2024
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A movie genre is a label applied to a movie for categorization purposes. There are dozens of movie genres and sub-genres that viewers can choose from. Many of the major genres hold the majority of popular movies, while the least popular genres have movies that appeal to personal taste. Movie genres can be broken down into six categories.

The first category of movies is action and adventure. These movies typically have a hero, a heroine, or a group of heroes. This genre includes movies based on comic books, almost anything with a car chase, and spy movies, among many others. They are characterized by a fast plotline, lots of action, and movement towards a particular goal, such as a hidden treasure or getting away with a crime.

Comedy movies are the second genre category. This includes traditional comedies as well as romantic comedies and buddy movies. Comedies take an ordinary situation and exaggerate it areas of the storyline to create humor. Effective comedy reflects a part of normal human interaction in a humorous way, allowing the viewers a glimpse into their own lives.

The third category of movies fit into the drama genres. This includes historical movies, epics, westerns, fantasy, science fiction, and sports. Again, some movies may blur the lines between these genres. These movies are usually a little less about character, and more about the plot and location, which includes when the movie takes place. Many of these movies, such as many of those in the sport and drama genres, are accurate depictions of true events or people. Other movie genres, such as epic, science fiction, or fantasy films, create alternate worlds and realities, with mythical animals and story lines that would be impossible in real life.

Family movies are generally rated PG (parental guidance) 13 or under. They are movies that both parents and kids can enjoy. This category also includes kids' and teen movies. Kid and family movies are the genres that saw the introduction of computer animated movies. Although these movies may be labeled as kids' movies, they are often enjoyed by viewers of all ages.

Movies in the thriller genre are written and directed in a way that is meant to keep the audience guessing and on the edge of their seats. Similar genres, like horror, crime, and suspense, have the same goal. Horror and thriller movies specifically try to hook audiences by using fear, shock, and disbelief. Movies with ghosts, demons, evil psychopaths and other terrifying premises fit into these genres.

The final category contains movies that are enjoyed as a matter of personal taste. Many of these movies are not mainstream. These genres include musicals and independent films. Although these movies have picked up some popularity, they are not anywhere close to seeing the popularity of other movie genres.

There are some genres that could fit into any of the other categories. One example would be coming-of-age movies, which could take place as part of a horror movie, a kids' movie, or anything in between. Movie genres are usually combined to create the different aspect of a film. One genre may describe the movie's plot (romantic), one genre may describe the time period or setting (western), and another may describe the overall tone of the movie (comedy or drama). There are very few movies that fit into only one genre. This mixing and matching of movie genres creates the blend in plot that makes most movies interesting and makes viewers want to watch.

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Margo Upson
By Margo Upson , Writer
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a WiseTour writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.

Discussion Comments

By moviefreak2 — On May 24, 2011

It's also important to mention the various influences different places in the world have on movies. I am a lover of french films, and often times these are described as being "stream of consciousness" movies. Often with no real plot.

The story is simply someone's existence.

Margo Upson

Margo Upson


With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
Learn more
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