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There are a ton of movies out there that try to inspire us all to be better people. Rudy, Lean on Me, Robocop--these films' powerful themes can transcend all boundaries.

But a powerful theme can be a dangerous thing in the hands of the wrong filmmaker. What if your "powerful theme" is "don't take those pills the doctor gave you!" or "don't be afraid of death, you're invincible?"

Don't think anybody would make a movie with such a moronically dangerous message? Wanna bet?

Garden State

In a movie appropriately named after the most depressing state in the union, Zach Braff plays Andrew Largeman, a young man who has been on antidepressants ever since paralyzing the shit out of his mom by pushing her over a dishwasher when he was a kid.

Through a series of quirky--and therefore artsy--events, Largeman decides that the best way to deal with his issues is to stop taking his medicine and experience life to the fullest. This allows him to patch things up with his estranged dad and bang Natalie Portman to an indie rock soundtrack.

"I don't know about you, but this funeral is getting me totally fucking hot."

The Message:

There is no medication better than the beauty of life! And also sex with Natalie Portman!

The Horror:

There is absolutely no question that someone in the audience for this movie was on medication and didn't need to be. It happens. All drugs have side effects, they can be unpleasant and some people are better off without them.

What is far more likely, however, is that the people taking the drugs really need to keep freaking taking them. This is not opinion here, this is medical fact: the drug Zach Braff was quitting was lithium and study after study shows that people diagnosed with bipolar disorder (the thing they prescribe lithium for) are 10 fucking times more likely to commit suicide if they don't take it or go off of it.

How's that for a side effect?

"I'm really glad we met. Cool with you if I drive this baby straight into the ocean?"

Now we're sure if the movie Garden State was somehow sentient and here to defend itself, it would say, "But the film deals with that issue! After all, in the movie, Zach Braff was improperly diagnosed by his dad, Bilbo Baggins. So surely you, Guy on Lithium Watching This Movie, aren't supposed to apply his situation to your own!"

Sure, but this is then followed by 90 minutes of Mr. Braff saying things like "the drugs left me fucking numb!" and "we should allow ourselves to be whatever we are!" Oh, and in the film the doctor prescribing the drugs was wrong and prescribed the drugs due to malicious ulterior motives (the big emotional breakthrough is when Braff "forgives" his doctor/father for prescribing them).

And don't forget that the patient's new, drug-free awesomeness is rewarded with Natalie Portman sex.

"You'll have to choose: Me, or that useless Asthma Inhaler."

Of course, it's just a movie. You wouldn't actually listen to it and take its message to heart unless, you know, you had some kind of mental illness or something.

Patch Adams

In one of his many attempts at drama after discovering he was no longer funny, Robin Williams portrays the character of Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams, a radical, free-spirited "hilarious" "medical" "professional" who sets up a free clinic in the woods where patients can cure their bodies and spirits thanks to the power or caring.

By never conforming to the stiff rules of practical medicine, Patch shows us that humor and a positive attitude are the best medicines of all.

The Message:

Touch a person's soul and you'll cure all their ailments!

The Horror:

In the immortal words of Dr. Gregory House, "What would you prefer--a doctor who holds your hand while you die or who ignores you while you get better?" As hard as it is to accept, some maladies just cannot be cured with the power of puppy dog smiles and unicorn farts. We typically refer to these ailments as "every fucking disease on the planet."

"But what if we smiled at them REALLY hard?"

We're not exaggerating, by the way. The movie seems to show Patch curing a mentally ill patient purely with the power of improvisational comedy. From that point on, he dedicates himself to showing those stodgy, bitter regular doctors that laughter is the best medicine.

Of course the evil, humorless medical establishment will have none of it; they try to kick him out of medical school twice, only letting him back in after he gives a passionate speech on the true value of comedy pills... and hearing from a group of bald cancer patients Patch "cured" with the power of his awesome, tumor-shrinking jokes.

Now, hopefully we don't need to point out that Mork from Ork wearing a goddamn clown nose will never be a good substitute for a syringe full of penicillin. But this movie's bigger dick move is really the way it vilifies all of those mean doctors who seek to cure only with that worthless old medicine bullshit.

"Well, I may not be able to prescribe laughter, but I did just save your fucking life."

We suppose we should point out that the movie is based on a real guy, who in the real world runs the Gesundheit! Institute. The good news is, they don't demand payment. The bad news is they're treating with "alternative" therapies like homeopathy which, in every single study ever done on the subject, ever, has been shown to be even worse at curing disease than laughter.

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Shallow Hal

Jack Black, the last man on Earth who should be picky about women, inexplicably plays a superficial ladies' man who refuses to settle for anything less than the visual approximation of what Halle Berry having sex with Bar Refaeli would look like as a person.

"This Bar Refaeli-Halle Berry hybrid is my Sistine Chapel."-Photoshop Department.

His life changes when he is hypnotized to only see people's inner beauty and falls in love with Gwyneth Paltrow in a fatsuit. In the end, he overcomes his shallowness, marries Gwyneth and probably lives happily ever after tucked inside her many rolls of excess stomach.

The Message:

Your appearance doesn't matter, because real beauty is on the inside!

The Horror:

As typical Internet dwellers we are all about people focusing on our inner beauty (which honestly is every bit as unwashed as our outer beauty), but this isn't an ugly duckling story. In the movie, Paltrow's character isn't just unattractive by our society's arbitrary and unfair standards--she's morbidly obese.

We're not disputing whether her character is a good person (she is), but nice doesn't matter for jack if you're so fat your soccer ball sized heart detonates while you're walking up the stairs one day.

It's not an issue of open-mindedness at that point. It's a freaking medical condition. If she's such a nice lady, maybe instead of embracing her 30,000 calorie a day diet, you should be helping live a lifestyle that will let her live past age 50.


In the not-too-distant dystopian future, Ethan Hawke plays a guy on the absolute bottom of the social ladder, persecuted by society because he was born with a heart defect in a world of genetically conceived super-humans (a phrase which here means "shitheads").

In an effort to prove his worth, Ethan hides his handicap and bamboozles his way into the role of navigator on a space shuttle flight to one of Saturn's moons, presumably giving Earth the finger the entire way there.

"Eat shit, planet Earth."

The Message:

Always follow your dreams, no matter what!

The Horror:

If you have a condition that can kill you at any moment, common courtesy dictates you do not sneak into a profession where you're responsible for keeping a whole bunch of people alive. Whether it be here or on a super long flight through the cold, unfeeling vacuum of space.

We all wanted to be astronauts when we were kids, but the reason we are not battling space pirates this very instant is because being an astronaut is cock-smashingly hard. If Ethan slips away mid-flight to take a dump and his heart fails while he's sitting on the toilet, you've got a rocket ship full of future people that's going to smash into the nearest celestial body at about 15,000 miles per hour.

Yes, we totally get the anti-discrimination message of the movie. Of course people shouldn't be shat upon based on their genes. But this isn't about the handicapped girl winning the beauty pageant, or a dwarf becoming president. This is more like the registered sex offender who wants to be a mall Santa. There are some jobs you just shouldn't have, you selfish fuck. Not everything is about you.

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The Matrix and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Each of these movies have different versions of the same scene: the hero stands before a fatal drop, assured by a wise spiritual advisor (Morpheus and Indy's father) that they must have faith and that everything will be OK if they just take the leap.

Their resolve allows them both to survive to kick some robot/Nazi ass and teach us all a valuable lesson about courage in times of crisis.

The Message:

Sometimes, you just need to believe!

The Horror:

We're not here to poop all over the idea of religious faith; we'll leave that to the comment section. What we will say is that the decision to jump from a great height should probably be left to rational thought and not people you just met and have no logical reason to believe, regardless of how stone cold badass they may appear to be.

"Trust me, I'm a stone cold badass."

Christians and others can talk about having faith in the face of death or mortal danger, but let's be clear: If any church or cult made "jumping off a thousand-foot cliff to prove you believe in God" part of their initiation ceremony, the government would shut that shit down the next day.

What if Morpheus turned out to be some lunatic that just enjoyed drugging up people and tricking them into jumping off buildings (you remember that the whole thing started with Morpheus feeding him a pill, right)? What if the chasm Indiana Jones was trying to walk across used to have an actual bridge, that just collapsed centuries ago? Or if the instructions from his dad's diary had just been a mistranslation?

If you go leaping off a rooftop or into a chasm based on some wise-sounding advice, you're not pleasing God. You're just proving Darwin right.

It's a Wonderful Life

If you have managed to stay sober for even one Christmas, you have probably seen this movie. Jimmy Stewart loses all his money and is ready to kill the shit out of himself after realizing that life is an endless catch-22 and God hates us all.

But God sends down an angel named Clarence to show Jimmy how lame the world would be without him and give him a new lease on life. The community bands together around Jimmy and bails him out of trouble, and he lives happily ever after until he eventually dies anyway, only later and off screen.

The Message:

In your darkest hour you will realize just how much you really matter!

The Horror:

What if you really don't matter?

Convincing Jimmy Stewart to stay alive is easy, in the film the character was basically Jesus and Ned Flanders rolled together, he just needed someone to remind him of all the good things he'd done with his life. After all, it turned out the entire community goes right down the toilet without him.

But is that really the standard for not committing suicide? What about the rest of the almost six billion people on Earth who've never done anything for anyone and consider the time we got an extra piece of chicken in our McNuggets as the high point of our year? Is it OK if we commit suicide if we decide the fate of the entire city doesn't hinge on our continuing to draw breath?

Every other person in this image can die, no problem.

Furthermore, remember that Jimmy Stewart didn't find the answer to all of his problems until he tried to jump off a fucking bridge. The movie is essentially saying that attempted suicide gives you a little perspective on life, so maybe we all should try it the next time we get a pan and scan DVD for Christmas instead of the widescreen version we asked for.

But only if you've lived a rich and rewarding life and somehow forgot about it, otherwise the angels can't be bothered and you're on your fucking own.

Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.

To see the bad messages we took in as children, check out 7 Classic Disney Movies That Taught Us Terrible Lessons and 8 Kids Movies That Lied to Us.

And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 12.15.2009) to see all the good advice the Internet has to offer you.

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