#4. Babe, Babe: Pig in the City and Happy Feet Were Directed by George "Mad Max" Miller
Anyone who grew up in the 90s will remember the Babe movies, which feature a talking pig, his barnyard friends and the phrase "Baaa Ram Ewe!" -- which makes about as much sense as the idea that someone would name a boy "Babe."
Happy Feet is also a kid's film starring talking animals -- this one specifically a CGI-animated flick about a tap-dancing penguin shunned by his community because he cannot sing show tunes. Nothing too dark there, right?
But it was made by ...
More or less the father of the post-apocalyptic action movie genre. From 1979 to 1985, George Miller directed, wrote and produced all three Mad Max movies, which to this day remain the most accurate portrayal of Australia in movie history. Amid completing his brutal, post-apocalyptic trilogy starring Mel Gibson, Miller's other major directing credit was a segment of the 1983 Twilight Zone movie.
At least the Babe movies -- despite featuring a sheep herding pig getting into all sorts of shenanigans -- had their darker, more mature moments.
Seriously, it's a pretty scary place.
Still, with George Miller, you sort of expect "dark / mature" to be more ... well, this:
"Just walk away, pig. Just walk away."
The origin of Happy Feet goes all the way back to the production of The Road Warrior. It was then that Miller had a chat with a grizzled old cameraman named Billy Grimmond who had just come back from shooting a documentary in Antarctica. Grimmond sold Miller on the idea that the South Pole is this spectacular, badass wasteland that should totally be in a movie someday, presumably of the explody-shooty variety.
See, George Miller? Badass Antarctica.*
*We know. Let it go.
Twenty-five years later, Miller went with it and gave us Elijah Wood voicing a flightless bird. You figure it out.
The story behind Babe is even more disheartening. The movie premiered in 1995 but was the product of a 10-year "labor of love" by Miller, which means that when he was filming this ...
... he was secretly thinking about this ...
#3. Stuart Little Was Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Based on the classic children's book by E. B. White, the 1999 Stuart Little film tells the story of a talking mouse adopted by human parents, trying to fit into his new family and find his place in the world. Featuring the voice talent of Michael J. Fox as the title character, the film would go on to spawn two sequels and a decent amount of merchandise.
Including an ill-fated attempt to break Disney's monopoly on the lucrative "mouse ears hat" market.
But it was made by ...
M. Night Shyamalan, famous for The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, some nonsense about Marky Mark talking to plastic plants, the overused "twist ending" gimmick and, subsequently, flushing a promising filmmaking career down the toilet. The toilet then turned out to exist only in the mind of ghost child aboard a spaceship or something.
Even his career had a stupid twist.
Shyamalan wrote Stuart Little's screenplay and somehow didn't have the ending reveal that the entire cast had been zombies the entire time. It's just a straight-up family film, which makes you wonder why Disney got Shyamalan to write the screenplay for it. And he didn't even follow the book, changing a lot of the original novel, in which Stuart is a mouse actually born (not adopted) to real human parents.
Because WHAT THE FUCK?
Well, OK, it might not be that hard to explain. Before 1999, the only major directing work Shyamalan had done was Wide Awake, a tremendous box-office bomb co-starring Denis Leary. We're pretty sure that making a bad movie with Denis Leary must be like the filmmaking equivalent of exposing yourself in front of a nursery. At the time, Shyamalan would have probably gotten onboard a Stuart Little porn spoof if it meant staying in the Hollywood game. In the end, his perseverance paid off when his next project, The Sixth Sense, proved to be a massive hit, and Shyamalan went on to become the butt of every movie joke on the planet.
#2. You Only Live Twice Was Written by Children's Author Roald Dahl
Even if you don't remember this 1967 James Bond movie, you'd instantly recognize it because it has been copied and parodied by every spy film in history. Some of its most iconic elements include Connery's Bond stopping a rocket launch, a secret lair hidden inside a volcano and a greater focus on Bond's gadgets.
How am I firing thish gun, you ashk?
But it was made by ...
Roald Dahl, who wrote the screenplay. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, it's because Dahl is the guy responsible for writing your entire childhood. His literary works include such classics as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the 1960s, Dahl also briefly went into scriptwriting, applying his signature dark yet kid-friendly style to, for example, the 1968 family film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
You know, the family film with the dick-nosed creep who kidnaps and murders children?
The reason why Dahl was hired to write the movie (despite having no experience with scriptwriting) was because it just so happened that he and Ian Fleming were close friends. So naturally, Dahl's first step was to throw out almost the entire plot of the You Only Live Twice novel and just do his own thing with the script (which, in his defense, did include ninjas).
Ninjas wielding assault rifles.
The movie turned out to be a huge success, both financially and critically, but man, the relationship between Dahl and Fleming must have taken a hit. He also decided to not kill off Bond's archnemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (the villain with the Persian cat), inadvertently helping create Dr. Claw and Dr. Evil.
#1. Staying Alive Was Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Staying Alive is the 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, which basically created disco. It starred John Travolta reprising the role of Tony Manero, now grown up and working his life out in the aftermath of the disco craze. It sucked.
Hard to believe, we know.
But it was made by ...
Sylvester Stallone, star of Rocky, Rambo, The Expendables and other movies where Stallone punches/shoots/stabs people in the mouth.
Director's trademark: Glistening muscular dudes in headbands.
Stallone is an interesting guy. Before doing Staying Alive, the man had already done porn, science fiction, sports and action movies, so why should a disco flick be anything special? Because in Stallone's 40-year career, Staying Alive remains the only movie where he did it all -- working as director, producer, writer and actor. Hell, he probably also made the coffee and yelled at himself in the mirror for going over budget. And he did it right after finishing Rocky III and First Blood.
"Can we speed this along? I have polyester swatches to pick."
Staying Alive was actually one of the highest-grossing films of 1983, making enough money to commission a scaled-down statue of Stallone made entirely out of cocaine. But it however performed terribly with the critics, many complaining that the sequel lacked the grittiness and shock of the first movie.
Pictured: Grittiness and shock, apparently.
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online writer and Japanese-English-Polish translator. If you pay him, he will write words for you. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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