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5 Famously Dumb Movies With Mind-Blowing Hidden Meanings

#2. Dredd Is About the Cyclical Nature of Punishment and Violence

This movie stands out a bit on this list because I've never actually met anyone who saw this and didn't enjoy it. But at the same time, no one really argues that it's smart -- it just seems like it's cool because it's a competent and understated action story. No overcomplicated plots, no flashy special effects, just extremely competent world building, slow-motion bullet wounds, Karl Urban, minigun fights, and Cersei Lannister biting a dude's dick off and becoming a drug lord.

Lionsgate
Did I mention the minigun?

But most importantly for this article, it has the most thought provoking and intelligent depiction of the nature of crime that I can remember seeing in a movie.

The Secret Message

The good guys in this movie aren't actually the good guys. Right at the beginning, Dredd tells a rookie that the Hall of Justice only has the manpower to respond to 6 percent of crimes reported, meaning that the police has no more authority than the criminal organizations it's fighting against. He also causes every problem in the movie: An opening shootout with drug dealers happens because his appearance scares them so much that they panic, try to escape, and accidentally kill a pedestrian. Later, we learn that even totally innocent civilians hate the judges: A woman with a baby tells Dredd that she wants him as far away from her family as possible, because rather than providing protection, he just invites violence.

Meanwhile, the villain, Ma-Ma, is one of the more sympathetic characters we meet: She became a drug lord because her pimp tried to murder her, and fighting back was the only way to stay alive. Her biggest crime (in Dredd's eyes) is manufacturing "slo-mo," a chemical that "makes you feel like time is moving at 1 percent of normal speed." It's basically Bullet Time, the drug.

Lionsgate
It's literally impossible to be a danger to society from your bubble bath.

I'm not saying that Dredd is the secret antagonist -- it's actually more complicated than that. Dredd wants peace, and order, and law, but the only way he knows how to solve problems is violence. Since he also has the biggest guns, that forces everyone else to resort to violence, too, and things have been this way for so long that no one character can turn it around. The best example is at the end, when Ma-Ma tells Dredd that she has rigged the apartment building with bombs, and if she dies, a device on her wrist will transmit a signal, blowing them all up. Dredd shoots her in the stomach and throws her off the balcony, hoping that the signal from the device won't be strong enough to make it through the concrete. He takes an irresponsibly huge gamble, putting all the innocent lives he fought to save in danger, based on no information, because he just doesn't know any way to solve problems other than "shoot at them until they go away."

Awesome, right? And yet Silver Linings Playbook gets nominated for best fucking picture. This is a broken world.

#1. Zardoz Is About Traditional Families Murdering Hippies

Zardoz is a movie about a future barbarian (Sean Connery) who discovers a society of immortal hippies that can't get boners anymore and are all dying of "apathy." Then Sean Connery and all his barbarian buddies kill everyone and Connery has a kid, grows old, and dies. The end.

20th Century Fox
Screenshots aren't going to be very helpful.

We need to get something straight here. This movie is not merely terrible in the Amazing Spider-Man 2 sense of the word, but terrible in the "how Galadriel used it" sense of the word. This film is not content to merely bore or depress you -- if not met with a certain level of mental fortitude, Zardoz will unmake you. I have held many viewings, and I have seen former friends left spiritually shattered, tears running down their slack faces, pants soaked with urine and tears. Even if you seem to survive, Zardoz will lay the eggs of madness inside your mind, and the only way to escape your fate is to figure out what this goddamn story is about. I have watched this movie 700,000 times, and in the eyes of God and man, I hereby proclaim that I have done exactly that.

The Secret Meaning

Zardoz is about how the traditional nuclear family is the only thing that can save the world from the perils of free love.

In the movie, the "immortals" have perfected technology that allows them control over the aging process, so they of course keep themselves in their mid-20s and just fuck around all day.

The "immortals" represent carefree, loose sex. They have no desire to procreate and specifically designed their "tabernacle" (the big crystal that, I think, keeps them immortal) so that they could never leave, and they just sit around wearing awful hippie clothes forever. The problem is that they can't get boners (there's a whole scene where scientists just look at drawings of cocks and shrug their shoulders), until Sean Connery shows up and sweats all over them, introducing them again to mortality and procreation. Seriously, when he sweats on the "apathetics" (immortals who have grown bored and stand there staring into the distance), they wake up and immediately try to fuck him.

20th Century Fox
Sean Connery's sweat is rad, you guys.

And then ... and then all this happens:

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Until finally, Connery gets laid, has a son, grows old, and dies. All while never getting up from his comfy chair or even breaking eye contact with you.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

There's also a giant stone head that flies around vomiting guns on people and telling them that "the penis is evil," but I don't think that's important. So there we go. The point Zardoz makes is that the family unit is the backbone of society, and if we lose track of that, we'll all become bored hippies, trapped in the prison of our commune, longing for a death that can never come.

Right? I mean, I don't agree with that message, but I've solved you, right, Zardoz? We're done? Can I have my dreams back?


JF Sargent is staring at his feeds on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, just trying to make some sense of it.

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