Beloved Movies (That Aged Horribly)
Movies are like wine: Some get better with age, and some were inexplicably made by Dan Aykroyd. But also like wine, it turns out that a surprising amount of "good" movies weren't really made to stand the inexorable crush of the years. Even some truly beloved flicks are filled with fishy details we all chose to ignore at the time, but kinda stick out now. For example ...
As You Get Older, You Realize How Full Of Shit Fight Club Is
If you were a teenager in the '90s, you probably remember Fight Club quite fondly as the counter-cultural classic that caused a generation to rebel against the mainstream by ... going to see Fight Club. But watching it now, it's hard not to see its flaws -- like the fact that the bulk of the movie is about the trials and tribulations of being an affluent white guy whose central conflict is "I am dissatisfied with my comfortable lifestyle and well-paying office job during the economic boom years of the late 1990s." And unusually for an anti-consumerist satire, this movie is filled to its grimy brim with product placement, including everything from Krispy Kreme ...
... to Starbucks and Pepsi.
So you're an asshole for buying IKEA, but it's cool to attempt to subliminally force your audience into craving brown sugar water? That's like if An Inconvenient Truth was peppered with references to how super-cool ExxonMobil is.
Brad Pitt defended this NASCAR-jumpsuit-like approach by saying that they only inserted product placement in scenes with "violence or someone crying" ... which doesn't really seem to be the case, Brad. Plus, the movie jettisons the book's ominous ending, opting instead to have the protagonist realize that the solution to life's problems is to become part of a boring-ass couple and watch buildings explode with the mindless blank stare most of us reserve for shotgunning Netflix crime documentaries.
Jerry Maguire Celebrates The Triumphs Of Brain Damage
Jerry Maguire is full of a number of now-classic moments, from "Show me the money" to Renee Zellweger accepting Tom Cruise with "You had me at 'hello'" -- which, come to think of it, is a terribly low bar to enter a relationship. Presumably she also fell in love with Lionel Ritchie, and later Adele. Anyway, the movie's big conclusion finds a football-playing Cuba Gooding Jr., the sole client of the titular sports agent, suffering a horrible injury during a big game.
Cuba is unconscious for several minutes, while his entire family, including his distraught wife, watch in horror. He eventually wakes up and celebrates not dying by breakdancing in the end zone -- which seems like the worst possible move after suffering a serious head-and-neck injury mere seconds ago.
The injury and resulting frivolity turn the struggling athlete into a mega-star. Based on this event, he gets a sweet multi-million-dollar contract to play for another four years and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Of course, in today's more enlightened times, it's been documented how the NFL has a concussion epidemic -- which you know is a serious issue if Will Smith makes a movie about it and doesn't rap about the plot over the credits. So it's kind of insane that this movie tries to spin a legitimate reason to go get another job and never play football again into a triumphant moment about how near-fatalities can be used to get way more money and play way more football. If Jerry Maguire were remade today, the titular character would still be played by Tom Cruise, but he'd have to maniacally scream "Show me the dementia pugilistica!"
Robin Williams' Character In Mrs. Doubtfire Was A Total Shitheel
Robin Williams was an absolute genius. With that out of the way, let's talk about how his character in this movie was a complete turd. For some reason, a lot of '90s kids think of Mrs. Doubtfire as one of his crowning cinematic achievements, as opposed to what it really is: the story of a psychotic dirtbag who, yes, could do some pretty funny voices.
The movie begins with Williams' character, Daniel, throwing a birthday party for his son -- which would be nice, except for the fact that said party involves livestock wandering the neighborhood, leading to the cops being called. His wife Miranda comes home and freaks the fuck out. What a buzzkill, right?
Inside her newly donkey-shit-encrusted home, she finds the house is being trashed like a common McDonald's playplace:
You might think this is some kind of Lord Of The Flies-esque scenario in which the adults have all died or something, but no, Daniel's totally supervising all of this. Forget for a minute how lunatic inexplicable it is to allow children to treat your beautiful home like Led Zeppelin's hotel room -- see that kid in the back? He's swinging on the goddamn chandelier.
It's a miracle this movie wasn't called Mrs. Doubtfire & A Party Full Of Dead Children. So Miranda divorces Daniel, and a judge limits his time looking after his kids.
Instead of doing some introspection and getting his life together, Daniel opts to actively deceive his entire family so he can get back into the house he's legally barred from being in. However, he does so by dressing up as a kindly old woman, so that's ... OK?
Obviously, Daniel violates the judge's orders and actively lies to the social worker whose job is to evaluate his capacity to not murder his children with neglect. Also, the scene in which he helps his ex-wife pick out clothes is just plain unsettling ...
Once his ruse is up, he loses custody because of his "unorthodox" and "peculiar" lifestyle -- because in the '90s, dressing as a woman was somehow worse than breaking the law and defrauding your loved ones.
Daniel's arc is that he learns to be tidy and contribute to this household through being Mrs. Doubtfire, which is messed up for a couple of reasons. For one, the problem wasn't that he was merely messy. Destroying your home and filling it with donkeys isn't messy; it's an act of insanity. Secondly, even if he did learn a lesson about household maintenance, he did it through conning his kids, which is a horrible way to accrue basic life skills. They would be so much better off with James Bond as a dad.
Knocked Up Thinks All Women Are Monsters (And Boring)
Knocked Up is the movie that made Seth Rogen a star and confirmed Judd Apatow as the Tony Montana to cinematic dick jokes' cocaine. Not surprisingly, this Apatow joint is about a pot-smoking schlub who can't quite grow up -- which is fine. However, it's also a movie about the miracle of childbirth, so you'd think female characters would be highlighted and, you know, not portrayed as giant assholes. All of the women in Knocked Up are cloying non-people, there to contrast with the men, who are funny and charming. Take the scene wherein Rogen and Katherine Heigl double date with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann -- it's Rudd and Rogen who hit it off.
Why? Because the movie has a "10-year-old protecting their treehouse" mentality to exploring gender -- i.e. girls aren't fun and don't like cool shit. How else would you explain that Apatow thinks that women wouldn't have seen, or somehow even heard of, Back To The Future, one of the most popular movies of all time?
This discrepancy is reinforced over and over again. Guys like doing fun stuff like smoking weed and playing ping pong, or record shopping ...
... whereas women only like girl stuff, like shopping for babies.
Most insane is the scene in which Rudd is lying about his whereabouts. His wife tracks him down and finds out that he's playing fantasy baseball with his friends. So marriage is so suffocating that you won't ever be allowed to see your friends. And if you do want to socialize without your wife and kids, you'll have to lie to them to do it. That's crazy. His wife's so irrationally angry that she says playing fantasy baseball is worse than if he was having an affair.
And of course, because all women are humorless shrews, Heigl can't see anything funny in the situation, prompting the huge fight that precipitates her breakup with Rogen.
The moral of the story is that men sacrifice their dreams to satisfy women, whom they don't even like much anyway. It's especially troubling because it implies that for two people to raise a baby, they have to force a romantic connection to form a conventional household, which is a sure path to abject misery. Understandably, Heigl later called out the movie for these issues -- and because Hollywood is the worst sometimes, doing so apparently hurt her career.
Grease: The Disturbingly Horny Movie Your Parents Love
Grease is one of the most beloved musicals of all time. It features catchy songs, lively characters, and a young John Travolta fresh off Saturday Night Fever. Unfortunately, revisiting Rydell High is as uncomfortably repugnant an experience as, well, revisiting your actual high school. For one thing, the teenage characters are all clearly played by adults -- which, sure, happens all of the time, but at least not all movies open with a bunch of grown men talking about how badly they want to fuck teenage girls. It's like watching a crossover episode of Saved By The Bell and To Catch A Predator.
If you saw the movie when you were young, you might have missed some of the grosser innuendos at play.
And it's not just the guys. The girls also sing in lewd double entendres ...
... while the guys sing about straight-up rape.
And then the characters abandon innuendo altogether and explicitly sing about whatever pops into their perverted heads. Like the song "Greased Lightning," in which Travolta croons about how much "pussy" and "tit" his car will get him ...
... and how it will make the chicks "cream." Quick reminder: A lot of you probably watched this with your parents at one point. In retrospect, Travolta showed amazing restraint by not straight-up grabbing his balls while singing these lyrics. Oh wait, he did do that.
Working Girl Wants Us To Pat Harrison Ford On The Back For Not Raping Anyone
For those who don't remember, Working Girl is the '80s comedy in which Melanie Griffith does the one thing no Xenomorph could ever do: beat Sigourney Weaver. Griffith plays Weaver's secretary who ends up usurping her role at a Wall Street investment firm. And even though he doesn't do a lot of rom-coms, Harrison Ford shows up. And as long as it's not accompanied by flaming chunks of antique aviation equipment, who doesn't like it when Harrison Ford shows up?
Ford plays Weaver's boyfriend, and even though his libido belongs in a museum, he tries to pick up Griffith in a bar. She confides that she's feeling odd because she already took a Valium before they started drinking -- now see if you can detect where things start to get hinky. When she starts passing out, he puts her in a cab ...
... and because it's '80s Wall Street, he drags her borderline-comatose body back to his apartment, carrying her on his back like a goddamn caveman.
Once he has her slumped in a chair gargling her own vomit, he offers her another drink. Then the movie cuts from this:
So yeah, she assumes he raped her. When Ford shows up at her office days later, he first implies that he did have sex with her unconscious body and that "the Earth moved" -- but then he admits that he didn't. He's not a total creep! He merely took her clothes off, put her in his bed, then removed his own clothes and got in the same bed. Perfectly innocent.
This isn't a joke where we realize what a psychopath he is. This is meant to admonish any reservations we had about the character and learn that he is a good guy after all. Because he's not some random comic foil; he's the romantic lead. At the end of the movie, she ends up living with this creep. Shit, Ford is even the top-billed actor on the poster.
So there you go, fellas: If you want to get the girl, don't rape her, but kinda make it look like you did for a while.
Big Is About A Boy Using Magic To Trick Women Into Sex, To The Delight Of '80s America
We remember Big as a magical family dramedy, but in reality, it's all about the main character wanting to get laid. If you think back to beginning, his motivations to be "big" don't purely come from an innocent desire to enjoy carnival rides (and presumably try malt liquor). He also he keeps getting cockblocked by older kids.
Bizarrely, the kid channels all of his pent-up teenage sexual frustration toward the wish-granting Zoltar machine, which is being ignored by all of the other kids, who presumably prefer Pac-Man and Galaga to good old-fashioned black magic.
When the kid magically becomes a 30-year-old man, he immediately gets to work trying to get with adult women, using his newfound Tom Hanksness to check out his female co-worker:
And then later, actually have sex with her:
Think about how messed up this is. A child used witchcraft to trick an adult into having sex with him. Furthering the poor woman's eventual need for the finest therapy available, she has a relationship with what turns out to be a small boy. She eventually pieces it together, and at the end, she even sees him transform back into a kid.
Rather than the freakout you'd expect from a woman who a) has learned that magic is a thing that exists and b) is looking at the minor who deceived her into statutory rape, she smiles and drives away -- presumably to go see if the Zoltar machine has the ability to give her a magical lobotomy.
Don't forget that Working Girl is the sassy sister film to Die Hard!
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