Some movies are out to rip your heart open, spit in the wound, then close it up back up so their spit pumps through your veins until you die (looking at you, Dancer In The Dark). But mostly, movies just want to entertain -- to help you forget about the sea of troubles that threatens to drown you every moment of every goddamn day. But then there are the ones that only pretend like they're going to provide some gentle fun times, and then the heart-spitting begins ...
Fried Green Tomatoes is mostly about older women bonding and finding meaning in their lives. It's a warm, happy-looking movie full of classic Americana like quaint roadside cafes, big families that take care of each other, and black characters who do manual labor for white Southern people. It's basically a companion piece to Field Of Dreams; a heartwarming glorification of the American mythos.
And then a subplot about Mary-Louise Parker's jerk of a Klansman husband suddenly accelerates from "domestic abuse" all the way to "revenge cannibalism." When her husband tries to kidnap their baby, Parker's cook kills him in the ensuing fight. To cover it up, they butcher the man's body and turn it into barbecue, which is in turn eaten by local law enforcement looking for him.
That's the kind of shit you'd expect from the finale of an over-the-top horror film. Thousands upon thousands of mother-daughter pairs went to see this nice movie about Southern families starring the old lady from Driving Miss Daisy, expecting to learn that love is the real fried green tomato or something. What they learned instead: Pig is the closest flesh to that of man.
You don't need to know anything about this movie that the poster can't provide.
We got ourselves a cat in a business suit, and probably some impending hijinks. One thing we know for sure: No movie with a poster that adorable revolves around a family tearfully discussing pulling the plug on their brain-dead father.
Obviously, a lot of kids movies contain sad scenes, but in the 4/10ths of a second we devoted to thinking about what this movie might be about based on that poster, we definitely didn't think "heartbreaking DNR debate" would be in there. Even worse, they didn't get the medical stuff right!
Unforgivable. The part about cats having nine lives and getting the souls of wayward businessmen trapped in them is undoubtedly medically sound, though.
You're probably remember Cocktail as "that '80s Tom Cruise relic where he tends bar and dances around." And you're 99 percent right. It's a lighthearted romantic comedy about a guy moving to New York, learning the bar business, falling in love in Jamaica, and eventually opening the bar he and his friend have always dreamed of. And sure, like most romantic comedies, there are a few setbacks along the way:
If you can't make out the severed neck arteries behind that pool of blood, that's the lifeless body of Tom Cruise's wisecrackin' friend and mentor, Doug. Throughout the film, the streetwise Australian takes Cruise under his wing and spouts valuable axioms for the dashing young rookie. But when he ends up in over his head in debt, he commits suicide on his private yacht by slitting his throat with the broken bottle of Remy Martin cognac Cruise bought him.
Other than that minor bit of unpleasantness, the film has a totally happy ending. Cruise opens the bar they always dreamed of, and now a whole new generation of patrons enjoys Doug's booze-flingin' legacy. And all it took was a horrific suicide! Worth it.
Dirty Dancing is the movie that launched a million sexual awakenings across America, distracting us all from Mikhail Gorbachev's weird birthmark for a few blessed seconds. The movie is almost entirely Patrick Swayze busting out dance moves with the kind of lithe grace that only a man in a mullet can pull off.
If you weren't raised in the coke-filled DayGlo synthesizer of the 1980s, you probably think of Dirty Dancing as the High School Musical of its time. It's light and cheesy fare, all about the dance-induced love between high-class Jennifer Gray and low-class dance instructor Johnny Castle. Everyone tries to keep them apart. Her parents forbid it, and she's surrounded by snobs who doesn't understand the purity of love between an adult employee of a Catskills vacation resort and a 17-year-old who goes by "Baby" -- you know the deal. And then, right before the big dance number finale ...
Yep, right in the middle of a movie about a teenage girl learning to dance is an all-too-real botched abortion scene. A side character named Penny has a back-alley operation (the story taking place in 1963, when it was illegal) which goes horribly wrong, nightmarishly described as involving "a dirty knife and a folding table." We watch Penny screaming in pain for several minutes as Jerry Orbach, Gray's dad, is called into reluctant action as a doctor.
Then it's right back to dancin'!
Once upon a time, there was a cute little talking pig named Babe, who was raised by a sheepdog. Now, Babe didn't want to get eaten (fair enough), so he learned to compel sheep to his will through the power of politeness, thus proving his usefulness to the farm beyond providing delicious, life-sustaining bacon. It was a sweet little movie for both kids and adults.
Of course it warranted a sequel. So we got Babe: Pig In The City, wherein Babe and Mrs. Hoggett head into Metropolis to win a shepherding contest and save the family farm. Sounds adorable! And it is! Until this!
Pause the antics. Suddenly our heroic little piglet is being hunted through a nightmare city by a murderous hellhound. Then, because that hasn't traumatized the audience enough, said dog takes a tumble off a bridge into a canal, where he simultaneously almost drowns while nearly choking to death:
It's a bizarrely savage scene, more appropriate for Game Of Thrones than Piglet Shenanigans: The Movie. But then again, this is the work of the director of Mad Max, so maybe it's not entirely out of left field.
Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs.
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