15 Movies Where We All Missed the Point

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Look, it happens to the best of us. You watch a movie; you end up loving it or hating it, and naturally, you form your own opinions. Then, you jump into discussions, only to discover that you’ve completely missed the core message of the film.

Granted, movies are often open to interpretation, and it’s easy to misinterpret underlying themes that are frequently disguised as allegories.

Here are 15 films where most audiences missed the point.

Image Credit: IMDb.

1. ‘(500) Days of Summer’ (2009)

The 2009 indie sleeper hit made it clear from the start that “this is a story about a boy meets girl—not a love story.” Yet, everyone wanted to think of “(500) Days of Summer” as a quirky romcom about the hopeless romantic Tom Hansen (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his infatuation with the manic pixie dream girl, Summer (played by Zooey Deschanel). 

Yes, we were all rooting for Tom and calling Summer the B-word, but we were all missing the point. More than heartbreak and unrequited love, the movie is a critique of toxic and delusional expectations of relationships. Think about it: our “boy” decides that “the girl”— who shares his love of The Smiths — is his soulmate, so she must feel the same way as he does, or she is evil. 

Even Gordon-Levitt himself bashed his character in an interview, saying: “The ‘(500) Days Of Summer’ attitude of ‘He wants you so bad’ seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones. But I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is.”

Image Credit: IMDb.

2. ‘Fight Club’ (1999)

“The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club.” Especially if you missed the point of “Fight Club” — and many of us did. For too long, the 1999 drama was seen as a macho endorsement of male brutality, a glorification of violence, and toxic masculinity. 

However, David Fincher’s adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel is not just a tale of anarchy; it’s a critique of consumerism and the existential void it leaves in its wake. Fincher intended the movie as a satire, and Edward Norton understood this from his first reading of the book. “The book was so sardonic and hilarious in observing the vicissitudes of Gen-X/Gen-Y’s nervous anticipation of what the world was becoming — and what we were expected to buy into,” Norton said, according to “Best. Movie. Year. Ever.,” a book by Brian Raftery.

Image Credit: IMDb.

3. ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ (2013)

Martin Scorsese’s outlandish 2013 crime epic “The Wolf of Wall Street” goes to great lengths to explore the hedonistic and self-absorbed debauchery of its protagonist, stockbroker Jordan Belfort, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet, many misunderstood the film’s critique and satire of capitalist excess, greed, and lunacy as a “glorification of psychopathic behavior,” leading some viewers to idolize a conman.

Scorsese’s point, however, is simple: Belfort is a charismatic crook — but an awful human being who cons people out of their money with sleazy tactics. So, he should not be idolized.

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures / IMDB.

4. ‘Starship Troopers’ (1997)

When “Starship Troopers” premiered 27 years ago, critics dismissed it as shallow entertainment aimed at teenagers, panning it as a “crazed, lurid spectacle.” However, what they overlooked was the movie’s satire of the American war machine and its accompanying propaganda.

At its core, Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi is actually a critique of jingoism and a culture obsessed with violence. The film, starring Casper Van Dien, uses teen drama tropes to question the glorification of war, ending with a stark reminder of war’s cyclical and unglamorous reality.

Image Credit: IMDb.

5. ‘Finding Nemo’ (2003)

When Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” hit the theaters in 2003, we all cried when the clownfish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) got separated from his only son Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould); we all laughed at the blue tang Dory’s (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) quips, the result of her poor short-term memory. We cheered for Nemo to find his dad and were all satisfied with how it ended. Then, we all rushed to the nearest pet shop searching for clownfish and blue tangs and almost drove them to extinction — which was the very opposite of what the movie was trying to achieve.

From the vegetarian sharks chanting “fish are friends, not food” to a pack of aquarium fish trying to escape, the beloved animated movie was packed with easter eggs that clearly stated the point of “Leave fish alone”— and we missed all of that and did the very opposite.

Image Credit: Imdb.

6. ‘Natural Born Killers ‘ (1994)

Oliver Stone’s 1994 movie was tragically misunderstood, leading to copycat murders. Featuring Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as Mickey and Mallory Knox, “Natural Born Killers” aimed to satirize the media’s obsession with violence and society’s glorification of criminals. But despite its intention to critique how society consumes violence, the film became infamous for allegedly inspiring real-life crimes, including school shootings.

Image Credit: IMDb.

7. ‘First Blood’ (1982)

Everyone remembers “Rambo” as a gritty emblem of violent revenge, a view further solidified by the series’ progressively violent sequels. Yet, this overlooks the original film’s true essence, crafted by Sylvester Stallone, which serves as a pointed critique of war and violence. Far from being just another action-packed spectacle boasting Stallone’s biceps and an arsenal of weapons, the film was intended to horrify rather than entertain through its violence. At its core, it’s a sensitive exploration of the harrowing experiences faced by Vietnam veterans upon their return.

Image Credit: IMDb.

8. ‘American Psycho’ (2000)

“American Psycho” dives into the dark, satirical portrayal of ’80s corporate greed through the eyes of Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale. The film, often mistaken for glorifying violence, actually critiques the hollow pursuit of wealth and status. Director Mary Harron and Bale reveal a world where superficiality reigns supreme, and Bateman’s gruesome acts are metaphors for the cutthroat nature of Wall Street.

Image Credit: IMDB.

9. ‘The Shining’ (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 cinematic masterpiece “The Shining” stands as one of the most celebrated movies ever. However, its deeper message was, let’s say, “overlooked.” Beyond just ghosts and a haunted hotel, the film explores the demons of alcoholism. Jack Torrance’s downward spiral wasn’t solely due to supernatural forces but was exacerbated by the hotel’s ghosts offering him booze — a reflection of Stephen King’s own battles with alcoholism while writing the novel.

Image Credit: IMDb.

10. ‘GoodFellas’

“Goodfellas,” directed by Martin Scorsese, is often celebrated for its gripping portrayal of mob life through the eyes of Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta. While the film has earned acclaim for its storytelling and complex characters, some viewers have misunderstood its core message, glamorizing the mafia lifestyle it depicts. Instead of just an entertaining gangster flick, Scorsese’s work is a deep dive into the consequences of crime, the loss of morality, and the personal downfall that comes with the pursuit of power. 

Image Credit: IMDb.

11. ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ (Isao Takahata)

One clear sign that a movie might have been misunderstood is when the director himself says, “You are all wrong, and you’ve missed the point.” The 1988 anime “Grave of the Fireflies,” which narrates the survival story of two siblings during the latter part of World War II, has been widely acclaimed as the greatest anti-war film ever made. However, that was not its intended purpose.

Director Isao Takahata explicitly stated that the film does not serve as an anti-war statement, stressing, “It is not at all an anti-war anime and contains absolutely no such message.” Instead, his aim was to portray the siblings’ struggles and their disconnection from society, seeking to touch and elicit empathy from the audience, particularly among teens and young adults.

Image Credit: IMDB.

12. ‘RoboCop’ (1987)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, the 1980s film “RoboCop” is often dismissed as merely a fun sci-fi flick. However, the movie is, in fact, an allegory of Christianity. Yes, beneath its depiction of a crime-ridden Detroit and a cyborg police officer lies a profound narrative inspired by none other than Jesus Christ. The film follows Alex Murphy, a police officer brutally killed in the line of duty, who is resurrected by Omni Consumer Products as RoboCop. This transformation mirrors Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, with Verhoeven intentionally incorporating Christian imagery to highlight the allegory. In a 2010 interview, Verhoeven stated: “The point of ‘RoboCop,’ of course, is it is a Christ story … It is about a guy that gets crucified after 50 minutes, then is resurrected in the next 50 minutes and then is like the super-cop of the world, but is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end.”

Image Credit: IMDb.

13. ‘Inception’ (2010)

Director Christopher Nolan is no stranger to making movies that are confusing to the point of questioning your own intelligence. So when “Inception” hit theaters in 2010, everyone jumped to their own interpretation of what the movie about dreams inside of dreams inside of dreams meant. Newsflash: it’s an allegory for moviemaking, and each character represents a crucial role in a film crew’s creative process, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dom Cobb, acting as the director, controlling the narrative. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Arthur is like the producer, managing logistics and research. Ellen Page’s Ariadne designs the dream settings, similar to a production designer’s role. Tom Hardy’s Eames, who impersonates others in the dream, represents actors. Cillian Murphy’s Robert Fischer serves as the audience, the recipient of the dream’s idea.

Image Credit: IMDB.

14. ‘Mother!’ (2017)

Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” had us all tossing around theories like a salad upon its release in 2017. Is it a twisted biblical epic? Is it an artist’s love story gone wrong? It’s neither: according to the director, it’s about climate change. Aronofsky shed light on the underlying theme, stating “Mother!” is a reflection on humanity’s impact on Earth, with Jennifer Lawrence’s character symbolizing “Mother Earth,” and the intruders representing “human beings,” making it an allegory for climate change and environmental destruction.”

Image Credit: IMDb.

15. ‘Wall Street’ (1987)

A disturbing number of people were inspired to pursue investment banking by Oliver Stone’s acclaimed 1980s film “Wall Street.” The movie was intended as a critique of the rampant greed and moral bankruptcy in 1980s corporate America, with Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) embodying the ultimate villain in this narrative. 

Surprisingly, Gekko became an unlikely hero for many, with people approaching Douglas to thank him for the inspiration. “I was always shocked when so many people who saw ‘Wall Street’ said that I, as Gekko, influenced and inspired them to pursue investment banking,” Douglas said in an interview. “I’d say to people, ‘Well, I was the villain,’ and they would say, ‘No, no, no,’ they didn’t see me that way, so it was all very seductive, I guess.”

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/ IMDb.

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