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10 Great Movies That Are Made from Dumb Premises

04 August 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Joe Myrick

This past weekend, The Emoji Movie opened in theaters to rave reviews. And by rave reviews, we mean alarmingly negative reviews from stark raving mad critics. With a surprisingly generous 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, The Emoji Movie is perhaps the most universally hated movie in recent memory. It is certainly the most critically hated film to come out this year so far. The sad part is that despite its wacky and dumb premise, it actually had some potential.

Look, before you say anything and start shaking your head, think about it for a second. Despite what popular belief may think, every single movie in the metaphysical cinematic stratosphere within this world has potential to be a great one. Yes, we all groaned in heavy unison the moment that The Emoji Movie was announced and it turns out we were all in the right to write this movie off immediately. However, that is not so easily the case with every movie riddled with a stupid synopsis.

There are several movies out there which have been released over the years that opened up to low expectations because their plot sounded bad, but managed to exceed expectations because the execution of those films were so well done. No matter how bad a movie may sound on paper, it is bound to make for a good film if it has an exceptional cast and crew working behind it.

There are numerous examples of such films that fit this criteria throughout movie history, but for the sake of time and convenience, we are going to stick to talking about 10 just for this list. Without further ado, here are 10 dumb movie premises that surprisingly made for great movies.

 

10. Snakes on a Plane

snakes-on-a-plane-2006

No list about dumb, fun movies is complete without Snakes on a Plane. Snakes on a Plane is the epitome of dumb popcorn entertainment. A premise which only exists because some guy in a board room figured out that snake and plane rhyme together and would make kind of a sweet title.

The lucky thing about this movie is that it fully embraces and commits to its awful premise. A movie with a plot like this can only embrace it, but the fact that the movie is more than willing to indulge in how ridiculous it is, right down to Samuel L. Jackson spewing his infamous line, that just makes it loads of fun.

 

9. Weekend at Bernie’s

For more than 90 minutes, two dumb schmucks carry around the dead carcass of Terry Kiser and pass him off as if he is still alive. There is no way or reason that this should have worked as a feature length movie. Maybe as a 5-minute Saturday Night Live skit, but not as a whole movie.

And yet, there is something downright hilarious about Weekend at Bernie’s that has cemented it as a comedy classic. It is like watching an 80’s version of Abbot & Costello with some black humor dashed across. Anyone who can forgive the film for how dumb it’s premise is and just suspend some disbelief will be in for a wildly funny ride.

 

8. Face/Off

Face Off

Ok, Face/Off is a blast of fun. No one is denying that. But we are lying if we do not point out just how dumb the premise sounds. Two guys get their faces ripped off and replaced on each other’s bodies; chaos ensues. In all honesty, it can be argued that a film as ridiculous as Face/Off should not work so well.

The only reason that it does work so well is because of the stellar swapped performances of John Travolta and especially Nicholas Cage. The latter of which is clearly having fun and taking the piss with the script. A goofy script combined with John Woo’s over the top visuals (let’s not act like the guy does not have an unhealthy obsession with doves in his movies) should have made this dire project, but because Travolta and Cage manage to pull of some stupendous performances and impressions of each other, it manages to be a fun action epic.

 

7. Sunshine

sunshine

For a film masquerading as a smart sci-fi film, there is something dumb about a premise focusing on a space crew trying to, essentially, nuke the sun. It’s more or less the same premise as Deep Impact and everyone said that movie was dumb. Gotta call a spade a spade and call Sunshine dumb by default. At its core, Sunshine is a stupid more filled with ludicrous pseudoscience passing off as intelligent, plausible science by means of techno-babble which half of its audience won’t be likely to understand. Still, once you get passed that and put away your science degree, the movie is fantastic.

In a manner of moments, the film goes from a visual stunning sci-fi film to a thrilling and truly terrifying horror movie. The transition appears so seamless that it’s easy not to notice. Backed up by some tremendous performances from the likes of Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans, as well as exceptional filmmaking from Danny Boyle who also manages to bring some remarkable cinematography to the table, Sunshine is truly a bright gem despite having a premise which could have easily failed if it were helmed in less than capable hands.

 

6. Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Mrs. Doubtfire is another one of those movies that sound better on paper as a short SNL sketch than a full length movie. It is no easy task to try to suspend disbelief long enough to believe that a grown man could get away with seeing his kids and divorced wife while under the guise of an elderly nanny. Especially when one realizes just how long Robin Williams’ character is able to keep up the act before he gets caught. Plus, the movie is a little over 2 hours long, which for most comedies is like a kiss of death; any comedy over 90 minutes usually winds up being overlong and basically crap.

Surprisingly, Mrs. Doubtfire was neither. Maybe it’s because there was a surprising amount of heart at the center of the film which managed to warm even the hardest of cynic’s hearts. Maybe it’s because Robin Williams gives a genuinely great performance both on the comedic side and the dramatic side. Whatever the reason is, it proves to be one of Williams’ best and a classic comedy that continues to withstand the test of time.

 

 

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  • AmazingAmy

    Snake on the plane ? really ?
    I found it general action thriller flick

  • shane scott-travis

    To suggest that Sunshine and Her have dumb premises eschews the deeply philosophical musings both films successfully flirt with. Neither seems a good fit for this list.

  • Zwei

    Face Off is fucking ridiculous……..and that’s why i love it

  • Jules F. Melo Borges

    Her don’t have a dumb premise, and Rubber is no good.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I found Sunshine a general botch, an unsatisfactory fusion of silly sci-fi disaster picture played serious with mystical journey pretensions (Man setting out to wrest Life from God, with archetypes like mystic, hothead, sap and false prophet). Some nice visuals and performances, but lacking in the imagination, smarts or thrills to work, with a jarring shift into sloppy horror. And Rubber is an ok 20 minute student calibre post-modern joke stretched to a smug 70+ minute annoyance.

    John Wick rules though.

  • Andrés Alafita

    It Follows could be added to this list.

  • Alan

    with one or another exception, these movies are not what I call “great”

  • bd

    This is a welcome twist on the recent tornado of “worst of” lists that have plagued this site. That being said, like other commenters, I don’t know about some (most?) of these picks being “great” or having dumb premises. (Granted, I’m sure such a limited list topic like this one might’ve been more difficult than usual to find entries for.)
    Though, I do disagree with others saying that Her doesn’t belong here. I personally never understood the negative reaction to the film’s premise, but I’m not going to act like I didn’t know dozens of people who watched the trailer and rolled their eyes, or had dismissive faces when I told them about it. So the “dumb premise” label can be applied as far as I’m concerned.

  • Wyatt W.B

    Nice list