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10 Great Movies That Are Made from Dumb Premises

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

5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

There are two things that should have worked against Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. One is the fact that the premise focuses on a scientist who finds a way to make food fall from the sky, which sounds stupid in itself. The other is that the film is based on a short children’s story and attempts to expand that short 32-page book into a 90-minute movie.

There is no way that this film should have worked, but thankfully, due to a voice cast who put their hearts and souls into the project, and a writing team who placed every bit of heart they could into the script to make this one a heartwarming story, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs won us all over in ways that no one could have possibly predicted. The film ended up spawning a sequel, as well as an animated series based around the same characters.

 

4. John Wick

John Wick

In John Wick, Keanu Reeve’s entire motivation to go after the mob is literally because they killed his dog. That sounds like the premise of a parody type comedy, not the serious crime drama we are expected to buy into. In fact, the premise did make for perfect parody material after Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key made the spoof of the Keanu Reeves vehicle, aptly titled Keanu, centered around a cat.

Despite the laughable plot synopsis, audiences found the film fairly easy to buy into. It helped that the film was filled with excited action sequences and gripping characters. Audiences bought into the premise so well that it warranted a sequel and breathed new life into Keanu Reeves’ career, leading him into a full-fledged comeback.

It also helps that Keanu Reeves manages to give a pretty damn good performance as well. For once in his career, his stoic attitude actually adds to his character and creates a multi-faceted character through that blank canvas of a face. It is also worth noting that this was the directorial debut for the duo of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.

This film more than easily could have turned out bad with two rookie directors at the helm, but for their freshman effort, the two do a splendid and surprisingly competent job behind the camera. There were so many dominos put in place for John Wick that could have came crashing down in disastrous fashion, and yet, it manages to be one of the best action films to hit mainstream theaters in recent memory.

 

3. Her

In terms of a metaphor, there is no way that Her could have failed. On paper, Her is a fantastic and heartbreaking tale, but watching a grown man essentially fall in love with his computer onscreen ran the risk of looking ridiculous. As a book, no one would have questioned the premise, but the premise of Her in film form could have easily failed and looked more laughable than compelling.

Instead, both the metaphors behind the story as well as the themes of isolation which lie at the center of the film managed to shine through its questionable visuals. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the film is directed by someone like Spike Jonze, who was smart enough to realize that instead of making the stereotypical “Technology is evil!” movie, he painted technology as a truly beautiful creature and proceeded to show his audience how technology can do as much harm to us as it can do good.

It makes for a well done commentary and a self aware modern story. It helps that the film is anchored by an excellent lead performance by Joaquin Phoenix who through facial expressions and the sheer pain in his eyes manages to help us understand what his character is going through long enough that we were able to buy into the premise. Her is a film that manages to work against itself and we could not be happier for it.

 

2. Rubber

Rubber (2010)

Sometimes a movie is so outright bizarre that it turns out to be greatly captivating. Take Rubber for example. Rubber is a movie about a car tire with psychic powers that goes on a killing spree and along the way, follows in love with a woman. See? Bizarre. It is completely bizarre, and yet, strangely compelling.

For almost the entirety of Rubber’s runtime, the viewer watches in utter awe and confusion of what is happening before them, but never feels compelled to turn off the film or change the channel. Instead, the viewer continues to watch because it is such an odd spectacle that needs to be seen in full and once it is, the viewer, more often than not, feels satisfied.

 

1. The Lego Movie

As much as we all love The Lego Movie, we can’t forget how much we all rolled our eyes when it was first announced that such a movie was in production. Admit it. We all did. Just like we did recently with The Emoji Movie, we answered the announcement of The Lego Movie with heavy sighs and the belief that Hollywood had finally run out of ideas.

Then, to all our surprise, The Lego Movie was arguably the best animated movie to come out in 2014. For many, it was one of the best movies ever released that year. Thanks to an all-star cast, a brilliant script penned by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the minds behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, ironically enough), and a catchy song, everything truly was awesome about The Lego Movie despite its dire plot and concept.

Author Bio: Joe Anthony Myrick is a freelance writer, journalist, screenwriter, filmmaker, and photographer. I know, sounds like a lot for one guy with two thumbs to put on their plate. I can’t help it though as I am a man of many passions, but above all else, writing is my biggest passion and also my greatest skill.

 

 

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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