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WTF! Great Films That Make No Sense!

  • Dec 6, 2010
And I don't mean paradoxical time travel issues - I mean full-on WTF moments of such logic blindness that it's amazing nobody got hurt when the script was photocopied. M Night has been banned here since it might cause my list to explode (even without shooting at its gas tank).
The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects is so cool that I want to friend it on Facebook and tell me stories for hours on end. But unfortunately, the slick exterior belies the fact that its story-telling capabilities are more similar to the tree-within-a-tree-going-nowhere narrative of one of my mother's tales.

Not convinced? Who can deny that...

"A few years back I stopped by the supermarket with your father and found some apples your grandmother said she'd had when they owned the caravan in Dorset but back then she'd said there was a fruit shortage so they had to find another product to sell in their store they'd rented from the neighbors that went to school with the Bishop of Lindford's brother - you know, the guy off the news that got fired by the local paper for some questionable relationship with a kindergarten teacher who was married to.... oh wait, I didn't know you father then, ignore all that."

.... isn't exactly the same as The Usual Suspects but without guns being fired sideways and cool shit?

In an effort to build up to an uber-climax, the Usual Suspects paints itself into a corner where the laws of storytelling fall apart and you just realize the last two hours were an enormous amount of bullshit.

And it's a shame, since I really love this film. A cow's fart to you, Bryan Singer! A cow's fart on ye!

Bonus information: I once saw Gabriel Byrne drunk in New York. And I mean *drunk*.
What Lies Beneath (2000)

Bob Zemeckis (can I call you Bob?) is one of the most talented and lazy film-makers ever. In a violent head-nod to Hitchcock, WLB has some terrific tension, truly well-timed scares, and a constant sense of forboding. If Zemeckis could have gotten his ass off the couch he would have been the next Spielberg or Cameron - or at least like a hybrid of the two without their respective father and mother issues.

*** Spoiler - although the trailer's so bad, it practically gives it away ***

What thoroughly spanks the plot logic of WLB is that the ghost effectively terrorizes the wife of her murderer (the ghost's) rather the the husband (the wife's). Wow, that explanation sucked - let's try again: the ghost goes after the wrong person. Try this version of  WLB, written by yours truly:



A GHOST appears on the sofa, much to the surprise of the WOMAN sat opposite.


Sorry to bother you but your husband killed me.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Oh look - it's Zemeckis again, the lazy-slash-brilliant bastard! For all the technical screwery in WFRR that practically bookends cinema before CGI arrived, there's one big basic problem...

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

So who was it? Because it was not - repeat, not - Judge Doom. And you posed the plot question in the title! Donnie Darko would have fallen into this trap if it had been called "What the Hell Happens In Donnie Darko?" but they were smarter than that.

A big forehead slap to you, Zemeckis! Right on the spam!

Deception is what happens when you play Scriptwriting Scrabble and draw "Sex Clubs", "International Robbery" and "Maggie Q". The plot is reminiscent of those times you have very vivid dreams that would make a great movie until you have your first cup of coffee and realize it was all a bunch of non-sequiturial nonsense.

Admittedly, Hollywood script reviews are like the dramatic equivalent of getting laws through Congress, but the legal equivalent of this film would be legislation that bans dogs over 12" long, makes marijuana a requirement for driving RVs, and starts a war with countries with three syllables. The classic line about sex in this film ("when it's so good, you have to kill someone") was probably cribbed a early script draft ("this film is so bad, I have to kill you"). 

And yes, I said this list would be about good films, but it has some very good actors looking embarrassed. Does that count? I think it does.
Mulholland Dr.

Proof that God gives some people the unalienable right to repeatedly screw up, M.D. is another WTF Lynch-Fest that sits somewhere between cinematic gold dust and Oscar statuette bronze rust.

The set-up of Mulholland Drive is engaging, suspenseful, well-shot, layered - but then, so are most hamburger commercials. Especially when they add the second bun and do a 360-camera move as the lettuce and mayo are dropped in slo-mo.

But much like the disappointment of meeting the star of the burger commercial, with its flaccid patties and sad-looking buns, Mulholland Drive collapses in on itself and becomes a big mess. Unlike the burger commercial, we get to see some Naomi Watts, which redeems the whole thing.
Confidence (2003)

Confidence is a wonderful film where Ed Burns plays Ed Burns (can I call you Ed?) and Rachel Weisz plays Rachel Weisz. It even has Dustin Hoffman playing a weird Dustin Hoffman. So it's a very clever heist movie with slick editing and Ocean's 11-style music and a whole bunch of things I like.

But it doesn't play backwards. Once you know the whole story, the principal characters would have needed such a unbelievably supernatural level of prediction that either:
  • They would have all have gotten killed if they were wrong
  • They should have bought lottery tickets, since the cash payout was better and the chances of getting shot much lower.
Fun film. But so full of bullshit. Next!

Avatar has the infectious wonder of all (well, most) James Cameron films, driven by big ideas, impeccable details and effects that don't need 3D to reach out of the screen and start strangling the audience. But any list of crazy plot holes would be remiss in ignoring the world's top-grossing movie. 

I love Avatar in the same foam-at-the-mouth batshit crazy as an Apple fanboy, but it commits several sins simultaneously:

- Many films have evil corporate types. Many have evil military types. This has both, and it's too much! ("Double Mumbo-Jumbo" as screenwriting God Blake Snyder would have said.)

- It's Dances With Wolves and Ferngully, and that's just too problematic. Who the hell allowed that? It also has "Unobtainium" and "Pandora" in one film. And then it adds some spiritual tree-hugging shit that would raise some flags too if they didn't look so good.

- The good guys look like the Smurfs mated with the Thundercats.

When you considered how this is basically Aliens without an edge, it does everything wrong that Aliens does so, so right. This moment in Cameron's career is like when Spielberg did Hook, and we all know what happened after that.
See the full review, "The next century of cinema has finally started".
Fight Club

*** SPOILERS ***

Fight Club is scary. Very scary. Just listen to that opening music and watch the rest of your life become meaningless. Da-da-da-da-da (did you hear the dentist drill over the car engine stressed into the red zone?) It's all great of course - possibly one of the best films ever made.

I am Jack's sense of finding a plot hole.

The problem is that there's no way. No freaking way. Take away David Fincher's editing and magician-like distraction, and you're left with a Sixth Sense gap between what they show you and what must have happened.

There's no way that:

- The Fight Club members from the very beginning didn't notice something "kinda weird" about our two, er, one heroes. Or hero. Or whatever. It would be like that crazy guy on the street who talks to himself asking you to join his chess club.

- The government wouldn't have dropped the hammer on Jack/Tyler like it was the Mike Tyson version of Julian Assange. Bye, bye Paperstreet house.

- Even Obamacare wouldn't have covered their constant health issues.

What did you think of this list?

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November 09, 2011
Great list. Love Muholland Drive but have no idea what it was about. My daughter was going to see it and I told her you will love this movie but will saying what did I just see.
April 13, 2011
Great list James! I too loved Fight Club but felt the same thing. No freaking way!
April 13, 2011
Thank you sir! I love it too but... NO FREAKIN' WAY!!!
December 17, 2010
Hah, another amazing list, James! They're as inspiring as they are utterly humorous!
December 17, 2010
Thanks! I've just completed the Movie Cliche List: Part 2...
December 08, 2010
James this is a great list!  Insightful and funny... great combo.  I'm not sure why it makes me happy inside when a film buff pokes some fun at some very beloved movies but it does.  I'd add a couple more to this list ;)
December 08, 2010
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

More importantly, you'll be delighted to know that Inception was released on DVD yesterday, so you have the opportunity to watch it again and again. Alternatively, I'd recommend South Park's Insheeption episode. :-)

December 09, 2010
hahahaha... that's great!!
December 08, 2010
I'd say that "The Usual Suspects", "Mulholland Dr.", and "Avatar" all do make sense, but they intentionally attempt to confuse the viewer. Nothing like a mindfuck to go with your popcorn. LOL!
December 08, 2010
I think "The Usual Suspects" meets "Mulholland Drive" could be a very interesting movie - especially if it had Avatar's 3D. :-)
December 08, 2010
Hmm...."the good guys look like smurfs who mated with Thundercats" LOL! I like this list a lot except that I haven't seen your # 6. Your # 2 is just so good, but its script was so flawed but I didn't care. thanks, James!

you need to watch BLACK SWAN. I want to know what funny line you come up with. LOL!
December 08, 2010
The other problem with Avatar is the "having sex using your hair" routine. I frequently have bad hair days and it seems completely unreasonable I might accidentally mate with someone (or something) because I forgot my hair gel. And then imagine how much conditioner you'd need. I need to watch Black Swan, but I haven't worked up the courage yet. Maybe this weekend!
About the list creator
James Beswick ()
Ranked #2's "token Brit".
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