Movies where the protagonist needs to learn to embrace imperfection
April 27, 2016 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for examples of films (not TV) where the primary character arc is that of a protagonist who is attempting to be perfectly good/strong/emotionally invincible, but needs to learn to forgive him/herself for having human failings/vulnerabilities. Put another way, movies about forgiving oneself for failing to live up to an impossible ideal of being "good" "strong" or "perfect." Any genre will do.
posted by egeanin to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Short Term 12 could meet this criteria.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2016

Groundhog Day.
posted by TheCavorter at 6:13 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's a Wonderful Life.

And Groundhog Day, what? That's about almost exactly the opposite: stepping up to be less outrageously imperfect.
posted by bricoleur at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Most of the characters in The Breakfast Club.
posted by brookeb at 6:28 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Squid and the Whale
posted by rhizome at 6:29 PM on April 27, 2016

Ordinary People.
(It's actually about this.)
posted by flourpot at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Isn't this the story arc of Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off?

(I think he can be id'd as the protagonist since there is an interpretation of the film where Ferris does not exist at all and is essentially Cameron's "imaginary friend.")
posted by jbenben at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2016

Also in an interesting way you could read The Stepford Wives as this story arc reaching into the culture of the time. In the film it's such an outrageous arc in the opposite direction that it makes the viewer more conscious of the tyranny of mid-20th C ideals of female perfection.
posted by flourpot at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2016

Good Will Hunting
posted by mefireader at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Bridget Jones's Diary. Or, Pride and Prejudice - but go with the Colin Firth iteration!
posted by chestnut-haired-sunfish at 6:54 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Good Will Hunting?
posted by deathpanels at 7:02 PM on April 27, 2016

You Can Count On Me
posted by invisible ink at 7:08 PM on April 27, 2016

There is an entire trope usually expressed as the rigid businessman meeting the free-spirited sprite.

After Hours.
Dharma and Greg.
Bewitched. (edited to say: sorry, no TV)

A half a dozen Disney films of the 60s and 70s. Usually the rigid dad. Dean Jones specialized in this. I recall at least one with Bob Crane.
Mary Poppins. Mary letting her hair down or else the story arc of Mr. Banks.

My Fair Lady. (Let a woman in your life = letting chaos in your life)

Think of a star with a rigid character and you'll come up with others. David Niven. The Bishop's Wife.

Think of a female who plays free-spirited characters and you'll come up with others.

The screwball comedies did this. Ball of Fire, Bringing Up Baby (one of the best examples).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2016

Harold and Maude is also an example of the trope dances_with_sneetches mentioned.
posted by deathpanels at 7:12 PM on April 27, 2016

posted by fuse theorem at 7:20 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Accidental Tourist
posted by Kriesa at 7:29 PM on April 27, 2016

The Game
posted by rhizome at 7:40 PM on April 27, 2016

The fabulous mr. Fox
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 7:55 PM on April 27, 2016

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
posted by effluvia at 7:58 PM on April 27, 2016

The Paper Chase
posted by seasparrow at 9:07 PM on April 27, 2016

posted by kapers at 10:37 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think the character of Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story qualifies.
posted by davidmsc at 11:27 PM on April 27, 2016

The Weather Man

The main character isn't exactly trying to be perfect; it should be included in this list, though, because he does come to some acceptance of his manifold imperfections and this helps him to become *somewhat* better.
posted by bertran at 1:07 AM on April 28, 2016

Oddly I think kid's movies might be a good place to go for this. Both 'Frozen' and 'Inside Out' deal with those themes. Elsa trying to conceal & suppress her feelings/powers in Frozen. And Inside Out deals largely with it being okay to be sad, and not having to put on a brave face and be happy all the time for others.
posted by Caravantea at 5:08 AM on April 28, 2016

I like Mr. Nobody for the idea that even when you know all the outcomes there are still no "right" choices.
posted by Shanda at 7:51 AM on April 28, 2016

Pixar's "Inside Out"
posted by -harlequin- at 8:22 PM on April 28, 2016

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