Heartwarming Movies. The Morning After.
August 23, 2008 7:58 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever seen a film that seemed like a heartwarming / triumph-of-the-human-soul / love-wins-in-the-end / good-guy-wins type of movie, but the morning after, you realize it convinced you to root for something you otherwise wouldn't? [without the help of tear-jerking music and well-placed one-liners?] What was the movie? I want examples I can watch!

My example [and please don't make fun of me for this] -- I watched "Definitely, Maybe" and was warmed to the core at the end of it, but woke up the next day realizing I had been convinced that divorce was easy and the only sensible answer. I usually don't believe that, and I was surprised at how easily I was duped into it.

Have you ever had this experience? What was the movie? What did it lead you to believe that you questioned later?
posted by rubberfish to Media & Arts (53 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I felt that way about The Devil Wears Prada. Only I felt dirty right away.
posted by bricoleur at 8:15 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

This might not be quite what you're looking for, but in gangster movies you always root for the bad guy and you're sad when he gets caught. Yay, killing! Yay, drug trafficking! Yay, threatening the little guy! Booooo, law-abiding citizen.
posted by phunniemee at 8:20 PM on August 23, 2008

Sounds like "Private Benjamin".

What did it lead you to believe that you questioned later? "Hell with this; women don't need men anyway." (Given that I'm a man, that sentiment makes me very sad.)
posted by Class Goat at 8:21 PM on August 23, 2008

Most romantic comedies fit this pattern for me. Mainly because they always involve some sort of dramatic life change for one or both characters, and the next morning I think "it ain't going to be long before X returns to form...."
posted by tkolar at 8:21 PM on August 23, 2008

Going in Style -- about 3 elderly men who rob a bank. And I rooted for the guys all the way!
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 8:25 PM on August 23, 2008

Like phunniemee said, most crime/gangster movies are like that. The Italian Job, for instance. Or just about anything by Scorsese/Coppola/etc.
posted by Autarky at 8:33 PM on August 23, 2008

"The Notebook" was like that for me, because in real life that dude would be kinda creepy.
posted by PFL at 8:34 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

12 Angry Men. Duped me into momentarily thinking there will always be that one juror or person who insists on finding the truth.
posted by xammerboy at 8:37 PM on August 23, 2008

I don't know how "heartwarming" they are, but Heat and Gone in 60 Seconds are a couple that meet the "root for people you wouldn't normally" criteria for me.
posted by chazlarson at 8:42 PM on August 23, 2008

When Harry Met Sally

They get married. Heartwarming ending, right? Until you realize in the last scene, that in order to grab what little happiness he could, Harry had to give up everything he ever stood for.

Sally: Three months later, we got married.
Harry: It only took three months.
Sally: Twelve years and three months.
Harry: We had this - we had a really wonderful wedding.
Sally: It really was.
Harry: It was great. We had this enormous coconut cake.
Sally: Huge coconut cake with the tiers, and there was this very rich chocolate sauce on the side.
Harry: Right. Because not everybody likes it on the cake, because it makes it very soggy.
Sally: Particularly the coconut soaks up a lot of that stuff so you really - it's important to keep it on the side.
Harry: Right.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:42 PM on August 23, 2008

50 First Dates. I mean, seriously, it's sweet and all that a guy would be willing to have to get a girl to fall in love with him every day. But it's just creepy that he would get her pregnant. Can you imagine having to explain that everyday?
posted by theichibun at 9:07 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does TV count? How about Battlestar Galactica? Gradually you realize that in order to keep the surviving humans alive, the heroes you've been cheering for have been acting like ruthless dictators, stomping on civil liberties in the name of security. This of course becomes a major theme of the series, so all viewers inevitably pick up on it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:10 PM on August 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Or war movies! It's so easy to get caught up with the characters that you lose your moral compass. Black Hawk Down comes to mind. That's such an emotional fuckup that all you want is for the soldiers to get out of there alive, and when the gunships come and shoot up hundreds of Somalians on the rooftop in order to clear the way for a dozen American soldiers to escape I think I actually sighed with relief. (I mean fuckup in a good way, like you feel shell-shocked and kind of numb.)
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:16 PM on August 23, 2008

Kind of a stretch, and I had to watch it twice before I *really* put the pieces together and figured it out, because it never really flat out tells you, but the movie Lone Star was kind of like that.
posted by LionIndex at 9:17 PM on August 23, 2008

I've never been a John Hughes fan, but I think The Breakfast Club is sort of similar. The treatment of Ally Sheedy's character was appalling, as some of these people agree. At first, it seems like a heartwarming lesson about learning to accept people's differences, but then it kind of turns into one of those Jenny Jones make-over episodes where the goth girl has to be given a haircut and put in conservative clothes. And make-up.. because nothing solves all your problems like a coat of lipgloss!
posted by Mael Oui at 9:20 PM on August 23, 2008

My Fair Lady. I've watched this countless times during my childhood and I could never stop myself from being charmed by the wonderful songs and sheer charisma of Rex Harrison, even singing along with the incredibly misogynistic I'm an Ordinary Man and With a Little Bit O' Luck. After the movie's over though I always reflect that in real life Professor Higgins would head my list of arrogant and sexist men and I would be very unlikely to seek out his company.
posted by peacheater at 9:31 PM on August 23, 2008

I had that with "The Pursuit of Happyness".

Very heartwarming until the next day I was suddenly furious that in reality, the guy was more like a get-rich-quick-schemer who was putting his child in grave danger and not providing for him in the short term by chasing a dream that may or may not have worked out.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:35 PM on August 23, 2008

Hero, although at this distance of memory I don't remember exactly why. (It's been a couple of years.) Something about Jet Li as nationalist hero: I mean he does that in a lot of movies, but something about this one....
posted by epersonae at 9:56 PM on August 23, 2008

"The Notebook" was like that for me, because in real life that dude would be kinda creepy.

Along these lines (I'm assuming - I haven't seen The Notebook): The Graduate.
In his book The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker states his opinion that The Graduate taught a generation of men that discounting a woman's opinion is acceptable, that stalking women will bear positive results, and that given enough tenacity a man can win over a woman regardless of her stated desires and well established social conventions.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:00 PM on August 23, 2008

This is far from a "romantic" movie in any sense, but What About Bob? is sort of fascinating in that you have to either identify with the Bill Murray or the Richard Dreyfuss character...and it strikes me that I really felt pushed to like Murray's even though he's an undeniable lunatic who completely ruins someone else's life.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:29 PM on August 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think that a lot of people who are emphatically anti-war have that kind of reaction to Patton. It's a complex movie, about a complex and deeply flawed man, yet even if you hate war it's hard to hate this man who helped win that particular war. In fact, once the war is over, it's hard not to feel sorry for him that he no longer has a war to fight.

James Berardinelli lists it as his favorite movie of all time.
posted by Class Goat at 11:02 PM on August 23, 2008

Harold and Maude.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:05 PM on August 23, 2008

After about a half an hour you realise Juno isn't really quirky and edgey but practically conservative propaganda. Abortion as an option dissapears in a second, and adopting away the baby is instantly considered the right solution (despite the fact that she has a loving and supportive family etc). Garners character is a loon with serious control issues, but these are all swept away when she fulfills every real womans dream of becoming a mother (despite being in the middle of a divorce). Juno giving up her child doesn't appear to affect her more than a goldfish dying either. Morality tale much?
posted by Iteki at 1:20 AM on August 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

Dead Poets Society. The first time I watched it, I thought it was an inspiring heartwarming story about a teacher who changed his students' lives. The second time, I realized he was kind of an irresponsible dick.
posted by Stacey at 5:21 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Sex and the City Movie. I was taken under obligation of work function and actually enjoyed it muchly. Woke the next morning with a bad taste in my mouth - really gross consumerism and the only black character in the film is a plucky working girl type who is "lucky" to have a Vuitton purse bestowed upon her by the film's "heroine". I could go on an on about it, but I probably shouldn't have seen it in the first place.
posted by lottie at 5:45 AM on August 24, 2008

The 40 Year-Old Virgin. It seemed charming, but afterwards it began to feel more like a screed against pre-marital sex. In particular, I was annoyed by the way that a sexually aggressive minor female character is ultimately portrayed as freakish and creepy. Meanwhile, the guy who "didn't play with his toys" (I'm talking about his unopened action figure collection, of course) finds them much increased in value for having "waited."
posted by itstheclamsname at 5:45 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Finding Nemo is a wonderful movie, and millions of kids love it, but after repeated watchings, I realized that it sends an awful message -- there are like four or five times in the movie where a character appears to be dead, but seconds later, is perfectly fine. Hey kids, don't worry if Mom and Dad tell you Grandma is dead, she'll probably wake up in a few minutes, like Nemo did!
posted by Rock Steady at 6:18 AM on August 24, 2008

There's Something About Mary. Clearly we are intended to root for the Ben Stiller character to get the girl, despite the fact he is aggressively stalking a woman he vaguely knew years and years earlier across state lines. I'm guessing if I were to pursue my high school crush in a similar fashion the end result would be a restraining order, not sex.
posted by The Gooch at 7:06 AM on August 24, 2008

Air Guitar Nation, a documentary. I began to root for those folks pretty hard core. Incredibly funny and heart warming too. Trailer.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:19 AM on August 24, 2008

Any movie in which a male character is pursuing a female character, she initially resists his physical advance, but then succumbs and/or is overcome by lust, and they live happily ever after. The one that pops into my head is the scene in Blade Runner where Deckard kisses Rachael, but there are hundreds out there. These days, I don't even have to wait for the next morning to feel skeeved out.
posted by googly at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2008

Gone With The Wind

We're supposed to cheer for a selfish schemer and user like Scarlett who marries men she doesn't love for their money. We're suppose to think, "Good on Rhett" when he rapes Scarlett. We're supposed to think, "Gosh, these noble people are fighting for their way of life," except that that life involves holding other people in bondage and living off their labors like parasites, and holding people who are nominally their own kind in contempt if they're poor. When I was a small child and saw this on TV, though, it was exciting. I just loved Scarlett's dress in the barbecue scene, the way she fought off the Union soldier, and the ingeniousness of using Tara's drapes for a gown. And then I grew up.

The last time I saw it, in college for a class, I still loved the leading ladies' costumes, but I cheered on Prissy. The scene where she dawdles on the stairs when she's supposed to be getting the doctor for Melanie? I'm sure it's exactly what slaves did in those days, making as if they were stupid, but actually not giving a rat's ass if their "owner" lived or died in such an emergency. "Stupid" just got you a whack where out and out contempt and disobedience would get you killed. Go, Prissy!
posted by droplet at 8:02 AM on August 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

Rudy - you're rooting for him to get on the Notre Dame football team, and after years of focusing in this goal to the exclusion of all else, he finally gets one play and becomes a hero for like five minutes. But when you think about it, he wastes years of his life pursuing something he's totally unsuited for, just because everyone he knows thinks Notre Dame football is the be-all and end-all of existence. The movie basically sends the message, "Do what other people value!" and "You can be anything if you only try, no matter how bad you are at it!". He could have taken the same incredible tenacity and applied it to something he was actually good at and become a great success.
posted by lsemel at 8:28 AM on August 24, 2008

Working Girl.

People should've been on Sigourney Weaver's side, not Melanie Griffith's. I mean... as a woman, Sigourney's character clearly worked hard for *years* to establish a career mired deep in an old boy's network -- the difficult and mysoginistic 80s advertising world. But then bummer luck! She breaks her leg on a ski trip and decides to trust her inexperienced new secretary enough to house-sit for her. Now, this floozy secretary has some good ideas and wants to rise to the top but hasn't paid her dues at all yet. Sigourney sees potential in her, but she's clearly still rough around the edges. So how does the secretary repay her for the work opportunity and trust? She decides to formulate a plan to impress everyone, that she can vault her way to the top quicker and learn the advertising business better by wearing her bosses' expensive clothes and committing identity theft. She calls up an executive and pretending to be an executive herself, presents ideas to him without any experience in the field, then she steals her bosses' prescription drugs out of the medicine cabinet, passes out in public and allows the executive -- still a stranger -- to take her home (to her bosses' home) while unconscious. She then convinces the executive to crash a potential client's daughter's wedding to pitch business to him (how fucking rude is that!?), and SLEEPS with said executive who still thinks she's someone else. Then when Sigourney innocently comes back from her injury, she sees her secretary acting strange and comes upon a diary stating all of what's happened... and everyone's on her secretary's side and Sigourney's long-standing career is shot to Hell instantly while the secretary is now an executive who gets rewarded with a corner office and an invitation to shack up with the executive. Because hey... she's got a mind for business and a bod for sin.

Now, supposedly Sigourney deserved every ounce of derision because she was going to "steal" her secretary's idea. But really? How many presented advertising ideas never make it off the ground? And who's to say she wasn't going to give her secretary some credit or a raise of some kind. But to give a newbie full credit and a corner office for one idea, that's not something that happens. It's called paying your dues. One idea does not mean someone's a good businessperson... you have to learn the industry. Sigourney Weaver's character might've ended up being a great mentor to Melanie's character if given the chance. Instead, she totally got the shaft and Melanie committed mutiny on her after working for her -- what -- two weeks?

Melanie Griffith's character should've lost her job when she was arrested and put in jail for being the worst housesitter EVER. She was insanely self-absorbed and just used people, implying that feminism believed women could (and had the right to) create their dream career by any means necessary even if it wasn't earned. And sleeping with the executive on your account is really not usually a rewardable thing when your employer finds out. Yeah, not really a great role model film. Pygmalion it wasn't.

And don't get me started on Baby Boom. Where once having a baby dropped on her doorstep the single career woman protagonist realizes that in order to have meaning she must completely drop her career, renounce the city, and live in the country making baby food with the hick local veteranarian by her side as a father figure in order to be live ever after. Because of course she can't do it by herself and a handsome country man is the cherry on top of her newfound mommy success that everyone in her wake must envy. Ohhhh, how lost she was before the baby came. And she didn't even know it! Hallelujah for the orphan baby that saved her from the big city! (I mean, babies are great. They'll change your life. And they're hard work. But come on.)

Everything is set to such extremes in these 80s films... they really didn't give real young women who were trying to figure out their options (like me) much reality to consider. Just a bunch of weird fairytale bullshit -- which makes sense since those films were ALWAYS WRITTEN BY MEN. Obviously. Because what woman would write a scene showing Melanie Griffith vacuuming in her lingerie? I guess it was to show that even though she was trying to have a career she was still a soft, vulnerable woman who looked good in sexual underthings AND cared about housework!!!! SIMULTANEOUSLY!!!! Yay!!!!! What a dream she is! Hah.

But hey... it's just a movie. Let's not overanalyze, okay? What? Oh, right. Too late.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:08 AM on August 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Say Anything. Lloyd Dobbler is nothing but a creepy stalker.
posted by teleri025 at 9:23 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


'Want that boy to like you? Whore it up!'
posted by Cantdosleepy at 9:37 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Second Juno. Liked it at first, but the more I think about it the more I hate it. So disgustingly pro-consumerist and devoid of thought. This blogger says it better than I can.

It’s not so much that Juno’s pregnancy ends up being nothing but a pawn in the trite Hollywood game of “how the protagonist found love,” though that is annoying. What really crushes me is that the film abandons any opportunity to actually open a dialogue about the very real issues surrounding teenage pregnancy in our country. It pretends that pregnancy can be an easy ride, complete with parents and friends who are 100% supportive all the way, a wonderful rich, white attractive couple willing to take the baby (and pay for all the costs), and some mild emotional strain no different from any other nine months in a teenager’s life. As long, that is, as you’re a snarky, preternaturally observant teenage mouthpiece for an egotistical mediocrity who’s adding her own, special, self-absorbed and mindless nugget to the ever-growing pile of shit Hollywood is slapping with the “indie” label.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:44 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Forrest Gump: Conform and things work out. Question authority and you lose your legs or get AIDS.

It's A Wonderful Life: George seeing the world without him doesn't change a thing, I always imagined that 30 seconds after the movie ends, George goes to the garage and hangs himself. Also, Potter got to keep all the cash.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Indy's a chump who gets pushed and pulled by everyone around him. He should have shot the Ark. The museum could have put it back together later.
posted by CarlRossi at 9:52 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not so much a morning after realization, but Memento did that to me when I first watched it.
posted by rux at 9:52 AM on August 24, 2008

Oh yes, that's another thing. Indiana Jones is like the *worst* historical preservationist EVER. Whenever he finds a mythical location filled with treasures and architecture that has been kept hidden for thousand of years -- places that historians and anthropologist of the world would kill their own mothers to be able to finally study let alone see existing proof of -- the place inevitably crumbles to the ground minutes later. Nothing left but rubble.

And replacing antiquities with bags of sand? I mean, comeon. Not cool, dude.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:09 AM on August 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

Add me to the slow-brewing JUNO hate list, mainly because it ceased being subversive and/or funny about half-way through, and just became quirky and/or cute. And yes, handing the baby off to the control-freak mother-wanna-be creeped me out. I would've loved it if she'd kept the baby, dumped the dweeb boyfriend and joined a kick ass punk band (maybe with the Jason Bateman character). Now that would've been subversive.
posted by philip-random at 10:17 AM on August 24, 2008

Das Boot.
posted by dinger at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2008

The Matrix does this for me. I used to enjoy scenes like the lobby shootout, but then I started thinking about all of the civilians who get killed. The whole "anyone could be an Agent" reason comes off as just an excuse to slaughter anyone who's not with Neo and pals. These are the guys we're supposed to root for? Their big plan in that scene involves shooting a whole bunch of the people they're supposedly fighting for.
posted by cadge at 10:36 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm also with ya on Gone With The Wind. What's so romantic? Rhett Butler was a total rapist and Scarlett was insufferable.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:18 AM on August 24, 2008

Gross Pointe Blank and Day of the Jackal.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on August 24, 2008

Not to completely derail, but I'm right there with you on the Indiana Jones thing. He's not an archeologist, he's a grave robber. I had a archeaology prof in undergrad that would fly into a very funny, but rage-filled rant at any student who would make Indy references. Humming the theme song became our favorite way of delaying lectures, especially if half the class didn't do the readings.

Also, Kill Bill did that to me. I hate the notion that mothers and motherhood make you a better/more special person, but at the end of Kill Bill I firmly believed that it just might. Or at least makes you a better killer. And who doesn't want that for a mom?
posted by teleri025 at 11:46 AM on August 24, 2008

I'm surprised at all the JUNO hate (which I agree with) and none for KNOCKED UP. I mean, same considerations, but worse.

We're supposed to think that it's heartwarming that the slacker dude is pressured into some semblance of getting his shit together temporarily while the girl who can't deal with the reality of her pregnancy in relationship to her career and future plans, so just passively accepts what happens. Let alone the secondary Paul Rudd relationship, which seemed funny at the time and seems so utterly depressing and hateful when you give it any thought.

The fact that abortion is brought up once - as "shmobortion". Tell me this isn't the most conservative agenda film to gain hipster acceptance.
posted by Gucky at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2008

Sleepless In Seattle. While Meg Ryan is planning her marriage to a perfectly nice man (who seems ideal for her save for a couple of quirks and allergies), she is secretly wooing - and stalking - a complete stranger she heard on a late night radio show. Her callous subterfuge escalates, finally culminating in a scene of sadistic betrayal: on Valentine's Day, while dining in a Manhattan restaurant with her adoring, oblivious, fiance, she blurts a garbled confession and then abandons him to run towards the flashing, heart-shaped lights of the Empire State Building, where her next romantic victim is waiting.

The scene is written in such a way to let her completely off the hook: rather than expressing shock, grief or devastation, her fiance smiles - ruefully but indulgently - and urges her to run off to her imaginary boyfriend. I mean... what the fuck? The screenplay, by glossing over the consequences of her very selfish actions, skillfully fools the viewer into rooting for Ryan's character. And it works! Which is quite some feat, considering she's a back-stabbing, narcissistic piece of work. When she leaves the Empire State Building hand-in-hand with Tom Hanks - who has only just recovered from the death of his loving wife - I can't help but feel this is the beginning of his next nightmare.

(And I feel similarly about the Andie MacDowell character in Four Weddings and a Funeral. All evidence points to her being a psychopath.)
posted by hot soup girl at 1:44 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Agree about Knocked Up--the young, educated, successful, unmarried & unattached career-oriented woman not only doesn't get an abortion but never even considers the option. Unlikely and after the fact it seemed like crypto message pushing.
posted by aerotive at 2:17 PM on August 24, 2008

I am watching "Notting Hill" right now and Hugh Grant's character is just getting dragged through the mud. I don't know why anybody would want the two of them to get together.
posted by PFL at 4:01 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm thinking "Dexter", but that's just wrongisn't it?
posted by and for no one at 8:17 PM on August 24, 2008

I'm also with ya on Gone With The Wind.

Me, too. The movie also skillfully leaves out the rise of the Klu Klux Klan in the South after the War, which is quite clear in the book. That scene where Ashley and the other "gentlemen" clean out the woods where Scarlett is attacked? THAT'S THE FUCKING KLAN. Ex-soldiers lynching the homeless former slaves. Rhett stays out of it, but saves Ashley from arrest by Union soldiers. WHO ARE OUT LOOKING FOR THE FUCKING KLAN.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:42 PM on August 24, 2008

Agree on Dead Poets. That movie really clued me in to implicit vs. explicit messages- the explicit "Carpe Diem" "Seize the Day," but those who do end up dead, destroyed, fired. The last scene of the young men marching with the headmaster cowering left me wondering about what was gonna happen to them the next day.

The Joker has a long history of appealing to the inner child, that vicious little beast.

And the 'Gor' movies are just spectacular. Oliver Reed absolutely plastered, and by the time one of the sub-heroes was sucked into a desert sand pit we were cheering the elements for taking him.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cantdosleepy beat me too it. I love watching Grease, but it really seems that the moral of the story is "Boyfriend gets made fun of for dating you? Change!"
posted by radioamy at 8:28 PM on August 25, 2008

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