17 movies where viewers missed the point

Look, we’ve all carried out it: remaining the cinema and wondered, “what did I just see?”

Some of the most popular films at any time designed have also been the most befuddling, with a handful of leaving viewers with a full misunderstanding of what they are even about.

Irrespective of whether we’re speaking about quirky comedies like Juno, or taut psychological dramas like Fight Club, the background of cinema is littered with examples of movies where by viewers – some viewers, at the very least – seemed to miss the position completely.

This may perhaps be down to audiences bringing their personal preconceptions to what they are seeing, or basically going down the rabbit gap of cinematic conspiracy theories.

Occasionally, it’s not just audiences that reduce the plot – the Rambo franchise started off out as a biting statement versus violence, just before transforming into a giddy endorsement of the similar violence it once condemned.

On situation, administrators and actors have even had to talk out towards errant readings of their function – these types of as Hugo Weaving, who brutally shut down misconceptions about The Matrix and V for Vendetta.

Right here are 17 films exactly where audiences missed the point…

American Psycho

Mary Harron’s black comedy was criticised when it arrived out for its gleeful violence, as moneyed psychopath Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) viciously targets and kills guys and women alike. Bret Easton Ellis’s authentic novel was also misinterpreted – more so than the movie, in actuality – but the two have arrive to be embraced as the punchy, purposeful social satires they are.

The Counsellor

Ridley Scott’s thriller repelled critics and audiences alike when it strike cinemas in 2013. With a script from Cormac McCarthy, the film was brushed aside as an around-violence, more than-sexed mess. History has been form to it, on the other hand, and the film has ever more occur to be embraced as an clever, astonishingly layered spin on a properly-worn genre.


Often a misunderstanding can spiral completely out of command. This was the circumstance with French drama Cuties, which was at the central of a political maelstrom in 2020 around its intended sexualisation of small children. The problem? Cuties was in truth manufactured as an unequivocal criticism of child sexualisation, skewering the sexism and objectification at the heart of our culture.

Netflix faced criminal expenses in Texas about the movie ‘Cuties’ amid promises it sexually exploits its young actresses

(Courtesy of Netflix)

The Fabelmans

Provided Steven Spielberg’s popularity for sentimentality, it’s possibly no surprise that the director’s autobiographical drama was dismissed by numerous viewers as remaining a mawkish love letter to cinema. But seem closer at the film’s information, and you’ll obtain a bleak, lacerating undertone: a filmmaker getting a scalpel to the dim psychology driving his individual art.

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The Fabelmans stars mirror on ‘once in a lifetime’ career performing with Steven Spielberg

Battle Club

It is quick to see why viewers could possibly consider of Battle Club as a macho endorsement of male brutality – that is additional or fewer how the film was advertised. But David Fincher’s 1999 drama was, underneath its premise, a stark (if bombastic) critique of masculinity and capitalism. The launch of a laughably misguided Combat Club online video video game was the icing on the cake.

Fool’s Paradise

It’s Normally Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Working day unsuccessful to impress critics or audiences with his directorial debut Fool’s Paradise, a comedy set in the world of Hollywood. Lots of of the criticisms centered on Day’s nonverbal protagonist, who was said to be uncharismatic and laborous to observe.  In accordance to Day, on the other hand, this was a deliberate selection, intended to make a place about white males failing upwards. “The total issue of the satire is to not be the charismatic, entertaining character they have to have and want,” he explained to The Impartial in August 2023. “You’ve created this decision, you’ve taken this large swing, and you have to reside with it.”

Failing upwards: Ken Jeong and Charlie Working day in ‘Fool’s Paradise’

(Signature Leisure)


The obtrusive anti-crime concept of Goodfellas really should be simple more than enough to grasp, you would picture: a lot more or much less the entirety of Martin Scorsese’s 1990 drama is expended exhibiting you horrible folks executing awful factors. Nevertheless, the latest many years – and never-ending discourse about superhero films –  have increasingly given increase to promises that Scorsese’s film was made to make criminality glance interesting. Wrong!

Josie and the Pussycats

This 2001 songs sector satirewas panned when it very first arrived out, with some of the criticisms concentrating on its rampant item placement and obvious superficiality. But numerous critics merely weren’t giving the film credit. The garish commercialism was portion of the movie’s satirical message – a message which has only grown more powerful in the decades since.


Diablo Cody’s teen comedy starred Elliot Page as a precocious 16-year-outdated who decides to have an accidental pregnancy to time period. The movie was embraced by lots of professional-existence campaigners, who observed the film’s message as staying anti-abortion. This was, however, in no way the intent, with Page even stating: “What I get most discouraged at is when individuals get in touch with it a pro-daily life film, which is just absurd … The most important thing is the alternative is there, and the film totally demonstrates that.”

Elliot Webpage in ‘Juno’


The Matrix

Most persons could be forgiven for missing the trans metaphor at the coronary heart of The Matrix when it 1st debuted at the time, the sibling filmmaking crew the Wachowskis had been publicly believed to be two cisgender gentlemen. In the many years considering that the film’s launch, the Wachowskis have verified that the movie was intended as a metaphor for the trans encounter, a reading that flew above the heads of most viewers again in 1999. The appropriation of The Matrix by the alt proper, meanwhile – with the film’s famous “red tablet/blue pill” imagery even operating its way into the lexicon – was also bizarrely off foundation. “It’s a pretty, quite shallow studying of the intention of a movie,” star Hugo Weaving later said.

Rambo: To start with Blood

Everyone thinks of Rambo as a gritty ode to violent revenge – a misconception fuelled by the violent excessive of its sequels. But the unique Sylvester Stallone movie was seriously a pointed evisceration of war and violence – audiences were intended to seem on in horror, rather than revel in it.


Paul Verhoeven’s erotic drama was panned when it was to start with introduced, with its dialogue and sex scenes prompting derisive laughter from audiences. This was essentially, however, the filmmaker’s intention – with Verhoeven afterwards confirming that the film’s giddy about-the-top rated tone was all a deliberate component of the satire.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

George Lucas’s sci-fi prequel was commonly dismissed when it initial arrived out, and there are lots of salient factors for that. But some of the disparagement was unearned. Revisionists have because hailed the film for its purposeful depiction of the Jedi’s complacency, with the movie secretly serving as a much far more nuanced political metaphors than it was originally specified credit history for. That nevertheless does not justification Jar Jar Binks, having said that.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Very best) in ‘The Phantom Menace’


Starship Troopers

It might be that Paul Verhoeven has a knack for misunderstood films – perhaps the Dutch director retains getting missing in translation. But Starship Troopers is one more key instance: a film that was criticised for its wide, jingoistic story of armed service experience, which was basically a good, fearless satire of the American war machine, and the propaganda that will come with it.

V for Vendetta

The anti-establishment information of this 2005 comic book adaptation struck a chord with quite a few viewers – specially the impression of the central character, masked revolutionary “V”. Even so, Dude Fawkes-type masks resembling the just one worn by the character had been soon adopted by genuine-daily life protestors, like the significantly correct. V star Hugo Weaving railed towards the interpretation, telling The Every day Beast: “I am befuddled by it. It just goes to clearly show how people today don’t read through down below surfaces. They do not study amongst the traces. They will get a thing that they assume is awesome and they will repurpose it to in good shape on their own when the original intention or meaning of that detail was quite the reverse.”

(Warner Bros Pics)

Wall Avenue

Greed is very good? Of course, if you take Oliver Stone’s acclaimed Eighties drama at face worth. Lots of did, and Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gecko became an emblem of money-grabbing corporate ambition – but go through among the lines, and you will come across a critique as ruthless as it is compelling.

The Wolf of Wall Street

As portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s criminal offense epic Wolf of Wall Street, inventory industry significant-flyer Jordan Belfort is a charismatic criminal – but a despicable human currently being. Even however the film goes to terrific lengths to show just how depraved Belfort is about its three-hour runtime, quite a few walked away from the film viewing him as a somehow aspirational figure. It was Wall Street all more than once again.