Movie Mettle: Five Ridiculous Movie Premises To Test Your Limits

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Movie Mettle is a weekly column for moviegoers with weak constitutions. Wish you had the balls to sit through the goriest of horror movies? Want to build up your resistance to weepy rom-coms? Each week we’ll give you a range of five movies that will test your limits, you cinematic thrillseeker, you.

I knew that I wanted this week’s column to deal with ridiculous movie premises, but you wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to narrow it down to only five contenders. Plus, I didn’t want it to be five insane action movies, or laughable kids’ movies, or… you get the picture. Props to this Reddit thread for coming up with several movies I either hadn’t seen or hadn’t considered!

Warm-Up: The Lizzie McGuire Movie

It will never stop frustrating me that kids’ movies are exhaustingly unrealistic. I remember feeling fairly smart and self-aware as a preteen; I don’t doubt that today’s generation has matured even faster than my peers and I did. So would it kill these writers to come up with plots that no kid in their right mind would believe? Yes, Hilary Duff’s hopelessly clumsy heroine of course has an Italian popstar doppelganger and can totally pull off pretending to be her before the big musical performance. Oh, and then when everyone finds out that she’s a fake, she still performs for thousands in the Coliseum.

But still, it’s a Disney movie, so you take it with a massive grain of salt. And that’s why it’s your warm-up.

Novice: My Boss’ Daughter

Any time a movie boasts a “comedy of errors,” you should be wary. That concept works for Shakespeare, but rarely is it convincing in a modern movie. You get the sense that this movie is trying to top 2000’s Meet the Parents, by having the hapless suitor deal with ever-escalating, impossible obstacles. But whereas Ben Stiller’s comedy hit all the right points and still strove for realism, Ashton Kutcher’s early comedy attempt consistently falls short. Take, for instance, the “funny animals” subplot: Having to shove a pill up an owl’s butt will never match Mr. Jinx learning how to flush the toilet.

You know what’s even more ridiculous? That folks like Molly Shannon and Jeffrey Tambor agreed to be in this. Have fun. You will be yelling at the screen on this one.

Intermediate: 40 Days and 40 Nights

But at least it makes some sense that shit could go wrong while house-sitting for your boss. By contrast, there is no way we should have to buy a movie about a guy who gives up sex for Lent. Or rather — the consequences of it should never be this dire. So Josh Hartnett and Shannyn Sossamon have to wait a month to consummate their relationship, no problem. But then his co-workers try to goad him into masturbating so they can benefit from the office pool? And, get this, his ex-girlfriend rapes him in order to prove that he’s not over her? This movie just got unbelievably dark.

Expert: Rubber

Question: Should this be so high up the list since director Quentin Dupieux intentionally set out to make an homage to movies that are governed by “no reason”?

Answer: Yes. This story of a murderous tire — named Robert, natch — will challenge all of your notions about what makes a logical, coherent movie. It’s likely that you won’t buy into the concept immediately; by the end of Robert’s bloody spree, you may still be fed up and unwilling to move on to the rest of the list.

Don’t lose faith. This one’s worth it.

BAMF: The Day of the Dolphin

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Yep, found this gem via Reddit. I couldn’t track down an actual trailer (since it came out in 1973), but I think this tagline does the trick much more effectively, don’t you? In fact, I’m just going to give you the Wikipedia synopsis, because it sums up everything about this movie that will challenge your notions:

A brilliant and driven scientist, Jake Terrell, and his young and beautiful wife, Maggie, train dolphins to communicate with humans. This is done by teaching the dolphins to speak English in dolphin-like voices. Two of his dolphins, Alpha (“Fa”) and Beta (“Bea”) are stolen by officials of the shadowy Franklin Foundation headed by Harold DeMilo (Fritz Weaver) the supportive backer of the Terrells’ research. After the dolphins are kidnapped, an investigation by an undercover government agent for hire, Curtis Mahoney (Paul Sorvino) reveals that the Institute is planning to further train the dolphins to carry out a political assassination by having them place a limpet mine on the hull of the yacht of the President of the United States.

Oh, sure. That makes perfect sense. Let’s say it together: What. The. Fuck. I confess that I haven’t actually seen this movie, but this was enough to convince me that anyone who can sit through it automatically earns BAMF status.

Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Have a genre of movie that you wish you could sit through? Leave your request in the comments and I might take it on in a future column!

  • Matthew Price

    You forgot to mention that Day of the Dolphin was an A picture – directed by Mike Nichols. It’s not half as loopy as The Parallax View in terms of plot. The’70s – when the inmates ran the asylum.

  • Christopher Runyon

    Don’t forget Orca, which was essentially Jaws but with a Killer Whale instead of a shark. There’s a scene in that movie where the Shamu literally blows up an entire building using a fucking gas leak, then it does a jump in the air right as it’s exploding, Michael Bay style. Also, the whale has motivation as well: Revenge.

    But hey, Day of the Dolphin certainly makes up for that omission. Jesus fucking Christ.

  • Andrew Crump

    I hated Rubber. Oh my god, I hated Rubber. I hated, hated, hated that movie. Jesus, it infuriated me. I had no idea that a premise so gloriously insane could be bent over a barrel for an eighty-minute stretch that feels like three times that number, but Quentin Dupieux clearly is more inventive at making terrible films than I am.

    I’ll grant that this thing lost me the minute it kicked off with that insultingly pompous tirade about “no reason” films, but the whole comment about audience-artist relationships rings really hollow when Dupieux’s making exactly the sort of bullshit terrible movie he thinks he’s outsmarting.

  • Matt Goldberg

    The poster for DAY OF THE DOLPHIN is better than the movie. The film is actually quite slow and plodding, and doesn’t seem to realize the goofiness of its premise.