If you look throughout the history of cinema you’ll find a lot of movies centered around what seemed like good ideas. But what makes some of these films so good is that the ideas go terribly wrong. Today I’m looking at five phenomenal examples of that. Now this is a list that could easily be a top 100. There’s just so many ideas that instantly filled my mind. But in order to narrow it down, I decided to focus on bad ideas that drive the entire story. These examples of poor judgement are what these movies are centered around. Still, there are tons of options to choose from so I’m not going to call this the definitive list. But in my mind there’s no doubting that these are 5 phenomenal movie ideas that go terribly wrong. (WARNING: Spoilers below)
#5 – “127 HOURS” – Always leave a note.
In director Danny Boyle’s 2010 Oscar nominated “127 Hours”, James Franco plays a free-spirited adventurer who decides to spend the day canyon hopping deep into Utah. Now there’s nothing wrong with taking off to explore the great outdoors. But when you take off deep into canyon country without telling a single soul where you’re going, well lets just say you’re asking for trouble. That’s just what Franco’s character Aron Ralston does and things go really bad. He ends up losing his footing and sliding down into a deep narrow crevice where his arm is crushed and trapped under a boulder. With no phone service and no one knowing where he is, Aron has no way to escape and no chance of getting help. His horrible decision to not share his whereabouts before leaving has severe consequences and he’ll have to muster ever ounce of the human spirit if he wants to live.
#4 – “RAISING ARIZONA” – The baby snatchers.
H.I. McDunnough and his wife Ed had the best of intentions. Unfortunately they are both simple-minded idiots. In the Coen Brothers’ classic comedy “Raising Arizona”, H.I. (Nic Cage) and Ed (Holly Hunter) read about quints being born to a wealthy unpainted furniture mogul. Unable to have children of their own and basing their plan on the idea that “they got more than they can handle”, the couple kidnaps one of the quints to complete their “family unit”. Sounds just like a Coen Brothers flick doesn’t it. Well, anyone with half a brain knows this idea isn’t going to go very far and it certainly doesn’t. They end up with a bounty hunter on their heels as well as two of H.I.’s escaped convict buddies who think there’s money to be made with the baby. This stupid idea couldn’t have gone any worse.
#3 – “THE APARTMENT” – Keep your apartment to yourself.
In Billy Wilder’s brilliant film “The Apartment”, the lead character C.C. Baxter (wonderfully played by Jack Lemmon) sees his chance to climb the corporate ladder by allowing four of his bosses to use his apartment for their individual extramarital trysts. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see this is a bad idea, right? Things do indeed turn sour. Not only does Baxter start hearing it from his neighbors, but he finds out that a girl he’s interested in (Shirley MacLaine) is having a fling with his big boss (Fred MacMurray) right there in his apartment. Things go bad quick and Baxter gets beat up and loses his job. We even get a suicide attempt by a drug overdose. If there was ever an example of an idea going south, this is it!
#2 – “KING KONG” – Not all giant apes are made for Broadway.
Ok, how does one come to the conclusion that capturing a giant monster-sized gorilla and using him in a stage show on Broadway is a good idea? Well that’s what happens here and things get deadly in a hurry. After discovering Kong on a mysterious uncharted island, a film director sees dollar signs. A lot of dollar signs. Even though Kong almost kills them on the island, they manage to sedate him, load him on a boat, and take him to New York City. Like all dumb ideas this one blows up in their faces. Before long Kong is loose in New York destroying property, killing people, and climbing the Empire State Building. “King Kong” turned out to be one of the great classic films of all time. And we would have never gotten it if not for one of film history’s stupidest ideas.
#1 – “FARGO” – It’s hard to find good kidnappers these days.
Most all of us have been in a financial tight at one time or another. But I bet few of us have thought that having our wife kidnapped so that her rich father-in-law would pay the ransom and then pocketing the bulk of it would be a good way of getting out of our financial trouble. I mean it sounds preposterous, right? It is preposterous and that’s right up Joel and Ethan Coen’s alley. Once again they appear on this list and this particular movie idea is a horrible one. When Jerry (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) he thinks he has a foolproof plan. But before long a trail of murders brings everything back to Jerry and all thanks to an able small town sheriff (Frances McDormand). An idiotic plan and one dark comedic bad turn after another is all it took to bring Jerry’s dopey plan crashing down.
So there they are, five fantastic movie idea that went terribly wrong. There are so many other that I could name right now but I would rather hear from you all. Who did I miss? Who did I get wrong? Please take time to share your thoughts in the comments section below.