21 Controversial Movies That Wouldn’t Survive Today’s Scrutiny

“They don’t make movies like they used to” is a phrase we’re sure you’ve heard many times. And it’s a true statement with both positive and negative connotations. While some might argue that cinema and film seem to have lost an element of authenticity and maybe even originality, others claim that it’s a positive thing that cinema has evolved with the times to be more self-aware and sensitive to social and moral issues.  

Here is a list of 21 films that the movie industry would not make in 2024.

 

As Good as It Gets

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

This romantic comedy starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Cuba Gooding Jr. had a big budget of $50 million ($85 million in today’s money) and was also a big hit. However, this kind of film wouldn’t be made today partly because the audience’s appetites have changed and also because the entire structure of the film industry has changed. 

Back in the 90s, we didn’t have HBO MAX, Hulu, Netflix, Prime, or Paramount Plus, and streaming wasn’t a thing. Rom-coms like this aren’t as popular, and a film like As Good as It Gets would go straight to HBO MAX today. 

 

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Starring the legendary Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic movies ever. Unfortunately, this film was criticized for its portrayal of Indian culture and also for perpetuating stereotypes about Native Americans, and it couldn’t be made today. 

 

American History X

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

This film is so politically incorrect that it wouldn’t be allowed to be made today. Furthermore, the N-word is used multiple times, and it contains sensitive themes about neo-Nazi ideology. 

 

Blood Diamond

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Criticized for historical and cultural inaccuraciesthis film couldn’t be made today as it would be deemed offensive on many levels. 

Furthermore, it contains extremely graphic violence, and the movie has been criticized by the country it was depicting.

 

The Da Vinci Code

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures.

The Da Vinci Code caused controversy with its depiction of Christianity, which faced a backlash from the Catholic Church and the Vatican. It was also criticized for historical inaccuracies and sensationalizing aspects of religion. 

Members of the Catholic faith found this film offensive, and it isn’t a movie that would be made today

 

The Wolf of Wall Street

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

This movie was a resounding success, and that can’t be refuted. However, in hindsight, it has been criticized for glorifying greed, excess, drugs, sexual immorality, and criminal behavior, and we aren’t so sure that a film of this kind could be made today

The Wolf of Wall Street was deemed so offensive that it was banned in Kenya, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Malaysia, and specific scenes were also banned in India. 

 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Photo Credit: Bryanston Distributing Company.

The New York Post called this movie Putrid and intolerable. It was heavily criticized at the time for containing graphic violence and gore while serving no purpose except pure shock value. 

In 2024, there simply would not be the same appetite for this kind of aimless, debased horror, especially given that it was based on true events. 

 

Bruno

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a fashion designer/model, this film was heavily criticized for its portrayal of homosexual stereotypes and homophobic humor.  

Members of the LGBTQ+ community found this movie offensive on many levels, and it was accused of blatant discrimination against minority groups. 

 

Police Academy

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Police Academy is an iconic movie from the 80s, but in recent years, it has faced backlash for containing sexism, misogyny, and degrading themes towards gender and race. 

Furthermore, a film featuring offensive, derogatory portrayals of law enforcement wouldn’t be made today

 

Borat

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Borat is another character from Sacha Baren Cohen who has caused controversy. The film is based on a parody of a Kazakhstan journalist traveling to America to explore the culture. 

However, while some have claimed Borat is a satirical comedy, others feel that this mockumentary is nothing more than thinly veiled cultural bias, stereotyping, and alleged antisemitism. 

 

Carnival Holocaust

Photo Credit: United Artists Europa.

Since its release, this movie has been the subject of censorship and activism from animal rights groups. The film is about cannibalistic tribes in the Amazon and a documentary crew who wanted to record the tribe in their natural habitat. However, the crew themselves meet a grisly end and are cannibalized by the natives.

The film contains graphic scenes of horror, sexual violence, and real-life animal cruelty. There is no way that any film production would allow animals to be harmed in making a movie today, as it would break several legal, moral, and ethical codes. 

 

American Sniper

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

It has been claimed that this film will go down in history as a poor example of American imperialist propaganda. 

American Sniper has faced backlash for misrepresenting the historical context of America’s war with Iraq. Audiences claimed that the movie did a disservice to the Iraqi people, as well as American war veterans, as it did not reflect the conflict fairly or accurately from either side. 

 

White Chicks

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Starring the two famous brothers of comedy, Marlon and Shawn Wayans, White Chicks is a notoriously funny film. The plot follows the Wayan brothers as FBI agents who must go undercover to foil a kidnap plot. However, their undercover identities involve the two actors donning white faces as they pretend to be two white Paris Hilton lookalikes. 

As funny as this movie was, actors painting their faces to change their race is now considered a massive faux pas, and this film would not be made today

 

Gremlins

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This film was pioneering and marked a turning point in Hollywood’s creation of special effects. A highly talented group of prosthetics, prop makers, puppeteers, and designers came together to create the animated green Gremlins.

However, the film was criticized for using horror movie-style effects in a film targeted at a young audience, as it was rated PG-13. Joe Dante, the film Director, had just come fresh from making the horror movie The Howling, and this, combined with its broad marketing that targeted kids with dolls, video games, and adult themes, would now be deemed highly inappropriate. 

Forrest Gump

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Tom Hanks gave a stunning performance in this movie, and the film won six Academy Awards. However, in hindsight, the film has been criticized for its demeaning characterization of a person with intellectual disabilities. And it’s highly unlikely that this kind of movie would be made today

 

Rain Man

Photo Credit: MGM.

Starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, the very premise of this movie involves the exploitation of an individual with Autism, which automatically would be viewed as an inappropriate and offensive concept for a film in 2024. 

In the movie, an egotistical car salesman tries to use the mathematical skills of his Autistic brother to make money gambling in Las Vegas.

 

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Mike Myers entertained audiences globally with this parody of a 60s spy. But, the movie is viewed very differently today, as in retrospect, many see it as being filled with offensive humor, sexist stereotypes, and cultural insensitivity. 

 

Tropic Thunder

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Starring Tom Cruise, despite being a hit with audiences in 2008, Hollywood would no longer consider this film a viable option. Tropic Thunder contains multiple instances of inappropriate and offensive narratives that contain derogatory attitudes toward race and individuals with disabilities.

 

The Dictator

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Allow us to introduce Sacha Baron Cohen’s third offering on this list: The Dictator. It has faced a backlash for its apparent racist attempts at humor, stereotypical characterization of the Middle East, and mockery of real-life conflict. 

For these reasons, this movie would not be made in 2024. 

 

Lolita

Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

This film has long been criticized for its nonchalant attitude towards a storyline that depicts a middle-aged Professor who grooms his pre-teen aged stepdaughter and rapes her. 

These themes are extremely sensitive, and the film portrays something that is against the law, immoral, and unethical in a way that would be banned today. 

 

Soul Man

Photo Credit: New World Pictures.

This movie is about a spoiled rich kid who takes an overdose of tanning pills to achieve blackface so he can qualify for a scholarship when his father refuses to pay for Harvard. 

We aren’t sure how this film ever seemed like a good idea, but it does not sound like an idea for a film in 2024.

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Catherine Keating

Writer & Blogger

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