18 Misunderstood Movies That Went Over Everyone’s Heads

The majority of movies are simple and to the point when it comes to their overall meaning. But that’s not the case with every film, as some have far deeper meanings with messages that are subliminally pushed throughout. These can deliver points that people miss for various reasons, whether it be that viewers are focusing on something else or that the overall point is too hidden.

Chef

Photo Credit: Open Road Films

Chef felt like a cathartic experience for Jon Favreau, and this movie’s hidden aspects mirrored his career at the time. His character’s failure with the restaurant felt similar to his real-life issues making bigger-budget movies, as he had burnout following Iron Man 2. Yet when his character stepped back and entered a food truck, it created success, similar to his making this movie.

Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

20th Century Fox.

Most people focus on simply judging The Phantom Menace and mocking it for not being as strong as the original trilogy or for featuring too many silly characters like Jar-Jar Binks. However, this film is very political, and many messages pushed throughout relate to real-life situations.

Starship Troopers

Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures.

This science fiction movie might seem like a traditional action movie that ticks the usual boxes from this genre. But take another look, and there’s a far deeper meaning. The film has anti-military messages throughout that some can overlook.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Many people watch this movie and then idolize Jordan Belfort. The thrilling life he leads and the excellent performance Leonardo DiCaprio provides all help to send that message. However, the reality is quite the opposite, as this movie highlights the fact that his life was turned upside down, eventually leading him to jail. It is not meant to glorify him in any way, which many people miss entirely.

School of Rock

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

School of Rock is an excellent comedy that blends rock music and humor. It’s easy to love the characters and the students’ journey as they become the band. But deep down, this story is about not giving up on your dreams. No matter how many times Dewey Finn is knocked back, he keeps trying to pursue music while the students battle adversity to believe in their passions.

Tropic Thunder

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Tropic Thunder’s entire point is to be a satirical take on the industry. That’s why the movie covers so many controversial issues and taboos, which audiences can focus on first and foremost.

Saw

Photo Credit: Lions Gate Films.

The Saw franchise leans heavily into gore, as is evident from the first installment. It’s one of the biggest horror franchises of all time, and that’s due to how violent the movies are, but deeper down, there’s a hidden message about survival. 

American Psycho

Photo Credit: Lions Gate Films.

On the surface, American Psycho might seem like it glorifies murder, and the film received some criticism for that. However, the movie takes a satirical look at the corporate world while being critical of capitalism.

The Little Mermaid

Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

There’s a focus on romance in The Little Mermaid because it’s a Disney princess movie. However, the reality is that Ariel doesn’t want to explore life as a human because of Eric, as she expresses curiosity before that. The film also concentrates on her father and the idea of parents being ready to let go of their children as they prepare for adulthood.

Full Metal Jacket

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Movies about war can often glorify that in some respect, and audiences did take some of that from Full Metal Jacket. Because the lead character brought some humor to the role, it was easy for fans to quote him and focus on that. But the reality was that the movie showcases the brutality of war and does everything it can to showcase its negative aspects.

(500) Days of Summer

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

This movie isn’t the typical romance film, which is what audiences have in mind when they head into it. The expectation is that Summer will eventually fall in love with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, but that’s not the case. It’s made out to be a lesson for him, but the real message is learning the power of no, and the fact that she makes it clear from the start that she’s not interested in that long-term relationship is something people can take away.

Joker

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Over the years, The Joker has been a villain, causing problems for Batman in various movies. However, that changed in the 2019 movie, where The Joker was the central focus, making him seem like a hero in the eyes of many, but that’s not the movie’s point overall, as he’s still a villain due to the behavior he showcases, which sometimes people overlook.

First Blood

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures.

When people think of Rambo, they often think of the character’s violent nature and find him to be an action hero. But that’s not the point of the movie at all. First Blood’s idea was to critique how violent war can be and the devastation that it brings, which should be seen as a negative situation.

The Shining

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

When it comes to The Shining, much attention is paid to the mystery surrounding the movie, the ghosts, and the horror elements accompanying it. But at its core, this movie highlights the impact that alcoholism can have and how it can completely change a person.

Vivarium

Photo Credit: Vertigo Releasing.

Vivarium might be focused on aliens, but there’s a hidden meaning in the fact that people are expected to do the same things. Whether it be buying a home and then having children, that standard life is something that the movie talks about heavily but doesn’t discuss as much.

Finding Nemo

Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

The core theme of Finding Nemo is Marlin’s quest to find his son after they’re separated due to human intervention. There’s lots of comedy and plenty of Pixar fun along the way, which made the characters popular. Unfortunately, this led to the sales of clownfish and blue tangs rising as people wanted to own them, which was the opposite of what the movie aimed to achieve.

Barbie

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

On the surface, Barbie brings bright colors, a wide cast, and a major intellectual property that can all take hold and steal the focus. But deep down, there’s a message about the power imbalance between men and women in society, the pressures that both feel, and that’s a powerful one to push.

Fight Club

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Fight Club is a very popular movie, and it can be easy for people to think it’s cool because of the fighting. But a very different message is trying to be told here. The focus is on toxic masculinity, which can see people easily influenced into worlds such as this.

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Matt Williams

Writer & Blogger

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