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"Better TV/Movies Than They Have Any Right To Be"

This was mentioned in the Wandavision thread by @Umbran when the Despicable Me movies came up, stating that they are "better movies than they have any right to be". This got me thinking about other movies and/or TV shows that would fit into this category. This thread is to discuss/(possibly debate) other examples, talk about what makes a movie/show qualify for this designation, and so on. A lot of examples that come to mind seem to be animated, but there are a few examples that I can think of that aren't animated.

Here are some examples that I believe qualify (if you disagree with any of these examples, let me know why below):
  • Despicable Me (the example that started this discussion)
  • Megamind
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Shrek
  • Phineas and Ferb
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Parks and Recreation
  • I feel like quite a few Pixar movies qualify, but I can't seem to think of specific ones. Possibly Toy Story (or some of the sequels), Cars, or Monsters Inc (maybe Onward or Finding Dory).
Any thoughts?
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I'd be looking at things where the initial concept sounds either flat-out bad, or deeply unoriginal. Bonus points if the actual title is laughably bad.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - probably the Ur-text of weird concept and terrible title becoming a pantheon show.

Breaking Bad - high school teacher gets cancer and cooks meth, starring the dad from Malcolm in the Middle, didn't seem like a candidate for all-time great show.

The Office (American) - remake of an all-time British comedy, but adapted to American broadcast standards and starring the guy from 40-Year-Old Virgin seems primed to fail, instead becomes comedy classic.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - CW show with terrible title, but is actually brutally dark musical comedy about mental illness and one of the best shows of the last decade.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
[*]I feel like quite a few Pixar movies qualify, but I can't seem to think of specific ones. Possibly Toy Story (or some of the sequels), Cars, or Monsters Inc (maybe Onward or Finding Dory).
I'd say Pixar's critically acclaimed run in the mid-late '00s all qualify. Ratatouille has a talking rat who cooks? Up is a really old guy who makes his house fly with balloons?! Wall-E is a robot who shovels garbage on post-apocalyptic Earth and doesn't talk?!?
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The Orville. Because, really, Seth MacFarlane does a decent sci-fi show? Who saw that coming?

Santa Clarita Diet. Because "my mom's a suburbanite zombie" shouldn't work any more than cheerleader vampire hunter.

Currently, I'd say Syfy's Resident Alien fits the bill as well.

As a by-the-way, Shrek and Legally Blond also make better Broadway musicals than you'd expect.
 

Nebulous

Legend
The original Robocop. I remember seeing the trailer in the 1980s and thinking, what a stupid stupid name for a movie. Turns out it is one of the best sci fi action movies ever and is still fun to watch today. It has aged extremely well and has a very nuanced story about what it means to be a human.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I can't help but feel there's a little bit of ageism at work in some of the examples. "Stuff made for kids" doesn't have to be bad from an adult perspective. Kids' programming isn't all Disney sitcoms (which generally are terrible). Disney animated features, for example, tend to be relatively high quality even for adults - much better than their aforementioned sitcoms on the Disney Channel. And as far as Pixar goes, I think they've made enough of a reputation for themselves that the opposite expectation is probably more appropriate - that the default Pixar movie is expected to be excellent - simply because it's being done by Pixar.
 

payn

Adventurer
The original Robocop. I remember seeing the trailer in the 1980s and thinking, what a stupid stupid name for a movie. Turns out it is one of the best sci fi action movies ever and is still fun to watch today. It has aged extremely well and has a very nuanced story about what it means to be a human.
Thats the Paul Verhoeven magic!
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Besides the aforementioned Pitch Black, Robocop and The Orville:

Kung Fu Hustle
Parker Lewis Can’t Lose
Evil
Prodigal Son
The Terminator
The Shining
(TV adaptation)
 


Ryujin

Hero
The Orville. Because, really, Seth MacFarlane does a decent sci-fi show? Who saw that coming?

Santa Clarita Diet. Because "my mom's a suburbanite zombie" shouldn't work any more than cheerleader vampire hunter.

Currently, I'd say Syfy's Resident Alien fits the bill as well.

As a by-the-way, Shrek and Legally Blond also make better Broadway musicals than you'd expect.
I'd agree on "Resident Alien." i think that I've mentioned here, before, what i think the basic concept reflects. Pitch Meeting: "What if we remade 'Northern Exposure', but swap out the New York City doctor for an alien? BRILLIANT!"

I could think of any number of web series that would qualify, but will only name one indie film; "Project London." It has absolutely nothing to do with London. It stars a bunch of unknowns. It was filmed in the Seattle area, on a shoestring budget, and all of the special effects were done by dozens of volunteers. The only outside funding was for distribution. (If you're at all interested it has since been made free to watch and is available on Youtube.)

"The Specials" - James Gunn's first superhero film, made in 2000. He even plays a part in it (Minute Man. No, that's MINUTE Man!) It's a day in the life of the 7th best superhero team in the US. You would recognize most of the faces in it, but no one is an "A" lister (arguably perhaps Rob Lowe, when he isn't hawking Atkins Bars) It has made it to the list of my all-time favourite movies, though most people have never heard of it.
 
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payn

Adventurer
I'd agree on "Resident Alien." i think that I've mentioned here, before, what i think the basic concept reflects. Pitch Meeting: "What if we remade 'Northern Exposure', but swap out the New York City doctor for an alien? BRILLIANT!"

I could think of any number of web series that would qualify, but will only name one indie film; "Project London." It has absolutely nothing to do with London. It stars a bunch of unknowns. It was filmed in the Seattle area, on a shoestring budget, and all of the special effects were done by dozens of volunteers. The only outside funding was for distribution. (If you're at all interested it has since been made free to watch and is available on Youtube.)

"The Specials" - James Gunn's first superhero film, made in 2000. He even plays a part in it (Minute Man. No, that's MINUTE Man!) It's a day in the life of the 7th best superhero team in the US. You would recognize most of the faces in it, but no one is an "A" lister (arguably perhaps Rob Lowe, when he isn't hawking Atkins Bars) It has made ti to the list of my all-time favourite movies, though most people have never heard of it.
The Specials is amazing!
 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - probably the Ur-text of weird concept and terrible title becoming a pantheon show.

The series would never have existed if not for the awesome movie that came first. Peewee Herman as a vampire and that super corny death scene they gave him. lol

As for the topic, a lot of firsts in a series of movies can count for this. No one saw what the success of Ironman would lead to, or if the movie would even be any good.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I think Terminator and Robocop aren't to absurd for sci fi pitches.

Married With Children. Think about sitcoms in the 80's and before the late 90's. Every character is a horrible person.

Red Dwarf. Sitcom set in space millions of years in the future with a sentient cat.
 


Ryujin

Hero
I think Terminator and Robocop aren't to absurd for sci fi pitches.

Married With Children. Think about sitcoms in the 80's and before the late 90's. Every character is a horrible person.

Red Dwarf. Sitcom set in space millions of years in the future with a sentient cat.
I think that "Married: With Children" was lightning in a bottle. Other shows tried very similar models and failed miserably. For example does anyone remember "Unhappily Ever After"? I'm betting not despite the fact that it starred redheaded bombshell Nikki Cox.
 

Mallus

Legend
The original Robocop. I remember seeing the trailer in the 1980s and thinking, what a stupid stupid name for a movie. Turns out it is one of the best sci fi action movies ever and is still fun to watch today. It has aged extremely well and has a very nuanced story about what it means to be a human.
I’ll see your Robocop (which is one of the all-time great SF action movies, plus a wonderful satire of... well, America) and raise you Demolition Man, which qualifies for the thread, I do believe.
 


MarkB

Legend
I’ll see your Robocop (which is one of the all-time great SF action movies, plus a wonderful satire of... well, America) and raise you Demolition Man, which qualifies for the thread, I do believe.

A far better use of Stallone than that horrible "Judge Dredd" in name only movie.
In many ways it was the movie Judge Dredd should have been. Its take on the future shared the same sardonic humour that was present in the original comics, and Stallone's performance demonstrated that he could easily have pulled off the role, making his actual performance as Judge Dredd even more tragic.
 

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