Movies With Ridiculous Plots (That Turned Out To Be Incredible)

8 minute read

By Jim Halden

We spend a lot of time being critical nowadays, what with the advent of the Internet and the great rise of the armchair critic. We think that’s okay, as well; in a world where media is everywhere, all the time, it’s good to be an informed consumer and pay attention to what your brain is soaking in on a day to day basis. Part of being a savvy media consumer is asking questions or poking holes in the absurd and ridiculous movie plots that we experience damn near every time we sit down to watch a flick nowadays. There have been some alarmingly strange movie ideas that come out in the last while, and it got us to thinking about some of the most ridiculous movie plots of all time, and how there’s some that are so spectacularly outrageous that we can’t help but love them; as such, we’re bringing you a list of 10 movies with astoundingly ridiculous plots (that turned out to be incredible).

10. Phone Booth (2002)

We’re betting you probably forgot about this little film that was released way back in 2002, starring Colin Farrell, Katie Holmes, Forest Whitaker, and Kiefer Sutherland. One of the few movies released in real-time (as in, the events in the film unfold exactly as we’re seeing them, minus a flashback or two), Phone Booth tells the story of Stu Shephard (Farrell), a swanky New York City publicist who’s been having an affair with a young woman and working towards checking off all the boxes on the “Am I a Scumbag?” list when an unfortunate set of circumstances befalls him. Stu, while walking down the street, stops to answer a ringing phone (conveniently located in a phone booth…when was the last time you saw one of those?). As his bad luck would have it, the sniper on the other end (played menacingly by Kiefer Sutherland) wants to correct some of the bad habits in Stu’s behavior and keeps him on the line to torment him for the next 90-odd minutes. It’s a fairly ridiculous premise, but in an astonishing turn of events, Phone Booth isn’t a bad film…it’s kind of great. Source: Sky.comSource: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox

9. Snakes on a Plane (2006)

We’re among the first who’ll clap for a filmmaker when they go all in and commit to an idea. And there’s no movie we can think of that does this more than Snakes on a Plane, the Samuel L. Jackson starring action film that commits wholeheartedly to the plot announced in its title and never, ever looks back. In one of the most ridiculous movie plots of all time, gangsters release a boatload of deadly on an airplane in an attempt to kill a witness ready to testify against the crime family. It’s then up to Samuel L. Jackson’s Neville Flynn, a no-nonsense FBI agent tasked with escorting the witness, to stop them. We don’t know about you guys, but everything we just typed makes us want to quit our jobs, go home, and watch this movie three or four times just so we can wrap our heads around what’s going on here. Snakes on a Plane, which has a strong cult fan base who applaud the film’s over-the-top premise, most definitely deserves a place on this list, as it’s about as ridiculous as it comes. Source: Athenacinema.comSource: Screenshot via New Line Cinema

8. Bruce Almighty (2003)

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: the only thing about Bruce Almighty that isn’t ridiculous is Morgan Freeman playing God. That, we believe. But Jim Carrey dating Jennifer Aniston? Come on, man! Even more ridiculous is the film’s plot, which sees Carrey’s Bruce Nolan, a television reporter with an undeniable talent for complaining, whining to such an extent that God himself decides to let the man take over and do the world’s hardest job for a little while. A ridiculous premise, to be sure, but we can’t help but laugh when Carrey’s antics take over the film, and he’s simply a joy to watch when he’s on his game (far rarer than it used to be). Despite the insanity of Bruce Almighty‘s plot, we’re going to go ahead and slot this one in at number eight and say we just can’t get enough of Carrey, even when it is just him waltzing around playing God (literally!). Source: Uphe.comSource: Screenshot via Universal Pictures

7. Red Dawn (1984)

WOLVERINES!!! For the record, we’re speaking of the original Red Dawn, which was released in 1984 and starred Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Charlie Sheen, and C. Thomas Howell. As far as we’re concerned, the shoddy 2012 remake that starred Thor and that one girl from Friday Night Lights never happened. Red Dawn, which sees a group of high school students employing guerilla warfare to stop an invasion of pro-communist troops from Russia, Cuba, and Nicaragua, has a plot so incredibly zany that we got ourselves all excited just typing it out for you; it goes without saying that we’re big fans of this film, which was the first ever to receive a PG-13 rating (for excessive violence). A cult classic that’s been an immovable part of pop culture since its release, Red Dawn takes the cake as one of the most improbable war storylines of all time. A Russian invasion on American soil? Come on! Who wouldn’t watch that movie? Source: Nowverybad.comSource: Screenshot via MGM/UA Entertainment Company

6. Over the Top (1987)

We have to believe there’s was some level of self-awareness involved in coming up with the title for Over the Top; after all, this is a film about arm wrestling, which is about as “over the top” as a film’s plot could be. This Sylvester Stallone vehicle, which sees him playing a long-haul trucker who sets out to impress his son by becoming an arm-wrestling world champion, is about as ridiculous as films come, but damn if we don’t love every single grunty, sweaty and overly dramatic minute of it. As one astute critic pointed out at the time of the film’s release, the world needs at least one movie about professional arm-wrestling; why can’t it be this one? It’s a question well worth asking, and we know that we aren’t going to be the ones who ante up and sit down opposite Stallone and those bulging biceps to tell him we didn’t need a movie where he arm wrestles his way to the top. Source: Sky.comSource: Screenshot via Warner Bros.

5. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

The plot of Weekend at Bernie’s is so mind-blowingly absurd that there’s a very good chance you’re familiar with it, even if you haven’t seen the film itself. Often parodied in other, more popular cultural vehicles, the main plot device of Weekend at Bernie’s sees two lovable losers (played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathon Silverman) attempting to confront their boss, Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), about some financial discrepancies, only to discover him deceased. Seeing as how they have a vested interest in staying alive, the two protagonists attempt to avoid attracting suspicion by carting Bernie’s corpse around and pretending he’s still alive. Yes, this is the movie with the deceased body in the wheelchair and the strings on the wrist. And yes, this movie spawned an even more inane (and utterly unnecessary) sequel, Weekend At Bernie’s II. The sequel we could leave off this list, but the first film? This is where it belongs. Source: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox

4. Deep Blue Sea (1999)

Somewhere in Hollywood, there’s a film executive who once said the words “Let’s take Samuel L. Jackson, Thomas Jane, Stellan Skarsgard, Michael Rapaport, LL Cool J and Saffron Burrows, and stick ’em all in a movie where they get chased around an underwater complex by hyper-intelligent, genetically engineered sharks. Oh, and we’ll give LL a bird!” And do you know what we think about all of that ridiculousness? That executive needs a raise. There’s simply no explanation for the plot of Deep Blue Sea, which was released in 1999 with the aforementioned cast to some very mixed reviews, yet the film maintains a loyal fan base who can’t get enough of its poor computer-generated imagery and gruesome shark vs. man plotline. It’s a classic case of everything in a movie being so ludicrous that you can’t help but laugh when LL Cool J uses an oven and a Zippo to blow up a twenty-five-foot Great White as revenge for eating his bird. That happens. Source: Myst-library.ruSource: Screenshot via Warner Bros.

3. Footloose (1984)

You know a film’s plot is off the rails when it takes place in a town where dancing is outlawed and Kevin Bacon is your only savior. That’s about all we need to say about Footloose, a 1984 classic that sees Bacon starring as Ren McCormack, a bad boy with all the right moves who takes the fictional town of Bomont by storm when he upends they’re “no dancing” policy with some fast footwork and some smooth hip-shaking. Footloose, which is as revered for its Kenny Loggins-heavy theme song as it is for its ridiculous plot, still holds a special place in the heart of film viewers, who take its eighties cheese and absurd ideas in stride while soaking in the pure charm of the thing. Source: Github.comSource: Screenshot via Paramount Pictures

2. Face/Off (1997)

There’s something endlessly satisfying about the sheer insanity of Face/Off, the John Woo-directed action flick that starred Nicholas Cage as John Travolta and John Travolta as Nicholas Cage; alright, so that isn’t technically the plot of the film, but that’s the gist of it. Face/Off sees Travolta starring as FBI Agent Sean Archer, who swaps faces (via a new experimental technology) with a terrorist to infiltrate his organization and stop the explosion of a bomb. This plan goes awry when the terrorist escapes and takes the face of Travolta’s FBI agent, leading to high levels of “WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE” in almost every scene for the rest of the film. This ridiculous plot, scattered between intense action set pieces that seem to destroy the better part of Southern California, is without a doubt one of the most outrageous in movie history. As luck would have it, only Robin Williams in drag could outdo the mind-bending face swappery of Face/Off. Source: Ckepfilmreview.wordpress.comSource: Screenshot via Paramount Pictures

1. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

It’s a testament to the hilarity and heart of Mrs. Doubtfire that we’re able to not only watch but adore this film. The storyline sees Robin Williams starring as Daniel Hillard, a talented but struggling father who, in a desperate attempt to spend more time with his children, begins to masquerade as an elderly, British housekeeper. While undercover, he begins to worry that his ex-wife (played by Sally Fields) is being wooed by a suave, English gentleman (played by James Bond himself, Pierce Brosnan), and attempts to sabotage that relationship while managing his relationship with his three precocious children. It’s a movie whose title undoubtedly fills all with a warm, familiar feeling of nostalgia, even though it comes packaged in one of history’s silliest plot lines. Source: Forbes.comSource: Screenshot via 20th Century Fox

Jim Halden


Josh Elyea has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2015.