Langdon: Oh, jeez. You guys don't even read your own history, do you?
Burn After Reading is one of the few examples of an Idiot Plot done deliberately. And thus, it manages to be hilarious and entertaining rather than annoying, like most straight examples.
A lot of other films by The Coen Brothers also depend on characters being idiots. But most of them are acting in-character, as such it works. Some even manage to subvert it, like in The Big Lebowski: Walter figured out the whole plot from the beginning.
Nothing would have happened if Kumar had the patience to wait until their plane touched down in Amsterdam, where weed is 100 percent legal, to start lighting up. And that's just the beginning. Similar to the original, the severity of their situation is only heightened by the stupidity (and, often, racism) of all the people around them.
Further Lampshaded in the Choose Your Own Adventure-esque feature on the DVD ("Dude Change the Movie") where if you have Kumar instead choose to not smoke on the plane the entire movie plot is discarded. (Instead you get Harold and Kumar Go to Amsterdam which is, tonally, very different from Guantanamo Bay.)
Ripley: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"
Which didn't stop the film itself from relying heavily on it: Pretty much all but one (possibly two) of the characters in the movie act, at all times, in a way that is entirely consistent with idiocy; the main exception is acting on hidden orders, but until you know what those orders are the character appears to be an idiot.
Idiocracy. Perfectly justified, of course, since the plot of the movie is almost literally "It's the future, and everyone is an idiot." The only non-idiot is the ridiculously average Joe, who is out of his depth and unused to leadership.
Mars Attacks! Although a lot of the scenes are filmed in the style of a straight drama, this parody's plot is run by every possible stupid decision that could be made in the event of an alien invasion.
Avatar: If the main character simply did his job and tried to negotiate with the Na'vi like he was supposed to, it is most likely the second half of the movie could have been avoided. But instead he does nothing but waste time getting into their culture and seemingly forgets why he was sent there to begin with.
The entire series of escalating problems encountered by the main characters (almost culminating in their destruction) stems from their inability to comprehend the Handbook for the Recently Deceased which was provided to them, and failing to heed the advice of their caseworker. Clearly the handbook itself was not incomprehensible, because every character in the movie except the Maitlands seemed able to understand and make use of the book's contents. The running gag was "this thing reads like stereo instructions." Adam quotes one part of the Handbook, "Geographical and temporal perimeters: Functional perimeters vary from manifestation to manifestation."note Translation: Different ghosts have different boundaries.(slaps book shut in disgust, spraying dust in his face) Lampshaded (and arguably justified, since it was the reason he picked them) by the title character, whose first scene has him reviewing the obituaries, seeing the Maitlands, and saying, "What have we got here? The Maitlands, huh? Cute couple. Look nice and stupid, too." Truer words were never spoken.note Interestingly, the Maitlands are the only main characters who don't appear in the TV series.
Everybody here's a Turn of the Millennium troper who can confidently use and troubleshoot computers and text editing software at the basic level at the very least. Remember The Eighties joke about how only geniuses could program VCRs? The Maitlands were Country Mice — a small-town architect and a housewife. The Deetzes were yuppies — and so were the caseworker and her fellow afterlife bureaucrats!
No matter how dense the handbook may seem to them, why are the Maitlands having trouble figuring out how to harass the new residents when they've known from the beginning of their haunting that they can move objects in the house?
In Best Laid Plans, the entire plot is moronic, but the viewer doesn't learn this until near the end. It starts with a deadbeat kid (Nick) learning that he's inheriting nothing from his dad (he'd expected to get a tidy sum of money so he could move away and start a new life). Nick meets a girl (Reese Witherspoon). They hit it off and become a couple. A co-worker asks Nick to help him rip off a drug dealer. Nick would get $10,000 just for driving. Nick agrees, they pull of the job, but end up getting caught by the drug dealer who demands Nick pay him $15,000 in return. Nick then plots to steal a valuable artifact from a house where his friend is house-sitting. To keep his friend from reporting the theft, he sets up a scenario where his girlfriend has to sleep with his friend and she threatens to charge him with rape. The friend panics and cuffs the girlfriend to a pool table and calls Nick. Nick pretends to kill his girlfriend and puts her in the trunk of his car. The drug dealers steal his car, then let him walk home where they're waiting for him, so the reason for stealing the car is beyond me. When they ask him for the money, he finds out it was all a scam because there are peanut shells on the floor and his supposedly-dead friend eats peanuts. He realizes they weren't drug dealers after all. They were college graduates who set up the elaborate scam to pay off their student loans. Aside from the other intricacies of the plot, four guys committing numerous felonies and faking the death of Nick's co-worker hardly seems worthwhile when the payoff is only $3,750 each, which would only make a small dent in most student loans. Plus, their reasoning was overly optimistic. They had thought he had inherited some money, but then assumed he would turn right around and pay the $15,000 on demand.
Fernando Meirelles' Blindness, a film adaptation of Saramago's novel, has a brilliant premise but doesn't make much sense. It is an Idiot Plot because the politicians in the novel and the sequel SEEING ARE idiots. Fortunately, no real politician would act like them.
It should be noted that, in ALL of those aspects, Meirelles was merely being faithful to José Saramago's novel, and Saramago's point is exactly that society is a very fragile structure and can easily collapse into chaos. Moore's character is exactly an anti-heroine, and a big plot point is exactly how hard it is for her to accept her role and her responsibility. Also, nowhere is it implied that the blindness is caused by a virus. Basically, the "stupidity" described in this item are, at least according to Saramago, only human nature. It something should be condemned for this, it's the book, not the film.
In his review, Film Brain notes that the entire reason for the movie — that the two women want to have their weddings on the same day, at the same hotel, is pointless, since the times of the wedding are still different. They could still both have their weddings on that day and at that place. The only handwave we get is the weak excuse that they don't want to have weddings on the same day. Somehow, just putting on a brave face and dealing with that isn't less difficult and more mature than completely trashing and ruining their lives and each other's lives.
It is about a Serial Killer who sends a chain letter to teenagers and kills them if they don't send it to five others because he was tortured by insurgents for having a government-issued cell phone. If the creators were trying to send a message that technology is bad, they did it in a fucked up way.
Also why does he only target teens? Don't adults use cell phones and computers too? And shouldn't he be targeting government officials, not harmless teenagers who had nothing to do with his torture?
In its last third or so, Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy rapidly becomes an Idiot Plot. By the end of the film, only two characters remain sympathetic: Banky, who started off as an idiot and becomes slightly less of one; and Hooper, who spends most of the film pointing out the idiocy of others.
The 2007 Christmas movie Christmas in Wonderland would be a 10 minute short film had everyone not been idiots. The family go to West Edmonton Mall to do some shopping, the dad lets the kids go, one brother leaves the younger kids alone to chase a girl at the Water Park, the two young kids find a bag of counterfeit money, not knowing it's counterfeit, spend tons of it, dad tries to use an expired card at Zellers, the two goons chase the kids around the mall for the money... and it gets worse as the movie goes on.
It starts off with an Army Ranger meeting his wife in a bar, and her getting hit on by a drunk guy who later tries to beat him up in the parking lot, along with two friends. The drunk guy had to rip off the lead's ribbons-several rows of 'em-before starting the fight. Poe, of course, rips 'em a new one, culminating in the first guy pulling a knife, whereupon Poe gives him a strike to the head that accidentally kills him. Cut to the courthouse, where his lawyer advises him to plead out so he can get a reduced sentence. The judge disagrees, citing the fact that Poe should be held to a higher standard because he's... an Army Ranger. (Which should have given him a trial in a military court to begin with.) Given that he was wearing a uniform before the fight, and the assailants tried to rape his wife and kill him, he should've gotten off with self-defense. The lawyer doesn't even have him dress in a spare uniform—or even rent a suit—at the trial. The rest of the film can be excused by Rule of Cool.
His wife implies that he was a hellraiser before he joined the army ("You were almost 'that guy' again"), Poe's wife runs before the knife comes out, and the guys' friends take the knife with them as they flee. This might make a self-defense claim risky... if there hadn't been dozens of witnesses in the bar to prove that the other guy started it earlier in the evening. The Idiot Ball was bouncing off every character in that courtroom.
A fine example of this trope not being bad is the Creepshow segment "The Lonely Death of Jordy Verril." Everything that goes wrong in that segment is a direct consequence of Jordy being an ignorant idiot, which is how he's characterized from the first frame.
Christoper Coppola's Deadfall is a complete mess. It starts with a sensible plot, but is then filled with plot twists that made it hard to understand; the only thing that saved it is Michael Biehn and especially Nicolas Cage, who is completely out of control throughout the entire movie.
Mr. Wilson being constantly swindled by a pair of very obvious conmen played by Brian Doyle-Murray and Carrot Top. At one point we see a long montage of these same conmen conning Mr. Wilson many times in a row in different disguises. While it's pretty believable that Carrot Top's disguises would fool him, Brian Doyle-Murray has a very distinctive voice.
Margaret tries to win Dennis's heart by pretending to like bugs. Rather than actually getting real bugs, she makes obviously fake giant bugs, and Dennis and all his friends except Gina fall for it. Later, they get back at Margaret by dressing Ruff up as a very obviously fake giant bug and she actually falls for it and gets scared.
The planes are shown having nearly two hours of reserve fuel, with that much they could easily divert to dozens upon dozens of airports. Even the ones on fumes should easily reach Reagan National, BWI, or Andrews AFB — all of which are required to accept an aircraft in distress (One of the other airports in the area was explicitly stated to have been shut down due to the weather, but that still doesn't change the fact that at the time the planes were instructed to circle, Holly's flight had enough fuel that they could have diverted it to JFK International in New York if they wanted to). At one point, the engineer even gets on the radio and tells the pilots about the threat but doesn't divert them to new airports. The airport police continue to accept "employees" at face value after being outright told that the terrorists are infiltrating secured areas. The villains take a 747 and fly off without a single hostage meaning that there is literally no reason why the Navy wouldn't blow them out of the sky. Not that it matters, because McClane destroys the plane — creating a large fire on the runway which the other planes use to land visually. Something the heroes could have easily accomplished at the very beginning of the movie.
In addition, the plot is happening because the Department of Justice was having a high-profile prisoner delivered to Dulles. On Christmas Eve. They were having a high-profile prisoner flown to a civilian airport during one of the busiest travel times of the year. Between people waiting for flights, people coming off of flights, and people picking travelers up, there were probably thousands of people there, making securing the place for a prisoner transfer pretty much impossible. If they had been flying the General to Andrews AFB — a military airfield that is much easier to secure — the story wouldn't have been possible.
Following on that line of thought. Said prisoner is escorted by one soldier. Thats right, the high priority prisoner, that has been captured after a decade long war is escorted by one inexperienced private soldier. There's not even a diplomat to sign the paperwork!
Dolphin Tale starts off as a movie with a resonable and believable plot, but evolves into a story where the climax makes no real sense, being resolved in the end by a series of events that made no logical sense. A race is planned for a crippled guy to be pitted against a state champ. In the end, the crippled guy lets the dolphin take his place, but this makes no sense because the race was planned prior to having any idea that the dolphin could swim with the prosthetic tail or that it would even cooperate. This was all done as a fund-raiser where the charity fund is out of money, spending what looks like enough money to fund the organization for a long time, money that could have been spent on funding and paying bills rather than trying to raise funds. The main event of the fund-raiser is to watch a crippled guy race a state champ. In the end, despite having the fund-raising event that was a huge success and the dolphin participating in the race, this still isn't enough, so the man who was trying take over the property in the first place steps up and resolves the problem within seconds by promising to fund the charity for 20 years. End of problem.
Drop Dead Fred seemed to move along only because Elizabeth was clearly insane, and not a single character called her out on it until halfway through the movie.
Keep a dangerous terrorist lunatic in a coma in a hospital that three people know about under no security whatsoever while a top FBI agent pretends to be him in a super-secret high security prison. Oh, and leave the top FBI agent's face in the hospital so the terrorist lunatic can become the FBI agent. And don't tell the agent's boss, co-workers or the prison's warden about the plan so all the terrorist has to do to make sure no one knows (except the FBI agent, who's got the terrorist's face so no one will believe him) is kill two people. And he has an outgoing phone in his room, allowing him to call anyone if he wakes up.
This is not even to mention that the entire plot of the movie relies on nobody noticing that Nicolas Cage and John Travolta have switched faces in a process that apparently leaves zero scarring. Just their faces. There is a scene wherein Evil Cage-As-Travolta sleeps with Good Travolta-As-Cage's wife of about, let's say fifteen or twenty years, and she flat-out does not notice that her husband's body is completely different. Tattoos, body hair, scars, moles, musculature, weight, his freaking penis, she does NOT notice. She's been with him for as many as twenty years, she has NO IDEA A SWITCHEROO HAS BEEN MADE, having apparently only paid attention to her husband's face, and absolutely zero to the fact that Nick Cage and John Travolta are built completely and utterly differently.
Flightplantakes this trope to new heights considering that if the main character and all the other adults on the plane had just listened to the kids that saw her daughter in the beginning, it would have compromised the Big Bad's entire kidnapping scheme in the first couple of scenes. This film just shows how terrible the Just a Kid and Not Now, Kiddo tropes truly are.
Fright Night features a boy who tells everyone that his new neighbor Jerry is a vampire. Including the vampire's henchman. He is then surprised when it appears nobody believes him, and further surprised when said vampire tries to kill him. Vampire Jerry, for his part, is stupid enough to get stabbed through the hand by a sharpened No. 2 pencil.
The three protagonists of Frozen are this trope, over and over again. Parker doesn't know a thing about how to ski, yet she acts all Damsel Scrappy and ruins her boyfriend's and his best friend's skiing weekend and setting in motion a catastrophic chain of events that ends up with the deaths of both men. Not that they're entirely blameless either; they decide to bribe a ski lift controller for a last ride. When the resort is going to close for five days. With a snowstorm approaching. They deserved everything they've got. Dan is to blame too, for having brought his shrill of a girlfriend along when she clearly should've stayed elsewhere.
When viewed together, f(x) and F/X2, make it look like the police and the mob are both groups of bumbling fools who work together to create personal wealth and they're no match for one movie special effects expert who manages to outsmart them both.
The Grey: The entire plot is started by Liam Neeson's character; in defiance of any survival guide such as this one, he decides the group should start walking away from the crash site. This is also in spite of the fact that the crash site has shelter, fuel, and materials to make weapons with.
This movie is rife with these. Beside the usual "I'm pregnant but I won't tell him as to maximize the angst" plot, the heroes rapidly capture one of the McGuffin the Big Bad needs to awake the titular Golden Army. Now, they realize that they have no particular need for that item or the Golden Army, but rather than destroying it by giving it to the one team member who can melt anything, they leave it with Abe's Satellite Love Interest, who told them explicitly that she acts as a magic homing beacon for the Big Bad. Guess what happens?
There's also the fact that Nuala seems completely unaware of the fact that she ought to actually warn the Paranormal Investigation team about stuff. She just stands there with her mouth hanging open when her brother drops the Forest God seed, not telling then to keep it from water until it's two inches from a drain. She then oh-so-casually tells Abe that her very dangerous, psychotic, human-hating, murderous brother will be able to find their hide-out because they are mentally linked and thus he knows everything that she knows. Apparently this wasn't worth mentioning before bringing her there, so they could find some way to hide her without her figuring out where it is? Or that she only thinks to hide the map and crown piece when her brother is right at the door, breaking in? Or Abe deciding to get drunk and sing love songs after being told that Nuala's brother would be showing up for blood instead of warning the team?
Nuala herself could end the movie at literally any time. When we are first introduced to her and her brother, it is determined that her brother must die for the good of the world. Since they are linked, this would kill Nuala as well. She is actually asked if she is okay with this, and agrees to die. But the brother attacks, and she flees, and the entire rest of the movie happens. Then at the end, she stabs herself, killing them both. Since she was resigned to die from the very beginning in order to stop her brother from going on a rampage, why did she wait until he had already gone on a rampage?!
In High-School USA, few people do anything that makes any sense. Beau Middleton, the antagonist, is given incredible leverage over all the teachers in the school when his parents put him in charge of deciding which of the school's teachers will get money from them. Jay-Jay Manners, the protagonist, is portrayed as a good guy, but he's constantly initiating trouble with the bad guy by doing things that would reasonably upset someone, like crashing his party and hitting on his girlfriend on more than one occasion, but this is shown as being okay because he's the good guy. Jay-Jay gets in a fight with Beau and to settle things, comes up with the idea to have a car race against Beau, betting him $4,000 in the process. Beau knows Jay-Jay doesn't have any money, but agrees to the bet anyway, despite assuming all the risk if he loses. Jay-Jay steals his friend's new Trans-Am and takes it out for a joyride, but his friend ends up wrecking the car. Then, they hatch a crazy scheme to steal a bus and use the engine from the bus in Jay-Jay's car. Why they didn't bother to steal another car is anyone's quess. Of course, Jay-Jay wins the race, but spends the winnings on tuxedoes for his friends so they can attend the prom. Jay-Jay gets the girl in the end and Beau's once fiercely-loyal friends abandon him because he lost the race and the teachers suddenly lose interest in the money they were trying to win.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York: Kevin has been found by the two bandits who want him dead, so he makes a break for the hotel he's been staying at to get his stuff and head home. He gets grabbed by the Concierge who thinks he stole his credit card and threatens to call the police on him... so he runs away. He never once considers that A: The card isn't stolen, it's his dad's and B: His family is looking for him. Getting grabbed by the cops would give him a free ticket back home to his parents and the entire third act of the movie wouldn't have happened. Though to his credit, I'd probably flee in terror if Tim Curry grabbed me as well.
Possibly justified in that while he definitely has the smarts to plan things out like an entire battle plan of death traps, Kevin is still a kid who can't think rationally in the heat of the moment when danger confronts him rather than vice versa. Remember, in the first movie he knew from the second act on the bandits wanted to rob his house, but he wouldn't tell the police note and when he finally did, he still told them the house next door was being robbed and tried to lure the bandits into that house, which was when his plan went awry because he feared they would send him to prison for shoplifting a toothbrush that he didn't mean to shoplift.
Into The Blue hinges almost entirely on the main character, Jared, being nosebleed-inducingly dumb at every possible turn. Why does he drive his girlfriend away by refusing to tell her that her life is in danger because of his dumb deals with the gangsters? Why doesn't he try to tell the gangsters why there's been a delay in the plan instead of getting into a firefight without a weapon? Why does he leave his girlfriend tied up at the mercy of the gangsters to dive in the water WITH his hands tied behind his back? Why does he destroy the drugs when they're the only thing the gangsters are interested in? Why does he randomly tell them all they need to know about the giant treasure?
In Johnny Mnemonic, the bad guys looking to suppress the data stored in Johnny's headnote That they have no intention of using in any way themselves are, for some reason, bent on specifically cutting off Johnny's head and cryogenically freezing it, even though suppressing the data would be as simple as killing him and destroying his head (which is even easier and only requires a gun and a bullet to achieve). Johnny also gets the bright idea that the data in his head is "worth a lot of money," despite that among the two factions who want the data, one doesn't want to use it for anything at all and the other wants to give it all away for free; nobody is in any position to get any money or make any money from the data.
Roger Ebert's review of Key Exchange gave us the (possible) origin of the term: "The movie comes dangerously close to exhibiting an Idiot Plot, defined as a plot that would be over in five minutes if everyone in it were not an idiot."
Not to mention Ebert's page quote on the Idiot Plot main page on Narrow Margin.
A: Write a letter explaining what's going to happen and when, apologise for not being able to do anything to prevent it, and give humanity blueprints for an FTL drive or Deflector Shields or some other technology that might help us save ourselves, or...
B: Leave us a bunch of cryptic clues in the mind of a seventh-grader, driving the poor girl insane in the process, and then turning up a matter of hours before the shit hits the fan to grab a handful of children for some sort of Adam and Eve Plot?
Movie reviewer Eric D Snider felt that the film version had an Idiot Plot. Sophie invites all three of her possible fathers to her wedding, believing she'll just know which one is actually her dad when she sees him. And then when they individually figure it out and each tell Sophie that they're giving her away, she just goes with it. That whole idiot plot could easily have been solved by a DNA test.
Of course, Sophie eventually figures out that it was a pretty dumb plan and her fiancée gets really upset with her for it, so yeah. One has to wonder why Donna didn't start to suspect Sophie having any hand in it though, especially considering that it was her wedding coming up at conveniently the same time all three men did and she gave an outburst about how sucky it is for a child to grow up without a father.
And then there's the fact that the entirety of Donna's angst over Sam is simply because he has to wait the whole damn movie to finally say two words: "I'm divorced."
For the record, that's the plot of the original stage musical too.
Marry Me: Hmmm, let's see. The mother told her not to tell about seeing the husband with another girl, why exactly? And then, for some equally stupid reason, she's not to tell about another man proposing to her, to fill the room with awkward tension with her refusing both men without giving either a decent reason. Nobody bothers to ask Immy if she even wants to be passed off to yet another foster parent (she obviously doesn't) until after it's already done, and while we're at it, apparently it's okay to get a background check on the relatively innocent guy Luke (compared to someone who leaves a girl to go take pictures of frogs) but not the foster parents in question.
OK, so your top Pre-Crime cop is going to commit a murder. Naturally, he needs to be arrested. But, revoke his access to the police station, holding cells and all other high security areas? Never. He goes back in once, much later, and his wife follows suit even later.
The Negotiator: What's the smartest thing to do when you've been laughably inexpertly framed for a crime that a 1st year law student could get you off scott-free from? Go nuts and take hostages, then watch as the situation escalates quicker than you can say "Oh yeah, that was a dumb thing to do!" When all the evidence against you is circumstantial, when the only thing linking you to a crime scene is a gun registered to you that could be (and, obviously, was) stolen, when you're a "hero" of such good standing that everyone who isn't part of the frame-up would stand as a character witness for you, when the only possible motive you could have hinges on some paperwork in your house that's mysteriously devoid of any fingerprints and left lying where anyone can find it despite it apparently being absolutely damning, and when that paperwork would only take a phonecall to the bank to be proven to be bull (you can't set up a bank account without being present in person, and none of the conspirators could pass for Samuel L Jackson even in really bad light)... Lean back and let your attorney do the work. Worse still is that not one person in the film makes even a passing remark as to what a sucky job the bad guys have done of framing Mr Jackson's character, they all just go with it.
Bastian has an item that will grant an unlimited number of his wishes. No further commentary is really needed here, but for the sake of it, we'll go a bit further: He spends the first half or so of the movie being inexplicably reluctant to make any wishes at all despite repeatedly being confronted with deadly situations and surviving at the last second through other means. At one point he accidentally creates an incredibly destructive dragon, and then has to spend a chunk of time hunting it down and lucking into it being blown up instead of just wishing it became nice or any number of similar solutions. He then discovers that any time he makes a wish, an evil witch uses a machine to steal one of his memories. His wishes are now limited by the number of memories he has left. It never occurs to him to simply wish for all his memories back, and for the machine to explode, and the witch to vanish, or any big picture solution at all until he's down to his last wish.
It's worse than that. Bastian easily gets a confession out of the villain that she's the one responsible for all the bad things going on (after seeing the monsters guard her castle). Her and her bird-boy lackey (who makes no attempt to pretend he's not working for the villain) have been urging Bastian at every opportunity to make wishes. Bastian, who has held out pretty well until now, starts making wishes like crazy, because it never seems to occur to him that doing what the bad guys want you to do is a bad idea. He also starts getting really chummy with the villain, doing what she says, despite the fact she's supposed to be HIS prisoner and even believing Atreyu is plotting against him (despite the fact he knows and should trust Atreyu far better), because the villain says so. What's incredibly sad about all of this is that Bastian is supposed to be a very well-read kid (in the first film he rattles off a list of classics he's read... at ten years old) so you'd think he'd be a bit more Genre Savvy.
Then there's also this part: Bastian is trying to climb up to the top of a tower. Problem: He's outside and the walls are too smooth to grab on to. So he decides to wish for steps in the wall on which he could climb (not very stupid). At about the half way point, the steps stop and Bastian can't get higher unless there are more. While a normal person would just wish for there to be enough steps to make it to the top, Bastian does something that takes more time and was much more harmful to him. He wishes for more steps. INDIVIDUALLY. That's right, he makes 20 or so wishes that are the exact same thing, "I wish there was another Step! And another! ..." Even if Bastian DIDN'T know that he was losing his memories at that point, he still wasted valuable time and wishes doing something a five year old would have been able to do more competently.
The villain Xayide also acts like an idiot. She can summon giant killer robot monster-things, teleport anywhere at will, and who knows what else. She could just zap to Bastian's location, surround him with monsters, kill him and take Auryn for herself. Of course, she does no such thing.
Night of the Lepus: "We have to stop this insurgence of rabbits, so let's inject one with a serum I know absolutely nothing about. That should do the trick!"
Even better: The little daughter of one of the scientists had been begging for one specific test rabbit as a pet. "My little girl has been running around unsupervised in the test animal room. She still wants a rabbit, but not the same one. Let's give it to her!" note The girl had switched the rabbit she wanted with a control.
No Country for Old Men -The movie should have been over in about 10 minutes were it not following this trope in spades. Llewelyn is initially shown to be a somewhat crafty and aware veteran, but makes two horribly stupid mistakes that serve no purpose other than moving the plot forward.
1. After successfully taking the money from the botched drug deal with no witnesses, he returns to the scene of the crime probably at least six hours later to bring a bottle of water to a man on the verge of death. Not only was it incredibly risky, it seems somewhat pointless because the man would likely have been dead anyways. This idea is so bad that even the character admits he's about to do the stupidest thing he's ever done. You can practically hear him say, "but if I don't do it, how else is this movie supposed to go on?"
2. After going on the run with the bag full of money, he doesn't look in the bag and find the transponder for several DAYS, as he wonders why he keeps getting found. So, he never decided to count the money, see if there is anything else in the bag like guns, drugs, etc. Once again, had he simply looked in the bag from the start, the movie would have been over.
Aside from Llewelyn, everyone who deals with Chigurh loses 50 IQ points. After pulling him over and handcuffing him, a deputy simply holds an entire phone conversation with his back to the man and gets strangled. The Sheriff realizes that this hired contract is running around killing people and going after Moss, and instead of contacting federal authorities, other law enforcement officials, etc... he basically does nothing and just retires. Also, an idiot ball to anyone who works with Chigurh as he apparently is quite willing to off any employers or associates if it strikes his fancy.
The ending of the original Ocean's Eleven movie. How stupid could the team have to be to put the money in a coffin and not make sure that it wasn't cremated. If the coffin in question was a regular burial coffin, and not the flimsy version used for cremation, then we either have a classic case of poor research, or a legendarily stupid operator at the crematorium (the other reason is that the film couldn't show a gang of criminals getting away with it).
The Odd Life Of Timothy Green was this and more. Here's a couple reasons why:
The Framing Story overall: an adoption agency listens to a couple tell a fantastical story, and never seem to confirm its truth or check for the sanity of the speakers.
A couple finds they can't have children, but never consider adoption until the end of the movie.
When a child magically appears in the backyard they decide to take him in, rather than call the police to see if he's someone else's kid or a runaway.
When finding out he's being bullied, they let him to go a party at the bully's house alone so he can "fight his own battles."
Timothy accidentally kicks a girl in the head, and his parents fear she'll try to get revenge. When finding out she instead befriended him, they fear and hate her... for forgiving their kid?
The coach lets Timothy on the soccer team, despite intending to never use him.
The couple's lesson from all this is that if they were to do it again, they would make better mistakes. The agency thus lets them having a kid, despite hearing a testimony of complete irresponsibility.
The spread of the disease in Outbreak is only made possible by repeated instances of utter stupidity on the part of several characters, many of whom are supposed to be qualified professionals. An outbreak of a virulent disease is discovered in Africa. A biotech company illegally transports an infected monkey back to United States. Then, an employee steals what he knows to be an intended test animal to sell in the black market. When he fails to find a buyer, he sets the monkey free in the wild. As if this wasn't enough, a lab technician who was working with the blood of one of those infected by the monkey manages to break a vial and infect himself.
The only one in the movie who wasn't a complete idiot was the mother. Esther breaks her own arm in a vise to frame her, and the doctors somehow believe that the mother was able to do it one-handed. Daniel (her son) decides not to reveal Esther's violence until he has evidence, even though the mother had already asked him about it and would believe him anyway. But Maxine (the deaf daughter) swept the medal podium at the Too Dumb to Live Olympics. Maxine watches Esther break a young girl's leg and murder a nun, but covers for her out of fear. Okay, I'll buy it, even adults can be cowed by threats. But then Esther tries to murder Maxine herself twice, tries to murder Daniel at his treehouse (Maxine at least intervenes), and then succeeds (in certain cuts of the movie) in murdering Daniel at the hospital — Maxine never tells a single adult.
Throw in the fact that Esther was a little creeper right from the start. Maybe the family really did want a slightly different child, but surely there were less morbid ones at the orphanage?
Paranormal Activity; basically the whole reason the demon keeps getting stronger is Micah, who is practically suicidal with stupidity. When an expert on the occult tells him to not aggravate a supernatural and malevolent demon, what does he do? He taunts it constantly. His perpetual skepticism about the demon flies in the face of ON CAMERA, concrete evidence that yes, it exists. He's so stupid it's a relief when the demon finally murders him.
Everything about Prometheus. This short video sums it all up. Arguably it was because the writers were trying to evoke Alien. In Alien, though, the characters were Space Truckers, so their less-than-intelligent responses made sense. Here, however, the characters are supposed to be highly educated scientists, yet still act like Space Truckers.
Mike Nelson: They must be having a dumb contest. It's the only explanation.
In Sliding Doors, so much trouble could have been avoided if James Hammerton had thought to say to Helen Quilley on their first date 'Oh, by the way I'm separated from my first wife and we're getting a divorce, but don't worry, it's all amicable'.
Much of the tension could have been relieved if Mary-Jane had asked Peter "You do realize my role in the play was replaced, right?" Or if Peter would have taken a deep breath and talked things through with her after "killing" Harry. On the other hand, he was under the effects of the evil suit, but it felt like he forgot her entirely after getting his revenge. In fact, there were a lot of problems with that movie's plot, many of which were pointed out in a HISHE episode.
Don't forget the admittedly in-movie (but treading actual What an Idiot territory) stupidity of, on a whim, publicly giving an open-mouthed kiss to his lab partner at the same time he was still going steady with Mary-Jane. "Special kiss" in and of itself or not, and not even going into fidelity issues, it doesn't take a sociologist to realize that that is going to raise some hackles.
Harry gets his memory back, and then threatens Mary Jane, telling her that he would hurt Peter unless she breaks up with him. Both Harry and Mary Jane somehow forget that Peter is just as strong as Harry, and has had far more experience dealing with superpowered people than Harry ever has. Mary Jane proceeds to break up with Peter, and forgets to tell him that Harry got his memory back, is once again dangerous, and that he threatened her.
Harry's butler tells Harry that Peter did not intentionally kill his father. Either the truth about Harry's father's death slipped his mind for several years, or the writers retro-actively made the butler an idiot to advance the plot, and make Harry and Peter friends again. (Word of God is that the butler is a hallucination which makes no sense since there is a scene where Harry talks to the butler in front of Peter and he doesn't notice anything off!)
Scientists detect extra mass in their experiment (which has to take place in a pit open to the environment for some odd reason), but rather than actually go check, they assume it's a bird (a bird with the mass of a man?) and keep going with the experiment.
Not to mention that Sandman, a man with ability to easily move an infinite amount of sand, decides that the best way for him to make money with his abilities is to be a criminal. It's not as if there are places with tons and tons of sand that need moving, perhaps to access a valuable resource of some kind.
Outbidding the guys who created the World Archipelago by a few million dollars would've netted him in excess of several billion. Even if we presume that such uses would be too boring for him, and he wants to be where he can hurt people with his sand; it's not as if the United States was not currently fighting a war, in a desert. Or as if families of active duty military did not get unlimited free health care. (Granted that he's currently a fugitive from justice, still, if the man can't convince the US government to trade one free pardon in return for a guy who can single-handedly kick the ass of the entire city of Fallujah without getting scratched, he's just not trying.) Hell, even if he just supplied sand to the construction industry he'd probably be doing better than robbing banks.
Open Water 2 Adrift concerns six people who sail a luxury yacht into the middle of nowhere and decide to go swimming. It would have been nice if one of them had remembered to lower the boarding ladder first. The one hydrophobic woman who didn't want to go swimming gets thrown overboard by her 'friend' trying to cure her fear of water. So now we have six people trapped in the water and an infant alone on board. Believe it or not the stupidity level increases from there.
Safe Haven is a movie that starts off with Katie, the protagonist, running from the police. It seems like a pretty straight-forward movie. Then, we find out the police aren't after her. One policeman is. He's her husband. She can't do anything about it because in this world, a Boston policeman is a powerful person who can do whatever he wants, even in North Carolina. Katie doesn't even bother calling the police. When she sees a policeman, she thinks he's after her. That's not all. Her best friend turns out to be a ghost.
School of Rock: Dewey should have been exposed as a liar from the get-go. At least two Horace Green faculty (including Roz) would have seen Ned when he went into the school for his interview as a potential substitute and recognized the two look nothing alike; his class' parents would have been quite within their rights to suspect Dewey was not a teacher and phone in a complaint to the school about their rock & roll-based assignments; there's no hint that Dewey has any skills besides his music (if so, both Patty and Ned — neither of whom ask any follow-up questions when Dewey tells them he's "temping" — would know as much). When a teacher notices that a rock band is practicing a few doors down from her classroom, Dewey somehow convinces Roz that no, it was just one guy on his guitar.
The whole movie should never have happened-Roz mentions early on that checks would be mailed and made out to Ned, so Dewey could never receive or cash them, and she doesn't even get suspicious when he asks for paychecks made out to cash.
The Strangers; if the two leads had a brain cell between them, the movie would've been a lot shorter and NO ONE would've died.
Subverted in Ils (aka Them), the French film from which The Strangers cribs its premise. The two leads may be frightened, but they're not idiots, and they do pretty much everything right. It still doesn't save them in the end.
Star Trek Into Darkness: First, Star Fleet unfreezes a 300 year old guy who was sentenced as a war criminal to help them out with super dangerous weapons. Then they hold people he cares about over his head. Then he proceeds to not make much sense and puts his "family" in torpedos for some reason. Cue blowing stuff up so he can get all of Star Fleet's officers into one room to blow them up. He blows them up then uses the beaming trick from the last film to go to the Klingon homeworld. Star Fleet evil guy decides to send a diplomatic ship there instead of his cool new warship. So they go, not beaming there for some reason, with super ka-boomey torpedos that'll probably alert any Klingon on the planet that they're there. They go down, still refusing to use the beaming trick, get the bad guy up, hear his shit, and find that there's the warship that should have gone in the first place. It follows them through warp... somehow. The evil guy agrees to help them, they shoot him for no reason, then he gets up and promptly kicks all their asses. They can call old Spock, but somehow can't call for help or warn people down below of the warships. Anyways, Spock decides it would be a good idea to piss off Khan and blows the torpedos. Khan plows through San Fran and Kirk dies, and Spock goes after him because that's what Vulcans DO! Except there's this Tribble that was glued to the table and was dead before, so Bones needs Khan's blood, not like he doesn't have 72 perfectly good frozen dudes right there.
Sybok's Evil Plan is pretty dumb and only works because everyone else in the galaxy is apparently an idiot. He takes a Federation officer, a Klingon and a Romulan hostage so that a starship will be sent for him and his primitive followers to hijack. This plan relies heavily on only one of the three most powerful governments in the galaxy bothering to make a rescue attempt, that they sent one ship rather than a whole fleet, and that that ship would not have functional transporters.
Hilariously, Sybok is outraged when Kirk and company attack Paradise City, saying he didn't expect violence to result. Yes, how dare the Federation take the forced overthrow of Nimbus III as a hostile act! And that's to say nothing of how the Klingons or Romulans would treat it...
Taken cynically, it makes a bit more sense. Nimbus III was a marginally inhabitable wasteland populated largely by individuals that can be charitably described as scum. Any officers assigned there probably pissed off their superiors, and the Federation, being the only one who would care about its citizens would send a ship, but since Nimbus III is a worthless backwater, they wouldn't want or need to commit all that much.
Let's not forget that the Enterprise-A is a malfunctioning mess that even Scotty is having trouble with. Nonetheless, Starfleet decides to send her into the conflict to save the day. Kirk himself asks why another ship isn't sent given the obvious problems with his. An admiral responds that there aren't any other qualified captains on-hand. So why not just loan Kirk and company a functioning ship?
This is especially ridiculous as an exterior shot shows the Excelsior in the same dock as the Enterprise! Or, what, is the engine STILL sabotaged from whatever Scotty did to it over a year ago?
Superman II: After Superman gives up his powers to be with Lois, he learns of the presence of three villains from Krypton with all his powers. After he gets his powers back by returning to the Fortress of Solitude and nothing to report here, he battles the three villains in the streets of Metropolis. The problem is that Superman's motivation for giving up his powers in the first place was incredibly lame. The holograms of his parents who ordered him to do so are long gone, and making the choice they hoped he wouldn't make is no more respectful than just ignoring them. Meanwhile, their edict that he couldn't "put one above the rest" assumes that he'd never make any friends at all.
Presumably he had to give up his powers to 'be with' Lois due to Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex issues. There was no way they'd spell that out in a family film, though...
For that matter, at the end of the film he kisses her which makes her forget the events of the film, which begs the question, when she first discovered that he was Superman, WOULDN'T IT HAVE BEEN SMARTER IF HE DID THAT IMMEDIATELY?!?!
The 2004 Disney Channel Original Movie Stuck in the Suburbs follows the life and times of a teenage girl who accidentally switches cell phones with a celebrity pop singer and proceeds to royally screw with his life for teh lulz. The entire plot hinges on the assumption that a famous musical artist wouldn't cancel his phone service and buy a new device as soon as he discovered the mix-up, or at least get someone who works for him to.
The villain uses an elaborate setup to force the transporter to do a job, including bracelets Made of Explodium. The villain also has literally hundreds of mooks positioned along the route to keep the pressure up on Frank. The job: Drive a girl across Europe. It's never explained why they need Frank badly enough to justify the fuss about him or even why this big and well-organized crime syndicate needs an external expert for moving a person from A to B.
A different idiot plot point revolves around the whole plan to get the girl's father to sign this agreement in exchange for his daughter's return when any contract signed under duress wouldn't hold up in an international court of law. Might as well just forge the signature or forcibly move his hands to sign it for all the legitimacy it would bring.
The part where he saves himself from drowning by filling an inflatable dinghy by letting out the air from the car's tires. All the while breathing the same said air himself.
Monkeys infected with a deadly and highly contagious virus, that makes them super aggressive and can spread by the slightest scratch or bite are held in steel frame cages? Check! A scientist discovers activists trying to release the monkeys, and tries to get them to stop by cryptically telling them the monkeys are infect with "Rage" and leaving it at that? Check! Said activists see said scientists getting all panicked about it, but don't bother finding out what he is so afraid of? Check, check, and double check!
Jim walks into an abandoned gas station, alone, because "we don't have any cheeseburgers." His companion Selena reminds him that they have plenty of food, but by God he wants those cheeseburgers. Surprise surprise, Jim finds a zombie in the store and has to fight it off on his own. At this point, everyone is holding the idiot ball. Jim is risking not only his own life, but everyone else's as well. What happens if he gets turned? Meanwhile, Selena, instead of restraining him or telling him he can't go in, shrugs her shoulders and walks away. This particular episode is egregious because it doesn't even drive the plot, only some minor dialogue later in the story. A soldier tells Jim that there's no way he could have gotten this far without killing someone. Well, he could have if he and his buddies weren't all holding the idiot ball.
The so called "shelter", where people are crammed in at the first sign of trouble without first checking whether the zombie that started the trouble is inside or not! And then demonstrate how the doors to this impenetrable shelter can be breached by zombies and panicked humans alike from inside — had no-one in the military heard the saying "don't put all your eggs in the same basket"?
That's not even the start of it. For no reason whatsoever, they turn off the lights which not only lowers visibility and harder to see the (so far) lone infected coming, but greatly panics the civilians before it even shows up. Wouldn't it have been easier/safer to tell everyone to stay in their rooms? And what's more, the infection started because a man tried to see his wife (who was an asymptomatic carrier of the virus) was able to enter the room. The room was completely unguarded, despite the military being well aware that she had the virus.
There's also when, after everyone in that shed get infected, the soldiers have gotten orders to shoot everyone in sight. Including people trying to hide, drive away, avoid gunfire; if they weren't such idiots, they would have figured out that zombies would not be doing any of those things.
Unknown: A GM corn company hired a team of assassins for industrial espionage. They assumed that the head of the project would have a copy of the genome on his laptop, and most likely that it was the only copy. They trick an insane assassin into getting rid of a piece of evidence, when they could easily have done it themselves.
The Woman in Black: Harry Potter is a grieving lawyer who travels to a small village to sort through the paperwork of a recently deceased woman who lived in an Old Dark House. Rather than taking the paperwork back to town, he decides to stay there. He spends most of his time wandering around and looking at creepy things without doing anything at all. Message on the wall written in blood under the wallpaper? Huh, I'll go wander around more. The one thing he tries to do doesn't work.He also doesn't get a lick of paperwork done.
The main reason Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon is remembered for its accurate rocket launch sequence and nothing else is because the rest of its overlong running time is a melodramatic idiot plot. The most glaring example is that the heroes take the villain along on the mission, fully knowing his evil intentions. Yes, he threatened to blow up the ship if he didn't go with them, but did it occur to none of the crew that they could knock him unconscious and leave him behind just before liftoff (or better yet, have him arrested) and go to the moon and he would be helpless to retaliate? The entire third act would've gone much smoother, especially since no villain would have meant no gunfight which means no bullet hole in the oxygen tank which means no depleted oxygen supply which means everyone could have happily gone home with their gold, the end. But no, they had to be idiots.
It features a triple idiot plot. The government hears that Magneto is raising an army to attack the mutant cure laboratory on Alcatraz. In response, they arm the guards there only with mutant cure dart weapons in plastic dart rifles, thus leaving them totally defenseless against an attack with conventional weapons (Magneto could easily take care of firearms, but the dart rifles should be able to use the Instant Sedation darts seen in the second movie). Then, Magneto's army attacks, and no one in it brings along any weapons. Magneto and his army are attacking an island compound in order to kill the mutant being held within, as his blood is being used to make a mutant cure. In order to get there, Magneto rips up the Golden Gate Bridge and hovers it over to the island, with his entire army standing on the bridge. This looks very cool. However, rather than dropping the bridge at the entrance to the island and then fighting a pitched battle to get to the mutant, Magneto could have literally dropped the bridge on the mutant.
The whole thing is full of "it's not as if" moments — Magneto is surprised to realize that the guns are plastic, partway into the fight, but it's not as if he had some kind of ability to sense metal at a distance that had been highlighted in the plot about fifteen minutes ago.
And then there's Magneto's apparent decision that he's playing chess rather than fighting a war during the attack by sending in the "pawns" while the queen sits around doing abso-frigging-lutely nothing. Apparently Magneto was so focused on scheming the rest of his war that it took up 90% of his brain cells. The "pawns" are mutants, the very people who Magneto has made perfectly clear are the superior form of humanoid life. Yet he sends them off to be killed and stands around watching it happen. Some mutants must be more superior than others.
A deleted scene does show Magneto try to get Phoenix to do something. She refuses, telling him, "You're sounding like [Xavier] again".
At the end, the heroes need to stop the Phoenix, a mutant of great power in this continuity, but still a mutant. They have custody of another mutant who can neutralize other mutant powers just by standing close to them. So, of course, they take him AWAY from her.
That part actually makes sense—it was revealed before that mutants have to be very close to Leech in order to be affected by him, and the Phoenix was so powerful that she would have killed him long before he got close enough to neutralize her.
Not to mention that Leech was a child who they were trying to save from being killed. Sending him up against a nigh-omnipotent psycho who would almost certainly vaporize him kind of goes against that goal.