Played for laughs in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: "(Brody) has friends in every village from here to the Sudan. He speaks a dozen languages, knows every local custom. He'll blend in, disappear. You'll never see him again. With any luck, he has the Grail already." Just as you're thinking, "That doesn't sound like him at all," cue a Gilligan Cut to confirm that it was all a bluff. Indy even says that Marcus once got lost in his own museum.
In Ever After, Danielle uses this to her advantage. She tells her captor that she is a good swordswoman without ever actually fighting with a sword. In a subversion, she's bluffing, and very convincingly too. (Watchers know she's bluffing because she tells him that her father taught her to swordfight; her father died when she was eight. Even if he did teach her, it's not as though she's had much opportunity to keep her skills up in the ten years since.)
Boba Fett has a fearsome reputation as the best, most ruthless bounty hunter in the galaxy. However, he does nothing in the actual films to merit that reputation. The one notable thing he does is to successfully track his quarry to their destination, which you'd think most bounty hunters would be able to do. The rest of the time, he mostly just stands around looking threatening.
General Grievous is said to be a fearsome combatant that has personally killed dozens of Jedi, and such an effective and brutal tactician that he replaces Count Dooku as the greatest threat to the Republic during the Clone Wars, yet in the prequel film, he spends most of his screen time running away and getting his butt kicked. This is somewhat explained in Star Wars: Clone Wars. Both seasons demonstrate Grievous as a serious threat, even when confronted by multiple Jedi at once. At the end of the second season, however, his chest gets force-crushed, explaining his hunchbacked, hacking wimpiness in the film. His strategic brilliance remains undemonstrated, though most strategy in Star Wars seems to look like Zerg Rushes anyway.
Master Plo Koon of the Jedi Council. Based on both official and fan-written bios on his skills and abilities, one might be tempted to think that he's the third most skilled Jedi Master after Yoda and Mace Windu respectively. In the Expanded Universe, Darth Maul even stated that he was one of the most skilled lightsaber duelists of all time. It's even been said that he was the third best pilot after Anakin Skywalker and Saesee Tiin. Unfortunately, Master Koon has been involved in very few action scenes (the kind where he usually just destroys battle droids and enemy mooks), and even fewer lightsaber duels, in the Expanded Universe literature, comics, and both Clone Wars cartoons to really justify his high standing, as opposed to someone like Kit Fisto who's been given more feats and showings in the EU. And ironically, his only piloting scene is the moment where he's shot down and killed by one of his own clone soldiers. Though there's no doubt that at the very least, he's a skilled Jedi Master (why else would he be on the Council?), his feats in the Star Wars Universe are so few and far between that fans are left with little more than speculation on exactly how he ranks compared to other Jedi and Sith.
In The Great Race, while in Boracho, TX, Professor Fate & Max hear of a man named Texas Jack who is described as the roughest, toughest man they know of. When Jack shows up, everyone clears the way for him and even the sherriff backs down. But once a bar brawl breaks out, Jack isn't shown to be better at fighting than anyone else.
The main character of I Know Who Killed Me is supposed to be a great writer and piano player. Supposed to be.
The Riddler's "Box" invention from Batman Forever allegedly makes him smarter, until by the climax he's a supergenius. Actually, all he does as the film progresses is keep acting like Jim Carrey, only more so. In fact, he seemed like a fairly competent scientist in the beginning. The smarter he gets, the dumber he seems to act — perhaps because the box also drives him insane.
According to his profile on the official Kung Fu Panda website, Master Crane is the "mother hen" of the group and prefers to avoid conflict, neither of which was actually shown in the film. However, this was hinted in the first movie when Crane carried all his injured teammates away from a losing battle, even though most of them are heavier than him as deadweights, to ensure their safety.
Apparently, Master Thundering Rhino is known for his good sense of humor. Right...
Gunnar Jensen in The Expendables is listed on both official websites as well as all promotional material as a sniper. In the films, he does everything but any sniping.
Rafe, in Pearl Harbor, is constantly described by everyone from his best friend to Historical-Domain Character Jimmy Doolittle as an amazing pilot. A veteran RAF pilot wanders over to him at a pub for no reason other than to tell him that he's fantastic and by god, if there are more like him, America will kick the world's ass. In the actual combat scenes, he's competent, certainly, but not the god of aviation he's made out to be, and his skills appear to be on par with his best friend.
Rocco in The Boondock Saints is nicknamed "The Funny Man" by his fellow mobsters. He only tells one joke in the whole movie, and only when ordered by a patronizing Mob boss. He seems to have earned the nickname from mobsters who like to laugh at him.
In Stranger Than Fiction, Emma Thompson's character is supposed to be a great writer, yet the few examples of her writing given aren't exactly stunning prose. Which is a shame, as the entire third act involves the audience buying that her work is so transcendent, it's potentially worth a man's life.
Save The Last Dance would have you believe that the character played by Julia Stiles is an amazing dancer, who is auditioning for a prestigious dance school. Unfortunately, Stiles has very minimal ballet training, and it shows. Stiles was not at all believable as a high level dancer who had any realistic shot at her goal. It's particularly apparent when she's in a dance class scene, where she should be at least as good as if not better than the other dancers— when in fact, she is visibly struggling to even keep up. (For those not in the loop about ballet, the clearest example of this is her extension, meaning hip flexibility and how high she can raise her leg. The angle of her leg is noticeably lower than those around her, even to the untrained eye.) Obviously, given the type of story this is, the character is successful in her audition... which is entirely unbelievable, given how severely Stiles's limited ballet experience shows in every scene where she does her own dancing.
In Reality Bites, you are expected to sympathize with Winona Ryder's character because she finds herself unemployable after graduation, despite having been valedictorian in journalism at her college. Things go downhill pretty fast when she loses a page from her valedictorian speech and utterly fails to improvise. After graduation, she flunks a job interview with an editor because she cannot define the word 'irony' to any coherent degree, and later fails an interview with a fast-food manager because she cannot add $0.85 and $0.55 in her head. This might be intentional, due to her scene with Troy in which he easily supplies her with a succinct definition and implies that she's not living up to her level of education.
Played for Laughs with brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (as well as the stage adaptation), who was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp. Or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken. The audience never saw him have the chance to not be afraid as such acts were imposed on him, though it is seen when he "bravely beat a brave retreat" as his bard narrated. Sir Bedevere the Wise also cocks up a battle plan. Sir Galahad the Chaste is remarkably keen to sample the perils of Castle Anthrax (though he at least requires a bit of prodding to give in). Even 'Sir Not Appearing In This Film' appears in the credits.
Workers in the opera house are seen stuffing cotton into their ears while Carlotta is singing. Her singing is actually legit, and only employs some contrived scoops to make her sound bad. This is a case of Informed Flaw. Maybe they just really hate her for being the Evil Diva.
The singing ability of the Phantom himself is described by Christine as transcendentally beautiful and a reason to believe he is the Angel of Music. In the film, Gerard Butler's singing ability is debatable, but few would describe it as transcendent.
Basically the main reason why people adore Christine is for her lovely opera singing voice, and Emmy Rossum doesn't even almost fit the description. She keeps scooping, she can't enunciate while singing higher notes and they even had to change the end of "Think of Me" because she couldn't sing the operatic bit. And still the characters go around talking about how you're bound to love her when you hear her wonderful opera voice...
This is also true of the 1989 version of Phantom; while not a musical version, Christine does sing a fair amount on screen and even to an untrained ear, it's painfully obvious that she's a completely untrained singer.
Deckard in Blade Runner is, or was, supposed to be one of the best Bladerunners in the business; however, he spends most of the film getting beaten black and blue by the NEXUS 6 replicants. He ends up shooting one in the back while she was fleeing, has to be saved by his love interest when at the mercy of another, barely manages to shoot the other female replicant while getting his head kicked in, and simply lucks out when the final replicant drops dead.
Anne Bancroft plays a great ballerina past her prime in The Turning Point. Herbert Ross, the director, wisely keeps Bancroft's "dancing" to a few shots (e.g., brief barre work), but even so, Bancroft fails to either look or move like a dancer, nearing retirement or otherwise.
In The Good The Bad And The Ugly, Tuco nicknames Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name "Blondie", and interrogates other characters as to his whereabouts by asking for a 'tall blond man'. Angel Eyes goes so far as to gush over Blondie's beautiful blond hair, calling him a 'blond-haired angel'. His hair is light brown. This is particularly bizarre because the part was almost certainly written for Eastwood. The reason is a failed Woolseyism - the original Italian script had Tuco nickname the Man With No Name "Biondo", which technically means "blond" but can be used to mean someone with fair colouring. The novelization, more closely based on the Italian script, refers to the character as 'Whitey'.
Played with in Pirates of the Caribbean, to the point of several characters lampshading it. Jack Sparrow is touted to be the best pirate ever, yet he is mutinied after being captain for a year, in the first movie is captured twice and saved twice (first by Will, then Elizabeth), gets knocked out from behind twice, and his Plan almost fails. In the second movie another one fails after Norrington discovers his Bait and Switch and pulls a switch of his own, setting into place the events of the third movie, where everything finally seems to go his way. The characters themselves can't seem to figure out if he's a bumbling quirk or an unlucky Magnificent Bastard whose plans/Indy Ploys keep getting spanned. (One character at least calls him the worst pirate he's ever heard of.)
According to Word of God, Will is the best swordsman in the series. In the actual movies, however, he loses most of the fights he gets into, and tends to get knocked out and/or captured a lot. Possibly justified in that, while Will might be a great technical swordsman, he has romanticized ideas about fighting that leave him vulnerable to Combat Pragmatists.
It's hard to imagine that Fred Astaire's dancing could be an Informed Ability. But in Shall We Dance, Astaire's character is supposed to be a successful ballet dancer. A convincing ballet dancer, Astaire is not.
In Finding Forrester, the writing of both Forrester and Jamal is said to be brilliant, but given that it's a movie, not a book, there wasn't really any time to show the audience this. This is obviously because if the screenwriters themselves were capable of creating brilliant work, they wouldn't be writing Finding Forrester.
In The Lost World: Jurassic Parkheroine Sarah is said to be an expert field biologist. In the film, she can't help but pet a wild stegosaur cub, then snaps pictures from about three feet away like a tourist (she then rants at Ian, as if he was a misogynist for coming to save her, when five minutes earlier, she started a freakin' stampede!). Then, after frequent lectures that her expedition had to "leave no trace", she does the logical thing; take an injured baby tyrannosaur to their camp and splint its leg, causing the parents to come and wreck it and kill a party member. Then she walks around in the forest wearing a blood-soaked shirt (after both mentioning that it wasn't drying and that the T. Rex had the greatest sense of smell ever), leading the parents to again wreck an encampment.
The eponymous members of the poorly-done movie The Genius Club. They are gathered together, explicitly because they have abnormally high IQ's. However, through the movie's dialogue they are twice shown unable to answer very simple (and well known) riddles. And all their arguments are extremely shallow. They're supposed to be geniuses, and they're in a hostage situation. Why can't they form complex arguments or express themselves above a junior high-school reading level?
The premise of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies is that the chipmunks are talented singers, or at least insanely popular. This is confusing to anyone who finds their squeaky voices annoying and not something you would choose to listen to in a million years. Nevertheless, they did have some pop hits in the real world.
The Quick and the Dead: Lampshaded by the Gene Hackman character in his duel with Lance Henriksen's Ace Hanlon, who was previously played up as a sureshot trickshot artist, but whom Hackman exposes as a fraud. By shooting him. It is also revealed that Hackman had previously killed a man that Ace falsely laid claim to.
The Dude from The Big Lebowski is supposed to be a very good bowler, but he's never seen bowling. This was probably intentional as Rule of Funny.
In the same vein, Walter's eulogy for Donny mentions his love of surfing, even though we never see him do any. But unlike the Dude, he is a good bowler; the only time he's shown screwing up at that is just before his fatal heart attack.
In the Miramax cut of The Thief and the Cobbler, when Princess YumYum is attempting to convince her father, King Nod, that she is the best candidate for venturing into the desert, she argues that she is, apparently, "smarter than any man in this city and faster than your clumsy henchman," when there has been no evidence of these claims up to this point; quite literally all she has done in the film is sing, as displayed in the "I Want" Song "More Than This" (along with her impressive ability to sway back and forth and spin a lot) and the Distant Duet "Am I Feeling Love?" This inconsistency is most likely due to the particularly lazy rehashing of the script.
In Strange Days, Jeriko One is supposed to be the most popular rapper in America, and his fiery lyrics are supposed to be so good that they threaten to ignite riots and rebellion from the disenfranchised black community. However, the one song heard from Jeriko barely qualifies as music, much less the best hip hop around.
X-Men talks about but never shows the mental aspect of Rogue's power where she picks up memories and personality fragments from a person she touches in addition to the person's strength/ability. In a scene near the end, Jean says she picked up some of Logan's personality traits but they're gone by the next scene. In the later films, Rogue seems to gain some measure of control over her powers, which might explain why she doesn't fear losing her mind anymore.
In Rounders, Teddy KGB is supposedly a devastatingly effective poker player who can eat the protagonist Mike McDermott alive. He is shown playing exactly two games of poker in the film. The first game he wins by luck: it doesn't exactly take a lot of skill to slowplay pocket aces that turn into trips and then the nut full house, especially when the other guy happens to have two pair and then the lower full house and will gleefully bet into you for all his chips. The second he loses because he has an incredibly obvious tell, starts playing irrationally when it's pointed out to him, and then falls victim a simple trick: McDermott feigns a drawing hand when in fact he has a made hand. Makes you wonder if he only got such a great reputation because people were afraid to bring their A game against a high-ranking Russian mobster.
Parodied in Mystery Team. Jason is a Master of Disguise, Duncan is a "Boy Genius", and Charlie is apparently the strongest kid in town. Not only do they fail to demonstrate any proficiency in these areas, it's proven time and time again that they are actually completely inadequate. They even get called out on it early on. As one example, Jason "disguises" himself as his own father by putting on a mustache and speaking in a low voice. His guidance counselor says that he's not fooled, and Jason acts like the counselor is a Worthy Opponent for having figured it out.
In Good Will Hunting, Will is said to be a mathematical genius by almost every character in the film who learns about it - his teacher, his psychiatrist, his friends...everyone. Yet, there is little to no evidence of his skills in action, and every time you see an example of Will's work, it's either been completed beforehand (with the teachers just seeing the end result) or mentioned in passing. Justifiable in that general audiences likely wouldn't understand the equations anyway (as Lambeau says in the film, there are only a few people in the world who could even tell the difference between him and Will), so they were kept to a minimum.
Purposely invoked in Trail of the Screaming Forehead. According to the "science" of the movie, the forehead, not the brain, is the seat of thought. Andrew Park's character allows himself to be injected with "foreheadazine," which will supposedly turn him into a super-genius. In spite of some truly horrific transformations that turn his entire head into a forehead, and his own lamentations on how his incredible intellect has given him no measure of happiness, no evidence is given at any point of his actual intelligence. This was most likely intentional on the part of the writer, since the movie was made as a parody of cheesy B movies.
In Johnny Mnemonic, Jane's bionic implants are said to give her quick reflexes and other enhanced abilities, but nothing she does in the movie would suggest that she has enhancements. She even has to be pushed out of the way of a falling, exploding car that she otherwise wouldn't have noticed, despite her quick reflexes; less explained is what makes Johnny such an amazingly talented data-smuggler that he can afford such a luxurious lifestyle as the one he is used to having.
In Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, the narrator gives a short monologue about Ed's nigh-superhuman ability to read the reactions of other people, especially in card games. Ed then proceeds to not demonstrate any capacity whatsoever for reading other people's reactions, most especially in the card game that sets up the plot, in which he utterly fails to notice his main rival reacting to the information being secretly fed to him about Ed's hands.
Similarly, in Casino Royale it's mentioned Bond was picked for the mission precisely because he's such a good card player. Yet in the actual poker game he loses badly until he gets dealt a fantastically good hand. (Of course, this is partly because real card experts are very boring to watch as they do their best to remain emotionless and spend a lot of time folding early to minimize losses.)
In The Experts, John Travolta's character - who thinks he's in a Nebraska town (he and Arye Gross's character are actually in a Russian town full of KGB spies training to be sleeper agents) - asks if anyone there knows how to dance. Kelly Preston's character says "I know how to dance," and the two promptly demonstrate that while he knows how to, it's a different story in her case. (Then again, let's cut them some slack as this was where they met - they were married four years later and remain a couple to this day.)
In Pitch Perfect, Beca is supposedly a DJ and a producer. She goes out of her way to mention to her father that she intends to be a producer, as opposed to just a DJ. However, you never see her produce any original music, or hear any of her original productions. Any time she does anything music related on her computer, she has DJ software open, not production software. In the scene where she walks into the radio station and hears "her song" playing, the song is either a remix or a mashup, not an original.
Subverted in The King Of Comedy: Rupert Pupkin thinks he has great material and is destined to be a famous comedian, but up until the climax the only real joke he's ever seen to make is a fairly cheesy prop-based pun, and he's also a fame-obsessed Loony Fan. So the audience is meant to infer that he's delusional about his talent and either his first performance will be a disaster or he'll just never be seen performing at all. Instead, he actually does deliver a competent, if not hilarious, comedic monologue near the end of the film.
In 13 Going on 30, Jenna's redesign proposal for "Poise" magazine looks about like a 13-year-old's attempt at a photo collage of her friends. So far that might seem somewhat justified, since the character is a 13-year-old trapped in an adult body. However, the trope comes into play when the amateurish design gets a tearful ovation from a room full of media professionals, and then someone resorts to corporate espionage to rip it off for their own magazine.
The plot of Rhinestone revolves around country singer Jake (played by Dolly Parton) betting her manager she can turn anyone into a C&W type in two weeks; said anyone is taxi driver Nick, who's played by Sylvester Stallone. His singing at the beginning is genuinely as awful as you're supposed to think it is - but he hasn't improved a jot by the end (hearing him say "You got to be luh-huved" is the kind of thing for which Brain Bleach was invented). No wonder this is an Old Shame for Sly.
In The Lightning Thief the audience is told that Annabeth is a wise combat schemer, probably a combat pragmatist, but in the movie she offers no actual aid to the heroes and just kind of acts like a tag-along child with specks of damsel in distress. All the combat and ideas on how to solve problems are thought up by Percy, with the only exception being the idea to keep Medusa's head for later.
In Road House, Dalton claims that his mentor Wade Garrett is better than him at everything. When Wade finally shows up, you don't really see any of that. In fact, he ends up getting stabbed to death offscreen, which is not something that would've happened to Dalton.
Played for laughs in The Mask. During the "Cuban Pete" musical number, we are informed that Pete/the Mask is "a really modest guy". In the same musical number, he claims to be "the king of the rumba beat" and responds to being described as the hottest guy in Havana with "Si, seņorita, I know!"
The entire plot of Bill & Ted centers around Rufus' claim that the two main characters will write the most important rock song in the history of the world, in contrast to all available evidence. Rufus even jokes about their lack of talent in the last line of the film.
Vlad's theoretical cruelty in Dracula Untold. While several characters state he killed thousands of innocents, we never see him doing any of that. Also the Elder Vampire's evil and immense power, none of which is ever showcased.
In Annie (2014), several characters refer to Miss Hannigan as having a beautiful singing voice. Cameron Diaz has the poorest voice in the cast.