YMMV: Red Dawn (1984)

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: This Cracked article, which makes the movie a largely anti-war film (and points out the Idiot Plot of the film too).
  • Anvilicious: Communism is bad. Gun control is bad. America is good. Survivalism is good. Any questions?
  • Applicability: This film could also be seen as an anti-war movie; it shows the painful effects that war has on innocent civilians, how it makes killers out of children, and it actually does an excellent job of humanizing the regular Joe Soviet soldiers, even in light of some of the things some of them do. On the other hand, while the movie makes it clear that war is Dirty Business, it still depicts it as necessary to fight back.
  • Discredited Meme: If you grew up after the Cold War, the entire premise seems a bit silly. If you grew up during the Cuban missile crisis, it seems horrifically implausible that anyone would have survived the nuking long enough for the premise to happen. Lastly, any detailed knowledge of the sheer logistics involved in an invasion of territory as big as the United States may very likely break one's Suspension of Disbelief note 
  • Executive Meddling: Writer-director John Milius wanted to focus on the war is hell aspect, while the studio pressed for a more idealized presentation. The most obvious result of this is the tacked-on epilogue, which explicitly states that Americans won the war due to bravery of fighters like the Wolverines. Without it, the movie would have left it open if the efforts of the Wolverines changed anything in the end. The darker approach shows through in several places, such as how many of the heroes meet their ends in meaningless deaths.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the RiffTrax for the original Red Dawn, the characters survey their wrecked town while the commentators say "They replaced our town with Detroit!" Guess where the 2012 remake was filmed?
  • Memetic Mutation: WOLVERINES!
  • Narm: AVENGE ME BOYS! AVENGE ME!
  • No Delays for the Wicked: The Russians and their communist allies move incredibly fast in the intial invasion. Airborne troops making it all the way to Colorado in the first wave? Implausible but possible. That doesn't quite explain how Russian armored vehicles are already in town to support the paratroopers and set up roadblocks during the initial assault. Mexico is about 600 miles from the middle of Colorado(a 10 hour drive, assuming no stops). Apparently the Russians were hauling ass north, ran into no resistance and didn't have to stop to refuel to make it up there without being noticed and before the school day ended.
    • Actually the Soviets aren't seen using any actual 'tanks' for some time in the film. The vehicles they are seen using early in the invasion are all airborne capable vehicles like the BMD series of Airborne tanks, BTR and BRDM series wheeled vehicles, and ZSU-23-4 Anti-Air vehicles. Tanner was likely telling the story of what happened in the first few days or weeks of the war while the other main characters were busy trying to survive in the woods.
  • Reality Subtext: Red Dawn was made during a time when the Soviet Union was aggressively expanding its interests across the globe. Nobody dreamed it would be gone in only seven years. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was also when the Afghani insurgency was fighting the Soviet Union in the mountains.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Several moments, especially when a Wolverine (or other major character) gets killed (and subsequently buried)
    • Col. Bella's letters to his wife definitely count. They provide some of the films more poignant scenes, and serve to establish that the rank-and-file of the Russians are generally Not So Different from The Wolverines
  • Values Dissonance: The whole premise. One could argue that the film is something of a deconstruction of this trope, with several instances of Gray and Gray Morality as the harshness of war catches up with The Wolverines.