200 Pounds Beauty: The main character begins the movie overweight, providing the singing voice for a backup dancer turned pop star and nursing an unrequited crush. She gets a crazy amount of plastic surgery and remakes herself as Jenny. She has fame, beauty, and the attention of the guy she was in love with. She underwent a great deal of pain but it seems like it was worth it. But then the problems start. She is paranoid about her love interest touching her and either damaging her new body or discovering what's fake. She betrays her family and friends. But then she reveals all and keeps her fans. The movie makes it clear that she still has her detractors but she's also a very successful pop star and her personal life is great. So plastic surgery is bad? You should just be yourself? Also, the movie ends with her plastic surgeon being very successful and her best friend going in to also get a ton of plastic surgery.
2012 has a particularly egregious example — Dr. Adrian gives a rousing speech aboard one of the doomsday-evading-Arks on the importance of humanity looking out for one another and convinces the captain to open the gates, allowing more people in. While well-intentioned, this decision indirectly results in the Diabolus ex Machina offings of Gordon and Tamara via the ship flooding. Not to mention no one even mentioning all the Chinese workers they just sent off the boats to die
The movie itself seems to want to condemn modern society and technology, implying that it made mankind arrogant while they were unable to predict a global disaster that the Mayans supposedly predicted thousands of years ago, and hinting at the end that the survivors of mankind have been humbled and will now go back to living with the land as their ancestors once did. This all ignores the little details that they only survived because they used modern technology to build the arks in the first place — not to mention that Jackson and his family use everything from an airplane to an RV to escape all of the disasters that occur...
There's a prominent moral, especially early on, of Screw Destiny - everyone keeps telling Alice to follow some arcane prophecy and she keeps turning them down, which is meant to be analogous to her refusing to get married in "the real world." A major moment is when she defies the destiny altogether and decides to run off on her own. Except seconds later, it turns out that defiance was part of the prophecy. At the end of the movie, Alice fulfills the prophecy and everything is lovely. So was Alice learning the opposite lesson, that sometimes the plans people have for you are good ones? Apparently not, because when she returns to the real world, she still refuses to get married, and this is treated as a good thing.
The aspects of rebellion, progress, and fighting the power, both in the real world and in Underland, are undermined heavily by the fact that the White Queen had been in power for a long time as a result of her birthright. The Red Queen is the one who is actually a relative outcast (implied to be The Unfavorite) who represents a new paradigm, and her taking control is treated as horrible in every way. The film's ending isn't so much an advancement of society as it is bringing things back to the good old days.
There's a strong undercurrent of "girl power" in the film, what with its conversion of Alice from precocious youth to Action Girl and the constant reminders of Victorian-era sexism, but the film also goes out of its way to depict Alice's questioning nature and knowledge as something unusual (rather than in the book, where they're treated as common even in a girl her age) and even credits them to her father. Meanwhile, most of the characters in Wonderland that were jerks, idiots, and Know Nothing Know It Alls that Alice opposed with her genuine wit and wisdom are rewritten to be more heroic, often accomplishing far more impressive tasks than Alice or doing actually plot-relevant stuff while Alice sits on the sidelines, and almost all of the characters to receive this treatment are male. And while the movie takes a shot at the idea of women being only valued for their appearance, it also has characters insult the Red Queen for having a big head whenever possible.
American History X is about Derek, a reformed neonazi, trying to help his younger brother Danny to not go down the same path as him, which leads to them reflecting on the origin of their prejudices. In the end of the movie, Derek sucessfully convinces Danny to abandon his ideology... only for Danny to be shot dead by a black gang member in the school bathroom. To make things worse, the only thing that Danny did to him previously was puffing cigarrete smoke on his face. Not only it makes the movie a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story, but also turns the aesop from "don't let blind hatred consume you" into "be nice to the minorities or they will kill you" in the very last seconds.
American Pie: Near the beginning of the movie a bunch of friends make a pact to get laid before the school year is over. Then near the end of the movie, they decide that was a dumb thing to do, since sex shouldn't be a goal in itself, but something you do with a person who's important to you and when you both want it. That's a nice moral. But then, they all get laid the same night anyway! Alternately, you could read the aesop as "good things will happen if you stop obsessing over them." To make matters worse, when Jim wakes up and finds Michelle (whom he does not particularly care about at this point in his multi-movie arc) has already gone, his response is "I got used. Cool!" and completely ruins the apparently intended Aesop. Oz, on the other hand, seems to have grasped the aesop quite well, as instead of bragging about finally getting laid, he simply states he had an awesome night with his lady.
The 1999 adaptation of Animal Farm falls into this due to Adaptational Karma. The original book is principally about the problem of the Full-Circle Revolution, and how any authority that places itself above the workers while taking the lion's share of their efforts is wrong, whether they identify as capitalist or communist. Humans, in the world of the book, embody the exploitative ruling class, and any attempt by the animals to emulate humans is treated as a sign of placing themselves above their kin. The book ends on the chilling note that the pigs have become no different from humans, bullying and killing the other animals to make their money. However, the film decides to instead end with the farm being bought by another family of humans after the pig's organization collapses, and this is treated as a happy ending, because the new family will obviously run it much better than the pigs. So it turns out that an exploitative ruling class is perfectly fine, after all; just so long as it's a friendly exploitative ruling class. Indeed, considering that the farmer in the book was a clear metaphor for the Russian monarchy, apparently the movie is saying that the Soviet Union could have been fixed just fine if they'd reinstated the Tsars. Also, given when it was made, this may have been altered to reflect the fall of the USSR and capitalist Russian Federation supplanting it (along with the other post-Soviet states), which was viewed favorably by most at the time (after Putin became effective dictator, many people's views soured).
Avatar tries to tell us that we can learn something from tribes who live with their homeworld, rather than off it. The Aesop breaks when you see that the Na'vi's ability to coexist with nature stems from their biology which they take for granted, rather than any sort of discipline. It's also worth mentioning that when an element of nature they can't biologically link with, that is humans, enters the picture, they are completely unable (and rather unwilling) to coexist in any way whatsoever.
Furthermore, it's clear that the lifestyle of the Na'vi is devastatingly brutal — they are routinely killed off as children — and the only reason it comes across as positive for the hero is that he's immune to most of the dangers, since he'll just wake up in his tank if his Avatar dies. Oh, and he also has to use human technology to lay claim to the dragon that Only the Chosen May Ride. It's very telling that the original script ran on Gray-and-Gray Morality and had both sides equally to blame for the conflict and wrongdoing.
Avatar frowns on colonialism and the idea that foreigners are superior and have the right to exploit a native population for their own gain. It also plays the Mighty Whitey trope pretty much 100% straight and ends with the hero, a foreigner, having mastered all the arts of the natives through his superior skills and privileges and become their king in a matter of months, ready to live out his years in paradise after having exploited their traditions to come out on top. Sure, it was for a good purpose, but it's a little disingenuous to play up the greed and ambition of the invaders when your hero stands to gain everything and lose nothing by doing what he does.
Banlieue 13: Ultimatum contains one of the most broken Aesops ever seen: After having foiled the villain's plan to blow up Banlieue 13 in order to have it replaced by a rich suburb, and exposed his orchestration of the civil violence leading to that decision, the leaders of all five stereotypical ethnic gangs (Black Rastafarians who look like rejects from the Lord's Resistance Army, robe-clad bearded Arabs, Trigger Happy Portuguese used-car salesmen, tattooed Asian martial artists and white Neo-Nazi skinheads) give the French President an "inspirational" speech on how they're like a family that protects, unites and brings people together! Keeping in mind that they all voluntarily racially segregate themselves into different blocks and have only united to fight a common enemy
Batman Begins: During his training to become Batman, Bruce Wayne is ordered to kill a criminal that the League of Shadows arrested. He refuses, since he decided he will not be an executioner. The moral is If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him, but to escape the temple without having to kill the criminal, he intentionally burns the whole temple down, presumably killing many people there, maybe even the criminal he was ordered to kill in the first place. (This is, however, consistent with his attitude towards the impending death of Ducard/Al-Ghoul when he declares, "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you." Batman is apparently comfortable with being indirectly responsible for the deaths of others.)
Beverly Hills Chihuahua had a message about adopting animals from shelters and the sequel even had a celebration promotion about National Spay/Neuter Month. This is despite the fact that the movie ends with Babies Ever After and the sequels involve the puppies.
The pulpy action classic Billy Jack features the heroic title character — who identifies himself as a pacifist — using martial arts to defend a hippie commune from evil racist rednecks. The lesson that pacifism is a wonderful and noble ideal to strive for is severely blunted by how little good it does the hippie kids when bullies want to beat the crap out of them, since the only thing that gets the goons to back off is Billy Jack showing up to lay the smackdown, in some instances even listing in detail exactly how he's going to beat the crap out of them before doing so. In The Trial of Billy Jack it seems as if the reality of his methods dawns on Billy for the first time in his life when he tries to talk one of his students out of unnecessary violence, only for them to ask right back "What do you call what you just did to those thugs?"
The Black Stork was intended as a pro-eugenics film supporting the Mercy Kill of disabled infants, but in some ways it unintentionally supports the social model of disability. Despite the title cards' insistence that Leffingwell Jr.'s heritage makes him defective both physically and mentally, there's no evidence that he was born insane, and even his obvious deformities only rarely cause him any inconvenience that doesn't involve other people. In fact, it seems like he would have turned out fine if not for everyone treating him like a freak.
Blade Runner can be interpreted different ways depending on which cut you watch. Harrison Ford has gone on record stating that he is not a proponent of one of the most popular fan theories regarding the protagonist. He points out that if Deckard himself were also a replicant, it would be a broken aesop, since the purpose of the story, as well as the original book, was to show how human the android/replicants (most notably Roy Batty's final act) were compared to the inhumanity expressed by the humans who created them and are now hunting them down.
Buddy features a woman who takes a baby gorilla home and raises it among her multiple pets. As the gorilla ages, it becomes more destructive and inconvenient to keep and she sends it off to an ape sanctuary. The moral, involving the problems of keeping exotic pets, is ruined because she already has two pet chimpanzees, who are portrayed as lovable little pets with no problems. Chimpanzees are far more destructive and violent than gorillas.
The Butterfly Effect: The ending. The lesson that you can't possibly undo all of your past mistakes and that you have to accept them for what they are is broken by both of the endings, as Evan does precisely that by removing himself from Kayleigh's life entirely. The real mistake he had to fix was meeting her in the first place (theatrical cut) or being born at all (director's cut).
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory squeezes a pro-family Aesop into the story when Wonka, having fallen into depression after Charlie refuses to leave his family for Wonka's offer to take over the factory, comes to Charlie for advice. Their conversation is as follows:
Wonka: I don't feel so hot. What makes you feel better when you feel terrible? Charlie: My family. Wonka: Ew! Charlie: What do you have against my family? Wonka: It's not just *your* family, it's the whole idea of... You know, they're always telling you what to do, what not to do and it's not conducive to a creative atmosphere! Charlie: Usually they're just trying to protect you, because they love you.
The problem there is that "just trying to protect you" does not remotely justify the behavior of Wonka's father as shown in the flashback scenes. In the post-Halloween flashback, the father's tone made it sound very much like he was more interested in berating Wonka for wanting to be a normal kid than looking out for his dental health. When Wonka expresses a desire to get into the candy business, his father's reaction is clearly one of disgust, not concern. That sort of treatment is, by most standards, a perfectly valid reason to cut ties immediately upon reaching adulthood. Usually they're just trying to protect you - sometimes they're just offended that you would have the audacity to be different. Wonka was just lucky that his father saw the error of his ways during their time apart.
Christmas with the Kranks, based on the John Grisham novel Skipping Christmas, is about a couple whose adult daughter is going to be away for Christmas, so they decide to eschew their typical lavish, expensive and stressful celebration in lieu of a vacation cruise, to the protests of their overbearing neighbors. Predictably, their daughter announces, two days before Christmas, that she'll be back, and bringing along a new foreign boyfriend to whom she's been hyping the annual Christmas party for weeks, forcing the parents to abandon their plans and throw a party together at the last second, with the help of said neighbors. Intended moral: "Don't let the stress of preparations distract you from why you celebrate." However, since the couple's idea seems so reasonable to normal people, and the neighbors' reaction comes off as completely overblown, the real moral of the story is "You can't escape Christmas, even if you try." Not to mention, the entire reason the Kranks wanted to skip Christmas was they realized that for less money and none of the effort they put into their Christmas party they could go on a tropical cruise: in other words, skipping Christmas to go on the cruise was their way of not stressing the preparations so they could focus on why they celebrate the holidays.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin star vehicle The Condemned revolves around a shady producer who arranges for ten death-row inmates from around the world to be dropped in an island and forced to fight to the death while the "show" is broadcast onto the Net under the name "The Condemned", hence the movie's title. However, WWE Films made the bizarre decision to turn this into a moralist tale by having several characters berate the brutality and senseless violence of the show all the while showering the audience with scene after scene of brutality and senseless violence (and some rape for good measure). To top it all off, it culminates with this quote: "All of us who watch areweThe Condemned?" To which several critics replied "Yes. Yes we are." It doesn't help matters that the intended aesop itself conflates fictional violence with real violence. In short, it's a very hypocritical film whose message goes against the franchise that made it. Oops.
Contact has a Aesop that seems to be something along the lines of: "We all have faith in what we believe, and just because your beliefs are in science (rather than religion) that doesn't give them more credibility." Except, of course, that the very last exchange between Kitz and Constantine completely blows that premise out of the water in Ellie Arroway's specific case:
Constantine I assume you read the confidential findings report from the investigating committee. Kitz: I flipped through it. Constantine I was especially interested in the section on Arroway's video unit. The one that recorded the static? Kitz: Continue. Constantine: The fact that it recorded static isn't what interests me. Kitz: [Pauses] Continue. Constantine: What interests me is that it recorded approximately eighteen hours of it. Kitz: [Leans forward so he is looking directly in the camera] That is interesting, isn't it?
Frustratingly for science- or justice-minded viewers, Constantine and Kitz apparently never even let Arroway know that she has evidence of her experience (as opposed to just faith). They just quietly give her a dream job to make it up to her.
Cool Cat Saves the Kids: One scene has one of Cool Cat's friends nearly get hit by a car, which of course leads to a lecture about how you should always look both ways when crossing the street. Then, in the very next scene, Butch the Bully appears on the other side of the street with candy that he just stole from babies, and Cool Cat runs after him across the street without looking both ways.
The Count of Monte Cristo combines this with Do Not Do This Cool Thing in the final scene where Edmund professes that his revenge was not worth the steep moral and physical price he paid to achieve it. On the other hand, we just spent two hours watching him enjoy every minute of his bloody revenge and it was awesome.
The Day After Tomorrow features a straw Republican American president, who refuses to believe repeated warnings of catastrophic climate change, and is used to make a point about right-wing science denial. However, the actual climate change event in question, featuring the entire Earth being buried in snow within a few days, is every bit as unscientific as the film's target of satire, making the president's scepticism entirely justified.
Day Breakers is set in a world of vampires and a dwindling supply of blood is basically one long analogy for our dependence on oil. Which is fine right up until the end where they create a substitute for blood which gives us not, "don't blindly waste resources and deal with the problem before it becomes a problem" but "blindly waste resources and science will stop the collapse of civilization just in the nick of time." It gets further broken when you consider that alternatives to fossil-fuels already exist; they're just not yet economical.
Its also pretty daft comparing dependency on oil to the diet vampires are biologically hardwired with. They have no choice but to drink blood; most of them are unaware there is a cure and they are physically incapable of consuming anything else.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): The intended message is Humans Are the Real Monsters because Klaatu is a peaceful ambassador whose home planet fears Earth will expand into outer space due to its advances in space and nuclear technology, makes the Earth stand still to deliver a message of peace, which culminates in Klaatu's accidental death. Except, Klaatu arrives with zero warning, shuts down all power on Earth (with the exception of hospitals and in-flight airplanes) — which potentially caused thousands of deaths — all to deliver a message of complete annihilation if they do anything remotely "threatening" to a planet they didn't even know existed solely because Earth has the theoretical capability to attack them, not because of any action Earth intentionally or unintentionally made against them. This makes Klaatu's planet look extremely hostile and xenophobic, ruining the film's intended message.
Despite switching to a Green Aesop, its 2008 remake doesn't do so well, either. We're destroying the other species on our planet, and aliens think that's bad. Fine. So why does Helen's love for Jacob change Klaatu's mind? A mother's love for a child of her own species, while charming, doesn't really show anything except a desire to perpetuate her species. It'd be more valid if she showed love for an animal, perhaps something completely dissimilar to humans. Instead, The Power of Love conquers all. Also, in the original, despite the distrust he faces, Klaatu still believes in human goodness, whereas in the remake, Klaatu is as distrustful of humans as they are of him.
Wonder Woman (2017) shows Diana having to learn that the cruelty of humankind can't be instantly purged by slaughtering a Satanic Archetype, and it works... for all of a minute. Turns out that Ares wasn't dead after all, and while he didn't force anyone to fight, he did inspire people who would. To exacerbate the problem, the moment Diana kills the real Ares, soldiers start hugging each other, and then there's an instant cut to the peace celebration, making it look like she did instantly purge humanity's cruelty.
Justice League (2017) has the tagline "You can't save the world alone." However, it might as well be "You can't save the world without Superman." Being individually the most powerful character is shown to be the best way to prevail for both the heroes and the villain. While there are instances of teamwork working, the main plot arc centres around the combined efforts of the other heroes not being enough to defeat Steppenwolf until Superman returns in the Final Battle and punches him around easily.
The Devil Wears Prada: Andy is presented as being "too good" for the fashion designer assistant job she applies for, and she derisively says she will only tough it out for a year to gain the experience and connections needed to get the job she wants. When she finally learns to take her job seriously and do it well she's presented as "selling her soul," while her abruptly quitting is presented as "holding true to her morals." However, when she applies for the serious journalism job that she only took the fashion designer assistant job to get, they almost don't hire her due to her abrupt departure ("holding true to her morals"), and only hire her due to Miranda giving her a glowing recommendation... which Miranda only gave her due to Andy learning to do her job well ("selling her soul") in the first place.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days has An Aesop about owning up to mistakes when you make them. Greg's father Frank lectures him on this, and Greg's confession to him in the climax of the film is what finally fixes the trust issues the two have been dealing with for most of the movie. Problem is, Frank is a Bumbling Dad who doesn't follow his own advice — earlier in the film, he and Greg inadvertently ruin a pot roast his wife had been preparing for supper, and rather than telling her this, he allows her to serve it anyway while avoiding eating any of it himself.
Fear Of A Black Hat parodies the broken Aesop of gangster films like Scarface and New Jack City in a music video called "A Gangsta's Life Is Not Fun". Meaning, the point of the films are to show how being a ruthless criminal and selling drugs is wrong, and yes the villains do pay the price for their actions in the end. However, ninety percent of the films shows them being Crazy Awesome beforehand. Which results in them having a lot of fans and the message of the films being missed, entirely.
Ice Cold: I'm the G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R. like Scarface bitch I'm a superstar. Revered by all, though I am the villain, gain more juice by the others I'm killing. Profiling and styling, drive a fly ride and hoes just pile in. I make gangsta money, cause I'm gangsta bold. Fuck gangsta bitches, wearing gangsta clothes. And I kill with will of steel for thrills, another way to pay the bills. I'm the boy wonder, god of thunder, wrong move and I'll put you under. I'm notorious, I live glorious, I'm the fly gangsta the remains victorious. Stay in the top-self clothes, stay fucking the top-shelf hoes. Because I'm the gangsta they call number one... but don't try this at home kids, a Gangsta's life's not fun.
The First Wives Club: First wife Brenda is obsessed with her weight and taunted about her supposed fatness by her ex's new girlfriend. This treatment is rightfully seen as incredibly cruel. However, only minutes earlier, Brenda was snarking that "the bulimia has certainly paid off" in reference to the girlfriend's slimness. Plus, she makes nasty comments about slim women throughout the film, "anorexic fetus", etc. All of which are presented as amusing. So it's horrible to taunt fat people about their weight, but perfectly acceptable to joke about slender people having a potentially deadly eating disorder?
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has the Aesop that being ugly doesn't make you inferior or bad in any way. This is broken by the fact that said Garbage Pail Kids act like complete assholes for half the movie and, moreover, are Villain Protagonists.
The Gladiator (a 1986 TV movie) tells the story of a mechanic who, distraught after the death of his younger brother in a car crash, Mad Max-es his tow truck and starts dishing out vigilante justice by disabling the cars of drunk drivers before they can do any damage. Except the man responsible for his brother's death wasn't a drunk driver. He's actually some kind of vehicular serial killer of whom the mechanic's brother was just one of many victims. The whole anti-drunk driving motivation just doesn't seem to work
GQ (Kevin Nguyen): At the end, we discover that the Major is the kidnapped brain of a young Japanese girl implanted into a robotic body by a tediously nefarious corporation — a plot twist that is nowhere in the original and, at first, comes across as incredibly dumb until you have a moment to really think about it and realize oh my god this is even dumber than I could have ever imagined. If there is a thin moral in Ghost in the Shell, its "Do not take a Japanese girl and put her in the body of a white robot." Which is EXACTLY what this movie is! They took a Japanese brain and put it in a white shell.
As a whole, the first two films seems to give out the main message "If there's no Christianity, then there's no morality". This is broken, because of how Christian characters are belittling/discriminating Non-Christians, that's actually an immoral thing to do.
In the first film, Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty had interviewed with Amy that even though he does receive criticism for the show for being openly religious, Willie states that he won't judge viewers for that and people have the right to change the channel if they don't like it. However, at the end of the film, during the Newsboys' concert, Willie again appears, and encouraged everyone in the concert to text at least 100 people, saying "God's not dead". Um, really, Willie? Saying "Respect people's views" and "Make people believe that 'God's not dead'" are two very different things.
Also in the first film, after Professor Radisson lost to Josh Wheaton's case on God's existence, Radisson gets killed by a car, probably sent from "God", as a way to get him to change his faith on his deathbed, basically giving out the message "Best way to change a Non-Christain's faith? Put them through hell or near-death experience!". Right before that happened, however, the reason why Radisson was out to begin with was because he had read a letter from his diseased mother, saying no matter what happens, never lose faith. He then was moved by it, and tries to go to the Newsboys' concert so he can reconcile with both Josh and his ex-girlfriend, and decides to become a Christian again. So, not only that message was broken, but especially since he's not EVEN a true "atheist" to begin with.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): The intended message is that humans are not meant to tamper with nature (namely the Titans) for good or for ill intentions, as doing so always leads to calamitous consequences. However, at the end of the film, the awakened Titans' presence on the planet is healing dying ecosystems, causing endangered species to bounce back and providing humanity with new resources — and the Titans are awake because Ghidorah, a hostile alien who explicitly exists outside of nature as terrestrial lifeforms know it, forcefully woke all the Titans up at once whereas before their awakenings were slow and gradual. Ghidorah in turn was awakened by a Well-IntentionedEco-Terrorist who wanted the Titans awakened precisely to achieve the end results that occur at the film's end. This is somewhat downplayed, in that while the ending implies the future is now brighter for humans and the planet alike after the Titans' awakening, in the present, humanity specifically have suffered massive devastation and loss of life due to Ghidorah's actions.
What really breaks the aesop is that at the film's start, Monarch is inching towards being taken over by the government and military, who either don't see or don't care for the Titans' ecological value, and only want the monsters all killed off while they're sleeping. And based on the military's rude response to the Mexico crisis which made it clear how little faith they had in Monarch's intervention, the takeover of Monarch would've probably become a certainty after Rodan's awakening if not for Ghidorah's Apocalypse Wow. It's unknown how the military would've achieved their aim of exterminating the Titans, but if they'd succeeded, it would've likely had devastating future ecological consequences, on top of flouting Genocide Dilemma and ridding the world of numerous admittedly majestic creatures forever. And if the military's extermination attempts failed or didn't get every waking Titan (like how Monarch's attempt to kill the male MUTO in its cocoon in the first film spectacularly failed), it could very well lead to the Titans retaliating against humanity, and most of them retaining negative or at least neutral relations with the surviving humans afterward (this last point is especially relevant if you're among the viewers who believe Godzilla is keeping Titans away from human cities at the end precisely because of Serizawa's sacrifice). So in summary, the Well-Intentioned Extremist meddling with nature set off a chain of events that brought about the best possible future for everyone overall, after nearly causing The End of the World as We Know It (it's this messy).
The Greatest Showman tries to have the moral of "don't judge people who are different" that's basically made moot when you realize the circus troupe basically work in a job that relies on them being exploited and mocked for their deformities and, in real life, WAS a job where they were exploited for their looks.
The Hannah Montana movie spends the entire movie preaching the Aesop of "Be Yourself", even if it means giving up on the glittery lifestyle... And then it completely breaks it with a Reset Button ending. Miley reveals her true identity to the people of Crowley Corners, and even sings a heartfelt song about having learned said Aesop... and then immediately afterwards the people of Crowley Corners proceeds to all agree to keep her identity a secret and let Miley continue her dual life.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army has a anti-prejudice message, showing the Hellboy's struggles to be accepted by regular humans. Somewhat undermining the message of tolerance:
It's treated as completely unreasonable that humans might be wary of a demon who almost destroyed the world last movie, and is still destined to do just that according to a literal messenger of God.
Incidentally, the human who managed to stop Hellboy from killing everyone last movie is the same one Hellboy had Reassigned to Antarctica.
Neither the characters nor the movie ever spares a moment's thought for any humans that got killed, including their own teammates.
The protagonists are only once seen protecting someone other than themselves or their friends. And that one time is just to portray the humans as ungrateful bastards. (While they ultimately defeat a genocidal Big Bad, they only did so in self-defence.)
The heroes repeatedly risk the lives of every human everywhere because they want to Always Save the Girl (or guy).
Beth wants Neil to marry her, but he doesn't believe in marriage. Then she dumps him despite seven happy years of living together. The movie reveals Neil to be more devoted and dependable than most husbands who are shown as either lazy or unfaithful. Beth soon realizes this and asks Neil to take her back. Refreshingly, in a Chick Flick, no less, we have An Aesop that marriage doesn't automatically make a couple happier or more committed, and a woman can still find happiness without it. BUT then Neil breaks it by asking her to marry him anyways. Meaning that no, a woman truly can't be complete without marriage after all and that a man will always marry a woman if he loves her.
This is also an issue with Gigi and Justin Long's character. Basically, the entire movie lays out the premise that women need to accept men as straightforward — if they say they're not interested, women need to accept this. But every single man who says this then changes his mind, proving that the women who were supposedly deluding themselves were in actually fact accurate — Gigi was the exception to Alex's rule, Beth was correct in thinking a man will marry you if he loves you, etc.
Actually, it goes deeper than that. All film Alex constantly spells out to Gigi, not that men are straightforward and will just tell a woman when he's not interested, but that actions speak louder than words. If a man seems to be giving "mixed signals," as in he says he's interested but then leaves the woman to do all the work and make all the compromises to be with him, cheats on her, won't leave his wife for her, etc. odds are "he's just not that into you" and she should move onto someone who is. But then the film breaks this Aesop by portraying Neil as a man who honestly doesn't believe in marriage yet doesn't love Beth any less, then breaks thatAesop by having him cave by marrying her anyway. Then, of course, Alex breaks his own Aesop that his own "he's just not that into you" behavior toward Gigi was to hide that he was into her, etc. The film is very inconsistent about its own message, with some couples proving the "he's just not that into you" rule and others not.
Hypocrites is all about, you guessed it, hypocrisy, and how the lazy and hypocritical members of a pastor's congregation are too lazy and hypocritical to follow the pastor on the "narrow way" up a mountain to the Truth. But the pastor isn't willing to help anyone. Both of the women who follow him fail to make it to the top because the path is too steep. The one who gets the closest, the one who was looking adoringly at him during the sermon, actually extends her hand and says "I need your hand", but he refuses to help her.
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is about how you shouldn't discriminate against gay people but every gay character in the movie is a flaming stereotype and the main characters treat the very idea of pretending to be gay as hideously unclean and disgusting, and it never changes. Additionally, they try to support gay marriage by having the main characters exploit it.
Johnny Dangerouslylampshaded and parodied this trope. After spending the entire movie presenting a spoof on gangster films to support the moral "Crime doesn't pay," the eponymous character walks out of his pet shop wearing a fashionable men's suit, hops onto the running board of a period luxury car driven by a chauffeur with the character's gorgeous wife in the front seat (she's wearing a white fox wrap), mugs to the camera and says, "Well, it paid a little."
A Knight's Tale: The main moral of the film is that a noble spirit and strength of will can turn anyone into a hero, regardless of birth. This is broken in two ways. First, The Hero pretends to be noble to attempt to change his life. Second, at the end of the film, the Black Prince falsely claims that the hero is of noble blood and uses his position to make sure no one can challenge that statement. So you don't need to be born into the elite class to be successful, but you do need to be in the elite class.
Labyrinth: It's a coming-of-age story with a fantasy backdrop, including something of a sexual awakening; Sarah overcomes childhood fantasy, leaves behind her toys and imaginary friends, and returns to the real world as a mature young adult... and then she is delighted to find all her Labyrinth friends pop into her room because she still needs them. Unlike most broken Aesops, though, this one tends to inspire Alternate Aesop Interpretation more than criticism, since Sarah does clearly grow up despite continuing to embrace her childhood either way.
Liar Liar: The moral is supposed to be that Fletcher's constant disregard for the truth was a bad thing that nearly caused him to lose his family and wasn't even necessary, since he still managed to win a massively important case without lying once. On the other hand, a number of instances show that Fletcher telling the truth was inconvenient for him but actively hurtful to other people, like a woman who was minding her own business in an elevator when a random guy starts talking about her breasts or the office assistant whose boss makes cruel remarks about her hairstyle and outfit.
The Life of David Gale is about how the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment because a demonstrably innocent man can be sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit: the titular character is on Death Row for raping and murdering a woman friend, but a journalist discovers videotape evidence that in fact she committed suicide and made it look like murder in order to frame Gale. This bit of evidence is only released after he's been executed, and there's widespread outrage that an innocent man has been killed. But then the journalist gets an unedited piece of the same videotape which shows that Gale was in on the whole plan all along, and indeed watched the woman die. What exactly this makes him guilty of is another question, but he's certainly not innocent.
Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life attempts to preach An Aesop about how looking at Internet porn will ruin your life. The 14-year-old protagonist starts out as a champion swimmer and ends the film as a suicidal mess. Except because it's Lifetime TV, the most they can actually show is just Justin looking at women in skimpy costumes and the film's Aesop gets undermined when all the problems that happen for Justin don't actually come from looking at porn in general. He gets addicted to energy drinks simply because he drinks them when he looks at porn, he gets into trouble with people in town because the woman whose porn he was watching accuses him of raping her because he won't sleep with her. Half the kid's problems seem to stem from having a mother who feels such a habit warrants therapy and interventions. And yet the mother is meant to be the heroine of the story.
Stranger in My Bed tries to empower women to leave their abusive husbands. The main protagonist, Sarah, leaves her husband by faking her death in a cave accident and flees across the country from Washington to West Virginia to get away. Aside from the apparent aim of stuffing as many Domestic Abuse cliches as they possibly can in one scene, it sort of accomplishes this goal had the movie ended with her leaving. Her escape is only the beginning, as her husband tracks her down and inexplicably becomes a serial killer, killing her friend for no reason, her new boyfriend's father for even less reason in what is basically a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, and then trying to kill Sarah herself and said new boyfriend, which isn't better but more logical. This is absolutely mangled, as the first half tells abused women to leave, but the second half says that if you do leave, your husband will kill everybody you've ever cared for.
Limitless has a drug which makes you superhumanly intelligent while you're on it. The protagonist discovers, to his horror, that other people who have taken it have had fatal experiences with withdrawal (the only survivor of withdrawal he finds is a complete burn-out). His girlfriend points out that while he's on the drug, he's a different person, and that when he's off the drug he finds himself completely unable to cope and so desperately seeks to continue his supply. There are even escalating side-effects of headaches and missing time when he's on the drug. Seems like a fairly clear Aesop about not relying on artificial crutches to succeed and a metaphor for steroid hormones. However, in the end, he uses the drug to solve all of his problems and becomes a U.S. Senator, who is clearly destined for the White House. The implication is that drugs are in fact good as long as you use them wisely.
The director's cut has an alternate ending which is more ambiguous. The Bradley Cooper character is still on the drug at the end, and De Niro's character owns the company that produces it. And Cooper's final speech to De Niro is less him putting De Niro in his place like the theatrical ending and more of a rant showing that he is in denial about his current situation.
Mazes and Monsters has the aesop that role playing makes you insane, which is broken by the fact the protagonists have their own family problems and the role playing actually brings them together and occupies them. The only one of them who completely breaks and becomes detached from reality, Robbie, has major pre-existing psychological problems unrelated to the game, and his friends are completely unaffected by it.
This makes for incredible irony when you consider that the movie was based on certain people's interpretation of real life events. Even when fictionalizing it, they cannot escape the insanity of their own viewpoint.
Mean Girls 2: The moral of the story seems to be "don't be a follower," but in the end, Abby decides to attend Carnegie Mellon instead of her original goal of NYU just to stick with Jo, who in turn based her college decision solely on it being the school her dead mother went to.
Played for Laughs in Men in Black 3 when Jay is pulled over by two racist cops who obviously believe he stole the flashy car he's driving. He begins lecturing them on stereotyping and says that just because he's black doesn't mean he stole the car... then he admits that he actually didsteal it. "But not because I'm black!".
The Mighty Ducks has two. The first Aesop, "don't take youth sports too seriously," is broken in the first film when the team's coach poaches the best player on the opposing team through a blatant application of rules lawyering, forcing an eleven-year-old to choose between his friends and his father and his "team spirit." The second Aesop, "it's not important whether you win or lose, it's only important if you tried hard and had fun," is broken on a regular basis all throughout the series by the Ducks' habit of winning every important game they play in, usually with heavy applications of Down to the Last Play.
On Our Own, after being purchased by Feature Films for Families, received added scenes with Peggy's mother baking a cake while reacting to Peggy relating the story about the Robbins children to her. If the Robbins children never ran away, they never would have met Peggy — and Peggy never would have met Jack (who she planned to marry)! However, Peggy's mother maintains that Mitch's necessary acts of theft (in order to keep the family together) were morally wrong — and she planned to give Mitch an earful, as well as a hug.
Penelope has essentially the same problem as Beauty and the Beast, of which it is a gender inversion — once she learns to accept her own appearance as an ugly person with a pig nose, she transforms into an attractive Christina Ricci.
The Rambo franchise started out with First Blood, an anti-war condemnation of the dehumanisation of soldiers. In it, a returning Vietnam War veteran suffering from PTSD gets treated like crap by the country he fought for, accidentally kills one of his abusers in desperation and is hunted by the National Guard, only to end it by being talked down by his commanding officer (or by committing Suicide by Cop in the book it was based on). Film two and three of the franchise turned into action films about Rambo being a One-Man Army sent back into active war-zones to defeat the bad guys and help people, somewhat turning the message of the original film on its head.
One of the morals of the film is that you shouldn't play games to win, you should just play them for fun. However, if you lose in the OASIS, you "zero out" and lose all the money and items you've obtained. It gets worse since the OASIS currency is just as valuable as real world money, meaning you can potentially lose all of your savings and go broke, as seen when Aunt Alice's boyfriend zeroes out and loses all of her savings. Additionally, Halliday left his fortune and control of the OASIS to whoever wins his extremely dangerous contest, which also conflicts with his "play for fun" message.
Furthermore, the movie's Anti-Escapism Aesop where Wade totally shuts down the OASIS a couple days every week because the creator realized too late real life is the greatest adventure, and he wants to pass that along to the rest of the players.
Number 1, this rings false when Halliday creates the ultimate video game, then sets up a contest with a huge (real) monetary reward for exploring the virtual universe and plumbing its mysteries. And then at the end he tries to say there were better things they could've done with their time. Maybe Halliday shouldn't have come up with a contest encouraging people to spend all their time in the game trying to solve the mysteries he set up, if what he really wanted people to do was embrace real life and improve the real world.
Number 2, Halliday says this because despite his success he never had many close friends and only went on one date in his whole life. So he wants people to learn from his mistakes, turn off the video games sometimes and embrace life. Understandable. But Wade meets his group of Fire-Forged Friends, his perfect girlfriend, becomes a hero to billions and gains untold wealth because they spent all their time playing the OASIS and trying to win the contest.
Richie Rich briefly attempts to teach that money can't buy friendship, when that's effectively what happens when Cadbury pays off some local kids to visit Richie at his mansion and eventually befriend him.
Rock: It's Your Decision comes off less like a young man finding his moral path and more like he's been brainwashed by his parents and pastor into abandoning his friends and personality.
Saturday Night Fever means to decry the hedonistic life of disco culture. It portrays heavy drug and alcohol use, empty casual sex, Jerkass protagonists with a serious case of Moral Myopia, and date rape (which is implied to be Annette's fault for getting drunk and high, and wanting to make Tony jealous, instead of blaming Tony's friends for taking advantage of her.) And yet, disco is portrayed as glamorous: there's all the dancing, the obvious escape from reality, the cool outfits, and a great soundtrack featuring The Bee Gees. In fact, if it weren't for this film, disco wouldn't have been as popular as it was.
Shallow Hal had an intended Aesop about how people should not be so shallow and judge people on the kind of person they are, not by how they look on the outside. This loses some steam considering how many fat jokes it has at Rosemary's expense. It also doesn't help that Rosemary is morbidly obese - her weight is not simply a matter of aesthetics, but a severe health hazard. To suggest that someone like her has no need to change is outright dangerous.
Shoot 'em Up has an anti-gun message all while containing the most gun-centric and gun-glorifying scenes ever put to film, in which both the heroes and villains accomplish almost every task set before them by using guns, right down to delivery babies. The irony is so blatant that it's surely intentional, making this a Stealth Parody.
Skyfall: Everyone in MI6 talks about how they're not too young/old for the job, yet they all fail at everything. Bond fails to get to his partner on time and Moneypenny fails to take the shot at the thief. Bond fails his test, fails to reach the informant, then misses the shot-glass. Q falls for the honeypot virus and M falls for the false capture. Finally, Bond fails to protect M.
Spectre tries to make an anti-drone strike point when M lectures about how human agents can also kill but can also decide not to kill. The opening scene has Bond launch an assassination that spirals out of control into a collateral-damage fest in Mexico in the middle of a crowded festival. This was a rogue operation he'd been working on behind his superiors' backs for years, because a video from his deceased previous boss told him to find and kill that target and then spy on who attended the funeral. None of that shows a whole lot of restraint nor sense of proportional responses. Later in the movie, M and Mission Control find the Big Bad's base on a satellite image, in the middle of the desert, easily and cleanly destroyable via an air strike. But the preferred option is to leave Bond handle it alone by going up to the base, give up his weapons when asked, get captured and tortured, and only survive thanks to massive levels of Plot Armor and Bond Villain Stupidity. Given this Too Dumb to LiveCowboy Cop as an alternative, drone strikes suddenly look a lot more sensible.
Star Trek: Generations: In the end, Picard tells Riker "time is a companion that goes with us on a journey and reminds us to cherish every moment... because it will never come again." Except that Picard saved the day because he was able to revisit particular moments in time.
In Star Trek: Insurrection, an idyllic society that is portrayed as perfect exists without technology, on a planet with magical radiation that makes the advanced medical technology of the Federation unnecessary, even though the chief engineer needs technology to see and the captain needs technology to keep his heart beating. Then, without technology ceasing to be bad, the heroes use phasers, transporters, starships and holodecks to save the planet to live their idyllic, technology-free existence as the easy victims of anyone who happens to stroll past. You could argue that the Federation was partially responsible for bringing a technologically advanced enemy to their doorstep, and thus the ante had been upped to where using technology wouldn't break the aesop, but Worf's Bajoran friends can tell you how well being defenseless and minding your own business works in a galaxy with the Romulans, Cardassians, Dominion, and Ferengi.
On top of all that, the idyllic society that promotes the 'Technology=Evil' message is actually using technology of its own, in the form of farming implements and an irrigation system. The line where technology becomes bad seems to be drawn at an arbitrary point.
The Rise of Skywalker reveals Rey was the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine leading to the Aesop one can come from the worst background imaginable and still become a hero. But it also reveal's Rey's parent's weren't nobodies who sold her off for drinking money as presented in the prior movie, but Good Parents who lived and did that to protect Rey from Palpatine's and their influence even sacrificing their lives to do so, which helps motivate Rey to oppose Palpatine. So Rey actually came from a pretty good background, all things considered, which played a critical role in her becoming a hero.
The Swarm (1978) preaches environmental responsibility: the military wants to use pesticides that would damage the environment, while Michael Caine's scientist, Dr. Crane, keeps suggesting other methods. Unfortunately, the threat of the killer bees is so overdone (at one stage, they cause the explosion of a nuclear power plant) that this continuing refusal is hard to justify. Especially when Crane finally succeeds by pouring oil on the ocean and setting it on fire. Since when are burning oil slicks environmentally friendly?
Swimming with Sharks: Buddy Ackerman, who's being tortured by Guy whom he had mistreated, unleashes a speech about how one has to suffer to earn good things and be willing to work for them and how he endured it too. It would be nice except that Buddy was not simply a demanding or strict boss but a complete and utter sadist who took extreme pleasure in mistreating everyone he could and even blatantly stole a brilliant idea Guy had. The film spends so long showing Buddy as a monster and Guy as a dogged employee that the sudden shift to make Guy the bad one for committing these acts just feels like a last-minute apology. If Buddy's speech is the intended Aesop, the moral of the story is "If you endure suffering, you have every right in the world to make others go through the same and anyone who says otherwise is a naive spoiled brat."
Terminator Genisys has the dubious honor of ruining the central aesop of the entire franchise. While the original continuity was about humanity creating its own executioner out of warmongering and paranoia, TG has an evil time-travelling robot smuggling Skynet in under the guise of an innocuous application, ostensibly designed for the betterment of all mankind. This practically exonerates humans of the wrongs the story is supposed to be warning against. If anything, the fault of humanity can be found in not being suspicious and paranoid enough.
Toys has a strong anti-war message and portrays all but one of its military characters as dangerous lunatics... but then in the finale the heroes stand against the villain and solve all of their problems with violence.
The film Utøya: July 22, a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (the film being named for the island and date it took place on) has, among others, the moral that it is possible to retain humanity while on the run from a shooter. The catch is, the heroine helps absolutely no one and gets herself uselessly killed. If she had run to the hiding place and stayed there, it would be better for everyone. Also, the director stated that the aim of the film is to show the danger of right-wing extremism, but since all of Breivik's motives and his phrases (he was reportedly shouting "Die Marxists!" during his rampage) are cut from the film, there is nothing left to support this thesis.
The Christian movie What If... runs on a big Broken Aesop. The premise of the story is that a life led by God is better than one that isn't, even if the former makes you poorer and less important. The movie sets about proving this by having the main character, a CEO who is on the verge of executing a hostile takeover of a company, transported to a parallel universe where he is the minister of a failing church, and married with several kids. Instead of having God or anything else solve the problem and proving the aesop, it has the main character solve all of the financial problems... by using the stock market knowledge he gained from being a Godless CEO in the other world to invest in the companies he dealt with there, thus making a profit when the deal went through. Read: he committed Insider Trading with himself in a parallel universe. Due to the weird circumstances, this isn't a crime, it may not even be a sin, but it certainly doesn't establish that one should believe in God when the optimal resolution hinges on knowledge gotten from not believing in him.
Woman Obsessed: A woman's new husband is built up for the first ¾ of the movie to be abusive towards her and her son. At one point, while what happens next is open for interpretation, he appears to rape her after closing the door (she even mentions that her child with him was conceived out of "fear and hatred," so make of that what you will). She then loses the baby and the husband takes her to the doctor, which is very far away and carried her the last six miles. The last ¼ of the movie contains the doctor chastising her for wanting to leave her, you know, abusive husband and everybody forgiving him. While the problem isn't that he was redeemed, it was that the first ¾ of the movie built up how horrible and abusive he was and how much we should hate him, but the last ¼ quickly snapped into expecting everybody to forgive him for doing something good. The worst part is that not only does everybody forgive him and he ends up being the hero, it actually ends with her begging his forgiveness for wanting to leave him. The Aesop turns out to be "If your husband beats you, stick around if he helps you anyway because his Freudian Excuse makes it OK." Then again, the movie was made in the late 50s, so there is probably some Values Dissonance here.
X-Men: The audience is supposed to find Senator Kelly's Mutant Registration Act reprehensible, but he brings up a good point that there's nothing stopping people with superhuman abilities from using them with ill intent. He specifically brings up Kitty Pride's ability to phase through walls, remarking that there's nothing stopping her from waltzing into a bank vault or into the White House, and indeed in X2: X-Men United Nightcrawler does exactly the latter, teleporting right past all the Secret Service agents and coming this close to assassinating the President.
"No, they can't cure us. Because there's nothing to cure. Nothing's wrong with you." Says the woman with perfect control over the local weather to the girl who has to constantly avoid touching anyone for fear of killing them. The intent is obviously that it's not inherently bad to be different, but the message kinda falls apart when it's being delivered by someone who won the Superpower Lottery to someone whose Power Incontinence renders her Blessed with Suck.
It's even broken in universe when Beast, whom also has no control over his appearance, points out directly to Storm "Not all of us were blessed with perfect control of our powers and can look completely normal at will." But it rings a bit hollow when Storm is still put in charge of the school anyway.