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Genre Deconstruction / Film

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Films — Animated

  • The Last Unicorn: All of the characters know they're in a fairy tale, and the fairy tale itself mocks, parodies, subverts and plays straight Fairy Tale tropes. One of the most moving scenes comes from this exchange:
    Schmendrick: Then let the quest end here! I don't think I could change her back even if you wished it! Marry the prince and live happily ever after.
    Amalthea: Yes! That is my wish!
    Lír: No. Lady, I am a hero, and heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned. Unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.
    Molly Grue: (quietly to Schmendrick) But what if there isn't a happy ending at all?
    Schmendrick: (quietly) There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.
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  • Education for Death: The film is a deconstruction of Wartime Cartoons. It avoids portraying Nazis as evil monsters, and demonstrates how a normal, compassionate young child can be trained into following such a cause: propaganda and peer pressure. By the end of the film, you end up feeling sorry for Hans and his friends as they are turned into heartless weapons for the Nazi regime and marched to their deaths in battle.

Films — Live-Action

  • Though it portrays Jesus in a favorable light, Monty Python's Life of Brian is a pretty harsh deconstruction of society's romanticized view of life in the time of Christ, and of biblical stories in general. As it points out, the Romans weren't just cruel oppressors with 0% Approval Rating - they did more to improve the Judean people's lives than anyone before them. Conversely, "God's chosen people" had criminal justice that could be just as brutal and unfair as the Romans, and they were never a noble La Résistance - they spent more time getting involved in petty squabbling amongst themselves than they did resisting the Romans. And in any case, having a cult of devoted followers who expect you to solve all of their problems isn't nearly as cool as you would think. And getting betrayed by your friends and "sacrificing" yourself on the cross? It's only inspiring when it's not happening to you!
  • Jidai Geki films underwent an increasingly cynical Deconstructionist phase during the 1960s that arguably led to the genre going out of vogue for a good deal of the 1970s:
  • Similarly, Westerns in the 1960s went through a deconstructionist phase:
    • A Fistful of Dollars - a remake of Yojimbo, although Yojimbo was an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest
    • For a Few Dollars More
    • According to Word of God, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was intended as a swipe at classic Western movies. Its violence was, for the time, gratuitous; and while stylish, was uncomplicatedly so - an attempt by Leone to remind the viewer of what kind of men really were in the Wild West. The torture sequence is legitimately brutal, and accompanied by Soundtrack Dissonance. As for the character of Blondie (The Good), he's both significantly more fleshed out (and, as a result, less invincible) than he was in the previous two Dollars movies, showing tenderness, affection and pain; and yet the title 'The Good' draws attention to what a bastard he is (performing the kind of actions that were fairly standard in Westerns at the time). The two times his title pops up on screen, it's after he's been a particularly Magnificent Bastard (delivering a Bond One-Liner to someone he's abandoning in the desert, and pretending to hang someone for his own personal amusement). Of course, it's considered the archetypical Western nowadays, probably because it's just so good.
    • Hang 'Em High
    • The Wild Bunch - John Wayne is said to have complained that this film "killed the Western".
      • Even though it kinda started with The Searchers, in which Wayne's hero is unabashedly racist towards Native Americans - even toward his own adopted nephew, who is one-eighth Cherokee.
      • He's still the hero in that movie, however, while his Comanche counterpart dies shamefully. And he's really no more racist than many of the other characters. What really makes him frightening is that he's both racist and insane.
    • High Plains Drifter
    • El Topo
    • Django
    • Worthwhile deconstructions later on include Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man.
    • Rustlers' Rhapsody is a parody and deconstruction of the singing cowboy westerns such as those with Roy Rogers.
    • Unforgiven is a particularly sharp deconstruction of American westerns, but also of the spaghetti westerns that Clint Eastwood himself starred in. In particular, the portrayal of the main character shows how an ace gunfighter might have lived out his later years. His character progression also goes in reverse, unraveling into his former state to undo the character development he's acquired. Many standard conventions of westerns are also subverted, including the quickdraw contest, the hooker with the heart of gold, and the triumphant ride into the sunset. The scenes with the dime novel author are dedicated to exposing the falsehoods of the folklore surrounding the "wild west".
    • In the early '50s there was The Gunfighter, depicting its protagonist as a bitter, tormented loner. More sympathetic treatments of Native Americans occurred in Fort Apache, Broken Arrow and Devil's Doorway before it became the norm.
  • The Truman Show is a deconstruction of Reality TV. Oddly enough, before (1998) the huge proliferation of Reality TV in the 2000s took place, although they had certainly existed for some time by then.
  • Friday Night Lights is a harsh deconstruction of American sports culture. After numerous feel-good sports films in the '90s and early '00s, most of which focused on underdog stories and persevering under bad circumstances, Friday Night Lights revolves around the Permian Panthers, one of the most successful high school football programs in the United States. It highlights the extreme pressure, pathetic post-high school career aspirations, and utter obsession that colors the lives of the young players, several of them visibly buckling under the ridiculous expectations that the town places on their shoulders. One player is even abused out in the open by his father, a former star player himself who can't accept the harsh realities of life after football. Dillon (based on Real Life Odessa, Texas) is a Dying Town that has nothing going for it besides the Permian Panthers, and that infatuation ultimately leads to the team losing at the state finals. And it's all Truth in Television (it was based on a non-fiction book), as anyone from Texas and the rural South could attest to, especially in the withering boomtowns and oilfields that stretch all across central Texas.
  • Law Abiding Citizen
    • Whether intentionally or not, It's basically a movie about a Super Villain who suffered great personal tragedy and is now trying to bring down the justice system that failed him. There's no superheroes, no setpieces, and his plan ultimately fails thanks to Nick figuring the last bomb's location out. And he only was able to do that because Clyde accidentally killed Nick's assistant, whose boyfriend happened to have access to the right information, but wasn't willing to risk his job. Until his girlfriend, ostensibly just a woman who got Stuffed into the Fridge, was killed by Clyde.
      • Though it's not explicitly noted, Nick's assistant is just one of several people who are blown up by Clyde. The only reason she can be considered Stuffed into the Fridge is because she had a name and character development and a slightly more dramatic death than everyone else. Clyde left her for last just to mess with Nick.
    • Alternatively, it's a deconstruction of revenge thrillers. Instead of reveling in the Vigilante Man pursuing his own brand of justice, once he quickly succeeds in Slowly Slipping Into Evil we find ourselves rooting for the people within the system trying to put a stop to his out-of-control Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Funny Games is intended as a Post Modernist deconstruction of Gorn and horror films by presenting it in the most bare-bones and disturbing way possible. The whole film forces the viewer to examine why they are watching the film and being entertained by it. A number of scenes play with audience expectations, flatly telling the audience what they want to see and either giving it to them or denying it to them based on the whim of the author. One particularly taunting scene features the female victim managing to gun down one of the attackers, only for this triumphantly cathartic moment to be snatched away as the other attacker rewinds the film and undoes it.
  • The Guns of Navarone deconstructs the "crack military team sent behind enemy lines" genre, what with the characters questioning the morality of the means they use to complete the mission or even the mission's relevance.
    • Mallory is perfectly aware that the steps he takes to complete the mission are often immoral.
    • Miller's deadpan snarking is his only defense to the madness of war.
    • "Butcher" Brown has post-traumatic stress and is unable to kill enemy soldiers, putting the entire team at risk.
  • The Element of Crime deconstructs Film Noir (a genre already quite dark and cynical) by pushing some of the tropes to their limits, and by turning the others on their head (thus, the Private Eye Monologue becomes a dialogue between the detective and his therapist, and the Deliberately Monochrome is achieved by lighting all the sets with only street lamps), and yet still manages to be a Homage rather than a Parody.
  • Night Moves (1975) is another noir deconstruction. Gene Hackman plays Harry Moseby, a pro football player-turned-private investigator. He asks a lot of questions, but rarely gets straight or complete answers. He sees a lot of things, but they're usually obscured by distance or obstacles (such as windows or screen doors) or seen only on an incomplete filmstrip. He both literally and figuratively spins in circles during the movie, and ends (as does the audience) knowing who the bad guys were but not why any of it happened. On another level the film is a deconstruction of the entire idea of American masculinity in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era; Harry's glory days are behind him, and he does what he does not because he's any good at it, or because he particularly enjoys it, but because he simply doesn't know what else to do.
  • M. Night Shyamalan presented a deconstruction of Super Hero stories with Unbreakable. The main character has no idea about the nature of his powers or about how he should use them, and the one who teaches him how to use them is the villain.
  • James Bond:
    • To a certain extent, Casino Royale (2006) deconstructs earlier Bond films, and Martini-style Spy Fiction in general, through features such as a conversation mocking the Double Entendre names of previous Bond girls, LeChiffre's comment about preferring simpler methods of torture to the Death Traps endemic to the series, having Bond respond "Do I look like I give a damn?" when asked how he wants his martini, and generally treating his profession as an assassin more literally. His Cowboy Cop attitude is scrutinized more ruthlessly and his interactions with his allies sometimes prove fatal for them. At least some of these features were present in the original novels, making the film something of a Reconstruction as well.
    • Bond movies have always had a tension in the character of Bond, between "flashy guy with clever lines, cool toys, and beautiful women", and "cold, ruthless assassin." Casino Royale (2006) and its sequel, Quantum of Solace, push the dial almost all the way towards the "assassin" element, but it was present in most of the earlier Bond films (particularly the Timothy Dalton films), as well as being Bond's whole character in the original novels.
    • Skyfall and Spectre take the Deconstruction aspects even further by literally and figuratively asking on whether Bond is even relevant in a Post Cold War era of cyber espionage. The movies ultimately concludes that he is and Bond is Reconstructed even more so than before.
  • Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Jingi Naki Tatakai) is a deconstruction of the Yakuza films popular in Japan around the same time, which tended to portray the Yakuza as a chivalrous, honorable organization of Blood Brothers. In the film, besides the main character, they're money-grubbing, backstabbing, treacherous, and vicious. Every vow of brotherhood or loyalty has been violated and the time-honored traditions of the Yakuza seem ludicrous, outmoded, or just plain crazy. The name of the film demonstrates this - "Jingi" is the term for the Yakuza code of honor.
  • The Wrestler is a deconstruction of sports movies in which the fallen and ailing sporting hero's Redemption Quest is to triumph against physical adversity and win a big bout against an old rival, which thus solves his current problems and allows him to move on with their lives with renewed success and appreciation from the fans. Here, what would be the subject of such a quest in such movies - a big reunion bout with his main rival in the past - in fact isn't; Randy's real Redemption Quest is to build a new life for himself outside of the ring by fixing things with his estranged daughter and find love with Cassidy, the stripper with whom he has fallen in love. He ultimately fails at both, and the fact that he enters the big bout is in fact a symbol of his failure in this. Although he wins the bout, it's strongly implied that his heart problems mean that the effort killed him in the process. In addition, his victory was inevitable, as all wrestling duels are shown to be scripted, and Randy is still a beloved All-American Face who just can't lose.
    • Not only that, but there is no real animosity between Randy and his old rival, The Ayatollah. The people he has real problems with are those outside the ring. In fact, during their match, The Ayatollah tries to help Randy when he realizes that he's having a heart attack.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind deconstructs Romance movies by having nearly the entire movie take place after the honeymoon period of a new relationship when things start to fall apart. In fact, the thesis of the movie is effectively "romance can be so horrible that you will want to have your memory erased but when you add it all up, they're probably worth the angst".
  • Park Chan-Wook's "Vengeance" trilogy, which includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is very much a deconstruction of the revenge film. This is most true in the first film, in which all the violence committed only leads to further despair.
  • Pleasantville deconstructs the stereotypical 1950s Leave It to Beaver style sitcom, and with it the whole phenomenon of 1950s nostalgia; it starts off as a typically wholesome, innocent and carefree place (especially when contrasted to the 1990s, a lengthy opening montage reeling out all the social problems seemingly endemic since the 1950s), but the introduction of color into the black-and-white environment gradually peels things back to reveal the stifling and repressed attitudes towards race, gender and sexuality seething under the surface, and the social problems of the decade that such nostalgia frequently overlooks.
    • The movement to stop the spread of color in Pleasantville is analogous to McCarthyism.
      • The movie is a double deconstruction as the 90's free spirit girl is shown to be just as one dimensional, in that she never really cares for anything, and only when she does can she be part of a fully realized world.
  • Both The Long Goodbye and The Big Lebowski are deconstructions of film noir, specifically Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe stories, although Lebowski is also played for laughs. In both films, the protagonist is more or less a loser who lives by himself and comes to the wrong conclusion at the end of the case, but it's not a big deal since it never really mattered in the first place.
  • The film Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue is arguably one for the Kamen Rider series, showing a much more realistic and gruesome look at the themes of forced genetic engineering, Phlebotinum Rebellion, and giant bug people that were present through the franchise's Showa era.
  • Whereas Unforgiven was Clint Eastwood's deconstruction of westerns, Gran Torino, which came out about a decade and a half later, is his deconstruction of his other big genre, the urban vigilante film.
  • Gamer is a particularly nasty deconstruction of First Person Shooters and social simulators like The Sims, with actual people being controlled by players as avatars for the games. The "Society" game is a very sickening take on Rule 34 and Second Life due to the above reason.
  • The Final, a 2010 indie horror film, kills two birds with one stone by deconstructing both the "nerds get revenge on the bullies" plot and the "psycho classmate" plot. The outcasts don't want the simple comical revenge that so many such teen movie protagonists desire - they actually want the bullies to suffer (through torture) the way they've been made to suffer throughout their school years. The "psycho classmates" are not simple outcasts with your average Freudian Excuse - it's implied they were generally good people whose crappy home lives, coupled with years of abuse from the bullies, turned them into the dark characters they are in the film. Indeed, they try to make sure that Kurtis, a friend who was nice to them, doesn't go to their "party," and they don't torture people who didn't actively abuse them. The film then takes another deconstruction of the bullies themselves - Bridget, the Alpha Bitch's best friend, tries to reach out to one of the outcasts, and gets offered a chance to save herself if she tortures one of her classmates. The stereotypical Libby would've gladly taken up the offer, but she refuses and is punished for it. The film cleverly shows that neither the bullies nor the outcasts are all that good.
  • Rebel Without a Cause deconstructs Teens Are Monsters films so prevalent in the 50's. The teens get into trouble seemingly out of boredom.
  • "Stahlnetz" ("Steel Net") , a German series of Made-for-TV crime movies, deconstructs Police Procedural. The officers are people with their own problems and shortcomings, far from being neatly divided into squeaky clean and corrupt bastards. The criminals are also realistic, many being bullied, pushed or outright coerced into crime while still being definitely bad people, whereas others are monsters, despite looking like ordinary people on the outside. Victims also come with their share of problems, some being an Asshole Victim, others being punished for being nice. The police solves cases through hard work, including setbacks, rather than beating half the underworld. And despite each film finishing with the crime resolved and criminals caught, the realistic portrayal of both the criminals and victims means most films have a Bittersweet Ending, if not a Downer. (Ironically the only story with a (relatively) Happy Ending is also the most brutal of all).
  • Heathers is a rather bitter deconstruction of the popular John Hughes style teen movies at the time. The bad boy the heroine lusts after is actually a disturbed psycho who lures the heroine into his scheme to murder the popular kids and he even tries to blow up the school and pass it off as a group suicide. She isn't happy to be part of the popular kids and it's actually that which makes her want to murder them. Also the Girl Posse aren't the cookie cutter bad guys with one of them being bulimic and sick of being a butt monkey while another genuinely contemplates suicide.
  • Mighty Joe Young (at least the 1998 version) deconstructs King Kong (1933). The ape isn't an island-dwelling monster, but an otherwise normal African gorilla with extreme giantism. The female lead has more in common with Dian Fossey then the screaming damsel in distress of Kong. And when Joe finally does go on his "rampage" it's because he's confronted with the poacher that killed his mother.
  • Scanners sets up a fairly standard Hero's Journey, as Cameron Vale, blessed with Psychic Powers, is sent by wise old Dr. Paul Ruth to defeat Ruth's former pupil, Darryl Revok, who also has Psychic Powers. Vale befriends a white-haired girl, Kim Obrist, who can help him infiltrate Revok's organization. Not unsurprisingly, it is revealed that both Cameron and Darryl are the two sons of Paul. With us so far? And then Darryl points out what kind of father would abandon his sons like that, and weaponize one against the other, and, indeed, would test a potentially dangerous new drug on his pregnant wife, thus making Cameron and Darryl psychic in the first place. "That was Daddy." Also, the psychic stuff is disgusting and creepy: scanning is presented not as a graceful and mystical power, but as a painful and unpleasant "merging of two nervous systems". The process is as unpleasant for the the person being scanned (who suffer from headaches and nosebleeds at best, and can have their hearts stopped and heads exploded at worst) and the scanners themselves who suffer severe social and psychological side effects from hearing other peoples thoughts (the main character starts the movie homeless, and another scanner murdered his family when he was a child). Ruth's dream of a scanner utopia turns out to be Not So Different from Revok's scanner-supremacy idea, as observed by Vale. Meanwhile, Cam and Kim never fall in love, as would be expected, because they're too scared for their lives.
  • The 1991 film The Dark Backward contains an animated sequence that deconstructs the Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tom's Captain Ersatz gleefully pursues Jerry's, hatchet in hand, and then cuts him in half with it (guts spill); then Spike's Captain Ersatz appears and blows the cat's brains out (literally) with a shotgun. The main character's mother laughs out loudly at this scene.
  • The 2008 movie JCVD is a deconstruction of Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, as an out-of-luck delusional actor as opposed to the real-life moderately successful actor. Read the synopsis here.
  • One could argue that the first live action Scooby-Doo movie deconstructed the gang's main quirks. In the cartoon, Daphne often became the Designated Victim, but took it in stride, even cracking a quip about it occasionally. In the movie, however, she openly despises the fact that she's "always the damsel in distress", and this combined with the fact that she blames it on the "incompetence" of the others makes her the most bitter and reluctant to get the gang back together. Velma was always the smart girl, but the movie portrays her as an under-appreciated Insufferable Genius. Fred was the de facto leader of Mystery Inc, and as such was often the voice of reason. The movie shows him as a literal Only Sane Man who struggles to keep the conflicting personalities of the team from getting out of hand - and that's when he's not being portrayed as an insensitive jerk. Surprisingly, Shaggy and Scooby are actually almost identical to their cartoon incarnations but in the second movie, they become deconstructed as well; Their cowardly and clumsy behavior causes the team to see them as a burden, and when they found it out, they try their hardest to improve themselves. Of course, it ends up bad and when the team is exiled from their hometown, Shaggy's self-esteem is at rock bottom.
  • The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc: The Milla Jovovich version plays out the way the true Joan of Arc story went until she is captured by the English, at which point it deconstructs the entire mythology surrounding Joan of Arc.
  • Saturday Night Fever harshly deconstructs America's hedonistic take on life in The '70s. Sure, there were beautiful clothes, music, and lots of dancing, but there was a dark side to the life led by such people as Tony and his friends. For example, Tony, who turns to hedonism as a way to cope with his own life as a lower-class Brooklyn guy with a really Dysfunctional Family, has no thought for the future (and the culture as a whole didn't either), and his friends are involved with drugs, drinking, and casual sex which causes them huge problems.
  • Scream (1996), of course, was a deconstruction of the slasher horror film genre, with almost all of its characters being Genre Savvy and talking about what would happen next if this were a slasher film. This was done so successfully that "deconstructing the slasher genre" became a genre of its own.
  • You're Next goes even further than Scream did in deconstructing the Slasher Movie. The villains aren't murdering the family For the Evulz like in other slashers, but actually have a motive; namely, monetary gain. While their first few kills go exactly as planned, they eventually start making minor fuck-ups that lead to their plan ultimately failing; the only reason why they have any success in the first place is because the plan was an inside job. The attackers are not invincible monsters, just normal humans. Wearing a Halloween mask to commit a crime, however scary it makes you look, is also seen to be fatally impractical, as breathing is difficult and peripheral vision is cut off entirely. Likewise, they're seen reacting normally to pain, with one stepping on a wooden plank with nails hammered into it needing assistance from his partners-in-crime to escape. Also, this is one of the few slashers where the would-be victims actively defend themselves from their tormentors.
  • Before School Days, The Beguiled (starring Clint Eastwood) showed why taking advantage of a bunch of ready and willing teenage girls is a bad idea.
  • The 2003 adaption of Daredevil deconstructs a lot of elements found in comic book adaptions. Due to his vigilante lifestyle, Matt is in extreme pain from fighting, nurses multiple broken bones and nasty scars on his body, munches down painkillers regularly, and is frequently absent from work. His super senses mean that he needs a sensory deprivation tank to sleep, his refusal to handle guilty or dishonest clients means that his law firm is constantly struggling, and he is dealing with a wreck of a personal life. Which is to say nothing of the fact that the poor guy is so miserable and downbeaten by life he can barely muster the energy to keep going.
  • Seven Samurai deconstructed the samurai mythos. Samurai aren't allowed to change occupations so they sell their services or (like the bandits) resort to crime.
  • Snow White: A Tale of Terror deconstructs the original fairytale characters and especially the Disney film. Claudia starts out as a loving woman who wants to bond with her new stepdaughter, but Lilli shies away from her and that ends up leading to Claudia's Face–Heel Turn. Also, the miners aren't cheerful dwarves, but outcasts from the kingdom.
  • 28 Days Later "does not actually deconstruct" the Zombie Apocalypse genre. The fact that the zombies aren't actually dead but rather infected with a "rage virus" that takes hold instantly (preventing the token Zombie Infectee) and runs doesn't change the fact that the film follows the typical tropes of a Romero zombie-flick: A small group of survivors trying to adapt to their new world and other humans being a much more dangerous threat than the zombies. Quentin Tarantino criticized director Danny Boyle for claiming to not have been inspired by Romero for those reasons, noting the similarities between the last act of 28 Days Later and Day of the Dead (1985), but it bears pointing out that, as illustrated by the DVD Special Features, the film's ending was originally envisioned much differently, so this could have been an honest case of two great minds thinking alike.
  • Cloverfield deconstructs what Kaiju monster flicks had become over the decades by instead of focusing on the monster pounding other monsters' faces in or wrecking the military, you're given the perspective from ordinary people trapped in the crossfire... which makes one realize how horrific the bog-standard giant-monster movie plot would be if it really happened, accidentally reconstructing the original Godzilla in the process.
  • The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy can be viewed as a deconstruction of the Original Trilogy. The OT was standard Space Opera with all of its tropes played straight. The PT, however, is far more morally complex and ambiguous. In Revenge of the Sith, every victory that the heroes attained in the previous two films (and for the first part of that one) was in fact the villain's plan all along. Anakin becomes a near perfect deconstruction of the Messianic Archetype. Obi-Wan's bold statement of "Only the Sith speak in absolutes" is the exact opposite of what everything else in the film depicts about the nature of the Sith and Jedi and their worldviews.
  • Easy Rider deconstructs the biker genre. At best the bikers are just harmless drifters but the people of the towns they visit regard them as menaces. They are both killed in the end by a trucker, seemingly for kicks.
  • Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is one for Hillbilly Horrors, featuring the rural hicks as the heroes and the college kids as the villains. However, it's also a partial Reconstruction, since Chad, the actual villain of the movie, is revealed to actually be an evil hillbilly who turns into a crazed killer by the end. He just doesn't stereotypically look like one. His origin story, in which his crazy hillbilly father raped his mother (resulting in his conception), is a straight example.
  • My Best Friend's Wedding deconstructs the romantic comedy genre by initially appearing to follow the standard romance plot of a female protagonist trying to win the man of her dreams from the Romantic False Lead's clutches, only to have its protagonist come to realize that she is actually the Romantic False Lead, the man she thought she could win back is genuinely in love with the woman she thought was the Romantic False Lead and vice versa, and her Zany Schemes to break them up weren't cute or endearing but incredibly petty and mean-spirited.
  • Critics such as John G. Cawelti have argued that Chinatown is all about deconstructing the "myth" of Film Noir and the Hardboiled Detective. Gittes isn't a tough, emotionally detached private eye, but rather a vulnerable, flawed Anti-Hero. Evelyn isn't a Femme Fatale, but everyone assumes she is (in part because of the misogynistic value system underpinning 1930s California). And the villain is so rich, powerful and influential that Gittes is ultimately powerless to stop him or his conspiracy. And so on.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy for Batman in particular and the Superhero Tropes in general.
  • The Cabin in the Woods deconstructs not only the horror movie genre, but the horror movie industry. The Ancient Ones, a race of Eldritch Abominations that live beneath the Earth, are only satisfied by sacrifices that follow a specific set of rules - have five victims who follow familiar archetypes, have a Harbinger of Impending Doom warn them of what's to come, kill the Whore first, give the Virgin a chance to survive, and of course, make it bloody and sleazy - and they throw a fit whenever "the rules" aren't followed. In short, they're the great mass of mainstream moviegoers who demand familiarity rather than anything that pushes creative boundaries. The scientists, meanwhile, are horror filmmakers who've grown bored supplying the same old pablum to the Ancient Ones, and long to put a twist on their usual work, for once.
    • Driving this idea home further, it's shown that every part of the world has its own Ancient Ones, with their respective tastes corresponding to the horror movies popular in the places they're from. In Japan, for instance, the sacrifice resembles something out of a J-horror movie like The Ring, with a classroom full of schoolgirls tormented by a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl.
  • Die Hard
    • The first Die Hard deconstructed action films that were in vogue in the '80s. John McClane is not a squeaky clean family man. John is outnumbered and cannot just go around shooting bad guys by himself ("'Cause then you'd be dead too, asshole!"). John is not Made of Iron and is visibly in pain as the movie continues, and by the end he's been badly bruised and is just happy to still be alive. Furthermore, in spite of everything he achieved, nothing improved for him. His relationship with his estranged ex-wife Holly and his kids didn't miraculously get better, and he ends up getting no recognition for his accomplishments.
    • This is a major criticism about the later sequels. In the first film, McClane is very nearly stopped by bare feet and broken glass. By number four, he's become a conventional and cliche Action Hero.
  • Super is yet another movie asking "What would a superhero be like in real life?" The answer is "Travis Bickle."
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier deconstructs Spy Fiction. The very world environment that gave birth to espionage networks and such was nothing but a decades-long lie spread by a super-villain organization to make people scared enough to hand over their freedom on a silver platter. Everyone who lived in that world and accepted it as "necessary" was a sucker, with Captain America being the Only Sane Man who refused to accept it.
  • Cannibal Holocaust, while often regarded as the Trope Maker for the Cannibal Film and the apex of the genre, had a lot to say about the colonial Mighty Whitey conventions that often permeated similar films. Its protagonists, an American film crew who's come to the Amazon to film cannibal tribes, are wholly irredeemable jerkasses whose belief in their own superiority, combined with their desire to exploit stereotypes of native tribes for consumption back home, led them to commit all manner of horrors, with their brutal deaths at the hands of the tribesmen they'd so badly abused portrayed as righteous vengeance.
  • Neighbors deconstructed Wacky Fratboy Hijinx comedies. It shows how reasonable people would act surrounded by characters from these movies, and how the frat guys are pathetic, petty man-children who are unwilling to accept maturity. In turn the "reasonable" couple antagonize the frat boys to recapture the excitement of their youth.
  • The Full Monty deconstructed Hey, Let's Put on a Show as the men who put on a striptease for money are middle aged, out of shape and are only doing it after losing their factory jobs. It's left unanswered if their show was a success.
  • Lawrence of Arabia is often cited as the archetypical Epic Movie, even though it largely subverts the genre's conventions. The hero isn't an upright, masculine strongman but a neurotic, Ambiguously Gay genius; there's no love interest (unless you count Sherif Ali); the elements (namely the desert), and the hero's own commanding officers, are more of an obstacle than the enemy; the Arabs have their own ambitions which often run counter to Lawrence's. Even the battle scenes are marginalized, David Lean preferring Scenery Porn over bloodshed. It culminates in a Downer Ending where the protagonist gives in to mindless killing, the Arabs collapse, the British take over, and Lawrence can't even claim a moral victory).
  • Lakeview Terrace deconstructs the "neighbor from hell" genre. Chris and Lisa are terrorized by their policeman neighbor Abel. Abel, in turn, sees them as hedonists who set a bad example for the neighborhood (His children see them having sex in their pool).
  • Deep Blue Sea is fully aware it's a killer shark film, and subverts many tropes of the genre, especially the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality and Super-Persistent Predator.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture deconstructs the Original Series, showing that even in the 23rd century, despite countless advancements in science and technology, space exploration is still a dangerous business.
  • Everyone Says I Love You: Woody Allen deconstructs The Musical, by deliberately casting actors who are not trained singers, showing what it would really be like in a world where average people on the street just burst into song spontaneously. Performances range from the merely adequate to the nails-on-chalkboard.
  • Godzilla (1954) deconstructs the Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever Nuclear Nasty monster genre of the 1950s. It was originally set as your typical giant monster awaken by a nuclear testing and goes on a rampage while the main characters are trying to figure out how to defeat it to save the day. The deconstruction sets in when the director sets up the entire film as a post-war tragedy based on his horrified experience of the aftermath of Hiroshima's destruction. And thus, Godzilla is treated as a Tragic Monster and a horribly radioactive burn victim with keloid scars, a Shell-Shocked Veteran scientist who has discovered a terrifying source of energy, and the underlying message of nuclear warfare bringing tragedy just like it did nine years ago.
    • Shin Godzilla deconstructs America Saves the Day and Kaiju films. Japan's government is shown to be ill-prepared for Godzilla at any rate. Godzilla himself starts off as a clumsy bipedal thing with stubby arms that accidentally causes millions of dollars in collateral damage and unwittingly kills millions of people simply by flopping awkwardly down the street. Likewise, when he undergoes a Transformation Sequence into his third-form, his body overheats to the point where he must return to the ocean to cool off. The JSDF are unable to provide any effective weaponry against him (and, at one point, are unable to attack because an evacuation was still ongoing). When, Godzilla reappears in his fourth form, he's clearly an abomination of nature in constant agony covered in scars and various grotesque growths on his body (his tail has a vestigial head on the tip). And, when the US Military actually does manage to harm Godzilla (using armor-piercing bombs), it only succeeds in pissing Godzilla off and causes him to unleash his full fury via atomic beams from his mouth, dorsal fins, and tail demolishing a good portion of Tokyo. In the end, Japan is force to live with Godzilla (albeit in a state of suspended animation via a coagulant forced into his body) with the knowledge that the US will not hesitate to nuke the area if Godzilla ever becomes a threat again. To say that it is not an action-packed cheesy romp with giant-sized creatures would be an understatement.
  • Dead Presidents: The latter half seems to deconstruct heist movies. Despite the veterans laying out a careful plan of action, the film reminds us that This Is Reality. Thanks to all of their individual issues, the veterans prove to be ill-fit for performing a heist. As a result, almost nothing goes as planned, several innocents are killed, and all of the participants of the heist end up either dead or incarcerated.
  • Falling Down does this to the vigilante movie. William Foster is a mild-mannered white-collar worker who one day snaps in frustration at the Wretched Hive he lives in, not unlike Paul Kersey in Death Wish (the film adaptation, at leastnote )... but whereas Kersey's life was destroyed overnight by street crime run amok, Foster's trigger, the culmination of a months-long downward spiral after he was laid off from his job and his wife left him and took their daughter with her, was far more mundane, the bumper-to-bumper traffic he faced on the Los Angeles freeway in the middle of a sweltering Heat Wave with his car's AC busted. While he does go after Gang Bangers and a neo-Nazi in his rampage and give a well-deserved dressing down to a homeless Phony Veteran, he also attacks less deserving targets like an Asian Store-Owner, the staff of a fast-food restaurant, a group of construction workers, and ultimately his ex-wife for various petty reasons. Worse, it's strongly hinted through the Happier Home Movie we see of him and his family together that Foster always had issues with anger management, which had been poisoning his relationships and personal life even before things went downhill. Foster is ultimately presented as something more akin to a Spree Killer than an avenging angel, and by the time the film is over, Sergeant Prendergast has spelled it out, in unambiguous terms, to both him and the audience: he's the bad guy.
  • Get Carter was intended to be this to the British gangster movie, and then ironically it became a classic of the same genre it was deconstructing. Watching The Italian Job (1969) and then Get Carter, which Michael Caine made back-to-back, really highlights the stark difference in their portrayals of gangsters: in the former and many other British crime films before it, gangsters are all either stupid or funny; in Get Carter, gangsters are not stupid, and they are certainly not funny. Jack Carter is a remorseless, cold-blooded killing machine motivated purely by revenge against other murdering sleaze-mongers who are Not So Different from him - and thus he comes across as an Anti-Hero. Deaths are treated matter-of-factly and there is little blood or drama (the one time blood is used copiously it's for maximum shock effect), the setting swaps glitzy London for bleak Newcastle, and there's no cheery pop soundtrack (or indeed any soundtrack at all) that defined previous flicks in the genre.


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