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Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped / Film

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  • 12 Years a Slave, much like Django Unchained, holds nothing back in showing just how gut-wrenchingly horrific slavery was and what life was like for slaves under it. Given how many people still try to downplay its effects and horrors, it's an important message.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front: The people on the other side of war are just as human as you are. Also, War Is Hell.
  • American History X. Racism is bad. End of story, and that's including racism by black people (and other minorities) against white people, not just the racism of white people (or whoever happens to be dominant) toward black people. If someone is a racist, he's racist, no matter which ethnic group he belongs to, and that's wrong.
  • The American President presents some very clear messages about maintaining the trust of your constituents when you hold public office, the tension that results when a public figure wishes to continue living a personal life, and not letting insecurity distract you from doing the right things.
    • Public figures do have a responsibility to live up to certain ideals. However, those ideals are intentionally broadly defined in order to accommodate a wide spectrum of beliefs. Constituents must be willing to accept that not everyone conforms to their specific point of view while still holding their leaders accountable for their actions. And no matter how noble the intent may be, any protest movement can be abused by powerful people acting solely for their own interests.
    • Public leadership decisions should not be driven by the desire to maintain one's popularity. A leader has the responsibility to do what is right for their subjects, not what is merely appealing.
    • Citizenship is an invested state of being. If the people want responsible leaders, they have to be willing to challenge those leaders when they step out of bounds. At the same time, citizens must remain conscious of the fact that maintaining responsible leadership requires them to stay informed and involved in the political process, lest everything they cherish be taken from them.
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  • In Any Given Sunday, the audience is given the message about how dangerously cult-like the sport American Football is; and how athletes suffer and kill themselves just to give the American people violent entertainment like the Gladiators in Rome. One scene between Coach Tony and Quarterback Willie Beaman, lampshaded this when the film shows scenes of the famous chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959) while the two are arguing, including the part where the stunt man got ran over and killed.
  • Avatar manages to avoid the Science Is Bad pitfall usually associated with simple Green Aesop stories when it is science that can help the planet. The scientists in the film represent the best of humanity, who see the true value of Pandora in its forests that could be used to cure the sick Earth with various biomechanical means derived from the native plants, instead of hoarding the crude Unobtanium, the most obvious resource around. It's the Corrupt Corporate Executives who just want to make a big buck and jingoistic soldiers who seek to demonize and destroy the natives who are the actual villains of the story. The movie shows that science can be good or bad for humanity; it just depends on what kind of people use it.
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  • Await Further Instructions: Don't always believe what you see on TV and don't let fear cloud your judgement.
  • The Babadook:
    • Not every bad thing in this world can be beaten or avoided. Sometimes you just have to accept the worst and learn to be happy in spite of it.
    • Also, while bereavement and grief are real (and may never go away completely), failure to deal with those feelings can and will hurt you and those around you far more than accepting them. Pretending that those feelings aren't real (or at least aren't dangerous) only makes them fester.
  • The Back to the Future Trilogy has one that sneaks in hard with the sequels, beginning with Part II:
    • Your destiny is never set in stone. You can shape it to turn out however you want it to be. For a villainous example, just look how 2015!Biff bringing the sports almanac back to 1955!Biff sets off a chain reaction that rewrites Lone Pine Mall!1985 into a nightmarish alternate universe that would make Mordor green with envy.
    • For a good example in the first movie, Marty helping his father develop a backbone means his parents have a more loving relationship in the future and his father publishes the stories he previously thought wouldn't be good.
    • Parts II and III makes sure to let the viewers know that pride can get the best of you. As long as you're comfortable with yourself, it shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks.
    • Also, your parents were kids or teens at one point as well, who saw similar or the same problems you face in your own youth.
  • The climactic courtroom speech in Big Daddy: Fathers need to be there for their sons. Not as big brothers or babysitters or best pals, but as fathers. It's a pretty trite lesson - and one that sounds more than a little odd coming from Adam Sandler's mouth - but it packs a punch in-universe as well as out because it's a lesson Sonny Koufax himself needs to learn, and has resisted learning for over half his life. And on that note, Big Daddy is proof both that it's never too late to grow up and that sometimes honest reflection will help to change one's behavior in ways that all the scolding in the world won't do.
  • Blackkklansman shows how white supremacists can sanitize their language to avoid suspicion infiltrate society. Most notably, the Grand Wizard David Duke, while every bit an unapologetic racist, deliberately hides his more overt racism behind a family-friendly facade to avoid the suspicions of the police.
  • Blood Diamond emphasizes that even people who've engaged in evil have the potential to consciously choose good and redeem themselves. This is shown in the film through a real-life home for former child soldiers which, through kind treatment, gives them a chance at a normal life.
  • The Breakfast Club is timeless because it teaches the value of viewing teenagers not as subhuman but as individuals worthy of at least a modicum of respect. It also teaches that behind the facades we all have that seem to separate us into neat little cliques, we are all, at heart, complex and complicated humans with the potential to be anything, both positive and negative.
  • Brokeback Mountain emphasizes that gay people are just as capable of romantic love as any straight person, and for depicting the very real pain caused by the closet — not just Jack and Ennis, but everyone around them, are made miserable and complicit in the lie that the two are forced to live.
  • Bruce Almighty: The movie drops several important anvils:
    • You are the only one responsible for your own life and you shouldn't expect an apology if you believe that you're being tortured by an unknown and untameable force. Life is about learning from bad experiences and how you can respond to those challenges and tragedies, rather than wallowing in self-pity or expecting retribution/rewards for what happened to you.
    • Don't act like you can be a better leader; you wouldn't cope with the pressure and responsibilities that an actual leader holds.
    • It's important to follow your religion/faith and fulfill it's practices, but you shouldn't rely on it to solve problems, hope for deus ex machinas, or claim that everything's part of a grand plan. You're only going to solve your problems if you actually stand up and do something.
    • You can't have everything you want, and hedonism has more consequences than you think.
    • As upsetting as it is, God can't say yes to every prayer, because things could turn out bad or worse. For example, Bruce granting everyone's prayers to win the state lottery results in thousands of winners receiving $17 each. This ended up causing a major riot over accusations that the lottery is rigged. If Bruce only allowed one person to win, everyone else would have been bummed out that they had lost but they would have accepted it with no problem.
    • It's best to help people in small ways than to help them in large ways because it will damage your goodwill and people will depend on you/manipulate you by treating you as a crutch.
  • Bulworth is an angry satire of the American Democratic Party's 90's Liberalism, where they more or less left little room for agency in the new political spectrum to the poor and marginalized, with politicians courting minority votes despite not doing anything to ameliorate their problems, by blackmailing them by noting they have no other real alternatives.
    Angry black woman: Are you sayin' the Democratic Party don't care about the African-American community?
    Bulworth: Isn't that obvious? You got half your kids are out of work and the other half are in jail. Do you see any Democrat doing anything about it? Certainly not me! So what're you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you're not gonna vote Republican! Let's call a spade a spade!
  • But I'm a Cheerleader: Despite the film's cute and fluffy visual aesthetic, it drops a much-needed anvil against the use of "straight camps", which are anything but cute and fluffy in real life.
  • From the Professional Wrestling Documentary Card Subject to Change, as a subtrope of Squick. The scene of Corvis Fear injecting himself with steroids is pretty tough to watch, as it should be.
  • Many films made during World War II, with Casablanca being a good example of a work which is explicitly patriotic yet never stops being entertaining.
  • The David DeFalco film Chaos went with "the world can be heartless, and true evil can sometimes win". This led to a lot to a lot of arguments between DeFalco and the critics, most prominently Roger Ebert:
    DeFalco: Mr. Ebert, how do you want 21st century evil to be portrayed in film and in the media? Tame and sanitized? Titillating and exploitive? Or do you want evil portrayed as it really is? 'Ugly, nihilistic and cruel', as you say our film does it?
    Ebert: In a time of dismay and dread, is it admirable for filmmakers to depict pure evil? Have 9/11, suicide bombers, serial killers and kidnappings created a world in which the response of the artist must be nihilistic and hopeless? At the end of your film, after the other characters have been killed in sadistic and gruesome ways, the only survivor is the one who is evil incarnate, and we hear his cold laughter under a screen that has gone dark. Your answer, that the world is evil and therefore it is your responsibility to reflect it, is no answer at all, but a surrender.
  • Chicago:
    • The film drops plenty of anvils on the American media's glorification of criminals, especially at the finale. Not only does the media elevate Velma and Roxie to celebrity status, they completely ignore innocent (albeit dimwitted) people like Amos. Not so subtly put, the message is that media inevitably glorifies criminals, leaving the innocent in the dust. Matron Mama Morton not-so-subtly lampshades this fact— "In this town, murder is a form of entertainment."
    • It also has some stern things to say about racism - it's strongly implied that Ekaterina, the only prisoner who claims to be not guilty, was arrested, convicted and executed largely because she was a foreigner with poor English (she's also the only one hanged, likely because of this).
  • Cloud Atlas: Big time. The movie (and book) as a whole is a call for human beings to treat each other with more compassion, but each segment denounces a specific evil:
    • The Ewing segment is a massive Take That! against colonialism and Social Darwinism.
    • The Frobisher segment is a battle of wills between a villainous Nietzsche Wannabe (who produces art because he wants to be remembered as a great man) and a sympathetic The Anti-Nihilist (who produces art because it's his way to keep the darkness at bay).
    • The Luisa Rey segment is a criticism of crooked corporate capitalism and sexism.
    • The Cavendish segment criticizes ageism.
    • The Somni segment is an epic Take That! against consumer capitalism.
    • The Zachry segment is the last stand of civilization against barbarism.
  • Come and See: No matter how good intentions you may have had going into it, war will eat away your innocence and sanity to the point that your original intentions would be worthless and Florya, the main character, only comes off as sympathetic in the end by realizing that at one point even Hitler had been innocent.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
    • The Dark Knight's story was mostly taken from the famed comic "The Killing Joke," where the Joker wants to prove that anyone can have a bad day and turn into someone like him. The comic rides on the aesop that personal choice and free will is an individual trait, that everyone will not do the same thing in the same situation. It even adds that while one person can become a symbol, whenever you try to force moral change, people will fight you. For Batman, the mobs resisted his war against them. For the Joker, civilians and criminals alike refused to play by his "social experiment." Also, you don't bow to fear. Every time Gotham goes along with the Joker's demands, something terrible happens. Every time they resist him, the outcome is a good one.
    • The Dark Knight Rises was all about how strength of character is not derived from the inability to feel negative emotions like fear or pain, but from the ability to march on despite these feelings.
  • The Day After showed in explicit detail what would happen to the survivors of a nuclear war between the US and the USSR and how, in such an event there would be no plausible way for anybody to come out as winners. The message was impossible to miss, and given how truthful the depictions were, vitally important: The catastrophic events you have witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike against the United States. And it worked! Soon after The Day After (and Threads, an equivalent film in England) was released, various nations started talking seriously about disarmament, instead of making more ridiculous plans to "win" a nuclear war. Ronald Reagan even sent the producers a note after the 1985 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed, stating "You caused this to happen."
  • There's nothing at all subtle about the original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). The entire film is an indictment against trigger-happy paranoia; at the conclusion, Klaatu delivers An Aesop in no uncertain terms. There's no irony or ambiguity, only sincere, earnest urgency — and it works.
  • The point of The Deer Hunter is to drive in the point that War Is Hell. It was also the first such work of fiction (an anti-Vietnam War work of fiction) that also showed that the soldiers going into 'Nam were full human beings with full human emotions and human lives with families, loved ones, friends, etc. These were the boys next door who went into war to serve their country only to come back as broken, forgotten men. Given that the film was released less than ten years from when some were calling servicemen demonic baby killers, this was an admirable thing to accomplish (without losing sight of the "War Is Hell" message).
  • DC Extended Universe shows no hesitation dropping the anvil no matter the size.
    • In Man of Steel, Superman has no choice but to snap Zod's neck after realizing that he is beyond redemption. This of course causes Superman to be extremely distraught and would never be the same again. While it certainly was controversial scene, many fans praised this scene for showing that sometimes, the solutions will be bloody and ugly for kind-hearted people like Superman.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:
      • This film shows how people can be treated as a bad person despite being kind to others. For instance, Batman misunderstood Superman as a genuine threat to the society after seeing the capitol being bombed by none other than Lex Luthor.
      • Every men were once good and can be redeemed. Batman was clearly shown to jump off the slippery slope as his moral became more twisted due to Superman to the point Alfred had to warn him about the potential consequences of his actions. Obviously, Batman denied such claims, but when he was about to kill Superman, he was able to come back to his senses after learning that Superman shared the same name of his mother, signifying that Superman just wants to save his mom like how Batman always wished to do. Even Lex Luthor is portrayed with a degree of sympathy and as someone who became the way he did due to horrific childhood abuse.
    • Wonder Woman reveals the message of how human beings have equal potential to be good and evil, that all of the world's suffering can't be fixed by "getting rid of the bad guy", is quite literally spelled out in an almost child-like way. However, they're good messages, and make the important distinction that evil can't be vanquished, but that The Power of Love does have the potential to at least overcome it.
    • SHAZAM! (2019) makes it clear that being a true family isn't about being related to blood, but from the feeling of love. Although Billy was able to meet his real mother, he realized that while he still loves his real mom, he failed to look at the fact that the foster kids he lived with was also his family and that they really did care for him. As a result, it was one of the main factors why Shazam inherited his powers to Billy's foster siblings.
    • Justice League and Zack Snyder's Justice League: "You can't save the world alone."
  • The Defiant Ones stars Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier as two convicts, handcuffed to each other, who escape a chain gang and are forced to rely on each other to survive. By the time they manage to break the cuffs, their antipathy toward each other has turned into mutual respect. The obvious anvil, and one very much in need of dropping in the late 50s when this film debuted, is that white and black people are pretty much stuck with each other so we'd better learn to get along if we want to survive.
  • Demolition Man goes on about how important it is to have free will in society. John Spartan, Edgar Friendly, and even Simon Phoenix all can't stand Dr. Raymond Cocteau's highly-restrictive society.
  • Disclosure: No, rape is not okay when it's a woman on man. Not even if the woman is his ex-flame and the man is a reputed horn dog.
  • District 9 has plenty of messages about racism: Refugees and minorities deserve respect, racism is bad, the Apartheid is monstrous, and racist people are capable of finding enough humanity within themselves to find redemption (which is a rare anvil to drop, indeed, as some viewers treat bigotry as a Moral Event Horizon on its own and become angry when such characters redeem themselves).
  • It would seem that the aesop of Django Unchained — slavery was bad — should go without saying. But it's the sheer crushing weight of the anvil that makes it work so well. Besides using actual tortures from the Antebellum South, the film shows just why so many people were fighting to keep slavery around, and just how monstrous it made everyone involved.
  • Dogma tries hard to emphasize the need for "faith," but never defines this. The protagonists do help in illustrating faith as the conviction to do right over the temptation to do wrong. The point gets across, but weakly, since it creates a strawman of the Catholic Church as a "bad" example of organized religion (by invoking that all Christianity Is Catholic) to do so.
  • The purpose of Downfall, according to the director, is to make the Nazis feel human and not just monsters one can dismiss as nothing like oneself. Also, War Is Hell and when allowed to continue without regard for civilian casualties it can effectively destroy society, period.
  • Dr. Strangelove showed us that the "arms race" may as well be a bunch of sexually-frustrated men trying to outdo each other. And for that matter, the "missile gap" is about as silly as a "Doomsday Gap" or a "Mineshaft Gap." It also shows that once a nuclear war starts, there is no way to stop it.
  • Enemy Mine is not exactly subtle in its message about overcoming prejudice and the importance of working together in the face of adversity. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Fail Safe is the serious version of Dr. Strangelove, and actually depicts the horror of a nuclear attack, as it has both Moscow and New York City getting blown-up.
  • Fargo: No matter what your circumstances are, trying to solve them by criminal means is a stupid, stupid thing to do, and crime simply doesn't pay. Jerry's life wasn't the best, but his hare-brained scheme to solve his financial problems through a staged kidnapping made him lose everything: his family, his career, and his freedom.
  • Frank put celebrity culture in a less glamorous perspective. Too often the ones we consider to be creative geniuses are often just lucky outcasts incapable of conforming to social standards. How many actors do you know have autism or dyslexia? How many comedians do you know suffer from depression?
  • An in-universe example occurs in Galaxy Quest — "Never give up! Never surrender!" — as well as the various anvils dropped by the movie itself. Lampshaded at various points by the Thermians.
  • The 1947 film Gentleman's Agreement is a very anvil-heavy attack on anti-Semitism. Watching it nowadays, it's easy to miss just how controversial this was at the time.
  • Get Out (2017)
    • As unsubtle as it is, the film does everything in its power to show how racism, especially institutionalized stereotypes, turns good people into monsters and puts the subject of racism in danger, no matter how much Positive Discrimination figures into it.
    • The movie also points out that the Condescending Compassion and Positive Discrimination aspects of racism can be just as dangerous (and sometimes it can be even worse) as the racism that manifests in things like xenophobia and white supremacists.
  • Gettysburg: The people on both sides of The American Civil War were human beings, and every person who died at the Battle of Gettysburg was an American.
  • Glengarry Glen Ross:
    • In his only scene in the whole film, the motivational expert in makes a speech about what he expects from his employees: To close the deal! His whole point is that nobody gives a shit how nice you are, they care about what they can get from you.
    • The more important message David Mamet wanted to get across is that this sort of ruthlessness is often necessary in one's professional life, but it's a pretty terrible way to live the rest of it; both Word of God and the way the salesmen turn on and backstab each other in pursuit of business support this. The large Misaimed Fandom around Baldwin's character shows what can happen when you don't drop a big enough anvil.
  • Godzilla:
    • The original Godzilla derives a large part of its power from its explicit and not remotely subtle anti-nuclear/atomic-weapons message. While the giant dinosaur is something of a Space Whale Aesop, the sheer devastation wrought by the monster was intentionally evocative of the aftermath of a nuclear bomb or the aftermath of Hiroshima, showing exactly what one does every time they let a weapon of mass destruction loose.
    • Godzilla vs. Hedorah provides the very straightforward message that pollution is a huge danger to not only humans, but all life as well... And that we must all work together to stop it.
  • Good Night, and Good Luck. portrays its villain as an unspeakably corrupt madman who will stop at nothing to ruin his enemies' lives. The villain is McCarthy himself, who's played by archive footage of himself. You can't argue with an anvil that falls out of a story that actually happened (unless, like some test audiences, you believe that the person playing McCarthy was overacting to the point of ridicule).
  • Gran Torino gives us more than a few. First, there's the lesson that killing someone isn't "cool", but a traumatic experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Second, fighting violence with violence is pointless.
  • When Director John Ford first started work on The Grapes of Wrath, he sent detectives to determine if the Crapsack World of the Depression had hit the Okies as bad as John Steinbeck's unapologetically socialist work made it seem. The detectives reported that the situation was actually worse than that.
  • It's hard to name a Charlie Chaplin film which doesn't drop one or more. The Great Dictator is probably one of the oldest films to drop such a colossal anvil: Those Wacky Nazis are bad. It was made when that anvil really did need to be dropped. In fact, Chaplin stated had he known about the Holocaust, he'd have never made the film.
  • Eli Roth's The Green Inferno turned out to be divisive due to him specifically making a big fat stab at Social Justice Warrior/Slacktivist culture, but it nonetheless makes two very practical points about why reckless social activism is more dangerous than helpful: there are bad guys who are very eager to take advantage of the attitudes fueling social activism to further their own ends; and the people you are trying to "defend" may not be as innocent as you thought. Because of the characters' shortsightedness and gullibility, almost all of the group dies in the captivity of the cannibal tribe they didn't realize they were defending and The Bad Guy Wins while being made a martyr for a phony cause.
  • Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was a 1967 film depicting a marriage between a black man and a white woman. The character of Dr. John Prentice, the husband, is so mind-blowingly perfect that it borders on Positive Discrimination. But this film was released a mere six months after the US Supreme Court declared laws against interracial marriage to be unconstitutional. It should be pointed out that Prentice's perfection was a deliberate move on the part of the writers so that his race would be the only possible cause of objection to their marriage.
  • Hairspray (both versions) comes with An Aesop about racial tolerance and how anyone can achieve their dreams if they're plucky enough to Be Yourself that's so subtle-as-a-speeding-Mack-truck that it borders on parody. And yet, it comes off as refreshingly optimistic and upbeat and makes the show thoroughly enjoyable.
  • A History of Violence has an anvil that's something of a Take That! to the glorification of violence in popular media. Killing someone does not - and should not - automatically make you a hero, no matter how much they may have deserved it. Actions have consequences, and the consequences of violence are ugly and life-destroying.
  • Inherit the Wind is necessary viewing for any who thinks themselves religious and is fearful of thinking for themselves. Such wisdom in the play/film, especially as spoken by Spencer Tracy in the 1960 film, can change your life and set your spirit free:
    [challenged to say if he considers anything holy] Henry Drummond: Yes. The individual human mind. In a child's power to master the multiplication table, there is more sanctity than in all your shouted "amens" and "holy holies" and "hosannas." An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turned to snakes or the parting of the waters.
  • The Invisible War by Kirby Dick pulls no punches in showing how the United States military ignores rape and sexual assault in its ranks, even going so far as to blame the rapes on the victims.
  • Irréversible has two messages. The first one is a harsh but true one, which is "Time destroys everything", which basically meant in the film's case that sometimes the nicest day can grow terrible without warning. The second one is that revenge is ugly, and unlike in the movies doesn't usually turn out the way you want. Marcus and Pierre go on Roaring Rampage of Revenge to catch the person that raped Alex. Marcus steals a car, goes to the club where the rapist is at, gets his arm broken and almost raped till Pierre brutally kills the would-be rapist. In the end they are both arrested and there lives are forever ruined (because in real life going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge has actual consequences) and they didn't even get the right guy who was right in front of them when they attacked the wrong person.
  • The central message of It's a Wonderful Life is that You Are Not Alone. Expressed directly in the film by the inscription Clarence leaves for George: "Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends."
  • The more recent James Bond films such as GoldenEye, Spectre, and Skyfall show how 007 must adapt to an environment where enemies are more nimbler than before and to a society that doesn't understand him. Gone are the days of glorified spies in trench coats or suave ladies' men sipping martinis. In the world of espionage, hackers and data-crunchers are the new kingmakers. The films also show what a broken man Bond has to be in order to do his job as a Professional Killer and the treacherous world he's now in, considering he now has to contend with betrayals (some more personal than others) while also doing the same thing to others. On the flip side, technology is just as fallible by the people who control it, the world is still dangerous as it was before (but in a different way), and spies like Bond will always be needed (though they must adapt to the changing times). The dragon that was the Soviet Union may be gone, but in its place is a wild jungle full of lone wolves and hidden vipers seeking to fill the power vacuum.
  • Jaws stresses the importance of taking action to stop a problem from worsening, as the alternative is avoiding the problem..."Until it swims up to bite you in the ass." There is also a somewhat easy to to miss aesop about the need to collaborate and trust others instead of acting like your way of thinking is inherently better or smarter than someone else's.
  • John Q. raises questions and messages about whether or not health care in the country is truly a service to help the sick or a business just out to make money. It lays it on thick, but it's something that needed (and still needs) to be pointed out.
  • The anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun is clear, blatant and obvious in its message from the very first scene. It could not possibly be improved, certainly not by anything remotely resembling subtlety.
  • Jojo Rabbit: Love is more fulfilling than hatred. Jojo initially wanted to join the Hitler Youth because that was considered the trendy thing to do in 1940s Germany, when Jojo wasn't as inclined toward cruelty as the other Nazis were. After being ostracized by the Nazis for showing compassion and befriending the Jewish refugee Elsa, he goes through personal development. Keep in mind that when this movie came out, hate was considered fashionable, with political pundits and internet personalities attaining celebrity status for ranting against people and things they're against rather than for displaying any talent, which encouraged the masses to senselessly hate things they would otherwise have overlooked on their own.
  • Joker (2019) is pretty clear in it's messages. The first one is that society needs to take better care of mentally ill people and not just treat them like they don't matter. The second one is that people should be nicer to each other. Arthur would have never become the Joker (and by default inadvertently led Gotham into further chaos) if he had gotten the help he needed and if someone had truly cared about him instead of just mocking, humiliating, ignoring, or assaulting him, which just further drove him down to the path who he is today.
  • Joyeux Noël has a well-aimed anvil about the humanity on all sides of a war. While it couldn't be called subtle, it manages to be ethically complex and very inspiring. The fact that many of the aspects of the film that might otherwise seem unreal are based on true events from World War I makes it all the more amazing.
  • Jurassic Park basically screams "DON'T PLAY GOD, ESPECIALLY WITH MOTHER NATURE". Interestingly, the film doesn't seem to present the "science is bad" approach, either.
  • Lady and the Tramp: One of the themes of the film is animal adoption, with Jim Dear and Darling inspiring their neighbor, Jock's owner, to take in two puppies after the Dears took in Tramp. The films credits end reminding the audience that there are many dogs out there that still need a home.
  • Lakeview Terrace has the typical "interracial couple gets terrorized by a cop who abuses his authority to get away with it" plot... except the cop's actor is Samuel L. Jackson. Basically, the whole plot shows that you don't have to be a white person to be a racist, and you can be a victim of racial harassment no matter what your skin color is.
  • Clint Eastwood made the same point about the WWII Japanese in Letters from Iwo Jima, the companion piece to his American-POV movie, Flags of Our Fathers.
  • This exchange from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring sums up quite nicely the importance of making choices in one's life:
    Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
    Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.
  • Look Who's Back: The film is pretty heavy-handed in its message, true, but some may feel that it's also necessary. In a time when Hitler is becoming a figure of fun for many, the film makes it clear that no, he's anything but. Particularly given the rise of far-right groups as the film shows as well.
  • Love Actually has "even if you really are attracted to someone, and that particular someone is really attracted to you, sometimes it's just not the right time for romance. Sometimes there are overarching issues that need to be sussed out." Sara was one of the few people in the story who did not get the guy. However, she chose to take care of her mentally ill brother rather than to be with her love interest, showing that family is more important than romance. Their final interaction seemed to imply that they really are still interested in one another, but are just putting things on hold.
  • M gives us two: it's important that you watch your children and don't let them talk to strangers, and that, quoting the lawyer, "No one has the right to kill a man who is incapable of responsibility for his actions! Not even the state!"
  • A few of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films have some:
    • The films keep hammering home that your dad isn't perfect. Many the heroes come to grips with the moral shortcomings of their fathers like Odin's warmongering past or T'Chaka orphaning and abandoned his nephew. Yet our heroes still love their fathers because they still love their sons and want them to become better people.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger gives us a wonderful anvil that tells us that true power doesn't come from attaining actual strength to strong-arm everyone around you, but it comes from within, and that those who are good people will always know the true value of power. Hence why Steve Rogers managed to be a better person than he was prior to the Super Serum, and why the Red Skull, a power-hungry maniac, turned out the way he did.
    • Iron Man 3 touched numerous themes related to terrorism, including the Culture of Fear. In the words of director Shane Black: "What was of use about the Mandarin's portrayal in this movie, to me, is that it offers up a way that you can sort of show how people are complicit in being frightened."
    • Doctor Strange (2016): Near the beginning of the movie, the title character engages in a degree of distracted driving seen in Public Service Announcement advertisements. There is a warning against distracted driving at the end of the credit roll. What keeps this from being anvilicious is that the consequences - primarily the damage to the driver's hands - drive the plot immediately following the accident in a believable way, and even at the end - after going up multiple ranks on the Super Weight scale - the main character has still not recovered full use of his hands. Moreover, Strange is depicted as picking and choosing his patients based purely on whether they'll add to his reputation as a miracle worker, while untreatable or boring patients get passed over. In the third act he is offered the option to walk away and channel his power into restoring his surgical prowess, but is challenged to consider "that it's not about you." He remains in the society that is, by its nature, secret. Later, not only does he face the final no-win scenario head-on, he does so accepting that one outcome could be that nobody will ever know what he did, why, or how, or even that he didn't simply abandon everyone and disappear.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The films makes it absolutely clear that blood relations don't make a person your family. True family are the people who look after you, love you despite your faults, and are willing to make sacrifices for you. Most notably, Peter Quill's adopted father Yondu and his biological father Ego are selfish jackasses yet Yondu is Peter's real daddy since he sacrifices himself to save Peter whereas Ego saw Peter as little more than a tool in his quest for galactic domination.
    • Black Panther provided a message that discussed a message on internationalism and social issues.
      • For the former, T'Challa's speech at the United Nations showed not only the benefit of global cooperation but also the fact that Wakanda itself must use their technology to better others rather than keeping them to themselves. Considering that Killmonger pointed out that much of the sufferings in Africa should have been alleviated had Wakanda intervened, this showed the movie's message of coexistence and a contrast to the much-maligned Hudlins' portrayal of Wakanda that came off as a self-righteous and xenophobic Designated Hero.
      • The second message can be summarized thus: while Killmonger is well-meaning about the world having issues such as racism and poverty, his methodology isn't always the end to the means. Had he succeeded in overthrowing the world's governments in order to put black people in charge and subjugate the other racial groups, it would have made him no different than the ones responsible for their oppression in the first place. In addition, he was shown to be hypocritical since he only focused on Africans and African-Americans while showing little thoughts about the other non-black ethnic groups around the world who have suffered from the same issues. While it provided some thoughts for T'Challa after Killmonger's demise, he decided that only with nuanced and peaceful means that such issues can be properly tackled.
      • A third message is that a Sins of Our Fathers attitude is wrong, and less obviously, that Sins of Our Fathers is actually an inherent part of black supremacy and several other racist outlooks. Killmonger justifies his grudge against the royal family and T'Challa in particular because of something T'Challa's father did to Erik's father. Earlier in the film Killmonger murders a white museum employee and justifies it in that her ancestors stole the artifacts around them by pillaging and murdering in Africa. He later states he wants to take over Wakanda in order to kill every non-black person in power and their children for their crimes against the African people, failing to realize that if he did so, it would make him no better than the ancestors of the people he's targeting.
    • Avengers: Infinity War shows that no matter how strong you are, you'll still fail miserably as in the end, Thanos won the battle and caused half of the Marvel's cast to disappear.
  • Marriage Story reminds us that while marriage can bring the best in people, it can also bring out the worst in people as both character had to go through constant Broken Tears and "The Reason You Suck" Speech from both sides just for being married to the point they both agreed to divorce.
    • What's more, in the end, both protagonists staying in touch even after an ugly-but-deserved divorce is a testament that a long distance relationship doesn't have to be the end.
  • Matilda tells us that children are smarter than we give them credit for and we must appreciate them more and that if you continue to oppress everyone below you, they will strike back hard.
    • As with the book, the film also has the message that sometimes your biological family are just awful people who don't and never will love, respect or appreciate you and the best thing you can do for yourself is just distance yourself from them and surround yourself with people who will provide with the love they won't.
  • Mean Girls: Saying hurtful things about others, directly or indirectly, is extremely painful to everyone.
    Cady: Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George's life definitely didn't make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.
  • Men Don't Tell: Domestic abusers aren't Always Male, and assuming so can have disastrous consequences, not only for the men involved, but also for the kids who could be left in the care of the abusive party (in fact, the abusive wife in the movie did hit her daughter at one point, which lead to the previously Henpecked Husband to actually try to restrain her, a chain of event that lead to the wife going through a window head first and the husband spending the night in police custody until their daughter testifies). In fact, more and more studies show much gender symmetry in Domestic Abuse perpetration.
  • Menace II Society: Gang life is horrifying.
  • Fritz Lang's Metropolis says "The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart" about a million times (more in the unabridged version), ending with a shot of Freder (the heart) joining the hands of Joh Frederson (the head) and Grot (the hands). And it's true.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian had one that flew over the heads of some of the more religious on its release: don't just blindly follow somebody, especially when it comes to religion or politics. Think for yourselves - "we're all individuals."note 
  • Frank Capra films are generally anvilicious in a good way. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; where Mr. Smith does Eagleland so proud that if you aren't, as an American, inspired by his advocacy for the rights of all of us, then you, sir or ma'am, are a communist!
  • While Mrs. Doubtfire is hilarious, it also has a really important message about the nature of divorces. Daniel and Miranda initially fell in love with each other and got married because Opposites Attract, but Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs by showing that in the long run their polar opposite work ethics, values, and life goals bring out the absolute worst in each other. Both of them have valid reasons to separate from their spouse and we see both sides of the issue (Miranda is frustrated by Daniel's chronic lack of work and carefree attitude, while Daniel is angered by her uptight nature and tendency to put her job first), which prevents the audience from demonizing either side. At the end of the movie, Daniel and Miranda remain divorced, but the two of them get along much better as friends and they work out a custody agreement so that while the kids live at home with Miranda, Daniel becomes their babysitter and can see them anytime he wants. The film ends with the message from Daniel as Mrs. Doubtfire on his new TV show explaining that as sad as it is, most couples who divorce don't get back together. However, sometimes divorce is the best option for a struggling couple and staying together simply for the sake of their kids can actually be worse for everybody involved. In the same speech, Mrs. Doubtfire assures the kids in the audience (both In-Universe and out) that even if their parents divorce, it doesn't mean that they love their children any less, and they can actually become better parents since they're not fighting with each other all the time. Mrs. Doubtfire then lists several non-traditional family patterns (foster parents, living with other relatives, etc.) showing that when it comes down to it, family is all about love.
  • Natural Born Killers gives us the lesson that the media's fascination with violent crime and making the criminals who commit them national celebrities by the constant coverage is a problem.
  • In A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), the adults of the story are far from helpful at best, and totally useless at worst. Sometimes the young ones need to take matters in to their own hands.
  • Noah shows that snakes are certainly welcome in the ark, even though the fall of humankind had been blamed on the adversary disguised as a snake. Why? Because snakes—like all creatures—have their place and purpose in nature.
  • October Sky: Knowledge, especially education, plus determination and hard work, can enable you to accomplish any dream, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Doesn't hurt that it's a true story, either.
  • The Other Guys drops the anvil that unchecked corporate greed is a bad thing, and can destroy lives. In a Buddy Cop satire movie. But since it came out right after the credit crunch and the resulting economic crisis, the point seems to be that it's not ordinary people that caused the crisis, but rather predatory corporations.
  • The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the first serious Western films made, and it's anvilicious in a big way. But its anvil is a critical one, maybe even more now than when it was made. In a time when the words "vigilante" and "hero" are seen as synonyms, even while DNA testing gives us a hint of just how many people might be wrongly accused, The Ox-Bow Incident tells a simple, inevitable story that movies like Death Wish and The Brave One wouldn't dare get into: what happens when the righteously outraged vigilante heroes, claiming that the law's failed and trusting their own instincts instead, kill an innocent person?
  • Pants on Fire: Do not go lying unnecessarily. The protagonist Jack Parker is a liar enormous enough to give Pinocchio a run for his money...that is, until his greatest tales seemingly come to life and terrorize him, with the disappearance of his hidden-by-a-fib family eventually driving the point home. It turns out to just be a giant scheme staged by Jack's sister Hannah to redeem him. It especially plays this trope straight given that the film's setting is not among little kids, but 15-year olds.
  • Parenthood drops a few anvils regarding family.
    • Gil Buckman and his wife Karen learn not to deny the worst things that happen in their family after their oldest child starts having problems.
    • Gil's sister Helen seems like she's ready to crack after a rough divorce. It doesn't help that her son Garry became secretive and her daughter Julie decides to run off with her boyfriend Tod. But she eventually accepts the insanity.
    • Susan, Gil's other sister, who was childish and preferred to do things her way, learns that not everything revolves around her; and on the flip-side, her husband Nathan, who isn't really a bad person due to bringing up a 3-year-old girl with above-average intelligence, learns to ease up and let his wife do what she wants every now and then.
    • Susan and Nathan's marriage could also be viewed as an anvil on the necessity of change in a relationship. Susan admits that she was somewhat wild when she was younger, and liked the idea of Nathan "reining her in"; similarly, Nathan is obsessed with making their daughter into a child prodigy, and refuses to let her interact with other children or attend school for fear of affecting her mental development. But now that they're older, their situation is changing, to the point where, when Nathan tries to keep things exactly as they are and control his wife, she nearly leaves him. Ultimately the two make up, but only after realizing that they both have to make sacrifices and change to keep their relationship healthy.
    • Larry incurs huge gambling debts, and the collectors threaten to kill him if he doesn't come up with the money. His father debates whether or not he should bail him out (as he's done all his life), and delivers an amazing monologue about how, even though his children are fully grown and have their own lives, he still worries about them constantly and wants to help them however he can; as he puts it, "Larry's thirty-four, and he's still my son." He ultimately decides to help Larry, on the condition that he go to Gamblers Anonymous and come to work in the family business. But rather than do this, Larry instead decides to travel to South America for yet another get-rich-quick scheme. This leads to the following sad, but powerful message: sometimes, despite your best intentions, people don't change, and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but you shouldn't expect everything to have a happy ending, either.
    • Sometimes a parent is just plain terrible and the best thing that can be done is just removing them from your life rather than holding out for their love or approval. Garry deeply wants to be form a relationship with his own father who makes clear he wants nothing to do with him or Julie and Garry eventually learns that he isn't worth the effort and becomes much happier afterwards, forming a closer relationship with Helen, Tod and later Helen's new boyfriend. Tod similarly grew up under the thumb of an abusive father and later reflects how "you need a license to drive a car or buy a dog but they'll let any butt-reaming asshole become a father." Helen tells Garry he's a great kid who just has a lousy dad and needs to learn to say "to hell with him".
  • In Paris, je t'aime, a collection of short films about the city of Paris made by notable directors. The husband-and-wife team behind Bend It Like Beckham made a short about the relationship between the ethnic French and the growing Muslim community in Paris. A few teenage/college aged boys make fun of a hijabi and try pulling off her headscarf. One of the boys with them lingers to apologize. She's beautiful and intelligent, and they hit it off. He tentatively asks her about her hijab and she explains that it was her choice, it's a reminder of her faith and it makes her feel good. At one point he visits at her house, and her scary male relative is there - oh no! But he's happy to meet the boy and invites him to go for a walk with them, all three together. The movie fades out as the older man makes small talk, full of pride, about the student project she's working on: stories about Paris, but about her own Paris ... Anvilicious? Yes. Sweet, touching, and a refreshingly honest look at the fears non-Muslims have built up around Muslims, as well as what you generally get if you bother to actually talk to a Muslimah? Definitely yes.
  • Philadelphia was among the first films to say "Gay people and people with HIV or AIDS are no different from anyone else."
  • Pleasantville would like to remind you that, despite the world being an occasionally depressing place, it's still way better than trying to live in an idealized bubble where everything's perfect. Also, not everything is as idealistic in you may remember it to be from The '50s: sometimes (indeed, usually) the Nostalgia Filter is exactly that - a filter that blocks out all the parts you'd prefer not to remember.
  • Pollyanna and the scene about all the Happy Texts in the Bible. It might be Tastes Like Diabetes to some but in today's society where everyone is taught to Accentuate the Negative and be cynical because positivity is considered "immature", Pollyanna's line about how there are over 800 texts in the Bible telling mankind to be happy is a very telling lesson.
  • Prayers for Bobby drops the anvil hard on homophobia. The fact that it's a true story makes it all the more powerful.
  • The Purge: Anarchy is fairly relentless with its message of "The rich profit off the poor with the help of the government", but in a slightly more nuanced way (especially more so than the first film); given events in recent history like the '08 economic crash and the resulting Great Recession, as well as the bailout of the major banking institutions rather than holding their executives responsible for poor practices, there is great resentment in America about the abuses of power the rich can get away with due to their wealth and influence on the government. However, the symbolism and theme of the movie is less "anvil to the skull" and more "crowbar to the kneecap"; it has the same sort of force but instead of a general "rich people are bad" message that can easily be digested, it focuses down to a more precise "the rich profit off of the infighting of the poor while the government ostensibly there to help and protect everyone equally is actually far more vested in the interests of the elite than the destitute" that points out more nuanced and core faults in America's current economic and political systems that are harder to ignore.
  • Rambo:
    • First Blood, the first installment in the series: Antagonizing people who have gone through traumatic experiences (e.g., a soldier who has returned from war) can have disastrous consequences.
    • Rambo IV (2008): Sometimes non-violence isn't the answer, and some people can only be dealt with with force.
  • The documentary Reel Bad Arabs is an in-depth look at the stereotyping of Arabs and other Middle Eastern peoples, dropping a massive anvil about all the Unfortunate Implications coming from it, and how harmful the stereotyping actually is.
  • While RENT tends to get called over-hyped or dated in its extremely optimistic point of view, it wouldn't have made such an impact if it wasn't about a group of broke and starving and (for half of them) HIV/AIDS-positive friends. In spite of everything going wrong, they still manage to have fun and hope for whatever's left of their future.
  • Requiem for a Dream: While the initial aesop seems to be Drugs Are Bad, there is much more than that. The real one is about the destructive effect of loneliness and how people usually tend to use or sell drugs to combat it. Therefore, it is important that you seek a professional help that can empathize with your personal issues rather than "solving" the problem your own way.
  • The Running Man may have been an escapist action flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it (in its own way) taught about the negative aspects of completely turning off your brain in favor of pure, violent escapism, how soul-destroying humanity's bloodlust can be, and the need to question the version of reality that TV presents. It also teaches about the value of tenacity and standing up for yourself. As well as to not believe everything you see on TV.
  • The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming is a very solid (and at times brutal) statement on war, and the difference between being a person and being a sheep. McCarthy-era panic just makes an extra-good backdrop to it. After twenty-plus years of "Russians are all soulless killer commies", it also was one of the first to drop the "no, they're just people like us" anvil.
  • Saw: Appreciate the life you have, because there are plenty of people who aren’t nearly as fortunate as you are.
  • A Scanner Darkly fits the mold of Drugs Are Bad as well, best exemplified in the afterword just before the credits. From the book:
    Philip K. Dick: This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed - run over, maimed, destroyed - but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it...
    • This was then followed by a list of names and ailments - all of whom were friends (or himself) paired with illnesses they'd developed as a result of their previous drug abuse.
  • Scarface (1932): The film has an explicit and on-the-nose message amounting to "gang rule is bad for society, and the government needs to crack down on it". It's also an allegory of Al Capone and the gang wars in Chicago, making it hit closer to home. Considering the film was made at the tail end of the Prohibition era, it was a very important message for its day. The 21st amendment re-legalizing alcohol would be signed on December 5, 1933.
  • Schindler's List:
    • The point is that the Holocaust and the Nazis were bad. This might hardly seem like an obvious message that needs to be repeated, but it's a lot easier to compartmentalize it in an academic setting as opposed to seeing it played out in front of your eyes.
    • Another is that the actions and kindness of individuals do matter. This is shown most clearly in the quote "he who saves one man saves the world entire" and at the end where the Jews that Schindler saved visit his grave along with their thousands of descendants.
    • No matter how dark the situation seems, there is always hope in the end and the light will eventually triumph over darkness.
  • In Searching:
    • Grief is hard to deal with but it's important to never let one's mourning of a lost loved one overshadow one's relationships with the still living ones. In particular, the death of someone you love doesn't just affect you.
    • Be careful about trusting people online whom you don't know in real life and don't take things at face value.
    • Social media enables people to objectify a tragedy and make comments without fear of online consequences.
  • Secondhand Lions takes time out for Robert Duvall to expressly give this monologue on the moral of the story:
    Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love... true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn't matter if it's true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.
  • At its core, Serenity is an attack on do-gooding government social engineers. The first scene even has River stating that the Unification War which decimated the rim planets was the result of government meddling. Word of God says that the Independents were fighting for "the right to be wrong" — the right to have their own way of doing things.
    River: People don't like being meddled with.
  • Se7en:
    • In-universe, this is what John Doe believed he was doing. Somerset at one points asks him why he decided to state his message to the world by killing people. Doe responds that if you want to tell someone something, it's not sufficient any more to tap them on the shoulder. You have to hit them over the head with a 2x4. "Then, you'll notice you have their strict attention."
    • And the film's final words:
    Somerset: Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.
  • The Shawshank Redemption repeats the basic message — that hope is a really good thing — about a billion times over, but that doesn't stop it from being fantastically well done.
  • Silent Running: The natural world is valuable and important, and worth the effort to protect and preserve.
  • The Social Network: While you may have good intentions in starting a business, bad decisions made will ultimately affect personal relationships.
  • In Stand by Me, the major moral lessons are the importance of friendship and family and that you should believe in yourself and follow your dreams no matter what anyone else says.
  • Star Trek:
    Kirk: Some people think the future means the end of history. Well, we haven't run out of history quite yet. [...] People can be very frightened of change.
    • Star Trek Into Darkness: In his closing speech, Capt. Kirk says that no matter how intimidating or threatening our enemies may be, you should not give in to the same fear and hatred they live by.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan copy-pasted its anvil from "Moby-Dick" and countless other stories; the unyielding, blind pursuit of revenge will destroy you and the people around you. Repeated again in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek Into Darkness.
      • Another anvil, getting old, losing youth and friends, and missed opportunities, don't mean life isn't still a great adventure worth having.
      • "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
    • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - There's no length too far to go when your friends need you.
      • And, "sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many." But then True Companions is one of the founding principle of the franchise.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home manages to play the trope straight and subvert it at the same time. The entire film is a sci-fi jaunt, and there is no real "Save the whales!" handwringing. No, it only needs 2 minutes to hit audiences with the message hard and unforgettably, by showing Real Life whale hunting, with bodies being carved up graphically, leading to this potent exchange between Spock and Gillian before returning to the sci-fi adventure.
      Spock: To hunt a species to extinction is illogical.
      Gillian: (Death Glare) Who said the human species was logical?
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequels show how easy it is for a benevolent government to turn into a tyrannical dictatorship. It also applies to any movie about the zeitgeist before an oppressive regime starts up.
    • Rogue One brings a different message than what the original trilogy brought. Where the first films show you have a right to stand up for what's right against tyranny (if that was the intended message at all), this film goes on and shows that even on the good side, there are both good and bad people who are in it because they believe in the same cause, not because they do the same things. Rogue One also whacks you on the head with the message that you don't have the right to criticize people for what they have done just because you are new to their cause and they've been at it for a long time.
  • As divisive a movie it is, Sucker Punch has "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything". Don't be just a bystander, an apathetic or too cynical person to do anything; Even if its Take a Third Option doing something is better than do nothing. Also relates to the old saying "Bad things happen when good people do nothing". Likewise even if you think you've hit rock bottom and lost everything, you can still help someone else. And help yourself in the process.
  • Super Size Me: Fast food is very bad for you, and the companies that sell it are only concerned about the bottom line. While that would be obvious to most people, the collapse of Spurlock's health over 30 days makes it even clearer. Likewise, Fat Head deconstructs Super Size Me with all the subtlety of a freight train. You alone are responsible for your own health, people you should trust will lie to you because of outside pressure or fanaticism, and a drop of common sense goes a long way.
  • Team America: World Police:
  • Tomorrowland:
  • Traffic's overall point is that the war on drugs is pointless, because there's too much political corruption and money involved to really win the war. In other words: it's too big to fail.
  • Tucker & Dale vs. Evil: The movie is Bloody Hilarious, but it points out the dangers of prejudice and letting what you see in a movie cloud your judgement. Chad and the rest of Allison's friends did that, and preyed on two innocent, if homely, guys. Allison's friends were more of a danger to themselves, and Chad became the Serial Killer he thought he was fighting .
  • While Unfriended uses the Space Whale Aesop of "don't be a Troll or else the people you had Driven to Suicide will kill you through a Skype call'', it does send a very real message about how acting like a jerk online and trolling people can have real-world consequences. Notably, none of the teen protagonists care that they played a part in driving a girl to kill herself until it starts coming back to bite them. The film also says that trolling the Alpha Bitch of the school is no more justified than doing it to a social outcast.
  • Utøya: July 22 is a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (which happened on the island Utøya on 22. July 2011) from the perspective of the victims. The film has two very necessary anvils:
    • First, victims of shootings are not just numbers: they are (mostly young) people, whose hopes and dreams are brutally squashed.
    • Second, no matter what the motives for the shooting are, if you do that, you are forever past the Moral Event Horizon and deserve total condemnation.
  • The 1961 British film Victim, one of the earliest films with an explicit Gay Aesop, argued for the decriminalization of homosexuality. Though some modern critics attack it as strident and preachy, it helped swing British public opinion against the Criminal Offences Act, which was repealed six years later. Further, many gay viewers who saw Victim (including Vito Russo of The Celluloid Closet) embraced it for having a gay protagonist who's both heroic and lives through the movie.
  • The Virgin Spring: Faith can punish even good people. And do not think for even a second that "God" will protect you from misery or death. This kind of message is kids stuff today. In 1960 it was unprecedented.
  • Throughout The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy spends her time wishing she had Susan's beauty, and eventually has a dream that she has turned herself into Susan, only to find that she (Lucy) no longer exists and that Edmund and Peter no longer remember Narnia. After she wakes up in a panic, Aslan gently scolds her for her vanity, telling her that by wishing to be someone else, she is underestimating her own worth. Perhaps what makes it work is the dream itself - there's something chilling about finding out that your old self never exists and no one remembers it at all.
  • The Chinese film Wait 'til You're Older hammers home the point that life is a one-way journey and that people should value the time that they already have. This is achieved by having the protagonist take an aging potion as a fast track to adulthood, only to find out that his life span has been reduced to less than a week, and he has an overwhelming need to resolve his family problems before his time runs out.
  • The 1965 BBC documentary The War Game did its job of warning about the horrors of nuclear war a bit too well - it was banned in the UK for twenty years because it was considered likely to panic the public (this censorship didn't happen in the US, where it won Best Documentary).
  • The plot of the similarly-named WarGames is about how the only way to "win" a nuclear war is not to start it in the first place. It doesn't go so far as to have an actual war occur, but it gets fairly close, making it pretty effective. It doesn't get much more Anvilicious than having "The only winning move is not to play" right there in the script...
  • The Wave is all about how one should never assume that fascism can "never happen here." It can, and very easily. The Nazis were able to get away with what they did because the people didn't see the warning signs and would rather give up their freedom than risk being cast out of society. The fact that it was based on an actual incident that happened at a California High School only intensifies this.
  • The children's direct-to-video film Wee Sing in Sillyville drops a few powerful anvils about racism. The basic premise: two children are brought from the "real world" into Sillyville, a land inside a coloring book. There, they discover that the population, which is divided into different groups based on what shade they wear (one group wears only yellow, one wears only blue, etc.), have all stopped interacting because their colors are different. To further hide the message, the groups are played by actors of different races and ethnic groups. It all but says "Racism is bad," but it does do so effectively and points out that without a mix of colors, Sillyville wouldn't even exist.
    • The movie also wins points by making the citizens of Sillyville, though "colorist," genuinely nice people who love to have fun and sing. They're all friends with main character Sillywhim and enjoy spending time with her— it's only when other colors are mentioned that they show the uglier aspects of their personalities, and even then they're polite about it. Most children's media depicts villains as over-the-top "bad guys" with no redeeming qualities, so to show kids that racists can be (and indeed often are) friendly folks who, despite their kindness in most walks of life, still have nasty sides that can't be overlooked just because they act nice to you personally.
    • Sillyville is also good at showing how racism actually works on a day-to-day basis. The groups refuse to interact with each other, come up with flimsy excuses to avoid entering each other's territories, and generally have a "stick to what you know" philosophy. At no point does anyone perform hate crimes against another color or call them cruel names—but the film shows that the apparently "softer" actions of ignoring people, treating them coldly, and generally refusing to show kindness and respect to those unlike yourself still hurts, and can have a devastating effect if left unchecked.
  • Wonder Woman (2017):
    • People are neither all good nor all bad. Over the course of the film, Diana sees that the side she finds herself allied with has borderline sociopaths at the top of the pecking order and scoundrels at the bottom. Likewise, there are numerous figures on the enemy side that just want the war to end for the greater good.
    • There's also the harsh truth that the worst of humanity can't be blamed on an external force, and that some people really ARE that cruel.
  • The X-Men Film Series made a big deal out of the parallels between mutants and LGBT folks.
    • Especially in the second movie when Bobby "comes out" to his parents. It's ridiculous, but when you hear about or have experienced some of the stigma that many people go through these days, you can get why it's still an issue. Also, being gay would be a lot easier if you could shoot fireballs or something.
    • The Aesop becomes a bit broken when you remember that all the mutants involved in that scene are basically walking superweapons...what with the ability to turn tiny flames into huge explosive fireballs, spontaneously subtract heat to the point of freezing anything, near total invulnerability coupled with unbreakable knives and super tracking skills, and the ability to take all of their powers for her own use.
    • If the Aesop holds, though, you wind up being told that the 'good guys' are the ones who bend for the sake of society and seek peaceful coexistence, while the 'bad guys' are the ones who insist that society change to accommodate you, and are certain of their own moral superiority on the issue. Also, government registration of your situation is to be resisted at all costs.


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