Recently, I was doing some research on favorites. Why do we have favorites, what might they say about us, and how do they shape our personalities? In my research, I found this article about favorite movies. And I was fascinated! I recommend reading it (found here), but the basic gist is something about you might tie your favorite films together. Make a list of your top 10 movies, think about themes and elements, and ask yourself what ties them together. What do your favorite movies say about you?
I wanted to put this exercise to the test.
Almost a year ago, I made a post listing my favorite movies (here). I was looking through it again and decided to tweak it. My mind changes sometimes with favorite films, though I continuously seem to go through the same 20. But for this list, I decided on what speaks to me more often than not. Here’s my list in relative, not exact order:
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)
- Die Hard
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Legally Blonde
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
- Jurassic Park
- Drop Dead Gorgeous
- The Frighteners
An eclectic, as Domenick put it, list. Different plots, different genres, different filmmakers, different actors, blah blah blah.
So what ties these together?
*! As a warning, there may be spoilers to the above mentioned films. !*
Let’s start with the top four: Mitty, Die Hard, Howl’s, and Willow handle a character underestimated by seemingly bigger forces. And usually the characters are constantly undervalued. Walter Mitty is constantly pushed around by those of a higher authority though he does more than they comprehend. John McClane is a cop from New York thrown into a terrorist situation in LA before taking them all out alone. Sophie, a girl who is undervalued by self and society, is cursed but is the only person who can keep the world moving. Willow is a small person bullied by those around him sent out on an adventure to save the world-ish, and even with the constant trash against him is the one who never stops and ultimately does save the world.
These are all stories of thriving when underestimated/undervalued, or continuing on when everyone says you can’t because you are the only one who can.
Let’s continue with the rest of the movies, and see if this theme continues throughout the other six.
Beetlejuice has a couple of underestimated characters. The Maitlands are undervalued as a simple superstition and walked all over on, but are able to take back their own house. Lydia is undervalued for being an oddball, but accepts herself and becomes more open in the end after making friends.
Legally Blonde is the ultimate movie of being underestimated. Elle is a beautiful blonde sorority girl from California who is treated like shit when she goes to law school. She doesn’t give up; she kicks all the ass.
To Wong Foo follows three drag queens in a road trip across America before they get stranded in middle America. They’re underestimated as ‘career girls’ and undervalued as drag queens. But they speak out and help the town value itself.
Jurassic Park. Everyone knows this movie for one word: dinosaurs. Obviously, the dinos themselves are underestimated as they fuck everything up. Ellie is underestimated as a woman in this survival situation. Malcolm and his knowledge is undervalued. But they survive, and that’s the point.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is a mockumentary about a teen beauty pageant in a little town in Minnesota. The lead teen is undervalued because she is “trailer trash” compared to her competition who is from the wealthiest family in town. And she is underestimated for being kind. She prevails though, fireball and all.
The Frighteners is about a man who can see/talk with ghosts when a serial killer ghost starts claiming the living. He is an undervalued member of society since he ‘scams’ using his connection with ghosts. He is underestimated since, obviously, no one believes him. He kicks ass, though, and saves the town.
And if I think of some of my other favorites, like Kiki’s Delivery Service, Wonderman, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Imitation Game, and more, the majority of them, if not all of them, involve characters underestimated and/or undervalued before showing out, showing off, and being super awesome.
Now, for the last part of the exercise, why am I drawn to these kinds of movies?
I myself feel like an underestimated and undervalued person. Whether it’s myself or other people doing it, I feel like I’m pushed down to not achieve greatness. Not every movie ends in ultimate victory. Sometimes we fail, and we can fail hard. But they were no longer underestimated for what they could/couldn’t do. They were not undervalued as less than. These characters sought for the moon even when they were told they couldn’t.
I see myself in these moments, and that’s why I love movies. I connect with them.
Anyway, this was a fun look into my favorite movies and my own psyche. I recommend trying this with your favorite films. You may discover something new about yourself.