Not everything has to be highbrow all of the time. As moviegoers, we would become exhausted if every single piece of cinema represented an intellectual exercise that preached big ideas in grandiose ways. Sometimes all we want to do is sit back, relax, and watch an incredibly stupid comedy to help us take a load off. That's just how human beings are wired.
However, as counter intuitive as it may seem, just because a movie is conventionally stupid, doesn't mean it's not also brilliant. CinemaBlend has compiled a list of seven perfect examples of movies that used their inherent stupidity to mask absolutely genius ideas. Take a look at our entries and let us know what "stupid" films you think are actually smarter than they get credit for. Without further ado, let's get started with an example of crass filmmaking that made a serious point back in 1999...
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Trey Parker and Matt Stone's now iconic Comedy Central cartoon has become legendary in recent years for its biting social commentary, but in its earliest days it really relied on simple premises and crass humor to get laughs out of a Gen X audience. That all changed with the release of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Channeling all of the hatred and vitriol that they received from parents' advocacy groups into a single film, Parker and Stone use the obscene humor and low-budget sensibilities that made them famous in the first place and present a surprisingly intelligent commentary on the state of censorship and the impact of vulgarity. The show itself has evolved considerably since the days of Bigger, Longer & Uncut, but the film remains a watershed moment in South Park's history that deserves far more respect than it receives.
Ignoring some of the loonier jokes (like Fuddruckers eventually evolving its name to ButtFuckers) Mike Judge's Idiocracy has in many ways become the standard by which we judge modern satire of American culture. The film follows a terminally average 21st century man (Luke Wilson) who awakens from a cryogenic sleep 500 years in the future to find that intelligence has more or less been bred out of American society. In this future, a TV show called Ow My Balls dominates the ratings, the human language has been gutted through the overuse of slang, the world faces a serious environmental crisis brought on by use of sports drinks for irrigation, and the Oval Office has become occupied by a gun-toting macho man with former ties to the world of wrestling. Kind of eerie, right? Despite its cartoonish quality, Idiocracy has some serious things to say about the importance of education in our society, and (particularly in this election season) it has become a major reference point for the state of our collective intelligence.
Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder quite obviously spoofs classic war movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now, but it does so much more than that. Everything, from the fake trailers that precede the film, to Robert Downey Jr.'s black face, to the entire "never go full retard" speech, all provide audiences with an immaculate satire of the entire film industry. Tropic Thunder is a movie that could only been made by people who have starred in hits as well as flops, and almost the entire cast -- from Downey Jr. to Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise to Matthew McConaughey -- fit that bill to a T. It's a self-aware, pitch perfect satire that's not afraid to acknowledge the individual failures of its whole ensemble.
Team America: World Police
Although it's often considered the less popular younger sibling of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police is a far smarter movie than it ever gets credit for being. Released shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, Team America uses Thunderbirds-esque marionette animation to completely skewer the sort of gung-ho patriotism that characterized the United States in a post-9/11 environment, while still reserving criticism for those on the far left as well. The film's entire message can be summed up in its theme song, "America, Fuck Yeah," which is a loud and bombastic exercise in excessive patriotism and vulgar humor, which is a combination as American as peanut butter and jelly.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
There's an obvious genius to the underlying comedic style of Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat that's simply too good to ignore. Aside from his ability to stay in character and completely ad-lib phenomenal, cringe-worthy interviews with unsuspecting subjects, the movie goes one step further by actually having a pretty strong, sobering message. Under the guise of a witless outsider, Cohen uses Borat to hold a mirror up to American society circa 2006 (which admittedly hasn't changed much in the last decade) and expose seriously problematic issues of racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry that plague the United States. Sure, we all remember the naked wrestling scene in the hotel, but Borat has far more to say than it ever gets credit for.
Galaxy Quest is an oddity of a film. It's primarily a send-up of the 1960s show Star Trek, but it's also incredibly ahead of its time for the way in which it perfectly satirizes fandom. The film follows the cast members of a long ago cancelled sci-fi series that find themselves abducted by aliens inspired by the technology, society, and aesthetic depicted in fictional show that made the ensemble famous. Trekkies, conventions and general die-hard fans existed long before the prominence of the Internet, but Galaxy Quest took those ideas into the mainstream for a Hollywood film; one whose theme has aged incredibly well over the last two decades. It's legitimately weird to watch the film in 2016, because so many of the ideas that it lampoons still show up in straight-faced sci-fi romps like Star Trek Beyond.
Kevin Smith has done quite a bit right and quite a bit wrong throughout his long career, but it's time we acknowledge that Dogma might actually represent his magnum opus. Centering on a pair of angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) intent on forcing their way back into heaven -- which will subsequently lead to Armageddon -- the film follows a group of misfits intent on stopping them and saving the universe. It's a movie that completely takes down organized religion while still leaving room for someone to have personal faith in a higher power in the process. The film uses incredibly lowbrow humor to make seriously highbrow points, and Kevin Smith fires on all cylinders as a writer, director AND as an actor, because of course Jay and Silent Bob feature prominently in this one. The best scene in the movie? Affleck and Damon bickering like an old, married couple before brutally murdering an entire corporate board room.
Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.