The moment you realize that you’re not watching the movie (or television series) that you thought you were watching. There’s a number of these in various movies that, in some cases, turn a pedestrian experience into a good experience and, if we’re lucky, a good one into a great one. If, however, you haven’t see these… you should know that they’ve got little surprises in the middle. Now, they won’t change the plot or anything like that… All of the ones I’m thinking of happen in the middle and the ending probably could have happened without them (though it might take a rewrite). In any case, I’m not going to put the titles behind a cut, but I will be using rot13 to talk about the stuff that happened. Because it was *REALLY* cool when you found out that the ruby slippers could have sent her home in the first 20 minutes. That changed the whole movie. Glenda was, like, evil. Whoa.

In Taken, for example, there was the scene in which Aslan fubg uvf sevraq’f jvsr (va gur fubhyqre, tenagrq) gb qrzbafgengr gung ur zrnag ohfvarff. I was sitting at home thinking that I was watching “Die Hard In France” with a particularly humorless protagonist and, WHAM!, suddenly I’m watching an entirely different movie. We realize that Aslan isn’t a good guy trying to save his family, ur’f n onq thl gelvat gb fnir uvf snzvyl. Whoa.

Interestingly enough, there was a completely different one in The Expendables. You think you’re watching a Jason Statham movie as directed by Sylvester Stallone when, suddenly, you’ve got Mickey Rourke giving a speech in the tattoo parlor jurer ur’f gnyxvat nobhg gung ynql va Obfavn gung ur unq n punapr gb fgbc sebz whzcvat bss n oevqtr ohg ur qvqa’g… naq ur’f pelvat gurer va gur zvqqyr bs gur gnggbb cneybe erzrzorevat ubj gung’f gur bar guvat gung ur zvtug unir qbar gb fnir uvf bja fbhy naq ubj ur snvyrq gb qb vg and you’re thinking “holy cow… this is not what I thought I bought a ticket for…” I mean, sure, the movie had all of the explosions you could have possibly asked for and all of the gun/knife fu you could ask for in a movie that has Randy Couture *AND* Steve Austin *AND* Jet Li *AND* Terry Crews *AND* DOLPH LUNDGREN. But there’s also that speech. (Jason Statham’s to Charisma Carpenter was a treat that came out of nowhere as well. He can almost act? When in the heck did *THAT* happen?)

They aren’t exactly spoilers but… well, they’re reasons to see the movie and if it’s a movie that, really, doesn’t look that different from the other hundred cookie-cutter insipid films churned out by Hollywood, it’s always nice to find a gem in the middle that makes you realize that an actual human being was involved in this film at some point.

Which movies out there carry similar gems in the middle? What should I try to watch *NEXT* weekend?


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com


  1. In most of those cases I look at it more as a token acting moment, for the producters to say, “See! See! We have depth in our movie!!!” Particularly the Expensables (Misspelled on purpose).

  2. Wait, why are you calling him Aslan? And I always sort of thought he was a bad guy. Or at least a guy willing to do bad if it helped him achieve his ends.

    • Dude, whenever he talks you think “Dude. That’s Aslan.”

      The A-Team? It was Face, Murdock, BA, and Aslan. Man, that was an awesome movie.

      • Did he voice Aslan in the Narnia movies? I’m not sure I saw them.

        More importantly, have I yet again violated some sort of dork ethos?

  3. I think that’s actually a pretty standard feature of Stallone’s action movies. Think about the scene in the last Rambo movie in which Dexter’s dead wife convinces him that he should do something. I think there’s a similar scene in each of the Rambo movies (the first one probably has more than one of those moments, but I think specifically of his conversation with his old C.O. over the radio about the difficulties of returning to civilian life). It’s almost enough to remind you that the guy who wrote Rambo is the same guy who wrote the first Rocky movie. I’m trying to remember if there’s a similar scene in Cobra, but I seem to have repressed that entire movie except for the opening scene in the supermarket.

    • As i remember Cobra it was 100% pain, hate and darkness. Dirty Harry turned up to 100.

    • I remember my friends telling me that their fathers wept at the end of Rambo: First Blood Part II when Stallone gave the “I want what they want” speech but didn’t remember that until just now. And, yeah, there was the “NOTHING IS OVER” speech at the end of First Blood (which, honestly, I don’t have categorized as an action movie in my head)… I don’t remember the speeches from III (a movie that disappeared off the face of the earth for the last 10 years… but I think is ready to be watched again… wait, no politics) and John Rambo was a great big monologue all by itself… the most anti-war movie I’ve ever seen released at a time when anti-war movies were huge black holes of money losers, Stallone’s actually turned a profit.

      Huh. Yeah. He does that a lot.

  4. “Wham!
    The moment you realize that you’re not watching the movie (or television series) that you thought you were watching”

    Of course, that same realization moment actually applies to Wham! too, particularly if one had just hit double digits when they were first popular.

    • When the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video came out, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was dating whom in that video based on the furtive glances and smiles that were juuuust a little too big.

      As it turns out, that time was wasted.

      • That stupid song has been stuck in my head ever since reading yr comment. I think I preferred the Rickrolling Burt pulled.

        • I was (of course) a big 49er fan at the time, and I vaguely recall inventing lyrics to make it a song about Manu Tuiasosopo

  5. I’m not sure this fits your criteria, but I found Unforgiven slow and tedious hagvy Pyvag Rnfgjbbq svaqf bhg gung Zbetna Serrzna vf qrnq, naq gura orpbzrf naq haeryragvat fgevat bs cbjreshy njrfbzr hagvy gur erfg bs gur zbivr.

    I think any decent movie I’ve gone into cold (no exposure to the trailers) has that same sort of Whoa. (including, the Matrix, natch). Though I’ve seen my share of terrible movies cold as well.

    One movie that was a lot better than it had a right to be was Wild Things, though I can’t pinpoint the moment where I said to myself, “Wait, there’s actually a decent plot to this movie” (it was possibly more towards the end).

    • Ur fcrag gur zbivr qrpyvavat qevax… naq gura, jura ur urnef nobhg Zbetna Serrzna, ur qevaxf gur juvfxrl. Gur pnzren mbbzf va, yvxr, gjvpr gb jngpu uvz qevax gjvpr zber.

      Yeah, I get shivers remembering that part.

      • Xvggl pnyyf vg gur, “Ur gheaf Rivy ntnva” zbzrag.

        Gung’f abg ubj V frr gung fprar, ohg V trg gung vagrecergngvba.

          • How great a line is it that I don’t even need to rot13 to know what it is?

          • Awright, Pun-isher, this time you’ve gone too far. I don’t get it. What do mushrooms have to do with it? Was it just a typo? Am I losing my mind because I’ve been up half the night with a sick kid? Dammit Schilling I’ll get you for this!

          • Typo. I have some ocular condition that makes them invisible until just after I’ve pushed the Submit button.

          • Thank god.

            I was googling ‘Eastwood + mushroom’ at like 5 in the AM and I came up with ‘The Beguiled’ (I don’t feel like rot13’ing, so I’ll just say look at the wiki for the plot if you want to see why – actually sounds like it could be an interesting flick; flopped in the US but the French liked it; if you look at the plot summary, some cultural explanations for its relative reception may occur to you).

            RE: yr ocular condition – I don’t have Blue Eyes, but I do in fact Know What It’s Like.

          • See, I went straight to Moral Orel. (If you haven’t watched it, you should youtube it. If, after 30 seconds, you’re saying “this is my childhood” rather than “what the heck”, you should buy it.).

            No religion.

          • I was googling ‘Eastwood + mushroom’ at like 5 in the AM

            You so should not have told me I have that kind of power.

  6. I’d have to rewatch to find the Wham! moment in “Momento”, but it certainly has (at least) one.

  7. I always wondered how amazing Jurassic Park would have been if it was simply sold as a fun movie about a dinosaur park where nothing goes wrong.


    Everything. Goes. Wrong. How fuckin’ dope would that have been?

    I mean, it was still amazing. But that might have been the mother of all hypothetical “WHAM!” moments.

    Argh, now I’m going to spend all night thinking of hypothetical “WHAM!” moments that were never realized. “See Sigourney Weaver in ‘SPACESHIP’!”

      • An ex- of mine used to tell a story about her mom taking her and her younger brother (who was maybe 4 or 5 at the time) to see ‘E.T.’ when it was in theaters.

        Their mom had reassured the younger brother (who had some trepidation, as the movie looked scary to him) that it was ‘a happy movie.’

        So, near the end when RG vf qlvat, nyy fvpxyl naq cnyr va gur nezl svryq ubfcvgny guvat, ba yvsr-fhccbeg,naq nyy gur xvqf (naq zbfg bs gur nqhygf) va gur gurngre ner pelvat, he stands on his seat and turns to their mom and screams at her, “YOU LIED!!! YOU SAID THIS WAS A HAPPY MOVIE!!!”

      • The trailer promised that In Bruges was going to be a comic caper movie, like Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. There wasn’t really a wham moment; it just kept getting sadder.

        • I liked ‘Bruges’. Director has a new one coming out, great cast but it doesn’t look so hot. I might see it anyway.

  8. Not sure if it qualifies, but ‘Devil’s Backbone’ (Del Toro, pre-‘Pan’s Labyrinth’) shifted this way for me – not that it necessarily became a different movie than the one I thought I was watching, but what is revealed over the course of the film makes you perceive certain characters in a fundamentally different way than you did at the movie’s outset.

    I also thought the first ‘Cube’ movie did this pivot, turning into something a little more existential and maybe profound than I was initially expecting.

    • I’ve never seen either, but Pan’s Labyrinth is the best movie I’ve ever seen that I never, ever want to see again. (I went into it thinking it’d be a PG or PG-13. I bought the ticket without knowing it was an R. I was surprised when it was subtitled. I was horrified when I saw the first soldier shot in the head. And then the second. And then the third. I leaned into Maribou and said “I think this is an ‘R'” and she gave me one of those long drawn out “yeaaaaaaaah?” things that people say to clueless people who just realized what everyone else has known for, like, forever. Then the movie got, like, violent.)

      • I recommend ‘Backbone’ without reservation. A beautiful movie, and genuinely scary. Really terrific.

        If you ever see ‘Cube’ LMK, I’d love to discuss my take with you (tho’ if in this space I’d have to word carefully, to avoid contravening the ‘no politics/religion’ rule).

          • I declare the creepiest building I’ve ever seen was Valle de los Caídos, Franco’s subterranean cathedral, his monument to the Fascist dead of the Spanish Civil War. For me, Pan’s Labyrinth, actually that’s a rather bad name, El laberinto del fauno simply means the labyrinth of the faun, is a dark parable out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales by way of Borges.

          • Hopefully you were comforted by the knowledge that Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s Fascist dead, were still dead.

            Good description on ‘Pan’s’.

            If only we could get an HBO Sandman series with Del Toro as showrunner, and Benedict Cumberbatch starring…

          • Pan’s Labyrinth also serves a weird, dark mirror of esoteric enlightenment. Normally, enlightenment is accompanied by purification, but the character in the movie literally crawls through the muck. Ure svany fgntr bs nfprafvba vf ure qrngu.

          • Old School Grimm’s Fae Tales.

            The Fae are not entities with whom you want to mess. One of the things I loved about the movie is that the folk with whom she was dealing seemed Old. Much older than the entities about whom I hear stories.

            There were two kinds of evil in the movie. New evil vs. old evil and they were quite distinct.

            Del Toro is a genius. Or, I suppose, a madman.

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