The Dark Side of Classics: 12 Much-Loved Films That Will Make You Cringe

We all know that you can't please everybody, but it's a mystery how two people can look at the same film and either be mesmerized by it or utterly repulsed. According to cinephiles responding to an online forum about movies, these are the 12 universally loved films they find utterly repulsive.

1. Avatar (2009)

avatar movie 2009
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The highest-grossing film of all time until Avengers: Endgame surpassed it in 2019, Avatar was widely acclaimed for its stunning visuals and unique storyline about a paraplegic Marine sent to a distant planet to infiltrate the native humanoid species. However, some viewers now find the film's use of the “white savior” trope and portrayal of the native species as primitive and in need of saving to be problematic and offensive. Some call it “Pocahontas in space.” It's an elementary plot with blue people.

2. The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

A musical biopic about the life of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman was praised for its catchy soundtrack and uplifting message of inclusion and acceptance. However, some viewers have criticized the film for glossing over Barnum's problematic treatment of his performers and the circus's exploitation of marginalized people.

3. Pocahontas (1995)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

A Disney classic, Pocahontas tells the story of a Native American princess who falls in love with an English explorer. While the film was once praised for its beautiful animation and romantic storyline, it's now viewed by some as a gross misrepresentation of history that perpetuates harmful stereotypes and a romanticized view of colonialism, considering how the real story went down. Pocahontas, in my view, is an excellent movie, but you do need to treat it as if it were a falsified story about imaginary people because it might as well be.

4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange 2
Image Credit: Polaris Productions

A controversial film directed by Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange tells the story of a violent and sociopathic young man who undergoes experimental aversion therapy to curb his criminal behavior. Often hailed as a groundbreaking work of art, many find the film to be vile to the point of unwatchable. This is, of course, on purpose and in the pursuit of making an artistic statement. However, many viewers reject the film as being indulgently exploitative.

5. Saw (2004)

Saw 1
Image Credit: Lionsgate

A horror film about a sadistic killer who forces his victims to play deadly games to escape, Saw was praised for its inventive and suspenseful plot and created a successful franchise that inspired countless other gory movies. While Saw is a commentary on the human condition, it can be difficult for the squeamish to look past the gratuitous gore and violence.

6. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Breakfast at Tiffanys
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

This romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn is about a young woman who falls in love with a struggling writer. Breakfast at Tiffany's was once considered a classic of the genre. However, the film's use of yellowface to portray a Japanese character has been criticized by modern viewers. Countless spectators find the movie to be overhyped with a terrible ending inferior to that of the novel.

7. Joker (2019)

Joker 1
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

A dark and gritty origin story of the iconic Batman villain, Joker, won critical acclaim for Joaquin Phoenix's performance and its exploration of mental illness and societal decay. Some viewers point out despite being well acted, at the end of the day, it's two Scorsese films squished together, parading as something original, not to mention it created an entire generation of cringe LARPers.

8. Pretty Woman (1990)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

A romantic comedy about a wealthy businessman who falls in love with a sex worker, Pretty Woman was once praised for its charming and funny portrayal of the couple's relationship. However, some viewers now see the film's glamorization of sex work and simplistic portrayal of class differences as glaringly tone-deaf and unrealistic.

9. Requiem For a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a Dream
Photo Credit: Artisan Entertainment.

A dark and disturbing film about addiction and the destruction it causes, Requiem For a Dream was once hailed as a powerful and emotional work of art. However, some viewers now find the film's graphic depictions of substance abuse and its bleak and hopeless outlook to be too intense and depressing.

10. Forrest Gump (1994)

man eating watching tv on boat
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

A heartwarming and uplifting film about a simple-minded man who unwittingly becomes a part of historical events, Forrest Gump won critical and popular acclaim for its charming portrayal of the main character and its nostalgic depiction of American history. However, some viewers now view the film as simplistic and an idealized view of the past. As one film buff summarizes it, it's just boomer nostalgia. Everyone loved Forrest Gump at some point in their life, but as you get older, it feels pretty cringy, despite having redeeming qualities.

11. American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

A drama about the lives of a dysfunctional family in suburban America, American Beauty was once praised for its insightful critique of American culture and its powerful performances, including Kevin Spacey's Oscar-winning turn as the lead character. While we as the audience are not supposed to sympathize with Spacey's character, a Hollywood film about a middle-aged man going through a mid-life crisis where he becomes infatuated with a teenager earning Best Picture at the Oscars hasn't aged well, especially after the turn Spacey's career has taken after countless allegations.

12. Gone With the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind
Image Credit: Loew's Inc.

A classic Hollywood epic set during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, Gone With the Wind is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. However, the film's romanticized view of slavery and the Confederacy and its stereotypical portrayal of Black characters have led to calls for it to be removed from streaming services and educational programs. Of course, the film is supposed to be filmed in context. 

This thread inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.