Unexpected bits of depth in entertainments

What are some instances when you’ve been surprised by moments or themes of depth in otherwise fluffy or less-than-consequential movies, TV shows, etc.? For instance:

Porky’s: on the surface, a typical “teens wanna get laid” comedy, but has a sub-plot about one of the kids dealing with the anti-semitism he learned at the hands of his abusive father. And from the sequel, a strong anti-censorship, anti-religious right plot.

To Be or Not to Be: the Mel Brooks remake. In the midst of the comedy, a scene with Sasha the homosexual dresser explaining why he’s wearing a pink triangle. Probably the first time that most of the people watching the film had heard of it. Also the Shylock scene toward the end.

The Stepford Wives==the book by Ira Levin, not either of the movies.

The word “Stepford” has come to mean a person who acts like a robot, yet Levin’s book has several scenes that display the type of men who would want a robot for a wife. The first time he hears of the plan, Walter comes home late, is caught masturbating by his wife, and then gives her the best sex she ever had. Why? Because he is fantasizing about a robot. When Joanna realizes what is going on, he acts like she is the one who is crazy and gets the men to carry out the plan.

Read the book again and look at the men. It’s a real eye opener.

Powerpuff Girls. It’s got enough satire and pop-culture in-jokes to be fun for adults.

Sesame Street / Muppets, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Spongebob Squarepants*.

*admittedly not as much as the other two, but SBSP has the occasional joke that kids would not get, Vocabulary and World History/Cultures wise.

The NBC series Friday Night Lights. I’ve seen the movie, I’ve read the book, and I expected a bit of light entertainment from it, based on the fact that the scale of intelligence usually goes: book > movie > TV show based on a movie.

I got so much more.

The hilarious and intelligent stand-up comedian Patton Oswalt expressed my feelings perfectly in a review on Pitchfork Media. Here’s an excerpt:

The Josie and the Pussycats movie was as fluffy as an air-popped cotton-candy cloud, but was also a pretty darn good sendup of the music industry. It was much smarter than it let on to its primary tween audience.

*“Just because I use the backdoor, well that doesn’t make me…Hey!” * “Backdoor Lover” by the boy band Du Jour.

Two of my favorite high school movies, Bring It On and Clueless, both do surprisingly good job of a having a message of tolerance and acceptance for people of different races and sexual orientations, without ever even coming close to rubbing it in your face or being obnoxious about it.

Zoolander, one of my surprise favourite movies, looks dumb, sounds dumb, and is actually a really clever (and fun) riff on the fashion industry and celebrity in general. My respect for Ben Stiller went up a few solid notches after that.