It’s happened to all of us. You’re just sitting there, watching a great movie with your friends. You’re enjoying the story, the effects, the humor, the action… everything that makes the film such a classic. Suddenly, you get hit with a scene that is so completely out of left field or that is so tonally different than the rest of the movie that you just have to stand there staring at the screen and say “huh?”
Suddenly the rest of the film moves on without any sort of acknowledgement of what just happened. But it’s too late; you’re stuck wonder what exactly possessed the director to keep that scene in the film.
Just for clarification, just because these scenes are jarring doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad or “WTF” material. Some are. Some really, really are. But for the most part we’re just focusing on scenes in the movies that catch you off guard and ruin your sense of immersion. To count as “jarring,” these scenes need to be ones that make you wonder what it was you just witnessed, ones that drag on and on without much rhyme or reason, or ones that just don’t make sense logically or tonally within the bigger context of the movie or series.
Here are 15 Jarring Scenes That Take You Out Of Great Movies.
15. Legolas skateboards on a shield (LoTR: The Two Towers)
The Lord of the Rings franchise is a rare case of a series that gives as much back as you put into it. If you want to get super into the lore and world-building aspects of Tolkien’s universe, you can spend hours upon hours reading and researching the history of Middle-earth, the legends that exist within it, and the complex backstories of the film’s main characters. On the flip side, if you just want to go watch a movie where guys with swords and magic battle a bunch of monsters, you can get just as much enjoyment out of Peter Jackson’s films!
But maybe Jackson went a little too far into the realm of the casual action movie during the filming of The Two Towers. While the Battle of Helm’s Deep unfolds around our heroes, Legolas gets a bright idea. He grabs the shield of one of the fallen Uruk-hai, tosses it on the ground, and then uses it to sled down the stairs while shooting arrows. This was a scene that was too over the top for an Expendables movie, let alone one that’s supposed to be part of the best fantasy series of all time.
14. The Cop Dialogue (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy gave us a Batman story that was gritty, grounded, and epic in nature. The movies went out of their way to show how important a righteous police force is to the balance of law and order.
If only the dialogue they were given wasn’t so… bad. Any time an unnamed police officer opens their mouth in The Dark Knight, the results are hilariously bad. First off there’s the guy who says “Have a nice trip. See you next fall”. Then there’s the one at conference who exclaims “Things are worse than EVER!” before his partner yells out “No more dead cops!”
All three are moments that make you stop back and ask yourself if this was really written by the same guy who wrote all of the Joker’s monologues.
13. Lili Von Shtupp’s song (Blazing Saddles)
Created by comedic legend Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles was the story of a railroad worker who, instead of being put to death, is sentenced to work as the sheriff of a small town in the Old West. Being the time period it was, the townspeople don’t like the fact that their new protector is black, and Bart must face an uphill battle in winning them over while also protecting them from the henchmen of tycoon Hedy Lamarr. Starring Clavon Little, Harvey Korman, and Gene Wilder, it’s a laugh-a-minute riot, with one notable exception…
Just before the third act, Bart and the Waco Kid go to see the famed Lili Von Shtupp give a Burlesque performance. What follows is… odd. She gives us a gaudy show tune about how men lust over her like “wabbits,” and how she’s getting tired of it. The song itself isn’t too bad, but it goes on and on for a solid five minutes and culminates with a bunch of men in WWI-era German military uniforms doing a synchronized ’30s-era dance.
12. Quentin Tarantino’s Cameo (Django Unchained)
2012’s Django Unchained put Jamie Foxx back on the map and Christoph Waltz as one of the most charismatic actors of our generation. Not to mention, it gave us the gleefully evil Calvin Candie played by Leonardo Dicaprio.
Something that makes even the most diehard of Quentin Tarantino fans roll their eyes is the director’s need to give himself a speaking cameo in each of his movies. For Django this came in the form of a nameless Australian character who was transporting the hero and a group of slaves in the aftermath of the film’s climactic shootout. The biggest issue of this scene is the actor’s accent. He keeps referring to Django as “bleckie” and overuses the word “mate” a horrendous amount of times. If that wasn’t enough, there seems to be points where he even forgets he’s supposed to be Australian and reverts back to his normal way of talking. It doesn’t help that the entire scene occurs during the “falling action” part of the story yet obviously sets things up for a second climax.
11. The Detective’s Death (Psycho)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is a masterpiece of horror and suspense just about any way you cut it. Though the sequels never quite lived up to the original, the movie created an entire franchise. Norman Bates is a household name (for better or worse) and the recent reboot series Bates Motel just ended its highly-successful five-year run on A&E. The film is a horror classic that sends shivers down the spines of those who watch it even to this day.
However, the movie is not without its flaws. The most jarring scene comes when Detective Milton Arbogast is investigating the Bates’ house while searching for the missing Marion Crane. “Norma” Bates catches him off guard and causes him to fall down the stairs. Instead of using a dummy or just cutting away, Hitchcock decided to create this effect by having the actor flail his arms as the camera panned out.
10. Anything with Mickey Rooney’s Character (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
Oh boy, we have to talk about Mr. Yunioshi. The movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s features the charming Audrey Hepburn in her iconic role. Loosely based on the Truman Capote novel of the same name, follows a wealthy socialite who starts to fall in love with her new neighbor. She is then torn between marrying a richer man for money or staying with her new love. It’s a classic that only has one major, major flaw.
What do we even need to say about Mickey Rooney in this movie? The white comedian plays a character that is a caricature Japanese, complete with a bumbling demeanor, a horribly stereotypical accent, and giant bug-eyed glasses. Then there’s the character’s face. Rooney is always squinting and was given fake teeth to make him appear more buck-toothed. The character is a terribly racist blight on an otherwise excellent movie.
9. Stantz’s Dream (Ghostbusters)
It seems as though the original Ghostbusters was lightning in a bottle. Despite its enormous success and the iconic status it has as a symbol of the ’80s, all attempts at a sequel or reboot have been less than stellar; Ghostbusters II was seen as far inferior to the first and the 2016 relaunch was a box office dud. Yet, the original adventure of Venkman, Egon, Stantz, and Winston is forever ingrained in the world of pop culture.
There were some glimmers of things to come in the first Ghostbusters, however. During a montage of the crew doing what they do best (bustin’ ghosts!), the camera cuts to Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) asleep in the firehouse. The camera goes fuzzy, and suddenly the beautiful specter of a young woman appears and proceeds to unbuckle his pants….The actor’s face afterwards tells the story of what happens next.
Then it cuts back to Stantz sleeping as he rolls out of bed. What was the point of this scene again? Ghostbusters is full of innuendos, but this type of overtly vulgar humor is a little bit out of place with the dry wit of the rest of the film.
8. Lunar Fantasies (Apollo 13)
Star Wars fans need not fret about director Ron Howard taking over the production of the current Han Solo movie. He’s already shown that he can do sci-fi! Well, as close to sci-fi as a historical drama about space can be! Apollo 13 stars Tom Hanks as commander Jim Lovell as he and his crew try to make it back home after disaster on the titular craft’s mission. The film received universal praise and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including best picture.
If you show the audience the point you’re trying to make rather than explain it through dialogue or a random dream sequence, it’s a lot less clunky and much more effective. Right after the initial incident is contained, Lovell has the depressing realization that he will never be able to set foot on the moon. He stares out the window of Apollo 13, and the camera transitions to a fantasy sequence that shows him walking on the surface of the moon!
7. Brad Pitt Saves the Day (12 Years a Slave)
Winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 2013, 12 Years A Slave is the story of Solomon, a free black man from New York that is kidnapped while in Washington, D.C. and sold into slavery in Louisiana. As the title implies, the man spent twelve whole years under enslavement, with two different masters. The first was a “good” one (as good as a slave owner can be) while the second one was a cruel and heartless man portrayed in terrifying fashion by Michael Fassbender. Solomon is only set free when he is able to convince a sympathetic Canadian to send a letter to his northern friends.
This man, Samuel Bass, was played by Brad Pitt. Had the actor not have also been the big-name producer behind the movie, his scenes probably wouldn’t be so jarring. After almost two and a half hours of watching the white men around Solomon beat, kill, and rape their slaves, Bass just appears and is 100% on his side, even going so far as speaking out against the institution of slavery to Fassbender’s character. It’s just a little bit too much that the producer decided to cast himself as the blemish-free “white savior” of the film.
6. The Little Boy (In Bruges)
2008’s In Bruges is a black comedy that has developed a cult following in recent years thanks to its charismatic leads and crazy dark humor. The film stars Colin Ferrell as an Irish hitman who, alongside his mentor, ends up in the city of Bruges. All you need to know is that the Ray (Colin Ferrell) accidentally killed a child during one of his hits and that it is the source of most of his problems throughout the movie.
However, the actual scene itself is terribly jarring for those enjoying the deliciously dark ride they’ve been on. The majority of In Bruges has a carefree, do-as-you-please attitude about everything. Then, the movie does a complete 180: it plays the scene completely straight and delivers a gut-punch to the audience. In a movie where Colin Ferrell karate chops a dwarf and makes a fat person chase him around until he gets tired out, it feels out of place. The scene makes the audience remember that despite his humorous nature, Ray isn’t a good guy.
5. The Hallucination (Gravity)
Gravity was a surprisingly intimate character study disguised as a big-budget blockbuster. Not to mention, the movie was a technical marvel; it shot most of its scenes with just two actors and a green screen, yet everything looked real.
Earlier in the story, Matt Kowalski (played by George Clooney) made the valiant decision to sacrifice himself to save his partner; he detached himself from his safety harness, floating off into the depths of space so that Stone (Sandra Bullock) can pull herself in to the space station.
Later on, he inexplicably returns to offer her advice as she makes her descent back into the Earth’s atmosphere. We understand that this is just a hallucination to help motivate the main character, but up until this point Gravity was as realistic as it could be. Once again, it’s not that this scene is bad. It’s just a little bit jarring.
4. Superman Saves A Cat (Superman: The Movie)
The tagline for 1978’s Superman: The Movie claimed that “You will believe a man can fly.” And boy, did we! Or at least, did people at the time. Some may argue that the effects may be outdated today, but Christopher Reeve did an excellent job at bringing the most popular superhero in the world to life for the big screen. Though the movie centers on a plot by Lex Luthor (of course), it also takes the time to show the Man of Steel performing his normal hero duties.
One of the many heroic acts Kal-El performs is saving a little girl’s cat from a tree that it was stuck in. He then gives the child one of his trademark inspirational remarks before flying off. This part itself is perfectly fine. However, the girl then goes in and tells her mother what transpired outside, which results in the woman slapping her child for lying. Yikes. What does this have to do with anything? And why did the mom resort to violence so quickly!?
3. James Bond’s Unwanted Advances (Thuderball)
The fourth film in Sean Connery’s legendary James Bond run, Thunderball was far from 007’s best movie. However, it was still classic James Bond. How could you go wrong with that? It had everything you’d want from the franchise, including cool action scenes, spy gadgets, maniacal villains, and plenty of suave Sean Connery to go around. But maybe, just maybe, Thunderball took Bond’s charm a little too far.
After the events of one of his previous adventures, Bond is seen recuperating in a clinic. The entire time, James is hitting on his nurse, who wants nothing to do with him. Suddenly he has an “incident” on one of the hospital machines and his nurse leads him to the steam room to relax. She asks Bond if he’s going to tell her boss about the incident, to which he responds “…I suppose my silence could have a price.” The nurse asks him if he means what she thinks he means, and the two head into the steam room after he affirms her guess. Yeah… we get creepy vibes all over from this one.
2. Luke and Leia’s goodbye (Return of the Jedi)
The third film in the original Star Wars Trilogy is often looked up on as the worst of the three for a number of reasons. Allegedly this is because George Lucas had originally intended to make three more films, and had to stuff all his storylines into this one when the idea was scrapped. After three movies, Luke was about to go off and face his destiny head on by turning himself over to Darth Vader. Princess Leia catches him as he tries to sneak away.
The final conversation between Luke and Leia is almost painful to watch as an adult. Here, Luke reveals that he and Leia are actually siblings and that he may never see her again. The scene is supposed to be one that has been ten years in the making and prepare us for the final confrontation, but instead it feels like something out of a bad soap opera, with bad acting and cliche dialogue galore. We know Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher can act! What was the deal here?
1. Volleyball (Top Gun)
Can you get much more ’80s than Top Gun? Following the story of “Maverick” as he trains to be an air force pilot alongside his friend “Goose” and his rival “Iceman.” The movie cemented Tom Cruise as an action star and gave us some of the greatest cinema moments of the decade. Who could forget the opening “Danger Zone” scene? Or… the volleyball game?
Partway through the movie, the film’s characters decide to loosen up a little bit by playing a game of volley ball. Shirtless, oiled up, and set to the song “Playing With the Boys,” the undertones of the scene are pretty in your face. Even director Tony Scott has admitted that this whole sequence was created just to put some eye candy in the movie. He achieved this by doing lots of close ups and slow-mo shots of the actors in action for a solid two-minute scene. What was this movie about again? Jet pilots or something?
Were you taken out of these movies by the particular scenes we mentioned? Did we miss any big ones? Let us know in the comments!
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