Good Fish Out of Water Movies

Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

I’ve always been a fan of good fish out of water movies, but this list seems especially timely since I’m currently in Los Angeles enjoying the TCM Classic Film Festival. As a native Texan making his first visit to Hollywood, I’d say that qualifies me for fish-out-of-water status. And while things are a little different out here, I still imagine that I’m adapting better than most of the characters on the list below. At least I’ve yet to produce a bowie knife from my pants and remark, “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.”

All these films can be rented from Netflix, and the small commission we receive for sending you there helps keep us in business.

“Crocodile” Dundee (1986) – Paul Hogan caused an international box-office sensation by playing a simple outback resident who romances an American journalist. When he follows her to New York, get ready for all kinds of culture shock involving bidets, cross dressers, and a knife-wielding mugger.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) – Christopher Lambert stars in this tale about a British noble raised by apes in Africa. Years later, he’s found and brought back to rejoin his family in England, but a lifetime of living in the jungle leaves him ill-equipped to blend into polite society. Co-starring Ian Holm and Andie MacDowell.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) – When a mechanic (Bing Crosby) gets knocked unconscious, he awakes to find himself in the court of King Arthur. Romance, adventure, and plenty of musical numbers await.

Army of Darkness (1993) – The third film in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, Army of Darkness finds the demon-killing Ash (Bruce Campbell) thrown back into medieval times and forced to battle the evil Deadites with nothing more than his wits and “boom-stick.”

Les Visiteurs (1993) – In this French film, Jean Reno stars as Godefroy de Papincourt, a 12th century lord tricked into killing his future father-in-law by an evil witch. Wishing to go back in time and undo the mistake, he appeals to a wizard for help. But the wizard botches the spell, sending Godefroy and his scheming servant, Jacquouille (Christian Clavier), to the year 1992. Later remade in America as Just Visiting, also starring Reno and Clavier.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986) – Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a macho trucker who gets in over his head during a showdown between opposing mystical forces in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Directed by John Carpenter, the film combines action, kung-fu, romance, and almost every other genre you can think of. It tanked at the box office, but it’s developed a large cult following since. One of my favorite films of all time.

Sling Blade (1996) – After spending most of his life in a mental hospital for murdering his mother and her lover, Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) is released into the world. Trying to make sense of his surroundings, he befriends an unhappy boy (Lucas Black) and enjoys some “French fried taters.” But things aren’t entirely pleasant, as Karl must contend with Doyle Hargraves (Dwight Yoakam), the abusive boyfriend of the boy’s mother. Sling Blade won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Thornton was nominated for Best Actor (Yoakam should’ve also received a nomination). Co-starring John Ritter, J.T. Walsh, Robert Duvall, Natalie Canerday and James Hampton.

Avatar (2009) – The biggest hit in the history of film, this James Cameron effects spectacular puts a crippled Earth soldier inside the 8-foot-tall body of a native of the planet Pandora. As he interacts with the local population on behalf of the Earth military, he comes to respect their culture and even fall in love. But the military and greedy corporations want to displace them in order to get at a valuable substance, and so our hero (Sam Worthington) must choose a side. Co-starring Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, and Michelle Rodriguez.

The Wicker Man (1973) – When a young girl is reported missing, a straight-arrow UK cop (Edward Woodward) is sent to investigate on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. What he finds are pagan rituals, lots of free love, and something sinister beneath it all. A horror classic that builds to a masterful climax, The Wicker Man is often overlooked by fans of the genre. Don’t make that mistake, and avoid the Nicolas Cage remake (unless you’re looking for a few unintentional laughs).

Quigley Down Under (1990) – Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) is an American cowboy and sharpshooter who applies for a job at an Australian ranch owned by a wealthy Brit (Alan Rickman). When a falling out occurs, Quigley is left stranded in the outback with a crazy woman (Lara San Giacomo) and a thirst for revenge. When it comes to looking right at home in western attire, only Sam Elliott can match Selleck.

If you enjoyed this list of good fish out of water movies, be sure to click on the following:

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