Top Five Fan Theories for Movies I Snagged From the Used DVD Section of My Local Family Video Store the Week Before It Closed

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BY C. JAMES BYE

For this list, we’re looking at films I found in the used DVD bin at my local Family Video just a week prior to its closing — films that have inspired fans (mostly myself) to develop some occasionally wacky, and even more often surprisingly thought-provoking theories that I plan to share all over Reddit. Here we go!

Number Five: Finding Nemo

Possibly Pixar’s crowning achievement, fans of this modern children’s classic have speculated that Nemo, along with his siblings and mother, actually perishes in the opening scene of the film. Thanks to a stellar performance from Albert Brooks, as viewers we’re then privy to an inside glimpse of Nemo’s father, Marlin’s near-instantaneous spiral into madness. Several years having passed, we discover Marlin has created the imaginary son, Nemo in an effort to deal with the tragic deaths of his wife and unborn children. Marlin eventually escapes from the Fish Insane Asylum with fellow inmate, Dory, played with wide-eyed and crazed abandon by Ellen Degeneres. Fans were tipped off to the secret meaning of the film when an early draft of the script leaked online, featuring the telltale working title of One Swam Over the Cukoo’s Nest.

Number Four: Gorillas in the Mist

Despite this Sigourney Weaver-led, Oscar-nominated film being based on the life of very real and famous zoologist, Dian Fossey, fans have conjectured that all of the events of the film take place in the mind of bird in the split second between its having flown into a window of an industrial complex and its inevitable death.

Number Three: The Great Outdoors

Despite having zero evidence to support this theory, fans claim that one of our favorite paranormal investigators and eliminators, Dan Aykroyd, actually developed the script for this 1988 comedy as a proposed Ghostbusters sequel; this notwithstanding Mr. Aykroyd having on several occasions denied the theory, stating in one interview, quote, “That would make no sense. We ended up making Ghostbusters II  just a year later and it was nothing at all like The Great Outdoors. Also The Great Outdoors is about two men with families vacationing in the woods and not about four men without families not vacationing but rather fighting ghosts in a major metropolitan city. If any of my films were reworked scripts for Ghostbusters sequels it would be Nothing But Trouble. Or maybe My Stepmother’s an Alien. But honestly, all of these films I mentioned were based on Rockford Files fan fiction I’d written and added some sci-fi stuff to. The final product of those films followed a process a lot more similar to something like 50 Shades of Gray than anything else. But about the Rockford Files, definitely not Ghostbusters.” Fans, however, shrug off repeated statements like this from Aykroyd by noting that the terrifying bald-headed bear featured in the film is an obvious stand-in for fan-favorite ghoul, Slimer. And the four kids are probably some sort of amalgamation of Annie Potts and Rick Moranis if you think about it. And one of the wives is maybe Winston.

Number Two: King Kong

We found it almost impossible, after hearing this theory, to watch this 1930s Universal monster-movie classic seeing it as anything but a highly complex and successful allegorical retelling of the events surrounding NBC’s 1994 green-lighting of the Friends pilot.

Before we tell you our top pick, let’s take a look at some…

Honorable Mentions

127 Hours: Can someone say shot-for-shot remake of Weekend at Bernie’s? Only instead of a dead guy being forced to party with girls in bikinis and stuff, it’s James Franco as a guy forced to cut his own arm off. Despite this film, like Gorillas in the Mist, also being based on real life events, the similarities were just too remarkable for the filmmakers to ignore.

Jaws: Richard Dryfuss’ character is really good at making tacos, like the best tacos you’ve ever eaten. He’s just too busy fighting a shark in the film to ever make them.

Deliverance: The woods are actually a virtual reality program for which the characters themselves designed all of the terrible stuff that happens to them, which, although it seemed impossible, makes Deliverance all the more horrifying.

Meatballs: Bill Murray’s girlfriend is really a dragon.

The Blue Lagoon: The lagoon is sentient.

The Jungle Book: Kaa, the snake, lives long enough to become the snake in Anaconda, despite the snake not being an anaconda.

The Bear: The bear is Presbyterian.

And our Number One favorite film fan theory comes from the movie Cast Away. You’ll be hard pressed to find an online film forum discussing this desert island flick where one or more fans don’t propose the theory that Tom Hanks, to quote poster @WilsonLove, “definitely fucked that ball.” @WilsonLove goes on to explain, quote, “Hanks was on that island for, like, years. You think he ain’t gonna fuck that ball? It may have been off-screen for ratings or whatevs, but when you see a night scene and it fades to black like he’s going to sleep on the island, that’s when Tom Hanks is fucking that ball and we all know it.” Perhaps there’s no way to sum up this popular fan theory better than @WilsonLove’s closing sentence to his post: “He loved that fucking ball, Wilson. He said so with his words and with his actions. Like when he fucked that ball.”


C. James Bye is, along with his wife Jessa, the co-editor of The Way We Sleep (Curbside Splendor), an anthology of prose and comics about sleep. He shares his visual art and writings at cjamesbye.com and music at stirupyourgreymatter.bandcamp.com.

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