10 Movies People Initially Thought Were A Joke

Nobody expected these movies to be taken seriously, and the fact they were makes it so much better.

Joaquin Phoenix Joker
Warner Bros.

Filmmakers aren't opposed to joking around, or intentionally messing with an audience to sell themselves and their movies. For example, take the famous rumor that came from a source in Universal from 2010 that Jaws was being remade in 3D as a comedy. Luckily, that never came to fruition, but we're not always so lucky.

Thus, when it comes to cinema it can be hard to measure whether or not a filmmaker is serious about their intentions, especially when they start pitching oddball ideas that seem too far fetched to be reality. However, filmmakers can often surprise you. Cinema has a grand history of being deceptive, and just when you think a film is utter nonsense, that's the moment when it can surprise you by being clever, intelligent, or more insane than you ever thought possible.

These ten are but a few examples in recent years where films have captivated an audience by being deceptive, where an audience may have thought that the makers were just joking around, but in fact were being completely serious.

10. Punch Drunk Love

Joaquin Phoenix Joker

By 2002 it appeared Adam Sandler was beginning to lose his cinematic appeal. Back then, films such as The Waterboy, Big Daddy and Little Nicky gave people the impression that Sandler was losing his comedic touch and that maybe he should change his approach to cinema. However, 1998's The Wedding Singer proved that Sandler was capable of more serious roles, and his appearance in Punch Drunk Love only cemented that fact.

Acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson, the genius behind drama Boogie Nights and psychological epic Magnolia, decided to take a chance on Sandler in a very serious role - that of Barry Egan; a man who falls in love with his sister’s English co-worker whilst being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman. Punch Drunk Love is a subversive film that leans on the wacky side with its comedic set pieces, but the film hides a serious, emotional and heartfelt message underneath it all.

By having Sandler as the lead role, it helped revitalise his career. People expected disappointing wacky comedy, but they were given a serious emotional story that left a lasting impact. As a result, Punch Drunk Love was lauded by critics and although Sandler returned to making silly comedies afterwards, it proved that he was capable of great dramatic performances.


Writer from the North East. Knowledgable in Horror Movies, Silent Movies, World Cinema and Retro Video Games.