Sometimes even heroes resort to cheating to defeat their enemies. As long as it’s serving a good cause or at least it’s being used against someone even worse than the person doing it, cheating can actually appear noble. Let’s look at nine films that rely on cheating to make winners out of losers.
Angels in the Outfield
As I’ve said before, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Angels in the Outfield (1994). It’s just so pure-hearted, even though when I stop and think about it, it’s not very fair to all of the other teams to make them lose when they clearly deserved to win. But it’s all for the greater good, I suppose. Oh, and that’s Matthew McConaughey being carried by angels and a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt watching it happen. So it’s a smorgasbord of future Christopher Nolan cast members.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
The very premise of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is essentially cheating, but that’s part of the fun. They know nothing about history because they haven’t studied all semester, so when it comes time to give their final presentation, they are destined to fail most egregiously. But fate hands them certain victory in the form of a time machine. They just have to gather historical figures to do their work for them. Oh, and they can use the time machine to get out of pretty much any jam.
Big Boy Caprice never had a chance. Dick Tracy plants a bug in his hideout so that he will know exactly where to go to stop all of his criminal activities. And at the film’s climax, it turns out that he was framed for the kidnapping of Tracy’s girlfriend. He’s definitely a bad guy, but I feel for him because the good guys didn’t exactly beat him in the most honorable way.
In Gattaca, Vincent is an honest man in a world full of cheaters. He’s the product of random chance, in terms of his DNA, while just about everyone else is genetically enhanced to be physically and mentally perfect. So the only way for him to get ahead is to lie and cheat his way around the system. He pretends to be someone else to get his dream job.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
There are plenty of cheats, lies, and double-crosses throughout this masterpiece, but they saved the best for last. The Mexican standoff at the climax of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has quite possibly the most satisfying payoff of all time, and it’s only made possible by cheating.
The conceit of Ratatouille is that a rat can control a nobody as though he were a puppet and turn him into a master chef. The film has a lot of fun with this idea. All of the fame and success kind of goes to the puppet’s head when those accolades rightly belong to the little animal on top of his head.
The Sixth Man
There must be a million sports films about animals, angels, and other supernatural assistance that come to the rescue of down-on-their-luck teams. This is the only other one of these films I’ll include on this list, mostly because it’s not well known, and I saw it twice in theaters back in 1997 when I was strongly considering attending the University of Washington.
Watch the clip below and tell me this is not cheating on a massive, brutal scale.
There’s nothing quite as sweet as watching a conman get conned. That’s what happens all through The Sting, and the first encounter between Paul Newman and Robert Shaw sets the stage perfectly for their power struggle. Ironically, it’s Shaw who ends up with jack at the end of the film.
I hope you don’t feel cheated because I didn’t include a 10th example. If you like, you can recommend another film that relies on cheating to make it work.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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