Good Ideas Gone Wrong: 15 Movie Ideas That Were Terribly Executed

Having a magnificent idea for a movie is not the same as making a superb film. Without an extraordinary script, director, and cast, even the best movie concepts can be wasted.

These movies failed to live up to their potential in various ways. Some didn’t dive deep enough; others went so deep they became incoherent and meaningless.

From social commentaries to supernatural universes, these imaginative movie ideas became severely disappointing films.

1. Downsizing (2017)

Downsizing (2017) Matt Damon, Jason Sudeikis
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Matt Damon stars in this fascinating story about humanity miniaturizing themselves to offset climate change. The consequences of environmental abuse rapidly approach. This film offers an interesting solution that enticed many to watch it.

Unfortunately, they missed the mark. The movie feels poorly thought out and doesn’t explore many questions about downsizing humanity. Furthermore, there’s an obvious lack of prominent female characters, making the movie feel less realistic and inclusively existential.

2. In Time (2011)

In Time (2011) Justin Timberlake
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

In Time was a massive flop that many people wanted to enjoy. In this universe, time is like currency. You can buy and sell years of your life as necessary or possible. Sounds like an awesome idea, right? The movie’s trailer is incredibly alluring, but the final product is less impressive.

The cast and concept are spot-on, but the story is sloppy and graceless. This happens often, as an excellent concept can’t stand alone. Even the best ideas need a solid story and believable dialogue to resonate with the viewer.

3. Hancock (2008)

Hancock (2008) Will Smith
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Hancock is one of the biggest film disappointments of the last twenty years. With actors like Will Smith, Charlize Theron, and Jason Bateman, how could this movie possibly fail? The idea of an anti-superhero is brilliant and full of potential.

For whatever reason, these elements didn’t come together the way we hoped. The story seemed rich and robust, and perhaps too much so. It simultaneously feels like they tried to condense too much into the movie and didn’t have a strong enough story to tell. We’d love to see someone else take a crack at the idea behind Hancock.

4. The Happening (2008)

The Happening (2008) Zooey Deschanel, Ashlyn Sanchez
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

M. Night Shyamalan is a divisive director, but most people agree that he missed with The Happening. Again, the trailer was irresistible, and the movie had a decent cast featuring Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg.

The problems arise from the movie’s relentless ambiguity and secrecy. Rather than depict the threat in the movie upfront, we’re lazily guided through a fruitless narrative until the anticlimactic reveal. Keeping things from the audience can be clever, but it can also be confusing.

5. Limitless (2011)

Limitless (2011) Bradley Cooper, Brian James Pepe
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Limitless is yet another movie here with an exceptional trailer that many of us remember from the early 2010s. Between Bradley Cooper’s magnetism on screen and the movie’s miracle pill, we couldn’t wait to see this wild story.

The actual movie didn’t have the impact of the trailer. Cooper delivered, and the movie is visually punchy, but the story and script are what went wrong. The characters are underdeveloped, and the plot feels messy and barely there. Sadly, a hot leading man and a trendy concept do not make for an instant classic.

6. Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023)

Five Nights at Freddy's (2023) Kevin Foster, Artie Esposito
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

We want to give the makers of Five Nights at Freddy’s some grace, as pleasing a new audience and appeasing video game fanatics is a tall order. The idea of evil arcade animatronics coming to life is enough to make us shiver, but the movie attempts to incorporate too much of the video game’s lore in less than two hours.

It wasn’t the fright fest we wanted it to be, and instead, we felt like we were missing some critical information from the video game. As mentioned, we wholly understand the challenge the creators faced, but if you can’t deliver on the concept, it’s a waste.

7. M3GAN (2022)

M3GAN (2022) Violet McGraw, Amie Donald
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

We know M3GAN was not a flop, but we expected more from it. With artificial intelligence and robots on the rise, we were ready for a terrifying and disturbing ride. While M3GAN is one creepy girl, we weren’t as scared of her as we wanted to be.

Beyond the lack of scare appeal, the movie’s plot felt flat and didn’t deliver any major surprises. We commend the makers for injecting humor into a horror film well, but the lack of horror calls for a redo.

8. The Purge (2013)

The Purge (2013) Ethan Hawke
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Some people love this freaky film, but for many, it didn’t fulfill its potential. In modern politics, someone always calls for fewer laws, and someone else calls for more. This makes the movie’s concept deeply enticing, as many people wonder what would happen if our world were lawless.

Our biggest problem with the movie is that it felt too narrow. The creepy masks feel kitschy by the end, and the home-invasion angle comes on too strong, to the point you forget about the lawlessness outside. It could be any home-invasion flick. The excessive violence and cheesy lines make it just another thriller we won’t watch again.

9. Life as We Know It (2010)

Life as We Know It (2010) Josh Duhamel, Brooke Clagett, Brynn Clagett, Alexis Clagett
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Life as We Know It offers an intriguing concept. It’s about the respective best friends of a mother and father. When the parents pass, the two friends are left with their baby, causing them to devise a unique and functional living situation.

This idea creates many questions concerning godparents, guardianship, legal wills, friendship, and more. The movie didn’t tackle any of this thoroughly. Instead, it rapidly descends into a cliched romantic comedy that offers nothing memorable or new besides a cute baby.

10. Sucker Punch (2011)

Sucker Punch (2011) Emily Browning
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch should be the gritty girl movie the world needs. Instead, we got a flimsy story that fumbles everything, from the characters to the plot to the dialogue. It offers a wonderfully diverse and feminist cast and a vibrant and alluring trailer. However, the weak plot cannot be saved by anything but an aggressive rewrite.

Considering the number of male-driven films about a vengeful assassin or something similar, we need more excellent female-driven ones. For now, all we have is Kill Bill and Promising Young Woman.

11. The Age of Adaline (2015)

The Age of Adaline (2015) Michiel Huisman, Blake Lively
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

We know for a fact that backward aging can be an exceptional and captivating concept for a movie (see: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). So what went wrong here? The Age of Adaline didn’t dive deep enough for us compared to similar films.

While the performances were enjoyable and the movie was visually attractive, they barely explored and embraced the overarching theme of death. It didn’t bring the raw emotion and fragility of films like Benjamin Button, falling short in its category.

12. Push (2009)

Push (2009) Dakota Fanning
Image Credit: Summit Entertainment.

Push is a film based on DC comics that went for a darker, grittier vibe than the more popular superhero movies. We love the cast and are on board with the aesthetic they went for, but the plot and characters left us unsatisfied.

The movie feels rushed and messy throughout, with jerky cinematography and cryptic dialogue that fails to grab your attention. While the vibes are perfectly grimy and sketchy, the plot and characters feel far away and inaccessible.

13. What Women Want (2000)

What Women Want (2000) Judy Greer
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

We’re still on the fence about this concept, but we know the execution failed. The idea of a man hearing everything women think in their heads is ripe for various interpretations and plots. Rather than explore some heavier themes, we get a fluffy romantic comedy.

One of the better plot points in the movie involves a secretary, played by Judy Greer, contemplating taking her own life. This is the only time we get a taste of the concept’s true potential, but the plot point is minor and gets lost in the basic romantic storyline.

14. Madame Webb (2024)

Madame Web (2024) Dakota Johnson
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

We’re still unsure if they wanted this movie to come off as satirical and funny. If that was the intention, they nailed it. However, we’re pretty certain they just wanted to make a stereotypical Marvel film.

The sad part is that Madame Webb is a sensational character with the potential to reignite interest in Marvel, especially in the female demographic. Instead of making a thoughtful, compelling, and feminist superhero flick, they made an awkwardly slapped-together movie that felt unfinished and unloved.

15. A Little Bit of Heaven (2011)

 A Little Bit of Heaven (2011) Kate Hudson
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

A Little Bit of Heaven could have been a heartfelt and moving film about finding love when it seems impossible. It’s about a feisty and successful bachelorette who discovers she has late-stage colon cancer.

Her journey through treatment showcases how different people deal with grief, but the entire movie felt like a sugarcoated depiction of cancer and death. They tried to keep the movie light through all this, but they should’ve leaned into the tragedy and made it a wholly heartbreaking film.

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The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


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Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

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