While Hollywood is perhaps the strongest liberal bastion in all of the United States, there are a handful of Hollywood movies that always win the hearts of conservatives. War films, fantasy epics from the minds of Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, and the red-white-and-blue drenched action films tend to be the films conservatives latch onto. However, outside of these overarching categories, there are some films, most of which fly relatively under the radar or have cult followings, that have surprisingly conservative themes.
Shaun of the Dead (2005)
The first in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead is, as one critic once put it, a “rom-zom-com,” or a romantic zombie comedy. In the film, Shaun (Simon Pegg) must navigate the rise of the undead, while dealing with the recent collapse of a long-term relationship, tension with his long time best friend (Nick Frost), and his difficult history with his stepfather (Bill Nighy).
While it’s a seemingly shallow romp, Shaun of the Dead is a film about becoming an adult more than anything else. In the film, Shaun reluctantly takes the lead of the dysfunctional group of friends, acquaintances, exes, and parents. While Shaun’s decision-making is not always the wisest, he actually learns to show confidence and assertiveness—traits that he decidedly lacks before the appearance of the undead. Ultimately, Shaun learns the value of growing up and being a man, the latter not restricted to issues of zombie-killing.
Themes: Maturity, Personal Responsibility
Hot Fuzz (2007)
The second film in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, Hot Fuzz is the story of a hotshot London police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) who gets reassigned to a sleepy small town, in which he, along with his new partner, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), uncovers a dark secret. Hot Fuzz is a combination of an homage and a parody of buddy cop action films like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys.
Although the comedy and parody elements of Hot Fuzz are pitch-perfect, they do not detract at all from the serious storytelling director Edgar Wright weaves in. Without giving too much away, the crux of the conspiracy in Hot Fuzz is that there’s a plot to perfect the town “for the greater good,” at the expense of the individuality of the town’s citizens. This “can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs” collectivist outlook is trounced spectacularly in the thrilling and hilarious finale.
Themes: Individualism over Collectivism, Pro-Law Enforcement
The World’s End (2013)
Directed by Edgar Wright, The World’s End tells the story of a group now-middle aged high school friends who, at the behest of their former leader Gary King (Simon Pegg), return to their English hometown to attempt to complete a pub crawl of 12 bars that they couldn’t finish in high school. As they move their way through the pub crawl, they begin to uncover a sinister force that has changed the town.
Aside from being incredibly funny, The World’s End thrives on upending expectations. The premise of high school friends going back to complete a pub crawl sounds like a “Boys are Back in Town” romp, but it’s actually quite different. The “leader,” Gary King, is a pitiful character; he drags and deceives his well-adjusted old friends in order to get them to help him relive his “glory days,” even though they all have families or businesses, and don’t need to relive immature shenanigans. Secondly, without spoiling what the “sinister force” is, the final conflict breaks down into a conflict with the right to ruin one’s own life against an overbearing organization perfecting the lives of everyone. In profane British fashion, the movie chooses the former.
Themes: Maturity, Personal Responsibility, Individualism over Collectivism
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, Stardust is a fantasy film where a young man from England sees a star fall onto the opposite side of a magical boundary, and vows to travel to recover the star and return it to his beloved.
Stardust is a criminally under seen fantasy movie; it’s a positive delight in terms of gleeful and absurd humor, swashbuckling action, entrancing romance, and entertaining performance. While all of those elements come to play, the romance element is where Stardust, underneath the fairy tale exterior, defies the expectations of a fairy tale and actually has an original message.
Without spoiling the story, Stardust rejects the idea of love as something attainable through slavish devotion or a dramatic gesture. In the same breath, the film also rejects the modern notion of the need to find “someone who loves you for who you are.” The main character begins as a mere lovesick teenager, and must actually mature and learn and better himself before becoming worthy of romantic love.
Themes: Self-Improvement, Personal Responsibility
Demolition Man (1993)
In Demolition Man, Los Angeles cop, John Spartan (played by Sylvester Stallone), is cryogenically frozen for a crime he did not commit, and is woken up thirty-five years later to witness a peaceful technocratic dystopia in which anything that could be perceived as inappropriate, offensive, dangerous, or unhealthy is illegal. Throughout the film, Stallone, along with new partner Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock), must apprehend Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), and uncover the societal problems of the futuristic society.
Demolition Man is perhaps one of the most strangely prophetic movies I’ve ever seen. It predicted many things about modern society, from elements of the “body positivity” movement, to extreme political correctness (use of profanity is punishable by fine), and salt and meat are illegal for being too unhealthy. In addition to these more secondary issues, the government of the future also utilizes social engineering to attempt to determine the course of the lives of individuals. Stallone, accompanied by a handful of defectors and an underground band called “The Scraps,” led by Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary), fight to restore freedom to society.
Themes: Individualism over Collectivism, Personal Freedom, Anti-Political Correctness
Honorable Mentions go out to Captain America: Civil War, Sing Street, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.