Top things we learn from the movies

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It is often said that we "live and learn," but we learn a lot faster by watching a lot of movies, and in fact, we learn things we never would have known from real life. Or especially in public schools, where they spend most of the time teaching how to cover a cucumber with a condom — an object that the cinema teaches us no one ever even uses.

Here, then, are the top lessons learned through the magic of the silver screen:

Picking acquaintances[edit]

To answer a newspaper ad in Help Wanted, Roommate Wanted, or worst of all, Personals, is to court instant peril. But there are several simple rules of thumb:

  • Bad people are easy to identify, because they are all physically unattractive. However, being attractive is no guarantee of anything either; Dorian Gray started out pretty.
  • The best choice of confederate is someone from a distinctly different culture. A nerdy white person is best off choosing a dope-smoking stoner for companionship. A policeman from the suburbs is always well advised to partner with an African American from the ghetto with frequent diatribes against "The Man." The squad car will have diversity and, before you know it, they will start thinking alike.
  • You know an acquaintance is bad when you start getting hints that he is more than one person, or more than one personality. Such hints include scars that disappear and reappear, the same regarding facial hair, and the tendency to be active primarily while you are asleep. Your new life partner is more likely to be a werewolf than merely a furry.
  • Even if your husband can be trusted, it does not mean that you can trust his sudden new friend. Pay attention the first time you have him over for dinner that he does not offer your husband a million dollars to pimp you out to him.


The average person is notoriously likely to find himself dealing with armed criminals. Moreover, the police are utterly unable either to detect their crimes or to bring them to justice, which means that the citizen must play the primary role in investigation, pursuit, and capture. The following rules are tried and true:

  • When you see criminals contemplating a bank heist, never simply ring up the police. The precinct captain who will take your report is certain to be in cahoots with the gangsters.
  • Instead, hide behind the curtain while they discuss the details. You will be discovered, leading to either a hostage-taking or a terrifying chase, but you will be doing your civic duty.
  • When pursued by someone with a gun, you can shoot behind your back and you will sometimes hit him. But if he shoots forward, he will never hit you. In fact, hardened criminals are never as good at shooting guns as the ordinary person who has never seen a gun until picking one up at the scene of a crime. Even a woman who faints at the sight of a hangnail can make dead-eye shots at long distances without any training, and is never knocked on her ass by the gun's recoil.
  • Your handgun almost never runs out of bullets. (Except when you need it the most!) When that happens, you must throw the gun at your pursuer. It will never hit him; but fortunately, he will never pick it up, either to keep it or to throw it back at you.
  • You need not aim at the target's heart or brain, which could produce messy results. Above all you must not aim at the vocal cords, because that would eliminate a lot of poignant dialogue. You can have equal success trying to shoot his gun out of his hand.
  • Poignant dialogue (see above) is your friend. All hardened criminals need to explain to their hostage (you), especially to a hostage they are about to murder, who is in their secret conspiracy and whom they plan to rob next. Once you solve the complete mystery, it doesn't matter what happens next, though it might be nice to get out alive. There could be a sequel.


As in crime, the bad guys cannot shoot straight. The U.S. Army benefits enormously from the fact that the armies of foreign countries seem to train their soldiers to shoot over the heads of U.S. soldiers, or aim for nearby water tanks and chicken coops. With luck, this fact will continue to serve the U.S. even under modern rules of engagement that require soldiers not to shoot at Muslims but to gently coax them to surrender using promises of comfortable cells with tasty halal and toilets rebuilt to point away from Mecca.


Hollywood dispels many fallacies that abound in real life regarding high-tech devices:

  • High-tech gadgets are trivially easy to use, after a few moments of brow-furrowing. All you have to do is push the right button, and it is easy to figure out which one that is, even if it is labelled in Klingon.
  • Password-protected gadgets, such as electronically locked doors, take a bit longer to figure out, usually until the pursuing troops are just close enough to risk hitting you.
  • While Driver's Ed and flight school are useful when going for your license, they are actually unnecessary in order to drive or fly; any rube can figure out how to, and in short order even swerve and dodge oncoming vehicles.
  • Controls and indicators never fail. If the red needle is pointing to E, it may mean the fuel tank is floating in the Pacific with the part of your wing that the Nips shot away, but it never means that the red needle is malfunctioning. Similarly, you might not get the results you want when you press the button, but you are always able to press the button. Exception: Steering wheels sometimes come off in your hands, especially during debates with the co-pilot. So does the lever for the ejector seat.
  • A well-trained spy can always defuse any bomb before it explodes — usually by cutting the correct wire. Even a nuclear bomb in midair can be disarmed, though that may also require assistance from an expert hacker, which every well-trained spy has on call around the clock.
  • Any sufficiently advanced computer or robot technology becomes not only self-aware, but capable of emotions, and hates the human race, usually because it shares code with 4chan.