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Upending notions of what movies are about

For instance, if you think 'Moneyball' is about baseball, you're wrong.

November 18, 2011|By Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times
  • You might think "The Help" is about civil rights.
You might think "The Help" is about civil rights. (Dale Robinette, DreamWorks )

Movie trailers, bus ads and lobby posters make it all seem so simple — "Here's a new movie," they say to us, "it's about this" — but talk to the filmmakers and stars and you find out quickly that, in Hollywood, nothing is quite what it seems.

The movie: "The Help"

What you thought it was about: The beginnings of the civil rights movement

Think again: "I don't believe this movie is about civil rights. It's a movie about these friendships and these relationships," star Viola Davis says.

The movie: "Moneyball"

What you thought it was about: Baseball

Think again: "It's not a baseball movie, period," director Bennett Miller says. "It's about thinking differently. I saw a story about people being undervalued," costar Jonah Hill adds.

The movie: "The Ides of March"

What you thought it was about: Politics

Think again: "I don't really find it to be a movie about politics. It's about a guy doing anything to win at the cost of his soul. Those are universal themes you could play with in any genre or in any workplace," director-star-producer George Clooney says.

The movie: "Shame"

What you thought it was about: Sex, a lot of sex

Think again: "It could have been anything — it could have been gambling and it could have been an alcohol addiction. It didn't have to be sex," director Steve McQueen says.

The movie: "Real Steel"

What you thought it was about: Boxing robots

Think again: "It's not really about robots, it's a film about a father and a son. We have robots — and they're great — but that's not what the movie is about," star Hugh Jackman says.

The movie: "The Big Year"

What you thought it was about: Bird-watching

Think again: ''For me, it was never really a movie about bird-watching. This is about three guys who want to be the best at something. There's kind of a bromance at the heart of it," screenwriter Steve Frankel says.

geoff.boucher@latimes.com

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