The Fly
Simon Rich: My Favorite Movies with Surreal Premises
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Simon Rich
Writer

I was always interested in surreal premises, whether it was comedic or scary or science fiction, it didn't matter. I just loved writers that were coming up with strong hooks.

Simon Rich is a writer whose short stories have been turned into TV series (Man Seeking Woman) and films (An American Pickle). Read about what inspired his screenplay for An American Pickle, starring Seth Rogen as a man brined in pickle juice for 100 years (and his great-great-grandson).

1
Kindergarten Cop
1990
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I think it’s the perfect use of Schwarzenegger and one of the funniest performances of all time.

2
King of Comedy
1983
The King of Comedy
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I think the imagined delusional fantasy sequences are just perfectly executed. The pace of it is perfect. And I love the decision to make the climactic standup routine like a B-plus, as opposed to terrible or great.

3
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1989
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I think it’s underrated. A great antagonist, very self-aware, and it’s really funny.

4
The Fly
1986
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It was the first date I went on with my wife. (Part of the reason why we bonded, I think, is our love for the movie.) I just think the Goldblum character is perfectly calibrated and it’s just a great mixture of root-able and hateable and it’s one of the all-time excellent portrayals of megalomania in film.

5
Rookie of the Year
1993
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Rookie of the Year, which I have not seen since third grade, has one of the best wish fulfillment premises ever, which is that a kid’s arm heals after an injury in such a way that he becomes capable of pitching a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and ends up playing major league baseball.

I still fantasize about living out the premise, even though I’m now older than almost every major league baseball player. That’s the beauty of it, though—as long as I have the exact same injury and it heals in the same supernatural way…

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