Pop Culture

Movie List

"Real World" examples of research in movies.  Alphabetized entries submitted by graduate students in Research Methods courses (2006-present). Submissions welcome! Contact me!
"If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him." ~John F. Kennedy

A"Aeon Flux" is a movie based on the MTV animated series that is set in a world 400 years in the future.Disease has wiped out the majority of the earth's population except one walled, protected city-state, Bregna, ruled by a congress of scientists. The primary leaders are two brothers who have used experimental research to create the "perfect" society through cloning, getting rid of all fast food joints, making people wear tight fitting leather clothing, and killing those who just don't seem to "fit in". However, they can't defeat that "I just got to be me" attitude in the form of, Aeon Flux. She's the threat to their experimental validity.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402022/
"American Mormon" is a documentary exploring cultural perception of "Mormons". The project is ethnography using convenience sampling.http://imdb.com/title/tt0478903/
B"Back to the Future".  Inventing time travel is experimental research. http://imdb.com/title/tt0088763/"Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" Historical research of course, for a very important school report.http://imdb.com/title/tt0096928/
"Black Like Me" Basically this is a true account of John Griffin's experiences when he went undercover in the South as a black man. This is a QUALITATIVE approach using ETHNOGRAPHIC research.http://imdb.com/title/tt0057889/
"Bowling for Columbine" by Michael Moore is a documentary about America's obsession with guns. The documentary visits school's and different public places to try and better understand why American's are so gun happy. Michael Moore was using a narrative approach to qualitative data.Even though we discussed some of the ethical issues regarding this documentary, I still am fond of Michael Moore and his narrative style of research. http://imdb.com/title/tt0310793/
"Cool Hand Luke" (1967) EXEMPLARY CRITIQUE! This classic prison movie stars Paul Newman. It is best known for the famous line: "What we have here is a failure to communicate." In spectacular fashion, Luke (played by Paul Newman) conducts research to see if he can eat 50 hard-boiled eggs in one hour. The other prisoners exuberantly bet against him, disbelieving that he can perform the miracle without throwing up. The famous line, "What we have here is a failure to communicate" is spoken twice in the movie. It is first spoken by the Captain (or warden) of the prison (played by Strother Martin). Later on, at the end of the film, Luke (played by Paul Newman) repeats the line in an attempt to mock the Captain. As a result, Luke is instantly shot in the neck. As for the research aspect of the movie, I admit it is a bit of a stretch. Nonetheless, consider the following argument. By eating the 50 hard-boiled eggs, Luke is participating in a form of single-subject experimental research. According to Gay, Mills, & Airasian (2006), a single-subject experimental design focuses on “the behavior change that an individual…exhibits as a result of some intervention, or treatment” (p. 14). In traditional single-subject designs, researchers “compare a single person’s behavior before treatment to behavior exhibited during the course of the experiment” (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2006, p.14). In a sense, the “experiment” of eating 50 hard-boiled eggs constitutes a single-subject experimental design where the “researchers” (in this case prisoners) compare Luke’s behavior before eating the eggs to his behavior during (and after) the experiment.  This is an example of quantitative research! http://imdb.com/title/tt0061512/
"Dances with Wolves" is the story of a soldier who "deserts" and lives with a Sioux Tribe. Eventually he is immersed and accepted into their way of life. Ethnographic Research http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0099348/
"D.A.R.Y.L" A "boy", part human-part machine, was built by the government as a means to fool enemies, but the mission went astray when the boy began to incorporate emotion into his existence. Government planned on bagging the experiment, but one scientist couldn't because of the now moral dilemma.Experimental research http://imdb.com/title/tt0088979/
"Das Experiment" Based on infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. Experimental research. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250258/
" Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1941) Dr. Jekyll believes good and evil exist in everyone. He engages in experimental research to attempt to prove his hypothesis. Through his experimentation, he discovers his evil side, named Hyde. Experience teaches him just how evil Hyde can be in this exciting and historic film. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033553/
"Elf" is research related because it is about the discovery of his past. It is autobiographical about his life, while being discovered, one crazy incident at a time by Papa Elf. Searching for information on your past is considered research because you are constantly observing, talking, taking field notes and uncovering where you came from.  http://imdb.com/title/tt0319343/
"Erin Brockovich" In this film, Erin Brockovich spends her time researching the cause of sickness in a community. This research could be classified as "basic research" conducted soley for the purpose of developing or refining a theory. You might also consider this to be "descriptive research" which determines and reports the way things are; answering questions about the current subject of interest (the pollutants). The theory, of course, is that the plaintiff in the movie is liable for damages due to their neglient acts. Through her research, she sets out to prove this theory correct. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0195685/
"E.T." A group of alien botanists come to earth to gather plants for basic or possibly applied research. Since the aliens are scared away before they are able to complete their research (perhaps they are taking samples of the plants back to their own planet to do their research), it is not clear exactly what kind of QUANTITATIVE research on the plants they are doing. It may be EXPERIMENTAL research or simply DESCRIPTIVE research. I suppose a guess is all we can do since it isn’t revealed in the movie.http://imdb.com/title/tt0083866/
"Flatliners". Five medical students attempt to learn more about the afterlife. In their hope to learn more insight about death and to find a cure they use a QUANTITATIVE approach and EXPERIMENTAL research with each student going “under” for longer periods of time.http://indie.imdb.com/title/tt0099582/
"Fletch".(1985) This 1980s “cult classic” stars Chevy Chase as Fletch, a newspaper writer. In the movie, Fletch conducts research about drug dealers on the beaches of L.A. He does so by living on the beach, slowly assimilating himself with the drug dealing “beach community.” Fletch presents himself as a bum and gradually becomes accepted by the drug dealers, gaining their trust and rapport. Slowly, over time, Fletch collects data about the cultural patterns of L.A. drug dealers. This is a form of Ethnographic Research. You might even say that Fletch was “going native” on the beaches of L.A. (Of course, his research might be considered unethical – he did not obtain proper consent from the drug dealers!) http://imdb.com/title/tt0089155/plotsummary
"The Fly". Researcher is doing quantitative research. Professor Brundle does a good job in completing a succesfful pilot study, however he never anticipates the error in stability that occures when a fly, unaware, enters his transportation machine. Talk about bad science.... http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091064/
"Fried Green Tomatoes". A housewife who is unhappy with her life befriends an old lady in a nursing home and is enthralled by the tales she tells of people she used to know. This movie is an example of Narrative research as the people tell the stories of the life of one person. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101921/
GATTACA" is an experimental approach to genetics in order to get the superior genome with no diseases. Those who are born the "natural way" are tracked in positions of lesser value in society. Those that are born with their genetics altered to get the best genes are superior and get the top jobs. Until, Vince proves the system wrong and throws off all statistical analyses from what was diagnosed when he was born. This movie is more based on qualitative approaches since it involves experiments with human life and the quality of their living.http://www.mediaknowall.com/Scifi/gattacanotes.html
"GhostBusters" Peter Venkmen (Bill Murray) is conducting (or at least claims to be condutcing)experimental research using electric shock as negative reinforcement. http://imdb.com/title/tt0087332/
"Gorillas in the Mist" Story of scientist Dian Fossey studying vanishing mountain gorillas in Africa. Talk about going native!http://imdb.com/title/tt0095243/
"How to Make an American Quilt". Narrative research is used to gather the stories in this movie. http://imdb.com/title/tt0113347/
"Hollowman". This movie is based on a scientists who makes an invisible serum for the government. He first tests the product on lab animals and then chooses to test it on himself, against the orders of the government. The scientist, Sebastian, grows increasingly dangerous to the lab and the government as he abuses his invisibility to avoid being visible again.http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1804104841/details
"Honey, I Shrunk the Kids". In this film, Rick Moranis stars as a scientist who is experimenting with the creation of an electromagnetic shrinking device (experimental research). When his research subjects inadvertently become his own children, the real adventure begins. Makes me wonder if he obtained informed consent before beginning his study? Probably not.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097523/
"Hoop Dreams". This 1994 documentary that chronicles two inner-city high school students as they attempt to become basketball superstars. This is narrative research.The IMDB website uses the following statement to describe the movie: "This is not a 'by-the-numbers' film." Therefore, this must be qualitative! http://imdb.com/title/tt0110057/
"Hulk". Another quality quantitative research study in which Dr.Bruce Banner finds himself the subject of his own research design through the process of a manipulative father and an act of heroism. Although his pilot study work has been less then successful on the animals in the lab, combinded with his own DNA, the gamma radiation treatment proves to be a smash success for himself even to that point of saying, and I quote,"Betty, you know my bad leg, well the doctor now says it's my good leg. He wants to know what it is I am taking!" Little does Dr.Banner know his new found healing ability comes from a major selection-maturation interaction, and that his healing factors are about ready to take on a positively skewed distribution of an unearthly proportion... known as the Hulk. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286716/
"Innerspace" Dennis Quaid in reduced to a miniature size and is scheduled to be injected into a rabbit's bloodstream in order to conduct medical research. Mistakenly he is injected into a hypochondriac named Jack and the scientists have to figure out a way to get him out. In the process, there is a burglary in the lab and the thieves take the potion and part of the device used to conduct the experiment. To restore Dennis to his original size and get him out of Tuck, they need both pieces to work together and reverse the experiment. Being extreme sci-fi and funny, this would probably be qualitative research. http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800081007/details

"Instinct" is the story of a psychologist (Cuba Gooding Jr.) conducting a study on an anthropologist (Anthony Hopkins) who is arrested for murder after he had been living with, and studying, a group of gorillas for two years. I guess what Gooding Jr. is doing actually qualifies as practice rather than research, so...I'll go with Hopkins doing a basic, ethnographic study of the gorillas.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128278/

"The Invisible Man" This movie classic, made in 1933, features a scientist doing experimental research on becoming invisible. In discovering the trick to becoming invisible, the scientist becomes murderously insane. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024184/
"The Island" This 2005 film features Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson as two people who meet in a closed facility. The facility is creating "harvested beings" and they are kept at this utopian facility until they are no longer needed and then they are killed off, or sent to the island. When Ewan McGregor's character finds out what they are doing at this facility he goes on the run, with Scarlett. This is an example of EXPERIMENTAL reserch, and is VERY UNETHICAL!!! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399201/
J "Joe Dirt" is a comedy about a radio DJ (Dennis Miller) who discovers that the studio janitor (David Spade) has an interesting story to tell. Miller allows Spade air time to tell his story of love, friendship and the search for his long lost parents. Miller is conducting narrative research in this movie.I suppose that it could also be considered case study or historical (Spade is constructing a narrative of the history of his life up to that point in time) research also. I'm not quite sure what exactly differentiates these three types.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245686/
"Jurassic Park". Scientists cloning dinosaurs. Experimental research. http://imdb.com/title/tt0107290/
"Kinsey" (2004) This movie chronicles the life of Alfred Kinsey, the famous sex researcher (and author of the 1948 "classic" book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male). The movie portrays Kinsey conducting Narrative research. Using a well-developed interviewing technique, Kinsey collects data by encouraging his subjects to speak freely about their sexual experiences.http://imdb.com/title/tt0362269/
" L’Auberge espanole (The Spanish Apartment)" L’Auberge espanole is an ethnographic look into the cultural makeup of the leading countries in the European Union. The principal character, Xavier, a Frenchman, goes to Barcelona to study the Spanish language. In actuality, his trip provides an intense examination into the relations of distinct nationalities and the roles that stereotypes play in these relationships. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0283900/
"X3:The Last Stand," Scientists conduct experimental research to develop a vaccine to disable the mutant gene. The vaccine is developed through the genes of another mutant whose power is to disable the power of other mutants. In addition, this movie shows clearly the types of debate research can cause. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0376994/
In "Last of the Dogmen" Barbara Hershey plays an anthropologist who, after being captured by a Native American tribe isolated in the Montana wilderness for the past century, has the opportunity to conduct an ethnographic study on that tribe.Great movie, info. found at:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113617/
"A Lion in the House" (2006) This movie is a documentary that chronicles the incredible journeys of 5 cancer patients. Using narrative research, the filmmakers offer an uncensored take on the battle to survive cancer. The film divulges the entire history of these children, offering stories from the cancer patients themselves as well as stories from their families, caretakers, doctors, and nurses. The PBS website boldly states that "these five stories unfold with intimacy, compassion and honesty as audiences witness their struggles, their despair and their triumphs." http://imdb.com/title/tt0492472/
"The Manhattan Project" is a movie about the development of nuclear bombs and researching how effective the new devices are for war. I am sure this movie involves both qualitative and quantitative analysis because the development of the bombs themselves would be qualitative and testing their ability to "get the job done". The quantitative would be the mechanical aspect as well as the calculations that go into the timing of the device, placement, and effective trials. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project_
In the movie, "The Milagro Beanfield War" (directed by Robert Redford and starring Daniel Stern), Daniel Stern plays a young researcher doing an ETHNOGRAPHY in rural New Mexico. More information about this movie can be found at:http://imdb.com/title/tt0095638/
In "Medicine Man"(1992), Sean Connery plays a medical researcher doing experimental medical research(quantitative) to discover a cure for cancer. http://imdb.com/title/tt0104839/
In the 1997 film "Miss Evers' Boys", Nurse Eunice Evers chronicles the stories of 412 black men infected with syphilis, but not treated -- for the purpose of evaluating the effects of the disease on blacks vs. whites. The men were told these secret U.S. Government medical experiments were a "medical care program", but were only given placebos. Left untreated, all but 127 were dead by the time the study was stopped after U.S. Senate hearings. The project took place in Macon County, Alabama in 1932 and continued throgh the 1950's. This movie shows experimental research at its worst. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119679/plotsummary
"Monsters, Inc." (2001) The Evil Monster Randall and corrupt Factory President Mr. Waternoose kidnap the child Boo and attempt to conduct single subject quantitative research by placing her in a specially-designed ”Scream Extractor” machine. Their goal is to revolutionize the industry with new technology. Interestingly, as the story develops, other characters in the movie learn through observation (qualitative research) that children’s laughter creates more energy than screaming. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0198781/
"Nell" (1994) Nell is a young girl raised in isolation in the woods of North Carolina. Her speech is severely limited. After her mother dies, she is found by a doctor who attempts to help Nell adapt to her own surroundings. A psychology student wants to study Nell in a controlled laboratory. A judge agrees to let both the doctor and psychology student observe Nell in the woods for three months. This movie is a qualitative approach to research, an attempt to understand why Nell's speech has developed in the way it has, and what factors have determined her behavior. It is narrative research because the researchers in this case are focusing solely on Nell for an extended period of time and they develop a deep and trusting relationship. There is also an ethnographic element as Nell is observed on a daily basis in her "native" setting, the forest, for three months.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110638/
"Never Cry Wolf". This movie involves a researcheer sent out into the arctic to study wolves and their effects on the caribou herds. The main character spends a significant amount of time with the wolf populations and emerses himself in their habitat. He softens his perspective about the personality of wolves and how harmful they are to the environment. This would probably be a qualitative study because of the behavioral aspect when studying wolves in their habitat. It could also be included on a casual comparitive because you are reviewing a cause and effect relationship between the wolves and their prey. http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800099695/infohttp://www.ultimatedisney.com/nevercrywolf.html
"The Notebook". Behind every great love is a great story. The movie focuses on an old man reading a story to an old woman in a nursing home. The story he reads is the stories of the life of the old woman in the nursing home. This is an example of narrative research. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0332280/
"Outbreak". It has been quite a while since I have seen this movie, but it seems to be that a monkey with a disease is captured after lots of people had contracted the disease. Researchers were charged with finding a cure and saving tons of people.This might be a little easier if I could remember the movie more specifically, but I am thinking it is Qualitative research - probably single subject research because it would look at behavior before and during treatment. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114069/
"Pay it Forward" In this movie a young boy is given a school project in a social studies class and he comes up with the idea of "paying it forward." The point being if we all did nice things for someone else, without expecting something in return what kind of changes would we see in society. I think this might just be a little action research. What do you guys think?http://imdb.com/title/tt0223897/
"Philadelphia Experiment". Experimental research in anti-radar technology. http://imdb.com/title/tt0087910/
"Planet of the Apes" (2001) An astronaut lands on a planet inhabited by human-like apes, who rule the planet with an iron fist. This movie would be an example of an ethnographic study as the study of the cultural patterns and perspectives of the participants in their natural setting. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133152/
"The Quiller Memorandum" is a movie about a British spy, Quiller, who infiltrates a neo-Nazi organization to obtain the location of their secret base of operations. Quiller conducts records-based research, in addition to using the method of participant observation.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060880/
"Rachel's Daughters: Searching for the Causes of Breast Cancer". Seven women, breast cancer patients or survivors, take on a QUANTITATIVE approach and conduct CORRELATIONAL research as they interview experts and researchers to find the possible causes breast cancer. http://imdb.com/title/tt0127200/
"Rain Man". Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country. Starring Dustin Hoffman.This could be decribed as single subject research. Researchers compare a single subjects' behavior before treatment. The whole movie was about the behavior of the autistic brother and the twist was how the yuppie brother actually came to care for him.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095953/
"Rocky Horror Picture Show" In the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite alien, creates Rocky through experimental research. Rocky is seen as a perfect man. In the movie, we see the end of the experiment where Rocky is brought to life.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073629/
In "Separate but Equal" Sidney Poitier (Thurgood Marshall) uses Evaluation Research to determine the effects of segregation.http://imdb.com/title/tt0102879/
"Serenity" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379786/ Set in the future in a new solar system with dozens of planets and hundreds of moons that have been terraformed for human inhabitation this movie chonicles the adventures of a band of good hearted outlaws. The ultimate discovery they make is that the government accidentally created a group of insanely murderous space pirates when they performed a qualitative study on a remote moon. In this study they released a gas into the air meant to reduce anger in people, leaving them more easily governed. Not only did it calm people to the point where they stopped getting out of bed, eating, etc., but it had the exact opposite effect on a very small portion of the population, accelerating their anger response to the point of insanity. I would describe their research as qualitative rather than quantitive as they were doing general observations of the entire planet's inhabitants reaction to the introduction of the gas, with no evidence present in the movie of a quantitative approach with smaller subpopulations controlled for or examined in detail. It would also be applied rather than basic research.
"61*" is a narrative study (of sorts) about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle's 1961 chase to break Babe Ruth's hallowed homerun record of 60 homeruns. Although it is a Hollywood story, Billy Crystal (the director) supposedly constructed an accurate portrayal based upon his memories of that season (being a Yankee fan himself) as well as upon the stories of Mickey Mantle and other players from the '61 Yankees whom he (Crystal) had/has a personal relationship with. More info. can be found at:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250934/
"Spider-Man" (2002) played by Toby Maguire is a story of a boy bitten by a genetically modified spider who uses his new found abilities to fight evil. In this film, Willem Dafoe's character is evil and uses his money and power to create the green goblin. The green goblin is evil and is destroying the town, it is up to spider-man to take down the green goblin. The creation of the green goblin and of the gentically modified spider is an example of experimental research. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145487/
"Super Size Me" is a documentary which is a narrative describing the experience of one person and how eating only McDonalds afffected his health and life. http://imdb.com/title/tt0390521/
"The Thin Man". In this particular film, Nick and Nora get involved in a murder mystery while on a trip home. In this film they use narrative research to get to the bottom of the case and bring justice to their community. I also think that this film would qualify using action reserch since Nick and Nora are traveling on the road and following different leads. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037365/
"The Thing" (1982). An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog. While the scientists are involved in experimental research, their research is interrupted and the plot thickens. During the night, the dog mutates and attacks other dogs in the cage and members of the team that investigate. The team soon realizes that an alien life-form with the ability to take over other bodies is on the loose and they don't know who may already have been taken over. The scientists must rely on their ingenuity, and scientific know how, to find the answer. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084787/
"Twelve Monkeys" In this sci-fi thriller, a virus has killed billions of people in 1996.By 2035, only a handful of people are alive underground. A convict is sent back in time to research the history of the outbreak and collect data about the source of the epidemic. Unfortunately, he's sent back a few years earlier (1990) and ends up in a mental institution. The title comes from the name of a revolutionary group that releases the virus. http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0114746/plotsummary
"Twister"Dr. Joe Harding (Helen Hunt) plays a researcher chasing a tornado so she can launch “Dorothy” a device used to collect information about tornadoes. This is a QUANTITATIVE approach using DESCRIPTIVE (survey) research.http://imdb.com/title/tt0117998/
"Underworld" I chose this film because there was nothing under the U section yet. In this film the werewolf's are conducting experimental research to try and isolate a carrier for a rare gene they believe to be present in the descendant of the original werewolfs/vampires. In the movie they systematically test and eliminate the potential descendents in their search for the trait they are looking for.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0320691/
"Unforgiven". In this 1992 dark and rainy western by Clint Eastwood, retired gunslinger William Munny leaves his farm and children to avenge the disfiguration of a local “working girl”. He joins with an old partner and a young, basically blind kid and descends one last time into the world of murder for hire. The research element is W.W. Beauchamp, a newspaper reporter who is chronicling the life of Little Bill Daggett, Gene Hackman’s evil sheriff. Beauchamp is conducting single subject research, and interestingly, changes his subject and focuses on Munny as the movie progresses and he himself becomes part of the story he is chronicling.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105695/
In "V for Vendetta," V is a man, who uses terrorist attacks against a fascist Britain. V's vendetta comes from his involvement as a subject in an experiment, which is shown in flashbacks during the movie. This movie is a great one if you want to see an example of unethical experimental research in the movies. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/
"Windtalkers" is a movie based on Navajo Code talkers. The problem for the US was Japanese were able to decipher our codes and therefore respond to/sabotage our attacks. Using the Navajo language, the Japanese were unable to continue to decipher our radio transmissions. This would be action research - finding a solution to a given problem. http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0245562/
"The X-Files". Mulder and Scully are together again on the "big screen" researching new forms of human life. Mulder tracks Scully to an installation in Antarctica, gaining entry via a tunnel in the ice. He stumbles across thousands of cryo-tubes containing people infected with a virus, gestating the new alien life form. He locates Scully and injects the antidote, hoping that it will work to save his partner from certain death. The X-Files television series and X-files Movie focus on experimental and descriptive research involving aliens and non-human life forms.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120902/
"Young Frankenstein". Experimental research is done in this movie. http://imdb.com/title/tt0072431/
"Zenon" In this Disney Channel movie, Zenon grows up on a space station with her parents, who are doing experimental research on the effects of zero gravity on mice. She misbehaves and is banished to Earth, where she has to find someway to save her space station after a computer virus causes it to slowly malfunction. It is definitely a fluffy kids' movie. However, it is cute and enjoyable.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0186726/