50 Unreliable Movie Narrators

Forrest Gump (1994)

The Unreliable Narrator: Gump (Tom Hanks) himself, who views the world through his own rose-tinted glasses and often has a somewhat surprising take on events.

Biggest Whopper: Not really a lie, but a characteristic mis-interpretation, is when Forrest believes that Jenny’s father is a good dad because “he was always kissing and touching her and her sisters”.


Monster A Go-Go (1965)

The Unreliable Narrator: A disembodied voice who attempts to make sense of this B-flick’s nonsensical plotting.

The plot, such as it is, involves astronaut Frank Douglas, who disappears on a mission. Meanwhile, a strange humanoid monster is discovered…

Biggest Whopper: In the final act, it’s revealed there was never any monster at all. Huh?

Road Trip (2000)

The Unreliable Narrator: Campus tour guide Barry (Tom Green), who seems to have a few screws loose, meaning his telling of this singularly odd story is somewhat suspect.

Biggest Whopper: It’s probably safe to say that most of the story is made up, but his bizarre conclusion to the tale (Jacob became a cult leader and killed himself, Rubin became a weed manufacturer) is – hopefully – entirely untrue.

Swimming Pool (2003)

The Unreliable Narrator: Novelist Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling), who has to contend with her publisher’s daughter throughout most of the film – which is particularly troublesome considering said daughter enjoys to dabble in murder.

Biggest Whopper: The daughter in question turns out to be a total fabrication…

Grease (1978)

The Unreliable Narrator: In their duet ‘Summer Nights’, Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) both sing different versions of their summer romance.

His is rough and ready, hers is sunny and swoonsome.

Biggest Whopper: “I saved her life, she nearly drowned.”

Really, Danny? Really?

Rango (2011)

The Unreliable Narrator: A band of mariachi owls, who begin the movie by telling us that Rango (Johnny Depp) is going to die.

Biggest Whopper: Except that turns out to be a bunch of hooey.

Rango survives to see another day, and the owls modify their prophecy to reveal that of course Rango will die one day… Just not today.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

The Unreliable Narrator: After having his memory erased, Joel (Jim Carrey) starts remembering things incorrectly.

Biggest Whopper: Impossible to say, considering it’s never entirely clear just what is fact and what is false in this trippy drama.

My Best Fiend (1999)

The Unreliable Narrator: A man who’s used to providing narration, Werner Herzog discusses his rocky relationship with actor Klaus Kinski, who died in 1991.

Biggest Whopper: Without Kinski there to verify or deny any of Herzog’s outlandish stories, it’s impossible to tell if the great director’s making any of this stuff up…

Big Fish (2003)

The Unreliable Narrator: A reversal of the traditional Unreliable Narrator, this, with Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) assumed to be a great big liar because his great big stories are just too, well, big.

Except then, of course, his stories turn out to be true.

Biggest Whopper: Will (Billy Crudup) believes that his father’s biggest whopper is the story of a big fish…

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The Unreliable Narrator: Screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) tells us about his fateful encounter with faded silent movie star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson).

Biggest Whopper: Well, considering Gillis is dead as he narrates this tale, we’re not sure how much of his narration we can actually take as fact…

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