1. Robocop: Remember that police officers do not always act within the law.
This is particularly important if the officer in question is a lethal cybernetic nightmare that eats baby food. In Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 science-fiction masterpiece Robocop, Detroit P.D. Officer Alex Murphy uses computerized targeting assistance technology and a non-regulation, fully automatic sidearm to shoot an alleged rapist in the dick, denying him his Constitutional right to due process and expertly demonstrating the perils of trusting law enforcement officers implicitly. Know your rights!
2. Starship Troopers: Follow your dreams, even if your father disapproves.
Imagine if Rico had gone to Harvard like a little bitch instead of bravely volunteering for the Mobile Infantry in Paul Verhoeven’s masterful 1996 adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, Starship Troopers. Not only could the pivotal Battle of Klendathu have gone very differently, but poor Johnnie may well have been obliterated alongside his obscenely wealthy, emotionally unavailable parents when the arachnids launched that asteroid into Buenos Aires.
3. Showgirls: Contrary to outdated societal prejudice and the ancient scriptures, exotic dancing can be a highly rewarding and lucrative career path for young women, especially in an ailing economy.
Paul Verhoeven proved this through his erotically charged 1996 tour de force, Showgirls, in which spunky vagrant Nomi Malone transcends homelessness and poverty to become a glamorous Las Vegas showgirl through good old-fashioned elbow grease and gumption without relying on government handouts. Malone endures a great deal during her rise to fame and stardom, but overcoming such hardships is a great way to build character and learn the true value of free-market capitalism.
4. Basic Instinct: Don’t shoot tourists while high on cocaine.
This is the somewhat awkward predicament in which homicide detective Nick Curran finds himself in at the outset of Paul Verhoeven’s taut psychological thriller from 1992, Basic Instinct. Yes, tourists are a vile pestilence visited upon the world by a cruel and vengeful god, but shooting them to death while under the influence of a Schedule 1 narcotic is a very bad idea. Unless you’re a white, male cop, in which case you should probably consider working on your backswing until an Internal Affairs investigation finds you innocent of any wrongdoing, or you meet a mysterious, psychopathic writer with a penchant for ice picks and rough, consensually questionable sex.
5. Black Book: Chocolate can save your life.
Should you unexpectedly find yourself in the care of a suspicious Dutch physician during wartime, as Jewish refugee Rachel Stein did in Paul Verhoeven’s powerfully moving 2006 World War II drama Black Book, pay close attention to the medication your doctor is administering. If you are “accidentally” given a potentially life-threatening dose of insulin, simply eat an entire bar of chocolate as fast as possible, even if you have diabetes. As any schoolchild in America could tell you, chocolate was cheap and readily available during the bleak, austere years of 1940s Europe, and was carried by every member of the Dutch resistance at all times for this very purpose. Always be prepared!
6. Hollow Man: Gorillas with no skin are gross.
Audiences had long suspected that the cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems of Gorilla beringei layered atop one another would be terrifying if the poor animal’s skin were somehow removed, and Paul Verhoeven leveraged this fear like no other director could in his visually striking 2000 science-fiction thriller, Hollow Man. Although the film garnered mixed reviews, Roger Ebert conceded that at least Hollow Man conclusively proved that invisibility would be a way cooler superpower to have than the ability to fly or X-ray vision (both of which received a “thumbs down” from the noted critic).
7. Turkish Delight: Sculpting is an absolutely terrible career choice and a tragic waste of a life.
This is a valuable lesson that a young, ruggedly handsome Rutger Hauer learns in Paul Verhoeven’s critically acclaimed 1973 love story, Turkish Delight. Parents are often (rightfully) distrustful of artists and other “bohemians,” particularly sculptors who rely upon hitchhiking as their primary mode of transportation as Hauer did in the film, as this deviant alternative lifestyle is typically associated with chronic drug abuse, a poor understanding of Marxist ideology, and dismal future earning potential.
Turkish Delight also taught the world that powdery gel-starch candy from Iran is the only food that should be given to terminal cancer patients.
8. The Fourth Man: Should you be visited by a ghostly vision of the Virgin Mary warning you of your impending death at the hands of a sexually aggressive university treasurer, you may have a drinking problem.
This is the premise of Paul Verhoeven’s stylish 1983 suspense classic, The Fourth Man. Despite protagonist Gerard Reve’s debilitating alcoholism and attraction to yet another woman who clearly isn’t right for him, Reve somehow manages to heed the warnings of the apparition of the Mother of Christ — yet fails to check in regularly with his sponsor, Geoff. Get your shit together, Gerard.
9. Tricked: In the event someone knocks on your door during a 50th birthday party organized by your loving wife of more than 20 years, do not answer it.
It’s probably your pregnant former mistress, as it was in Paul Verhoeven’s tense 2012 drama, Tricked. Should you be unable to prevent your wife or another guest from answering the door and inviting the swollen harpy into your home, simply offer the mother of your illegitimate child a large glass of the most expensive bourbon on hand. Her struggles with alcoholism and deep-rooted daddy issues will compel her to reach for it, at which point you and your wealthy, white male guests can safely berate the pitiful welfare queen until the police arrive.