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There is a question on the Science Fiction & Fantasy SE:

This request comes from a friend of mine...

She has not seen the movie, but only heard somebody describe it to her. Can anybody help my friend by identifying the story?

One of the comments is:

please note: identifying the movie may lead to your friend watching the movie, which may lead to your friend trying to figure out the movie, which is the opposite of helping.

Is it kind of a pun? Why is helping the friend identify the movie the opposite of helping? "Identifying the movie may lead to your friend watching the movie" seems very logical to me, it is exactly what she wants, isn't it?

I haven't watched this Primer, if it is important.

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    Not a pun. Just a warning. (And that is still regarded by some as incomplete or incorrect...) – walen May 23 '17 at 6:54
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    Obligatory XKCD reference. Having seen the movie, I think it captures the timelines rather accurately. – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica May 23 '17 at 7:07
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Wikipedia says of this movie that

Primer is of note for its extremely low budget, experimental plot structure, philosophical implications, and complex technical dialogue, which Carruth [the writer, producer, director and lead actor], a college graduate with a degree in mathematics and a former engineer, chose not to simplify for the sake of the audience.

The joke is that "trying to figure out" so complex a movie may not be helpful but harmful to the questioner's friend—as we say of difficult mental challenges, it may make her head explode! :)

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    I was in the midst of trying to figure out how to write this exact answer. It's a complex movie involving the accidental discovery of time travel - and because of the nature of the discovery, not even the characters fully understand how time travel works. I thought it was an excellent movie - but it definitely involves wrapping your head around some concepts. – Ghotir May 22 '17 at 13:50
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    Also the plot is notoriously non-linear. – stannius May 22 '17 at 19:19
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    it has the worlds first fractal plot structure. – KutuluMike May 22 '17 at 20:08
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    I've watched this movie on numerous occasions, and I still don't fully understand it. And this is coming from someone that didn't have any problems following Memento. – phyrfox May 22 '17 at 20:16
  • As OP is ostensibly an ELL learner, perhaps watching the movie while not understanding all the English may provide some clarification on what is actually going on. ...because being a native speaker certainly doesn't help one bit! – BruceWayne May 23 '17 at 7:50
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I haven't watched this Primer, if it is important.

It is. My comment is only funny if you already knew that the movie being identified was Primer, which it was, and knew about Primer's reputation as a very difficult movie to understand.

Is it kind of a pun?

It's not a pun, no. There's no strange word play going on here -- the words all mean what you think they mean. However, you do need to follow the chain of reasoning all the way to the end to "get" the joke.

Why is helping the friend identify the movie the opposite of helping? "Identifying the movie may lead to your friend watching the movie" seems very logical to me, it is exactly what she wants, isn't it?

Here you skipped the part where the "punchline" was:

  • The first part - identifying the movie - is fine. That is definitely helping.
  • The second part - watching the movie - is also fine. That's very likely what the questioner's friend wants. So, that's also helping.
  • The third part - trying to figure out the movie - is the problem.

Primer is an incredibly complicated, non-linear movie that involves time travel, and in particular, experiencing the same set of events occurring in multiple timelines and largely out of order. You don't really figure out the opening scene until very close to the end. Even then, trying to trace exactly who's doing what to whom at each point isn't even always possible. That's not counting the complex mathematics and engineering shown in the movie.

The "joke" is that, showing your friend this movie may lead to them going crazy trying to figure it out, which could "hurt their brain", and that's definitely not helping.

In addition, the comment was worded that way ("the opposite of helping") because of the way the question was worded:

Can anybody help my friend by identifying the story?

Thus playing on the somewhat counter-intuitive idea that doing what the OP has asked may have the opposite effect to what the OP is expecting.

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