For years I've been noticing a blurring of the line between good and evil in some movies. The Good Guys often come off as awful assholes, and the Bad Guys we're supposed to hate are actually decent people who are getting a bad rap.
This is unjust! So, I have decided to point out some of these glaring lapses in judgment to vindicate some of these supposed Bad Guys. In addition to redeeming their good names, I've taken the liberty of creating some new DVD box art you can print out at home so we can all have a morally accurate DVD collection.
5Big Daddy: Arthur Brooks, The Social Worker
Adam Sandler rightfully catches a lot of flak these days. But while we pine for the kind of movies he used to make, they were also far from perfect. Take Big Daddy, for example. The movie tells us that Sandler's lovable deadbeat slob, Sonny Koufax, bamboozles his way into an adoption that you could also call a kidnapping, and he's somehow the guy we should be rooting for. When Sonny admits to himself, his friends, and his father that he is not capable of caring for a child, he takes the kid to a social worker.
Arthur Brooks is the child services agent Sonny asks for help and then continually dodges throughout the rest of the film. Brooks is the first person in the movie to have the kid's best interests in mind, while Sonny decides he'll exhibit extravagantly negligent behavior again and again.
And again, and again ...
Finally, after a lengthy court battle, the child is placed into proper care with his real dad. It's easy to forget that Sonny didn't win that court case; the real dad, played by Jon Stewart, swooped in and saved the day just like he does in real life. But, just before that, the judge found Sonny unfit to be a parent.
The movie positions Sonny as the hero we want to watch succeed and Arthur as, essentially, an evil child snatcher, like he's some kind of European folkloric troll. The guy's just doing his job, which in this case is making sure the kid isn't under the protection of a child-endangering idiot. Somehow, Arthur's the one we're supposed to be against?
The Movie From Arthur's Point Of View
Let's say we swap roles and the focus of the movie is on Brooks. Now we have an exciting adventure-thriller about a hefty man fighting for the livelihood of an innocent, corruptible child while remaining ridiculously chill and understanding the whole time. His only goal in the movie was to bail this kid out of the shithole life Adam Sandler was currently providing him (not bathing him, feeding him nothing but ketchup, providing him with deadly weapons, etc.). It's the tale of a man who has devoted his life to making sure abandoned children are raised in safe homes filled with love. Now that's a hero.
You want drama? How about pivotal scenes involving Arthur filing paperwork for a foster home for the boy? Maybe he makes a few phone calls to Sonny that go unanswered and we see Arthur's anguish; he just wants to find a decent home for a child that's just as deserving of love as anyone else. Maybe he and his wife can't have children of their own, so finding happy homes for children is the next-best thing. Why watch a story about a guy who doesn't want a kid when you can watch one about someone who wants to save a kid?
4Ghostbusters: Walter Peck, EPA Agent
Can you believe EPA Agent Walter Peck has the audacity to barge into Ghostbusters HQ and demand that he be allowed to perform his genuinely important job?
For as cool as they are, and for as much as we love them, the Ghostbusters are a group of potentially dangerous maniacs. They run around New York City with weaponized particle accelerators on their backs and lock ghosts away in a ghost dumpster in their basement. If you lived in that world, wouldn't you want someone at least occasionally keeping tabs on them to make sure all their wildly dangerous homemade tech doesn't accidentally kill everyone in the city? Walter Peck is a dick, sure, but he has every right to be a dick when you consider how much of a colossal asshole Peter Venkman is to him during their first meeting.
The first thing -- THE VERY FIRST THING -- that Venkman does is wipe ectoplasm all over Peck's hand and suit coat. So already he's dealing with more bullshit than you or I would put up with in our jobs. But Walter doesn't bat an eyelash; he's all business. He's the EPA's resident badass. His mission that day is simple and shouldn't raise a single eyebrow in a civilized world: He wants to see if there are hazardous chemicals in the basement. That's a 100 percent legitimate question people should be asking the Ghostbusters, and often. Again, do you want to live in a world where someone created that technology and no one checks it out to make sure it's safe?
So why do we hate him, again?
The Movie From Walter's Point Of View
It's a movie about a dashing EPA agent who hears that random dudes are chasing ghosts and storing them in their basement. He brings up a legitimate concern about the validity of the Ghostbusters, even entertaining the keen idea that maybe the team is the cause of all this supernatural phenomena. If nothing else, the Ghostbusters have a history of handling dangerous materials in enclosed spaces, so who knows what the hell is going on back at their building?
After our hero attempts to shut down a homegrown nuclear disaster waiting to happen, the perpetrators continuously mock him, and even get the fucking mayor in on it. He's covered in marshmallow spunk for his efforts. All for trying to protect New York City.