The 7 Most Irritating Characters From Otherwise Great Movies
No movie is perfect. But maybe the most frustrating films to watch are the ones that are one character away from being perfect. Everything works except for that one wacky sidekick, or sassy kid, or crude stereotype who sticks out like a fart at a press conference.
The Fifth Element - Ruby Rhod
If you've seen this movie, you know damned well what character we're talking about.
Ruby Rhod, played by Chris Tucker on what seems like a near-lethal amount of cocaine, is the radio show host of the future. He teams up with Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) and LeeLoo (Milla Jovovich) against a (literal) big ball of evil.
And its lieutenant, Captain Plastic-hair.
How He Nearly Ruined The Movie:
OK, so he comes on screen and you figure it's just Chris Tucker being Chris Tucker, talking in that Chris Tucker tone. He's loud and speaks in a nasally, unintelligible, hyperactive voice. He has a wardrobe that makes Lady Gaga's look it was purchased from an outlet mall. His hair is shaped like a dick. We get it, he's supposed to be wacky and annoying.
"Alright guys, what if we made Jar Jar Binks an actual black guy?"
And, if he passed through one scene and spent, say, 40 seconds on screen, we would have chuckled and moved on with our lives. But he sticks around. And around. It's not that the rest of the entire movie was about Ruby Rhod and nothing else... it just felt that way.
We knew we were in trouble when the guns start blazing and it becomes apparent the screeching comic relief is going to hang around for the pivotal action scene. During the battle with the aliens, Rhod's role expands from flamboyant and mildly amusing radio show host to incredibly loud and useless sidekick. Check the scene out below, for instance, featuring Chris Tucker's lungs drowning out a bomb Bruce Willis sets off.
Or, let us transcribe it for you:
Rhod: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!!!!" Cough, cough, cough. "Whu-whu-whu-whu-whu-whu-WHATCHUDOIN'?!?!?"
Korben: "Count to 10."
Rhod: "CUBBEH! WAS THAT A BOMB?"
Korben: "Shut up and count!"
Rhod: "ONE TWO THREE-HUH-HUH FOUR HUH-HUH FI-HUH-IVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NIIIIHUN-HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!"
(Screech continues for approximately 27 minutes.)
This is how he spends roughly 84 percent of the film.
Not only is his screeching irritating to listen to, but the scene itself is really the pinnacle fight of the movie, so you'd think there'd be some kind of drama or sense of danger required. It's exactly the wrong time to have comic relief front and center, though there's probably never a good time to for comic relief that could have been swapped out for a car alarm for many scenes without us noticing.
Holy shit, we almost wrote a whole entry about The Fifth Element without using this image! That was close.
Hey, speaking of which...
War of the Worlds - Rachel
In the War of the Worlds remake, Dakota Fanning plays Rachel, the daughter of Ray (Tom Cruise). They spend roughly 90 minutes evading alien invaders intent on eradicating humanity. Or rather, Tom evades them, while Dakota screams.
How She Nearly Ruined The Movie:
Dakota Fanning is a good actress, probably great even. She's convincing in virtually every role she's been given. War of the Worlds is no exception. As a screaming piece of luggage, possibly containing an angry howler monkey, Dakota's portrayal is peerless.
"Miss Fanning! Can we get a quote? Or some flung feces?"
Rachel just screams whenever. Loudly. Driving away from the alien scourge, relatively safe while others walk, she screams, at a testicle-shattering level, "I want my mom!" and "Take me home!" Her shrill screams are the soundtrack to every chase scene.
Also, Spielberg writes Fanning's character as a pure load--someone who creates plot points due to her utter helplessness. Seriously, Rachel rarely walks. If she needs to move, there'd better be a vehicle or a pair of arms to ride in. In fact, when the van is taken by force by a mob of refugees, Rachel just sits in her seat, while her dad and brother, Robbie, take beatings from the crowd. Worn out from all this not helping at all, she makes Tom Cruise carry her for the rest of the damn movie.
They're walking to Boston from New York. She's 10 years-old. You know who else was 10 years-old in his own fantastical and sometimes frightening adventure? Harry Potter. And nobody carried his ass around. You know why? Because he was 10.
Although he did grow up fast.
This helplessness only has greater consequences later on. When's she's told to wait by a tree so Ray can catch up to Robbie, Rachel's nearly taken by kindly strangers who don't believe her when she says her dad's coming back. He's within sight. Ray ends up having let Robbie go to a certain death, all because she couldn't move like 20 feet. You get one of the best child actresses in Hollywood and that's what you do with her?
Of course, everyone, including Robbie, survives, and Rachel sees her mom. To celebrate, she screams. Seriously. She does.
It is the only tongue she knows.
Jurassic Park - The Kids
Lex (the girl) and, to a lesser extent, Tim, are the irritating grandchildren of billionaire, John Hammond, the creator of Jurassic Park. Together, their job is to be precocious, smug and to continually advance the plot by doing and saying stupid things at exactly the wrong time.
We can't help but think the money for child actors would have been better spent on more fucking dinosaurs.
How They Nearly Ruined The Movie:
So the point we're driving at here is that Spielberg hates children. A lot. These kids aren't the dead weight that Fanning's character is, but they're the kind of "always one-upping the grownups" smart-alecky kids that we were constantly getting in 90s movies (thank you, Home Alone).
Thus little Tim starts off by asking Alan Grant, a paleontologist, all kinds of dinosaur questions, then proceeds quickly to criticizing Grant's book and the notion that raptors were like birds.
Somehow, Grant forgets that he already knows how to deal with kids who ask questions: threaten to slice their belly open.
Lex, meanwhile, is a vegetarian, which she announces with a kind of judgmental superiority that is grating coming from anyone, and is the kind of shit you're especially not looking to take from a 12-year-old. But dietary choices and smugness aside, Lex is also saddled with the most thankless task in the world of movie plots: being The Character Who is Always Screwing Things Up And Almost Getting Everyone Killed.
So, when a T-Rex bursts out of its pen and there is clearly nothing between the good guys and the most dangerous predator in the history of the planet, Lex finds the nearest flashlight and turns it on. Then she waves it around just to make sure she really gets the attention of the enormous carnivore. Even worse, she won't or can't turn it off, even after her brother tells her to. Their jeep is attacked, and Ian Malcolm is forced to lure the monster to a nearby bathroom, which collapses on him and reveals another one of the gang (the lawyer) hiding on a toilet.
Not the most dignified death in movie history.
And it doesn't end there. Long after she caused the lawyer's horrific death and everyone has forgotten about it (the next day), Lex and the others struggle to hold a door shut against a ravenous raptor. Only the computer in the room can lock it. Fortunately, Lex is a hacker (because movies in the 90s legally required one) and says that she "knows" the system because it's UNIX. Oh really, little girl? You're a hacker, so that means you can use a computer security system designed for a theme park only a few people even know about? But you don't know how to use an everyday flashlight? Is that right?
But really, both here and in War of the Worlds, what is irritating is Spielberg deploying the cheapest trick in the book: using children as monster bait. We're supposed to immediately feel more danger because there are kids at stake, dammit! Unfortunately that only works if we don't hate the children with a passion and regard them as nothing more than obstacles to our enjoyment of the awesome dinosaur effects.
Admit it. Every one of you was rooting for the raptors.
Aliens - Private Hudson
Private Hudson, played by Bill Paxton, is one of the space marines Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) joins to investigate a colony that, spoiler alert, aliens have attacked. The marines are killed off one by one and each horrifying death ups the horror a notch.
The exception is Hudson, whose onscreen death comes as a welcome relief to the audience.
Game over indeed.
How He Nearly Ruined The Movie:
When you were a kid, did you have that one friend who, every time you were caught doing something wrong, panicked and started crying and babbling over and over about how, "OH MY GOD WE ARE SO DEAD MY MOM IS GOING TO KILL ME YOU GUYS WE ARE SO DEAD" until you actually preferred the punishment to listening to him?
That's Hudson's role in this movie. He flies into a panic the moment the aliens appear, constantly expressing loudly how doomed the group is. Hudson remains in that state for the rest of his life.
Rest in Peace.
The thing is, we're pretty sure that's exactly the way we would act if we were thrust into a situation where we were isolated, away from home and insectile aliens were crawling out of the walls to impregnate us. Sure, we'd start whining and pissing our pants and demanding our mothers. But it turns out that's not a mirror we want held up to ourselves, because it's actually pretty horrible to watch on screen.
Do we even want to kill and eat this pussy?
In the face of danger, Hudson screams, "THIS IS JUST FUCKIN' GREAT! NOW WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?! " and "THEY'RE GONNA COME IN HERE JUST LIKE THEY DID BEFORE! THEY'RE GONNA COME IN HERE AND THEY'RE GONNA KILL US!" When told it'll be 17 days until help can arrive, he howls, "17 DAYS? WE'RE NOT GONNA LAST 17 HOURS!"
When you're right, you're right.
And on and on like that. All of his lines have to be expressed in all caps. It's like everybody else in the movie is going about business in the way you'd expect space marines to act in any piece of entertainment featuring space marines (even Newt, the little girl). But not Hudson; it's like he was never told this was a horror movie and can't quite come to terms with it.
In James Cameron's world, children deal with stress far better than trained marines.
In real life? Totally understandable. In a sci-fi/horror/action movie we paid to watch? You wind up enjoying the peace that follows after he's torn to pieces by alien monsters.
Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun - The Goofy Racist Sheriff
We realize that among some of our readers, memories of James Bond only go back as far as Pierce Brosnan. But even if you've never seen a Sean Connery/Roger Moore Bond movie, you know the drill: suave spy, killing dudes with gadgets, sexing the ladies. What you are probably not picturing is a cartoonishly Southern, racist redneck cop character played with all of the depth and realism of Yosemite Sam.
We hope this picture of Sean Connery looking suave makes what follows somewhat less painful.
Which brings us to Clifton James, an actor who made his career playing dumb, obnoxious Southern stereotypes, who turned up in not one but two James Bond movies playing Sheriff J.W. Pepper. He's supposed to be the comic relief, but the only joke here was on Roger Moore's career.
Being born in New York City is no obstacle to a career playing Southerners.
How He Nearly Ruined The Movie:
Cringe along with us while Pepper pulls over a black motorist, then arrests him with the words, "Ya got a set o' wheels that just won't quit, boy, if they's yous, that is. Spin around, boy! Ten fingas on the fenda!"
What's strange isn't just that the scene occurs in a Bond movie, it's that it happens right in the middle of a patented James Bond boat chase. As Roger Moore is leading the bad guys across the water and ramping bridges and shit, we keep cutting back to this sheriff going about his cracker stereotypically racist business.
One second it's Bond escaping death with the wind in his hair, the next we're cutting back to Sheriff Pepper in a patrol car, chewing tobacco and talking to his brother-in-law Billy Bob on the radio (we didn't make any of that up). Seriously, there's like nine straight minutes of this.
You could write the whole thing off as some kind of mix-up at the script stage, like an intern accidentally got pages from one of the Smokey and the Bandit movies mixed in when they were copying the script and nobody noticed until after they had shot it.
But then the bastard turns up again, in The Man with the Golden Gun. Bond's in Thailand and he eventually gets into another boat chase. Once more, J.W. Pepper just happens to be there. In Thailand.
He's on vacation, in a tour boat when Bond and the bad guys speed by. Since he can't immediately join the chase at this point, he's stuck muttering racist slurs from his tobacco filled mouth. He shouts, "Little brown water hog!" at the racing boats, and bellows, "If you got your pointy heads out of them pajamas, you wouldn't be late for work!"
After this, he appears in the passenger seat of a car Bond steals for yet another chase, so he can call everyone "Boy" and refer to "Little brown pointy heads" some more. oger Moore even puts on a Southern accent briefly before they fly off a conveniently placed ramp. Add some banjo music and it'd be The Dukes of Hazzard. Seriously, what the hell?
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Everyone But Indy
Look, sidekicking for Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones mode is a tall goddamned order. Who other than Sean Connery has pulled it off?
Above: Proof that the universe loves us.
Still, when it came time to make the Raiders of the Lost Ark prequel, Temple of Doom, Spielberg decided to match Indy up with Willie Scott, a stereotypical ditzy, blonde nightclub singer (played by an actress who later married Stephen Spielberg).
Alright, we understand Spielberg's motivation here...
But hey, at least in this flick Spielberg resisted the urge to insert a sassy, precocious child... ah, wait, sorry. This movie featured lots and lots of Short Round, the Chinese kid from Goonies.
...but this choice leads to some disturbing questions.
How They Nearly Ruined The Movie:
Willie, the blonde bimbo, is supposed to serve as the comedic relief, but does so by embodying about every ugly stereotype about women ever invented. She's shallow and materialistic; during a gunfight, she's crawling on the floor trying to find a diamond and mourns, annoyingly, about a couple holes in her dress. Later, she's very interested to meet the Maharajah because she hears he's rich. She's stupid; she loses Indy's gun because it's hot, and complains about cracking a nail (damage to her nails being a recurring complaint). She gets hysterical when there's danger; she almost lets Indy and Short Round die because she freaks out at the sight of a bug.
On the plus side, this.
It's like Spielberg was trying to make up for having previously written a strong female character in Marion. Remember her from Raiders? She punched people, drank men under the table and stood up to the Nazis. What the hell happened to Spielberg's opinion of women between 1981 and 1984?
There's a mild disparity, is what we're saying.
As for Short Round, he embodies several dozen of the Bad Child Character traits we mentioned above, with the added fun of being foreign, which the film wants us to find endlessly hilarious. So the adorable little scamp gets lines like "He no nuts, he crazy!" and "You cheat very big!" One of his very first lines in the movie is "Hokey dokey, Dr. Jones, hold onto your potatoes!"
Let's just stop there and enjoy this YouTube clip of him getting punched in the face:
Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Young John Connor
Edward Furlong was one of many people to play John Connor, the future savior of humanity against Skynet. In T2, Skynet sends a Terminator back in time to kill John Connor at age 10, but the future John Connor sends back his own Terminator to protect his past self, probably forgetting what a huge dick he was when he was a kid.
"My God, I was such a douche."
How He Nearly Ruined The Movie:
We know what you're thinking at this point and no, we don't hate children. We really don't. But let us summarize Edward Furlong's role in T2 with this one scene. It's supposed to be a powerful exchange where Connor learns that humanity is destined for Armageddon, no matter what:
John Connor: "We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean."
The Terminator: "It is in your nature to destroy yourselves."
John Connor: "Yeah. Major drag, huh?"
A "major drag."
Look, kids are tough to work with. It's hard to write authentic little-kid dialogue, it's hard to make their role in the action plausible, it's hard to find a kid who isn't horrible at acting. Filmmakers seem to do it as a way to appeal to young audiences, but as Plinkett points out in his excellent Star Wars prequel reviews, kids don't go to movies to see other kids. They want to fantasize about being an adult Han Solo, not a young, annoying Anakin Skywalker.
This is especially true when the little kid is written by some middle-aged screenwriter to be cute and hip and sassy, putting into his mouth all sorts of "hip" lingo the kids are using these days. So, our first impression of John Connor is him hacking (again with the hacking!) an ATM machine and stealing $300, then turning toward us and saying, "Easy money!" as if it's his catchphrase.
You know what? We hope Skynet wins.
And he's all about the catchphrases. Later we have the scene where he decides to teach his robot protector to be human, giving him a course in how the kids talk here in 1991:
"You say, 'No problemo.' And if someone comes up to you with an attitude, you say, 'Eat me!' And if you want to shine them on it's, 'Hasta la vista, baby!' or 'Later, dickwad.' And if someone gets upset, you say, 'chill out!' "
When confronted by some bad guys (bad because they... tried to rescue John because they thought Arnold was assaulting him) one of them calls him a dipshit, which he is. Then he proves it by saying, "Did you call moi a dipshit?" in the dipshittiest way possible.
To be fair, we'd probably have done worse with an unstoppable killbot at our backs.
We understand that lots of us were douchebags when we were little kids, so it's perfectly logical that maybe the future savior of humanity was one, too, at that age. But you don't need to include that part in a movie.
You can read more from Mark at Guanxin.
For more movies that could've been great, check out 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes, If 'Eclipse' Was 10 Times Shorter And 100 Times More Honest and If Hancock Was 10 Times Shorter and 100 Times More Honest.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated Today!) to learn about the Internet's most annoying characters.
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