The Thing -- Wilford Brimley Freaks Out
Sometimes a movie moment becomes funnier with time, as things happen that change the way we look at the actors involved to the point that it's all you can think about. Think of O.J.'s lovable Detective Nordberg role in The Naked Gun movies, and how that was eventually tainted by, of course, his performance as John "Bullfrog" Burke in the 1994 TV movie Frogmen -- wait, what were YOU thinking of? Or how about the moment you discover that America's Fat Cranky Grandpa -- the guy most of us know for his love of oatmeal and funny pronunciation of "diabetes" -- once battled Kurt Russell with an axe and a pistol in one of cinema's most hilarious, violent meltdowns?
This is the youngest Wilford Brimley has ever looked.
That's right, Wilford Brimley, Lord Commander of the Walrus People, played a major role in John Carpenter's mostly terrifying 1982 film, The Thing. It's about a group of men on an isolated research station in Antarctica, presumably conducting research on Kurt Russell's amazingly rugged beard. Brimley plays Dr. Blair, a biologist/computer whiz/fat-dude-with glasses-so-just-assume-he-can-do-any-smart-stuff-that-needs-doin'. Then something awful arrives from space. It's not so much a Person, not so much a Place ... hmm, what to call it? Whatever it is, it immediately starts possessing dogs, then people, and making them all murderous and stretchy and gross. Before long, everyone gets paranoid, and it's time for Wilford to shine (more than he usually does from the sausage-grease coating his jowls).
"Eat. Your damn. OATMEAL."
Brimley is the first to figure out what's going on because he asks his computer, and it's a computer in an '80s movie, so it knows everything. The computer also tells him that if this alien crap gets to civilization, all human life will be gone in about three years, which would put an unacceptable dent in sales of Quaker Oats. So Wilford does what any pudgy fella in suspenders and an old-timey nightshirt would do in this situation -- he picks up an axe and gets to swingin'. And yellin'. And mumblin'. And swingin'. He wrecks their helicopter, kills a bunch of dogs, then goes after the radio equipment. The thing is, even though he seems like Santa on a drunken tear, he's actually trying to save the human race by making sure that none of the potentially infected people on base ever gets out alive. He knew what was up. You can see why he became so smug and condescending about stuff like oats and Liberty Medical supplies after this.
Final stages of "Diabeetus." He tried to warn us.