The 5 Worst Restaurant Patrons in Movie History
Filmmakers tend to forget that in the real world, there is a social contract when it comes to bars and restaurants. Servers play nice because they want good tips, customers play nice because they don't want spit in their food, and the kitchen staff plays nice because they're usually too damn busy to care.
More often than not, there will be a movie scene that takes place in a bar, restaurant, or hotel that, when viewed from the perspective of those service industry employees, comes off like a major dick move. Every once and awhile, a film character will go above and beyond a singular dick move and go for full-on dick warfare. Here are some of the worst offenders:
Control Group: Sally Albright, When Harry Met Sally
It's important to establish a baseline for this list, so we can give a sense of scale as we move along. One of the most famous restaurant scenes in film history is the fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally.
Sally is annoyingly particular when it comes to ordering her food. It's a running gag throughout the film. And yes, being that nitpicky about your food at a restaurant can be really annoying. If you've ever been out to eat with someone on the Keto Diet, and watched that person spend fifteen minutes trying to reverse engineer a lettuce wrap, you've felt the pain. But in Sally's defense, nearly every time she special orders the hell out of her meal, they seem to be simple substitutions, holds, or on-the-side requests. Her requests may be long-winded, but they are well within the realm of possibility. It's not like she's trying to order caviar on a Big Mac or anything.
And while her fake orgasm incident did bring the entire deli to a screeching halt for about 45 seconds, it wasn't done with any malice, didn't cause any financial losses to the restaurant, nor did it cause any customers to storm out in disgust. In fact, the one lady saying, "I'll have what she's having." meant that Sally's stunt actually increased sales, which would probably cancel out whatever frustration the server had over having to take her long-ass sandwich order. At worst, Sally is chaotic neutral.
Melvin Udall, As Good As It Gets
Jack Nicholson's Melvin Udall is an absolute bastard. He's racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, he threw a dog down a garbage chute... and he's the romantic lead in this movie.
Melvin also suffers from a pretty severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and due to that fact, he is locked into his routines. One of these routines is to go to the same restaurant every morning, sit at the same table, order the same breakfast, and be served by the same waitress, Carol. Carol doesn't take his table every day because she likes him, she takes it she's the only employee that tolerates him. Every other server avoids him like the plague, and the manager is always threatening to kick him out for good.
It's hard to imagine how one man could piss off every staff member at that restaurant except for one and still be allowed to come back. Ever the equal opportunity offender, Melvin also terrorizes the other customers. In one scene, Melvin walked in to discover two people sitting at his table, and he shooed them away with a bizarre line about crotch shampooing with a splash of casual anti-Semitism. It's also surprising that it took that little to offend those two particular customers seeing as they both worked with Dr. House.
The first day after Carol quit the restaurant, Melvin caused a scene that finally got him banned from the restaurant. Then, he hatched a plan to get Carol to come back to work so he can continue to eat there every day. By the end of the movie, the two of them were a couple, which no doubt made her work environment super fun. Because if there's one thing that's worse than a nightmare customer, it's a nightmare customer getting free food because they're dating one of the servers.
The Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers is one of those rare movies where if you view it from the perspective of literally anyone other than the titular heroes, they do not seem heroic at all. The State Police, the Good Ole Boys, Carrie Fisher, the Cheez Whiz guy... Even the eight other members of the band wound up in prison thanks to the brothers Blue. They may have been on a mission from God, but let's not overlook the fact that they were also a total menace to every bar and restaurant they came across.
In their quest to get the band back together, Jake and Elwood first absconded with the entire lounge band at the O'Hare Holiday Inn. Not too terrible of a dick move, but definitely a breach of Murph and the Magic Tones' contract and a headache for the lounge's manager. From there, they moved on to causing a scene at the fancy restaurant Chez Paul, ordering a ton of food without the means or intent to pay for it, bothering customers with their B.O., eating like pigs, and offering to buy the women. Please note: they went through all of this trouble for the benefit of acquiring just one trombone player.
Next, they had to get back their lead guitarist and sax player, who now happened to be the entire kitchen staff at Soul Food Cafe. Jake and Elwood roll in, order two pieces of dry toast, four fried chickens and a Coke, and leave poor Aretha Franklin to handle the front end and the kitchen by herself until she could hire a new staff.
Admittedly, they never get any food, which does soften the fact that they duck the check.
Now that the band was back together, they acquired their first gig at Bob's Country Bunker by pretending to be the country western band that had been booked to perform. After the show, when Jake and Elwood found out their bar tab was $100 more than the $200 they were getting paid for the gig, they bailed.
Ironically, in real life Dan Aykroyd is still trading on the Blues Brothers name with eleven House of Blues restaurant locations across the U.S., even though the only favor the Blues Brothers ever did for the service industry was, when they led a high-speed police chase through that shopping mall, they spared the food court.
The Collective Works of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have a lot in common. They're both darlings of indie cinema, they have similar tastes, directing styles, and they both have a penchant for writing characters into their movies who are absolute monsters to the service industry.
Tarantino came out of this gate swinging with Reservoir Dogs, with a memorable scene featuring the character Mr. Pink explaining why he never tips. It's a great scene, but if you agree with his reasoning for not tipping, let's be clear: you are a horrible person. It's almost an extra F-you to all servers that Mr. Pink is the only one left alive at the end of the movie. He might still be out there somewhere, ruining some poor waitress' shift.
And we're sure that absolutely no Tarantino mega-fans decided to stop tipping based on this scene.
Then came Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction who early on in the movie treats a waiter/Buddy Holly impersonator like crap, then in a later scene pulls a gun during an already tense armed robbery in a coffee shop, right after stinking up the men's room with a massive heroin dump. And to make that situation even worse, he and his buddy just let the robbers go. But wait a sec ... Vincent was the only customer who didn't get his money stolen by the robbers, so he was perfectly capable of paying for his tab... but he didn't. The ol' dine and dump and de-escalate and dash.
Next, we have the forty or so members of the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill Vol. 1, who terrorized the owners and staff of the House of Blue Leaves, then completely destroyed the place while trying to take down one woman in a sword fight. And then there were the Nazis in Inglorious Basterds, who were Nazis, so you can't really blame them for acting like they ran the place everywhere they went because this was western Europe in 1944.
But in the Post-Pulp, Pre-Kill Bill days of 1996, Tarantino teamed up with Robert Rodriguez for the horror flick From Dusk Till Dawn as writer and director, respectively. At the end of the first act, George Clooney breaks the bouncer's fingers and nose and Quintin Tarantino, playing Clooney's brother, kicks the guy in the ribs four times while he's down. Seems a little extreme, maybe the guy was just checking I.D.s
The bouncer later finds them inside, fightin' words are exchanged, guns are drawn, the staff turns out to be vampires, humans fight like hell for survival, et cetera. By the end of the night, the place is trashed and the entire staff is killed. Yeah, sure, the staff were all vampires, but let's not ignore the fact that a small business was destroyed here. A small business that has remained in operation despite some serious drawbacks. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get permits and licences, accept liquor deliveries, or do a OfficeMax run, when no one on your staff can be out in the daylight? These immortal night walkers finally come up with a business plan that syncs perfectly with their lifestyle, and it's all undone in one night by a group of American tourists that didn't like what was on the menu: them.
We could blame all of the waiter-hate in From Dusk Till Dawn on Tarantino being Tarantino, but it turns out Robert Rodriguez has plenty of hospitality hate crimes of his own. Desperado opens with Steve Buscemi playing one of the worst kinds of people to encounter at a bar: the guy who won't shut up about his day.
Then in the sequel, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Johnny Depp's corrupt CIA agent kills the cook at a restaurant because the Puerco Pibil is too good. Sure, his explanation for doing this does make perfect sense for his character, but dude... you do know that the next cook they hire will probably follow the same recipe, right? Could you at least let the manager know to 86 the roasted pork platter before the new guy gets himself whacked?
Lloyd Christmas, Dumb and Dumber
When you really break down the things Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) does in Dumb and Dumber, you might start to notice that he isn't really that dumb. No, he's just a psychopath. While Harry (Jeff Daniels) gets into some trouble on his own, it's usually because he doesn't think things through. But when Lloyd does something, he can be downright cruel. For example, Lloyd sold Harry's dead parakeet to a blind kid just to have money for snacks on their road trip ... snacks he didn't bother sharing with Harry, by the way.
But a lot of Lloyd's dick moves in the movie disproportionately target bars and restaurants. He shows up at a bar hours before they open and still expects to be served. He crashes a banquet he was not invited to and kills an endangered owl with a champagne cork. He tricks the cashier at a truck stop diner into putting their lunch on an angry trucker's tab. Look, say what you will the kind of person who would walk out without paying their check, at least they respect the server enough not to make them an accessory to the scam.
In one scene, our pair of "heroes" slip some hot peppers into a guy's burger, without knowing the guy had a peptic ulcer. It's pretty safe to assume this prank was Lloyd's idea. It fits his M.O. Then, after Harry accidentally gives the guy poison and he dies, Lloyd reacts by asking for the check. They just committed second degree manslaughter and split (a die-and-dash, as it were), leaving the restaurant to deal with the aftermath of a dead body, a police investigation and a packed house of horrified customers.
I don't know why a guy with a peptic ulcer would visit 'Dante's Inferno' in the first place, but still.
Stu, Mrs. Doubtfire
Pierce Brosnan was a perfect choice to play Stuart "Stu" Dunmeyer in Mrs. Doubtfire. The man had just enough English charm and dashing good looks to make audiences overlook just how smarmy that character really was. Hell, in his first scene in the movie, Stu tries to get back together with his old flame, Miranda, before she tells him she's going through a divorce. Think about that. He went into that conversation believing she was still married and went for it anyway, and upon hearing about the divorce, you could almost see the gears in his head switch from homewrecker to rebound score.
But his biggest dick move came at the climax of the movie and most viewers may have overlooked it... but if you've worked in the kitchen of a fancy restaurant, it would definitely cause a spike in your blood pressure. Here is Stu's dinner order, verbatim:
"I'll have the Jambalaya, and make mine non-spicy. I'm allergic to pepper."
First of all, for a custom order like that, a "please" would be nice, you dick. Secondly, Jambalaya is supposed to be spicy. It's what it's known for. It takes about 10 steps from prep to plate, and pepper is used at three of them. Third, it is a premade dish, generally made in a large batch to serve multiple customers. It is 90% to completion before you even order it, and two of the remaining ten percent is just putting it on the damn plate!
This order is just inviting chaos. He's asking the chef to scale down the recipe and make it from scratch for one person, tying up at least one burner for up to thirty minutes in a busy kitchen during a Friday dinner rush. Kitchens also line up orders so that everyone at the table receives their food at the same time. So, not only is Stu making the rest of his party wait an extra half hour for their food, he's also delaying every reservation for that table after him and throwing the restaurant's seating chart out the window for the rest of the night.
And to top it all off, Stu faked a food allergy. How do we know? Exhibit A: 99.9% of the time, when someone has a known food allergy, they actively avoid ordering anything that they know might contain even a trace amount of the thing they're allergic to. They sure as hell don't order something that's famous for containing that ingredient.
Exhibit B: When you have a food allergy, the moment you detect that ingredient in your mouth, two million years of human evolution has taught you to spit it out. But not Stu! He just keeps that pepper-encrusted piece of shrimp rattling around in his smug, stupid little mouth. He wasn't reacting like his life was in danger, he was reacting to his mouth being on fire from an Instagram challenge amount of cayenne pepper. We're not saying he deserved to choke on that shrimp, but we're not not saying it either.
And finally, exhibit C: Mrs. Doubtfire saves Stu from choking on something he claimed to be allergic to, and his first instinct is not to, you know, ask for an Epi-Pen? Maybe call for an ambulance? C'mon, man. Just because the old lady who gave you the Heimlich Maneuver peeled her face off to reveal she was actually your date's ex-husband committing fraud to subvert a judge's custody order, doesn't mean you're off the hook for being a big, fat liar.