5 Movie Villains (Who Are Actually The Good Guys)
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.
Big 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?
Ghostbusters: 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.
Mallrats: Mr. Svenning, Game Show Producer
Mr. Svenning from Mallrats is in a tough position. He's a TV producer trying to film a pilot for a new dating show. He needs this show to be a hit or he's out of a job. It just so happens that his daughter, the main character's girlfriend, will be starring in the show. That's some stressful shit. And the worst part about it is he knows his daughter's deadbeat boyfriend is going to try to fuck it up for him. So much so that he enlists the help of the mall's security guard to keep his eye out for them. If you think he's overreacting, take a look at the film.
Jay and Silent Bob spend the movie trying to break down the stage because, well, they're bored. They do this on the direct order of TS and Brodie, our heroes. This means that our heroes are fine with beating a mall security guard with an aluminum baseball bat.
You could still argue that Svenning is being unduly harsh on poor TS ... until you watch the extended version of the film. The night before the mall fiasco, TS succeeds in ruining Svenning's Governor's Ball by putting New Jersey's governor in the hospital. So, if a known deadbeat event-ruiner is going to marry your daughter, is angry about her appearance in your next event, and will be at the mall on that very day, would you do everything you could to make sure he couldn't fuck it all up? Well, unfortunately for Svenning, TS succeeds in fucking everything up, ruining Svenning's reputation in the process.
The Movie From Mr. Svenning's Point Of View
If we shift the focus from the two college-aged deadbeats, we'll see a man with everything to lose. Svenning wakes up and does some naked karate before heading to the mall to get to work. Some scenes could include him getting frustrated at his staff for not doing things properly and getting talked down to by studio execs, all before suddenly becoming violently ill with diphtheria. Then, despite his best efforts, he still can't keep these fucking teenagers from ruining everything.
Night Of The Living Dead (1968): Harry Cooper, Heroic Husband And Father
Close your eyes. Let's roleplay:
So you're out with your family having a good time, when BAM! Zombies happen all around you. Your daughter gets bit; you panic and take them to a nearby farmhouse. It looks like it's been abandoned for years, so you're probably not trespassing. You stay with your wife and sick daughter in the basement, waiting for the proper authorities to sort this shit out. It's a good plan; the only flaw is a dude named Ben.
You just roleplayed the plot of Night Of The Living Dead, specifically from the point of view of its villain, Harry Cooper.
"Hi. You were just inside me."
Harry's a good man who does a lot of shitty things, but all in the name of protecting his family in the terrifying, confusing immediate aftermath of a zombie outbreak. The only point of contention that brings out his villainy is that he prefers to stay in the cellar with his family while Ben, our "hero," would rather be an idiot and run around the zombie wasteland. In the end, everyone turns out to be stupid, because they all wanted to keep Harry's zombie-bitten daughter alive instead of lopping her head off and relaxing until the whole thing blows over. Harry dies doing the thing any of us in his position would: protecting the ones we love.
The Movie From Harry's Point Of View
We would open with a nice family drive through rural Pennsylvania, when suddenly, disaster strikes! Cooper and his family's car is flipped by the living dead, one of which bites his daughter. A lesser man would have died with piss in his pants. But Harry Cooper musters the strength to bring his wife and daughter to safety in a farm house basement. He even rescues two country yokels in the process.
Then in comes some random dude with a gun and a bad attitude who essentially says, "Hey, me and this weird, catatonic lady need a place to hang. By the way, we're calling the shots now and we're hanging out everywhere but the basement, the safest place in the house." The movie ends when he makes the choice to do what's best for his family and not cater to the whims of some pushy stranger -- a stranger who ultimately ends up beating him to death, then killing him again as a zombie.
Bad Teacher: Amy Squirrel, The Best Teacher Ever
Bad Teacher shows both ends of the teaching spectrum: On the end with all the good teachers is Lucy Punch's character, Amy Squirrel. She's every kindergarten teacher you've ever seen: bubbly, dorky, and incredibly sweet.
On the other end of the spectrum is Cameron Diaz's character, Elizabeth Halsey: a lazy, deplorable sociopath who commits no less than a dozen felonies throughout the course of the movie. Obviously, this puts her and Amy at constant odds, with Elizabeth fucking over Amy time and time again. By the end of the movie, Elizabeth has broken up Amy's relationship, gotten Amy transferred to another school, and actually caused her to be arrested. In any other movie, the protagonist would see the error of her ways, come clean, and roll credits.
Not in this movie. Cameron Diaz never gets her comeuppance. Meanwhile, Amy is now single and teaching juvenile delinquents in the inner city.
The Movie From Amy's Point Of View
If somebody actually made Amy's side of the story, it would be the worst movie ever. Our hero, Amy Squirrel, is a gentle little woman who loves teaching and genuinely gives a shit about her students and co-workers -- you fall in love with her immediately. Then she starts dating the hot new guy and everyone in the audience says, "Awwwwww!" because it's just so darn perfect. But when Amy tries to alert the administration about another teacher's embezzlement, shit goes downhill. She's poisoned by Elizabeth, the clear antagonist, who then records herself fucking Amy's boyfriend and sends it to her. The audience finally thinks Amy has the upper hand when she finds drugs in Elizabeth's desk, but the whole thing is turned around on Amy who is shamed right into teaching at the shittiest school the administration could find. The end.
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For more from Erik, check out NASA Satellites: 6 Things That Are Surprisingly Easy To Hack and 7 Fake Movie And TV Drinks That Got Us Drunk In Real Life.