Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Top Ten Movie Creeps, Jerks, Cads, and Assholes

The creep, cad, or asshole is a staple of many a film -- and his or her importance cannot be overstated.

Here are my favorite ten cinematic jerks:

10. Toht

Toht from Raiders Of The Lost Ark is a creep. He has beady eyes, he's a Nazi, and I don't like him. Plus, he provided me with one of those nightmarish visuals of my youth; only in retrospect can I take any sort of pleasure in his face melting off. Obviously, Belloq was no better than Toht and a far bigger Nazi -- but it's Toht's creamy melting visage that has caramelized its way into our collective unconscious.

9. Carter Burke

Ripley: Just tell me one thing, Burke. You're going out there to destroy them, right? Not to study. Not to bring back. But to wipe them out.
Burke: That's the plan. You have my word on it.
Ripley: All right, I'm in.

Carter Burke from Aliens is an asshole, a corporate stooge, a liar, and a coward. He can go to hell. "Mad About You" worked to lessen the stain of Burke from actor Paul Reiser for me, but only to a certain extent. I much prefer Richard Lewis.

8. Miss Hannigan

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Now, some may say that Miss Hannigan is technically a bitch, but I think "creep" goes beyond gender. As we all know, she tried to stop that adorable red-headed moppet Annie from getting adopted. But even worse, she was totally macking on Daddy Warbucks when it was clear that he should be with Grace Farrell. This is totally what creeps do. Excusing her villainy at the end and blaming it on the booze was just a cop-out, in my humble opinion, and she totally did not deserve to be in the victory circus.

7. Tom Chisum/Cha Cha DiGregorio/Leo

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These three characters from Grease are creeps -- though to be fair, Tom only was a creep because he existed, whereas Cha Cha and Leo were actively cads and assholes. (Cha Cha, technically more of a bitch) All three stood in the way of Sandy/Danny and Rizzo/Kenickie living out the awesome true love that was their destiny. However, Cha Cha has her own Barbie doll, so go figure.

6. Miss Almira Gulch

What the hell business is it of hers that Dorothy has a dog? Jesus H. Christ. Mind your own damn business! Stupid lady.

5. Jim

Jim the Jock from Edward Scissorhands is a total creep asshole. Because of him, Edward became misunderstood and had to live out the rest of his emo existence on a lonely mountain. This is what happens when creeps get involved in timeless romances. The fact that Jim used to be that nerdy guy from Breakfast Club does not in any way excuse his behavior. Screw this guy.

4. Bill Lumbergh

Lumbergh from Office Space is a creep/asshole who nonetheless has some sort of undefinable physical appeal that allows him to score with Jennifer Aniston. Perhaps she was swayed by the heady whiff of Power that emanated from Lumbergh's being. All we know is, she's a lesser person for it. * Edit: it has been pointed out that Aniston slept with a different Lumbergh, meaning that Bill Lumbergh doesn't really have much going for him except an undeserved reputation as teh result of mistaken identity. Though it must be pointed out that in real life, some of the Bill Lumberghs of the world do get surprisingly lots of action, because corporate despots/hacks can be real sexy.

3. Cal Hockley

Cal from Titanic is the type of movie asshole who is really handsome but shitty at the same time. He beats his girlfriend and totally gets cute Jack Dawson in trouble. I initially really hated Cal, but as time has gone on and I have hated this movie more and more, I sometimes catch myself hoping for an ending where Cal knocks Rose unconscious, drags her into a lifeboat, they both end up alive, and she becomes a pampered, drug-addled mother of eight unloved children who grow up to be uncontrollable proto-hippies. I think that would have been more interesting.

2. Ed Rooney

I don't know about you, but I found Rooney's obsession with Ferris Bueller to be a tad unhealthy. Somebody really needs to look into that.

1. Walter Peck

Dr Ray Stantz: Everything was fine with our system until the power grid was shut off by dickless here.
Walter Peck: They caused an explosion!
Mayor: Is this true?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yes it's true.
Dr. Peter Venkman: This man has no dick.

Walter Peck from Ghostbusters has served for me as the template of the Asshole in not just movies but every medium. He's elitist, he immediately hates the main character because of his own insecurities, and is willing to risk the deaths of countless people just to prove a point. Yes, he is truly dickless, without dick. At least, that's what I've heard. Then again, if you had a troupe of people dressed in crazy outfits spouting out psuedo-scientific gobbledy-gook and wielding powerful energy-thingies in the middle of NYC, you too might be an asshole about it. According to the Movie Villains website:

"Walter Peck, legal representative of the Environmental Protection Agency, has a legitimate beef with the Ghostbusters. No one wants "noxious, possibly hazardous" chemicals in their neighborhood, and that's the EPA's business."

Now, what if Walter Peck was totally nice about things, but said, in the nicest way possible, that there were certain EPA rules that the Ghostbusters had to follow?

I say, Venkman still wouldn't have cooperated with him. Which brings us to the concept of Asshole Pride. At least Peck had the pride of being a total self-righteous asshole. There is a certain consistency in that. The Lucy Van Pelts of the world are, in my opinion, happier than the Charlie Browns.

Assholes are the heroes of their own stories. And they don't even know that they're assholes; because if they did, they wouldn't truly be assholes. They'd be self-loathing wishy-washies in therapy. So raise a glass to the insufferable jerks; little critters of nature, they don't know that they're ugly.


  1. I believe Ms. Aniston slept with a different Lumbergh.

  2. Wasn't it established in Office Space that, despite Peter's suspicions, it was a different Lumbergh that hooked up with Jennifer Aniston's character? It's been a while since I've seen it...

  3. I'm thinking they probably should have just told him about the Twinkie.

  4. You forgot Dean Wormer...

  5. The guy who played Walter Peck in "Ghostbusters" also played Richard Thornburg in "Die Hard," the reporter who endangers McClane's family by threatening to call immigration on their nanny in order to get access to the kids and put them on TV. I'd put him at least at #5, maybe higher.

  6. The guy who plays Peck almost plays a lot of assholes.

    Ed Rooney was kind of a creep, but I had some sympathy for him. Of course, a computer file is just a computer file. He could have simply changed his absences back to 9.

    On a related note, while he has not played assholes so much as arrogant pricks, how do you explain Jeremy Piven. He's played a few arrogant pricks over the years and you would think that would convey some sense of self-awareness when acting like an arrogant prick.

  7. The guy who played Peck also played the asshole professsor in Real Genius.

  8. Niedermeyer beats Wormer.

  9. Did you see the related SNL sketch about "Badguys Club"?

  10. Yes, it's true. Your number one man has no dick!

  11. Anonymous2:17 PM

    Cha Cha DiGregorio was waaaay hotter than rizzo.

  12. Is it just me or does Billy Zane in that picture look like Ben Affleck after a horrible plastic surgery accident?

  13. Some notes.

    1. Wasn't Jeffrey Jones (Ed Rooney) accused of some child molestation? Puts his obsession with Ferris in a weird light...particularly the "your ass is mine" scene.

    2. Love the hidden Ren & Stimpy reference.

    3. re, Toht: ew

    4. As far as Miss Hannigan is concerned, Carol Burnett can never be evil. It's one of the philosophical constants. That's why she turned good at the end. Also, as someone who's become a parent, I find myself sympathizing with her more and more. I caught my wife once, recently singing "Little Girls" with true emotion.

    5. Peter Venkman is totally Phil Connors from Groundhog Day at the beginning of Groundhog Day.

  14. Of course, in the new Ghostbusters video game, written by Ramis/Aykrod and has the full cast in it (so it's essentially Ghostbusters 3) has Walter Peck as a government liaison with the GB's.

    I'm sure there will be some cut scenes of insults and tension, but at least the boys can all play nice.

    Regardless, Ghostbusters is the greatest thing ever.

  15. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Yeah, William Atherton seriously deserves a place in the Asshole Character Actor (Who Is Probably Totally A Nice Guy In Real Life) Hall of Fame for amazing triple play of GHOSTBUSTERS, DIE HARD, and REAL GENIUS, which I think especially resonated with many people who've known teachers like him.

    I'm so glad they're getting Atherton back to play Peck in the GHOSTBUSTERS video game. He was also great as Doctor Destiny in JUSTICE LEAGUE.

    It was great meeting you at NYCC, Val!

  16. Some interesting picks... most of which are soooo dead-on.

    That said, I've often thought Cal Hockley gets a bit of a raw deal in Titanic, at least where he stands as a boyfriend/fiance to Rose. Technically, he never beats her. Yes, he throws the breakfast table across the room, but can you blame the guy??? The woman he's getting married to spent the previous night dancing it up with some other guy. I think the one time he slaps her (and I am relying on memory, so correct me if I'm wrong) is later after she's been caught having a nude drawing done by Jack and having "done the deed" with Jack, too. Sorry, can't really hate Cal for how he handles his betrothed's indiscretions.

    Now, before anyone turns around and says I'm advocating violence against women here, keep in mind nobody would lose any sleep if positions were changed and Rose slapped Cal for fooling around behind her back. People would probably even cheer.

    On top of all that, I don't think anyone can say Cal doesn't really love Rose. Seriously. I doubt he loved her more than himself, but when initially given the chance to get on a lifeboat without her, he can't do it.

  17. Hmm... at first I was like, "Mark is right. Where's Dean Wormer?" But then JMY mentioned Niedermeyer and now I'm like, "He has a point. Niedermeyer's asshole-ishness is probably unbeatable."

    Either one would be a worthy addition to the list!

    On the other hand, my favorite quote exchange involving Carter Burke goes something like this:

    Ripley: That's the atmosphere processor?

    Burke: Yep, that's it. Remarkable piece of machinery. Completely automated. (slight pause) We manufacture those, by the way.

    Paul Reiser gives that line just the right touch of smarmy, company-man oiliness and bravado. It's an example of how the guy doesn't stop being an asshole even when he's trying to make polite conversation. Such a jackass!

    That line impressed me so much, I often tag "We manufacture those, by the way" onto otherwise unrelated comments in conversations.

  18. Oh... and what about the terrible person you can't help but kind of grudgingly like?

    Royal: I've always been considered an asshole for about as long as I can remember. That's just my style. But I'd really feel blue if I didn't think you were going to forgive me.

    Henry: I don't think you're an asshole, Royal, I just think you're kind of a son of a bitch.

    Royal: Well, I really appreciate that.

    Do we forgive them because they have self-awareness of their personal shortcomings and flaws, or do we still view them as assholes because of the lifelong damage they inflict upon others? Even if they do give their lives rescuing their families from the wreckage of destroyed, sinking battleships?

  19. "The guy who plays Peck almost plays a lot of assholes. "

    He has made a cottage industry out of it. I have a grudging respect for his assholes, tho.

    That sounded kind of *wrong*, but you know what I mean.

  20. "Do we forgive them because they have self-awareness of their personal shortcomings and flaws, or do we still view them as assholes because of the lifelong damage they inflict upon others?"

    see, if they have self-awareness about it, they aren't really assholes in my opinion. they are flawed, but not assholes. assholes just don't see it.

  21. That line impressed me so much, I often tag "We manufacture those, by the way" onto otherwise unrelated comments in conversations.

    Fantastic. Now I have to start doing that. I'll give credit before the recipient wanders off, confused.

  22. Anonymous11:04 PM

    "Did you see the related SNL sketch about "Badguys Club""?

    Is that the one where they sit around and reminisce but they slowly and casually reveal horrible things they've done?

    Cuz The Kids in the Hall beat them to it several years prior in a superior sketch although I'm not sure if that's the one you're referring to.

  23. There's the Val we all know and Love. Sorry about your Pops, just know he's proud of what you're doin. Keep it up. As for the subject "BWAHAHAHA!!!" just what I needed...