Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top 5 Movie Guide: Worst/Most Hated Comic Relief Sidekicks

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, we turn our attentions to this weekend's "The Last Stand" for inspiration. The film, which sees Arnold Schwarzenegger back in a starring action role, also sees Johnny Knoxville as the comic relief sidekick of the film, an actor who many of us proclaimed on our last CinemaCast as a major reason why we had little interest in this film. Unfortunately, the silly antics we see from Knoxville in the trailer appear to have little to do with the development of the plot in the film, as he's simply thrown in to get a few cheap laughs. None of us have a problem with a few laughs in a film, for characters like this - characters that you can just look at or hear their voice and know how annoying they're going to be - they're just pointless and a waste of everyone's time.


Wikipedia defines comic relief as "a releasing of emotional or other tension resulting from a comic episode interposed in the midst of serious or tragic elements in a drama. Comic relief often takes the form of a bumbling, wisecracking sidekick of the hero or villain in a work of fiction. A sidekick used for comic relief will usually comment on the absurdity of the hero's situation and make comments that would be inappropriate for a character who is to be taken seriously." Sometimes this is a great thing, where you have an otherwise dry movie lifted up by a witty sidekick who really brings a lot of fun to the film. Other times, as with our friend Ruby Rhod above, it comes off more as just annoying and pointless, ruining an otherwise decent film. And those latter characters, those are the ones we'll be focusing our lists on today; just the worst ones we've ever had to deal with in the past.

I was really trying to work in Guy Fleegman's (Sam Rockwell) self-aware "plucky comic relief" exchange from "Galaxy Quest" into this post, but I just couldn't seamlessly make it work. Unfortunately, he serves as one of the best examples these characters has offered in the past, and has little meaning on this list. Still, it's a fun snippet for a post completely revolving around such characters. Oh well...

Hit the jump to see which characters from which films made our lists for some of the worst of all-time!

Alex Schopp -
This list seemed like a much better idea in theory. Ultimately, my picks felt pretty uninspired and pretty typical of what you'd expect to see on a list like this. I was really hoping for a few more notable options than what I was able to come up with.

     1. Jar Jar Binks in Star Was: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
I know this is the obvious choice, but in loving the Star Wars franchise as much as I do, this one hurts the most. The new trilogy has become a big joke to most moviegoers, but I think had Jar Jar not been in the first one - and there really is ZERO POINT to his character - that film would have landed better and set up better mindsets for the subsequent films. I still generally like this movie, I just wish the 20-minutes of footage with Jar Jar could be cut out.
     2. Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element (1997)
Even though I was only 12 when this movie came out, I knew how terrible Tucker's character was even then. I loved the movie at the time, but hated his role. I know he was meant to be annoying, but it was too much. I still want to care about this movie more today, but I just can't get past how annoying Rhod was in this film.
     3. Herman 'Fergee' Ferguson in Judge Dredd (1995)
This would probably be one spot higher if I liked this film just a little more. Overall, "Judge Dredd" did little for me, but Fergee has always been as annoying to me as just about anyone else you'll see in this post.
     4. Mudflap & Skids in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
I've rationalized why these characters suck so much to a point where it's actually kind of epic, but at the same time, they're still annoying to watch. Again, this movie paled in comparison to the first, so it wasn't that big of a loss; but take these two out (and really you could lump two or three more little idiot robots in with them too) and we're having a different conversation about the film's quality.
     5. Gus Gorman in Superman III (1983)
Poor Richard Pryor. It really isn't his fault, he just happened to be the person slotted in for this role. Overall, I hate the entire direction they took with this film, and how stupid it is. I want only epicness with my Superman movies - this film was mostly bad cheese with zero epicness. If you never watched this movie, you're mostly lucky, but if you have the slightest of inclination, here are the only reasons why it's worth it: Margot Kidder is looking better than ever in this film, and you can't beat those Smallville tie-ins. I love the high school reunion and him hanging out with Lana Lang (even though it's also him mom; awesome but weird).

Ben Foutch -
I imagine most of these will show up on the other guys' lists. These characters are popularly bad for a reason.

     1. Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace (1999)
How very cliche, Ben. But, you know what? I was young when this released, and still thought this character that was geared towards kids was super lame. It also might have been the moment in time where I realized that I really didn't care for Star Wars as much as my peers.
     2. Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Short Round is pretty terrible, but not as annoying as one of the worst female characters captured on celluloid. Apparently the filmmakers of #3 were so enamored with this type of comedy relief, they made a similar character to test the nerves of both us (the audience) and our hero.
     3. Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element (1997)
Scream, whine and complain with a pitch that is more grating than nails on chalkboard during every otherwise rockin' scene. Now that's good comedy!
     4. Herman 'Fergee' Ferguson in Judge Dredd (1995)
This movie isn't very good anyway, but Schneider just adds insult to injury.
     5. Paul Hodges in Cop Out (2010)
I'll believe for a second that Tracey Morgan was the only reason that made watching this movie one of the worst decisions of my life.

Derek Clem -

     1. Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element (1997)
He makes this movie completely unwatchable for me. I think I'm in the majority with not liking this character, but I feel like I'm in the minority when I say it's enough to kill the whole movie for me.
     2. Malak in Conan The Destroyer (1984)
This movie is already pretty bad because it's geared towards children, but Malak makes it, for the most part, unwatchable. When you love the hard-R predecessor, it's so difficult to handle any of his childish comedy.
     3. Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
There is enough cool things in this movie to where I'm still able to watch and enjoy it, but Jar Jar is awfully grating on the ears.
     4. Herman 'Fergee' Ferguson in Judge Dredd (1995)
I remember seeing this in the theater thinking, why is that bellhop from "Home Alone 2" in this movie? Then remembering, well, he was in "Demolition Man".
     5. The Warriors Three in Thor (2011)
This movie doesn't work much for me anyway, so I can't call them the full cause of my dislike of the movie. But, for my tastes, they brought much unwanted comedy to the film.

Nathan Hinds -

     1. Any movie Chris Tucker is in.
Do I really need to explain?
     2. John Conner in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator: Salvation (2009)
I was just gonna do Edward Furlong's portrayal from T2, because he is the only bad element in an otherwise perfect movie, but then I got to thinking about just how useless John Conner is in every Terminator movie, and it didn't feel right to exclude the others. You know you've created a terrible character when Christian Bale can't even make him sweet. I don't get how that guy is gonna save the world.
     3. Mr. Chow in The Hangover (2009) & The Hangover: Part II (2011)
I have never laughed at one thing Ken Jeong has done. EVER. He's not funny, people, stop acting like he is.
     4. Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
This is easily the obvious choice for this list, but I just don't care enough about those movies to put him any higher. He doesn't do anything that makes me actually hate his character, he's just stupid.
     5. Sgt. J.W. Pepper in Live and Let Die (1973) & The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
He's only in two of the films, but he's in there long enough for you to know that his character is only there for over-the-top humor (not in a good way), and it's completely unnecessary. You'd better believe his character effects why "Live and Let Die" is one of my lowest rated Bond films.

So there we have it, folks! Even though a popular two or three characters headlined this post, each of the four writers that submitted lists this week managed to sneak in at least two unique selections. Thus, we had high repetition at the top, but otherwise a very broad array at the bottom.

Two characters/films landed on all four lists (even if not directly on Nathan's) in Jar Jar Binks from "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace", and Ruby Rhod from "The Fifth Element". Appropriately, these two films split the top picks this week, each earning two. These are definitely the obvious picks for this list, but as Ben points out in his preface, these guys are popularly bad for a reason. What puts these two over the top is that they're both terrible characters that bring nothing of importance to their respective films, and for the most part, ruin an otherwise decent sci-fi flick. Other characters have been just as annoying - these two made sure to help ruin their entire movie.

Herman 'Fergee' Ferguson from "Judge Dredd" hit on three of the four lists this week, the only film and character to do so. This seems like perfectly fitting placement for this character, as its position most adequately represents our opinions above. While Fergee might just be one of the most annoying characters of all-time, as most of us stated above, our overall interests in this film just aren't high enough to warrant more acclamation. It's good that Fergee gets represented for how much he sucked, but at the same time, "Judge Dredd" doesn't deserve to be in the same paragraph as "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" and "The Fifth Element".

Otherwise, we're looking at all individual selections this week - nine more in total. All of the other characters in the films above are terrible in some way, and are all great additions to this list. Some of these films aren't much worth your time anyway, but in some instances, it was the characters above who made a mess of an otherwise respectable film.

Another list where we're not exactly praising the "best" films that this category has to offer, but we still hope that the information above can be valuable towards better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!