Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fed Up, Enraged, or Psychotically Crazy -- 16 Memorable Cinematic Rants

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Though we live in the States -- long-time Virginians -- we didn't celebrate today as hubby had to work. I do have a big-ass turkey thawing in the fridge, waiting for his next day off. :-)

Avocado green was a splendid choice for a 1970s kitchen. My parents, on the other hand,opted for tomato red.

And I watched several Thanksgiving-related movies. The kids and I watched Planes, Trains & Automobiles, which is one of our go-to family holiday movies. I am also about halfway through Ice Storm. So far, this movie is just okay for me, but it has some great moments. And it's awakened my growing-up-in-the-70s nostalgia. I suddenly want to paint everything in my house avocado green and buy a big-ass brown station wagon.

Watching Planes, Trains & Automobiles reminded me of this list, which I made ages ago, so I moved it over from Listal. This list was so much fun to put together. And it seems timely, since (TMI alert) I'm coming off a week-long hormone bender -- which could be more delicately called "female problems" -- and I've been terrorizing my family. :-P

It's sort of gratifying to watch movie characters raging, y'know? Spectacularly disturbing or hilarious -- sometimes both at once. Here are some of my favorite cinematic rants -- with characters who range from infuriated to completely, ape-shit, off-the-wall psycho.

These are loosely in order, from innocuous venting to some seriously disturbing shit. I guess it goes without saying that these movie clips contain offensive language of all kinds. And there's some violence. As always, please add your suggestions, for this list, in the comments. :-)

EDITED TO ADD: An alert reader, who happens to be my dear husband, pointed out an egregious oversight in this list, so I added it. See #16 -- "Vulgarian!"

1. Hot Dog Bun Meltdown -- Father of the Bride (1991)

This remake of the Spencer Tracy classic may not be one of the greatest films of all time, but it has some nice moments. And watching Steve Martin's character go off the rails in the grocery store is pure pleasure.

Seriously, haven't we all wondered about the hot dog/hot dog bun conundrum?

2. Jealous Ex-Boyfriend -- High Fidelity (2000)

Rob, played by John Cusack, often comes across as such an immature, selfish character, there were times I couldn't believe he wasn't 13 rather than 26. It is not one of my favorite films.  But this is a fun movie, particularly the way it highlights music of the 80's and 90's.

In this scene Rob is confronted by his ex-girlfriend's current lover, of whom he's obsessively jealous, and he imagines several whacky scenarios.

3. Going Off On the Rental Car Lady -- Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

This is one of my favorites of the John Hughes movies. An advertising executive struggles to get home in time for Thanksgiving amid canceled flights, a stalled train, and many other misadventures -- all with a lonely, oppressively talkative slob glued to him.

This goofy comedy gets most of its mileage from sheer Schadenfreude, but is surprisingly moving and sweet near the end. Steve Martin's and John Candy's comedic talents really shine here.

In this scene, I feel sorry for the hapless attendant at the rental car agency. But not too much. She does get in the last word.

4. My Car's Been Towed! -- Liar, Liar (1997)

Nobody can throw a tantrum like Jim Carrey. I'm not a fan of his comedic roles -- give me Eternal Sunshine or The Truman Show any day. But my son loves this kind of stuff. :-)

The scene with the tow truck driver, starting at about 2:25, cracks me up. I love the "I'm just going to bend over and take it up the tailpipe" bit -- the tow-truck driver's final line, delivered with deadpan perfection, is priceless.

5. Snowballs! -- Zombieland (2009)

This movie is a big favorite in my house -- it's gloriously ridiculous, campy, and hilarious -- and eminently quotable. I loved the dialogue and interplay among the four lead characters. Plus zombies are just Bad Ass.

This Twinkie thing ain't over.

6. You've Been Leading Me On! -- Happy Go Lucky (2008)

I really like this movie, along with so many other Mike Leigh films. I'm surprised Sally Hawkins's performance in this film doesn't get more attention. In the scene in question, she's with her driving instructor, played by the criminally underrated Eddie Marsan, when -- believing he's been led on by Poppy's innocent flirtation -- feels rejected and ratchets up the level of crazy.

I couldn't find a clip of this scene. You're just going to have to watch the movie.

7. No Wire Hangers! -- Mommie Dearest (1981)

This scene really requires no introduction. Mommie Dearest is not particularly a favorite of mine, but I try to watch it periodically. It makes me feel more confident about my parenting skills.

8. Typing Tantrum -- The Shining (1981)

A less-than-warm & fuzzy marital moment between Jack and Wendy (Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall). On the up side, this exchange doesn't involve an axe.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

9. Whose Ass Didn't I Kiss? -- Burn After Reading (2008) 

There are no words to describe how much I love John Malkovich, as Osborne Cox, in this under-rated film by the Coen brothers. In this scene, Cox, a narcissistic alcoholic, reacts to his demotion with self righteous fury. As we soon find out, this tantrum is barely scratching the surface of his bat-crap crazy rage.

10. Never Knock On My Door! -- As Good As It Gets (1997)

I've been a big fan of this film for such a long time. Melvin Udall is a vicious bigot who also happens to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. By the end of the story he manages to achieve -- not redemption, exactly -- but a bit more humanity.

In this scene, a neighbor is working up to confronting Melvin about throwing his beloved dog down the trash chute. Can anybody do bat-crap crazy -- and just downright, mind-blowingly mean -- as well as Jack Nicholson?

11. Bigoted New York City Rant -- 25th Hour (2002)

In this scene, drug-dealing New Yorker Monty Brogan, recently caught by the cops, rages in
the bathroom mirror, spewing hate at various ethnic groups, gays, greedy businessmen and the city which has been his life. He also spews hate at his loved ones, and most of all, at himself. Interestingly, only his reflection speaks. I'm not sure I understand this scene. To borrow a bit of Jungian psychology, is this his shadow side?

12. Where's My Watch?! -- Pulp Fiction (1994)

This movie is brilliant, as well as fabulously sick and demented. In this scene Butch loses his cool when he discovers that his treasured watch, left to him by his father, was left behind in his flight from mob boss Marsellus Wallace.

While  the comedic value of this scene was not lost on me, my heart was actually breaking for Fabienne. Maria de Medeiros was terrific here.

But, hell, that watch was a family heirloom. Carried halfway across the world by a loyal friend of Butch's father ... in his ass.

13. Get! The Fuck! Out! -- Sling Blade (1996)

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Dwight Yoakam plays Doyle, Linda's abusive, controlling boyfriend. Throughout the film, we don't quite see him overtly abuse Linda and her son, Frank. Somehow this just makes the tension worse.

Every moment Doyle is onscreen, the feeling that the powder keg is about to blow is palpable. And there's no doubt he'll kill her if she tries to leave.

Doyle, as we sometimes say here in the South, really Shows His Ass in this scene.

14. Donnie Barksdale Goes Off -- The Gift (2000)

I've always loved this movie. It portrays a town in the deep South with both gritty realism and a sense of mystery. Keanu Reeves, as Donnie Barksdale, does an amazing job portraying the penultimate redneck. In my opinion, it is -- by far -- his best role ever.

I couldn't find a clip of the scene I'm looking for, but if you've seen the movie, you know the one. Donnie charges into Annie's house, attacks his cowering wife, and tears into Annie. This is a bastard you do NOT want to get mixed up with. 

15. Begbie's Bar Brawl -- Trainspotting (1996)

Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle, is surely one of the most bat-shit crazy and vicious characters in all of cinema. This scene speaks for itself.

And, while it seems wrong to follow Begbie's psychopathic tantrum with anything else, I had to add this one:

16. Vulgarian! -- A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

 Because no one knows how to be an asshole quite like Otto. If "the ugly American" can be considered a character type, this guy owns it.


  1. I've got one! Very Bad Things. I'd have to get the character names but when the guy gets ready to run over his brother and he smacks the steering wheel all crazy while mumbling to himself. Great scene. Awesome post!

  2. It's always great to see my man Begbie involved in these kind of posts Steph. Love your inclusion of Keanu Reeves as well. He puts in a great performance in The Gift and doesn't get the credit he deserves. Reeves should play more of these characters.

    1. Well, let's face it ... Begbie basically owns this list. :-)

      And I am glad you liked Keanu Reeves's performance in The Gift as much as I did. Honestly, it's the only role I've ever seen him in where I really appreciated his acting. I wish he'd done more work like that.

  3. Great list! It's funny, that rant in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is one of the main reasons I hate that movie. I can't stand when people are rude to customer services employees. Huge pet peeve of mine.

    1. I definitely agree with you on people's treatment of customer service employees. That scene in this movie didn't really bother me. But I see where you're coming from

  4. Oh God, the kangaroo/watch rant always cracks me up, when he leaves the apartment, seemingly calm and then he starts yelling again in the car :)

    Awesome to see Burn After Reading on the list, Johm Malkovich is so hilarious in this movie.

    1. I know! Right? Even though I can't help feeling sad for Fabienne, I insanely love that scene. "It was on the kangaroo!" And as you said, when he pulls himself together, gets in the car, then goes ape shit again, it's just priceless!

      And just think, those two actually get to ride off into the sunset together, in a manner of speaking -- a happy ending I was definitely not expecting. "Zed's dead, babe."

      Glad you're a Burn After Reading fan. I appreciated every single performance in that film, but John Malkovich outshines them all, in my mind. That's one of my favorite scenes in the movie.

  5. Haha this list is brilliant. love a good rant.I guess the best one is the one from 25th Hour because that shit just blew you away. But I love the others too.

    1. Thanks, Nikhat! I can definitely see why the 25th Hour clip is your favorite. I want to see that movie again soon.

  6. Happy Thanksgiving Steph :)
    This is a fun post...I never pay much attention of the ranting in a movie before. I enjoy the videos you have provided.

    I think my favorite angry scene (not a rant) is from Mr.Bean trying to kill a fly...but that might be a far different dimension than what this post meant.

    1. That Mr. Bean skit sounds fun! :-)

  7. Happy Thanksgiving :)
    I remember the film The Ice Storm, it's an interesting one.
    You have listed some of my all time favorite films here, and I do love a good on screen meltdown.
    That scene in As Good As It Gets is just classic. And that movie has such quotable lines, I love it.
    I just re-watched Sling Blade a few weeks ago, what an amazing performance by the entire cast, but mostly Billy Bob Thornton.
    Yes, The Gift! How messed up was Keanu Reeves in that one?
    Gotta love Zombieland. And I LOVE John Cusack and anything he does :)
    You know who else has a good meltdown? Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias, the cemetary scene. That meltdown made me cry.
    Also, Robin Wright in Forrest Gump. When she throws the rocks at her childhood home, and Forrest says "Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks"
    Fun post!

    1. Thanks for this great comment, Naida -- I agree with everything you said. When I first saw Keanu Reeves's character in The Gift, I didn't recognize him because it was so different from anything else he'd done and because I was so absorbed in the *character* I didn't notice the actor, if you know what I mean. And holy crap, was his character ever messed up. :-)

      Sally Fields at the graveyard, finally letting out her rage over the loss of her daughter, and the "sometimes there aren't enough rocks" scene in Forrest Gump. Great choices! Steel Magnolias is my favorite sappy chick flick. I wasn't crazy about Forrest Gump, for some reason, but that was a very moving scene.

  8. I got one! Michael Shannon's rant in one of my favorite films, Revolutionary Road, is brilliant acting.

    1. It sounds like I need to add that to my watchlist. :)

  9. Happy Belated Thanksgiving! :) Can't wait to hear your thoughts on The Ice Storm after you finish it.

    This list is brilliant! The rant from Planes, Trains & Automobiles is my favorite. His treatment of her is inexcusable, but it's so funny in the context of the film.

    #16 is a great addition by the way, and I second Alex's suggestion of Michael Shannon's rant from Revolutionary Road. Definitely check that out.

    1. Hi Josh, You and I live in the same time zone, don't we? (It's 3 a.m. EST) I see I'm not the only one up late. :-)

      Just finished The Ice Storm a few minutes ago -- maybe I'll write up a review this weekend.

      My family and I always get a huge kick out of that Planes, Trains & Automobiles scene. It wouldn't be funny in real life, of course, but as you said, it really works in the context of that movie.

  10. Wow, this is a remarkable idea for a list. Love that scene from Planes, Trains & Automobiles. I mean, seriously, how many times have you wanted to do that?

    That moment from Happy Go Lucky really shook me up the first time I saw it. Crazy intense.

    “I have a drinking problem? You’re a Mormon, everyone has a drinking problem compared to you.” God, I love the Coens’ dialogue.

    25th Hour, Pulp, Sling Blade – damn, I love a lot of movies with epic rants!

    Great work here.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Alex. :-)

      When it comes to movies, I do love a good rant. I'm fairly laid-back by nature, and I worry excessively about hurting other people's feelings ... maybe this is my way of living vicariously. ;-)

      That scene in Happy Go Lucky shook me up, too. Eddie Marsan was terrific. And yes, the Coens definitely rock dialogue.

      I re-watched In Bruges last night, because my husband hadn't seen it and I knew he'd really appreciate it. I immediately realized I'd missed a great rant. Ralph Fiennes raging and smashing up the telephone. "You're a fucking inanimate object!" That line cracks me up every time.

    2. LOVE Fiennes' rant in In Bruges. Also, the narration of his letter... shit is priceless.

    3. Definitely! :-)


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