Feb 26 2014
The 90’s were a great time for comedies. Riding on the success of big-budget blockbusters like Ghostbusters, 90’s comedies weren’t afraid to mix genres in an effort to appeal to the broadest audience possible. This era was when the comedy event-picture truly took off; releases all-year round were given larger budgets, and studios filled theater seats with people expecting some excitement and suspense in addition to laughing their butts off.
Appealing to action-seeking audiences was also a good out for screenwriters who could have found themselves wondering “how the hell do I take a kitchy 60’s sitcom like The Addams Family and keep people entertained for an hour and a half?” Plus, having a detestable villain would mean less overall effort spent convincing viewers to ally themselves with the quirky protagonists.
At least that was the idea. Some “fight the villain” plots were hard to buy into because the heroes could have won by simply not showing up. Plenty of these films’ antagonists are so horrifically ineffective that they never appeared to be a threat at any point in time. Here are some of the worst…
5. Kurt Bozwell – Good Burger
Kurt seems to take himself a bit too seriously for the owner of one fast-food restaurant. Yes, he has grand designs to unleash his Mondo Burger franchise upon the world, but you might want to get a foothold in the market before you start making rivals.
Also, how old is this guy? Nineteen? At that age wouldn’t owning a restaurant with ridiculous uniforms and an expensive industrial manufacturing facility imply that he has some serious financial capital floating around? Couldn’t he just out-compete Good Burger by just, you know, opening a new location where Good Burger has no market presence? Instead, Kurt’s delusions of grandeur spell his own downfall when he picks a fight with the first competitor that presents the slightest bit of trouble – a fight that he loses because he breaks a bunch of obvious laws.
Lesson, Kurt: start small with villainy and you won’t attract legal attention before your world domination schemes even leave the parking lot.
4. Smokey and his gang – Stuart Little
For a movie about a posh suburban family adopting a mouse, you’d think the main antagonist would be someone in their social strata trying to call their judgment into question. You know, a rival employee at Mr. Little’s business tells the boss he deserves the big promotion more than some nutjob who thinks animals are apt family members. Then, Mr. Little must justify his life choices, eventually choosing Stuart over an easy foothold into upper management, and everyone learns a lesson.
Instead we get cats. Homeless cats. The screenwriters couldn’t think of a better enemy for a talking, sentient mouse than a bunch of malnourished strays without their shots. Stuart could have won the conflict by simply waiting for warm enough weather that distemper could wipe out the lot of them.
The mafioso grey tom Smokey is admittedly a bit intimidating, and he’s obviously familiar with tactics like extortion and coercion. For instance, he forces two other mice to masquerade as Stuart’s real parents and kidnap him. But a bunch of wild tomcats aren’t exactly a daunting foe for full-grown humans. Humans who have access to a phone book with the animal control number inside. The result of the suspenseful climax could just have easily been achieved with a dish full of Meow Mix soaked in antifreeze.
3. General Leland Zevo – Toys
General Zevo’s goal is frightening, but his MO is… suspect. At best. He gains control of his brother’s whimsical and surreal toy factory and then decides to manufacture a series of automated attack drones in hopes of drumming up another World War. While this strategy might seem eerily prescient at first, keep in mind that he plans to manufacture these things as cheaply as possible. Like five-hundred bucks apiece cheap.
Seriously, he says “You give me half a billion dollars for one stealth bomber, and I’ll give you instead a million, toy-sized planes!” For starters, a stealth bomber cost upwards of two billion per aircraft in 1992, and for further comparison the most common unmanned vehicle in use today costs 16.9 million per unit. So, realistically he could offer them 120,000 drone toys for the cost of one stealth bomber if he gave a crap.
The complete lack of design quality also means that in the exciting finale of the movie the drones get to face off against… a bunch of wind-up toys. I’m dead serious. General Zevo’s weapons of war are thwarted by a bunch of tin geese and toy clowns. I’d feel bad for the US Military if they had the folly to purchase Zevo’s technology, but he threw that opportunity out the door when he decided to choke one of the ranking officials violently for not giving him an immediate response.
Even if Zevo’s toy tanks and planes had been extremely deadly, his decision to use children to pilot the drones also calls his judgment into question. “They have the best hand-eye coordination,” he claims. Yes, but do they uphold mission objectives rather than face a court martial? Or would they rather see what happens in the game when you try to blow up the friendly NPCs? Watch a nine-year-old play Left 4 Dead for your answer.
He should have made the kids play the official Toys SNES game instead, and they would have gone on a murderous rampage against the first thing they saw.
4. Matt Wilson – Encino Man
Just look at the guy. He couldn’t frighten a puppy, even a puppy that’s easily frightened. He also has no special abilities to speak of; he’s not strong or smart, and other than his two lackies he has absolutely no clout at his high school. So bullying poor main character Samwise Gamgee McLookeveryone-Ifoundacaveman (totally what the name was) only accomplishes him looking like more of a jerk than he already did.
Most movie bullies dissuade the hero from being themselves, or convince the rest of the popular kids to gang up on the protagonist. In Encino Man, though, Matt and his goons get their asses kicked by Brendan Frasier almost immediately, and are widely considered complete jokes by everyone else at school even before that. Also, when Matt tries to act the villain in the end of the film by revealing that the bizarre foreign exchange student is a caveman, no one seems to really care. If anything, Samwise should get a Nobel Prize for teaching a prehistoric human to speak English and begin to assimilate to modern culture in less than three days.
If any further proof is necessary that Matt’s a complete and total douche-nozzle with no sway, just watch the gif below. You’re welcome.
5. Carl Quigley, Edward Biderman, and Juice – Blank Check
Where do I start? The plot to this movie shouldn’t have ever gotten off the ground. Quigley, a former bank robber escaped from jail, recovers his stash of one million dollars and then begins walking around in broad daylight with a suspicious-looking briefcase. He then gives the money to his incompetent bank manager friend Biderman, who is the same man who testified against him in court. Quigley tells Biderman to launder it by pretending to cash a check for one million dollars from an associate named “Juice”. The kind of check that’s totally not going to draw attention at a bank whose tellers handle mostly personal accounts.
After leaving the bank, Quigley runs over eleven-year-old Preston Water’s bike and thinks it’d be a good idea to cut him a check and hush him up. He panics after seeing polic in the distance, and leaves the check blank with only a signature, telling Preston to let his Dad fill it out. You can see where this is going. When Preston tries to cash a check for a million dollars the next day, Biderman thinks Quigley’s bagman is an eleven-year-old boy because he’s a complete dolt and because… plot convenience.
Preston sneaks away with the cash and promptly starts spending it through the fake name of “Mr. Macintosh,” because people evidently didn’t think to ask for social security numbers in the 90’s when handling property purchases. Preston is able to get away with spending almost every penny of the cash despite it being issued through the marked bills that Biderman was supposed to have laundered and instead gave away.
The rest of the movie has Preston being pursued by the three incompetents, and it ends in a chase through Preston’s collection of expensive toys, which are set up like booby traps in a scene paying homage to/ripping off Home Alone. When the FBI arrives, the trio claims they are really Mr. Macintosh, and they are promptly arrested for fraud and felony theft.
Although the movie’s decision to portray pedophilia in a positive light (as long as it’s a hot chick and a young male) may be the worst call, Quigley’s decision to walk around in public after escaping was equally risky. His face would be instantly recognizable to every cop in the surrounding state area. Also, writing a check in his own name would be an handy way for authorities to trace his location and implicate Biderman as an accomplice.
Finally, Quigley’s “eff it” attitude towards filling out his check was the least calculated move by a movie villain of that decade. Who’s to say that Preston’s Dad wouldn’t have scammed Quigley, either? Quigley is so ineffectual, he makes King Koopa from the Super Mario Bros. movie look like Hannibal Lector. At least he still knows how to be mean to kids.
Jarrod Lipshy is a soon-to-be-graduating B.A. English student who is scared as hell about being able to find a real job. He collects old video games and watches way too many dumb movies.
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