The Top 10 Movie Scumbags
Scumbags are all around us in real life. They hit on our women, they crack stupid jokes, and they grow ill-advised facial hair. However, there are also many great examples of sleazy weasels in cinema, as well. Whether they’re corrupt businessmen with sneaky grins and slicked back hair or they’re ponytail-wielding womanizers, they’re slimy as hell – each and every one of them.
By Nathan Bloch
The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.
10. Shannon from Mallrats
That’s right: he’s a guy and his name is Shannon. That’s pretty creepy right there. Played by Ben Affleck in one of his more realistic roles, Shannon tries every trick in the book to get into the pants of every girl he meets – and he beats people up when he gets the chance, too. This guy is not cool. This guy is a major scumbag.
It doesn’t help that he wears a blazer through the whole movie, or that he works in the mall and takes it seriously. But the crux of Shannon’s sliminess lies in this infamous line: “I like to pick up girls on the rebound, from a disappointing relationship when they’re vulnerable. They’re much more in need of solace, and they’re fairly open to suggestion. And I use that to f&*# them some place fairly uncomfortable.” That’s pretty much the Declaration of Scumbagependence right there.
9. Ellis from Die Hard
Source: Twentieth-Century Fox
Ellis (Hart Bochner) has his heart in the right place. Actually, he doesn’t. He has his nose full of coke and his head up his ass. Which is how he manages to get his brains blown out, acting like a cocky hero when in fact he’s really just a stupid scumbag.
It’s hard to tell whether Ellis risks his butt to impress the ladies, to resolve the crisis, or to prove to himself just how dope he is. Unfortunately he doesn’t accomplish any of these, nor does he even leave the room alive. For all his pompous showmanship, he gets a bullet between the eyes. So we shall christen Ellis one of the few scumbag martyrs in modern cinema. He’s earned it.
8. David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused
David Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) is the kind of guy who enjoys a good old fashioned high school party. Of course, he hasn’t actually been in high school for a decade or so, but still. Some people never really mature past a certain age, and some people, like Wooderson, never date anyone who’s matured past a certain age.
If nothing else, Wooderson gave us this immortal line that forever sums up his particular breed of scumbag: “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.” Think of this line as a kind of Constitution to Shannon’s Declaration.
Wooderson is your classic high school predator, complete with muscle car and a blonde seventies ‘stache. If he weren’t such a scumbag, he’d be pretty dang close to cool. Not just anyone can rock a meaty ‘stache and wear pink corduroys at the same time. Wooderson encapsulates everything that was cool about the seventies, as well as everything that was very, very wrong.
7. Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia
In the end it turns out that Frank (Tom Cruise) actually does have a soul; indeed, a whole set of human feelings. But that doesn’t exempt him from scumbag status. The man makes a living by teaching other men how to successfully hit on women. And, yes, he sports the ponytail.
Frank is not your run-of-the-mill slimewad, though. He is a somersaulting, chest-pounding, intensely energetic dude who goes to great lengths to maintain his sleazy lifestyle. But Frank is different from your typical weasel: when you start asking questions about his mom he gets very sensitive. And when he finds out his dad is on his deathbed, abandoned though he was, he returns to usher him into the next life.
But still. Frank T.J. Mackey embodies sleaziness. Anyone who hands out calendars to schedule hitting on women at a seminar for men with low self-esteem has issues.
6. Ray in High Fidelity
Ray (or Ian), played by Tim Robbins, practices Karate. Or Kung-Fu. Or whatever. Ray most likely meditates daily, and, yes, Ray rocks the ponytail. Ray also poaches women when they’re rebounding from recently failed relationships. It’s like these scumbags all study the same playbook.
The funny thing about Ray is that beneath his cool exterior of new-age hipness resides the threat of violence. Ray is a dangerous man deep down, and Rob (John Cusack) knows it. That’s why they never duke it out over Laura, the girlfriend in question. That and the fact that Ray gets dumped soon after he takes up with Laura. For all his patchouli-smelling, ponytail-wearing, Karate-chopping ways, Ray is a scumbag through and through, and no amount of koan chanting is going to change that.