The Top 10 Movie Douchebags

November 11, 2008

A well-placed douchebag character in a movie can really add a nice touch. Not only do they contrast the good qualities and values of the hero, but it’s just kind of fun in general to see a douchebag portrayed well on the silver screen. It’s even more fun to watch a douchebag get his comeuppance and take a heavy fall. All too often we’re confronted with douchebags in real life, and we are forced to hate them in silence. But when we’re watching a movie we are free to vocalize our wrath to our heart’s content. In the end, we almost love hating the douchebags more than we love loving the heroes.

 10. Carter Burke from Aliens

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Carter Burke (Paul Reiser) is a douchebag on many levels, not least of all his willingness to side with the corporation he works for over the people he works with. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) gets stuck with a pretty shabby lot of marines in Aliens, but nothing compares to the cowardice and putziness embodied by Burke. He lies to Ripley about wiping out the aliens, and even tries to get her and Newt impregnated by a couple of nasty face-huggers. That’s worse than putting a hit on someone. That’s like…well, it’s like putting an alien in someone. Which is really bad.

Ripley should’ve gone with her instincts and told Burke to shove his mission to LB-4 where the sun don’t shine. Even Corporal Hudson (Bill Paxton) looks like a hero next to Burke. When Hudson looks brave next to you, you know you’re a weasely little turd.

9. John Mapplethorpe, a.k.a. Future Man from Bottle Rocket

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John Mapplethorpe, known to his friends and brother as Future Man (played by Andrew Wilson, the third Wilson brother), is a small part in a small film – but make no mistake, he’s a big-time douchebag. First of all, why in the hell does everyone call him Future Man? He’s an old school preppy with a real mean streak in him, but no signs indicate he is in any way whatsoever a foreshadowing of the future.

Future Man’s real douchiness lies in his relationship to his loser brother, Bob Mapplethorpe (Robert Musgrave). Future Man beats Bob up when Bob is in any way disobedient, and he laughs at Bob and his friends and their foolish dreams of becoming professional thieves. He’s basically the big brother from hell. His buzzed head, polo shirts and smarmy remarks all spell douche. Luckily his little brother’s friends’ ambition to pull off a great heist winds up getting Bob and Future Man’s house ransacked. Hopefully Future Man becomes less of a douchebag because of this – but probably not.

8. Bodhi from Point Break

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Bodhi, the lead robber/surfer played by Patrick Swayze in Point Break, has stiff douchebag competition in this movie. He’s up against Keanu Reeves, who plays ex-college quarterback, newfound FBI agent Johnny Utah. That’s a lot of douche for one movie, but Bodhi definitely takes the cake. First of all, he and his homies are into some pretty deep shit, like, committing felonies to fund their surfing lifestyle.

But more than this Bodhi is a douchebag because for all his Zen talk about the thrill of the ocean and the freedom of a simple life, he will resort to theft, violence and kidnapping if he feels the heat around the corner. He’s yet another example of an extreme athlete who’s chill enough when he’s got a joint and a campfire and he’s kicking it with his douchebag friends, but when the chips are down he’s not averse to kidnapping a woman or recklessly endangering other people’s lives. Bodhi makes all surfers everywhere look bad.

7. Trent Walker from Swingers

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I really wrestled with whether or not I was going to put Trent (Vince Vaughn) on this list, because, by and large, he’s a really good guy. Who else could listen to endless bouts of whining and self pity from Mike Peters (Jon Favreau – both actors were good friends in real life, and some of the pep talks Trent gives Mike were based on things Vaughn really said to Favreau) and still introduce him to women at posh Hollywood parties? Now that’s friendship.

The problem is, half of everything Trent says is totally full of shit. On the one hand he tells Mike that he has to get out of his apartment and meet women; on the other he tells Mike that you can’t talk to women about “puppy dogs and ice cream,” which, depending on the girl, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. He also describes Mike and himself as “money” every chance he gets, which smacks of douchebagginess. In the end Mike has the last laugh, but the world is filled with fast-talking Trents who charm everyone with their made up stories and drunken bonhomie. One Trent goes a long, long way.

6. Steve Stifler from American Pie

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Stifler (Seann William Scott) is the classic American teenage douchebag, so it’s fitting that he’s in American Pie. For starters, he plays lacrosse, which is possibly douchier than football, and way douchier than hockey or soccer. Secondly, he’s a total idiot. And thirdly, he just has a nasty little douchebag face, which is why Scott has pretty much only played douchebags in one form or another for the entirety of his unimpressive acting career. Which brings us to an interesting point: here’s an instance of when the douchebag as actor meets douchebag as movie role. The twain do, in fact, meet. There’s a reason why any time anyone I’ve ever known sees Scott on a movie poster they immediately refer to him as Stifler. He was good as Stifler because he is Stifler.

5. Lumbergh from Office Space

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Lumbergh kills two birds with one stone: he’s one of the worst bosses in the world, and he’s one of the biggest douchebags in the world. But it’s worth noting that he’s really not your classic douchebag. For instance, the man is not a snappy dresser. Also, you aren’t likely to find this guy hitting on your lady at a club or getting aggressive in a bar.

You are likely to find him hovering over your cubicle, ordering you to work on weekends, and not listening to a word you say. Lumbergh is your prototypical business class douchebag. He was an obnoxious little punk when he was a kid, and now that he’s got a little money and a little power he’s going to make everyone’s life miserable – just because he can. The only protection against the Lumbergh douchebags of the world is, well, pretty much not to work in an office. So, basically we’re all screwed.

4. Ice Man from Top Gun

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Ice Man (Val Kilmer) is one of the few movie douchebags who isn’t all bad, and who could easily be mistaken for a badass. Because he is kind of a badass – but he’s no maverick. Only Maverick (Tom Cruise) is a maverick, but he’s not the kind of maverick who has to tell everyone his name is Maverick every five seconds to prove he’s a maverick. Maverick? I mean, ok?

Ice Man’s main problem is that he’s a homosexual, and that he hasn’t figured this out yet. It’s also his best friend Slider’s problem, and until they figure this out they will keep trying to start shit up with Maverick and Goose in the hopes of one day turning the volley ball game on the beach into something a little more intimate. Like, say, a nice walk along the beach. Ice Man also doesn’t like it when people take risks, and when Maverick’s up there he’s dangerous. This is Ice Man’s way of insinuating that if anything happens between them condoms will be involved.

In the end, as we all know, Ice Man’s not so bad, and it’s kind of tragic he and Maverick never hook up. I think we all know the tough-talking macho man douchebag who gets in everyone’s face, but all his friends are just kind of waiting for him to come out of the closet so they can get on with it already. Ice Man is definitely that guy. Not mean deep-down, just temporarily deluded.

3. Greg Marmalard and Doug Neidermeyer from Animal House

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It’s certainly not news that douchebags sometimes come in twos, and that’s definitely the case with Greg Marmalard (James Daughton) and Doug Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf) in Animal House. Dean Wormer (John Vernon) even calls the two of them “sneaky little shits”, which is exactly what they are. Unfortunately, in 1978 “douchebag” did not exist as anything other than a strictly hygienic term, so Wormer could not properly identify his two fraternity cronies. But now we have the correct terminology and we can really explore just what it is that makes them such a pair of douches.

To begin with, you know you’re not exactly a stand up guy if you’re the first person the evil dean of your university summons to do his dirty work. You can also be pretty sure you’re a douchebag if you’re in the biggest fraternity on campus and you get your rocks off torturing freshmen in the ROTC. Greek life and guns just don’t make a great combination.

But in the end, it’s simply Marmalard and Neidermeyer’s willingness to be Dean Wormer’s muscle that marks them as the founding fathers of modern douchebagginess. It’s one thing to act like a douche amongst your fellow douchebags, but to spread your jerkiness to a perfectly disruptive fraternity like the Delta house is just plain mean. I can forgive a lot of things, but beating up Otter is not one of them. Classic or no, Marmalard and Neidermeyer are douchebags through and through.

2. Walter Peck from Ghostbusters

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Peck is a douchebag both because he gives the EPA a bad name and he makes it his mission in life to shut down the Ghostbusters. When he gets a court order that allows him to do just this, he solidifies his spot in douchebag cinematic history.

The thing is, Peck really has no idea what he’s talking about. The only reason he wants to shut the Ghostbusters down is because of personal issues he was with Peter Venkman. Just because you don’t get along with the Ghostbusters is no reason to shut down their entire operation. But Peck does, and as a result what is the largest confection to ever walk the streets of the Big Apple comes close to annihilating mankind as we know it. That’s right: I’m talking about the Marshmallow Man, arguably the direct result of one of the biggest movie douchebags ever. Now, some might say the Marshmallow Man is awesome, and that we should be thankful to Peck for helping bring him about. But I don’t remember Peck standing there with a proton pack, crossing the streams into the portal from whence Gozer the Gozerian came to send the Marshmallow Man back.

No, Peck is definitely one of the douchiest douches ever, and we shouldn’t be so quick to forgive him simply because the Ghostbusters held back the tide of evil he set loose. Guys like Peck are always looking to shut down the little guy in the specious name of good. Peck’s name is extremely apt, seeing as he’s a little pecker. The only thing that gets shut down in Ghostbusters are his evil little plans, and they come splattering down into his face in the form of a big glob of Marshmallow Man flesh. Eat that, Peck.

1. Biff Tannen (and Tannenn kin) from the Back to the Future movies

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Biff Tannen is your old school, bare bones, no-frills, all American douchebag, cut from the cloth of this country’s sturdiest douchebag material. His ambitions are modest: to force Lorraine Baines to give up a little bit of ‘50s booty. In truth, Biff is as much of a hard-core asshole/creep as he is a douchebag, but he kind of made the mold for a lot of movie douchebags who came after him.

The impressive thing about Biff Tannen is that he and his relatives transcend time and space, or at least occupy a whole lot of it. Biff is a douche in the ‘50s, the ‘80s, the 2010s, and even his ancestors are douchebags in the 1880s. This kind of douchebagginess can’t be learned, it runs in the blood. And if it weren’t for Biff and his ancestors’ proclivity to violence, they might actually be half-way enjoyable guys, if only insofar as laughing at their stupidity. Alas, the Tannen clan is a clan of bullies and morons, and the only real way to deal with them is to make sure they eat a hardy dose of shit at the end of the day. There’s a lesson in that, I think.

 

 

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