Cheesy movie moments, every year has them. From “yer changin’ that boy’s lahfe” to “een Afrika it’s ‘bling bang,” every year produces its share of scenes so insufferably hokey that they’re like the verbal (or narrative) equivalent of a 555 number, something that says less about the character or story than it screams “THIS ISN’T REAL LIFE, IT’S A MOVIE!”
We’ve never done this before, but I thought it’d be fun to chronicle the year in cheesedickness that was. When we look back at 2011, what will be its “AH. DON’T WANT. YER LAHFE.” moment? With the help of the Uproxx staff, that’s what we attempted to find out. Keep in mind, plenty of these come from otherwise good movies, which is an important reminder that not even good movies are immune to cheese. A viewer must remain vigilant, for one can be cheesedick’d at any time, without warning.
The Plowing Scene in War Horse.
Even I have to admit, War Horse wasn’t nearly as bad as the trailer made it look. It mostly succeeded at being what it wanted to be, which was cotton candy. Spun sugar with zero nutritional value. Get it?? People trying to kill each other all look the same to a horse! That’s so profound, maybe we AREN’T that different after all! You’ve convinced me, noble equine, war is bad.
Anyway, the film largely consisted of two major elements, which I have helpfully labelled “WAR” and “HORSE.” The war parts weren’t so bad, but the horse parts, jeeeeez. And by far the worst offender was a scene near the beginning of the film. You see, the main character, Applecheeks McButtonnose up there, has a father who’s a drunk. Not a mean drunk, mind you, more a lovable, but constantly-screwing-up drunk. Applecheeks’ father the drunk goes to a horse auction, and even though he’s just a poor sharecropper, War Horse is just so flowing maned and sturdily haunched that drunky has to have him (I had a similar experience with a mailbox that looked like a fire engine once). Nevermind that War Horse is a thoroughbred and what their farm really needs is a plow horse. So he spends all the family’s money on this frivolous toy horse even though everyone there begs him not to.
Then the mean old landlord shows up, and he’s all, “That pretty-boy horse you’ve got will never plow your rock field! I’ll be taking back your farm!”
And the farmer and his family are all, “Nuh uh! He’ll plow it so! ‘e’s a magic ‘orse, ‘e is!”
Which all culminates in a scene where the entire town, including Moneybags Von Jerkington and GlugGlug McPoordecisions, all turn out to watch and see whether Applecheeks and his magic lover horse can plow a field full of rocks in the rain. Yes, of course it’s f*cking raining.
Luckily, Applecheeks just wished and wished hard enough that he eventually turns a show horse into a plow horse through sheer force of movie bullshit, and war horse plows the whole field. (See also: that horse had moxie).
Those are the kind of epiphanies you can expect from War Horse, that a kid can change the physical properties of things just by wishing super hard and having a camera repeatedly dollied in on his perpetually awestruck face. GRRR, INSIGHT. You know what would’ve been a better scene? If all the villagers who had showed up to cheer on the horse because they supposedly cared so much about Applecheeks and his farm had actually, you know, picked up a f*cking hoe. They could’ve pitched in to plow the field by hand like people used to do before they could afford plucky ponies. Or would that not be magical enough?
Abduction: “Not if I find you first.“
Abduction was so cynically conceived from start to finish (Bourne! In high school! Starring the Twilight kid! he rides a motorcycle because he’s a rebel!) that it’s hard to choose just one moment as the cheesiest (what the hell happened to you, John Singleton?). Luckily, I never bothered to actually see it, so I can just cherry pick from the two-minute trailer.
“NOT IF I FIND YOU FIRST.”
The line is bad enough, but Taylor Lautner’s line reading is so free of any recognizable human emotion that it allows you to really concentrate on the inherent shittiness of the words themselves. This is probably the worst film on the list, and almost so altogether forgettable that it doesn’t even warrant inclusion. A favorite moment of mine is in the trailer, when Taylor Lautner is training martial arts with his dad (OR IS HE ACTUALLY AN IMPOSTOR) when T-Lauts throws a jumping spin kick. Only there isn’t an actual kick or punch at the end of the spin, it’s just Taylor Lautner jumping and spinning in a circle like a ballerina. And the filmmakers were so lazy, they just said “f*ck it,” cut it up, and threw in a sound effect instead of spending 10 more minutes to film him actually hitting something. I imagine that speaks volumes bout the final product. Still, I think “NOT IF I FIND YOU FIRST” was actually memorable enough in its utter crappitude that it may transcend the forgettableness of the source. That’s my fervent desire, anyway.
Moneyball: Billy Beane’s daughter sings him a song from a commercial
Now, I know plenty of you probably loved Moneyball even though I thought it sucked monkeyballs, and I’m fine with agreeing to disagree on that point. I would argue the only thing likable about it were the ideas from the book and none of the narrative created in the movie, but that’s probably splitting hairs.
But here’s where you can’t disagree with me: the scene where Billy Beane’s daughter sings him a song is perfect, cheese-soaked tripe. Billy Beane’s tacked-on, irrelevant relationship with his family (“THIS SCRIPT NEEDS MORE HEART!” you can practically hear the executive screaming) needs the maudlin, reductive, generic sense of closure it deserves. Solution? Have Billy Beane’s daughter sing him a song! And have Brad Pitt make this face:
“AH SEE YOU PLAYIN’ THAT GEETAR, BUT IT’S IS ALMOST AS IF THE STRINGS YOU WAS REALLY PLUCKIN, WERE IN MAH HEART!”
In movies, all it takes to atone for years of bad parenting is to get emotional during a musical performance. Oh, and did I mention the song came from an Old Navy commercial? Fuuuuuuuuuuck off.
Shame: Michael Fassbender’s sister sings him a Liza Minelli song
Lest you think Moneyball was the only film guilty of using a song you’ve already heard as a cheap path to emotional depth, we have Shame. You’ll see this one crop up on lots of people’s best-of-the-year list, probably because of the dazzling first half and Michael Fassbender’s acting and giant penis (all great). But it eventually settled for wallowing in grief (the self-serious writer’s “primary worthwhile emotion“), culminating in a slow-motion suicide scene set to classical music that could’ve been written by any 14-year-old goth kid of above-average intelligence.
The suicide scene could’ve gone on this list too, but where the movie really turned was the restaurant performance, where incorrigible sex addict Michael F. Assbender watches his kooky sister (Carey Mulligan) sing a super-slowed-down cover of “New York, New York.” You spend a lot of Shame trying to figure out their vaguely incestuous, brother-sister dynamic (deliberate obfuscation being another trick of the art-school crowd to create the illusion of depth) and the centerpiece of their relationship (at least, you assume, based on length) seems to be this moment, where he watches her sing. The piano player busts into “New York, New York” at about one third time, and Carey Mulligan starts singing, slightly underpitch. It’s cute at first, in an Isabella-Rosselini-in-Blue-Velvet kind of way, until it slowly dawns on you that, mother of God, we’re going to have to watch her sing the entire. F*cking. Song.
That wasn’t even half of the full scene. And OF COURSE the singing is intercut with closeups of Fassbender’s face, who’s eventually moved to tears by his sister’s heartwrenching take on a 30-year-old song. Of all the moments on this list, this one might be the only one that’s as painful to sit through as it is cheesy.
Hangover Part II: Disapproving Asian father-in-law is won over by a spontaneous show of balls
Now that I’ve sufficiently crapped on a movie you liked this year, here’s your chance to crap on me for thinking the Hangover II wasn’t that bad. Yes, it was the same plot as the first (aren’t most sequels?), and that plot was pretty bad (which, for some reason, everyone seemed to conveniently overlook in the first one), but I thought the humor in part II had a darker edge that a movie that’s essentially about guys being assholes should have had all along. And the addition of more Zach Galifianakis lines and a monkey smoking cigarettes ultimately sort of kind of won the day for me. A line like “don’t nobody know Stu like I know Stu, no way no how!” has a simple verbal absurdity that went largely unappreciated. (Look, it’s really hard trying to argue that a movie wasn’t that bad, okay? Put down the pitchforks.).
But enough about unwinnable arguments, let’s talk cheese. Where the first Hangover recycled the old hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold character and the random celebrity cameo, the second installment dropped an even bigger cheese bomb. A double cheese bomb, in fact. We got not only the disapproving Asian father (which requires no explanation, I hope), but also the vacillating wuss who miraculously solves all his problems just by doing something ballsy. In this case, a speech at the wedding. Got a disapproving Asian father in law who hates you no matter what you do to try to please him? That’s an easy fix. Just stand up in public and be like, “I don’t care what you think, bro, because deep down I know I’m hella tight!” And he’ll be forced to be like, “Whoa, sorry, bro. Maybe I’ve been wrong about you all along and shit or whatever.”
BOOM, problem solved.
Stu manned up so hard he probably spent the epilogue chugging Miller Lites and beating up some fag in skinny jeans (Miller brewing company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin™). Either way, the “dude who learns to grow some balls” has a long and storied tradition in Hollywood schlock. Another movie that comes to mind is Knocked Up (which I otherwise mostly loved), when Leslie Mann’s character does a complete about-face and decides she likes Seth Rogen’s character (which you can tell because she says “I think I like him now!”), solely because he gave her what fer in the delivery room (“This is my area. Back the f*ck off”).
Then there’s the mother of all learning-to-man-up movies, Back to the Future, where Marty McFly goes back in time, shreds on the guitar, schools his own father in the ways of huge-ball-having, and comes back to the present where the narrative rewards him with a shiny new truck. Never has the psychology behind Reaganism been so perfectly articulated.
(*wipes ass with Jimmy Carter’s pussy sweater, rides off in lifted American flag truck blasting “Hail to the Chief”*)
The Help: Skeeter learns to foller her dreams. (by Dustin Rowles)
Good gracious Virgin Mother of Tebow, The Help is mawkish. Nothing is spared: There is a mother with cancer, racism, an unnecessary romantic subplot, an abusive wife, a miscarriage, rousing music, and a small inspirational Hallmark speech in every other scene. If you’re not crying by the end, some guy actually comes around and beats you with a crowbar until you bawl for mercy. But for all its maudlin sentiment, there is no scene more profoundly cheesy than the one, near the end, where the two black maids (Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) approach Skeeter (Emma Stone) about her plans not to move to New York to take a writing job. Whatever shred of restraint director Tate Taylor had up until that point, he completely abandons with a YOU HAFTA FOLLOW YORE DREAMS, SKEETER speech that has more cheese dick than penis fondue.
Friends with Benefits: Semisonic Flash Mob (by Burnsy)
We already know that I watched a lot of really terrible films in 2011 for the sake of pointing out just how terrible some movies were (See: The Absolute Worst Movies of 2011). And because I wanted to keep the “Worst of…” list at a length that was appropriate for a visit to the bathroom, a few movies got off a little lighter than I would have liked – *gives New Year’s Eve the finger*. No movie got off lighter than Friends With Benefits, though, and that’s because it just had too many cheese-dick parts to list without breaking a sweat.
Of all of the cheese-dickishness in Friends With Benefits, the flash mob apology in Grand Central Station takes the cake, with all due respect to Justin Timberlake taking off his pants in an airport restaurant because his Alzheimer’s dad did, too. The flash mob takes the cake for a few reasons:
1) Because we spent all movie having to sit through them bitching about how it never works because they both suck at relationships, even though we knew that they would end up together in some cheese-dick fashion.
B) Because Timberlake and Mila Kunis had already come to the predictable ending that we knew they would – guys and girls can’t have casual sex, GRRRRR PENIS AND LOVE! – and this dance routine was supposed to make up for the horrible things they previously said to each other in their cheese-dick rooftop fight and it stopped him from leaving her forever.
III) Because the film started with Timberlake, who is supposed to be a genius Internet design god, telling Kunis that he didn’t know what a flash mob was. If that had been a line to get in her pants, it would have been fine. But it wasn’t. It was just way too predictable in bringing the plot full circle in a movie that redefined predictability.
[here's the badly-bootlegged clip of the scene]
Like Crazy: The evil boyfriend proposes in front of the parents
Look, I said at the outset that I was going to cover some good movies on this list, because cheesedick moments can show up anywhere. And out of all of these, Like Crazy is probably the only movie that’s going to make appearances on both my list of 2011′s cheesiest moments, AND my list of 2011′s best movies. In most ways, it really was that perfectly honest relationship movie, to the point where it’s painful to watch. I really did love it, but sometimes we must criticize the ones we love, just ask my girlfriend.
The film’s about an on again, off again relationship between Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, and, as with all on-again-off-again relationships between people this ridiculously adorable, at a certain point they’re going to have flings with rebounds. Felicity Jones’s rebound boyfriend was so perfectly detestable that I nearly started shouting at the screen. I mean just look at this asshole:
Holy Cam Gigandet, have you ever seen a face so thoroughly punchable? He’s even British.
Anyway, here’s a good test to determine whether you’re the guy your woman’s supposed to be with (and also a great test of whether you’re not actually in real life but in a movie): When you proposed to her, did you invite her parents and all her friends over first, and then pop the question in front of all of them without even discussing it with her first? Ooh, ultimate dick-boyfriend-in-a-movie-move, bro.
It was strange to see a scene essentially lifted from Coming to America in such an otherwise great movie. Proposing to your lady unannounced in front of her parents has that perfect cheesedick combination of cinematic visual, happens all the time in movies, and has never happened in real life to anyone I know or to acquaintances of anyone I know. All the best cheesy lines have it.
Young Adult: “But my locker was next to yours all four years!”
Oh, Young Adult, yet another example of having to bash the ones you love. Jason Reitman is great and Patton Oswalt is probably my favorite living human, but Oswalt’s character’s meet up with Charlize Theron’s character in Young Adult fits every criteria for being on this list and then some.
You know how in movies, when the popular kid meets up with the nerdy kid years later, the screenwriter wants to show that the nerdy kid absolutely worshiped the popular kid while the popular kid barely remembers the poor, invisible nerd? As many times as we’ve all seen that scene, what makes it even worse is when the writer has to take it way beyond believability just to make a point that was pretty obvious and cliché to begin with.
In Young Adult, it starts with nerdy guy Patton staring at Charlize Theron at the bar.
“Mavis? Mavis Gary?”
And before long, he’s trying to jog her memory, to no avail, going so far as to drop the bomb “but my locker was right next to yours for all four years!”
Ugh. If you’re going to keep recycling this lame scene, at least make it something like, “Remember? We had Mrs. So-and-So’s English class together.” We don’t need ‘”Remember me? I asked you to the prom six times, and when your mom died of cancer I was the only one who showed up to the funeral and gave you that life-sized monogrammed teddy bear.”
We get it, popular kids are dicks, they don’t all have amnesia.
Super 8: A Locket with a Picture of My Dead Mom
This choice was difficult only inasmuch as Super 8 was a movie composed almost entirely of cheesedick movie moments (including that prized cheese delicacy, the “YOU JUST DON’T GET IT, DO YOU!” scene) as an homage to Spielberg (see the Spielberg Face above). Which is to say, it was like a cheesy love letter to cheese. And all of it held together with a nonsensical plot and obnoxious characters spouting dumb catch phrases.
But even in a film composed almost entirely of processed cheese, one aspect stood out: the protagonist who keeps a picture of his dead mom in a locket. How would movie characters even mourn if lockets hadn’t been invented? They probably wouldn’t. But without dead loved ones, what would motivate them?? Jeez, who knows. Something that takes more than three seconds to write, perhaps. Scary thought.
Well, folks, those are our picks, but obviously we couldn’t see everything. How say you? What did we miss?
I want more like this!
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