by David Christopher Bell
Sometimes you just have to punch a wall, or perhaps a car door, or a ceramic cat – really, it’s whatever is closest. Whether it is rage, retribution, or legitimate hatred, sometimes an inanimate object just has to go down.
In the moving pictures this is especially fun to watch. Much like a movie death is often more dramatic than reality, a little inanimate destruction goes a long way.
15. Ralphie’s Mother vs. The Lamp in A Christmas Story
Unlike almost everything else on this list, this wasn’t a crime of passion. It was premeditated, so much so to the point that she made sure there was no coming back – no means to repair what she had done.
We don’t even witness it happen, but rather see only the sinister look on the woman’s face right before she passive aggressively destroys her husband’s ridiculous prize. In fact, for all we know, it was an accident – and that’s what makes it such a delicious act of hate.
14. James Conway vs. A Payphone in Goodfellas
Back in the day it used to be so much more satisfying to break a phone in public. There was a whole big box to wreck and push over and kick and punch. Today, you throw the damn thing and that’s pretty much it. At best you step on it – but of course the satisfaction lasts only as long as it takes you to realize you’ve just lost 400 bucks.
I like to imagine that just outside of this scene is a small man who has been waiting like a half hour to use the payphone, but was too scared to intrude, and is now slowly walking away with his head down.
13. Dumbledore’s Army vs. The Horcruxes in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
What a stupid thing to have to deal with. You need to off a guy, but first you have to go around and break his stuff – and even that’s harder than it seems because you need some stupid sword to do it with. You know how hard it is to even swing a sword and hit something the size of a quarter? It’s amazing the Ron nailed it on the first try like that, especially since his vision of it was blocked by evil sex smoke.
I’d much rather deal with a snake or burn some twitchy Hogwarts teacher than be yelled at by fog or have to try to stab a freaking cup with some fang. At least with the snake you don’t feel stupid while doing it.
12. Hercules aka “The Beast” vs. The Autographed Baseball in The Sandlot
I believe this is the only one on this list that stems from a need to chew on something. What a bitch this ball had to take – thank god Darth Vader was a baseball guy or else that kid would have probably been belted by Denis Leary. Also, what the hell is Denis Leary doing in this film? Not that I am opposed, but the guy seems to pop up in the weirdest places.
Weird fact: Rick Lazzarini was the guy in charge of the animatronic Beast effects on this movie. He was the guy in charge of Barf’s ears in Spaceballs, as well as the animatronic buffalo in Radio Flyer, the elephant in Operation Dumbo Drop, and Kurt Russell’s puppet double in Escape From L.A. So I guess he has a thing for animals.
11. Paul Vitti vs. A Pillow in Analyze This
More often than not, a gun just isn’t going to satisfy that visceral desire to project hate from your body and into another object – that’s why I’ve never fully understood using them on another human. I’ve shot guns before (at objects, not other people), and while it’s absolutely therapeutic, it never seemed like a proper output for anger. It felt more like popping bubble wrap.
So with a pillow, you’d think the brutality level would be turned way down. However this is Robert De Niro we’re talking about here. Robert De Niro pulling a mob-style hit on a fluffy pillow. You could devote a whole movie just to that.
10. The Terminator vs. The Hood Of A Car in Terminator 3
I guess technically this is one inanimate object trashing another inanimate object – but as you’ll note from this list I did not want to get into the world of smashing robots; that’s a whole can of worms that didn’t need to be opened. In the interest of simplicity, robots have souls. At least for this list.
Anyway – not the best film, but personally it did satisfy a few desires – mainly, hot terminator. Also it was fun to see two terminators go at it in the world of modern CGI. Sure – not so fun that there needed to be a whole new film, but still… He smashed a urinal on her, that’s pretty neat.
9. Quint vs. The Orca’s Radio in Jaws
Considering the character, he’s probably been through a few radios. Hell – he most likely pulls that shit on every trip. I’m not sure what anyone expected from the drunk shark fisherman besides total sabotage followed by being swallowed whole. It’s like being surprised that a stoned dishwasher breaks dishes. My point is – Quint wasn’t very good at his job.
Also, how drunk do you think that shark got after eating Quint? That would actually explain why the thing just started spearing its way through the Orca, chewing anything thrown in its demon maw. Poor thing, in the end its was just a big slippery sot, hungry and confused. We’ve all been there.
8. Phil vs. An Alarm Clock in Groundhog Day
This one is surely the winner for the most unsatisfying beating of an appliance. Damn thing won’t stay broken – like if Cyberdyne Systems made clock radios. That said – it’s certainly satisfying to watch a blank-faced Bill Murray smash the sin out of it over and over. Then again, it’s satisfying to watch a blank-faced Bill Murray do anything. The man is funny while golfing, GOLFING.
Lord knows his clock-smashing FDR will be a thing of beauty in the upcoming Hyde Park on the Hudson, which, in case you are wondering, comes out tomorrow.
7. Happy vs. The Clown in Happy Gilmore
So many reasons to hit that thing. For one – it’s a clown, secondly – it’s a mini golf ornament. Combined, that makes for one extremely hittable target, like a street performer or a dolphin. You can easily channel all of your ever-present life rage and nagging self-doubts right into the stupid face of that smiling fiberglass goon. It’s the perfect crime.
And no, I looked it up and this golf course does not appear to actually exist. Afterward I began to google mini golf courses in general, then started looking at the more elaborate and fun ones out there. And now that’s all I can think about. There’s literally an hour time difference between writing the first paragraph of this entry and the second one, all thanks to mini golf courses.
6. Harry vs. A Telephone in In Bruges
Best. Comeback. Ever.
If I had to justify why this is so high on the list, that’s pretty much it. The phone did get a licking, but the fact that he is called out on it, and the ensuing reaction he gives, makes this a vicious fatality. Also, it’s hilarious. Turns out that Voldemort is pretty funny when he is angry.
Anyone see Seven Psychopaths yet? Same guy, Martin McDonagh, wrote and directed In Bruges. Everything I’ve heard about it was wonderful, and yet it was in and out of the theaters faster than when I brought my slide whistle to a showing of Monster’s Ball.
5. Walter vs. A Corvette in The Big Lebowski
It’s a bum rap, but hey – that’s what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps, right? That must have been a serious blast to shoot, at least for John Goodman. Think about it – he’s getting paid, a lot, to pull a full-blown Nicholson on that shiny red vehicle. For most of us, it’s the other way around.
Big shout out to The Dude’s car, as well – as it receives just as much punishment in this scene, not to mention the continuous abuse throughout the film. It’s the Butters of cars.
4. Miles Dyson vs. His CPU in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
What makes this particularly brutal is the fact that Miles has been spending years building this thing to perfection. He’s devoted his life to it – it’s his quest. And now here he is, letting that grail fall straight into the abyss and onto the body of a dead Nazi chick. Only he’s not just letting it die, he is killing it like the wicked badass that he is.
Seriously, Miles – for everyone else it took years of paranoia and gun training to work up the gall to blow up a building filled with cops. You made the transition in a night. That’s some top-notch crazy bruiser shit.
3. Frodo vs. The One Ring in The Lord Of The Rings
Ever walk like a gazillion miles just to throw something in a volcano? Yes, Precious had it coming, but that doesn’t make death-by-lava any less of a brutality. Also, this is the only thing on the list that causes a volcano to explode when it is broken. It’s the goddamn Mentos to Mt. Doom’s Diet Coke.
Above all else, this is particularly severe because of the immense satisfaction in watching it all go to hell. Not just for the characters involved, but for the theater full of people who’ve been sitting there for four hours waiting to see this ring die. These are the same people who’ve sat through three movies waiting for this one event – this one inanimate object to screw off.
And no, I don’t care how much magic whispering the thing did – it’s an inanimate object. It doesn’t fight back – it’s pretty much a plant.
2. Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, & Little Rock vs. An Entire Souvenir Shop in Zombieland
Take that, Native American gift shop! Seriously guys, they’ve been through enough of our bullshit at this point, haven’t they? Sure, everyone’s a zombie now but could you at least go down the road to Walmart and smash stuff there? Someone had to set all that stuff up, someone who probably cared. It’s just insensitive is all I’m saying.
1. Peter, Michael, & Samir vs. The Fax/Copier/Printer in Office Space
Was there any doubt?
It has everything: raw anger, awesome music, total justice. After all – who can’t relate to this scene? It’s so primal of an urge that we get satisfaction just by watching it. It’s the need to screw it all and take to the streets, disrobing yourself back into animal form in a celebration of what humankind once was.
This moment of three men, together in wilderness, dumping rage on one deserving inanimate object is the very meaning of life as we know it.
I’m 100% positive that I’ve only scratched the surface here, and will no doubt think of hundreds more examples the day after this is published. So what are some or your favorite Hulk-smashes in films? Do tell.