by David Christopher Bell
The secret to having a good birthday is to have zero expectations and just do what you want to do. Enjoy yourself, be with people you love, and let go – if you try to pressure yourself into some crazy celebration you’re only going to get burned out.
It’s like boxing a kangaroo: just roll with the punches and be glad you’re alive.
That being said – everyone has a bad birthday or two, but still – it’s nothing compared to the crap festivities in certain films. Here are some of the better terrible birthdays Hollywood could come up with.
11. Lucy’s crashed party in Problem Child
It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie – but watching the birthday party scene, it actually doesn’t seem like Junior is the actual problem here. Where the hell are the adults? We see them here and there during the party – but that’s it.
Seriously – there’s a whole sequence where he throws the poor snobby girl’s birthday presents in the pool, which is fun and all, but does that mean that this party has a completely open and unsupervised pool? That’s bad for a lot of reasons. Then he gets hold of scissors, manages to bring a sprinkler all the way into the house and into the girl’s room, and is left alone with the piñata and birthday cake? That’s not a problem child, that’s just shitty parenting.
10. Nadia’s birthday in Birthday Girl
Remember this thing? Nicole Kidman as a Russian mail-order bride? How awesome is that? It’s a pretty good movie too, so that’s something.
It’s really more of a shitty birthday for the guy throwing the party than anyone else. Our pitiful hero John has just received his non-English speaking bride and if the whole thing wasn’t uncomfortable enough, her shitty friends show up out of nowhere and just start crashing his pad. Of course John is way too British to protest properly and things end up getting extra terrible when these guys hold his lady hostage in exchange for him robbing the bank that he works at.
It’s extremely awkward on many levels – purchasing a bride, dealing with her aggressive friends, and finally robbing your co-workers. It’s as painful as being handcuffed to a toilet, which actually also happens to John later in the film.
9. Damien’s 5th in The Omen
Oh my. This had to have resulted in the absolute most awkward ‘Thank you for coming’ card send-out ever.
“Thanks for the racecar! Damien can’t put it down! Sorry our nanny hung herself right in front of your child! Hope you enjoyed the party bag we gave you!”
You just know that, had things in this movie turned out a little saner, every following year they would have to reassure people that the staff have all been evaluated for mental health and no one is going to be hanging themselves. God help them if it happens more than once, but then again I don’t think God’s helping anyone in this film.
8. Harry’s 11th birthday in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The best thing that happens to Harry Potter on his birthday is that he gets abducted.
OK, moving on.
7. Evelyn’s party in House On Haunted Hill
Obviously it would be better to go with the original film than the remake almost every time – but you know what’s interesting? In the original film, it’s not a birthday party. At least they never say it is.
Also – to be honest, the remake really isn’t half bad. The beginning sequence is awesome, Geoffrey Rush – a man way too talented to be in this film – makes an amazing Vincent Price tribute, and even Chris Kattan is convincing enough for this film to actually be scary at times. The ending needed a great deal or work though – however the build up was pretty darn good.
Terrible birthday party though – any party with guns can only be really awesome or really terrible – and this one isn’t the former.
6. Johnny’s surprise party in The Room
The terrible vegetable platters and pretzel bowls, the inexplicable sheep-like compliance of the crowd as they file in and out of the room to ‘get fresh air/cake’, the fact that one of the guests has breast cancer and doesn’t seem to actually care about it – this has to be the most depressing party ever. Who are these people with their slack-jawed smiles and inability to emote appropriately? What happened to their brains?
Then what has to be the worst fight in the world breaks out over a ridiculous soap opera love triangle and the birthday boy storms off. It’s just so bleak and surreal for everyone involved – like a dream you might have after falling asleep while watching Twin Peaks.
It’s also a really bad movie.
5. Maude’s 80th in Harold and Maude
80 isn’t a bad number of years to live – you can’t blame Maude for ending on 80. That being said – it’s weird that she would kill herself right after getting involved with her sweet jailbait Harold; she could have at least stuck around a little longer and lived it up, but I guess if she had things would have only gotten more awkward.
No matter, it’s still a pretty shitty birthday for everyone involved to take an overdose of sleeping pills before the guests arrive – however it’s also a good way to clear out the party at the end of the night and avoids uncomfortable goodbyes.
It only recently occurred to me that Bud Cort, who plays Harold, is still working in films. He played God in Dogma, as well as the bond company ‘stooge’ in Life Aquatic. Not to mention when he played himself in Arrested Development as the host of his own daytime court show called Bud Cort. Brilliant.
4. All three birthdays in Old School
Heh. Poor Frank.
This is both a great gag and a great character development moment for the guy – forgetting your own birthday, only to be reminded of it later at a funeral has to be one of the worst ways to celebrate it. I love how not surprised his ex-wife is at this, which implies that alcohol isn’t really the cause of it.
Then of course there’s the added bonus of having not one, but two birthdays ruined by Frank when he is later shot in the neck with a dart gun and runs rampage at Bernard’s son’s party – knocking both the presents and himself into the pool to the sounds of Simon and Garfunkel. Great scene.
Finally, before all of this there’s poor Blue, the old man who dies on his birthday in the best possible way you could hope to die. Still – it’s probably not his best moment in life.
So yeah – 3 shitty birthdays in one film, that has to be a record.
3. Carrousel in Logan’s Run
Carrousel is a lot like a Lady Gaga concert in that it’s loud, colorful, pretty tacky, and no one over 30 makes it to the end.
Also – there’s nothing more depressing than having to share your birthday party, let alone sharing it with like 20 other people wearing stupid masks. That’s the worst, man. Also you explode at the end while an arena of people younger than you cheer you on like you’re on a mechanical bull, which is only slightly less humiliating than wearing red spandex pants while flying through the air.
While it’s true that in the best dystopian world, 30 is a pretty ideal time to die, they really should have went with an age where running would be less of an issue. 40, for example.
2. Nicholas’s 48th in The Game
All the man wanted to do is have a nice meal, drink some scotch, and enjoy his birthday in peace. Instead he is sent on a whirlwind of expensive mind games that actually drives him to attempt his own suicide, much like his father before him. Happy birthday!
Really now – did they really think it’s a good idea to send a 48 year old man on a stunt show spectacular through the streets of San Francisco, tossing his car into the ocean, engaging him in vigorous gunfights, and freaking burying him in a Mexican crypt? How is that OK? Why the hell would Nicholas get off of that big cushy stunt fall thing at the end and not be royally pissed? They just made him try to kill himself!
Seriously – how is that not something that could be now used against him? He’s a successful investment banker who is now going to be forever known as that guy who attempted suicide at a fancy party. Terrible birthday present.
1. Little Cathy Brener’s 11th birthday in The Birds
It’s gonna be hard to convince little Cathy that God doesn’t hate her after her precious birthday party is crashed by a bunch of angry birds. Look at them all! Why do they hate her balloons so much?
And what’s worse is that the party didn’t look like much fun to begin with; there are only a handful of guests and the adults are unenthusiastic at best. Nothing like having your birthday cake brought out by a frowning old woman. It’s not even sunny outside! What a terrible celebration to start with! Then… birds. Just a bunch of asshole birds start attacking you for no good reason.
At least Cathy can rest assured that while her birthday party sucked, it’s actually not the worst thing that’s going to happen in the coming days.