I readily acknowledge that I can be an evil, wicked person. I’m not sure where it comes from, but sometimes I laugh when I should cry or feel sympathy. I can’t be the only one though, right? I mean, look at how many people relish reading the annual Darwin Awards. These are people who died suddenly (and sometimes grotesquely), but we feel entitled to chortle at their expense because they were idiots up until the moment they
tripped on their stupid platform shoes, er, shuffled off this mortal coil.
A safe space to experience this lapse in decency is entertainment. Movies and TV shows give us plenty of moments that are supposed to tap into our real feelings of loss. The problem there is that these moments have to pass through the filters of writers and actors. The results sometimes miss the mark and you get an unintentionally hilarious death scene.
This came up yesterday when BuzzFeed wrongly reported that Dawn of The Babysitters Club series was in California, but our own SnarkyAmber correctly determined two years ago that she had become an ecoterrorist. SnarkyAmber also later deduced that Stacey died just like Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias because diabetes. To which I replied:
SnarkyAmber, being of equal moral bankruptcy, replied with some of her favorite unintentionally funny death scenes, and thus the idea for this post was born. So here are the moments I laughed when I should have cried. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!)
1) Shelby’s Kidney Says “Nope!” in Steel Magnolias
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a total mess from this point forward, and I know Sally Field’s cemetery speech by heart. But I’ve always kind of snickered at that moment.
2) Nate Comes Down with a Bad Case of NARM in Six Feet Under
Don’t you hate when your narm flares up? Of course, karma got me a little for laughing at this. About a year ago, I herniated a disc in my neck and one of the symptoms was numbness in my arm. Imagine my horror when I woke up one day to realize I had the narm. NARM!
3) Ashley Judd Gets Beaned in Head in Simon Birch
I never actually watched this whole movie, because it looked heartwarming and sappy. And if you couldn’t tell already, those aren’t really qualities I sniff out in movies. But I turned on Simon Birch one day just in time to catch this scene, and spent the rest of the day cracking up. The tiny little boy who gets his big chance at bat, much to the parents’ chagrin because they’re a bunch of assholes, finally makes contact with the ball, which goes straight into the skull of the beautiful, ethereal Ashley Judd, who has spent the last 40 minutes waving at someone and not watching where she’s going. How awful. No, really, this is just an awful, awful movie.
4) Rose “Never” Lets Go of Jack in Titanic
Look, I will admit something to you: I don’t hate Titanic. It’s ridiculous and technically pretty horrendous, but I couldn’t help but appreciate the effort of this big, old Hollywood production. But of course I have to point out that while I get Rose’s promise to never let go of Jack is not to be taken literally, it’s just not really good writing to have that line be followed immediately by her wrestling her hand out of his and, uh, letting go. Sigh. I just really wish James Cameron would have entrusted the writing to someone else.
5) Meg Ryan Gets to Describe the Metaphysical Qualities of Running Into a Truck in City of Angels
Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage have just finished up the grossest sex scene of all time (it’s true—it’s the worst, and I’ve never been able to forget it) so she goes out to buy some pears because they’re into that shit. On her way back, high on angel penis, Meg forgoes all basic bike safety rules and is rewarded with a log truck to the face. As if this movie wasn’t already a travesty for daring to be some kind of remake of the supremely awesome Wings of Desire, they come up with this “intense” moment. Oh! OH! And then they’re like, “You know what would just up the intensity? Motherfuckin’ Goo Goo Dolls. Put some Goo Goo Dolls on it right now.”
6) Claire Danes Bawling in Romeo + Juliet
Another disclaimer: I love love love this movie. Love it. Saw it three times in the theater back in 1996. And it still holds up, with superb acting and an interesting take on an immortal classic. There’s just this one thing:
It’s not bad and really I think it’s an amazing and authentic job by Danes. Crying in real life is rarely a dignified act and Danes seems genuinely distraught and heartbroken and done at this point. The crying is obviously real, which explains the awkward, “Wah wah waaahhh!” sound. And I wish so bad that it didn’t break the moment for me, but it does.
7) John Malkovich Kills Richard Jenkins with an Axe in Burn After Reading
Granted, this is a Coen Brothers movie, so extremely dark humor is a given. However, I think everyone in the audience was surprised when we all cracked up as John Malkovich’s character hacks away at Richard Jenkins. God, this movie is so great.
So, quit looking at me like that and tell me if there are other unintentionally funny death scenes that always make you snicker.