Top Ten Alcohol Moments in Media- A Mexican Standoff
This list comes about in tribute to this weekend’s debut of Iron Man 3, where children of all ages can line up to learn lessons about honor and courage from an absolute dick and functional alcoholic. Unfortunately for Tony, this section means he won’t be included on this list, even though the “Demon in a Bottle” run of his comics set alcohol as his greatest foe because, well, name another one.
This Mexican Standoff covers everything, from best new alcohols to best uses of alcohol as a narrative device. Basically, anything involving alcohol could potentially belong on this list.
*Disclaimer: As if it needs to be said, I don’t condone alcoholism or alcohol abuse, but rather discourage its use as a way to rid you of your troubles or as a substitute for breast feeding. Drink in moderation, drink responsibly, and never drink alone- KL*
10) Parks and Recreation, The Whole Department, Snake Juice
Immortalized in the Season 3 episode “The Fight,” would-be entrepreneur Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) invented something called “Snake Juice,” a potent alcohol that gets the entire department absolutely smashed. It’s the drink that spawned 1,000 gifs, and marked the return of Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole, the alter egos of Andy Dwyer and April Ludgate, whose set of unique intrigue-driven shenanigans is more entertaining than 99% of network drama. Also notable is that it spawned this website, which earned it a space in my heart normally reserved for loved ones and blood.
9) Zodiac, Robert Graysmith and Paul Avery, Aqua Velva
David Fincher’s unsung masterpiece (and I do not throw that word around lightly) is less about the crimes being committed and more about the men trying to solve those crimes. Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is one of those people, a cartoonist, and thus is less manly than the hard drinking Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.), and therefore drinks a girl blue drink called Aqua Velva. But it’s over those silly drinks that these two men bond and hypothesize on a mysterious killer in a David Fincher film who isn’t a Nazi or Kevin Spacey.
8) The Simpsons, Moe’s Tavern, rampant, unmonitored alcoholism
Throughout the nearly three decade-long run of The Simpsons, Homer, Lenny, Carl, Barney, and two men I affectionately call The Saddest Men in Television History have spent an awful lot of time in Moe’s Tavern, receiving prank calls and drinking away the functionality of their organs. It is unmitigated alcoholism at its most rambunctious and adorable.
7) Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Cider/ Rushmore, Herman Blume, elevator drinking
Director Wes Anderson gets a double entry on this list because he finds alcoholism to be fascinating and hilarious. In Fox, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) squares off against three men of industry, one of whom concerns his entire life with his fine alcoholic cider, even using it as payment for his rat bodyguard (Willem Dafoe). At one point, it’s even used to flood out Fox’s crew, like that scene in The Lord of the Rings if the Ents had liked to party.
Rushmore makes the list because of one beautiful scene where disgraced businessman Herman Blume (Bill Murray), overcome by the typical Wes Anderson sorrow, ends up drinking from a flask and smoking two cigarettes at once inside a hospital elevator. Sweet, sweet alcoholism.
6) The Master, Freddy Quell, making the world’s worst and most effective mixed drinks
In The Master, our incredibly controversial main character (played by Joaquin Phoenix), has grown beyond the help of mere alcohol, transcending to a level where he must mix his own drinks out of what appear to be toxic sink chemicals and gasoline. While this diet may sound toxic to our obviously well-adjusted protagonist, it isn’t all bad. It’s this penchant for mixing poison that gets him in with eccentric cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), beginning one of the greatest unofficial cinematic romances in recent memory.
5) Shaun of the Dead, Shaun Riley, The Hangover Walk
Shaun of the Dead is on record for being my favorite film, so it had to show up on one of these lists eventually, and it earned its first spot with a clever scripting trick. As a send-up of the zombie genre, the film would eventually have to deal with the whole “my former loved ones are eating people” thing, but it prolonged that expected moment with a hangover, leaving our main character Shaun (co-writer Simon Pegg) oblivious to the encroaching zombie horde as he walks to the neighborhood convenience store to get some ice cream.
Also, The World’s End comes out later this year and you should all be thrilled.
4) The Big Lebowski, The Dude, White Russians
The official drink of a slew of oddly-specific conventions. Throughout Lebowski, which is widely regarded as the cult film, The Dude (Jeff Bridges) continually swigs White Russians, bringing the drink full force into the arena of Things Film Students Have Heard Of. The drink also has a negative effect, at one point being drugged by a porn producer in the least-rapey version of that scenario ever.
3) Archer, Sterling and Mallory Archer, drinking everything all the time
I value commitment, and the Archer family is certainly committed to being constantly impaired while operating firearms. Field Agent Sterling (H. Jon Benjamin) is always nursing a drink, at one point stealing a bottle of vodka from a poor Russian woman. Admittedly, most of it was for his glass-riddled feet, but not all of it. His Oedipal mother, Mallory (Jessica Walter), head of the somehow-function spy agency ISIS, manages to be worse than her son. At one point, while stranded in space, she mixes a cocktail out of Tang and rubbing alcohol.
2) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster
Invented by franchise mainstay and former President of the Universe Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell, if you want to watch the frustrated movie adaptation, the one real time where I’m going to allow myself to scream “The books were better!”), the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster is largely considered to be the best in the universe. The effects are similar to having your brains smashed in by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick.
1) The Philadelphia Story, C.K. Dexter Haven and Macaulay Connor, champagne
If I have one regret in this life, it’s that I did not write The Philadelphia Story. Not that it’s the greatest film I’ve ever seen, or even the best romantic comedy, but it’s such a nearly-flawless and wonderful film that I just really wish my name was on it. In a particularly stand-out scene, drunken nice guy Macaulay Connor (Jimmy Stewart, in his one Oscar-winning role), lovestruck, as any man would be, by the charms of Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn), comes to the house of Lord’s ex-husband Haven (Cary Grant) and gives him the drunken Jimmy Stewart version of a dressing down. The scene also works very well for Grant, whose character we learn gave up drinking after his divorce from Tracy. Champagne does wonderful things to a man.
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of great movies and TV and current writer of adequate Black Swan musicals. Be sure to check back here every week for one of these Mexican Standoffs, our reviews of Community and Game of Thrones, and our Good Stuff.
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