Film

Withnail, Frank The Tank, And The Nine Best Drunks On Film

Feeling like you overdid it this Christmas? This list will make you feel better.

Boxing Day is about two things: eating your body weight in leftover food, and waddling to the cinema with elastic-waisted pants to see some of the year’s most anticipated releases.

Amidst the fuss of Peter Jackson’s lengthy Hobbit sequel, Disney’s Frozen and Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is Joe Swanberg’s semi-indie film Drinking Buddies, which brings together two of my favourite things in life: drinking beer and Olivia Wilde.

The story of friends falling in love has been done to death, sure — but with an awesome support cast including Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston and Jason Sudeikis, Drinking Buddies lifts from your average rom-com to a very likeable summer flick.

As the name suggests, alcohol also plays a fairly big role in the film, mostly because the characters work in a Chicago brewery. Booze influences a lot of the decisions made in the film, which prompted me to look back at some of the better drunken moments and drunks in film.

Bottom’s up!

Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore)

Arthur (1981)

Dudley Moore’s bumbling cockney accent and schoolboy humour was just the right balance of cheeky and endearing to play this billionaire playboy and hopeless drunk. The remake starred Russell Brand in the same role, but his bumbling cockney accent and schoolboy humour made him look like a complete twat.

Drunken Quote: You’re a hooker? Jesus, I forgot! I just thought I was doing great with you!

John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi)

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

This was Belushi’s first film, and he pretty much cast the mould for all loud-mouth, party-hard frat boys that followed. Perhaps the reason why it’s so believable, and thus amusing, was because Belushi loved to party just as hard in real life. He died in 1982 from an overdose of heroin and cocaine which, for those playing at home, we call a speedball.

Drunken quote: Toga! Toga!

Ben Sanderson (Nicholas Cage)

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Nicolas Cage is a pretty cheesy actor, but on the odd occasion he has shown some serious acting chops. In Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas, Cage plays a man down on his luck, who goes to Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death. Mission accomplished.

Drunk quote: I’m a prickly pear!

Stu Price (Ed Helms)

The Hangover (2009)

While it’s Zach Galifianakis who steals the best lines, the fact that Stu extracted his own tooth with pliers, married a stripper and tattooed his entire face indicates he’d probably be the most fun to get retarded-drunk with.

Too bad both sequels were as fun as enduring an actual hangover.

Drunken Quote: “I look like a nerdy hillbilly!

Kit (Zooey Deschanel)

Failure to Launch (2006)

Before Zooey Deschanel was cringingly described as “adorkable” in The New Girl, she was once genuinely quirky and appealing. Starring Matthew “No Shirt” McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, this cheesy rom-com was not much of a film — but Deschanel’s pessimistic drunk made it bearable.

Drunken Quote: “Good news. It’s Champagne Thursday!

Withnail (Richard E. Grant)

Withnail & I (1987)

Richard E. Grant put in the performance of a lifetime as this struggling actor and flamboyant drunk. If you can stomach it, there’s a great drinking game to accompany this film: match Withnail drink for drink.

Sounds easy? Over the course of the film, he downs beer, wine, cider, gin, sherry, whisky and even a shot of lighter fluid (which you should probably replace with something non-poisonous).

Drunken Quote: “I feel like a pig shat in my head

Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp)

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Johnny Depp became pretty good friends with Hunter S. Thompson while researching this role. In fact, Depp was the one who arranged for Thompson’s ashes shot from a canon when he died. Everyone should read the book because it’s even funnier than the film, but with Terry Gilliam at the helm, this is one weird and totally fucked-up trip.

Drunken Quote: “Look, there’s two women fucking a polar bear!

Frank “The Tank” (Will Ferrell)

Old School (2003)

Will Ferrell has created some classic characters over the years, with many quotable lines — but the beer bong scene in Old School is probably my favourite.

Starting with his description of a “pretty nice little Saturday” to, moments later, chugging beer and making out with some random girl, Frank the Tank is one of the best.

Drunken Quote: “We’re streaking!

Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton)

Bad Santa (2003)

With Christmas coming up, it’s hard to ignore Billy Bob Thornton’s very bad Santa. This guy is one of the worst human beings in film, plotting to steal from a department store and shattering kid’s dreams of Father Christmas.

But for a film that’s so crass and dirty, Bad Santa has a lot of heart, which is why it’s such a holiday classic.

Drunken Quote: “I’m an eating, drinking, shitting, fucking Santy Claus

Like any good alcoholic, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve forgotten a few things… Add your own favourites to the comments below.

Chris is a Melbourne-based writer who regularly contributes to various magazines, websites and on his own blog, Writesleft.com. He also started a neat little website that reviews films in the form of limerick poems, called The Limerick Review.