It’s well known by my friends and family that I’m not much of an “eater.” I’m not saying I’m simply not a “foodie.” If it were up to me, I’d take one pill every day that would maintain my weight and health in order to never have to actually take time out to eat ever again. Last month, I brought you a list of top 10 movie musicals, after admitting I don’t much care for musicals. This month, I’m bringing you a top 10 list of food moments in movies, after admitting I don’t much care for eating. What’s next? Don’t you worry, I hate a lot of things…
10.) Bridesmaids – This is the danger in me doing a list like this, which I am now realizing is filled with more “uh oh” food moments than “mmm” food moments. The hilarious sequence that follows the gang getting food poisoning is inarguably one of the finest moments in gross-out comedy history, culminating with Maya Rudolph’s whimpering about having “pooped in the street.” Is it juvenile? Absolutely. But combine over-the-top fart noises with pre-overexposed Melissa McCarthy making a rectal deposit of Indian food into a sink, and you’ve got a classic.
9.) Inglourious Basterds – Food has always been a major player in Quentin Tarantino’s films, but this one has some of his best work. The initial sequence has Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), The Jew Hunter, drinking fresh milk from a farmer hiding Jewish refugees in the floorboards beneath them. Never has a glass of milk been more ominous. Until … the moment is brought back later, when Landa is dining with the only refugee who escaped the previous milk incident … and he orders a glass of milk. Holy cow is that intense! See what I did there? Because milk comes from cows.
8.) Sideways – “If anyone orders merlot, I am leaving” is still quoted to this day! Then again, I do live in Nebraska, this is an Alexander Payne movie and I do hate merlot. The movie that truly launched Payne’s career will forever be associated with this particular food item, used as a really slick plot device, I may add. Will Matt Damon give a legendary rant about the insufficient flavor of Mr. Pibb compared with Dr. Pepper in Downsizing? We can only hope.
7.) The Big Lebowski – I realize that three of these in a row are more “beverages, man” than “food,” but it counts because store signs still say “Food and Liquor.” The movie that made nihilism hilarious also gave a spirited boost to the delicious White Russian, The Dude’s beverage of choice. For me, the sight of Jeff Bridges’ frothy mustache is etched into comedy history every bit as much as Donny’s crucial need to shut the eff up.
6.) Oldboy – If you’ve seen Oldboy, you know the scene I’m about to describe is not the grossest, sickest thing in the movie. If you haven’t seen Oldboy, that will either make you want to see it or terrify you from ever doing so. Watching Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) feast upon a live octopus is rather unappetizing but also somehow impossible to turn away from. I legitimately don’t want to know if that was a real octopus or some kind of noodle-based resemblance. Either way, the sight of the tentacles dangling from his mouth will haunt my dreams like an HP Lovecraft lullaby.
5.) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Speaking of haunting my dreams … The monkey brain dessert didn’t make me flinch, but watching a snake’s belly spill babies out everywhere as a main course made me glad I saw this on VHS so I could pause the tape and projectile vomit. Of all the things George Lucas has done, including Jar-Jar Binks, this is the one I’m still most pissed at him about. I couldn’t eat spaghetti for ages. And then when I finally could again, I watched what I have at number one. In the business, we call that foreshadowing.
4.) Cool Hand Luke – Who knew hard-boiled eggs could be so compelling? A simple food challenge becomes a demonstration of the thematic core of this Paul Newman classic. Luke’s stubbornness is revealed in a gut-wrenching scene that chickens still refer to as “the Newman Genocide.” Pounding egg after egg is not only hell on the audience and on Luke’s cholesterol, it’s an example of how food can be used as more than a plot device but as a character-revealing component.
3.) Pulp Fiction – From the Big Kahuna burger and the Royale with cheese to the “five dollar milkshake,” Tarantino’s use of food in one of my favorite movies of all time is as cool as Tarantino thinks he is. Food is everywhere here, in diners being held-up to discussions of “good coffee,” almost every scene contains some element of edibles. In fact, just yesterday, I reacted to an overseas controversy about eating dogs with “dogs’ got personality. Personality goes a long way.” Probably not the response the person asking me to make a donation to protect said puppies wanted me to respond, but hey.
2.) Beasts of the Southern Wild – I couldn’t pick just one scene from my favorite movie as my favorite. That’s “sub-favoriting,” and I’m staunchly against the practice. But among the best scenes in the best movie I’ve ever seen comes when Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is told to “beast” her food. Screaming raw and uncontrolled, she tears into her seafood, devouring it like an animal. When her father shouts, “Who’s the man?” Hushpuppy responds “I’m the man!” And she is. That one animalistic, food-devouring scene shows her ascent to the top of the “Bathtub,” the mythical and natural habitat she will one day rule.
1.) Gummo – Were it not for Spring Breakers, I’d still hate Harmony Korine for this. It’s going to sound simple and not that horrifying, especially coming from a man who made a film called Trash Humpers. But I promise you, if you see it, you’ll never be able to get it out of your mind. A kid eating spaghetti in a filthy bathroom while taking a bath in dirty water may not sound like the worst thing ever, but it really, truly is. My friends who have seen this movie universally agree that, of all food-in-film moments, this stands alone.
Look, if you wanted a list that ended with When Harry Met Sally, I’m sure HuffPo or Buzzfeed have you covered. You want real talk, you come to me and get spaghetti bath.