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HomeHollywoodThe Most Hilarious Scenes We Weren't Supposed to Laugh At

The Most Hilarious Scenes We Weren't Supposed to Laugh At

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Oh, the sincere intentions. Oh, the genuine attempts to grab the audience by the heart and squeeze. Oh, the failures. We’ve all seen them; those moments in movies that were clearly meant to move us, to hit us right between the eyes with an emotional smack, but, instead, made us laugh so hard our popcorn flew from our mouths and our soft drinks escaped from our nostrils. How could a scene meant to be so deep, so intense, and so powerful leave an audience chortling? Sometimes it’s the directing, then it’s the writing, or maybe it’s the acting. Often, it’s a combination of the three – a trifecta that, when it comes together with just the right measure of wrongness, creates an unforgettable effect of spontaneous comedy combustion. It’s time to celebrate some of the best movie moments that made us laugh for all the wrong reasons.



RELATED: Schlock 101: The Best “So Bad They’re Good” Movies

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“I’m Not Missing You Yet” – The English Patient (1996)

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Few movies polarized 1996 audiences more than this Oscar-winning epic about a dying young man named Almasy (Ralph Fiennes) who tells his story of triumph, love, and loss to a sympathetic nurse (Juliette Binoche). The love-hate relationship moviegoers had with director Anthony Minghella‘s World War II drama even made its way into an episode of Seinfeld, with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss‘ Elaine being forced to sit through the movie not once, but twice, leading her to ultimately shout out in the theater, “Stop telling your stupid story about the stupid desert and just die already!” It probably didn’t help that the movie contained probably one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes of any film that decade.

Almasy’s lady love Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas)tearfully breaks up with him at an outdoor movie theater. As she walks away, Almasy calls out to her, “Katharine, I just want you to know…I’m not missing you yet,” delivering his line with so much conviction, it almost doesn’t sound ludicrous. She tearfully responds, “You will. You will.” As if that exchange isn’t enough to make eyes roll, Katharine then promptly turns and walks head-on into a metal railing. Suddenly, the audience is teleported out of a three-hour war extravaganza and into a low-budget Three Stooges film. Whether Minghella meant this to be a moment of intense drama or a dose of slapstick to ease the tension may never be known. But to his credit, he managed to create one of the best “what did I just see?” moments in movie history. If only Fiennes’ character had said, “Katharine, I’m not missing you yet…just like you’re not missing that railing,” well, that would’ve been a chef’s kiss.

Gunfight at the Academy Awards -The Bodyguard (1992)

It was the 13th biggest moneymaker of 1992, its soundtrack has sold over 45 million copies to date, and it made Whitney Houston a movie star. That doesn’t mean The Bodyguard isn’t without its share of silly moments, and plot holes so wide that even a truckload of celebrity egos could fit through them. Houston plays a stylized version of herself, actress-singer Rachel Marron, an Oscar-nominated superstar who’s been getting death threats and hires bodyguard Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) to keep her from harm. Rachel has several close calls throughout the film, with the tension really coming to a boil in the movie’s dramatic Academy Awards scene. It’s also where the comedy begins.

Frank is not a bit happy that Rachel has decided to attend the Oscars, even though she’s nominated for Best Actress in the blockbuster movie of the year, “Queen of the Night.” Frank nervously paces backstage, keeping an eagle eye out for anyone who may wish to do in the woman he’s not only been hired to protect, but with whom he now finds himself in love. When Rachel wins Best Actress and rises from her seat to receive her golden statuette, Frank becomes more panicked. She’s making herself an easy target! So easy, in fact, that the film’s assassin has hidden a gun inside a hand-held camera and is pointing it right at Rachel. For the love of God, does no one else see the red laser dot roaming around Rachel’s face as she makes her way through the crowd in what appears to be the longest Oscar procession in history? Frank sees it, so he does what any safety-conscious bodyguard would do – he promptly pulls his revolver from his breast pocket and rushes the stage.

Now it’s time for the slow motion portion of our presentation. Frank frantically sprints toward Rachel just as she reaches the stage and raises her hands in the air to celebrate her victory. Rachel’s beaming smile turns to jaw-dropping shock as she glances to the right and sees Frank headed her way, ready to tackle her like an offensive linesman playing in his first big game. Shots ring out from the gun-camera and Frank slams Rachel onto the stage floor as the awards audience screams in horror. But wait! There’s more! Instead of being grateful, Rachel scolds Frank for leveling her and messing up her beautiful outfit. And even though Frank’s just taken a couple of bullets, he manages to fire off a couple of extra shots into the crowded Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and get rid of the movie’s villain once and for all. The whole scene plays like a parody of the parody movie Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.

Marion Cotillard Expires – The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Speaking of the Academy Awards, for every Oscar-worthy performance delivered by an actor, there’s often a Razzie-worthy one, too. Halle Berry blew audiences away with her Oscar-winning turn in 2001’s Monster’s Ball, then blew them away again (in the wrong direction) in 2004’s Catwoman, taking home the not-so-coveted Razzie for Worst Actress. Not to be outdone, Sandra Bullock nabbed a Best Actress Oscar for 2009’s The Blind Side and a Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve in the same year. And international film stars can slip up once in a while, too. French actress Marion Cotillard delivered a spectacular performance as chanteuse Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie En Rose and brought home the trophy the next year. Unfortunately, when Cotillard made the switch from drama to action in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, her acting seemed to remain in Paris.

In the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight trilogy, Cotillard got the type of role most actors would love to sink their teeth into – the villain disguised as an ally. Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a wealthy investor intent on getting hero Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to take interest in her clean energy project. Miranda charms Bruce so much that he makes her CEO of his own company. Well, that was a mistake, because Miranda is really a maniacal villainess named Talia seeking revenge on Bruce for her father’s death and she’s going to get her revenge by blowing up Gotham City with a megaton nuclear bomb.

In a nerve-jangling chase scene involving flying machinery, hyper-powered motorcycles, and heavy artillery, Talia commandeers a super-duper armored truck containing the bomb. Her poor driving skills, however, send her soaring off the road and plummeting 50 feet to the ground below, leaving her just seconds to live. Slumped in the driver’s seat, but otherwise appearing to be none the worse for wear, Talia breathlessly delivers the bad news to Batman, Catwoman, and Commissioner Gordon: “There’s no way this bomb will be stopped. Prepare yourself. My father’s…work…is done.” Then with two dainty breaths, Talia’s eyes immediately close, her head moves around a bit, and just like that, she’s dead. It’s almost as if Christopher Nolan said to Cotillard, “Listen, Marion, let’s not draw this death scene out too much, okay?” She certainly didn’t. But she did manage to make it the most unintentionally hilarious death scene in cinema.

“She’s Got a Great Ass!” – Heat (1995)

There was a time when Al Pacino was a method actor, a student of renowned teacher Lee Strasberg, a measured performer who brought remarkable depth and nuance to complex roles like Michael Corleone in the Godfather trilogy, detective Frank Serpico in Serpico, and Sonny the bumbling bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon. Pacino finally won an Oscar for his role as blind, bombastic Frank Slade in 1992’s Scent of a Woman, a character who was anything but nuanced. Who doesn’t remember Pacino screaming “Whaddya want?” at the innocent Chris O’Donnell, or his constant “hoo-ah!” outbursts throughout the film? It seems Pacino landed on a histrionic – not to mention loud – performance approach that worked, so he decided to do it again in Michael Mann‘s 1995 Heat.

Surrounded by a top-notch cast that includes Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, and Jon Voight, Pacino plays Lieutenant Vincent Hanna, a Los Angeles cop obsessed with taking down the leader of a sophisticated crime gang led by Neil McCauley (De Niro). As he works to dismantle McCauley and his team of thugs, Hanna peels away layer after layer of corruption. Hanna discovers that the wife of one of McCauley’s henchmen (Ashley Judd) has had a tryst with a shady character carrying a long criminal history, Alan Marciano (Hank Azaria), so Hanna decides to pressure the guy into cooperating with the police. Suffice it to say the scene in which Hanna bursts in on Marciano lacks subtlety. When Marciano complains, “Why did I get mixed up with that bitch?” Pacino’s bug-eyed, rabid response, “‘Cause she’s got a…grrreat ass!” sounds like Tony the Tiger excitedly endorsing a bowl of Frosted Flakes. Just watch Azaria’s reaction and you’ll wonder how many takes were required before Azaria could get through the scene without erupting with laughter.

“Doggy Chow” – Showgirls (1995)

There are so many unintended funny moments in the would-be drama, Showgirls, about the cutthroat world of Las Vegas two-drink minimum theater dancers that choosing the best one really comes down to a matter of personal preference. That said, one would be hard-pressed to find a more ridiculous scene than the one in which Cristal Connors, the reigning queen of Sin City (played with shameless abandon by Gina Gershon), and ingénue Nomi Malone (in a desperate attempt at acting by Elizabeth Berkley) sit down for lunch. Nomi is intimated by the glamorous Cristal and keeps her guard up, but she’s also enthralled with the sexy headliner and longs to be part of her inner circle. On the other hand, Cristal sees in Nomi an unsophisticated neophyte who can be easily manipulated for her own personal gratification.

As their tension-filled conversation begins, the topic of favorite foods comes up. Cristal confesses to Nomi that she used to love to eat dog food – the Doggy Chow brand, to be specific. As if that’s not preposterous enough, Nomi excitedly chimes in to let Cristal know that she loves Doggy Chow, too! It’s a bonding moment, folks! The ladies seal their newfound sisterhood by the simultaneous crunching of tortilla chips, followed by some kind of secret ritual, most likely known only by those who have experienced the gratification of canine cuisine, in which they rub their tortilla chips together. Director Paul Verhoeven may have intended this scene to be a titillating display of homoerotic seduction, but credit really has to go to screenwriter Joe Eszterhas for turning it into a brilliantly comic moment. Still, one does wonder if there was an actual script supervisor on hand the day this scene was committed to celluloid.

The Car Accident – Meet Joe Black (1998)

In 1998, Brad Pitt was at his height as a leading man. He had achieved heartthrob status with films like 1991’s Thelma and Louise and 1994’s Legends of the Fall, then gained respect as a serious actor with his Oscar nominated turn in 1995’s Twelve Monkeys. So when he took on the role of the blondest, best-looking purveyor of death in Meet Joe Black, audiences were all in. Suffice it to say, moviegoers weren’t quite prepared for what happens to the man of their dreams in the first few minutes of the film.

Meet Joe Black begins as a warm, springtime Manhattan romance with Brad Pitt meeting a comely young doctor named Susan (Claire Forlani) in a corner coffee shop. They begin chatting, and within minutes, they both realize they’ve met “the one,” but their shyness prevents them from acting on their instincts. Susan has to get to work and do her doctoring stuff, so they part ways outside the café. As they walk in opposite directions, their yearning for each other keeps them turning around, wanting to say something to the other person, but hesitating to reach out. Susan finally resigns herself to the fact that she may have let a good one slip away, turns the corner, and disappears. But, handsome stranger Joe finds himself standing in the middle of a busy New York City street, motionless, wondering if he should go after Susan.

Suddenly, the sound of a honking horn rouses Joe from his romantic trance. Then, bam! A minivan plows right into him. But we’re not finished. As the heartthrob is catapulted into the air, he lands on the hood of a Yellow Cab coming in the opposite direction. Again, he goes airborne, then ultimately splats onto the pavement. As shocking as this scene is, the visual of Brad Pitt bouncing from car hood to car hood conjures up images of Super Mario jumping from wall to wall on his way to save Princess Peach. Wasn’t one impact enough? Did we really need to see poor Brad pinball across 8th Avenue? Fortunately for Pitt fans, he shows up again unscathed in short order, although this time he’s the guy charged with escorting people into the afterlife. But it’s better than not having Brad Pitt in the movie at all.

“No Wire Hangers!” – Mommie Dearest (1981)

Like Showgirls, choosing just one unintentionally side-splitting moment in this story of the woman least likely to get a Mother’s Day card is like trying to choose your favorite among the 31 Baskin-Robbins flavors. There are simply too many scenes that meet the criteria. Still, simply because it will forever have a place in movie history infamy, the “wire hangers” scene is like that giant scoop of ice cream with the cherry on top. It’s not just the “no wire hangers ever!” line bellowed like a foghorn from deep out of Faye Dunaway‘s diaphragm that brings the comedy to this scene. No, it’s the entire sequence, starting when Dunaway’s Joan Crawford first finds that lone piece of thin metal in her daughter’s closet and ending with her final meltdown in a Dutch Cleanser snowstorm that makes this sequence a treasure trove of pure comedy.

Joan enters daughter Christina’s (Mara Hobel) bedroom sporting a face full of cold cream, looking like Baby Jane Hudson on a bad day, and goes into obsessive-compulsive overdrive, straightening all of Christina’s dainty dresses that hang on the closet rods. When Joan spots the frock dangling from the wire hanger, she looks at it like a woman who just opened the bedroom door and found her husband frolicking between the sheets with his mistress. The destructive Joan tornado that ensues must certainly rate as one of the most over-the-top temper tantrums to ever hit the big screen. When Joan finds a second wire hanger in Christina’s closet, her wail of exasperation is so full of anguish, it’s as if Joan has died a little inside upon its discovery.

Joan sails across the room, hanger in hand, resembling Nosferatu rising from his casket to suck the blood out of his unsuspecting victims. After using the hanger as a weapon against Christina, it’s on to the sparkling clean bathroom, where Joan squats down on the blue tiled floor, looking like a primate ready to feast on a bunch of bananas, and unleashes the second wave of her fury with a can of scouring powder. When Christina asks Joan how she’s going to get everything clean, Joan huffs, “You figure it out,” then glares at Tina like she’s about to serve her up on a platter. Finally, in a dramatic exit only a movie star could make, Joan turns slowly as if she’s on a rotating platform. Aaaand…scene! “Jesus Christ,” little Christina sputters. We hear you, Christina. It’s a lot. But for all of this scene’s absurdity, one has to admire Dunaway’s complete commitment to turning up the acting dial to DEFCON 5 and giving audiences seven minutes of sustained laughter.

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