Top List Thursday – 10 Worst Comic Relief Characters in Movies

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Movie heroes sometimes take themselves way too seriously. This is probably because (unless you’re an 80’s action hero) there’s often not much time to come up with icebreaking one liners while fighting for your life, finding a loved one or whatever it is movie heroes do. And that’s where the comic relief character comes in. The guy/girl the writer has thrown in to add that much needed touch of levity. Except sometimes, not only is their touch not needed, it’s downright annoying, threatening to ruin the whole film. Here are 10 cases where just that happened.

  • Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

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I would love to know just what happened to Steven Spielberg between 1981 and 1984 to change his view on women so drastically. In Raiders of the Lost Ark he created Marion Ravenwood, a fist fighting, drink swilling badass who stood up to Nazis; about as perfectly written a female character as there could be. And then for Indiana Jones’ next adventure, he created Willie Scott, a Shanghai club singer who is just about every bad cliche about female characters all rolled up into one. She’s only interested in men with money, she cares more about her cracked nails than any real perils, she’s constantly – CONSTANTLY – screeching at the slightest sign of anything creepy or crawly, she’s utterly useless in any physical situation, and nearly gets Indy and Short Round killed several times due to myopic ditziness.

Why the hell would Spielberg create this character for his movie? Oh yeah, he ended up schtuping (and marrying) actress Kate Capshaw.

  • Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) – Lethal Weapon 2- 4

Okay okay okay. Okay okay. Okay okay okay okay okay. Okay oka- RIGGS AND MURTAUGH SHOOT HIM IN THE MOUTH NOW PLEASE!

(Admittedly, Joe Pesci’s Getz actually wasn’t bad in Lethal Weapon 2, but the longer he hung around, the more you wanted to boot your boot on his throat.)

  • Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) – The Fifth Element

I think when Luc Besson looked at Bruce Willis’ uber cool Corben Dallas in wacky sci-fi actioner, The Fifth Element, he must have thought, “Hmmm. That Willis is just too cool. His one-liners too blithe. Plus, he definitely doesn’t scream enough. Especially not in those high notes that give dogs toothache. I better bring in somebody else who is willing to shatter eardrums with his voice, because everybody knows how funny that is. I wonder what that Chris Tucker is up to?”

  • Malak (Tracey Walter) – Conan the Destroyer

Let’s be fair, Conan the Destroyer is not a great movie, especially when compared to it’s vaunted predecessor. After original director John Milius didn’t return, and producer Dino DeLaurentis decided to tone the movie down from a R-rating to just PG-13, they were already off to a rocky start. And then they cast Malak.

Because clearly, the near-mute, serious Conan needs a sidekick to lighten the mood, right? Actually he kind of does, but not when said sidekick just spews childish, unfunny drivel in the sleepiest way possible.

  • Mudflap & Skids – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

The words “Michael Bay” and “subtle” usually go together like “oil” and “flamethrowers”, but the Master of Baysplosion reached a career low with his second Transformers film. As if it wasn’t enough to have robot fart jokes, the world’s worst grasp of geography and the invincible make-up of Megan Fox, Bay had to go and create Mudflaps & Skids, the racist robots. Yes, racist. The fast talking robots were supposed to be there to crack wise, but instead all audiences could see was these robots were clearly supposed to look like cliched African American gangbangers. That was bad enough. The crack about how their “people don’t read good” certainly didn’t help.

  • Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) – Superman III

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Richard Pryor is a very funny man. There is a ton of material that can prove that. And yet, when he got shoehorned into director Richard Lester’s campy Superman III, he suddenly became about as funny as brain cancer.

  • Herman “Fergee” Ferguson (Rob Schneider) – Judge Dredd

Speaking of unfunny people that do nothing in movies, Rob Schneider has made a career out of just that skillset. But he took it to new, annoying levels in the Sylvester Stallone turkey Judge Dredd. And in a movie that’s already as bad as this comic book adaptation clunker, you have to be really, really annoying to stand out in badness.

  • Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) – The Man With the Golden Gun/Live and Let Die

When it comes to classic James Bond movies, I’m a Sean Connery man. In my opinion the Roger Moore era had a leading man that was too old, the plots became too far fetched, the humour became too corny, and oh yeah, there was the loud mouthed, racist, cliched, painfully unfunny Sheriff J.W. Pepper, who showed up in two different Bond movies, because clearly ruining just one movie wasn’t enough.

  • Jar Jar Binks – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Was there ever any doubt that George Lucas’ most hated creation would be on this list? Lucas created the character to be the next Chewbacca (seriously), but instead of another hero to hair men, he created a jive talking, obnoxious, duck faced doofus who somehow managed to upstage the wooden Jake Lloyd in sheer fan hate.

  • Mr. I. Y. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney) – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

This is the entry that actually inspired this list. Screen veteran Mickey Rooney passed away last week, leaving behind an indelible legacy of memorable performances. Unfortunately, one will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered a true classic by many a film pundit, but its amazing how people sometimes overlook Rooney’s role of Mr. I. Y. Yunioshi, a character that simply would not be allowed on screen today. Donning fake teeth and bad make up, Rooney’s Yunioshi is nothing but a collection of the most offensive Asian stereotypes played up for laughs. And very poor laughs at that.

Last Updated: April 17, 2014

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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