Continuing our celebration of movie assholes we must remember that being an asshole is not about being the bad guy or the villain. There is little skill in that. Being an asshole is something more. There has to be underhandedness and a self importance for which there can be no redemption or change of heart. An asshole wears his colours with pride and his dickery runs through him (or her) like a stick of rock.
Film: The Breakfast Club
Character: Richard "Dick" Vernon
Actor: Paul Gleason
John Hughes' teen comedy never gets old and Gleason plays vice-principal Vernon who is well and truly pissed off at having to give up his Saturday to baby sit a bunch of reprobates given detention. He has a particular hard-on for John Bender (Judd Nelson) the teen rebel who rubs him up the wrong way. There are some unedifying scenes of Vernon threatening Bender with violence and locking him in a cupboard. I don't know what the National Union of Teachers would make of that one.
I probably would be annoyed about having to come into work on a Saturday but Vernon's behaviour is unprofessional and inappropriate for a teacher. He is supposed to set an example.
Another rent-an-dick, Gleason seemed to always play the perennial asshole mainly because he was so good at it. You might also remember Gleason in such memorable jerkery as scumbag private investigator Calerence Beeks in Trading Places and douchebag police deputy Dwayne T Robinson in Die Hard. Gleason sadly died in 2006 and the asshole loving community collectively mourned.
"That's the last time, Bender. That the last time you ever make me look bad in front of those kids, you hear me? I make $31,000 a year and I have a home and I'm not about to throw it all away on some punk like you. But someday when you're outta here and you've forgotten all about this place and they've forgotten all about you, and you're wrapped up in your own pathetic life, I'm gonna be there. That's right. And I'm gonna kick the living shit out of you. I'm gonna knock your dick in the dirt."
Asshole Rating (Out of 10) 3
Film: Ferris Beulers Day Off
Character: Ed Rooney
Actor: Jeffrey Jones
Another John Hughes classic and another puffed up teacher losing his cool with the kids, in this case serial manipulator, truant, "righteous dude" and Christ-like figure Ferris Beuller, a kid who so Teflon-coated he could take a dump in the principals office and get away with it.
Rooney is obsessed with catching Beuller bunking off believing he is on "a first class ticket to nowhere" and a bad influence to the rest of the pupils who look up to him. He's tries increasingly desperate and elaborate methods to catch him out but always falls one step short.
A superb comeuppance is in store for Rooney as he gets attacked by the Beuller family dog when he tries to break in to their home to cathc Ferris in the act. As the credits roll a dishevelled Rooney, who by this time has mentally and physically collapsed, tries to hitch a ride back on the school bus to the mirth of his pupils and his embarrassment is complete.
Slightly souring actor Jeffrey Jones' good work are his recent convictions for child pornography. Not sure if he would be cast as a teacher who breaks into pupils houses these days. Come to think of it he does look a bit like a paedophile with his ginger 'tache.
"Tell you what dipshit, you don't like my policies you can just come on down and smooch my big ol' white butt! Pucker up buttercup!"
Asshole rating: 5
Film: The Warriors
Actor: David Patrick Kelly
This cheap, grimy, high concept film about rival gangs fighting it out in a dystopian New York really made an impression on me as a kid. Unlike the A-Team or The Dukes of Hazzard it still holds up well now even with the afros, jive-talking and retro fashions.
Luther is the leader of The Rogues and he frames The Warriors for the murder of one their rival gang leaders. The Warriors then have to make it back across NYC avoiding all the fantastically dressed rival gangs like the Baseball Furies and The Boppers who want to get medieval on their asses.
This guy looks and behaves like a complete asshole. He has typical Napoleon syndrome and Kelly portrays him as a completely unhinged bastard who enjoys violence just for the sake of it. Ultimately he is a coward and that is why he qualifies as an asshole. Who can forget his taunting of the Warriors with the clinking glass bottles on his fingers (improvised on the spot) at the fair ground near Coney Island.
(Whiny high pitched voice) "Waaaarriors come out to plaaaay!"
Asshole Rating: 6
Film: Full Metal Jacket
Character: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
Actor: R.Lee Ermey
Wow, assholes don't get much bigger then Sergeant Hartman. Stanley Kubrick musings on the horrors of war starts with a bang when Ermey delivering a ripping masterpiece of a monologue that sets the tone for the beasting the recruits are about to get.
R.Lee Ermey wasn't some Broadway thespian who did a few weeks research; he was a bona fide drill instructor during Vietnam and improvised much of the dialogue for most of his scenes. Kubrick even had to ask him what a "reach around" was after one scene.
Ermey originally was only a technical advisor on the film but when the director saw a video of him bawling out a recruit for 15 minutes straight without repeating himself, whilst being pelted by tennis balls, Kubrick had found his man.
The problem is can Hartman genuinely be regarded as an asshole in the truest sense as he has a purpose behind the insults? He is there to break down the recruits and build them up from scratch so they follow orders and cope with pressure in hostile situations. He might be an absolute bastard but there is method to his madness.
Favourite Quote (Pretty much everything he says is gold):
"If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human, fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grabasstic pieces of amphibian shit! You will not like me. But the more you hate me the more you will learn. I am hard but I am fair. There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless. And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps. Do you maggots understand that?"
Asshole rating: 6
22 hours ago