Eight Great Movie Benders
With the upcoming release of Hunter S Thompson’s The Rum Diary , let’s take a look at what Hollywood does best – irresponsible excess.
Here we can watch our favorite characters throw caution to the wind without concern for the consequences. Whether they’re indulging in life’s hedonistic pleasures or drinking themselves into the dirt, these are the greatest silver-screen benders of all time. Don’t try this at home kids.
In Depp’s other Hunter S. Thompson adaptation, he plays Raoul Duke, a journalist travelling to Vegas for a story and a drug binge of epic proportions. With two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-coloured uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls, the film features frequent hallucinogenic trips and some of the greatest rambling monologues in cinema history.
Despite a lack of box office success, Terry Gilliam’s movie has garnered a huge cult following and is one of Depp’s most famous roles.
The 1987 black comedy features Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as two struggling actors who take a holiday in the countryside. The pair relies heavily on alcohol and other substances as their vacation turns out to be less restful than they hoped. One of Britain’s most famous cult films, Grant’s portrayal of Withnail launched his career and his character’s drinking includes thirteen glasses of whisky, nine and a half glasses of wine, six glasses of sherry and a shot of lighter fluid.
The original 1981 Arthur is a comedy classic in which Dudley Moore plays a millionaire playboy who is being forced into an upper-class marriage, but chooses working-class Liza Minnelli instead. He lives a carefree existence, worrying only about life’s pleasures and witty comebacks. The film was a huge box-office success and racked up four academy award nominations but its legacy was ruined somewhat with an unsuccessful sequel and the disappointing Russell Brand remake.
Delta house might have the worst grades in college but they sure know how to party. Animal House’s legacy is still felt today – every time you drink to excess while wearing a toga or hear Louie Louie by The Kingsmen, you should raise a glass to John Belushi. Fun fact: It’s also Kevin Bacon’s first onscreen appearance.
The holiday-themed comedy stars Billy Bob Thornton as an alcoholic Santa impersonator who, along with his elf, robs a different mall every Christmas eve. Each year Billy Bob takes his winnings and spends them on a bender in Florida. While preparing for a robbery, he meets a boy that he comes to mentor and falls in love with a bartender, eventually changing his ways. For all those that get tired of the usual Christmas cheer, this film’s for you.
Not surprisingly, Vegas seems to be fertile ground for movies about substance-abuse. In Leaving Las Vegas Nicolas Cage plays Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood screenwriter whose life is destroyed by alcoholism. With nothing left to live for, he goes to Las Vegas with the intention of drinking until he dies. Cage received the Oscar for Best Actor in a rare, standout performance.
It’s an understatement to say that this film deals with the consequences of substance-abuse lightly. The Todd Phillips comedy features three friends who must find a groom-to-be after they lose him during a night of partying in Las Vegas. An extreme version of something we can all relate to (that “what did I do last night?” moment) the film was hugely successful and launched Zach Galifianakis into the comedy stratosphere.
The 2004 comedy-drama stars Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as two friends on a wine-tasting road trip through Santa Ynez Valley. The pair’s lives are turned upside down as they find themselves in romantic entanglements, midlife crises and above all, drinking a lot of wine. Giamatti turns in his greatest performance to date as a depressed writer and complete wine snob. HE WILL NOT DRINK MERLOT!