It always happens. You’re enjoying a film, getting into its specific artistic grooves and rhythms, relishing the differing connections its clicking off inside you when - WHAM! Here it comes. The irritation. The aggravation. The annoyance. It could be a song, a setting, or a scene itself, but more times than not, it’s a character (or as part of said possibility, the actor playing same). We all have our own aesthetic kryptonite. Yours truly, for instance, can’t stand Jennifer Aniston, dislikes Mary Louise Parker probably as much, and is about to add Rachel McAdams to that talentless coffee klatch as soon as he can double check said status (which would require stomaching another one of her performances). As for men, Robin Williams works an already raw nerve while Billy Crystal has gone from great to grating over the span of his career.
But we aren’t here to discuss the famous who fudge up your favorite film. No, this is about the characters, those immortal players in the pantheon of “who thought this was a good idea?” More times than not, the performance is not the problem. Neither is the performer. Instead, a weird kind of amalgamation happens where actor and the action comes together to craft something truly horrible. With that in mind, we’ve selected the 10 Most Annoying Movie Characters of All Time. We’re not talking about the most disturbing, the most racially insensitive, or the most abrupt or abusive. No, we are talking about figurative fingernails on a personality chalkboard, that rarified air where fun and redemption are billions of light years off in the creative firmament, beginning with:
Let’s face it - Spielberg was smitten. Karen Allen wouldn’t be part of the proposed Raiders pre-sequel, so the King of the Blockbusters had to come up with something. His answer? An irritating shrew named Willie Scott, who is supposedly a famous nightclub singer but in actuality comes across a purely a producer’s girlfriend type. It’s no wonder she and Spielberg got together after the production. Willie is such a whiny, hollow harpy that she can be irritating just standing in a room, silently. She even out annoys one Mr. Short Round, and in this film, that’s saying a lot.
If you never, ever, ever want to hear the word “OK” again ever in your lifetime, don’t give in to the sequels to the original cop buddy comedy. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover really didn’t need any help hurting their careers via these often obnoxious stunt fests, but the producers decided that a freshly Oscar minted Joe Pesci would be perfect as an informant/sidekick. His Mr. Getz takes after another aggravating Leo - the Dead End Kid/Bowery Boy Mr. Gorcey- with a honk so thick Jake LaMatta couldn’t smack it out of his mouth. But it’s the incessant “OK” that’s an entertainment antithesis.
Granted, you’re not necessarily going to do a point by point adaptation of Alan Moore’s seminal comic, so why not include a bit of choice Americana into this Victorian England Justice League? Well, the answer is obvious the minute we see this unidentified flailing object up on the screen. Mark Twain was probably twisting in his crypt over the misappropriation of his classic character, a dance Moore was always doing above ground when Hollywood came calling. Even worse, actor Shane West was so lax in his interpretation of anything remotely human that we hate Sawyer the minute we meet him, and then things go downhill from there.
Now, in the comic, Howard is crass, acerbic, chauvinistic, dense, and frankly, a bit of an asshole. He’s also an intriguing spin on the entire superhero dynamic. On film, however, he is watered down and dismissed, turned into a bad special effect (read: little person in suit) for George Lucas’ lame motion picture manipulation of said source. Nothing about this Howard is likable. He’s a coward. He’s always complaining. He’s hot to trot for rocker Beverly Switzer without thinking about the entire interspecies thing, and is, in general, no fun to be around. Had he been like his four panel image, we’d love him. Here’s he’s horrid.
Ahhh…yes. The old Southern stereotype. A sheriff with a mouthful of marbles (or chaw, or little kittens, whatever) using his blatant backwoods racism and lack of legitimate intelligence to stop our hero—in this case, Roger Moore as 007 James Bond—from properly pursuing his prey. When our lead opens his mouth, our drawling dofus marvels at his competence re: the Queen’s English and then belches. All that’s missing from the performance is a white sheet, a burning cross, and someone whistling “Dixie.” Joe Higgins may have initiated the caricature in commercials and TV shows, but Clifton James turned it into a repugnant rebel yell.