I apologize in advance for the next three sentences: I like big burgers and I cannot lie. A lot of other people can’t deny that when a server walks up with a burger on a plate they get sprung. My taste buds don’t want none unless I get a beef patty betwixt two buns, hun.
Like many average American slobs, I love burgers to the point of burger-centricity. I also love movies more than I should. I’m not alone. For better or worse, burgers have permeated all facets of American culture, including films. Below are 10 examples of films that are burger-centric in their own little (or big) ways.
Weird Al Yankovic’s 1989 opus has a lot of things going for it: Barbarians named Conan that decide to become librarians, a pre-Kramer Michael Richards wielding a mop like a sword, a pre-Nanny Fran Drescher reporting news, Billy Barty doing Billy Barty things. When Yankovic’s character randomly becomes the owner of a floundering UHF station, he schedules his own special brand of programming. Between episodes of “Wheel Of Fish” and “Spatula City” ads, Yankovic’s George puts out a promo for one of his new shows, “Bowling For Burgers.” I’d buy that for a dollar.
Before Quentin Tarantino, the idea of two violent hitmen pontificating about foot massages was about odd as you could get. Even odder is when they discuss the little differences between McDonald’s burgers in places other than America. More intriguing (i.e. tastebud enthralling) is when we get to hear about that Hawaiian burger joint. The tension of an ensuing murder of briefcase thieves is only matched by the curiosity of how damn good that Hawaiian burger joint might actually be.
Nostalgia has fueled many a millennial's love for Keenan and Kel’s film Good Burger based off their hit Nickelodeon TV show All That. With the exception of one other film on the list, no other flick has successfully immersed viewers in the wonders of a fast food restaurant. When Ed (Kel) has a dream about burger bliss, it almost makes me forget about Carmen Electra slinking around throughout the film. Almost.
Better Off Dead
A decade before Keenan And Kel’s Good Burger dream sequence, we had John Cusack and Savage Steve Holland’s wacky ass mid '80s teen romantic comedy assaulting eyeballs left and right. Like Good Burger, nostalgia has fueled many a Gen-Xer’s wistfulness for this film about a smart, forlorn lovestruck guy, Lane, played by Cusack (a role that he mastered throughout the '80s). In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Lane has a very '80s daydream involves a claymation hamburger shredding and singing Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” and linking up with a she-burger. It’s a shame that burger is so happy in this scene because all I want to do is eat him up.
It’s never nice to laugh at someone in the throes of addiction. Unless they are a theatrical cartoon character with a serious burger habit. Like many a burgerhead, Popeye The Sailor Man’s friend J. Wellington Wimpy had such a problem that he, without any hint of shame, would lie to his friend , “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Sure you will Wimpy. Sure you will.
Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle
Personally, I’ve never been a big White Castle fanboy. That said, I can understand why Harold and Kumar, with the aid of a few reefers, would, in the face of wacky misadventures that threaten to alter their quest, be magnetically drawn to the allure of their burgers. They were sliders before sliders were cool. Even Doogie Howser M.D. understood the draw, paying for the pair’s burger binge as a way of saying, “Hey thanks for letting me add to the shitstorm that kept you from your precious burgers.”
Menace II Society
More a Scorsese homage, than the Boyz N The Hood rip-off it was initially written off as, The Hughes Brothers’ first feature film was part social commentary, part gangster epic, part love story, part existential drama. Visceral and quotable as the film is, it’s noticeable how burgers play a consistent violent thread in the film. A crackhead unsuccessfully tries to use a couple burgers and fellatio as a bargaining chip for a hit. A couple gangbangers are shot while trying to scam free burgers off a fast food employee. Most unforgettable, our main character Caine creeps on a fool in a fast food drive-thru for his rims and jewelry while mocking his mark’s pseudo baller status. Even in the midst of handling his business, Caine makes sure his mark orders him a double burger with cheese. Real G’s gotta eat too.
Mac And Me
I recently re-watched Stawrt Raffill’s 1988 non-epic Mac And Me. A film that I don’t hesitate to call a 99 minute McDonald’s ad masquerading as an ersatz E.T. ripoff. But unlike an able bodied Elliot and a lovable lost alien forming a tear-inducing friendship that transcends space and time, we are treated to a wheelchair bound Eric and a bug-eyed creature with a shallow bond that seems to attract a lot of blatant advertising. Ronald, a once mirthful character, creepily hangs with the kids at an impromptu dance party at a local McDonald’s while Eric and his newfound friend, Mac (disguised in a teddy suit) dance their lives away. Oh Ronald McDonald, does your whoredom know no bounds?
While it’s fairly obvious that Morgan Spurlock’s anti-fast food doc is meant to dissuade me from eating a frankenburger, there are moments where I can only lick my chops and drool like a zombie. Towards the end of the film, we’re treated to a Mickey D’s food experiment. Spurlock puts different food from McDonald’s in glass jars to observe their decomposition over 10 weeks. It makes me appreciate the infinite burger options our town has. Before the frankenburger becomes mold-ridden, my inner cro-mag could only think, “Hey, you gonna eat that?”
Hamburger The Motion Picture
Leave it to a skeezy '80s teen sex comedy to hammer home how awesome burgers are. Inspired by the McDonald’s training facility in Oak Brook, Ill. known as Hamburger University, Mike Marvin exposes the fun hijinks that only a burger college can have. Thanks to some wince-inducing stereotypes and some not-so-harmless hijinks, watching what was once considered light-hearted and sexy fun is now an exercise in wince-inducing and shower-worthy self-torture. Overwhelming negatives aside, there are two positives to be gleaned from it all. Former Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus has a starring role. He’s not good in it, I just think it’s fun to pronounce his name as Dick Buttkiss. The only other reason would be the film’s opening credit sequence and the criminally catchy song that plays underneath, “Hamburgers For America.” Thrill as beef patties are cooked and burger eaters eat burgers while lyrics like “cooking burgers ain’t exotic, but some folks say it’s patriotic” triumphantly violate your ears. You’re welcome.