Total Recall

Total Recall: Cinema's Greatest Party Animals

With Get Him to the Greek hitting theaters, we take a look at the movie characters who like to party down.

by | June 4, 2010 | Comments

Party Animals

Even with Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, a naked Jason Segel, and a room full of singing puppets starring, Russell Brand walked away with many of Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s most memorable moments — and his scene-stealing character, the drunken polyamorist rock star Aldous Snow, returns this week in Get Him to the Greek. This time, Snow’s on the road with a record company intern (played by Jonah Hill) charged with keeping him on the straight and narrow — a classic comedy setup that got us thinking about the many hard-living men and women who have entertained us with their movie antics. Naturally, we had to make a list, and you know what that means…it’s time to get down with our favorite party animals (presented in alphabetical order) Total Recall style!

Animal (the Muppet movies)

You can’t say “party animal” without saying “Animal” — and we couldn’t have published this list without some mention of the furry bundle of percussive energy that is the Electric Mayhem’s longtime drummer. While hardly the most eloquent Muppet, Animal has a unique charm, undeniable drumming skills, and a bursting enthusiasm for life that is best reflected in his trademark mating cry of “WO-MAN! WO-MAN!” Though he’s usually kept chained to something or other — and for obvious reasons — Animal has also helped save the day for his friends on more than one occasion, proving that even the most focused partier is interested in more than just good times.

Special Attributes: Impeccable rhythmic timing; impressive facial hair

Notable Achievement: Grew to giant size to scare off the nefarious Doc Hopper

Arthur Bach (Arthur)

About as lovable an alcoholic as any you’ll find on the silver screen, Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) masked his loneliness and poor self-esteem by piddling away his family’s massive fortune on booze and hookers — at least until he met Linda Marolla (Liza Minelli), the salt-of-the-earth waitress who deepened Arthur’s doubts about his impending arranged marriage to the heiress Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry). Okay, so he doesn’t seem like a barrel of laughs on paper, but to meet Arthur is to be charmed by him; beneath all that irresponsible behavior and constant drunken cackling beat the heart of an unrepentant romantic who was willing to forsake a $750 million inheritance for true love. (Of course, he eventually got to have his cake and eat it too. It was the 1980s, after all.)

Special Attributes: Hobson (John Gielgud), butler extraordinaire and the coolest sidekick any party animal could ever hope for

Notable Achievement: Made millions of people seriously question what they would do if they were caught between the moon and New York City

Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice)

What happens when you love partying even more than life itself? No one knows for sure, but you just might end up like Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), the irrepressible spirit who refused to let death stand between himself and a good time. Summoned into the temporal realm by the recently deceased Maitlands (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) to help them get rid of the snobbish clan that’s recently moved into their home, Beetlejuice gets the party started, leading a forced Harry Belafonte singalong from beyond the grave and nearly blackmailing a young Winona Ryder into marrying him before he’s swallowed by a giant sandworm. And you thought last week’s kegger was wild? Pshaw.

Special Attributes: Magic powers; great taste in kitschy retro tunes

Notable Achievement: Returned to life to become a recurring guest on The Howard Stern Show

John “Bluto” Blutarsky (National Lampoon’s Animal House)

Party animals come and go, but there will never be another John “Bluto” Blutarsky (John Belushi), the seven-year college phenomenon who, before he turned his incredible 0.0 GPA into a career in the United States Senate, built an unrivaled legend on the campus of Faber College. Whether he was urinating in public, starting food fights, or demonstrating the slimming effects of a toga, Bluto displayed a rakish contempt for authority as wide and deep as his hunger for sex, drugs, and rock & roll. But what made Bluto truly special was his innate understanding that hedonism isn’t just about pleasurable pursuits, it’s a celebration of brotherhood. When his fellow Delta Tau Chi members were reduced to despair after having their charter revoked, it was Bluto who delivered one of the most impassioned — and effective — pep talks in film history.

Special Attributes: Does an incredible impression of a popping zit; gave new meaning to the phrase “perfect GPA”

Notable Achievement: Revealed that it was, in fact, actually the Germans who bombed Pearl Harbor

Ron Burgundy (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

Forget about rock stars and professional athletes — as Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) proved, all the best parties are reserved for your local anchorman, at least if he’s as coolly mustachioed as this Scotch-loving titan of the airwaves. And who can blame the ladies for loving Ron, what with his many leisure suits, immaculately coiffed hair, or skill with the jazz flute? Though his views might be outdated when it comes to gender roles, Ron isn’t shy about showing his sensitive side — and whether he’s hurtling into a swinger-filled pool or urging his viewers to stay classy, he’s always ready to cut loose.

Special Attributes: Unbeatable street-brawling technique; Spanish-speaking dog

Notable Achievement: Uncovered the true meaning of the words “San Diego”

Caligula (Caligula)

Depending upon your tolerance for things like occultism, incest, random executions, and government-mandated prostitution, Caligula (Malcolm McDowell) might strike you as more of a depraved maniac than a party animal, but there’s no denying that at least during the early portion of his reign, the young emperor was a pretty swinging guy, ushering in a new era of freedom and comity for the Roman Empire. Of course, that was before he made it his mission to destroy the senatorial class and plunged the nation into a nightmarish turmoil of war and destruction, but while the good times lasted, Caligula really wasn’t half-bad — for a guy who wanted to marry his sister, anyway.

Special Attributes: Ambitious; irresistible to blackbirds

Notable Achievement: Lowered taxes

Dave Chappelle (Dave Chappelle’s Block Party)

The advent of digital music has made it possible for anyone to be a DJ, but the art of truly rocking a party remains a skill shared by a chosen few. Case in point: Dave Chappelle, the vanishing comedian whose 2004 Brooklyn block party was immortalized in Michel Gondry’s 2006 documentary, the aptly named Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. What made it so amazing? In a word, the music: Chappelle’s lineup for the day included Kanye West, Erykah Badu, the Roots (who served as the world’s coolest house band), Mos Def, Jill Scott, and a reunited Fugees, with Chappelle himself supplying between-set comedy. So the next time you’re sweating over the song transitions in your barbecue mix, just remember — you can save yourself a lot of effort just by putting this movie on and turning it up loud.

Special Attributes: Ability to lure Lauryn Hill out of seclusion; Rolodex stuffed with modern soul and hip-hop greats

Notable Achievement: The whole darn thing, really

Shelley Darlington (The House Bunny)

As anyone who’s ever seen a picture taken at Hugh Hefner’s mansion could tell you, the life of a Playboy bunny is filled with parties — but what happens after a bunny is forced to enter the real world? For Shelley Darlington (Anna Faris), cruelly tricked into giving up her bunny ears by a duplicitous rival, the answer involved seeking out a location almost as party-filled as the Playboy Mansion: college. As a house mother for the dowdy sisters of the Zeta Alpha Zeta sorority, Shelley did the public service of sharing her partying skills with a whole new generation, and helped a few girls unleash their inner fabulousness; along the way, she also learned something about herself, but that was sort of an accident.

Special Attributes: Irrepressibly bubbly personality; looks great in pink

Notable Achievement: Rounded up 30 last-minute recruits to single-handedly save the ZAZ sorority

Doctor Detroit (Doctor Detroit)

Even the dullest homebody sometimes dreams of being the life of the party; it can just be hard to break through that wall of shyness. In fact, sometimes it takes the invention of a wig-wearing, metal-gloved, funny-voiced alter ego to discover one’s hidden party animal. Take, for example, the case of Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd), the mild-mannered professor who was bamboozled into impersonating the non-existent business partner of a pimp (Howard Hesseman) who’s on the run from a tough-as-nails crime boss nicknamed “Mom” (Kate Murtagh). Sure, the risks were high. Sure, the script was awful. But did Clifford Skridlow let those minor obstacles keep him from getting down with his bad self as the outlandish Doctor Detroit? He did not.

Special Attributes: Awesome metal glove; mesmerizing, vaguely Elton John-ish wig

Notable Achievement: United James Brown and Devo for one of the more eclectic soundtracks to come out of the 1980s

Raoul Duke (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

Charles Darwin wasn’t thinking of party animals when he wrote about the theory of evolution, but it’s just as applicable to them — and we have our proof in the form of Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), the pseudonym given by Hunter S. Thompson to his hedonistic, illegal substance-ingesting, iconoclastic id. Duke’s evolutionary leap in partying included subjecting his body to an epic assortment of drugs, from household names like marijuana to exotic hallucinogenics like adrenochrome, as well as a knack for seeking out some of the most notoriously unsafe environments of the late 1960s and early 1970s (riots, Vietnam, the Hell’s Angels). Turned loose on the Strip in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Duke behaves pretty much as you’d expect, suffering a variety of hallucinations, multiple blackouts, and a brush with orangutan ownership — not to mention narrowly avoiding arrest and/or death.

Special Attributes: Bottomless appetite for drugs; looks snappy in Wellington boots and a fake lizard tail

Notable Achievement: Drove directly onto the tarmac of the Las Vegas airport to keep his friend Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) from missing a flight

Jabba the Hutt (Return of the Jedi)

He couldn’t walk, he didn’t have much of a personality, and his singing voice was nothing to brag about, but Jabba the Hutt never wanted for company. So what made this giant, malevolent, sluglike creature so popular? Simple: He knew how to throw a party. Whether he was treating his guests to the dulcet tones of the Max Rebo Band, thrilling them by feeding unpopular acquaintances to the Rancor Monster or tossing them in the Sarlacc Pit, or providing eye candy in the form of metal-bikini’d slave girls, Jabba made sure there was never a dull moment at his palace. Of course, things could get pretty messy once you found yourself off the guest list, but it’s all about having fun while it lasts, right?

Special Attributes: Awesome droid collection; head-tentacled albino sidekick

Notable Achievement: Forever altered the way millions of pre-teen boys looked at Princess Leia

Samantha Jones (the Sex and the City movies)

More than anyone, Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) put the Sex in Sex and the City. Through countless flings, a transcontinental move, and a cancer scare, Samantha has maintained an admirable willingness to try anything once — including many things that can’t be mentioned in this article. But in spite of her freewheeling rep, Samantha is about much more than simply good times and one-night stands; she’s also a fiercely loyal friend, and unlike the many party animals that carry on in an effort to stave off adult responsibilities, her pursuit of pleasure is grounded in an unapologetic love of self. Her love life might have all the ingredients for a good filthy limerick, but all Samantha Jones really wants is…well, everything, really. Who can’t identify with that?

Special Attributes: Shockingly extensive wardrobe; public relations expertise

Notable Achievement: Survived menopause

Kid ‘n’ Play (the House Party movies)

Okay, so we probably would never have known who they were if DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince hadn’t been busy — and someone really should have put the House Party franchise to a halt long before 2001’s dreaded House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute. But 20 years after they brought the hi-top fade to its logical conclusion, it’s impossible not to miss Kid n’ Play, or the days when a disagreement could be settled by breaking out the Funky Charleston during a good old-fashioned dance battle. (They said they “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody” and they meant it.) Besides, how many members of this list can brag about rapping their way out of a jail cell?

Special Attributes: Signature, easy-to-learn dance move

Notable Achievement: With House Party 2, briefly made pajama parties respectable for adults

The Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)

Most party animals favor beverages quite a bit stronger than tea, but even if he prefers a bit of Earl Grey to whatever’s in the punchbowl, the Mad Hatter has something most of his peers don’t — namely, a mind so cracked that he has no problem running around a table during all-day tea parties. Mad though he might be, the Hatter is a good friend to have; not only can he keep your head stylishly covered, but he’ll celebrate your un-birthday 364 days of the year. Besides, who needs alcohol when you’ve got a talking rabbit at the table?

Special Attributes: Ability to bend the laws of physics to his will; good at coming up with riddles

Notable Achievement: Cheered up the Queen of Hearts with a well-timed un-birthday party

Mary (Party Girl)

There comes a time in the life of every party animal when his or her commitment to the lifestyle is tested so severely that they either have to find a new way of partying or give it up completely. For Mary (Parker Posey), that point came after her arrest for her involvement in an underground rave — but rather than walking away from the clubs, she ended up stumbling into a career as one of the hippest, most fashion-forward librarians on the planet. Moral of the story: Don’t be surprised if you hear the faint echoes of a club beat the next time you’re browsing the stacks. You never know what the quiet person behind the circulation desk is doing after hours.

Special Attributes: Entrepreneurial spirit; discount at Mustafa’s falafel stand

Notable Achievement: Learned the Dewey Decimal System

Thornton Melon (Back to School)

Well past the age when most party animals have hung up their kegs, Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) was just coming into his own as the oldest undergrad at Grand Lakes University. A self-made millionaire without a high school diploma, Melon didn’t go to college to learn; he bought his way in so he could keep a closer eye on his son Jason (Keith Gordon) — and party. (Probably not in that order, either.) Over the course of a single semester, Melon bankrolled a new School of Business for the university, wooed a professor (Sally Kellerman), and hired Kurt Vonnegut to write an essay about one of his own books, all while offering his fellow students a master class in the art of carousing — and if all that weren’t enough, he even showed up to save the day at the school’s big swim meet.

Special Attributes: Virtually unlimited financial resources; unshaven, wisecracking chauffeur

Notable Achievement: Landed a perfect “Triple Lindy” at the age of 65

Austin Powers (the Austin Powers movies)

Every party animal is different, but if there’s one characteristic they all share, it’s probably the ability to project an air of self-confidence — and no one has embodied this more than Austin Powers (Mike Myers), the secret agent whose mojo survived cryogenic freezing, time travel, and the nefarious machinations of the accurately named Dr. Evil. Cheerfully unaware of his outdated wardrobe, crooked teeth, or plentiful body hair, Austin has devoted himself to the relentless pursuit of the opposite sex, and he’s been nothing if not successful, shagging Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley), Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), and Foxxy Cleopatra (Beyonce Knowles), just to name a few. He may not have matinee-idol looks, but thanks to his swinging pad, charming personality, and overabundance of pheromones, Powers represents an unattainable ideal for party animals everywhere.

Special Attributes: Legendary mojo, unerring ability to determine what is or is not his bag, baby

Notable Achievement: Participated in a ménage à trois with Felicity Shagwell and a past version of himself

Frank “the Tank” Ricard (Old School)

Like most college keg-killers, Frank “The Tank” Ricard (Will Ferrell) sobered up and tried to be respectable after graduating — but old habits are hard to break, and not even threats of divorce from his increasingly apoplectic newlywed wife were enough to keep the essentially good-hearted Frank from unleashing his beer-thirsty alter ego after his best friend Mitch (Luke Wilson) tried to cope with a nasty breakup by starting his own fraternity. Reverting to his old ways did eventually cost Frank his marriage, but it was only through regression that he was able to achieve self-acceptance — and hook up with freaky Heidi (Juliette Lewis).

Special Attributes: Tremendous skill with a beer bong; ability to take a horse tranquilizer dart to the jugular with no lasting physical damage

Notable Achievement: Took “streaking the quad” to a whole new level

Tony Stark (the Iron Man movies)

If you were going to be a filthy rich industrialist who beat up on bad guys in your spare time, would you choose the grim, tortured life of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, or would you step into Tony Stark’s shiny boots and take to the skies as Iron Man? Yeah, we thought so. Like every superhero, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has his problems — but unlike most of them, he actually knows how to have fun once in awhile, and takes full advantage of his celebrity status. Sure, he’s got a bum ticker, and he definitely needs to lay off the sauce. What is partying for, though, if not celebrating the here and now in spite of what might bring us down tomorrow? Whether or not you enjoy Stark-sized levels of wealth and fame, he offers a suave object lesson for the billionaire playboy in us all.

Special Attributes: Snazzy facial hair; AI “butler” with Paul Bettany’s voice

Notable Achievement: Built a freakin’ flying suit of armor

Steve Stifler (the American Pie movies)

Unlike some of the other names on our list, Steve Stifler wasn’t the kind of person who needed to party to blow off steam or experiment with mind-altering substances; for him, the partying lifestyle was always a means to an end — specifically, to be around as many young, inebriated girls as possible. While this isn’t a particularly noble mission, it’s easy to understand, and Stifler deserves to be commended for the increasingly absurd lengths he went to in pursuit of his goal. Initially, Stifler was only willing to forget about the fairer sex for as long as it took to finish lacrosse practice or devise some new way of tormenting his nemesis Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), but over time, he revealed a more sensitive — albeit every bit as sex-obsessed — side of his personality. Though Stifler’s been off-screen since the final moments of 2003’s American Wedding, recent American Pie sequels have introduced viewers to other members of his apparently massive family, and revealed that the Stifmeister eventually landed his dream gig as a director of pornographic movies.

Special Attributes: Willingness to engage in any activity in order to view female nudity; son of the infamous Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge)

Notable Achievement: Fished a wedding ring out of a dog dropping — and then placed said dropping into his own mouth — in order to demonstrate his affection for the lovely Cadence Flaherty (January Jones)

Withnail (Withnail and I)

He probably isn’t the first character that comes to mind when you think of party animals; in fact, he begins and ends his on-screen adventures in poverty and despair, and spends most of his time in isolation with his best friend Marwood (Paul McGann). Withnail (Richard E. Grant) deserves a spot on this list, however, if for no reason other than his animal thirst for alcohol, which is so incredible that it’s spawned its own drinking game. (One which, it must be said, is more than a little dangerous; trying to match Withnail drink-for-drink could put a person in the hospital, or worse.) Though he probably doesn’t receive many invitations, it seems safe to assume Withnail could be the life of the party…at least as long as the booze keeps flowing.

Special Attributes: Easy access to his uncle’s country cottage; superhuman tolerance of controlled substances

Notable Achievement: None — he’s still waiting for his big break

Take a look through the rest of our Total Recall archives. And don’t forget to check out the reviews for Get Him to the Greek.

Finally, Eddie Murphy and Rick James express displeasure for a young woman who is committed to non-stop partying: