Paris Hilton once said, “The way I see it, you should live everyday like it’s your birthday.” Of course she would think that way. She’s young. And rich.
Like death and taxes birthdays are one of the events that touch everyone’s lives. Not everyone loves to celebrate getting older—“There is still no cure for the common birthday,” said John Glenn—but Hollywood seems to enjoy throwing birthday parties—on screen at least.
This weekend in 21 and Over a med school student makes merry on his birthday with two of his besties. But like so many movie birthday parties it goes horribly wrong—or horribly right if you have a taste for humiliation, extreme drunkenness and debauchery.
Still, I’ll take humiliation over an onslaught of bloodthirsty seagulls any day. In Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds a flock of real-life Angry Birds invade little Cathy’s outdoor party, pecking at the guests and ruining her big day.
Horror movies have frequently used birthday parties as a backdrop for terror. The alien invasion movie Signs made Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments list for a scene showing news footage of an alien at a child’s birthday party in Brazil.
The film Logan’s Run is set in an idyllic future. There’s just one huge drawback—on your twenty-first birthday you will be vaporized into a sticky goo during a ritual called the Carousel. “It takes all the fun out of dying,” says one character.
Then there are the bad cinematic gifts.
Bella Swan’s (Kristen Stewart) eighteenth New Moon birthday saw her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) break up with her and in Old School Frank the Tank (Will Ferrell) gives a child a toaster for a present. “What do you think, Max? It’s got three speeds.”
In Taken Liam Neeson’s ex-CIA agent character is upstaged when he buys his daughter a karaoke machine for her birthday, while her stepdad gets her what she really wanted—a horse.
Not all movie birthdays are bummers, however.
Despite hiring a drunken clown to perform at his nephew Miles’s (Macaulay Culkin) birthday, Uncle Buck, played by the late, great John Candy, does the best he can to throw a great birthday party. The best part? He makes giant pancakes—they’re so extreme they now have their own facebook page with 290 likes—boasting, “You should see the toast. I couldn’t even get it through the door!”
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