Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Get to Know Your Man-Child, Part 8: The Man-Child is a Slacker

Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi and John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (1998)
Let us examine the history of the man-child slacker in the history of film comedy.

Harold Lloyd in Why Worry (1923)
Buster Keaton
Keaton in The Navigator (1924)
Keaton in Seven Chances (1925)
Even a war cannot invigorate a true slacker.

Keaton and Cliff Edwards in Doughboys (1930)
Billy Bevan and Andy Clyde in Wandering Willies (1926)
The Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera (1935)
Harpo and Groucho Marx in The Big Store (1941)
Groucho Marx in The Big Store
Art Carney, Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows in "The Honeymooners" television series
Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)
Harold Ramis and Bill Murray in Stripes (1981)
In Stripes (1981), Bill Murray cannot even muster the energy to sit up when his girlfriend (Roberta Leighton) is breaking up with him.


Stranger Than Paradise (1984) was a seminal slacker comedy.  The characters lack purpose or direction. They slouch and shamble their way through uneventful lives.

Richard Edson, John Lurie and Eszter Balint in Stranger than Paradise (1984)
Lurie and Edson in Stranger Than Paradise

Lurie in Stranger Than Paradise
Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Martin and Candy again
Adam Sandler
Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran in Clerks (1994)

Seinfeld's ultimate man-child George Costanza is too lazy to ride a bicycle, too irresponsible to own a dog, too unalluring to attract a kiss, too insensitive to cry, and too impatient to take a bath.  But, much like a baby, he is focused almost entirely on sleeping and eating.

George made it part of his daily office routine to hide under his desk for a deep afternoon snooze.

George's friend Kramer was just as unproductive.

Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes in "Spaced" television series
Jeff Bridges in Big Lebowski (1998)
Will Ferrell in Elf (2003)
Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Stephen Root and Justin Long in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Jason Segel in Knocked Up (2007)
Charlene Yi and Martin Starr in Knocked Up (2007)
Matt Dillon and Owen Wilson in You, Me and Dupree (2006)
Celia Weston and Seth Rogen in Observe and Report (2009)

Murray is still a slacker after all these years.  Here he takes a nap on the set of The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).

Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. in Due Date (2010)
Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson and Jay Baruchel in This is the End (2013)
Joshua Burge and Joel Potrykus in Buzzard (2014)

Jeff Garlin is concerned about his slacker daughter (Keira Knightley) in Laggies (2014).

Ilana Glazer of "Broad City" television series

A clue that a film is about a slacker is the presence of a lounge chair in the poster.

Jason Segel, Rashida Jones and Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man (2009)
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey in Failure to Launch (2006)

Who are the biggest slackers and nappers in film comedy?

1.) Charlie Chaplin 

The Adventurer (1917)

The Tramp, as other homeless fellows, spent much of his time looking for a good place to curl up and take a nap.

The Tramp (1915)

Edna Purviance and Chaplin

One A.M. (1916)

A Dog's Life (1918)


Sunnyside (1919)

Tom Wilson and Chaplin

The Kid (1921)
Jackie Coogan and Chaplin

The Idle Class (1921)

Chaplin and Purviance

Woman of Paris (1923)

Chaplin and Purviance
 The Gold Rush (1925)


City Lights (1931)

Harry Myers and Chaplin

Modern Times (1936)

Paulette Goddard and Chaplin
Limelight (1952)

2.) Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy were among film history's greatest layabouts.  The two men slept like a pair of babies.

3.) The Three Stooges

No Census, No Feeling (1940)
It is no secret to comedy fans that the Three Stooges slept a lot.

Hoi Polloi (1935)
Half Shot Shooters (1936)
False Alarms (1936)
Dizzy Doctors (1937)
Dizzy Doctors
Flat Foot Stooges (1938)
Three Missing Links (1938)
How High is Up? (1940)
In the Sweet Pie and Pie (1941)
In the Sweet Pie and Pie
In the Sweet Pie and Pie
Cactus Makes Perfect (1942)
Sock-A-Bye Baby (1942)
Idle Roomers (1944)
Hold that Lion (1947)
In the Sweet Pie and Pie (1941)

Putting together this report was tiring.  It's time for a nap.

Read more about the comic man-child in I Won't Grow Up!: The Comic Man-Child in Film from 1901 to the Present.