Box-Office Binge Drinking

5 films of Hollywood Glamorizing Alcoholism


Let’s take a random moment to look at things a little differently, or slightly differently for a change. We’ve been quite vocal in our distaste of many cinema sins in the past here at In The Kan. We make it a point to call out films on their crimes, such as: lack of creativity, poor writing and storytelling, CGI infested blockbusters, to bad sequels, reboots and remakes, the lack of artistic integrity and just general mediocrity.

The downturn in terms of quality in comedy (among many other things) is increasing as Hollywood keeps returning to the pit of depravity and toilet humour for its fix. It’s within this vague sub-genre that alcoholism falls, and rolls into the beams of our headlights this day. We are film critics after all, so let us critique this… Hollywood’s over-reliance on perversion for cheap thrills and quick laughs to generate a buck, whilst we the audience lap it up willingly. The more it spews out, the more we accept; is this a reflection of the lack of morality and creativity in Hollywood, or in society as a whole – or is the silver screen simply the mirror?
Hollywood has made light of many serious issues, and one example is drinking. Of course, drinking doesn’t equal alcoholism, but it’s fair to say that alcohol flows in an almost unlimited supply to the main economies of the world, and of course, the one cannot exist without the other. A major influencing factor is of course entertainment. Getting wasted is something to be proud of, heck one of the most popular film series’ of recent times bears the title ‘The Hangover’ (of course there was a dose of narcotics involved, but the principle applies; thankfully much of ‘the dirty’ was left to our imaginations, at least until the credits started rolling). It’s certainly an apt reflection of people’s application of this curious and weird ratio to measure their fun factor; by how much, or how little they remember of the previous night of unbridled debauchery.

Stu Price: “Why don’t we remember a G** d*** thing from last night?”

Phil Wenneck: “Obviously because we had a great f***ing time.”

– [The Hangover]

The Hangover
So why harp on this all of a sudden? Well is there ever a good or bad time to do so. This is to raise some awareness, but to also make you take stock of what you regard as entertaining or cool or funny. Perhaps this is the wake up call we all need – for those of us who heed it anyways.

Drinking is serious, it can be fun, but it’s also dangerous with over indulgence, and the repercussions of abusing it are very real. If you’re reading this, I thank you, because even reading is becoming something rare in a society that much prefers instantaneous gratification. Generally people don’t want to be reminded of serious issues, however, we need such moments of levity every now and then because the entertainment industry is so encompassing. By captivating our imaginations, easily slipping inside our minds through the proverbial back door, film makers are often able to dictate to us what they deem should be cool, funny and acceptable to society. Entertainment simply is the largest medium on earth, with the greatest influence – and what it says, goes. As a passing mention, take the most famous Spy in the world, JPhoto by Karen Ballardames Bond, a character who epitomizes cool and suave and what it means to be a man – but in the recent installments, his reliance on alcohol (& pills) has been a focal point. Yet, he remains a bastion of a man who can hold his drink and get the job done (in Quantum of Solace he downed 7 Martini’s back to back) – now does all this make him even more cool (of course its used to humanize him as he shows more emotion, but sipping a Bourbon/Cognac/Martini in typical fashion, nevertheless aids in making alcohol popular) – in the public eye it does.


So, let’s be clear, excessive drinking is NOT something we condone. As it happens this piece does come with an added message, or perhaps just a stark and timely reminder of the ills in the world around us.
To put things in a little more context, we’ve selected some clips from films that actually ‘glorified’ drunk driving. Once again we can make mention (although it’s not in the list) of The Hangover – if it wasn’t laughed off (and perhaps we did too while watching the film) it was brushed aside as simply being something that’s ‘no big deal’, that of finding out they drove whilst completely inebriated. Apart from the following film clips, we’ll leave you with some poignant questions we hope will have a lasting effect – food for thought:

  • How often do you drink?
  • How desensitized are you by what you find entertaining?
  • Are you a fan of drinking games?
  • Cheap humour – for how much longer will you laugh it off?
  • Do you think driving drunk is cool, or at the very least, funny?

- In many things, especially entertainment, perception IS reality.
But, to the list then. Here’s 5 Films that used drunk driving as a punch line:

40 Year old Virgin


Sixteen Candles




Alan Garner: “Drivin’ drunk. Classic! “
— [The Hangover]


The Campaign


The Big Lebowski (plus weed)


We’ve added this segment of comedian Gabriel Iglesias’ ‘Drinking & Driving’ from his set ‘Hot & Fluffy’ – demonstrating how drunk driving has become a rather popular comedic device.


Phil Wenneck: “Oh, what are you, a cop now? Come on, you know I drive great when I’m drunk.”
Stu Price: “That’s true. Don’t forget, Phil was always our designated drunk driver.”

–[The Hangover]

And, while we’re here why not  pass a mention on to films that didn’t glorify alcoholism, like Nicolas Cage’s Oscar winning turn in ‘Leaving Las Vegas’, ‘North by Northwest’ (which kind of flirts with humour again), Harvey Keitel in the party scene in ‘Mean Streets’. The list goes on but you’ll invariably find these scenes in “Best of” lists – with the connotation usually being a positive one, and though for these latter films it is warranted, in general, popularizing the misuse of alcohol is something of a monumental facepalm to say the least… its time Hollywood fesses up, not that it ever will, but we certainly can.

And so, while we’re at it, lets look in the mirror and ask ourselves again:


If you’re like us and want to get involved in the battle against drunk driving on our roads, head on up to the South African’s Against Drunk Driving (SADD) homepage and ask what you can do for a community in need!