Children are our future. They are the best parts of us. They are everything we wish that we ourselves could have been. Sometimes (as in ‘Ender’s Game’), they may even be humanity’s last hope to save the world. Blah blah blah…. Let’s face it, sometimes kids can be just plain annoying too. Especially when Hollywood trots out that old trope about “wise beyond their years” children who teach jaded adults how to be better people and see the world through innocent eyes. Puke. In this week’s Roundtable, let’s sound off on our picks for some of the most irritating (fictional) brats from movies and TV.
I’m not sure if it was because the bad guys were so stupid or if the kid was really that smart, but I hated almost everything about ‘Home Alone‘ and that obnoxious little brat Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin). Like a bad Road Runner cartoon, Kevin has the wherewithal (and supposedly unlimited resources) to create elaborate traps for two doofuses played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. What’s even more annoying is that this movie was written by the usually-reliable John Hughes, who seems to have either pulled an old, disgarded script out of a drawer, or come up with this because he owed the studio a screenplay. Naturally, thanks to a very undemanding public, the movie made millions and spawned a number of equally-dreadful sequels. (Fortunately, I’ve not seen any of those.)
Michael Spike Steinbacher
In general, I’m not a fan of children. I realize that this makes me a monster and a terrible human being, but there you go. I don’t necessarily mind precociousness, and I don’t necessarily mind cuteness. Put the two together, though, and I get a little sick to my stomach. I don’t know why. Really, children are just too much. They’re like miniature people, only louder, stickier, smellier, more selfish and more egocentric. Ugh.
Although I find myself frequently longing for the whiny ‘tweenaged emo Carl’s death on ‘The Walking Dead’, I’m going to give the current award for most obnoxious kid to Manny on ‘Modern Family‘. With his guayabera shirts and Pamama hats, this little punk is obnoxious, priggish and self-satisfied to the point where he actually detracts from the show in most scenes where he’s featured. He eschews childish things and mannerisms for those of sophisticated adults, but he hasn’t experienced enough to pull that off without looking like a smug retiree who fancies himself a lady’s man. (He’s not.) He lectures adults as if THEY were children. Somebody needs to surgically remove this kid’s vocal cords. And leave his scenes on the cutting room floor, for that matter.
I actually kind of liked NBC’s ‘Parenthood‘ when it started in 2010, but two things made me stop watching – no, that FORCED me to stop watching. The first was Lauren Graham, who took her Lorelai Gilmore routine and cranked it to the “Syrupy Egomaniacal Death” setting. The second was Max. Every time that kid was on screen, I wanted him to die. Max made me stop watching the show. I hate you, Max.
Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds? I know I didn’t before being informed by Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki) in Cameron Crowe’s ‘Jerry Maguire‘. Just by their nature, romantic comedies are expected to have sweet, touching moments, but Ray strains the limits of acceptable adorableness in one movie with his overly cute dialogue delivery. Although the youngest, Crowe also makes him the wisest character in the movie, because Ray knows Jerry and his mother Dorothy belong together before anyone else does. ‘Jerry Maguire’ is a good movie, but Ray is one of the reasons I’ve only watched it once.
Of course, Jake Lloyd is the best/worst example of this character type, but my pick is a more recent example. I took a lot of heat for my opinion of the movie in our site’s forums, but I loathed ‘Real Steel‘. When I think back upon how much I dislike it, the first thing that comes to mind is Hugh Jackman’s bastard son. Dakota Goyo is the new Jake Lloyd. Not only is the actor downright awful in the movie, his character is grating.
Have you ever heard of “OPK” – Other People’s Kids? This is a term that I use to describe children that I just don’t like being around. It doesn’t mean that I hate all kids but my own. Rather; it refers to wild and rude brats with no manners. Goyo’s character, Max, is the shining example of OPK. He not only lacks manners, he’s disobedient, selfish and inconsiderate – everything that I truly loathe in OPK. If I take my own kids to a park and OPK show up, we leave. I find them repulsive in real life, where I have no ability to stop them from coming around. If one appears in a movie, you can bet that I’ll never watch it again.
M. Enois Duarte
I know that ‘Liar Liar‘ has its fans and continues to be enjoyed to this day, but I’ve always thought it was a terrible movie. Not only do I find the premise to be asinine and utterly ridiculous, I think the little kid, Max Reede, is absolutely one of the most annoying and irritating child characters ever. Part of the blame goes to Justin Cooper’s performance. While I’m sure he did the best he could, it still made for lousy acting. The majority of the fault, in my opinion, really belongs to the character himself, a precocious little whiner who failed to win my sympathy. Because he’s such a blatant movie convention of a well-to-do kid, I simply could not care for his supposed plight. Then, of course, is the obnoxiousness of Jim Carrey’s physical comedy, but that’s a whole other conversation.
Attention little Timmy (Joseph Mazzelo) and Lex (Ariana Richards) in ‘Jurassic Park‘: I understand that you’re under considerable stress, what with the man-eating prehistoric reptiles and all, but y’all need to calm the shit down – like, right now. I know that you’re integral to Alan Grant’s (Sam Neill’s) arc from child-hating paleontologist to surrogate dad/action hero, but you’re pushing it, big time.
For starters, Timmy, did you really have to pester the hell out of Grant so badly at the start of the JP tour? And why’d the two of you have to make such stupid decisions during that T-Rex attack? Poor Ian Malcom’s broken leg will probably never be the same! Timmy, nobody cares if you threw up. Just get out the damn tree before that Ford Explorer crushes you. And Lex, why so high and mighty about your vegetarianism and part-time hacking? How about a little humility in the face of life-threatening situations? It serves you right to get sneezed on by that Brachiosaurus. Both of you could have just found a nice, secure place to hunker down in the visitor center right before the film’s climax. But no, you went straight for the dessert tray and nearly became Velociraptor chow.
Then again, both of you are a hell of a lot less irritating than the gymnastics kid in ‘The Lost World’…
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Here are some of the bulletpoints for Max – y’know, Hugh Jackman’s kid – in ‘Real Steel‘:
- He’s a fifth grader who always, always, always gets to take the moral high ground. His relationship with Jackman’s washed-up robo-boxer is one of those eye-rolling, “Who’s the parent and who’s the kid?” sort of deals.
- He’s fluent in English and Japanese.
- He knows pretty much everything about boxing.
- He can quickly rewrite the firmware for indescribably elaborate technology he’s never really seen or touched before.
- Oh, and he can basically build an invincible robot fighter from scrap metal.
- Needless to say, he’s smarter than every adult in the flick, and he’s smug, smarmy and mouthy enough to let ’em know it too.
- He’s enough of a ham to bust out some low-rent hip-hop moves with his friggin’ robot.
- He’s Anakin Skywalker Mark II as if Jake Lloyd weren’t grating enough the first time.
Fewer overbearing, annoying kids! More robots punching each other!
This one may be a little obscure. Although I’ve forgotten most of the movie, one character really stands out in my memory. The 1991 film ‘The Rapture‘ was screenwriter Michael Tolkin’s (of ‘The Player’) directorial debut, about a sex addict burn-out (Mimi Rogers) who becomes Born Again religious and joins a cult. After her husband (David Duchovny) is senselessly killed, she doubts God’s will, and soon becomes so convinced that the Biblical apocalypse is imminent that she contemplates a murder-suicide with her young daughter in order to expedite their ascendance to Heaven. In the (theoretically) harrowing climax, the daughter, who’s been thoroughly brainwashed into the same beliefs, actually begs her mother to go through with it and kill her. After that, the movie drops a seriously deranged mind-fuck ending on the audience that is, quite frankly, the only truly memorable part of the whole thing.
All of this may sound intriguing and potentially the grounds for a compelling character drama. Unfortunately, in actual practice, the movie’s pretty tedious and amateurish, with dialogue that repeatedly beats you over the head to hammer home the obviousness of the story’s themes. Worse, the daughter character is so gratingly precocious that I struggled to restrain myself from screaming, “Just murder the little shit and get it over with already, would you!” at the screen. That’s not a reaction I often have to children in the movies, not even the annoying ones.
Which movie and TV children have irritated you the most? It seems to me that there must be hundreds of sitcom kids who qualify. Tell us in the Comments.