Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Escapism Essay: Outbursts!

Let’s face it – we all lose our shit every now and then. Most of the time, our emotions are to blame, and that’s understandable, right? We’re filled with stress, anger, pain, and fear and any one of these can cause us to explode if we’re not careful. People are nothing if not unstable, however, and little emotional outbursts are unavoidable. As with everything in life, the best outbursts are in the movies.

A textbook outburst is when someone unexpectedly explodes, whether emotionally or physically. In our first example, we get both. In The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s epic crime film about cops and criminals in Boston, Massachusetts, Alec Baldwin plays Captain George Ellerby. The below outburst occurs when Ellerby is…dissatisfied with a colleague’s work.

Now that we’ve got a good, run-of-the-mill, angry/violent outburst out of the way, let’s look at Minority Report. Steven Spielberg’s 2001 film concerns a “pre-crime” police division powered by psychics in a future version of Washington, DC. Agatha, one of the city’s pre-crime psychics, is explaining a vision she had to Tom Cruise’s Detective John Anderton. When she senses danger however, she issues the most bat-shit insane “heads up” in the history of cinema.

Fear and anxiety can do that – we don’t have much control when we’re afraid.

Physical pain can also cause someone to lose it, if the agony is great enough. What could hurt worse than transforming into a werewolf? An American Werewolf in London features one of the greatest werewolf transformations on film, and it’s also the only one I can think of that starts with such a painful outburst.

I think we can all agree anger causes the most outbursts. Rage can sneak up on you. One minute, you’re hanging out with all your friends and everything is cool, but then Jimmy casually mentions that he heard you singing along to a Miley Cyrus song and you go apeshit. Those scenarios are the worst – the ones where the folks on the receiving end don’t have a clue what’s about to hit them.

In Hot Rod, for instance, wannabe stuntman Rod is having some quiet time in his room, reminiscing about his “super-dead” dad, and it’s making him a little emotional. Unfortunately for his brother Kevin, Rod doesn’t want any visitors.

Let’s look at The Big Lebowski, which is chock full of outbursts, mostly from John Goodman’s Walter Sobchak. Walter and The Dude are discussing Walter’s ex-wife’s dog when fellow bowler Smokey slips over the foul line.

Walter’s outburst may seem over-the-top, but sometimes it can feel like you’re the only one that gives a shit about the rules.

Comedies like Hot Rod and The Big Lebowski are filled with angry outbursts. Yelling and spazzing out is funny and whether it’s a scene from Old School

Black Sheep…

Or every Adam Sandler movie ever…

…we’re quick to laugh at it.

And of course you’d expect a super villain to have an outburst every now and then. They’re high strung and evil, it’s why they’re super villains. And who’s a bigger villain than Lex Luthor? The bald brainiac just can’t help himself when he’s around Lois Lane in Superman Returns.

Outbursts like that just come with the territory. If you’re around unstable people, unstable circumstances unfold and you might not like the results. Just ask Spider from Goodfell- oh wait you can’t.

Spider didn’t deserve that. He was just pissed from the last time Joe Pesci shot him. Sometimes you just find yourself around the wrong people at the wrong time, though. Take Paul Sheldon from Misery. All he wanted was to finish his new novel, but he ends up stuck in a cabin with Annie Wilkes for shit like this.

Totally uncalled for, right? Here’s the thing though – sometimes people are asking for it when someone else unloads on them. In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays head shrink to Matt Damon’s tortured young genius, Will. Williams’ Dr. Sean Maguire seems to be a pretty patient, enlightened dude – until Will talks about his late wife! Nobody likes those apples.

Finally, let’s talk about arguments. They’re the worst, and when two people are going at it, one of them is bound to explode. Watch this scene from Star Trek: First Contact, where Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard and Alfre Woodard’s Lily are throwin’ down.

The argument isn’t too bad at first, but then Lily mentions blowing up the Enterprise and Picard loses what little composure he had left."NOOOOO!!!!"

They may not be pretty, but outbursts are more or less unavoidable. The world is a stressful place – just take a deep breath. And knock before you go into someone’s bedroom…


  1. Great work locating all these clips! I think you may get more comments if you share fewer clips, maybe a bit overwhelming here?

    What makes me want to watch happy gilmore is that sergio garcia on youtube has done some of that crazy stuff for real, ha ha

  2. Yeah I may have gone overboard. :) What's funny is that I wanted to find more examples.

    If only I was a video editing genius and I could have just spliced all of them into one video.

    Thanks for the read/comment!

  3. Wow, so I just wasted about 30 minutes at work.... thanks!

  4. Is that a good thing?

    Thanks for reading in any case!

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