For as long as there have been movies and television shows, Hollywood has been giving us charming drunks.
They’re the cocktail sippers who get wittier with every mouthful of vodka, the beer shotgunners whose belches are oddly charming and the winos who seem sophisticated instead of just plain sad. They’re the fictional characters who can publicly demonstrate a complete lack of moderation because they drink heavily in a fantasyland, one where alcoholism has no consequences and getting totally housed is often played for laughs.
The remake of “Arthur” — which replaces Dudley Moore with Russell Brand in the role of an impossibly wealthy, often inebriated cad — attempts to give us an updated version of this sort of affable lush. But based on the reviews, it doesn’t quite succeed. (“This ‘Arthur’ is an exercise in time-travel tedium, a trip to the Land That Funny Forgot,” writes the Post’s Michael O’Sullivan. Ouch.)
Still, “Arthur’s” failure only reminds me of the more endearing overindulgers of the big and small screen. And that’s why I’ve devoted today’s Friday list to my 10 favorite drunks in movie and TV history. Please note that serious alcoholics from serious dramas — Jack Lemmon in “Days of Wine and Roses,” Nicolas Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas,” Meg Ryan in “When a Man Loves a Woman” — have purposely been omitted. Those are characters that point to the true, tragic implications of excessive alcohol consumption, and that’s not why we’re here today.
Today we’re here, not to glorify drinking, but to honor the movie and TV boozers who get schnockered and make the rest of us snicker. Read on to find out who made the top 10, but please, don’t drink up. These men and women have that part more than covered. Do, however, feel free to share your favorites by posting a comment.
10. Bridget Jones (“Bridget Jones’ Diary”): Bridget, as played by Renee Zellweger, loves her units of alcohol and her cigarettes. And because she’s British, her tendency to knock back more than a few seems cute and charming rather than the sad behavior of a desperate singleton. Well, it does when she’s not wearing pajamas and singing “All by Myself.”
9. Tim Riggins (“Friday Night Lights”): Ah, Riggins. Sweet, drunk, ridiculously hot Tim Riggins. You always had a beer bottle in your hand. And we’ll always have a place for you in our hearts. Texas (and Natty Bo) forever, Tim.
8. Frank the Tank (“Old School”): Frank (Will Ferrell) is the sort of exceptional man who possesses both the courage and blatant idiocy that allows him to abandon his domestic existence in favor of frat parties, beer bongs and going streaking.
7. Coach Morris Buttermaker (“The Bad News Bears”): Billy Bob Thorton did a decent job of playing this beer guzzling slacker in Richard Linklater’s remake of the film. But Walter Matthau really invented the role of a grizzled coach who regularly drinks himself into a stupor but also reward his young team by handing out bottles of beer. Ah, the ‘70s...
6. Willie (“Bad Santa”): Speaking of Thorton, he really did his best work as a no-good, perpetually three-sheets-to-the-wind louse in this black Christmas classic. What’s more disturbing (and darkly amusing) than a soused Santa? (For the record, the trailer below doesn’t do the movie justice.)
5. The entire cast of “Mad Men”: It’s impossible to single out a single character because every single person on this AMC series truly excels at demonstrating a blatant disregard for their livers.
4. The Dude (“The Big Lebowski”): We all know this but it’s worth repeating. No one wears a bathrobe and swills White Russians with more laidback flair than Jeff Bridges.
3. Barney Gumble (“The Simpsons”): At one point, he was known as the Plow King. But really, he’s just the Plowed King. Even Homer comes in second place where “Simpsons” drunkenness is concerned.
2. Nick and Nora Charles (“The Thin Man” films): Long before there was “Mad Men,” we had this pair of elegantly dressed, crime-solving sophisticates who, given their ability to remain witty after roughly 75 martinis, clearly surpassed the tolerance levels of every employee of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce combined.
1. Lucille Bluth (“Arrested Development”): Why did I make Lucille No. 1? Because, as played by the brilliant Jessica Walter, she represents the modern evolution of the persona Nick and Nora Charles pioneered: upper class, always drinking and never at a loss for a barbed comment. But she’s also meaner, more deceitful and completely outrageous. I think we can all agree that only the most exceptional drunkard will sign adoption papers while under the influence.