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The Things Movies Get Wrong About Alcohol

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Movies love a good drinking scene, and they sure aren’t picky. Cinema and TV are chock full of scenes of drinking, drinkers and drunks. And while there’s no harm in most of it, some of the drinking tropes are passing out bad advice left and right. That stops now.

Grab a drink and settle in: Time to separate fact from fiction.


1. Drinking an Old Fashioned makes you suave, cool and handsome.

Image: npr.org

Wouldn’t it be great if it were that easy? Look, there’s nothing wrong with knowing your classics or having a go-to drink order. Actually, it’s pretty respectable. What it isn’t, though, is a “one weird tip” trick to becoming Don Draper or Ryan Gosling. If you figure out how to do that, please email us.

2. Shaken, not stirred.


Though James Bond is responsible for bringing us the Vesper, Ian Fleming’s super spy is better known as the progenitor of one of the most widely traveled mixological untruths: that a Martini ought to be shaken, not stirred.
For the record, it shouldn’t. Without splitting too many hairs, just remember this simple rule: if it’s all spirits, it’s all stirred. A shaken Martini is over-diluted, cloudier and just plain wrong. Maybe that’s why Bond has finally given up and switched to beer?

3. It’s possible to win a drinking contest.

Image: blogspot.com

In real life, even if you win a drinking contest, you still lose.

Throughout movie history, characters have gone head to head—or liver to liver—in drinking contests, usually as a quick way to show what a badass they really are. One of the best examples comes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, in a divey joint deep in the mountains of Nepal.

This myth has found its way into several other summer blockbusters, as well: Legolas turning the tables on Gimli in Lord of the Rings and Thor downing Boilermakers.

It pops up in many westerns, too. In the great 1973 spaghetti comedy My Name is Nobody, Terrence Hill ups the ante by adding a shooting challenge.

If you’ve ever seen—or participated in—a drinking contest, you know reality looks quite different. Come to think of it, the end of a marathon drinking contest doesn’t look all that different than the end of an actual marathon.

4. Being a career alcoholic is charming and easy.

Image: nj.com

From Arrested Development’s Lucille Bluth to Walter Matthau in Bad News Bears and Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, the camera has a way of making even the most desperate problem drinkers into something charming or at least comic.

Hell, even when they aren’t charming, they often pull it together at the last minute: remember who finally saved the day in 1996’s Independence Day? Yes, drunk crop-duster and alien abductee Randy Quaid. In real life, Quaid sleeps through Bill Pullman’s speech and Earth is destroyed.

5. Flairtending is cool.

Image: kissmygrass.com

No. No, it isn’t.

6. Bar fights are fun and no one important ever gets hurt.

Image: starwars.com

How could a dark, cramped space full of drunks throwing wild punches, chairs and bottles end badly?

The list of movies that feature bar fights is huge, probably because they are really fun to watch. They come in a variety of flavors, too.

There’s the quick and deadly bar fight: the iconic cantina scene in Star Wars. There’s also the knock down, drag out, two man slug fest. This is best epitomized by the back-alley brawls between Mickey Rourke (doing a solid Bukowski) and his bartender in Barfly (it’s like a whiskey-soaked version of the They Live fight).

Best of all, though, is the total anarchy of the take-no-prisoners “whole room” brawl. It’s so much fun to watch, Patrick Swayze made an entire movie about it, but it also pops up in projects as diverse as The Pirates of the Caribbean, Terminator 2, and the animated children’s film The Great Mouse Detective.

In real life, bar fights are messy and unpredictable. And they make it hard to enjoy your beverage, man.

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