Thursday October 20, 2011
Sure, we've all seen the "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally (in Katz's Delicatessen) dozens of times. But there are countless other memorable restaurant scenes that are just as deserving of our attention. And though many celebrities would not be caught dead ingesting food in public in real life, they do a fairly convincing job faking it (or acting, if you will) in the following scenes.
In 5 Easy Pieces Jack Nicholson plays a classically trained pianist who opts for a life of working in oil fields, beer, bowling and general disaffected drifting. When his father falls ill, he must return home and face the music, so to speak (a family of musicians who prefer a more refined lifestyle). On the way, Nicholson's character displays some impressive semantic skills at a diner to circumvent a stubborn waitress and a menu that lacks toast (as a side).
Keeping with the theme of surly service, Steve Martin makes a cameo in The Muppet Movie as the waiter at a "romantic" dinner for Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Martin walks a fine line between his usual stand-up silliness and an almost believable portrayal of a waiter unable to effectively mask his contempt for both his job and the customer. Most memorable is his presentation of the wine: "Sparkling Muscatel, one of the finest wines of Idaho."
The tables have turned for Steve Martin in Carl Reiner's The Jerk, as this time he plays the rube attempting to order wine at a French restaurant. The newly-moneyed Navin Johnson requests "No more 1966 ... bring us some fresh wine. The freshest you've got. This year's." After that matter is settled, he must shelter his wife (a hilarious Bernadette Peters) from the horrors on the plate before her. (No embedded clip this time: follow the link)
Food and restaurants play an integral role in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Between discussions centering on a Royale with cheese, cold-blooded speeches wrapped around bites of a Big Kahuna Burger, and foiling an attempted restaurant heist, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) seem to have food on the brain. However, perhaps the most interesting restaurant scene in the film takes place at Jack Rabbit Slim's, a "wax museum with a pulse." Who wouldn't want a $5 milkshake and a Durward Kirby Burger served "bloody as hell" by a disinterested Steve Buscemi dressed as Buddy Holly?
And finally, John Cusack plays Lane Meyer, a sad-sack, recently dumped high school student - what a stretch - in Better Off Dead. Yet another reason to be mopey, Lane works a demeaning job at a fast food joint, Pig Burger, with an ornery boss and a less-than-dignified pig hat. Here, his imagination gets him in trouble again in a bizarre Frankenstein homage featuring a claymation, electric-guitar playing hamburger singing Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some." Makes perfect sense.