When you say the word “showdown,” the first thing that might spring to mind is a brawl. But the truth is, some of the best showdowns of all time don’t involve the throwing of a single punch.
Our April theme is SHOWDOWN, and while there have certainly been a number of memorable fight scenes in our favorite franchises over the years, we thought we’d shine the spotlight on a few that don’t resolve themselves violently – in fact, more often than not, laughter ensues or at least a moderate chuckle or two. And many times, despite no drop-kicks or sucker-punches, they’re still pretty darn cool. Enjoy today’s Friday Five of showdowns unlike any others!…
Zoolander: Walk Off Challenge
If ever there was a seething rivalry that was leading up to a big confrontation, it’s the preening and posing male-model nemesis pair of Derek Zoolander and Hansel McDonald. They’re both SO HOT right now, how is this battle of the cheekbones going to resolve itself?! In a big ol’ catwalk face-off, naturally. This one would have been hilarious enough with the likes of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson doing their over-the-top pinup thing that just gets sillier with every sashay. But the fact that the late, great David Bowie makes a surprise appearance to referee the shenanigans – and plays it completely straight the entire time – is the icing on the giggle cake.
Breakin’: Final Dance Battle
If you weren’t around in the mid-1980s, you might have heard about how breakdancing kind of became a craze for a while there. We’re not kidding, it was a crazy craze, with every other kid on your block attempting to learn how to do the Helicopter on a piece of cardboard in the driveway. The fact that multiple breakdancing movies (see also: Beat Street) were released during this time only emphasizes its popularity. None of them were all that great though Breakin’ seems to be most fans’ favorite, particularly as it features genuine break legends Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers and Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones; this showdown, with Lucinda Dickey’s ballet-trained upstart joining in to deliver the win, is a time-capsule banger. With bonus Ice-T! (If you’re wondering about that notoriously titled sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo… don’t. Just don’t.)
The Princess Bride: Battle of Wits
It is only after the Dread Pirate Roberts has bested two champions – the master swordsman Inigo Montoya, and the physically imposing strongman Fezzik – that his pursuit of Princess Buttercup takes a turn for the less violent. Well, at first anyway; this is a challenge that involves potential death by poisoning for whoever is the loser, after all. But in order to win, Roberts (psst SPOILER… secretly our hero, Westley) and the snarky outlaw Vizzini must attempt to out-wit one another on the mystery of which cup contains the poison. This interlude from Rob Reiner’s fantasy-adventure classic might be its most quoted scene (well, after “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”), and the contrast between Wallace Shawn’s smug boisterousness and Cary Elwes’s stone-cold poker face is never not hilarious.
Elf: Snowball Battle
Yes, alright, technically this is a “fight” of some sort… though not the type that youngsters are most typically dragged into by bullies in films. Michael Hobbs would have a hard time holding off a snowball fight against multiple bigger kids in Central Park on his own. Thankfully, his half-brother who grew up at the North Pole is there to deliver a snowball barrage like no other, and Buddy the “elf” is too much of a silly-heart to ever consider something as mean as punching someone, anyway. This scene in the Will Ferrell Christmas-season classic is a pivotal moment where our hero gets his pre-teen sibling on his side. (Leading to the next adorable scene back at Gimbels. “Do… do you like her?”)
West Side Story: Jets vs. Sharks
Again, a caveat: Indeed this film features two tragic acts of violence that mirror, to some extent, the sorrows of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet on which it’s based. Yet, good luck finding anyone who disagrees that the best face-offs in West Side Story are not the ones that happen with the flick of a pocket knife, but rather with the snapping of fingers and sashaying down the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. It remains to be seen how Steven Spielberg will adapt the dance-off of the Jets vs. the Sharks in his upcoming film version, but the first movie adaptation of this musical classic – choreographer and co-director Jerome Robbins won a special Oscar just for the dance numbers – will be hard to follow. (Okay, yes, it ends with a punch-up but THE DANCING…. THE DANCING!!!!)