Don't thank me for this week's super scatological Cinematical Seven -- thank Tracy Morgan, who suffers through the latest in a rich Hollywood heritage of increasingly icky cinematic poop jokes in Neil LaBute's memorial-gone-wrong comedy, Death at a Funeral. (Warning: this post is not for the faint-hearted or the squeamish. Enjoy!)
In Death at a Funeral, Chris Rock stars as the put-upon eldest son of a family in mourning whose patriarch's death brings friends and relatives together in memoriam over the course of one crazy day. Tracy Morgan co-stars as Norman, a family friend stuck with the task of assisting the crotchety old Uncle Russell (Danny Glover), which includes a certain over-the-top scene set in the bathroom. If you've seen the original British film (of which this is a pretty close scene-by-scene remake), you already know what's coming. And yes, you should be scared. Very scared.
I have a problem when the poop escapes the privacy of the restroom. Or, more specifically, when it leaves the safely contained confines of the porcelain throne. That "candy in the diaper" game people play at baby showers? Just about the most perverse thing a group of grown-ups could do. Certain things should never escape their home; poop is at the top of that list. So I truly feel for Mr. Morgan, whose relatively restrained, funny turn in Death at a Funeral is now forever overshadowed by the brown oatmeal-like chunks that cling to his chin for the better part of the film.
But lest I be mistaken for someone who is patently opposed to the poop joke (in truth, I can appreciate them when done right), here are seven of my personal favorite movie poop jokes of all time.
Dumb & Dumber (1994)
Ah, laxatives. Their power is undeniable, the comic potential endless -- especially when someone unwittingly takes A LOT of it. And they go on a kinda-date with a hot chick. And have to use her toilet. Which is broken. Like everything in Dumb & Dumber, the moment itself is loud and over-exaggerated, but the joke itself keeps building, with each new revelation making the whole situation even funnier as the scene progresses. (Click for the full scene.)
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Every single Austin Powers flick has some element of the poop and fart joke; Mike Myers seems to have a healthy appreciation for the stuff. But while the latter two films mostly involve the disgusting Fat Bastard, I much prefer the simplicity of the "Number 2" joke in the first film, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, in which Austin sits down in a stall only to be interrupted by Dr. Evil henchman Patty O'Brien and his charm bracelet of death. Tom Arnold gives one of his best (read: least irritating) performances as an overly friendly tourist who overhears the struggle and offers his emotional support.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan(2006)
In the priceless dinner scene in Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy documentary, the joke isn't really about what's in the bag, but the awkwardness that Borat's wealthy Southern hosts display as they attempt to mask their disbelief behind rigid social etiquette. The best part comes as Cohen plays ignorant in the upstairs bathroom with his well-meaning hostess before turning her dinner party upside down; like many of his other unwitting victims, the outraged dinner guests filed a lawsuit against Cohen. I give him bonus points for pulling the most original poop joke I've ever seen. (Clip unavailable, so check out the trailer below.)
When a Baby Ruth bar is thrown into a crowded swimming pool, mass panic ensues as the swimmers mistake it for the dreaded Code Brown... and as director Harold Ramis films the chaos like a scene out of Jaws, the innocent bar of chocolate develop an air of menace and starts looking like the real thing. Later, Bill Murray's Carl Spackler drains the pool, finds the faux-doodie, and takes a bite proclaiming, "It's no big deal!"
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
This is why Jack Bauer never makes a pit stop. The bathroom is a vulnerable place, especially when there's a bomb attached to your toilet that'll go off once you stand up. And while Murtaugh (Danny Glover, who spends much of the aforementioned Death at a Funeral in similar fashion) would like to keep the whole affair quiet, soon he's got the combined forces of the police, paramedics, and bomb squad in his face.
Problem Child 2 (1991)
It may not come to mind in your recollections of great movie poop jokes, but this is one from my personal vault of childhood favorites. (Glimpse it at the 7:20 mark in the clip reel below.) Amid the cornucopia of various gross-out jokes in this sequel was a scene in which young ginger troublemaker Junior and his newfound soul mate Trixie flush a firecracker down a toilet that explodes with such force that it blows their obnoxious principal (Gilbert Gottfried) sky high in another stall. (While we're talking Problem Child 2, that barf scene's a classic in its own right that I'll have to save for another time.)
One Day... (AKA That Michel Gondry short with the poop) (2001)
I close with a gem you may not have had the pleasure of watching before, since it appeared on director Michel Gondry's Director's Label collection of short films and music videos. One day, Michel Gondry (playing himself) is followed out of the bathroom by his own giant, human-sized turd (played by David Cross). At first The Turd just wants to reconnect, but as Gondry resists he chases him down the street shouting "Murderer! J'accuse!" They spend the day getting to know each other and then, well, things get worse.
I know what you're thinking: Where's the American Pie III? The Team America (uncut)? The Divine eating you-know-what in Pink Flamingos? That's just not how I roll; I much prefer poop jokes remain sanitary and contained, if they're going to be made at all -- and we all know Hollywood is going to keep cracking them as long as lowbrow comedy continues to exist. But that's just me. If you like this sort of thing, visit the aptly named Poop Report, a site run by scatology specialists whose expertise on the subject is frankly a little disturbing, but I guess everyone's got their something, right? Chime in below and share your thoughts.