Join 3,524 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Because the best comedy is tragedy
October 25, 2006 9:55 AM   Subscribe

PsychExperimentFilter: Suggest some funny and sad death scenes from recent (last 15-20 years) films. Bonus points for equally funny and sad non-death scenes to use as control.

I'm ta'ing an experimental social psychology class and some of my students are running an experiment where they would like to induce positive and negative moods via film clips. The clincher is we need: a funny death scene, a sad death scene, a funny control scene (no death, preferably similar to the funny death scene) and a sad control scene (no death).

Any suggestions? We've come up with a few, but nothing stellar yet.
posted by Smegoid to Media & Arts (47 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Sad: hanging from Dancer in the Dark.
posted by subtle-t at 10:03 AM on October 25, 2006


Hilarious: Graham Chapman's chosen execution method of being chased off a cliff by topless women from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
posted by saladin at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2006


You might try Harold & Maude for at least some reference...
posted by Carnage Asada at 10:13 AM on October 25, 2006


Funny: Groundhog's day. The montage of suicide attempts.

Sad: My Girl. Oh my god, the part after the boy is dead and the girl is trying to talk to him at the funeral. That could melt a glacier.
posted by Syntoad at 10:17 AM on October 25, 2006


Funny: The various death scenes involving the old chief in Little Big Man. "Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't."
posted by LarryC at 10:21 AM on October 25, 2006


I second the My Girl. Also when she rushes to the doctor to complain she must be having a heart attack right after she's received the news. Also Terms of Endearment, when Debra Winger says goodbye to her kids.

I laughed in Pulp Fiction when they accidentally shot the guy in the back seat.
posted by routergirl at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2006


The hard part about a death scene being sad is that often you have to be invested in the character to perceive it as sad. A friend of mine did a similar experiment a few years ago, and it was incredibly difficult to come up with scenes. Often you had to use movies people had already seen before (so they had the background necessary for the feeling), but weren't desensitized to. Anyway, here are my suggestions.

Sad death scenes: Jenny's death in Forrest Gump, (end of) Braveheart
Sad control: (end of) Shindler's List

Funny death scenes: Pulp Fiction? When Indiana Jones shoots the sword-weilding guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark? switching of the poisons in The Princess Bride?

Not sure about a funny control, though.
posted by parilous at 10:30 AM on October 25, 2006


Funny death: The scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Harrison Ford whips out his gun and shoots the guy who was artistically brandishing knives at him.

Tragic death: there are several of these in Paradise Road, a movie about Japanese concentration camp inmates. One woman is doused with gasoline and set alight.
posted by orange swan at 10:34 AM on October 25, 2006


The funniest death scene I've ever seen is in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", in the Cairo segment, where Indiana shoots the guy with the sword.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:35 AM on October 25, 2006


Man, this thread needs a spoiler alert in the tags.

Funny death: In Mulholland Drive, when the leather-jacketed thug kills the vacuuming janitor.

Funny death: In Reservoir Dogs, when Michael Madsen (I think) says "What, that cop?" and shoots his ass stone cold dead while the cop is bound to a chair.

Sad death: In Cache, when the Algerian guy commits suicide.

Sad death: The baby in Trainspotting.

Funny non-death: In Office Space when the guy gets hit by a car as he's backing out of the driveway.

Sad non-death: In Summer of Sam, at the very end when the Adrien Brody character gets the crap kicked out of him thanks directly to the utter and complete weakness of the Leguizamo character.
posted by scratch at 10:46 AM on October 25, 2006


Funny: K-K-K-Ken running Otto over with the steamroller in A Fish Called Wanda. (ok, so he didn't really die but they don't need to know that)

Funny: That little kid hittin a foul ball that killed the mother in A Prayer for Owen Meany. How could anyone NOT laugh at that?

Funny: Anything featuring The Wilhelm scream.

Sad: Medic Wade in Saving Private Ryan.
posted by bondcliff at 10:49 AM on October 25, 2006


Funny: Jack Black's character getting his arm blown off in The Jackal.



No?
posted by odinsdream at 10:59 AM on October 25, 2006


The saddest death I've ever seen and I'm a film fanatic, was Theodore Donald "Donny" Kerabatsos' death in The Big Lebowski.

I can't fully describe why, but I hate it. It's a great scene and entirely fitting for the film, but fuck. Why the fuck did Donny have to die?

Also it's not a death scene (death is implied and inevitable), but the closing shot of the Futurama episode Jurassic Bark is enough to crush any kind hearted dog lover.
posted by Science! at 10:59 AM on October 25, 2006


Sad: Dead Man Walking
Funny: in K-9 (but then the dog didn't really die so . . . )
Sad/super touching: The Notebook
posted by Sassyfras at 11:03 AM on October 25, 2006


Some great pics here. Thanks a lot (and for anyone not yet chimed in, keep em coming)!

Also, yeah you're right parilous, that's a big issue. But we'll be piloting them beforehand to make sure they have some effect on mood.

Thanks everyone!
posted by Smegoid at 11:06 AM on October 25, 2006


Funny (or lightly-treated) deaths: Sad deaths: Can probably come up with plenty more, but all this HTML tagging is doing my head in! The list probably got 10 times longer while I was writing this...

On preview: yup.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 11:15 AM on October 25, 2006


Two from Kubrick:

Funny: Slim Pickens and everyone else in the world in Dr. Strangelove. [YouTube]

Sad: Bryan in Barry Lyndon. [YouTube]
posted by Espy Gillespie at 11:26 AM on October 25, 2006


In Reservoir Dogs, when Michael Madsen (I think) says "What, that cop?" and shoots his ass stone cold dead while the cop is bound to a chair.

That was Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn). And more shocking than funny, IMO.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 11:27 AM on October 25, 2006


Sad: The Adventures of Baron Muchausen has a very poignant death scene and the requiem during the funeral is fabulous.
posted by plinth at 11:39 AM on October 25, 2006


Science! I can't believe you reminded me of Jurassic Bark. That was the saddest thing I ever saw in my entire life. I'm tearing up right now.
posted by The Bellman at 12:04 PM on October 25, 2006


Spoilers ahead

sad: Turtles Can Fly
sad: when Brooks hangs himself in Shawshank
sad: Ratzo in Midnight Cowboy
sad: the bells in Breaking the Waves
sad: when any dog dies in any movie I cry

Funny: Fargo has some kinda funny death stuff
posted by beccaj at 12:15 PM on October 25, 2006


The death of the warden in The Count of Monte Cristo was kinda humorous. The two helper guys were looking over the cliff, and one says to the other "well we could have handled that a bit better."

I also found the death of the Brad Pitt character in Meet Joe Black at the very beginning funny. Funny because I really wasn't expecting it.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:18 PM on October 25, 2006


Funny: Paul Reubens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie).

Sad: The Champ, Breaking the Waves, Old Yeller

And I second the Harold and Maude recommendation. It' s got all kinds of death.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:18 PM on October 25, 2006


Ohh and some sad stuff-- CRASH
posted by beccaj at 12:19 PM on October 25, 2006


Not movies, but TV: Six Feet Under. There's a death at the beginning of every episode. The funniest one I can recall is the one where the Christian lady thinks the rapture is coming because a bunch of helium-filled sex dolls are flying in the sky, and she runs out into traffic. There's also some incredibly sad ones.
posted by matildaben at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2006


addition: West Side Story
posted by beccaj at 12:37 PM on October 25, 2006


funny: the alligator scene in Adaptation
posted by SBMike at 12:43 PM on October 25, 2006


Sad:
Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) in American Beauty
Bubba Blue in Forrest Gump
Shelby (Julia Roberts) in Steel Magnolias
Charlotte in Charlotte's Web

Funny:
How about some henchmen deaths from Austin Powers 3?
Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz
Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi
Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman) in 9 to 5
Paul Reubens character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
posted by unceman at 12:44 PM on October 25, 2006


sad: the last scene in Gallipoli.
posted by plinth at 12:46 PM on October 25, 2006


Sad: The Green Mile
Sad: Shadowlands, especially when C.S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) breaks down crying talking about it.

Funny: I thought of that outtake in the credits for Rush Hour 2 when some bad guy goes flying out the window and Chris Tucker says something like, "Well, that dude ain't gonna be in Rush Hour 3!"
Funny: Star Trek III, when the Klingons beam onto the Enterprise after the self-destruct has been activated, and they don't realize why the computer is counting down out loud.
(ST III also includes a pretty sad one when Capt. Kirk's son is stabbed to death. "Filthy Klingon bastards, you've killed my son!")
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2006


Also it's not a death scene (death is implied and inevitable), but the closing shot of the Futurama episode Jurassic Bark is enough to crush any kind hearted dog lover.

Oh god, that's the reason I can't even watch that episode anymore. I've actually cried just talking about that scene.

sad (and dorky): Spock in Wrath of Khan
funny: Frank Grimes on The Simpsons
posted by MsMolly at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2006


Your interpretation might be different, but I find the "getting hit by the bus" scene in Final Destination to be hilarious. Basically, the girl is yelling at two guys; the last thing she says "then you can just drop fucking dead!" and turns to walk away, right into the street and the path of a speeding bus.
posted by Godbert at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2006


Possible sad control scenes:
"In the Company of Men," when the deaf woman realizes that Aaron Eckhart doesn't actually like her, it's just been a game.

"Castaway," when Tom Hanks is on his raft toward the end, and Winston is lost overboard. Good lord, it was gut-renching watching him cry over that volleyball. Or later in the movie when he finds out that his old girlfriend had married while he was missing.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:14 PM on October 25, 2006


Sad control scene:

This is highly corny to admit but the scene where America Ferrara yells at her father on the phone in "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" slayed me.

Also, "Iris" has many incredibly sad scenes of someone dealing a loved one (in this case, the writer Iris Murdoch) having Alzheimer's.
posted by faunafrailty at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2006


Ooh, Six Feet Under. (Spoilers.)

Hilarious death: Series 1 Ep 10. A guy sitting at his table ranting on and on about his day at work to his wife who's cooking breakfast in the background. She dishes up the food, smacks him on the head with the frying pan, and calmly sits down to eat her breakfast.

Saddest death: The next episode. A baby who dies of SIDS. It's filmed from his perspective, with worried parents looking down over him. They leave him alone and his eyes gently shut... Man, did I sob at that one.
posted by bent back tulips at 1:45 PM on October 25, 2006


little miss sunshine?
posted by maloon at 2:13 PM on October 25, 2006


My favorite funny Six Feet Under death: a porn star is talking to and cooing over her beloved cat as she gets ready for a date. She climbs into the bath and the cat nonchalantly knocks her hot rollers into the water, then casually cleans his paw as his mistress is electrocuted.

Then you've got the six-year-old who accidentally shoots himself after finding his mom's gun under the bed, the guy who's sliced up by a giant flour mixer, the old man who wakes up and finds his wife has died in her sleep...and that's just the first season. SFU has more than enough funny and sad deaths to meet your experimental needs.
posted by granted at 2:58 PM on October 25, 2006


sad: when Brooks hangs himself in Shawshank

Seconded.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:13 PM on October 25, 2006


There should have been a big "Spoiler" disclaimer at the top of this post. I only read a few responses and I've already ruined more movies for myself. . .
posted by Cochise at 3:15 PM on October 25, 2006


That was meant as a joke, not a complaint.
posted by Cochise at 3:17 PM on October 25, 2006


Sad: the final scene of Blackadder Goes Forth.

Funny: when Hungry Joe gets hit by the plane in Catch-22.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:36 PM on October 25, 2006


There should have been a big "Spoiler" disclaimer at the top of this post. I only read a few responses and I've already ruined more movies for myself. . .

Actually, on that note, I think it'd be nice if you didn't choose scenes that were super-important to the plots of their movies for those (like, um, me) that are sensitive to being spoiled.

(Not to belabor the point, but that's another reason why scenes from Six Feet Under are good choices - they generally don't have much to do with the actual storyline, particularly in the first season).
posted by granted at 4:19 PM on October 25, 2006


Funny AND sad: the funeral at the end of The Royal Tenenbaums.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2006


I realize this one was supposed to be sad, but Sophia Coppola's passing in the third Godfather movie provoked a burst of laughter in the theater audience where I saw it. ("Da-dee?" *thunk*)
posted by maryh at 5:30 PM on October 25, 2006


Sad:
- Li Mu Bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
- Boromir in Fellowship
- Hartigan in Sin City
- Old Yeller...

Funny:
- Paul Rubens in the Buffy movie.
- Pulp Fiction
- anything with zombies and Bruce Campbell
posted by lovecrafty at 6:03 PM on October 25, 2006


Funny: Paul Reubens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie).

for completeness you need the post-credit (or maybe mid-credits - I forget) additional ugh from this as well.
posted by phearlez at 12:01 PM on October 26, 2006


Serenity.

We're laughing at Wash, the instant before he dies. And that is sad.
posted by filmgeek at 9:39 PM on October 27, 2006


« Older It's that time of year again.....   |  Meta Halloween; Need Costume I... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.