Photo: New Line Cinema
Everyone loves a good prank. Well, except if you’re on the receiving end of it. As far as Hollywood is concerned, Jackass: The Movie may be the ultimate example of pranks on the big screen. But pranks are a popular device in fictional films as well, and audiences have been witnessing them and their unpredictable outcomes pretty much as long as there have been films to watch. Some of our favorite movies over the years have featured elaborate pranks aided by talented writers and big budgets. Here, we rank the 10 greatest movie pranks of all time.
10. Porky’s (1982)
Florida will always be a curiosity, and as far as movie pranks go, is the setting of one of the most bizarre. It includes a prostitute, a squeaky bed, a shack full of naked, lily white teenaged male athletes, and one furious black guy wielding a fake blood-soaked machete. Though Porky’s definitely holds the distinction as the sex comedy to end all others, it boasts surprisingly earnest narrative moments, as is evidenced by the ripple effects of this caught-with-your-pants-down prank.
9. Stand By Me (1986)
In this coming-of-age classic, we know that Wil Wheaton’s Gordie has a reputation as a gifted writer, but it isn’t until he narrates one of his stories campfire-side that we learn just how talented he really is. The entirety of his original tale is one glorious prank. It’s the tale of Davie Hogan, an obese, bullied youngster who enters a pie-eating contest — a seemingly normal and innocuous thing for a lad his age to do. However, before the festivities begin, he consumes an entire bottle of castor oil and a raw egg. With the contest underway, the boy’s stomach can no longer contain all of its contents, and he vomits up the pies in full view and color of the other contestants and audience members — most of whom are tormentors of his to one degree on another. This leads to a barf-a-thon where everyone is vomiting disgustingly and humiliatingly, all to Davie’s delight.
8. Dazed and Confused (1993)
One of the things we learned from Dazed and Confused, was that, in the late 1970s, upperclassmen could pretty much paddle the asses of incoming freshmen publicly — at least in God-fearing Texas — without any repercussions. Although, in this 1993 high school masterpiece, tables are indeed turned. The prank victim? A baby-faced and surprisingly unstiff Ben Affleck as a second-time senior whose excessive spanking spurs the undergrads to revolt. Set up to deliver the paddling of a prized target, he gets drenched with a can of paint instead, and learns his true placement in the social hierarchy among his piers as an extra comeuppance.
7. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Most of the pranks on our list are delivered as part of some kind of revenge, and what better movie to represent this practice than one with the actual word in its title? Revenge of the Nerds depicts a back-and-forth of abuses and retaliations between a college football team and the campus nerds unlucky enough to have found themselves in their crosshairs. As a result, pranks abound, but the best one involves the jocks’ jockstraps dosed in liquid heat massage oil. This tomfoolery may not be the most elaborate, but it sure shows balls.
6. The Help (2011)
Underneath, not every chocolate pie is a sumptuous treat. The Help tells the story of the difficulties black domestics faced at the hands of their white employers, particularly the female homemakers in Civil Rights-era Mississippi. When a young, compassionate white woman wants to turn their stories of hardship into a book for the world to see, it also opens them up to the threat of retaliation at home. But one maid, Minny, has a bit of insurance against harm directed toward her and her peers. To avenge being fired for no good reason and then falsely accused of stealing by the evilest housewife, she brought her former boss a beloved pie as a peace offering. After watching her greedily eat two slices, Minny confesses that a special ingredient of this particular pie was her own excrement. A fact that, if ever revealed, would lead to her social suicide among fellow elites.
5. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Solving your friend’s murder is serious business, and when you’re a cop from Detroit, you’re not going to let a pair of Beverly Hills’ finest get in your way while investigating on their turf. In this 1984 action/comedy blockbuster, Eddie Murphy plays Axel Foley, a fast-talking, side-splitting cop — and role that made him a superstar. Two hapless policemen are tasked with tailing the unwelcome but wily Foley, and it’s an ingenious prank that leaves them in his dust. Three bananas in one tailpipe is all that’s needed here to render their vehicle useless, giving Foley all the room he needs for a leisurely getaway.
4. Neighbors (2014)
When a hard-partying fraternity moves next door, it’s only a matter of time before life turns into one long hell week. In the 2014 hit comedy Neighbors, Mac and Kelly, a young married couple with a baby daughter, find that out the hard way. When the conflict between the two houses escalates into all out war, mean-spirited pranks abound. The funniest, perhaps, involves stolen airbags which, when placed on an office chair, blasts its user way up into the rafters. Definitely something interesting to talk about at the water cooler the next day.
3. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
Dumb and Dumber follows two of the greatest dimwits in movie history across the country in a determined attempt to return a mystery suitcase to one’s dream girl. Once she is tracked down, true friend Harry moves in to help sell her on the lovelorn Lloyd and forms a friendship with her in the process. This does not go over well with Lloyd, who spikes Harry’s drink with a heavy dose of laxative before he heads off to see her again. The Farrelly Brothers would go on to treat us to one hysterically gross-out comedic moment after the next in their subsequent films, but here, in their directorial debut, we are treated to the most amazing defecation scene ever created.
2. Carrie (1976)
Bottom line: don’t pick on the telekinetic girl, particularly the one with the maniacally religious mother. While the fallout from the other pranks on our list may hover somewhere within the zone of appropriateness, the infamous one depicted at the end of 1976’s Carrie is literally taken to a hellacious level. The cool kids are determined to deliver the most humiliating abuse possible to their reliably helpless target, which includes an improbable prom date, a rigged vote for the coveted his and hers crowns, and a bucket of pig’s blood set high above center stage and ready to come down with the tug of a rope. Come down it does, proceeded by a pent-up wrath long repressed deep inside this timid outsider’s soul. An eventful prom for certain, and one you’d best be advised to miss.
1. Dirty Work (1998)
Nobody can make the words “dead hooker” sound as satisfying as Norm MacDonald. In Dirty Work, his character’s Mitch chooses revenge as his livelihood, which usually manifests itself as some kind of public prank. The most hilarious is where he interrupts shady used car dealer Anton Phillips’ live TV commercial by pointing out the there is a dead hooker in the trunk of the car he is showcasing. As the trunks of all the cars on camera pop open, lifeless hookers are revealed inside each one. Even though the hookers are just playing dead, MacDonald kills with his matter-of-fact proclamations otherwise.