• Catfight

Cinema Smackdowns: 5 of the funniest film fights

Benjamin Rabinovich | 16 Feb 2017

Glasgow Film Festival’s screening of Catfight, in which two former college friends (Sandra Oh and Anne Heche) fight each other after an awkward encounter, got us thinking about the funniest, most ridiculous film fights

There is something timeless and funny about watching people who aren’t good at fighting trying to hurt each other. Maybe it’s the everyman aspect – the pulled hamstrings, non-existent stamina and even less muscle tone – that appeals to us. Perhaps it’s the pointlessness that make these skirmishes more thrilling than any CGI superheroes battle of the Gods would do. In honour of Onur Tukel’s Catfight, where pettiness and resentment crescendo to an almighty punch-up, here are five other examples of hilarious fights.

Dale & Saul v Red (Pineapple Express)

The decade that gave us the gritty pugilistic realism of Jason Bourne and Daniel Craig’s Bond also birthed its antithesis: schlubby stoners trying to hit each other with bongs. It’s the little things that make this fight between stoners on the run Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (James Franco) and dealer Red (Danny McBride) so funny: the timeouts, the handshakes, Red’s oral herpes.

Their failure to cause any actual serious damage to each other, coupled with ridiculous pre-fight threats like, “I’m looking through you too, and I see I need to paint the fucking spot on the wall behind you,” make it all feel hilariously innocent and sweet.

Mark Darcy v Daniel Cleaver (Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Mr. Darcy and Hugh Grant struggling to kick each other above knee level outside a Greek restaurant in Borough; to paraphrase Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace, fighting doesn’t get more middle class than this. Don’t be fooled however, despite the men’s inability to be anything less than perfect gentlemen throughout – profusely apologising to the diners and politely pausing to sing a birthday song – this may be the most macho fight ever. They are fighting for the love of a woman while the Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men is playing! If that’s not pure, uncut testosterone, we don’t know what is.

John v Ted (Ted)

We’re not sure what’s funnier about this scene, Mark Wahlberg’s John getting viciously beaten by his teddy bear best friend, Ted (Seth MacFarlane) or the fact that it was filmed like Paul Greengrass films his Jason Bourne fights. The camera shakes uncontrollably as it tries to keep up with the brawl. There is no music.

The only sound we hear is the sound of a stuffed toy fist making contact with human flesh. It’s brutal, visceral. Insane. We can’t help but feel sorry for John as he cries and begs Ted to stop whipping his bottom with a TV antenna. We also can’t help crying, but with laughter.

Inspector Clouseau v Cato (The Return of the Pink Panther)

Of all the surprise attacks on Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) by his manservant, Cato (Burt Kwouk) in the Pink Panther films, this has got to be the best. It bears the hallmarks of classic Pink Panther fights: slow motion, indirect victims, property damage. But the funniest thing about the fight is not the fight itself, but everything before it. How long did Cato work at the Japanese restaurant? Did he apply for the waitress position? When did he create his own fortune cookie and just why did he think it made sense?

Borat v Azamat (Borat)

Where once Helen of Troy had the face that launched a thousand ships, now it’s a picture of Pamela Anderson in an old Baywatch booklet that inspires a showdown of near mythical proportions. Borat’s fight with his producer Azamat makes explicit the homoerotic subtext of two men fighting. It’s the sort of fight where the 69 position is a wrestling move, and horse penis dildos and the cameramen are weapons. The sort of fight that cannot be contained by four walls, that needs to breathe, to be witnessed by strangers in a lift; in hotel lobbies; at a business conference. Of all of cinema's ridiculous fights, this may be the best.


Catfight screens at Glasgow Film Festival: 18 Feb, GFT, 9pm | 22 Feb, GFT, 1.10pm

Read more about Glasgow Film Festival in The CineSkinny – in print at Glasgow Film Festival venues and online at theskinny.co.uk/film/cineskinny

Follow Ben Rabinovich on Twitter at @benjyrabs