Alfred Pennyworth is a butler.
Waylon Smithers is a butler.
So what we have here, folks, is a battle of butlers. A butler battle, if you will.
Butlers butt heads! we could say, but we won’t , because why pick the low-hanging fruit?
In a battle of buttling, which of these two gents will reign triumphant? Will it be Batman’s butler? Will it be Burns’ butler? Will it be alliteration, which is just having a field day here?
Let’s find out!
Physicality. Smithers is a character in The Simpsons universe, and thus has four fingers and bug eyes. Alfred has the appearance of a distinguished butler, usually with a thin moustache, and has been portrayed in recent filmes by Michael Caine. Michael Caine is so awesome. Winner? Michael Caine. And, by default, Alfred.
Has a more butler-y name? Don’t you love how adding -y to a noun totally makes it an adjective, absolutely breaking no rules of grammar at all? (What do you mean it doesn’t? Shut up! You’re wrong! Wrong!) Alfred Pennyworth’s name is Alfred Pennyworth, which makes him sound like the proper-est British butler that ever lived, coming from a family of butlers who were named things like Jeeves Pennyworth and Butler Pennyworth. Waylon Smithers’ name is Waylon Smithers, and I think the only reason I think of Smithers as a butler’s name is because of him. Winner? Alfred Pennyworth.
Has a better boss? Alfred’s boss is Batman who, by day, is disguised as Bruce Wayne, ladykilling playboy extraordinaire. At night, he fights crime and often comes home with internal injuries and stuff, which Alfred has to treat. That seems like a lot of work above and beyond your traditional description of “butler.” Smithers’ boss is Mr. Burns who, by day, is disguised as Mr. Burns. Whatever, he’s totally evil, and has even tried taking candy from a baby! It’s got to be hard working for someone that evil, don’t you think? Winner? Nobody. They both have terrible, terrible bosses.
Isn’t actually a butler at all? Smithers is actually an executive assistant to Mr. Burns, but I think butler sounds better. (Alliteration for the win!) Winner? Smithers.
Has a big fat man-crush on his boss? Why, yes, I’m sure they do.
Suffers from a deathly allergy? Waylon Smithers is deathly allergic to bee stings. Alfred is deathly allergic to, I don’t know, the Joker’s poison gas or something. But everyone is, so that hardly counts. Winner? Smithers.
Fights a greater evil? Alongside Batman, Alfred fights the supervillains that populate Gotham City. And by “alongside Batman,” I actually mean “from the relative safety of the Batcave.” Still, that’s more than you and I do. There’s a lot of supervillains in Gotham City, which is totally a magnet for crazy. Or Batman is a magnet for crazy. Whichever. Either way? Lots and lots of evil. Smithers, at Mr. Burns’ side, actually perpetuates a lot of acts of evil himself. On the other hand, he has to deal with Homer Simpson on a daily basis. Winner? It’s a tie.
Speaking of ties, let’s go to the tie-breaker, shall we? Yes, let’s do.
Has better toys to play with when the boss isn’t around? Now, as we all know, Mr. Burns has loads and loads of money. He even once made a thing that blocked out the sun. (Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I can’t remember the proper term for that thing, why do you ask?) So we know that Smithers would have access to all sorts of toys when the boss isn’t around. Except we also know this: the boss never isn’t around. Where Smithers is, Burns is. Also vice versa. Then we have Alfred. And Batman. And the Batmobile. And the Bat-shark repellant. And the Batarangs. And the Batman brand condoms or whatever. Winner? Alfred, because holy bat-toys, Batman!
Overall winner? Alfred Pennyworth, but only just.
Because my desire to see this film is entirely dependent on that one piece of information. If the answer is “Not very long at all,” then I definitely don’t want to see it. If the answer is, “Actually, he’s the star, I don’t know why they wasted all that time in the trailer on Leonardo DiCaprio, to whom time is doing no great favors, looks-wise,” then I might maybe could want to see it.
Yup, that’s where things stand. Balanced on the sharp, sharp ridges of Murphy’s awesome cheekbones.
(Gods, they’re awesome, aren’t they?)
Sure, the special effects are pretty stunning, which is good, because if you’re setting a movie in dreams, they had better be, because whose dreams follow the law of gravity? Or is it laws of gravity? Whatever.
Oh, if you guys didn’t know, Inception is the new movie from Christopher “Memento” Nolan “The Dark Knight” … um … Nolan again.
It’s about people who break into dreams for some reason. I didn’t actually follow much of the trailer, actually, because I was like, omigod, it’s MICHAEL CAINE I love that guy and where’d he go?
Why is Ellen Page there instead?
What happened to Cillian Murphy and his cheekbones?
Why can’t I believe that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is older than 19?
So I wasn’t actually following boring, boring and slightly flabby Leonardo DiCaprio very closely.
And I apologize for that. Really, I do. I truly intended to go into this anti-review knowing what this movie was about.
But how can you stick Cillian Murphy in a trailer AND NOT LET ME KNOW HOW LONG HE’S IN THE FILM?
It’s just not fair.
You know, I’ve always wondered if the Grinch was the only Grinch, like there was once a race of Grinches, and he was the last one or maybe there were others but they just didn’t like him, or if The Grinch was his name.
Not enough to actually find out, though, no siree.
Anyway! Welcome to a near-Christmas edition of Fictional Character Battles! Featuring Ebenezer Scrooge and The Grinch!
(On a related note, was “Ebenezer” ever a popular thing to name your child, or did Dickens just make it up?)
On to the battle of the two Christmas curmudgeons!
Physicality. Man, this category is getting to be a real albatross around my neck. *Sigh.* The Grinch is a green furry guy who doesn’t wear clothing, so is probably closer to animal than human. Also, he was played in a (craptacular) live-action movie by Jim Carrey, who is definitely closer to animal than human. On the other hand, Ebenezer Scrooge was once played by Michael Caine, who not only beat you up and stole your girlfriend, but looked supra-classy while doing it, too. AND he was 65. Winner? Michael Caine … er, Scrooge.
Anti-Christmas spirit ranking. Man, did Scrooge hate Christmas. Did he ever! With the “bah, humbug”-ing and the kicking little orphans in the kneecaps, he was a real …. Crap, I just realized that we describe people who don’t like Christmas as either Scrooges or Grinches. This sucks. Anyway, Scrooge was a jerk who hated Christmas, his employees and the welfare system. (Insert “big business” joke here.) The Grinch? Well, let’s just quote Dr. Seuss, here, shall we? “Every Who Down in Who-ville Liked Christmas a lot… But the Grinch, Who lived just North of Who-ville, Did NOT! The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.” Boy howdy! Of course, Scrooge is just generally unpleasant about the holiday and rude to his cute little nephew, while the Grinch actively tries to ruin Christmas for the Whos down in Who-ville. Winner? The Grinch.
Was terrifyingly portrayed by Jim Carrey? Gods, both of them were. That’s so horrible. Winner? It’s a tie. A horrible, horrible tie.
Had the best supporting cast of characters? Well, the Grinch only ever interacted with the Whos of Who-ville and his really cute dog. Scrooge, however, had an abundance of folk with whom he interacted. From Kermit the Frog to Fozzie Bear, he was surrounded by Muppets. Of course, if you’re not referring to the classic Christmas Carol (the Muppet one!), then he hung out with ghosts, moppets (similar to muppets, but slightly less puppet-y) and some other people. Winner? Scrooge, ’cause anybody who celebrates Christmas with ghosts is my kind of soldier. (It’s a Guided by Voices song. The phrase just popped into my head.)
Biggest Christmas turnaround? Boy, there’s nothing like knowing you’re in for an afterlife of torment and chains to change your mind about the whole “spirit of the season” thing is there? Also, singing Whos do the same thing. Everybody’s hearts grew three sizes that day! Winner? We’re all winners when people feel the Christmas spirit! Also, it’s a tie.
Overall winner? Scrooge, because Michael Caine.
Why do you need to know that? That’s a good question. Mostly, I figure it’s because my opinions are supra-important and everyone should know what they are. Also, it puts this post into some sort of context.
(I should mention you also need to know that I hate those creepy animated films where the people almost look like people, but not quite.)
I shall not be seeing Disney’s A Christmas Carol. Look, the Muppets already did it, and they got Michael Caine, so the Muppets win.
In fact, I was already planning on avoiding it before I even saw the trailer, which is like pre-judging my pre-judging. But for you, my dear readers (you like that? I’m going for a Victorian style today … failing a bit, but you know), I prevailed. Or did I travail? No, I prevailed and watched the trailer, which was a travail in itself.
Because the director directed Back to the Future (Hooray!), Forest Gump (meh) and The Polar Express (GAAAHHHH!). Seriously, they list that he directed The Polar Express like that’s a good thing, and not like it’s the horroriest non-horror movie ever made. I mean, Cripes! Can you imagine being surrounded by that many Tom Hanks(es)? It’s horrifying, isn’t it? You’re going to have trouble sleeping at night because what if your spouse/significant other/mommy comes to peek in at you and looks like Tom Hanks! Gah! I say again: GAH!
(And, I might add, it’s an animated Tom Hanks that looks more like a robot ate Tom Hanks than Tom Hanks itself, so it’s even more creepy.)
So that’s a mark against Disney’s A Christmas Carol.
Then they went and gave the starring role to Jim Carrey. Whom I hate. Whom is even creepier (no, wait, maybe that should be who). Who is even creepier as an animated character than Tom Hanks was.
Good work, Disney! You bastards.
There’s plenty of Christmas Carols out there, and the best one of those is The Muppet Christmas Carol. Because it has Michael Caine. Also Muppets.
Oh, or you could watch the classic black and white one, whatever. Just don’t watch this, that’s all I’m saying.
Oooh, and also, you should remember how A Christmas Carol begins.
“Marley was dead, to begin with…. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”
Gods, what a great beginning.