Tossin’ It Out There: What are YOUR favorite movie mental breakdowns?

Crazy!! But that’s how it gooooes… Millions of people, liv– Oh. Sorry. I thought I had broken myself of that habit.

So anyway, this week’s tossing it out there revolves around mental breakdowns! Because this blogging stuff isย I was watching a certain movie that shall not be named until I post about it tomorrow (don’t want to give away the surprise)ย about a Ballerina who is performing Swan Lake and who starts to go a little cuckoo. I know, I hate keeping you in suspense, but come back tomorrow! You can find out what movie I was talking about then!

But it got me thinking that people going crazy has been done in movies a lot… and that it would be a good one to talk about. Not so much “Rain Man”, “I am Sam”, “Happy Jack” mental disorder now… I’m talking “The Shining”, “The Amityville Horror”, “Full Metal Jacket” going crazy movies!

Doesn’t have to be full movie. Can just be a part of a movie, or a really good scene or two maybe if you like. Big fan of Richard Dreyfuss losing his shit in “What About Bob?” hit it. Big fan of “The Room”? “You are tearing me apart Lisa!!” Hit it. (In fact, bonus points for “The Room”)

Let me hear it!! What are you favorite movies and movie moments about people going off the rails?!


37 thoughts on “Tossin’ It Out There: What are YOUR favorite movie mental breakdowns?

  1. Dreyfuss losing it in What About Bob? is indeed a pretty good one. Come to think of it, comedies in general feature some of the best nervous breakdowns. Clark Griswold’s usually good for about one a movie, and while there are only two Vacation films worth watching, both have pretty epic breakdowns.

    Also have to throw out a nod to Dr. Strangelove with General Ripper. Granted, the breakdown was obviously well under way before the movie started, but it was certainly an effective one.

    Less comedically, the dueling breakdowns of the protagonists in Changing Lanes. Both started out the day as sane men. Both ended the day as sane men. Both spent most of the middle of the day being freaking psychotic towards one another.

    But for my favorite — at least off the top of my head — I’ve got to go back to comedy, but a somewhat obscure one. Neighbors, the final collaboration between John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. A quiet nebbish-y guy being driven crazy by a wildman’s antics while his family doesn’t notice (much like What About Bob in that respect). It was written with Belushi in mind for the crazy guy and Aykroyd as the quiet one, but they decided to switch, and it worked brilliantly. Belushi does an incredible job as the timid Earl Keese, and when he finally snaps, it just all comes unglued.

    • In fairness, I haven’t seen “Neighbors” in so long that it’s probably unfair to say I didn’t like it. I think, along with a lot of people, I was probably disappointed in the movie in comparison with the other great comedies SNL alum were putting out then… And I never went back. Maybe I should.

      Strangelove Rules, Kubrick is the bomb (heh. Little Strangelove nod there) Griswolds breakdowns are indeed, legendary.

      “DON’T TOUCH!!”

      Let me say briefly… I liked “Changing Lanes”, too. Were you as surprised as I was? I recall thinking… Wow, that was actually pretty good!

      • Yeah, I think a lot of people were disappointed in Neighbors, and I think comparisons to other movies was a big factor. It’s not the same kind of comedy as the other two Belushi/Aykroyd team-ups, and it’s pretty out-there for comedies of that day and age as well. I think it’s under-rated, but I can see how people would dislike it. I won’t say it’s as good as The Blues Brothers (that’d be a mighty tall order anyway), but I do think it’s worth a second look. (For what it’s worth, Ebert gave it three out of four stars, so it’s not just me.)

        And yes, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Changing Lanes. I wasn’t expecting that to be good at all, to tell the truth.

  2. Oooh I love a good movie… people going crazy movies… a few come to mind (Fight Club, The Number 23, and that hilarious moment Superman has a strop in Superman III) I think my favourite though has to be The Shining, I’m a massive King fan and although Kubrick didn’t (annoyingly) follow the book all that well, it is a good film!

    • I’m going to give you a BIG thumbs up on that one, crafty, that’s my number one, too. It’s soooo fun to watch him losing it. Nicholson was BORN to play Jack Torrence. When he’s drinking at the bar? Complaining about not drinking… The infamous All Work and No Play scene? And of course, I can’t forget the iconic “Heeeeere’s Johnny!!”


      Personally, for me? I’m not a big stickler for source material… But I realize how some people might be.

      • Fun trivia for the “Here’s Johnny” scene: Not only was that an ad-lib, but they had to re-shoot the scene. Originally they were using a prop door (meant to be broken down easily), but Nicholson’s experience as a volunteer firefighter meant that when it came time to do the scene, he obliterated it on the first strike. That’s a real door he’s hacking through in the final film.

    • Happy Dancing?

      Happy Dancing Penguins?

      LOL. There’s a big seeeeequel coming. Happy Dancing Penguins 2! Wait, wait, that’s not it. Happy Penguin Happy Dancing 2… no no Happy Happy Dance Dance… ah dammit, you get the idea.

      I prefer hyper cool, super stylish dancing. Like Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

  3. I watched Transformers 2 this weekend on FX and Shia does a pretty good job with the mental breakdown in the classroom. He skims through the books page by page and then upstages Rainn Wilson at the front of the class.

    My favorite is What About Bob? There are so many moments in that movie. When Dreyfuss starts laughing in the car on the way back from dropping Bob at the mental hospital is movie gold.

  4. Pacino in And Justice for All. “I’m out of order…you’re out of order….” Awesome breakdown believed by another fantastic one where Tambor is smashing dishes in the courthouse hallway- a true 2 fer…Great Movie- Great Crazy

  5. Terminator 2: Judgement Day- Sarah Connor, especially the scene where she’s describing her dream.

    Frankenstein- The first half of the film when the doctor is still insane.

    There Will Be Blood- “DRAINAGE!”

    Being John Malkovich- “MALKOVICH!”

    And recently, Drive, the entire second half of the film.

    Oh and, props on the Ozzy reference.

    • Thanks. Big Ozzy fan. Glad to see he’s still got some appeal.

      All good… but… do you think “The Driver” flipped out? I mean… listen, without a doubt, he flipped the switch. He just said %$&* it, it’s ON now. But he just went ballistic… I dont know that he lost his marbles in that sense.

  6. One of my fav films – Se7en ‘whats in the box’

    How about Tommy shooting Spider in Goodfellas.

    Alex and gang in Clockwork Orange beating up the drunk.

    • Any mention of Tommy DeVito should be allowed anywhere. Just like the “Wooderson Rule” here. LOL. “Tommy’s a bad kid, he’s a bad seed, what am I supposed to do, shoot him?”

      But yeah, Se7en is where its at in that one. I would almost argue that that’s the sane thing to do… even though I hear what youre saying… but thats like a great “Movie Debate” question. At the end of Se7en, do you pull the trigger? I know I would. BAM! Good one though Ben. Love that flick.

    • Totally.

      If forced to choose one? …. …. …. Ok. I’m going Full Metal Jacket. I love that movie way more. Higher rewatchability factor for me, better breakdown, I mean, Leonard really loses it and you can see it coming.

      Not dissing TWBB, awesome freaking flick. I just thought I’d play the choose between these two game!!

  7. ‘Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?’! Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are all over the shop, from start to finish. Er, and I think that ‘Fatal Attraction’ has GOT to be up there. What a mentalist Glenn Close plays. I don’t think slitting my wrists has ever been a tactic of mine to make my guy stay put…

    • YANLYAH!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I like the fact I’ve given you an acronymn nickname.

      I’ll confess. I’ve never seen “Who’s afraid”. I wont like wiki it and pretend or anything. Taking my lumps like a man here on the blog.

      BUT, I’ve certainly seen Fatal Attraction. God. How scary was Glenn Close, just sitting there turning the lights on and off? Good grief, she was CRAZYYYY. ๐Ÿ˜€ Good one.

  8. Two films immediately jump to mind:

    1. Apocalypse Now actually features 2 complete mental breakdown’s (and a number of partial breakdowns). Firstly Martin Sheen’s almost actual breakdown …

    Willard: [voiceover] Saigon… shit; I’m still only in Saigon… Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle.
    Willard: When I was home after my first tour, it was worse.
    [grabs at flying insect]
    Willard: I’d wake up and there’d be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said “yes” to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I’m here a week now… waiting for a mission… getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around the walls moved in a little tighter.

    and of course Kurtz’s

    “You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror… Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends.”

    along the way you have the crew’s various descents into madness. The whole movie fluctuates about various reactions to the horrors of war.

    And of course Dennis Hopper’s Photojournalist: “Hey, man, you don’t talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll… uh… well, you’ll say “hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, “Do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you”… I mean I’m… no, I can’t… I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s… he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas… ”

    The other movie which comes to mind is A Beautiful Mind. That’s a fairly amazing depiction of a descent into madness.

    • I should get off my ass on this one and get it inducted into the MTESS section. Keep in mind, there’s no order to how those are going up or anything like that or this would have been in already hands down.

      Here’s my counter, Gelf, see what you think. I think Kurtz is the sanest man in the movie.

      Kurtz: “What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? A lie. A lie and we have to be merciful.”

      Willard: “It’s a way we had over here for living with ourselves. We cut ’em in half with a machine gun and give ’em a Band-Aid. It was a lie. And the more I saw them, the more I hated lies.”

      Its war that’s insane. The journey up the river Nung was Willard’s awakening to the truth.

  9. – The “Ballerina who is performing Swan Lake and who starts to go a little cuckoo” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    – The ending of Aronofsky’s “Pi”
    – “There Will Be Blood”‘s Milkshake
    – Dexter, season 3, I can’t remember which episode: Dexter pictures himself getting really really angry and destroying his office
    – Bette Davis in “Whatever Happend to Baby Jane”. Everything about her!

  10. The entire scene that culminated in “youre goddamn right I ordered the code red!!!”. Those criminal defense lawyers can sure crack even the toughest witnesses…ok..ok so its not a megalithic downward spiral but it is a very dramatic burst of lunacy….

    • Yeah, how could we forget Richard Dreyfuss and the mess he makes in his living room? When he’s just throwing stuff in the window in his bathrobe? That’s awesome. Great choice, way to help us make up for a glaring omission…

    • LOL!

      Oh… I’d classify that as a breakdown, alright! ๐Ÿ˜€ Ha! That’s a good one… I dont remember anyone having brought that up Vinnie!

      They’re remaking that, have you heard? *sigh*

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