Minding Hollywood’s Pees and Cues

Paul Rudd in Our Idiot Brother
Paul Rudd Throttles a Juice Box in Our Idiot Brother

I’ve been thinking a lot about pee lately, specifically about public urination. A couple of weeks ago, a member of the US ski team was accused of urinating on the floor of an airplane. Actually, to be more specific, on a twelve-year-old girl. And then, just a week ago, French actor Gerard Depardieu is said to have peed on the floor of a plane before takeoff on Paris-to-Dublin flight.

What the heck is going on here?

As with every other misery of modern life, I blame the movies.

Have you noticed how much urination of all kinds has been shown in recent movies? In dramas, we’re shown men and women using the bathroom while casually carrying on conversations. It’s meant to be a slice of realism, but like nudity, it draws too much attention to itself and away from whatever is important in the scene.

And then there’s The Change-Up, in which public urination triggers the story. While I enjoyed the movie, I cringed at the second pee scene, which was quite a bit more public than the first. Hard to be hopeful that the friends get their wish when children are watching characters who, in the real world, would be arrested as sex offenders.

And then, widening the focus, there are movies like Bridesmaids in which defecation is played for laughs. And even an old-fashioned heart-warmer like The Help spends an awful lot of time showing people of all ages on toilets. And much is made of “the terrible awful.”

Am I just getting too old for movies?

Have I lost my edge?

I don’t think so. Forget the debt crisis; I think what we’re seeing here is a humor crisis. If one of the goals of an R-rated comedy is to shock the audience, what happens when all the shocks are used up? I’ll tell you. The Hangover II is what happens. You’re reduced to bathroom humor that a twelve-year-old boy has already begun to outgrow.

Maybe I’m just not sensitive to the dramatic importance of pee. After all, it’s not a recent phenomenon in the movies. A survey of American movies reveals a long history of pee scenes.

And what about movies that don’t have pee scenes but sound like they do?

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Something’s Got to Give
Going My Way
You’re in the Navy Now

And what about a few classics that are only a letter or two away from a pee scene?

War and Pees
The Princess and the Pee
Toilet Story
The Postman Always Pees Twice

Here’s an idea. Camera operators, next time the director says, “Now follow him into the bathroom,” just say no.

Somehow, I have a feeling I won’t get my wish. In fact, what’s this?—Paul Rudd in Our Idiot Brother squeezing a juice box to make it look as though he’s peeing. But before I can even decide whether that’s laugh-worthy or lame, ABC comes along and bans the trailer for being offensive. Really? The network that’s reviving Charlie’s Angels? (Now that’s offensive!) More offensive than the Summer’s Eve talking v-jay jay ads? More than the Charmin Ultra ad where bits of toilet paper are stuck to the butts of cartoon bears?

I mean, what fresh hell is this?

Maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe we need to start small. Guys, how about, before we get on the plane, we visit the little boys’ room? Just that. Not too much to ask, is it? Your fellow travelers will thank you. After all, only in the movies is it funny to pee in public.

Oh wait. It’s not funny there either, except for that scene in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. (See it at the end of the trailer.)

Enough. Here endeth the fit.