All things taken as equal, I consider myself a pretty good environmental citizen: I recycle, I take public transportation and my carbon score is pretty minimal. Now the fact that I don't own a car, heat and cool a palatial mansion or go on globe-trotting vacations probably helps and has more to do with my finances than my ethics, but that's a conversation for another time. Long before the Na'vi were making us feel guilty about the destruction of our 'hometree', there were oodles of movies out there carrying messages about respecting the earth. But I've never been big on reverence, so in honor of Earth Day I decided to be a little naughty and put together a list of five of the most unlovable environmentalists on the big screen.
Now before you think this is going to be all about environmental villains, let me clarify: I'm not just talking about the bad guys (although a couple of them made the short-list). Instead, I decided to go with a little bit of everything, and that's why your self-righteous do-gooders, your holier than thou types and even the downright silly made the cut (and remember what your mother told you about variety being the spice of life).
After the jump: my picks for five big-screen tree-huggers you love to hate...
Walter Peck in Ghostbusters
Thanks to Ivan Reitman's comedy classic, each and every time I see the actor William Atherton I immediately think of the EPA baddie, Walter Peck. While conservatives have applauded this movie for making a 'lefty' into the bad guy, I tend to leave politics out of it and Mr. Peck is nothing more than a foil to the the wild and wacky Peter Venkman.
Jack Hall in The Day After Tomorrow
If asked what it is precisely that I dislike about Roland Emmerich's disaster flick, there are almost too many examples to choose from. But one of the biggest was Dennis Quaid's mopey absentee dad and paleoclimatologist, Jack Hall. I can take a certain level of stupidity in my disaster flicks, but having Hall and his companions snowshoeing across the wasteland was literally one step too far. So it might not be that I hate him, it's more a dislike born from the fact the character is lame with a capital 'L'. Although maybe I shouldn't be too rough on Dr. Hall -- after all, this is the same movie that has characters being able to outrun the cold.
Dominic Greene in Quantum of Solace
For starters, I am probably one of the few people walking this big wide world who liked Quantum of Solace -- so you might want to take that into consideration before you read any further. One of the things I liked about the film was the villain, the 'Green Tycoon' played by Mathieu Amalric. So even though I may be in the minority of Solace fans, if you're compiling a list of the the tree-huggers you love to hate, you can't deny that Greene fits the bill.
Nick Van Owen in The Lost World: Jurassic Park
I am no fan of hunting, but in the follow up to Steven Spielberg's dino-action flick, when I watched Vince Vaughn (as the green documentary filmmaker, Nick Van Owen) free a bunch of pissed off dinosaurs to make a political point, I know I wasn't the only person hoping that a Mama T-Rex was about to get a carbon-neutral snack.
Forrest Taft in On Deadly Ground
This 1994 turkey may have found a cult following over the years, but putting aside my love of unintentional comedy, Steven Seagal's Alaskan hero isn't much more than a misguided result of trying to turn a tree-hugger into an a**-kicker.
Leave your votes for the tree-huggers you love to hate in the comments below. Oh, and Happy Earth Day everyone!