Ah summer, the time of the year where those of us who don't live near the ocean head on out to the ol' cement pond for a refreshing dip in a self-contained body of highly chlorinated water. Filmmakers love scenes set around swimming pools too -- mostly because they provide a good excuse for showing off hot bodies in skimpy outfits, but also because they present countless opportunities for hilarious hijinks. Everything's funnier when it involves a girl in a bikini or someone who's fully attired being shoved into a pool -- and I've picked seven scenes from movies that go a long way toward proving poolside shenanigans are always in season.
[Warning: Brief foul language, nudity and sexual content after yonder jump!]
The Big Lebowski
One of my favorite hilarious poolside scenes comes courtesy of the Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski. In this segment, The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is being escorted out of his meeting with The Big Lebowski by Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) when he runs into the elder Lebowski's trophy wife, Bunny (Tara Reid). Bunny's sitting poolside in a bikini while painting her toenails and tells The Dude to blow on them. Bridges looks over to the pool and spots a passed out Uli (Peter Stormare) and then asks Bunny if Uli's going to mind. Bunny tells him Uli's a nihilist, and The Dude replies "Oh that must be exhausting."
The scene gets funnier from there when Bunny offers to perform oral sex on Lebowski for a thousand dollars, but also adds that Brandt can't watch unless he gives her a hundred. Brandt's braying laughter and response to the situation is priceless. While no one winds up in the pool (other than Uli), this scene from one of the Coen Brothers' best films is a hilarious example of the strange things that happen around swimming pools in the movies.
Paul Verhoeven's camp classic, Showgirls, is chock full of unintentionally hilarious moments, but the scene where drifter turned stripper Nomi (Elizabeth Berkley) gets it on with Zach (poor Kyle MacLachlan) in his pool stands in a league of its own. Zach is the boyfriend of diva club owner Cristal Connors' (Gina Gershon), but he takes a liking to the ditzy stripper with a heart of gold after a couple's lap dance at Club Cheetah. Connors and Nomi quickly become arch rivals, but since Cristal is Nomi's boss, she has all the power and repeatedly sets Berkley up for failure. Cristal even goes so far as to send Nomi to a promotional gig where she knows her employee will be expected to spend sexytime with her clients.
This is where she rushes into the arms of Zach, who saves her from this terrible fate so he can take her home, get her drunk, and score with her in his lavish swimming pool. The ensuing sex scene is absolutely ridiculous. When Nomi starts flailing around like a drowning victim we're once again reminded why this movie is a multiple Razzie award winner. Oh, Elizabeth Berkley -- did you learn nothing from all those years spent on the swim team at Bayside High? What would Mr. Belding say? Watch the clip here (big time NSFW).
National Lampoon's Vacation
No list of classic poolside scenes would be complete without Clark Griswold's (Chevy Chase) encounter with Christie Brinkley in National Lampoon's Vacation. After spotting Brinkley and her Ferrari several times on the freeway, Clark finally meets the object of his fantasies in person at a hotel. The two flirt at the restaurant (where Clark explains that he owns the entire chain of hotels and travels to them once a year disguised as a married man ... ) then wind up at the pool. Brinkley strips naked (off camera) and hops into the water. Clark is all googly eyes and eventually joins her, but before anything naughty can happen, he's interrupted by his wife. Busted, he bids farewell to his dream girl and heads back up to his room. We get one more funny moment when Clark runs into his son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall), and explains that Brinkley was merely a pool waitress taking his order for fish. The scene ends with Clark asking Rusty if he understands. Rusty says he does, but then asks "Do you think Mom will buy it?" This scene's mixture of sexiness and hilarity (Chase is at his best here) make the pool rendezvous in Vacation one of the most memorable scenes on this list.
Harold and Maude
When you think of pool scenes, Harold and Maude probably isn't the first title that springs to mind. The funny story of a May-December romance between a 19-year-old man (Bud Cort) and a 70-something woman (Ruth Gordon) doesn't seem like one that would be filled with a lot of poolside wackiness. However, the film does feature one simple, yet great, scene involving a swimming pool. Throughout the film, Harold continually fakes his suicide in order to gain his mother's attention. In this clip, we watch his Mom get into the pool and start swimming laps -- and as the camera pulls back, we see that she's swimming past a floating corpse. Harold's Mother is so used to his desperate pleas for attention at this point that she swims right past him without even missing a stroke. The scene isn't long or complex, but the simple sight gag of a woman swimming right past what appears to be a floating body is still funny enough to make it worth mentioning. Maybe next time someone can explain to Harold that it might be easier if he did this with his head facing upward ...
Jonathan Glazer's Sexy Beast isn't a comedy (although some find Ben Kingsley's unforgettable performance as angry gangster Don Logan amusing at times), but it does open with a great scene set around a swimming pool. Gary "Gal" Dove (Ray Winstone) has retired from the criminal life and now spends his days with ex-pornstar wife lounging around in his Spanish villa. When the film opens, the husky Gal is soaking up some of the afternoon rays beside his pool. The Stranglers' Peaches is playing on the soundtrack (it's the perfect song for this scene) and Gal eventually gets up and stands on the edge of the water. Like a portent of things to come, a boulder breaks free on the hill overlooking the house and careens down the slope toward Gal's pool. It shoots off the edge, narrowly missing the Speedo-clad gangster, and splashes into the pool before sinking to the bottom. Gal and a young Spanish boy hop into the water to survey the damage (again foreshadowing later events in the story) and there are some funny underwater exchanges as Gal watches the young boy vainly trying to move the rock. The scene's humor is relatively understated -- Gal is a bear of a man wearing a Speedo, his reaction to the boulder splashing water all over him is subtle yet funny and Glazer films the scene in a unique way (boulder cam!) that makes it far more quirky and witty than you'd probably expect. That sums up Sexy Beast as a whole though -- it's a film that undermines your expectations at regular intervals.
Most people remember the 1981 Joan Crawford bio-pic Mommy Dearest for the wire hanger scene, but there's a not-quite-as-disturbing sequence involving a swimming pool too. While I'm loathe to make fun of child abuse (because it's not funny), Mommy Dearest has become known as something of a campy, creepy, cult classic over the years -- and this scene is partially responsible for that. In it, we watch Crawford (Faye Dunaway, sporting the perfect, crazy pants eyebrows) race her young daughter Christina across the pool. The grown woman easily gets to the other side before the child, but then is so petty that she actually brags about her victory. When Christina tells her mother that it's not fair because she's a grown up, Crawford rubs a little more salt into the wound, telling her daughter that she'll always beat her. Things get ugly when Christina then tells her mother she's just not going to play with her anymore, sending Crawford into a disturbingly hysterical fit of rage. Beatings of a different kind follow. The moral here? Kids, if you have Joan Crawford-like parents, just remember -- someday you'll get to choose their nursing home.
When I came up with the idea to do a poolside shenanigans list, there was one specific scene that inspired the whole concept -- and that scene was the infamous "poop in the pool" sequence from Caddyshack. When a kid tosses a Baby Ruth bar in the pool, the comparisons to human waste are undeniable. That's funny enough, but the reaction of the masses when it's discovered floating amongst the swimmers, coupled with the use of the iconic Jaws score, make this the grandaddy of all swimming pool pranks. Thanks to Caddyshack, the idea of tossing a Baby Ruth in a crowded pool and watching the reaction is now something that's part of our collective conscience -- you hear it mentioned at pools everywhere. And while the floating candy bar is worth some laughs, the scene's funniest part comes in the aftermath -- where Bill Murray has drained the pool and is scrubbing it down. He finds the candy bar that caused the hysteria, smells it, then takes a bite – causing one of the snooty country club women to faint in the process. One more reason to love Caddyshack -- the blue collar guys always find a way to put those snobby, rich people in their place.