Let me preface this article by saying I would give anything to have Zach Galifianakis as my mentor. His interview style on Funny or Die's 'Between Two Ferns' is impeccable. His sharp barbs and probing questions invariably catch his guests off-guard, even now that his reputation precedes him and they have some idea of what to expect.
That said, I don't believe his character, Bobby, in 'It's Kind of a Funny Story,' (in theaters October 8th) is mentor material. But that doesn't stop him from acting as a mentor of sorts to 16-year-old Craig (Kier Gilchrist). The two meet when clinically-depressed Craig checks himself into the psych ward. He meets longtime resident Bobby, the two connect and Craig begins turning to Bobby for advice and guidance.
While Bobby may actually prove to be a worthy mentor to Craig, I can't get past the image of Zach Galifiankis hitting a baby's head with a car door in 'The Hangover.' So, naturally, hearing about his new role as a mentor prompted me to ponder other unlikely movie role models. Without further ado, I present the Top 10 inappropriate movie mentors.
1. 'Wall Street'
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is the ultimate inappropriate mentor. Sure, he's rich. But he's also a lying, back-stabbing, money-hungry narcissist. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) learns the hard way that he never should have been blinded by Gekko's bling and charm. Director Oliver Stone was later quoted as saying he was horrified when Gekko, intended to be the villain, emerged as a poster boy of '80s ambition and success. Perhaps 'Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps' will change all of that when we see Gekko penniless and – gasp – riding the subway!
2. 'The Firm'
Avery Tolar (Gene Hackman) woos young lawyer Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) and persuades him to join Tolar's too-good-to-be-true law firm. Mitch is totally taken with the firm at first, and works hard to learn from his mentor Avery. Too bad Avery and the firm turn out to be... EVIL!
Jimmy Conway (Robert de Niro) has got to be the worst mentor ever. He takes Henry (Ray Liotta) under his wing when Henry is just a kid, lures him away from his honest, hard-working family and molds him into a hardened gangster. Tsk, tsk, Jimmy. Corrupting children is not the hallmark of a good mentor.
4. 'Dirty Dancing'
17-year-old Baby (Jennifer Grey) is dying to learn all of the staff's sexy dance moves. The much, much, much older Johnny (Patrick Swayze) reluctantly shows her all of the right moves – and then some. You've really got to question the judgment of a 30-something resort employee canoodling with an impressionable young teenager. Yes, he turns her into an excellent dancer. But is he an appropriate mentor? I think not.
5. 'Mrs. Doubtfire'
Daniel (Robin Williams), a separated father, wins the affection of his children back disguised as the eccentric nanny Mrs. Doubtfire. It's great that he reconnects with his kids, but what kind of message is he sending them? It's really rather deceitful to pretend to be someone else and have them believe a lie while winning their trust back, isn't it?
6. 'The Big Lebowski'
No wonder The Dude (Jeff Bridges) finds himself in so many tricky situations with Walter (John Goodman) always whispering in his ear. Walter may not have been a mentor, per se, but he did offer a steady stream of terrible advice, like trying to convince The Dude to keep ransom money instead of passing it along to dangerous kidnappers.
7. 'Funny People'
Ira (Seth Rogen) is ecstatic when he gets a chance to work with his idol, famous comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler). Ira gradually realizes that George isn't mentor material, though, as he continues to demonstrate selfish, unmentor-y behavior. Worst of all? Ira screwed over his bestie, Leo (Jonah Hill), to score his post as George's protégé. George may be rich and successful, but he's a terrible role model.
8. 'School of Rock'
Dewey Finn (Jack Black) cons his way into a substitute teaching position at a prep school to make some quick cash. This deception is the first sign that Dewey isn't mentor material. But that doesn't stop him. He proceeds to turn his class into a rock band. Since this is a Hollywood movie, everything turns out fine. But that doesn't mean we have to agree that Dewey is an acceptable mentor.
9. 'The Bad News Bears'
Surly alcoholic Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) is foul-mouthed, shady and really not the kind of man you'd want coaching your kid's Little League team. But in this movie, the unlikely coach demonstrates some redeeming qualities, though not enough to keep him off this list.
10. 'Roger Dodger'
Roger (Campbell Scott) takes his 16-year-old nephew Nick (a very young Jesse Eisenberg) and shows him all of his womanizing moves. Each trick Roger teaches Nick is worse than the last. He even tries to convince the kid that a great way to woo ladies is by insulting them. Roger's ultimate goal is to help Nick lose his virginity, and at one point even takes him to a brothel. Very un-mentor-like behavior.