10 Greatest Grumpy Old Men Characters in Movie History, Ranked
Tom Hanks is one of the world’s most successful and beloved actors, but 2022 was far from his best year in terms of critical reception. While Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis Presley in Elvis received critical acclaim, and the movie itself was a runaway success, Hanks’ latex-laden performance as his exploitative manager Colonel Tom Parker was far more divisive, even earning him two Razzie nominations. To add insult to injury, he was also nominated for his role as Geppetto in the critically panned Disney live action remake of Pinocchio. It’s worth noting that both roles featured Hanks delivering his lines in accents very different to his own. While this worked well in Forrest Gump nearly 30 years ago, perhaps now accents are not Hanks’ strong point?
In December 2022, Hanks’ third movie A Man Called Otto began a limited theatrical release, before a wider release in the United States on January 13, 2023. Whilst by no means reaching the highs of some of his finest work, his performance was generally well received and managed to avoid the critical lambasting of Elvis and Pinocchio. In the dramedy, he plays the eponymous grumpy widower whose life is turned upside when a young and vibrant family move next door, and he begins to develop an unlikely friendship with his pregnant neighbor and gradually begins to come out of his curmudgeon shell.
Hanks plays perfectly into the «grumpy old man» trope that has become a staple of so many great movies over the years: the old guy who likes to complain about how the kids of today have no respect these days or how life was so much better when they were younger. Rarely the main antagonist, these characters are often unexpected sources of wisdom or can be the perfect comic relief in an otherwise serious situation. Below, we take a look back at the 10 greatest grumpy old men in movie history and rank them.
10 Otto Anderson — A Man Called Otto
Sony Pictures Releasing
Following the poorly received turns from Tom Hanks in Elvis and Pinocchio, it was refreshing to see him truly bring a character to life in a performance that reminds us as to why he is one of Hollywood’s stars. His near-constant scowling and utter disdain for life in A Man Called Otto make the rare moments of happiness all the more special as he slowly begins to find a reason to live after the death of his wife. A moving and touching performance that perfectly demonstrate how the «grumpy old man» trope can be used to evoke emotion, as well as humor.
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9 Ted “Old Man” Clemens — Billy Madison
Ted “Old Man” Clemens plays a very small part in Adam Sandler’s 1995 classic comedy Billy Madison, but it was certainly memorable. The victim of a prank involving a flaming bag of feces, he steps out onto the porch in his underwear, cursing the kids responsible and ticking off every «grump old man» stereotype whilst doing it. One of the funniest scenes in the movie, clips of the prank on YouTube have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
Nebbercracker — Monster House
Monster House is an underrated computer animated horror/comedy film released in 2006. In this instance, Mr. Nebbercracker is an example of how a grump old man is so easily misunderstood. His standoffish and hostile personality combined with his «creepy» appearance lead the children to believe he is, in fact, the main villain and a genuine danger. In turns out, however, he is in fact trying to protect them from a far more sinister evil lurking in the Monster House.
7 Lt. Mark Rumsfield — The ‘Burbs
The second movie to feature Hanks on this list, only this time, he was certainly not the grumpy old man in question. Released in 1989, Hanks was just a whippersnapper in The ‘Burbs by comparison. The grumpy old man in this black comedy case is Vietnam veteran Lt. Mark Rumsfield. Poking fun at suburban environments and their often-eccentric inhabitants, it makes sense that there simply has to be one grumpy old timer. Despite Hanks’ headline billing, its arguably Bruce Dern’s performance as Rumsfield that steals the show with a character whose life experiences have left him cynical and opinionated.
6 Mickey Goldmill — Rocky
Rocky Balboa’s no nonsense mentor and trainer, Mickey Goldmill is the perfect example of how the «grumpy old man» character can be used, not merely for comic relief, but as an integral character to the plot, a source of wisdom and inspiration, despite his often confrontational nature. The character was so well-developed in Rocky, in fact, that actor Burgess Meredith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. The character’s legacy has lived on, with many of his lines still being quoted to this day, nearly 50 years after his first on-screen appearance.
5 Scrooge — A Christmas Carol
Probably the most famous grumpy old man in history, and also one of the greatest redemption arcs, too. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been adapted many times throughout movie history, but what better example than Michael Caine in the hilarious musical adaptation by the lovable Muppets gang. Completely subverting any expectations of Scrooge’s character being played for comic relief, the laughs come thick and thin from the Muppet supporting cast, whilst Caine, in a live action role, plays it completely straight, really bringing Scrooge’s miserly «bah humbug» attitude to life and making the final change in outlook all the more satisfying.
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4 Melvin Udall — As Good as It Gets
While all actors involved more than handled their own, As Good As It Gets is well and truly stolen by Jack Nicholson and his portrayal as Melvin, a grumpy, bigoted, OCD-sufferer, In fact, per Variety, Nicholson and Helen Hunt won the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, making As Good as It Gets the most recent film to win both of the lead acting awards, and the first since 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs. Combining over the top oddball humor with genuine pathos and heart, As Good as It Gets is widely regarded as one of the finest movies of Nicholson’s later career.
Jim Henson Productions
If you’ve seen any Muppets movie or production, you’re bound to have come across the sidesplitting banter between the two resident grumpy old men, who live up to every stereotype we love from the trope, and turn it to 11. Most often seen heckling other members of the cast and, even at times, falling asleep due to a combination of boredom and old age, this couple of moody Muppets are certainly among the most entertaining on this list.
2 Walt Kowalski — Gran Torino
Warner Bros. Pictures
A rare example of a movie in which the grump old man in question is actually the main protagonist, and it couldn’t have been delivered with any more conviction than by the legendary Clint Eastwood in what is one of his finest performances in his vast and extremely impressive portfolio. He plays Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino, a grizzled, stubborn, and bigoted war veteran that despised what his neighborhood has become as he witnesses the youth getting drawn into the gang culture that has become so prevalent. As the story progresses, we begin to get exposed to the man he used to be, and the movie ends with one of the most satisfying and exciting redemption arcs ever committed to film.
1 Carl Fredricksen – Up
The tear-jerking start to Up invoked the empathy of a nation, and as much as the stubborn curmudgeon groaned and grumbled, we never stopped rooting for him. Pixar’s Up is the perfect example of a movie that appeals jut as much to grown folk as it does to the youngsters, a rare mix that many studios have tried and failed at achieving. The magical adventure that is Up is kept grounded with the incredibly human depiction of Carl and his developing relationship. Up is one of the best animated movies of all time and that is largely thanks to this lovable grumpy old man.
Grumpy Old Men (1993) — IMDb
- Cast & crew
- User reviews
- 1h 43m
A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.
- Donald Petrie
- Mark Steven Johnson
- Jack Lemmon
- Walter Matthau
- Donald Petrie
- Mark Steven Johnson
- Jack Lemmon
- Walter Matthau
- 113User reviews
- 43Critic reviews
- 1 win & 1 nomination
Watch Grumpy Old Men
- John Gustafson
- Max Goldman
- Ariel Truax
- Grandpa Gustafson
- Jacob Goldman
- (as Isabell Monk)
- (as Buffy Sedlacheck)
John Carroll Lynch
- Moving Man
- (as Ollie Osterberg)
Steven Mark Hahn
- Moving Man
- Donald Petrie
- Mark Steven Johnson
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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Did you know
Edited into Ann-Margret: Från Valsjöbyn till Hollywood (2014)
What a great situation, and great acting, in a fast little farce.
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
The set-up is so funny, and it’s so great to see Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau at it again, you have to laugh even though the jokes are often more silly than funny. It’s a feel-good drama despite all the hysterics. Maybe the best moments are Burgess Meredith as Lemmon’s father, delivering crude old man lines with enough raw disregard for everything to sink a ship. «Did you mounter her?» he asks his elderly son.
Obviously a hit enough to lead to «Grumpier Old Men» two years later, also funny but less fresh. And check out the Meredith outtakes on YouTube—just type his name and look for the «Grumpier Old Men» clip.
- Aug 31, 2010
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What is ‘Grumpy Old Men’ about?
Is ‘Grumpy Old Men’ based on a book?
How does the movie end?
- Release date
- December 25, 1993 (United States)
- Country of origin
- United States
- Also known as
- Dos viejos gruñones
- Filming locations
- Lake Rebecca, Rockford, Minnesota, USA(fishing hole)
- Production companies
- John Davis
- Lancaster Gate
- Warner Bros.
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- Gross US & Canada
- Opening weekend US & Canada
- Dec 26, 1993
- Gross worldwide
See detailed box office info on IMDbPro
1 hour 43 minutes
- Sound mix
- Dolby Stereo
- Aspect ratio
- 1. 85 : 1
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Women with these names turn into grumpy and mischievous old women with age
It is possible that with age a woman’s character may deteriorate a little. This happens to everyone, even to those who at a young age were distinguished by an angelic disposition. And what awaits those very ladies who, even in their younger years, were happy owners of a difficult and nasty character? Hysterics and bitches will turn into grumpy and harmful old women. It turned out that this fate is destined for almost all women with the following four names.
Female name Larisa
Coping with Larisa’s commanding manners will be extremely difficult even for her husband. Photo © Shutterstock
Already in her youth, a woman showed herself to be a greedy and stingy person, saving on her and her husband’s comfort. Needless to say, that over the years this negative trait of Larisa’s character will only intensify? The old woman can command everyone and everything, and it will be extremely difficult even for her husband to cope with such manners Larisa — Lara will completely subordinate him to her will. But the bearer of the name will have a passion for practicality until the end of her life, which can negatively affect comfort.
Karina runs the risk of becoming that person who criticizes and condemns people for no reason. Photo © Shutterstock
In old age, the owner of this name will turn into a grumpy person who is not satisfied with the behavior of others. It is Karina who runs the risk of being retired by that person who, for no reason, criticizes and condemns those who are different from her. A woman considers it her duty to educate young people «correctly», setting herself as an example and telling about achievements from the past. True, Karina can sometimes lie or intentionally intimidate with authority. Not a grandmother, but a headache.
Oksana will turn into an old woman who constantly turns her nose up from everything. Photo © Shutterstock
Strict and suspicious Oksana will turn into an old woman who constantly turns her nose up from everything. Everything will be wrong for her. Wanting to attract more attention and escape from loneliness, Ksyusha will invent fairy tales about an imminent death or a serious illness, so long as relatives are around as often as possible. Due to her bad temper, Oksana will not have any friends in her old age. Such an old woman compensates for the lack of attention to her person by quarrels on the streets or in shops in order to somehow cheer herself up.
Taisiya in retirement will no longer control her emotions and will start to take it out on others. Photo © Shutterstock
Unpredictable Taisiya , prone to mood swings and building Napoleonic plans, will go completely crazy in old age. Having become a grandmother, the bearer of the name will no longer control emotions and will often begin to break down on others. And even in retirement, Taya may develop a love for gossip, which will push her to spy on her neighbors. It is not surprising if Taisiya at the next meeting at the entrance begins to slander objectionable tenants, criticizing.
Women with these names become the most unbearable mothers-in-law
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Genius-icons – Kommersant St.
Detlef Buck’s film «Measuring the World» (Die Vermessung der Welt), a comparative biography of two great scientists — the universal explorer of the Earth Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and mathematician Karl Gauss (1769-1859) and mathematician Karl Gauss ( 1777-1855). MIKHAIL TROFIMENKOV is saddened by the fact that Russian cinema is unlikely to decide in the near future on an equally creative interpretation of the works and days of Mikhail Lomonosov or Ivan Pavlov.
The life of great scientists is shown in a film from a new and unexpected side
Films about scientists are some kind of cursed movie genre. If you go to the left, you will run into icons drawn strictly according to the canon created in the 1930s in Hollywood and at Mosfilm. Here, the heroes are endowed, in addition to genius, with civic virtues: it is not surprising to confuse Louis Pasteur with Lincoln, and Michurin, of course, not with Comrade Stalin, but with a member of the Politburo — easily. If you go to the right, you will find yourself in a mental hospital for Nobel laureates who change their ideas about the world between bouts of paranoid schizophrenia.
The choice of Buk set me in a mournful mood in advance. Okay, Humboldt (Albrecht Schuch) has traveled all over the world, spent more than five years in the Latin American jungle — there is reason to admire all sorts of beauty — but what is cinematic in Gauss (Florian David Fitz), if he were three times the greatest mathematician in history.
But when in the prologue the strong old man Humboldt, against the backdrop of a strolling camel, vainly proves to the Dalai Lama that he cannot resurrect his beloved dog, and he whines and whines, you understand that if this is Tibet, then well, it is very internal. And if Book is not a pseudonym for Terry Gilliam, then his distant relative.
There is no outright absurdity on the screen. The German way of life of bygone times is reproduced mockingly in detail. But in this very detail, and in the faces of the characters — even the Duke of Brunswick, a clever, patron of science and a clinical degenerate — there is something visually wrong and tonic, elusive, like the notorious 25th frame, but for all its smallness, excessive .
The whole relish of the very idea of making a film about Humboldt and Gauss at once lies in the fact that they are, yes, contemporaries, but they meet only twice. As a child, five minutes. At the end of the years, in detail: firstly, do not feed the grumpy old people that they have become with bread, but let them quarrel and measure the length of their genius. Secondly, the very situation of the police station, where honorary members of all the academies of the world ended up, accidentally wandering on the then «march of dissent», invites a detailed conversation.
Between these meetings, everyone lives their own life. The dandy Humboldt steals the sacred mummies of cannibals, swims at random along the Orinoco in search of a hypothetical channel connecting it with the Amazon, and is hacked to death by slave traders, then by treacherous Jesuits, remaining a cabinet cracker. Aimé Bonpland, his faithful comrade-in-arms, is forced to drive away the persistent desire to kill the genius who drives him off the mischievous Indian women.
Gauss, who was ordered by God himself to be a bore out of this world, meanwhile lives a rich sex life and drinks a bottle of curare without consequences for the body, horrified that such a genius as he has no one to talk to on Earth: Immanuel Kant, after carefully leafing through Gauss’ main work Arithmetical Investigations, joyfully exclaims: «Sausage!», demonstrating the complete liquefaction of the brain.
It’s good that Humboldt doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, but only urinary incontinence, otherwise Gauss would have died of boredom in the «monkey house».
Buk found the golden mean between «The Life of Remarkable People» and, shall we say, «Listomania». It turns out that it is in the gap between enlightenment melancholy and an orgy that one can unobtrusively give an idea even of the highest mathematical insights.