Have you ever been watching a movie and felt your stomach start growling because the characters are chowing down on a particularly delicious-looking meal? There are a number of times we wished we could reach inside the screen and snatch a mouth-watering slice of pizza or bowl of macaroni and cheese right out of the protagonists’ hands.
(Additional reporting by Tom Reimann.)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Ah yes, the beloved Roald Dahl movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; the film that first warned young children of the many dangers of giving into cardinal sins like gluttony, pride, wrath and watching too much TV. One day, this movie posits, you’ll be arbitrary chosen to enter a reclusive madmen’s warehouse of horrors where your moral failings will be revealed through Rube Goldbergian traps. We’re not entirely convinced Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory wasn’t a prequel to Saw.
On the plus side…lickable wallpaper?!
Yes, the first promise of the treats that lay in store for Charlie Bucket and his league of future co-defendants seem not merely innocuous, but delightful! As we learn in the opening number, Willy Wonka, or “the candy man” loves sweets so much that before he became a Dr. Monreau-ian hermit presiding over indigenous orange slaves, he even created a line of edible cutlery! How whimsical! As is the edible wallpaper we’re introduced to early in the film, where even the Snozzberries tastes like Snozzberries! What’s a snozzberry? Shut your dumb mouth, Veruca Salt. Just shut it right up.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Sure, it’s easy to make fun of the dark side of Gene Wilder’s titular Candyman: there are memes, internet theories about his bloodlust, and of course, Johnny Depp’s defilement of the character’s memory 34 years later. But there were some genuinely fantastical imagery in this movie that left an indelible impression on anyone who saw it as a child.
Even knowing the dangers of this Hunger Games-esque battlefield designed as a Candyland set, who among us hasn’t dreamt of playing around in the Imagination Room; a giant room in a warehouse with high windows, no exit, but oh my god you can pick GUMMY BEARS off of trees! TREES! Mushrooms have whipped cream in them! Giant rubber balls can be clawed at to reveal gooey chocolate inside! And hey look, there’s a chocolate fountain with absolutely no warning signs or special instructions that in any way imply you shouldn’t feel free to help yourself! Pure imagination, indeed.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
As terrifying as watching children be subjected to the psychedelic nightmare boat ride through a tunnel with chickens getting their heads cut off, nothing could have prepared us for Tim Burton’s 2005 re-imagining of the strange and enigmatic confectioner as a Leaving Neverland-era Michael Jackson. Why does Charlie and the Chocolate Factory exist? For literally no reason except maybe to give us the heads-up that Johnny Depp’s reputation was about to take a single rhinestone glove to the crotch.
However, you’ve got to hand it to Burton, whose previous foray into food art involved re-animated shrimp attempting to drown Catherine O’Hara’s face in a dish of cocktail sauce during a Harry Belefonte number. The origin story of Willy Wonka may have been completely unnecessary, but at least they captured how tantalizing forbidden candy looks to a kid with braces.
Peter Pan is a story about a tween vampire who steals children from open windows and offers them the chance to “never, ever grow old” as long they promise to leave their families forever by flying away to “Neverland,” which, let’s be honest, just sounds sketchy as hell. As we confirmed in the movie Hook, Peter Pan and his merry band of Lost Boys do not actually subsist on human nourishment. Instead, they imagine food and dine on…well…pure imagination. (Starting to see a theme here?)
However, once grown-up Peter (Robin Williams) actually starts to play along and/or begins to hallucinates from starvation, the perspective shifts and the audience is suddenly presented with is a veritable feast. Not only are there turkeys, pies and steins of what we definitely hope is NOT beer, but all the fruit seems to contain colorful goo the color and consistency of acrylic paint. Toxic? Maybe. But it is indeed most bangarang.
Like Water for Chocolate
Fair warning for anyone who, like us, assumed this movie was about teen Jesus figuring how to impress his friends before figuring out how to do that thing with the wine: Like Water for Chocolate is a real bummer of a film. Based on Laura Esquivel’s Mexican novel (which she adapted for the screen), the film revolves around a young woman named Tita, who loves two things: cooking and this dude named Pedro. Like in Cinderella, Tita has two mean older sisters and a mother who was consigned her to a life of servitude until her mother dies, so one of her sisters marries Pedro instead while Tita cooks for the extended family.
And from there it’s a pretty straight-forward magical realism narrative wherein Tita’s latent superpowers kick in and she becomes the Empath Chef. Her power can make you eat HER feelings. Cakes are vomited, people burst into flame, and at one point Tita’s sister (spoiler) dies when Tita poisons her by being mad while stirring. More people catch on fire. It’s actually really traumatic. But there’s one great scene where Tita creates rose petal quail sauce that turns everyone very horny (as quail sauce just do sometimes) and only ONE person catches on fire in that scene. We’d totally eat that quail sauce.
Johnny Depp has a beard in this movie and eats strawberries hand-fed to him by Juliet Binoche in this prequel of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Though it was made in 2000– eight years after Like Water for Chocolate–Chocolat also deals in that classic trope, “a small town succumbs to madness due to magic food. This time, it’s horny chocolate, much to the dismay of the town’s pious mayor Alfred Molina, who is observing Lent and goes all John Lithgow in Footloose about it.
Johnny Depp shows up as a gypsy, Carrie Anne Moss is Dame Judi Dench’s uptight daughter and the fire shop does catch on fire thanks to Peter Stormare, who gets hit in the face with a skillet in this feature. But though filled with hijinks, nothing in this movie quite compares to the moment when the Mayor breaks into her kitchen with plans of sabotage only to have a morsel of chocolate hits his lips. Think the scene in Ratatouille where Anton Ego is reminded of his mother’s confit byaldi…but this is way better, since the food is chocolate and it wasn’t prepared by live vermin.
There are a lot of great food scenes in Pulp Fiction. Most people would probably give the gold to Samuel J. Jackson’s Big Kahuna burger monologue (which, to be clear, is the second burger monologue in Pulp Fiction, a movie Quentin Tarantino made before realizing he hadn’t eaten in a month.)
Ever since taking a bite of that juicy burger and washing it down with some tasty Sprite, Samuel L. Jackson has become one of those actors who gets to always play himself, so enraptured were we by his ability to make chewing a hamburger seem intimidating.
But if we were picking our favorite food-related scene in Pulp Fiction, it would be the movie’s third burger scene, with Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and his boss’ wife, Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) eat at the 50s-themed restaurant Jack Rabbit Slims.
This is a magical place where you can order your beef patty bloody and milkshakes cost a mere five dollars, provided you then participate in a stomach-churning dance contest for the amusement of the rest of the diners and Steve Buscemi.
Julie & Julia
Adopted from a Salon blog by Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia tells the story of Julie Powell (Amy Adams), who starts her cooking career by challenging herself to make all 524 of Julia Childs’ recipes in 365 days. The narrative of the movie intercuts Powell’s journey with that of Childs (Meryl Streep) when she was starting out in her career.
As you can imagine, there are many cooking and eating scenes in this movie, but none stand out more than Adams’ voiceover extolling the virtues of trans fats while boyfriend played by Chris Messina guzzles hollandaise sauce like a man possessed. “This is my final word on the subject, you can never have too much butter!” declares Julie, as we watch her literally melt three pounds of it on the stove….ostensibly to fry up Messina now that he’s fattened like a Christmas turkey.
Martin Scorcese loves to make audiences hungry for Italian food. You might think Goodfellas is a movie about Ray Liotta trying to move up t the local league of Wise Guys while spiraling into a paranoid-fueled drug, murder and extraneous voiceover habit, but did you know it’s also 90 percent about delicious pasta?
One of Goodfella’s more mouth-watering scenes involves, of all things, prison food: when Henry (Ray Liotta) winds up in the clink for holding a gambler at gunpoint. Life in the big house doesn’t seem so bad when you’re hanging with Made Men, however: we learn that some of the perks of paying off the guards includes giant Italian dinners filled with onion-heavy sauce, skillet-fried steak and fresh lobsters. They might have had to slice the onions with razor blades, but somehow, the Goodfellas made do.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
If we were in charge of retitling J.K. Rowling’s works, we’d rename Prisoner of Azkaban Harry Potter and the Guy Who Assigns Chocolate For Homework. Hogwarts’ new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) teaches Harry about the best way to restore his health after being attacked by a Dementors.
The solution? Eating pieces of delicious, delicious chocolate. Seriously, try to imagine one of your middle school teachers willingly giving you chocolate because you essentially have a vague learning disability. In this example, being weak against Dementors is like Harry needing extra time to finish an exam and you brought in a note signed “From Harry’s Dad.” Because there’s no reason Harry is more susceptible to Dementors than everyone else, he just is, and he is rewarded for it with chocolate. No wonder Malfoy hates this guy.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Azkaban also gives us a glimpse into Honeydukes, the candy shop in Hogsmeade where you can purchase a delightful array of treats with ominous implications, like the sweets that change your voice into animal noises, blood-flavored lollipops and something “Acid Pops.”
Not to mention Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, which are jelly beans with the magical properties of tasting absolutely vile, that became so popular with readers that they now exist IRL. We guess there is no accounting for taste…literally.
When you think of delicious Italian food, you probably don’t think of using them as mattress stuffing. But that’s exactly what you hear about Clemenza’s meatballs in The Godfather: while the Corleone family prepares for war, their designated chef cooks up some delicious comfort food to go “under the mattresses.” That’s code for feeding the troops camped outside the family estate, by the way, not, as we originally interpreted it, as some strange Mafia version of Princess and the Pea.
The Godfather was also unique for having a character literally give audiences a recipe in a scene. As Clemenza tells it “Heh, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for 20 guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh? And a little bit o’ wine. An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick.”
By the way, this recipe wasn’t in the book; it’s just Francis Ford Coppola’s little gift to his viewership.
Sofia Coppola’s stylized interpretation of the events preceding the dethroning and beheading of the royal family during French Revolution was noteworthy for a lot of reasons: its anachronistic music and dialogue, the lavish sets and costumes, and a totally meandering plot that focused – as its subject certainly would have – on shiny baubles over historical or narrative context. But you know what Marie Antoinette movie did really, really well? Show us how incredibly obese we would have gotten had we been in her majesty’s court.
Set to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy,” we see Maria Antonia (Kirsten Dunst) settle into her new status in Versailles with a series of flashcuts: trying on colorful clothing, having her hair piled three feet above her head, choosing from a Pantone color wheel of slippers and…yes, eating desserts. Coppola really wanted to drive home the queen’s most famous (but totally unsubstantiated) quote about cake, as we see Antoinette and her escorts eat bon-bon after bonbon, stuffing their faces with clotted cream and popping enough bottles to give TI and Drake a run for their money. Historically accurate? Nope. Delicious? Oui-oui!
9 ½ Weeks
9 ½ Weeks is a very adult film about two adults doing super adult activities together. Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke play two young New York socialites in a brief but intense affair. There are a number of infamous scenes from this film, but one of the most notorious is the “food scene.”
In the scene, Elizabeth (Basinger) and John (Rourke) sit in front of an open refrigerator as John feeds Elizabeth various items of food with passionate intensity. The menu for this sensuous sequence includes strawberries, cherries, honey, and Jell-O. Also, because John is a pretty terrible dude, he throws in some jalapenos and, bizarrely, cough syrup. Honestly, we’re totally on board with their fridge-raiding antics until the cough syrup.
Home Alone sees Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) accidentally abandoned by his WASP parents during Christmas, forcing him to defend their million-dollar home against the Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), two wacky burglars who seek to plunder his parents’ electronics and also murder him. Being home alone for several days, Kevin obviously has to feed himself, which means tons of food that an 8-year-old kid would like to eat, which means all of the best food.
Kevin orders a gigantic cheese pizza that looks like it would sustain us for days. He eats a huge sundae using what appears to be three different pints of ice cream. And, in a truly heartbreaking stroke, he prepares what might be the tastiest-looking bowl of macaroni and cheese we have ever seen, only to abandon it uneaten in order to battle the Wet Bandits.
For a movie about a local restaurant’s rat infestation, it would have been enough if Disney’s Ratatouille just kept us from hurling up our popcorn and Reese’s. But because we’re talking Pixar, the story of Remy the rat helping a French restaurant earn a better star rating by using a human marionette is nothing short of adorable.
There are many delicious moments to choose from in Ratatouille–which again, is a miracle on par with Jesus turning water into a fun alcoholic beverage–but for our money, we’re going to go with the aforementioned scene when antagonist food critic Anton Ego has a bite of confit byaldi and is instantly transported to his mother’s kitchen, thus becoming a good guy in the course of a chew-and-swallow.
Harold and Kumar
In Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, the titular Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) are trying their damndest to get to White Castle and enjoy some delicious micro burgers. A series of hijinks (several of which take the form of Neil Patrick Harris) prevent them from achieving their goal until the very end of the film.
Normally, a trip to White Castle is one of desperation or final resort. However, when Harold and Kumar finally get to enjoy their meal, the movie has done such a good job of building it up that it actually looks good. This film does the unthinkable in that it actually makes us want to go to White Castle.
When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is a love story spanning several years and reminds us all how lucky we are to live in an era where absolutely everyone you’ve ever met is just a Facebook search away, so you don’t have to just stumble through life hoping to run into a specific person again. In the infamous diner scene, Sally (Meg Ryan) demonstrates to Harry (Billy Crystal) exactly how easy it is for a woman to fake an orgasm.
Obvious distraction aside, the food Harry and Sally are sitting down to eat looks quite good. Sally’s order in particular (despite being insufferably condescending to the poor waitress) is a slice of apple pie with melted ice cream and fruit, which honestly sounds so good she might not have been faking.
Groundhog Day sees prickly weatherman Phil (Bill Murray) forced to relive the same day of his life over and over again, which produces some predictably wacky results, such as multiple suicide attempts. No matter how he ends the day, every time Phil dies or goes to sleep, he wakes up that same morning. One way he decides to take advantage of his immortality is to eat enough calories to power a passenger jet.
Phil sits in the local diner and orders what we assume is every single item on the menu, shoving an entire pastry into his mouth in one memorable shot. It’s the kind of guilt-free feast we wish we could enjoy without worrying about cholesterol drop-kicking our arteries like a professional wrestler.
Martin Scorsese loves putting his mom Catherine to work in his movies. Gangsters Tommy (Joe Pesci), Jimmy (Robert DeNiro) and Henry (Ray Liotta) kill a made man and have to quickly hide the body to avoid retribution. So, they stop by Tommy’s mother’s house to grab a shovel, and Tommy’s mother (played by Catherine Scorsese) insists on cooking them pasta in the middle of the night.
It’s a memorable scene, not only because it’s a perfectly normal dinner between friends, with Tommy getting gently ribbed by his mother, but because the bounty of pasta she makes for them looks delicious. It looks tasty enough to make us forget that a man is slowly decomposing in the trunk of a car about 100 feet away from the table.
Home Alone 2
In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) takes heroic advantage of his father’s credit card to stay in the Plaza Hotel, which is more expensive on a nightly basis than most mortgage payments. During his rascally adventure in New York City, Kevin also orders $967 worth of room service in 1992 dollars, most of it on fancy desserts.
We’re not going to lie – any one of us would spend $967 on cake and ice cream at 9 years old. Were it within our power, we would probably spend $967 on cake and ice cream today, as adults. Plus, Kevin hires a limousine to drive him around with pizza and Coke, which is the change Uber needs to make if it wants to stay on top of the ride-sharing market.
Monty Python and the Meaning of Life
The scene doesn’t make us hungry, necessarily, but it is undeniably one of the most memorable dining sequences in all of cinema. One of the vignettes in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life features Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones), a morbidly obese man who eats absolutely every item on the menu at a fancy French restaurant, egged on by the impish maitre d’ (John Cleese).
After explosively vomiting up everything he eats, Mr. Creosote announces that he is full. The maître d’ convinces him to eat one last “wafer-thin” mint, which immediately causes the overstuffed Creosote to explode. It’s one of the most infamously grotesque moments in movie history, so it’s less “mouth-watering” and more “dries up our mouths forever more.”
American Psycho is, in many ways, a companion piece to the more abrasive Fight Club, in that it satirizes a specific male lifestyle so sharply that many of the film’s fans do not realize it is satire. There are several scenes in the film that deal with fine dining in late 1980s New York City, but it’s arguably the opening title sequence that really gets our mouths watering.
Starting with a few drips of red liquid against a white background, we’re initially led to believe (thanks to the film’s title and subject matter) that we’re watching blood fall onto some white surface. But as the sequence progresses, we realize we’re seeing a fruit glaze being dripped on an incredibly expensive gourmet entrée. The camera then pans across several other entrées, all equally appetizing and unaffordable.
Seeing as how it’s a movie about a food truck, virtually every scene in Jon Favreau’s Chef makes us hungry. In the film, Favreau’s Carl quits his job as the chef at an upscale restaurant to serve food he feels passionate about, which means a bunch of gourmet dishes and delicious-looking Cuban sandwiches.
The gourmet dishes look fine and all, but the stuff Carl serves from his food truck is what really makes us count down the minutes until lunch time. We weren’t the only ones, apparently – the Cubanos in the film looked so good that Favreau eventually shared the recipe he used (created by chef Roy Choi) on Reddit.
Fellowship of the Ring
There’s a ton of eating in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but easily the most memorable scene in which fantasy creatures gobble up decidedly non-fanciful food is Bilbo Baggins’ (Ian Holm) birthday party in The Fellowship of the Ring.
In addition to a thunderously excellent fireworks show, the Hobbits tuck into what appears to be the produce section of a major supermarket and several hijacked Boston Market delivery trucks. There’s also stacks of cakes and no less than an entire reservoir of beer. We’re betting none of these Hobbit partygoers lived to be 111.
In Quentin Tarantino’s frustratingly difficult to spell World War II spaghetti western Inglourious Basterds, dapper Nazi Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) sits down to eat with Shoshanna Dreyfuss (Melanie Laurent), who has essentially been kidnapped into a lunch date with a bunch of other Nazis. It’s a tense scene, as we’re all waiting to see whether Landa will recognize Shoshanna as a girl he tried to execute years before, but it’s also a delicious one, because Landa orders a bunch of strudel that looks pretty dang good.
Landa does that infuriating thing wherein he orders an item of food for the whole table that only he specifically wants to eat, but the creamy desert looks like it’s totally worth putting up with his nonsense. It’s maybe not worth the “is he going to murder me?” tension that Shoshanna is feeling, but she genuinely seems to enjoy the bites she takes, and it makes all of us want to pause the movie and figure out if Grubhub delivers strudel.
To be fair, food probably isn’t the first thing you think of when talking about Marvel’s breakthrough superhero team-up film The Avengers, unless you’re thinking of all the words Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is forced to eat after The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) beats him like a wet towel against the luxury tiles of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey, Jr.) penthouse bar. But if you watch until the very end of the credits, you get a delicious treat.
In a brief post-credits scene, the Avengers are sitting at a table in a destroyed Shawarma restaurant, quietly eating Shawarma together. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in particular looks to be enjoying it, as he is chewing forcefully enough to travel backwards through time. It’s enough to make us crave some Shawarma of our own.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
It’s tough to watch any Ninja Turtles movie and not get hungry, but none of them quite compare to the original 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in which our stealthy green heroes eat no less than 400 pounds of delicious Domino’s Pizza throughout the film.
The movie is essentially a commercial for many things, such as Ninja Turtles toys, local news affiliates, and improved wages for the sanitation department, but the product it sells the hardest is Domino’s Pizza, perhaps the purest form of human fuel ever conceived.
Mortal Kombat holds many distinctions – it’s arguably the best movie adaptation of a video game (dubious distinction), it features hilariously dated visual effects (somewhat less dubious distinction), and it has the most inexplicable feast scene in the history of cinema (proud distinction).
Kano (Trevor Goddard), a drunken underworld pirate with a robotic eye, sits at the head of a glorious banquet table loaded with roast beasts of every kind, fruit, cakes, goblets of wine, and a conspicuously gigantic wheel of cheese. We, the audience, watch in delight as Kano eats random pieces of food for what feels like two minutes, which is a long time in a 90-minute movie. Once it ends, we’re all left craving grapes and turkey legs, and wondering where we can find a wheel of cheese at 1 a.m.