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8 Disastrous Movie Performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

From 2013, we celebrated the Fourth of July with a list of movies dishonoring the American national anthem.
Borat America The Star-Spangled Banner
Twentieth Century Fox
By  · Published on July 4th, 2013

5. The anthem almost kills the entire government in Eagle Eye

We should attach a new tradition to our national anthem where every public performance of it ends with Shia LaBeouf getting shot in the torso. Nothing fatal, of course – we’re not monsters or anything like that – but just a little shot to the shoulder to keep our country emotionally on the up and up. This film came out the same year as Get Smart, and features the exact same Looney Tunes-borrowed plot device where an explosion is triggered by hitting a certain note during a public performance. The only difference is that Get Smart was an over-the-top comedy and Eagle Eye was an attempt at being a political thriller. It’s kind of like if two people drew the same terrible-looking picture, only one of them was an art student and the other was a drunk dog.

6. The Kazakhstan national anthem in Borat

Only just slightly painful to watch, our “foreign” hero performs his version of the national anthem in front of a booing rodeo audience. Ok, it’s extremely painful to watch as the crowd eats him alive for taking the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and inserting his own lyrics about the country of Kazakhstan over it. It’s also funny. Is it just me, or did Borat see the end of the long-standing tradition of overly-quoted comedies? Perhaps after this film along with The Anchorman and Napoleon Dynamite, we finally tired ourselves out — which is surprising considering that we managed through three Austin Powers films.

7. “Enrico Pallazzo” performs in The Naked Gun

In all of my research, two things became clear to me: not only is it very rare to hear the American national anthem in films, but it’s also even rarer to have a scene where it goes terribly wrong. My guess has to be that after the first Naked Gun film there simply wasn’t a need to compete with Leslie Nielsen, who positively slaughters it. And while the results may have been slightly better than in Borat, the following mind control assassination attempt/baseball pig pile/parade stomping surely puts this far above it on the disaster rankings. There’s really only one thing that could be worse…

8. The stadium explosion scene in The Dark Knight Rises

Let’s take a second to think about this. You’re a kid and you’ve been invited to sing the national anthem at a major sporting event in one of the largest cities in the world. Your family, friends, and the whole world watches. It goes beautifully. And right as you’re taking it all in, just as you’re basking in your sweet success, the whole freaking football field turns into hell’s gaping jaws and suddenly a madman dressed like he raided an Army surplus store completely fucking upstages you. What a big, stupid drag. If the kid didn’t die, you know damn well that no one will be talking about his performance. He’s Gotham’s Our American Cousin — but it’s okay because at least he had a “lovely, lovely, voice.”

This list was written by David Christopher Bell

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