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Film / The Pest

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"I simply aim to scam, simply because I can!"

Released in 1997, The Pest is an independent Black Comedy film directed by Paul Miller and starring John Leguizamo as Pest. It draws a lot of inspiration from the 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game".

Pestario "Pest" Vargas (Leguizamo) is a fast-talking, silver-tongued professional con artist living in the heat of Miami, FL. At least, to the people that fall for his scams. In reality, he's a clumsy, loud-mouthed teenager who makes a living off of the local stupidity. He also happens to owe a lot of money to the Scottish mafia. $50,000 to be exact. He has 2 days to get them the cash. Lucky for him, he comes across a German huntsman, named Gustav Shank (Jeffrey Jones), who owns a private island where he does said hunting, and offers Pest $50,000 to go hunting with him. So what's the catch? He is! Now he has 1 day to survive the wilderness, dodge the crazed huntsman and the Scottish mob, and have dinner with his girlfriend's parents!

The Pest contains examples of the following tropes

  • Abusive Parents: Played for laughs. Two of Gustav's ideas for "toughening up his son" include locking Himmel in a room with a big snake as a child and refusing to let him out until he killed it, and trying to get him to go along with his efforts at "Hunting the Most Dangerous Game".
  • Affably Evil: Gustav is generally polite and sporting, if a little abrasive. He even gives Pest a 1 hour head start before hunting him down.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: While in Gustav's private study, Pest notices a few choice books on a shelf such as "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" and "Mein Kampf". There is also a globe in the study that has "The United States of Germany" over North America.
    Pest: Wow, somebody's a sore loser.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Gustav's son, Himmel has a peculiar obsession with snakes.
    Pest: So, uh, what was your snakes name?
    Himmel: Cocteau.
    Pest: Coc-teau? Like the French playwright?
    Himmel: Nein, after my two favorite body parts.
  • AM/FM Characterization: At one point, Pest gets into a battle of music with two preppy white boys who blast "I Love Rock n Roll" from their car while he blasts Latin hip-hop from his.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: The Chinese Restaurant scene.
  • Asshole Victim: Even the advertisement admits that Pest is probably better off dead. And Gustav finds Pest so annoying that he eventually goes from "kill him because I want to" to "It's my duty to kill this jerk!".
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Gustav takes Himmel with him to hunt Pest down, much to Himmel's protest.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: It's also possible to read Himmel's obsession with snakes as a sexual one.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: At one point Pest pulls Leo's pants down, exposing his red boxer shorts.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Though he might have been joking, Gustav claims that apart from the obvious, Pest can't be a Japanese karaoke singer called Uni Wasabi because he'd previously hunted and killed an actual Uni Wasabi.
  • Equal-Opportunity Offender: Pest regularly disguises himself with offensive impressions of Chinamen, Scottsmen, Jews and even WASPs. The movie's depiction of actual people like this isn't much kinder. At least he doesn't do Black Face.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Gustav Claims to have hunted every type of animal known to man, so he decided to start hunting every type of man!
  • Groin Attack: the mafia plants a tracking device on Pest that burns his testicles during the dinner with his girlfriend’s parents.
  • Jerkass: The Pest is one incredibly annoying individual. So much so that the plot of the movie is that he gets invited to Shank's island by mistake (confusion between Shank and Shank's butler as to which "specimen" Shank was indicating), but Shank finds him so damn irritating that he decides he has a duty to kill Pest.
  • Large Ham: Pest.
    The key to this scam is convincing people that I am... bliiiiiiind.
  • McNinja: Pest's friend Bruce goes by the alias "Ninja", and he exists to do some impressive acrobatics before being knocked out, drugged, and/or held hostage for a gag.
  • Meaningful Name: More like "Meaningful Nickname", but still, he's not called "Pest" for no reason.
  • Overly Long Name: His full name is Pestario Rivera Garcia Picante Salsa Vargas.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: He works as a delivery boy at a Chinese restaurant, with a Chinese-exclusive staff, while wearing a bowl-cut wig.
    Manager: You know, you no even look Chinese, you look like Moe from free stooges!
    • In a later scene, at a night club, Pest sees Gustav across the room from him and heads to the restroom to hide. He bumps into a Japanese businessman, who enters the restroom, and Pest follows after, coming out in the businessman's attire.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: At one point, Pest is taking a dump in jungle, while reciting the "To be or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet.
    Pest:(grunting) Whether 'tis nobler in the mind-*farts* to suffer the slings and arrows-*farts* of outrageous fortune-*farts*
  • Take That!: Pest and one of his friends mock two white party boys by imitating Beavis and Butt-Head in front of them.
  • Toilet Humor: Expect dozens of fart, vomit and dung jokes during the events of the film.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The title character is a proud con artist who sees everyone and everything in terms of how it can personally benefit him, then con his way out of responsibility. Even when the movie depicts him as a Dirty Coward and cheat, it's all played for Black Comedy.
  • Villain Song: At least if you consider Pest a Villain Protagonist, since "Voodoo Mambo" has Pest rapping about how great he is at ripping people off.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: After Himmel helps Pest off the island, using Gustav's boat, it turns out both of them get sea sick. Turns out this also saves Pest's life since he unknowingly ate poison earlier.
    Pest: Come on we'll take your father's boat.
    Himmel: I get sea sick!
    Pest: You'll do fine!
    Cut to both of them vomiting off the side of the boat