There's a lot of drinking going on in movies, which is a relatively mundane reality, but what's most notable about it is how Hollywood misunderstands alcohol completely. There are scenes where people become drunk immediately after ingesting alcohol, and conversely, scenes where people become sober the moment it behooves them without any indication that these individuals apparently have a superhuman control over their metabolic rate. In general, there just seem to be weird drinking rules showing up in movies - rules that often defy science or even logic for no apparent reason.
The most annoying thing about the misrepresentation of alcohol in movies is how seemingly lazy it is. Is there a reason why the screenwriter couldn't write into the script, "Guy walks up to bar and orders a Manhattan," instead of, "Guy walks into a bar and orders 'a beer,'" a request which is immediately fulfilled?
Here are a bunch of examples of movies that just don't understand drinking at all, and explanations of how these events would actually go down in real life.
Drinking Competitions Are A Cool, Fun Way To Show Off How Tough You Are
Properties Where This Happens: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lord Of The Rings, Beerfest
How Hollywood Thinks It Works: There is absolutely no better way to let everyone know you're a serious badass than to beat someone in a drinking contest. You each take shots until one of you passes out, and then the winner goes on to have the greatest night ever.How It REALLY Works: Have you ever seen someone play a "drinking game" where the whole goal was just to see who could take the most shots in a row for over 10 minutes? Of course not; you're a real live person. However, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, that's exactly what happens when Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) defeats a burly mountain man at her bar by literally drinking so much that he passes out in front of her. Here's the thing, though: it takes around 30 minutes, depending on your body type, for alcohol to hit your system with the "peak" level hitting anywhere from 45-90 minutes later. That means if THAT huge guy was already pass-out drunk, Marion would have been way drunker than she was presented as being at around the time her bar burned down.
Ordering "A Beer" At A Bar Is Totally Valid And The Bartender Will Know Exactly Which One You Want
Properties Where This Happens: Eyes Wide Shut, Daredevil, almost every movie with a bar scene
How Hollywood Thinks It Works: You can walk up to a bar and order "a beer," and the requisitely psychic bartender will immediately fetch you one, no questions asked. Tom Cruise's character does this in Eyes Wide Shut (which is a little ironic since he's also played a bartender before).How It REALLY Works: Go order "a beer" at a bar. The bartender's immediate response will be a harsh scowl and a question regarding which one. That is the only rational response to such an order.
Inebriation Wears Off Pretty Much As Soon As You Need It To
Properties Where This Happens: Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Neighbors
How Hollywood Thinks It Works: So, you've had a few and you're having a great time (because drinking is always glamorous), but suddenly the cops show up, or you've got some serious detective work to do. You snap your fingers and bam! You're sober.How It REALLY Works: There's a scene in Blade Runner in which Deckard is absolutely tanked, nearly passing out on his piano, but then he notices Zhora's photo and takes it over to his "esper" machine to analyze the minute details of it with precision, with all signs of his drunkenness evaporated. Your body metabolizes alcohol at a rate of 0.016% per hour. So, let's say Deckard had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .16 (which is pretty drunk, but not fatally so, especially for a replicant). At the normal metabolic rate, it would take him about 10 hours to sober up. Even if it's faster for a replicant, it probably isn't instantaneous.
Alcoholism Can Be Cool
Properties Where This Happens: Pirates of the Caribbean, Beerfest, Game of Thrones
How Hollywood Thinks It Works: Tyrion is probably the most charming character in Game of Thrones, but he is definitely an alcoholic. So many of his quips come up during conversations in which he's deep in his cup and actively refilling, making his alcoholism *almost* worthy of envy.How It REALLY Works: According to Talbott Recovery, alcoholism is the third highest cause of death in the U.S, affecting approximately 17% of men and 8% of women. Alcoholism consumes and destroys people's lives; there is nothing glamorous about it. And there probably shouldn't be so many "cool alcoholics" in movies and television.