From The Google Group Vaults: Top 5 Sidekicks (March 2008)

Since our goal for 2012 is to kick-start Idle Time and keep this website jumping, it might be a good time to take a fond look back at our original website. No, not that one. That’s right, that one. The original Google Group. It’s still there and functioning, but since all Idling eyes should be here at WordPress, the old Group site is like one of those half-empty ghost malls. In its glory days (summer 2007 – early 2009), the Group page enlivened many a dull workday with debates, random thoughts, and the ever-popular Top 5 lists. As explained before, Top 5 lists were the little acorns that grew into the Institute of Idle Time. Anyone was invited to come up with a list topic, and encourage everyone to weigh in with their own entries. There is a lot of fun stuff buried in the old Group site that deserves to be re-discovered and re-read. Hence, this Encore Presentation.

In the spring of 2008, no one had yet seen Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and thus, no one had yet experienced the crippling disappointment of almost Phantom Menace proportions), but as a tip of the battered fedora to Shia LeBeouf‘s introduction to the series, Mike Di Gino posted the topic of Top 5 Sidekicks to the group. Some of the more iconic sidekicks had already been taken by the time I weighed in (repeating items from someone else’s list was allowed in extreme cases, but generally frowned upon), so here’s what I came up with:

Sidekick Type #5: The Sidekick Who Is Not As Cool As You
Milhouse Van HoutenThe Simpsons
A walking, talking self-esteem boost for Bart, the rasping, bespectacled Milhouse would be the sidekick of choice for someone who associates with local psychopaths Dolph, Kearny, and Jimbo. Milhouse can be jettisoned at will, providing a decoy (if the bullies are victimizing Bart), or just because he’s too dorky to hang out (if the bullies are teaming up with Bart). But at the end of the day, Milhouse will always be there, usually stuffed conveniently in a locker.

Sidekick Type #4: The Sidekick Who Is WAY Cooler Than You
Doc HollidayTombstone
These are the type of folks who are content to let you have the spotlight, despite the fact they have more charisma, intelligence, and taste. Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday played second fiddle to Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp, and made Earp look better by association. The audience figures if the super-cool, sharp-shooting, Latin-spouting Holliday sees something in the earnest, wooden dullard Earp, there must be something there.

Sidekick Type #3: The Sidekick Who Always Makes Your Situation Better
Brodie BruceMallrats
Brodie worked tirelessly all day on behalf of T.S. Quint’s floundering love life, ultimately master-minding the successful hijacking of a live TV game show. At the height of the action, Brodie verbalizes the existential dilemma of sidekicks everywhere: “Hey! Why am I his sidekick? How do you know he’s not my sidekick?!”

[Pointless addendum: Out of dozens of worthy candidates, I hereby award Mallrats’ Claire Forlani the coveted Worst Performance In A Kevin Smith Movie prize. Watching her dither and flop around like a freshly-landed carp in her very first scene made Jeff Anderson’s work in Clerks II look like Olivier’s Hamlet.]

Sidekick Type #2: The Sidekick Who Always Makes Your Situation Worse
Walter SobchakThe Big Lebowski
Walter has to know on some level that his clumsy, loud-mouthed attempts to assist The Dude in solving the mystery of the missing Bunny are only making things much, much worse. Therefore, the audience can only conclude that Walter is deriving perverse pleasure from the deteriorating situation. “This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass.” (Or the edited-for-TV version: “This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.”)

Sidekick Type #1: Your Moral Compass
Boo Boo Bear
The ideal sidekick: Your best interests at heart, the little voice in your ear encouraging you to do the right thing, wanting nothing more than to keep you out of trouble and on the straight and narrow as you navigate your way through the Great Jellystone Park of Life. A sidekick worth his weight in pic-a-nic baskets, and who never kicks you in his sleep when you share a suspiciously too-small bed with him for four months straight during hibernation season.

Here’s what some other Group members contributed…

MDG wrote:

5.  Luigi (Mario)

He’s taller, in better shape, and has a hotter girlfriend (did y’all know that Daisy has a southern accent?)  Let squat, pudgy Mario keep thinking he’s calling the shots; we all know who gets the call when a Haunted Mansion needs investigating.

4.  Chewbacca (Han Solo)

In my day, there were two types of boys growing up: the boy who wanted to be Han Solo… and the closet gay kid who wanted to be Luke.  In addition to getting with Leia, wearing a sick vest, and blasting his way out of trouble, ol’ Han always had the devoted services of everybody’s favorite Wookiee.

3.  George Costanza (Jerry Seinfeld)

As much as I love Seinfeld, I might have to admit that my favorite character is not the titular comedic bachelor, but his neurotic, bald, fat buddy George.  Jason Alexander’s character has provided me with more Seinfeld-isms over the years than any of the other three.

2.  Bucky Barnes (Captain America)

As a kid, Bucky’s costume may have been a poor man’s version of Robin’s, but, as a grown-up, Winter Soldier can kick the shit out of Nightwing any day.  There, I said it.

1.  Tinkerbell (Peter Pan)

I’ve had a crush on the Disney pixie since I was six years old.  She sasses around in that ripped-up green skirt, has the power to make that pre-pubescent twat fly, and all without ever speaking a word.”

And finally, Nate wrote:

In no particular order:

Mo – Mike O’Malley may still be getting his face on TV by drunkenly grabbing a microphone at whatever award ceremony he finds, but we all know who the driving force was behind adolescent boys trying to look macho as they slam dunked basketballs with help from bungee-cords attached to the ceiling.

Axl Rose – Play your favorite G’n’R song, which is “Paradise City” (Agreed. –ed.), on your favorite listening device, then listen carefully to the part where Axl sings while Slash solos. Who are you really paying attention to? 

Robin – The best Batman stories deserve the best Robin incarnate, and Frank Miller put one of his many best feet forward when he created Carrie Kelly. A super-bad-ass chick with a no-fear attitude and a pension for non-Robin-esque costumes produced comic-nerd chubbers across the world.

Wang – Watch Big Trouble in Little China a little more closely, and you’ll see that Wang was actually the hero while Jack Burton was the sidekick. But for the sake of archetypal nonsense (? — ed.), I’ll put his name here instead of Jack’s.

Kato – The Green Hornet was cool and all, but really, that show would have been nothing without Bruce Lee. Seriously. C’mon, Bruce Lee? He’s friggin’ Bruce Lee.”