Pancake movies: 8 classics to celebrate Shrove Tuesday

It's Shrove Tuesday and people around the country are going flipping mad for pancakes. So to celebrate, we've rounded up eight of our favourite pancake movies to get your stomachs rumbling.

1. The Kid (1921)

Pancakes go back a long way in movies. We're starting our list with the immortal Charlie Chaplin in one of his earliest Hollywood ventures.

Adopting his now-iconic persona of The Tramp, Chaplin writes, directs and stars in The Kid, the story of the bond between Chaplin's character and an abandoned child. The scene where they share breakfast together remains one of the film's most enduring and endearing moments.

2. Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Director Tim Burton returns later this month with Disney remake Dumbo, so what better time to revisit his feature-film debut? Quirky comedy Pee-wee's Big Adventure stars Paul Reubens as an eccentric man-child who sets out to reclaim his stolen bike, and the movie establishes many of the characteristics we now associate with Burton, including its zany Danny Elfman score.

Still, we're here for the breakfast scene, a moment that is later echoed in the cookie factory machinery of Edward Scissorhands.



3. Rain Man (1988)

Originally lined up as a project for Steven Spielberg, sibling road-trip movie Rain Man was eventually helmed by director Barry Levinson and became an enormous success, both commercially and artistically. 

Taking more than $400 million at the box office, it also claimed four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman. He's superb as the autistic elder brother of Tom Cruise's smarmy car salesman – their journey across America is hilarious, revelatory and ultimately tear-jerking. And yes, pancakes are an important motif in cementing their bond.

4. Uncle Buck (1989)

Yesterday marked the 24th anniversary of the beloved John Candy's death, so the inclusion of Uncle Buck in our list resounds with poignancy. 

The popular comic, renowned for the likes of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, plays a slob tasked with looking after nephew Macauley Culkin in this hit John Hughes comedy. When the eponymous Buck lays on a lavish, pancake-strewn birthday celebration for young Miles, it's hard not smile.

5. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pancakes play a subtle yet pivotal role in the closing moments of Quentin Tarantino's ensemble masterpiece. He's a film-maker who often emphasises the bond that arises when people eat and drink together (see the beer scene in Django Unchained), and Pulp Fiction's diner moment is a classic example.

Given the movie is told out of order, the climactic scene actually occurs midway through the narrative, as bantering hitmen Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) tuck into an all-American breakfast. They are eventually confronted with hapless robbers Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer), only for Jules to defuse the situation and lead us into that swaggering, surf guitar-led climax.




6. Matilda (1996)

What is the best Roald Dahl adaptation of them all? You'd be hard-pressed not to include Matilda, actor-director Danny DeVito's affectionate and quick-witted adaptation of Dahl's classic story.

Mara Wilson plays the young bookworm blessed with telekinesis, which she uses on her revolting family and monstrous headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris). The early scenes with the infant Matilda emphasise her tenacity and resolve, as we see her whip up a host of delicious-looking scotch pancakes – it's a moment that's both delightful and character development.


7. The Big Lebowski (1998)

The Coen brothers' freewheeling classic mixes up the tropes of an archetypal film noir with the atmosphere of a befuddled stoner comedy. Although something of a flop on release, this story of Jeff Bridges' laid-back bowling fanatic (and White Russsian drinker) has developed a firm cult following, and the film's multitude of odd characters remains a rich pleasure.

In a typically bizarre Coen movie, the eponymous Lebowski crosses paths with some violent German nihilists, represented by leader Peter Stormare (seen in the Coens' earlier Fargo). The brief moment where they're glimpsed ordering pancakes with "ze pigs in blankets" is characteristic of the Coens' off-the-wall humour.



8. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018)

Here's a rib-tickling Disney scene that didn't play a part in the Wreck-It Ralph 2 storyline, but that was instead relegated to a post-credits slot. (It also featured prominently in the trailers.)

In what is surely a homage to the hilariously gross Mr. Creosote scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (featuring the late, lamented Terry Jones), internet-breaking arcade game baddie Ralph (John C. Reilly) invades an app. The premise: to feed milkshakes to a cat and pancakes to a bunny rabbit. However, Ralph takes the latter objective a bit too earnestly, overloading the bunny to the extent he swells and bursts. We're spared the gory details, but the little girl watching things unfold on her device is surely traumatised for life.


What are your favourite pancake scenes from films? Let us know your choices @Cineworld – and bon appetit!