Some like to cram in a workout; others prefer to read the newspaper with a hot cup of coffee; (many) others prefer to hit snooze until it’s guaranteed that we will spend our morning frazzled and anxious. Whatever your poison, there's no denying that the specifics of a morning routine speak volumes about a person. And this is perhaps why so many films open with the main character waking up. These scenes reveal immediate, crucial information about the subject and let the viewers know precisely what kind of person they'll be dealing with for the next hour and a half.
Here, then, are our top eight morning scenes in films and what they tell us about a character. We’ve also reminded you of eight glorious movies to stay up and watch, which we’re sure will do wonders for your a.m. habits.
8. Harold Crick, "Stranger Than Fiction"
This opening scene perfectly captures how the sometimes mundane, meticulous nature of morning routines can render them meaningless. Emma Thompson narrates the exact number of repetitions Will Ferrell’s character makes as he goes through his scheduled morning tasks. We immediately feel a connection with this character and his need to create a ritual in order to go through the motions day in and day out. Also, the closeup of Will Ferrell’s neck fat is art in its truest form.
7. Truman Burbank, "The Truman Show"
Truman’s morning ritual involves reciting a dramatic monologue to his reflection, as the rest of the world watches him on live television, unbeknownst to him. Morning pep talks are a part of many of our morning routines, and Truman's immediately showcases the type of ebullient character he is — as well as how unaware he is that he's being filmed. We also see how his assumed ‘private’ self is much more eccentric than his public self, as his interaction with his reflection is contrasted with his conventional and cordial reciting of his trademark “Good morning!" to his neighbors. This clever juxtaposition helps us relate to Truman and immediately makes us sympathetic of his situation.
6. Lester Burnham, "American Beauty"
Is there any more pathetic a suburban man than Lester Burnham? First, he jerks off in the shower, which he informs us will be the high point of the next 24 hours. In his words, “It’s all downhill from there.” He’s not wrong, as the sequence ends with his wife berating him for making her late, just as his briefcase opens and all of his paperwork cascades onto the pavement. This one makes it into the top six for making us feel like we’re not alone after all. We’ve all felt like Lester, bored with our lives and hesitant to face the day. Maybe don’t follow his lead according to the rest of the plot though.
5. Cher Horowitz, "Clueless"
Cher wakes up with her hair perfectly coiffed and makeup intact, picks out a wonderfully heinous outfit from her computerized walk-in closet and then drives without a license in the Jeep her daddy bought her. She also runs over a massive potted plant in someone’s front yard because she’s a virgin who can’t drive. But, as Cher assures us, in her mind, she actually has a way normal life for a teenage girl, which proves exactly what kind of blinders she wears. But we love her because she's lovable. Anyway, she gets major brownie points for inspiring young women everywhere to hate their own, boring lives and to yearn for a life full of yellow plaid skirt and blazer sets.
4. Mavis Gary, "Young Adult"
Nothing says "today is happening" quite like lying face-down on your bed fully clothed as the television fills the room with the sound of a reality star crying. That's exactly how Mavis starts her morning in “Young Adult,” just before she gets her hungover ass out of bed, attempts to write and eventually resorts to online shopping and gagging at photos of babies. It’s the perfect introduction to the shallow mess that is Mavis, and one that might be a little too real for some. Mavis also earns earns extra points for finally giving screen time to the pain of waking up with last night’s pasties still stuck to your chest. This is a real issue that deserves a voice, as well as the honor of third place on our list.
3. Patrick Bateman, "American Psycho"
"I believe in taking care of myself," says Patrick Bateman in a voiceover, the camera sweeping through his palatial New York City apartment. With icy precision, he proceeds to walk us through his exercise and exfoliation routine, as well as all the precautions he takes to ensure he is in peak physical shape. There's something rather absorbing about the whole thing — especially with with cascading piano in the background. His determination to it certainly demands our envy, but there's something off about the excruciating detail he seems to obsess over, that it's more than about mere vanity. His a.m. habits make it all too clear that something is wrong: Bateman is a yuppie extraordinaire who gets his jollies from offing random women and coworkers.
2. Ferris Bueller, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
You can tell a lot about a person by how they spend a day off. And we know right away that Ferris is as cool as he is calculating, as he walks us through his views on calling out sick while casually stringing up his in-bed decoy before singing, mohawk-haired, into the shower head. Also, shan’t we forget, “It’s a little childish and stupid, but then again, so is high school.” Ferris' routine makes us immediately fall in love with him; much like his friends, we're ready to follow whereever he leads.
1. Pee Wee Herman, "Pee Wee’s Big Adventure"
The gold standard for mornings. Pee Wee begins his day with the contagious enthusiasm — and clueless nature — that define him. He begins with an elaborate dream about winning the Tour de France, wakes up feeling genuinely excited, throws on some bunny slippers, slides down a pole that leads into his kitchen and sets off a rube goldberg setup that begins with lighting a candle and ends in a perfectly prepared breakfast. It takes a certain amount of bravery to take on the morning with that much enthusiasm and he reaches a level of silliness to which we should all strive.