The five best burgers in cinema history

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Is there a more simple and delicious item of food that the humble burger? Probably not. Enjoyed in great quantities across the world in restaurants and at BBQs with a generous side order of fries, the burger is the ultimate handheld food and it’s frequently been depicted in all its glory in the medium of cinema.

A burger can be used in several different ways in a movie, whether providing a moment of comic relief or giving an air of relatability to a character. After all, a burger possesses such humble origins that it can bring the extraordinary down into the ordinary and douse a film with a sense of humanism.

Of course, a movie burger also has brilliance in how it can get the taste buds tingling. The setting of a simple burger joint allows an audience to feel comfortable, though this can either be a false sense of security or a homely feeling that warms the soul. Between those two slices of brioche bread can exist a whole cinematic motif.

We’ve compiled a list of the greatest burgers in cinema history. So, from hitmen tucking into their target’s dinner to stoned pursuits of deliciousness, grab a napkin, squirt some ketchup and mustard, and bite into some of the juiciest cinematic burger moments of all time.

The five best movie burgers of all time:

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (Danny Leiner, 2004)

We begin with a stoner comedy that’s perfect for chomping into the goodness of a tasty burger. In fact, the entirety of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle revolves around the titular slacker pair going on a quest to satisfy their stoned cravings for White Castle’s endlessly delicious sliders.

However, things can never be easy for Harold and Kumar. Their journey towards their desired burgers is filled with strange encounters with a crazy version of Neil Patrick Harris and a seriously aggressive raccoon. Finally, though, the loveable duo finally get their meal, making the wait all worth it.

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Falling Down (Joel Schumacher, 1993)

However, not all the best cinematic burgers are actually delicious. Take, for instance, Michael Douglas’ seriously pissed-off man in Falling Down, who gets slowly infuriated by the false advertising of a fast food joint that promises a burger of magnificently tasty proportions. What William Foster gets instead is a pale (literally) imitation of what is up on the board.

Any emotionally normal person might just accept the nature of fast food and scoff the burger instead, but having suffered an argument with the manager, he pulls a gun and proceeds to deliver a rant on the disappointment of reality vs expectations that modern capitalist life often provides.

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Good Burger (Brian Robbins, 1997)

A movie that has burgers at its entire core is Brian Robbins’ teen comedy Good Burger, starring Kenan and Kel of Nickelodeon fame. A ‘Good Burger’ sketch had arrived in the variety show All That, but the 1997 film version took the brilliance of the short piece and delivered it in a moreish feature-length laugh-a-thon.

Kenan and Kel played Dexter and Ed, two young employees for the titular burger joint, who desperately try to save their place of work from being overshadowed by the huge new restaurant on the scene, Mondo Burger. If the pair’s catchphrase, “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?” isn’t enough to get the saliva going, then nothing will.

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The Menu (Mark Mylod, 2022)

Having suffered the prevention and near-death experience of Julian Slowik’s elitist high-concept restaurant Hawthorne, Anya Taylor-Joy’s character flips the tables on Ralph Fiennes‘ chef character and appeals to his youthful nostalgia by requesting a humble cheeseburger, the food that Slowik first cooked.

In contrast to the overly-prepared and garnished concept dishes previously served, Slowik’s burger is as simple as the classic meal ought to be and the chef actually seems to enjoy making it more than his usual overpriced fare. Margot’s enjoyment of the burger says everything about the ridiculous nature of high-end cuisine and offers an important message about simple authenticity.

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Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

As far as iconic burgers in cinema go, though, it’s hard to look beyond the brilliance of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules Winnfield and John Travolta’s Vincent Vega always seem to have a burger or two on their minds when they’re not taking care of matters for crime boss Marcellus Wallace. But Jules takes things to another level when he eyes up a Big Kahuna Burger on the table of young Brett’s apartment.

Tension builds as Jules picks up the burger, takes a big bite and tells Brett just how tasty the damn thing is before washing it all down with a few gulps of Sprite. This all seems very casual for Jules, who is moments away from delivering a biblical sermon and bringing Brett to an early grave, but it’s with ease the best burger moment in the history of cinema.

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