A suited and booted James Bond cutting through an opulent casino before pausing at the baccarat table is a movie cliché. For most of us, the closest we’ll get to a luxury casino is a night at the bingo, but you don’t get many of those to the pound in Hollywood.
Even if you’ve never darkened the doors of a brick-and-mortar bingo hall, everyone’s familiar with the accessibility and community-minded spirit of bingo. But times have changed, these days the bingo hall is somewhat of an anachronism.
There are now loads of online bingo sites that do a fantastic job of replicating the live experience for a new generation of players. And while many ‘live’ bingo halls are in decline, the old-school bingo experience has left a profound legacy.
If you know where to look, of course…
So, join us now as we explore some classic bingo scenes in four movies and one award-winning TV Show. We’ll get onto that later, let’s kick off with one for the kids.
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
This animated offering from Sony Pictures was nominated for ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ at the Golden Globes. It stars Adam Sandler as Count Dracula, but the scene stealer is surely the little bingo skulls, whispering their value to the caller.
What’s great about the scene isn’t just the payoff (no spoilers here!) It’s the bingo hall with its amazing characters. Sure, it’s not the most flattering depiction of a bingo game, but it literally screams ‘fun’!
It’s funny how, these days, we barely think of a movie after its cinema/TV run has passed. This has a lot to do with the sheer quantity of choices we have in our modern age, which means that former classics can get lost, even forgotten.
Cocoon is a prime example, it was a smash hit in its heyday with a sterling cast that includes Dom Ameche, Wilford Brimley, and Hume Cronyn. The plot revolves around a bunch of old guys who are suddenly rejuvenated after a visit to an alien-infested swimming pool.
The bingo scene in the movie is a poignant one, and we’re not even going to explain how or why. If you want to learn more, you must see Cocoon, and if you don’t, you still must see Cocoon!
Full Monty (1997)
The ‘bingo scene’ in The Full Monty is more than the sum of its parts because it doesn’t really exist. Instead, the bingo hall provides the backdrop for a troupe of unemployed steelworkers with a new career, testing out their striptease routine!
What’s interesting about the scene is that it takes us back to a time and a place that seems to have disappeared. A time when the bingo hall was for many people, women especially, a huge part of their lives.
It’s a fondly remembered place too, there is nothing cynical or condescending here, just a really funny scene with a great bingo-related pay-off. One of the great British films of the 90’s the Full Monty will be, for many, a trip down memory lane.
Bad Grandpa (2013)
Bingo is often depicted in movies and TV shows as a game played by older citizens, indeed, bingo in certain circumstances can almost be shorthand for ‘old’. Of course, in our modern, online world bingo is enjoyed by everyone/anyone, but as late as 2013, bingo still had a geriatric stigma.
Most younger people still see traditional bingo as a game that older people play. An excellent example of this perception being exploited to the max is Bad Grandpa, brought to you by the guys that created Jackass, which is all you need to know.
Jonny Knoxville himself donned prosthetics to play a curmudgeonly old widow, and one of the funniest scenes in the movie takes place at the bingo hall. Whether or not his fellow players knew it was Knoxville in disguise is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t matter either way. Hilarious!
Better Call Soul (2015)
We mentioned one award-winning TV show earlier, and you’ve got it. For those in the know, this might be one of the best TV shows ever -if you’ve never heard of this Breaking Bad side hustle, get stuck in.
Bob Odenkirk plays Saul, a decidedly dodgy lawyer down on his luck who, at one point, finds himself as a bingo hall caller. And at just over five minutes long this is one of TV’s greatest scenes in the past decade.
The acting, casting, direction, attention to detail -everything- is outstanding. Even when enjoyed without plot context the bingo scene is quite brilliant, but you’re urged to watch the whole show that concluded August 15, 2022.
So, when it comes to the best bingo scenes in movies, the TV scene in Better Call Saul hits the jackpot!