Back to the Future (1985)
The Wimp: George McFly (Crispin Glover)
Geek Chic: Who doesn't have a soft spot for the eminently loveable loser George McFly?
Thanks to son Marty's time travelling shenanigans, George McFly is eventually able to escape his longtime oppressor Biff Tannen. In 1985, Biff is George's supervisor, and 30 years earlier he was making his life at high school a living hell.
Even though Marty almost ruins his dad's chance to get with his mum, things turn out ok when George smacks Biff in the kisser, and steals Lorraine's heart in the process. Cheers all round.
Wimpiest Quote: "I know, and all I can say is I'm… I'm sorry."
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
The Wimp(s): Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine), Gilbert Lowell (Anthony Edwards) and their fellow nerds.
Geek Chic: The nerds came to the forefront in this ground-breaking comedy. Lewis and Gilbert tire of being mistreated by jock fraternity the Alpha Betas and sorority group the Pi Delta Pis, and after being ousted from their own dorm, they plot their revenge.
The many-pronged attack includes taking nudie photos of the Pi Delta Pis, and putting a powerful irritant in the Alpha Betas' football jock straps.
For a concise summary of the movie, check out this inspired scene from American Splendor .
Wimpiest Quote: Gilbert: "I just wanted to say that I'm a nerd, and I'm here tonight to stand up for the rights of other nerds."
Take the Money and Run (1969)
The Wimp: Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen)
Geek Chic: Woody Allen has played countless wimps in his time (his slight frame and thick specs are valuable assets for the roles), but none are as pathetic (or funny) as his turn as hapless robber Virgil in Take the Money .
Virgil is as unsuccessful with the ladies (his long-running relationship with apathetic Louise is hard work) as he is robbing banks (poorly handwritten notes, substitute guns or clashing heists get in the way), as depicted throughout this mockumentary.
His patheticism is perfectly captured by the fact he's repeatedly having his glasses smashed by any number of assailants.
Wimpiest Quote: "Nobody wears beige to a bank robbery!"
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wimp: The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr)
Geek Chic: Cinematic wimps don't come more iconic than Oz 's simpering Lion.
Joining the Scarecrow and the Tin Man to make up Dorothy's travelling companions, he doesn't provide the prowess you'd expect from one of nature's deadliest hunters.
Sure he's pretty camp, and barely convincing as a feline, but it turns out he's pretty courageous after all, and all he needs is a shiny medal acting as a placebo to prove it.
Wimpiest Quote: "You're right, I am a coward! I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself."
The Wimp: Hoggle (Shari Weiser; Brian Henson (voice))
Geek Chic: Hoggle is a grumpy cowardly dwarf who (kinda) helps Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) rescue her baby brother from the titular maze.
Hoggle is killing fairies when we first see him on screen, like some kind of mythical Rentokil man (though they do bite, to be fair), and the slimy turncoat seems to have various loyalties throughout the quest (he is actually in league with David Bowie's goblin king Jareth before his sympathetic instincts kick in).
Shows his true namby-pamby nature when it comes to going anywhere near the Bog of Eternal Stench…
Wimpiest Quote: "You have to understand my position. I'm a coward. And Jareth scares me".
The Mask (1994)
The Wimp: Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey)
Geek Chic: Mild-mannered Stanley leads an uneventful life as a bank clerk, and his only bit of excitement comes in the form of foxy customer Tina Carlyle (Cameron Diaz), who turns up to open a checking account.
Stanley is pushed around by everyone he comes into contact with, including doormen at cool night spots, mechanics, manipulative journalists, and gangsters.
It's only when he discovers the magical facewear that he finally grows the cojones that allow him to take on his societal oppressors and pursue the girl of his dreams.
Wimpiest Quote: "I mean, uh, what is this world coming to when a man's pajama drawer is no longer safe?"
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The Wimp: Robert Ford (Casey Affleck)
Geek Chic: Well, it's pretty much spelled out in the title, though director Andrew Chopper Dominik complicates that implied simplicity.
Casey Affleck's turn as wimpy Ford is one of his finest performances. The sleazy sycophant has idolised Jesse James since childhood, reading the trashy fictions that recounted the famous train-robbing adventures.
Ford gets the opportunity to join James' gang when his older brother becomes a member, and he is both humiliated and befriended by the troubled, guarded James before he eventually becomes his assassin. The richness of the performances in this languid tale demand repeat viewings.
Wimpiest Quote: "I've been a nobody all my life. I was the baby; I was the one they made promise to that they never kept. And ever since I can recall it, Jesse James has been as big as a tree."
Galaxy Quest (1999)
The Wimp: Guy (Sam Rockwell)
Geek Chic: Sam Rockwell really grabbed attention as the yellow-bellied extra in this much-loved Star Trek parody.
As one of the stars of the original Galaxy Quest show, Guy played 'Crewman #6' (basically a red shirt). When he ends up as part of the crew taken to negotiate a real conflict between warring alien factions, he is terrified that he'll suffer the same fate as his anonymous TV counterpart.
Moustachioed Guy remains wimpy throughout, fretting constantly and bagging the movie's biggest laughs, though when the show goes back on the air, he's gifted with a character name.
Wimpiest Quote: "I'm not even supposed to be here. I'm just 'Crewman #6.' I'm expendable. I'm the guy in the episode who dies to prove how serious the situation is. I've gotta get outta here!"
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Wimp: Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall)
Geek Chic: Brian Johnson filled the nerdy quotient of the quintet of high school stereotypes that attended John Hughes' Saturday morning detention.
Hughes had a real knack for capturing the teenage mindset and Brian is one of his strongest characters. He convinces as a geek, ostracised by the cooler kids and dismayed at the staying power of his virginity, but he also has a genuine likeability that helps to amalgamate the troubled teens.
A rare movie sap who doesn't have to wear glasses or talk with a funny voice to prove his feebleness.
Wimpiest Quote: "I'm in the math club."
The Goonies (1985)
The Wimp: Chunk (Jeff Cohen)
Geek Chic: The chubby, belly-wobbling storyteller of the gang from the Goon Docks in Oregon is definitely the least brave member.
Sporting a mop of curly hair, and pairing Hawaiian shirts with checked trousers, excitable Chunk is the first to get nervous once the gang's treasure-seeking adventure takes them to the abandoned restaurant where criminal family the Fratellis are hiding out.
Seemingly only soothed by ice cream, chocolate or pizza, Chunk is quick to fess up to his criminal captors, but he manages to be of some use when he teams up with deformed Fratelli brother Sloth and provides his compadres with some 11th hour assistance.
Wimpiest Quote: "Mikey, Mikey, come on, our parents are worried. It's dinnertime. Why don't we go home?"