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Top 10 Rube Goldberg Machines in Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake Talk about zany action and crazy contraptions! Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Rube Goldberg Machines in Movies. For this list, we're taking a look at over-engineered devices that result in jaw dropping chain reactions, and which are usually designed to complete a very simple job. Special thanks to our user Mark Gabel for submitting the idea at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Top 10 Rube Goldberg Machines in Movies

Talk about zany action and crazy contraptions! Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Rube Goldberg Machines in Movies.

For this list, we’re taking a look at over-engineered devices that result in jaw dropping chain reactions, and which are usually designed to complete a very simple job. We’ve excluded chain reactions that happen purely by coincidence like Buzz’s first fly in “Toy Story” or the deaths in any “Final Destination” movies.

#10: The Whole Movie
“The Way Things Go” [aka “Der Lauf der Dinge“] (1987)

We start our list with perhaps the most intense machine on our list. What do we mean? The other Rube Goldberg Machines that we’ve chosen take only a couple minutes to perform their tasks. This 1987 short art film, however, is basically thirty straight minutes of inventive madness slowly unfolding. Shot entirely in a warehouse by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, “The Way Things Go” is a captivating rollercoaster consisting of planks, buckets, and too many other objects to count. While there are numerous instances where you’re simply waiting for something to burn, tip over, or blast off, the film leaves you on edge until its mystifying conclusion.

#9: Anti-Pesto Alarm
“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (2005)

Wallace’s passion for inventing can be largely attributed to Rube Goldberg’s inspiration. Almost all of his creations are excessively convoluted, making leeway for plenty of whimsical, stunning, and fun stop-motion animation sequences. To that end, getting up in the morning is never a problem for Wallace, as he’s rigged his house to literally hurl him out of bed. This especially comes in handy for night calls when Wallace and his dog Gromit are alerted to a vegetable thief. Complete with slides and mechanical hands, this device has the duo dressed and caffeinated in no time.

#8: Wood Chopper
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

A machine such as this could only come from the mind of crazy old Maurice. Although his invention is intended to make wood chopping simpler, the device’s engineering is anything but! Comprised of a furnace, teapot, and axe, this bone-headed contraption looks like a disaster waiting to happen. If there’s one thing “Beauty and the Beast” teaches us, however, is that it’s not what’s on the outside that matters; it’s what’s on the inside. In the case of Maurice’s hunk of junk, it proves more useful than meets the eye.

#7: The Crosstown Express
“Robots” (2005)

The clinking, clattering, mechanical world of “Robots” is a delight to behold. In a film full of imaginative visuals, perhaps the most mind-blowing is Rodney and Fender’s trip on the Crosstown Express. With the essence of a thrill ride comprised of spare parts; this mechanism launches its passengers like pinballs into an array of pipes, slides, and hammers. It’s a truly exhilarating sequence made possible through energized animation. Granted, this mode of transportation might be a safety hazard, but it still beats getting a taxi during rush hour.

#6: Breakfast Machine
“Flubber” (1997)

Philip Brainard’s home is packed with nifty inventions, which he never decides to patent for some reason. That’s one of the reasons why he’s become a textbook example of an absent-minded professor. However, we’d totally buy his breakfast making machine to fulfill all of our egg frying, pancake flipping, and serving needs. It’d actually make breakfast the most fun meal of the day. Of course, if Brainard were to ever mass-produce this culinary breakthrough, he’d likely put all those hardworking cooks at IHOP and Denny’s out of a job.

#5: Another Breakfast Machine
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968)

With a name like Caractacus Potts, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this guy is an eccentric inventor who’s dreamed up various wacky contrivances. One of his most fanciful innovations is another breakfast machine that utilizes wheels, axles, and levers to prepare a basic dish. Where Brainard’s breakfast device in “Flubber” was high-tech, this one from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is more like something out of an antique shop. Its old-fashioned appearance adds a wholesome sentiment to this musical number, as Potts and his children embrace each other’s company.

#4: Doc Brown’s Inventions
“Back to the Future” franchise (1985-90)

Although the DeLorean time machine will always be Dr. Emmett L. Brown’s greatest scientific achievement, he also assembles a number of other quirky apparatuses throughout the “Back to the Future” trilogy. In 1985, he fashions a RubeGoldberg device to feed his dog and in 1885 he discovers a revolutionary way to prepare breakfast. With Doc Brown by your side, even making an iced tea is an epic experience. No matter what the time period, you can always count on his inventions being creative, complex, and kooky.

#3: Automatic Gate
“The Goonies” (1985)

Are you sick of walking all the way from your front door to your front gate to let guests in? Fear not! The Goonies have come up with an automatic gate opener to cut out the middleman. All you need to manufacture your own is a bucket, string, pulleys, a bowling ball, a bellows, a balloon, hammer, football, target, sprinklers, and a chicken ready to hatch an egg. Actually, it’s kind of incredible this Rube Goldberg machine is so functional. Of course, the true sight to behold in this scene is the Truffle Shuffle.

#2: Yet Another Breakfast Machine
“Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1995)

Of all the breakfast machines on this countdown, this one is by far the screwiest, weirdest, and most improbable. Naturally, the owner of this device is none other than Pee-wee Herman. And this thing is like a brilliant preschooler’s science fair project, working pinwheels, dinosaur models, drinking birds, anvils, and even Abraham Lincoln into a madcap mix. It’s impossible not to be overwhelmed with childhood glee watching this insanity transpire. There’s just one imperative question that remains: Where we can get a box of that Mr. T cereal?

Before we set off our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Ernest’s House
“Ernest Goes to Jail” (1990)
- Eating Machine
“Modern Times” (1936)
- Even More Breakfast Machines
“Brazil” (1985)

#1: The Trap
“The Great Mouse Detective” (1986)

Professor Ratigan is so theatrical and extravagant in his sheer evilness that he can’t just kill his arch nemesis after capturing him. He needs to place him in a bombastic, seemingly foolproof mousetrap. Like many egotistical villains, though, Ratigan underestimates how resourceful Basil is. In a stroke of genius, the great mouse detective devises a suicidal escape plan by setting the trap off early. His daring escape is even more insane than the trap itself, making this the cleverest, funniest, and most thrilling example of Rube Goldberg machinery in cinema.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Rube Goldberg Machine? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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