Top 10 Lists

Top 10 Movies Narrated by Main Characters

  1. “Election”
  2. Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
  3. “Fight Club”
  4. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
  5. “The Royal Tenenbaums”
  6. “The Shawshank Redemption”
  7. “GoodFellas”
  8. “Zombieland”
  9. “The Princess Bride”
  10. “Juno”


“Election” is narrated by all four of its main characters throughout the story. Maybe the director took a page from William Faulkner’s “The Sound and the Fury.”

The Grinch shares the same voice as the narrator in this animated, Dr. Seuss holiday classic. This leads me to believe that maybe the Grinch himself is narrating his own rhyming epic. And then I wonder if we can even believe him. Maybe the greatest trick the Grinch ever pulled was convincing the world how he saved Christmas.

The main character in “Fight Club” is actually named “the narrator.” So this one seemed like a no-brainer. I am Jack’s propensity to state the obvious.

John Hughes, the writer/director of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” took a fairly unique approach to progressing the plot of his 1986 masterpiece. Inserted between the lines and the scene descriptions, Hughes broke the fourth wall with full passages where Ferris addressed the audience. He was like the host of his own holiday.

Hughes was supposed to write a teleplay for some TV show, one night. Instead, he stayed up writing a script that would forever “Save Ferris” in the hearts and minds of the eternal American zeitgeist. The original screenplay for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is largely what made it to the silver screen. Although, if you do read it, there’s a little more about the Charlie Sheen character, the druggie whom Bueller’s sister Jeanie encounters in the police station toward the end.

One of Ferris’ soliloquies mentions this kid, Garth Volbeck. He was a “serious outsider.” Ferris used to sleep over Garth’s house as a child. Baby Bueller could hear little Garth crying himself to sleep. Eventually, Garth succumbs to the fate of his delinquent older brother and was banned from the Bueller Household. But Ferris, the people person and ever the optimist, knew Garth Volbeck was still a good kid.

Ferris mentions Volbeck fairly early in the story, but we don’t see him until much later, giving Jean some much needed worldly advice, on the waiting room couch inside Shermer Police Headquarters. Of course, this paradigm shift in Jeanie is what ultimately saves Ferris, from evil Ed Rooney and losing the trust of his loving parents. I’m not sure why they didn’t leave Volbeck’s backstory in the final cut… “Drugs?”

“The Royal Tenenbaums” is narrated by Alec Baldwin. He doesn’t actually appear as a character in the story. So this one’s sort of an exception to this particular Top 10 list. Although Alec Baldwin is, himself, a character. He’s also a comedian who likes to get coffee. And I’m sure if I told the man himself that he won a spot on this list, despite never appearing on screen nor having any impact on the plot of the Wes Anderson joint, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” he’d look me in the eye and say, “Are you surprised?”

“The Shawshank Redemption” is narrated by Red, played by Morgan Freeman. Great narrating voice. Red does a lot of documentaries these days.

As far back as I can remember, “GoodFellas,” is narrated by main character Henry Hill, played by Mr. Ray Liotta.

“Zombieland” interweaves through the lattice of main character Columbus’s infallible list of tips for surviving The Land of Zombies. In the end, the squirrelly protagonist played by the equally awkward child-prodigy Jesse Eisenberg learns the most important lesson of all: some rules are made to be broken. Aside from being the main character of the 2009 cult hit “Zombieland,” Columbus is also our hero, albeit a beta male. Of course, alpha sidekick Woody Harrelson fills the testosterone gap by assuming the tough-talkin’ Tallahassee role, a zombie assassin outfitted with a unique, supernatural talent for taking out the undead.

“The Princess Bride” is a framed story about a grandfather reconnecting with his grandson. I only have two words for this comedic gem: Peter Falk.

Finally, the eponymous lead role’s narration in “Juno” takes up a fraction of the feature film’s runtime, but the movie’s just that good. And there’s enough first-person narration to warrant its spot as No. 10 on this list. Even when Ellen Page isn’t talking directly to the audience, the dialogue with which talented screenwriter Diablo Cody graces each script page is about as good as it gets in terms of an authentic account psychoanalyzing the mind of a teenage girl dealing with issues way beyond her maturity level.