As I was thinking about this list, I was surprised that I couldn’t really think of any dramas that were as quotable as comedies, specifically those of those of my youth. Perhaps it’s because we watched the comedies at least 10 times before we had to return the videotape back to the video store. You remember what those look like, right? Rewinding them was a bitch.
We all know that Casablanca has 145 incredibly famous, quotable lines. We can take This Is Spinal Tap and Slap Shot as a givens. Films like these are in the canon of quotable movies and will be passed over here. My wife said this list is more about me and people I hang out with than anything about quotable movies, and that if I really wanted to list quotable films, I would list things like When Harry Met Sally or other fluffy nonsense. While that she may be correct about this list, that ain’t happening, my love. You may be smarter than I am, but no one I know quotes movies like WHMS and the like so they will also be absent from this list of triple-delicious quotedom as well.
I know there are many that would include Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy on this list. I can’t understand why people like it. I thought it was a piece of shit. I posted about it here if you’re interested in my one sentence review.
So, that said, here are the five films that I believe to be the most quotable from my vast movie watching experience:
Bunch of savages in this town.
Kevin Smith‘s raucous and raunchy debut Clerks was a revelation at the time of its release. At least to me. Living in southern Indiana at the time, we were only used to getting big blockbuster fare and romantic comedies. So when I talked three friends into going to see it with me (reluctantly), we were all bowled over by its expletive-laden dialogue and its, truth be told, frank portrayal of the lives of two convenient store-working slackers, Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson). Perfect combination for the time it was released. One of the funniest theater experiences of my life. Say what you will about Smith and his films, but I love this one.
The Quotability Factor (QF) on this film is pretty high. Some of the highlights:
Dante: “My girlfriend sucked 37 dicks” Customer: “In a row?”
Randal: “I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class. Especially since I rule.”
Jay (Jason Mewes): What’s up babes? What’s up, sluts?
Dante: “Are there any balls down there?” Jay: “About the biggest pair you’ve ever seen, dingleberry!”
Dante: “I’m not even supposed to be here today!”
Jay: “I don’t care if she’s my cousin or not, I’m gonna knock those boots again tonight.”
Randal: “I don’t appreciate your ruse, ma’am.” Customer: “I beg your pardon?” Randal: “Your ruse. Your cunning attempt to trick me.”
Here’s the trailer:
It’s raw, low-budget and flawed, but it’s still wonderful and continues to make me laugh this very day.
4. Better Off Dead
Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way…TURN!
1985, the year of “The Super Bowl Shuffle” and Gorbachev’s ascendency, might have been the best year ever for quotable films, three of which appear on this list. The Goonies, Fletch, and The Breakfast Club were all released in 1985 and don’t make this list. Better Off Dead also was released in 1985, the first of the ’85ers to hit my list at #4.
Better Off Dead is pure 80s goodness. Completely bizarre and super depressing if you think about what Lane Meyer (played by John Cusack at his absolute finest) puts himself through. BoD follows Lane as he falls from being a mid-level ski jock at his high school in Vermont, dating a hot girl whom he loved very much, only to have it all come crashing down when the aptly named Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier) comes to the school, steals his girl Beth (Amanda Wyss) and his spot on the ski team. Lane then tries to kill himself in various different ways to cope with the pain, stopping before the act is committed. All that changes when French foreign exchange Monique (Diane Franklin) moves into the house next door.
This movie has a supporting character that easily rivals all other supporting characters in quotability and general awesomeness – Charles De Mar (played by Curtis Armstrong also known for his role as Booger in the Revenge of the Nerds movies).
The QF for this film rates high, chock full of memorable moments. The great quotes come from a range of folks, from the main players to even the most ancillary characters. Here’s a taste:
Mailman (Taylor Negron): Hey Badger, your book on how to pick up trashy women came today. What’s a little boy like you doing with big boy smut like this?
Charles De Mar: “The K-12 dude. You make a gnarly run like that and girls will get sterile just looking at you.”
Tree Trimmer (Steven Williams): “Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.”
Al Meyer (David Ogden Stiers): “I know it’s bacon… but what have you done to it?”
Charles De Mar: “Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?”
Lane Meyer: “No, tentacles. N-T. There’s a big difference.”
Roy Stalin: “You’d make a fine little helper. What’s your name?” Charles De Mar: “Charles De Mar.” Roy Stalin: “Shut up, geek.”
Johnny Gasparini (Sebastian Dungan): “I want my two dollars!”
Charles De Mar: “Man, you’re the hottest thing since sunburn!”
Lane Meyer: “Which is better, speaking no English at all, or speaking Howard Cosell?”
Here’s the trailer:
Better Off Dead is a tasty 80s treat. It hasn’t aged as well as some films and the humor probably is a little goofy compared to today’s standards. However, if taken as an artifact, it’s incredibly insightful, funny and wonderful. And the soundtrack is INCREDIBLE. All the Howard Jones you can get your hands on.
3. Weird Science
Gary, why are we wearing bras on our heads?
Where do I begin with this one? This is my favorite of the John Hughes films, which is a large statement given the run of absolute comedy/quotable gold he was on in the middle to late 80s. The first time I saw Weird Science was at the Rivoli Theater in Muncie, IN – a magical theater that is long gone unfortunately. Another ’85er on the list.
Weird Science tells the story of two high school losers, Gary Wallace (played by Hughes all-star Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), guys who are picked on, ridiculed and bullied. Since they are the anti-Spanish Fly with women, they decide to make their own woman when Wyatt’s parents are out of town. When they are successful, Lisa (played by Kelly LeBrock who undoubtedly caused massive amounts of carpal tunnel for young men in the mid-80s) tries with all of her powers to make them cool. Wyatt’s prickish older brother Chet (Bill Paxton in a game changing role, one of the absolute best in any Hughes film) does his best to thwart their attempts.
The QF for this film is off the charts. Age plays a role in this one falling to #3, but, truth be told, it can hold its own on any given day in quoteworthiness. Gary Wallace could sneak to the top of the list of most quotable characters should one ever surface. Take that Rick Blaine! The other star of the show is Chet. Just an amazingly awful, gross, loathsome character, but one I cherish to this very day.
Take a look:
Gary: “There are chicks outside and you’re dropping wolf bait!”
Chet: “You’re stewed, buttwad!”
The absolute best scene in the entire film, all of it quote worthy:
Wyatt: Gary, don’t you feel like a chicken? Gary: Wyatt, if I could shoot an egg out my ass right now, I would! Look we can deal with shame, death is a much deeper issue.”
Gary: “Why don’t you shut up, bitch?”
Chet: “But first I’d like to… butter your muffin.”
Gary: “Then bang! We hit the city baby, dead on! For a little drinks, a little night-life, dancing.”
Al Wallace (Brit Leach): “Soir-what?”
Lisa: “This is a Pershing missile, Chip!” Chet: “It’s Chet…my name is Chet! And I didn’t think it was a whale’s dick, honey!”
Chet: “The boozehounds return. What a joke!”
Here’s the trailer:
John Hughes had a talent that is hard to match. I miss him everyday. Watch this movie and laugh your ass off. You won’t regret it.
T can’t roll with that…she’s business class.
I still recall when my older brother called me out of the blue and said no matter what I do, I can’t miss Swingers should it play near me. He said there was one part, he didn’t need to tell me which, that he knew I would literally be on the floor laughing when it happened. I had never heard of it and kept my eyes peeled, and when it did come to my college town, I jumped all over it. It was an amazing experience, and one that I will give full credit to my brother for keying me into. More about that incredible scene in a few.
Swingers is a tale that revolves around a group of friends who have moved to LA to try and make it in Hollywood. Mike (Jon Favreau, who also wrote the script), Trent (Vince Vaughan in his breakout role), Rob (Office Space‘s Ron Livingston), Sue (Patrick Van Horn) and Charles (Alex Desert) all vie for various acting jobs and try to portray the cool of the Rat Pack at the same time. Mike, however, is still trying to get over his girlfriend dumping him six months prior. His friends rally around him to get him back in the game…with mixed results. Written with crackling dialogue, Swingers rewrote cool for the 90s.
The QF for Swingers is second only to one other film in my opinion. Here are plenty of examples as to why that is:
Mike: “You ever been to the Ha-Ha Hole?”
Trent: “Baby, we’re going to be up five hundy by midnight!”
Rob: “You better replace the pin, Chi-Chi. The natives look restless.”
Mike: “And it’s like I’m supposed to be all happy ’cause she’s wearing a backpack, you know?”
Trent: “Look, you take yourself out of the game, you start talking about puppy dogs and ice cream, of course its going to end up on the friendship tip.”
Mike: “Haven’t you seen Boyz in tha Hood? Now one of us is gonna get shot!”
Charles: “This place is dead anyway.”
Trent: “Hey! What’re you kicking me for? You want me to ask? All right, I’ll ask! Ma’am, where do the high school girls hang out in this town?”
Mike: “Well…we’re not in Kansas anymore…”
This is the scene of which my brother was speaking:
As soon as the organ music from Sega’s NHL ’94 started, I immediately was in tears because I knew what was coming. One of the best scenes in any movie. EVER. My cousin’s special ladyfriend even made this for me recently:
Trent: “Baby you are so money and don’t even know it.”
Here’s the trailer:
Trent is clearly the star of the show. He is responsible for probably 85% of all quoteworthy moments in the film. It’s a shame that Vaughan hasn’t been able to recapture the magic from this film in any of his others. Nonetheless, Swingers is one of the finest comedies of its day and will remain quotable for years to come.
And now the drum roll….
1. The Big Lebowski
Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.
So here it is – the Holy Grail of all quotable movies: The Coen Brothers‘ The Big Lebowski. For a film that did very modestly at the box office, especially in contrast with their prior release Fargo, The Big Lebowski has one of the biggest followings of any movie in history. Outside of sci-fi franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, how many films have spawned their own yearly festival? Can’t be that many.
I doubt many don’t know what The Big Lebowski is about, but for those of you who are not privy to all the new shit, here’s the story: Arguably the laziest man alive, Jeff Lebowski, more widely known as The Dude (Jeff Bridges), is confused for another Jeffrey Lebowski by a pair of thugs. The other Jeffrey Lebowski is a well respected businessman and millionaire whose wife owes the thugs’ boss, porn-king Jackie Treehorn (Ben Gazzara), money and they have come to collect mistaking The Dude for the rich Lebowski. After rolling his apartment and roughing The Dude up, Woo (Phillip Moon) pisses on the rug in The Dude’s living room, which really tied the room together. The Dude decides, after consulting his cohorts, the high strung Vietnam veteran Wlater Sobchak (John Goodman) and the more docile Donnie (Steve Buscemi), to approach the other Lebowski to be remunerated for the pissed-on rug in the case of mistaken identity. After being thrown out and taking a rug from the residence, The Big Lebowski and his toady Brandt (Philip Seymour Hoffman) call The Dude and ask him to help them find The Big Lebowski’s wife, Bunny (Tara Reid), as she’s been kidnapped. Hijinks, misunderstandings, accidents and interpretive dances occur as The Dude tries to figure out what really happened with Bunny and at the same time keep his johnson intact.
The QF for The Big Lebowski is immeasurable since nearly every line has probably been said in thousands of different situations in every corner of the world. The Coen Brothers have always been known for their incredible writing talent, but it’s clear that this is their greatest triumph…at least when it comes to being quoted. Many of their films could make this, but Lebowski is the one that rules them all.
There are so many quotes I’d like to list here, but I will drop only a small handful. Enjoy them:
The Dude: “Nice marmot.”
Walter: “Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don’t work, I don’t drive a car, I don’t fucking ride in a car, I don’t handle money, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as shit *don’t fucking roll*!
The Dude: “He thinks the carpet pissers did this?”
Walter: “Is this your homework, Larry?”
Bunny: “Uli doesn’t care about anything. He’s a nihilist. The Dude: “Ooh, that must be exhausting.”
The Dude: “Careful, man, there’s a beverage here!”
The Jesus (John Turturro): Let me tell you something, pendejo – you pull any of your crazy shit with us, you flash a piece out on the lanes, I’ll take it away from you and stick it up your ass and pull the fucking trigger ’til it goes Click!”
Walter: “Smokey – this is not ‘Nam, this is bowling. There are rules…”
The Dude: “Nothing is fucked here, man.”
Maude (Julianne Moore): “Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey.”
The Dude: “How are you gonna keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve seen Karl Hungus?”
Donnie: “They were Nazis, Dude?” Walter: “Oh come on, Donnie – they were threatening castration. Are we gonna split hairs here?”
The Dude: “You mix a hell of a Caucasian, Jackie.”
Walter: “Oh, please, dear? For your information, the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint!”
Karl Hungus (Peter Stormare): “My name is Karl. Ich bin Expert.”
The Dude: “Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women, man.”
Walter: “Hell, I could get you a toe by 3 o’clock this afternoon…with nail polish.”
The Dude: “Well…that’s just, like uh, your opinion, man.”
Walter: “You are entering a world of pain.”
I could actually keep going on and on and on. The Big Lebowski is a cornucopia of quotations applicable in almost any situation (“This aggression will not stand, man!” and that is why it rests atop Quotable Mountain.
Here is the trailer:
If you have a Netflix account, you are blessed with being able to watch this film as many times as your heart desires as it’s available through their streaming service. And do so. It will make you a better person in the end.
So that wraps up the official list. Five great films, as quotable as any of the classics. Sally forth and quote away!
Below, I have listed three films that didn’t quite make the list, but have quote values that are still high.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
No shirt, no shoes, NO DICE!
This film covers the trials and tribulations of high school life in a California community. Written by Cameron Crowe, this is one of the more quotable 80s comedies. Jeff Spicoli (played by a young Sean Penn) is a quotable powerhouse: “This is U.S. History, I see the globe right there.” and “My dad’s a tv repairman. He has an ultimate set of tools. I can fix it.” are among his finest.
Here’s the trailer:
Menace II Society
You going to Jack in the Crack? Yo, hell yeah, hell yeah!
The only drama to appear on any part of this list, Menace II Society is a serious observation on the tough life of inner city kids living in the projects and the decisions that they have to make each day to survive. I saw this film when I was a senior in high school and equate it to hearing N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton for the first time. It opened an entire world to me of which was previously unknown. Unflinching in its portrayal, the dialogue was key to the understanding of the characters’ situations. “I had the dope ride, but I was sittin’ on some bullshit. I needed rims bad…and I knew just how to get ’em” So as people took to quoting The Godfather and Scarface, my friends and I took to quoting Menace.
Here’s the trailer:
There was what, no one at the mutant hamster races, we only had one entry into the Madame Curie look-alike contest and he was disqualified later. Why do I bother?
Real Genius would likely have been #6 on my most quotable films list. Val Kilmer plays one of the all-time best movie characters in super-genius Chris Knight, who takes super-nerd Mitch (Gabriel Jarret) under his wing as he arrives at Pacific Tech University after leaving high school early. They clash with Prof. Gerry Hathaway (William Atherton) and his toady Kent (Robert Prescott) while working on a secret project for the military. When they find out what they were working on, they decide to exact revenge with the help of all their brainy friends.
The QF of this film is extremely high. The Knight character just kills it:
“In the immortal words of Socrates…I drank what?”
“Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?”
And then there is Prof. Hathaway’s all-time great quote: “You’re laborers, you’re supposed to be laboring. That’s what you get for not having an education.”
And last but not least, let’s not forget perhaps the best line of the film:
Susan Decker (Deborah Foreman): “Can you hammer a 6-inch spike through a board with your penis?” Chris: Not right now. Susan: A girl’s gotta have her standards…
An incredibly funny film chock full of quotable moments. It is another of the ’85er films, cementing it as the greatest year in quotable film.
Here is the trailer:
Everyone has their own list of these films. Watch them, enjoy them, pass them along to your friends. This is the great thing about watching movies – nearly everyone can relate to something in them.