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“I’m Kind of a Big Deal”: A Helpful Film Gift Guide for The Overzealous Film Quoter

Everyone’s got one. That friend who just can’t resist dropping a legendary movie quote at the most serendipitous of times. We’re talking about that charming (and ok, at times needling) buddy whose eyes glaze for an unexpected moment of, uh, possession, only to bark in a feigned scruffy voice, “Hey. You looking at me?” Yes, we are looking at you, Overzealous Film Quoter. And we’ve got just the film gift guide to satiate your movie-dialogue parroting obsession.

They convene in high school basements, college dorm rooms, dive bars, and theater queues, just waiting to land the perfect film quote into an unsuspecting situation. They thrive at pub trivia nights, hipster parties, and high school AV clubs. We’re talking about that special someone in your social circle, who will habitually, impulsively, and, yes, embarrassingly holler, “Run, Forest, run!,” at the nearest grumpy-faced jogger.

A loveable character with plenty of cinema prowess, the Overzealous Film Quoter leaves no opportune moment for a film quote unutilized. The mere mention of the city of San Diego, for instance—renowned in its own right for boasting a fine zoo, serene lagoons, and gifting the world with the word ‘brah’–opens the floodgates for a succession of Anchorman-sourced quotes. (As if the city itself were built solely in homage to Will Ferrell’s portrayal of news anchor hack Ron Burgundy.) An innocent inquiry can turn into an unexpected moment of mini-melodrama with a quick turn of chin and a faraway look: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” A severed romance? “We’ll always have Paris.” And the Overzealous Film Quoter strikes again.

So, today’s the day the Overzealous Film Quoters of the world get their very own film gift guide. Instead of gifting your friend a silent movie (c’mon, that’s just mean), celebrate your friend’s neurotic film tic by broadening his or her cache of quotable movies. We've put together an entirely subjective list of suggestions for some truly appreciated film script recalls. Amongst the mix, you'll find classic quotable scripts, as well as some under-sung heroes that deserve to be quoted more often:

The Big Lebowski (1998): A Coen brothers classic. When ‘Dude’ (Jeff Bridges) is wrongly identified as a millionaire, his rug is ruined as a consequence for not paying a debt he doesn’t really owe. Seeking restitution for his rug, he enlists the help of his bowling friends and runs into a series of unexpected events. Plenty of bizarre and existential quotes to cop, including this exchange below between the Dude and his bowling companion, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman).

Walter Sobchak: You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me.
The Dude: Yeah, but Walter…
Walter Sobchak: Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon… with nail polish.

Barton Fink (1991): Here, the eponymous successful playwright turned screenwriter hack (John Turturro) starts to lose his cool when he shacks up at the eerie Hotel Earle in this (yet again) Coen Brothers classic. An ideal script for the struggling and underappreciated writer to quote from at random. 

Barton Fink: I’m a writer you, you monsters! I create! I create for a living! I’m a creator! I’m a creator! [points to head] This is my uniform!

The Princess Bride (1987): This is a bona fide classic quotable script. A fairy tale gone hilariously satirical, The Princess Bride is a film with a script that keeps on giving, by way of evil princes, giants, awesome swordplay, and pitch-perfect one liners. Plus, can you beat a cast that boasts Christopher Guest, Andre the Giant, and Peter Falk?

Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975): Oh, Monty Python And The Holy Grail! To say this movie is a tour de force of repeatable quotes is simply an understatement. King Arthur and a bevy of knights set out in search of yes, The Holy Grail. But what they encounter is a series of hysterical setbacks and an arsenal of inimitable quotes. Perfect for the absurdist Overzealous Film Quoter. (Bonus: British accents).

French Soldier: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Ghostbusters (1984): A quote-worthy classic, Ghostbusters is a perennial favorite amongst Overzealous Film Quoters. Ghosts have descended upon Manhattan and only a hilarious cast of ‘Ghostbusters’ and sundry characters—including Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Akroyd, and Rick Moranis—can save the city. But the script is the real star of this 80s classic:

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath of God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!
Mayor: All right, all right! I get the point!

Annie Hall (1977): Wonderfully neurotic Woody Allen is the mastermind behind this NYC-based Oscar-winning romantic comedy—and it sports a compulsively repeatable script. Everyone loves neurotic one-liners, but nobody loves them more than The Overzealous Film Quoter.

Alvy Singer: I don’t want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light.

Jackie Brown (1997): In this Quentin Tarantino classic, a flight attendant gets caught up in a crime plot between the Feds and criminals, set to one of the best soul-themed soundtracks out there. The script is a treasure trove for anyone who likes great comebacks with plenty of attitude. A good choice for a friend who swears like a trucker—this might be the only line of dialogue in the entire film without an expletive:

            Ordell Robbie: I’m serious as a heart attack.

Trainspotting (1996): Based on the Irvine Welsh book, this film tells the gritty story of a man’s plight through—and attempts to escape from—Edinburgh’s drug scene, with plenty of great bits of dialogue. (Bonus points: an excuse to feign a Scottish accent.) And this may be the greatest response to being hit-on that’s ever been written for film:

Mark "Rent-boy" Renton: Well, I'll come back with you if you like, but like, I'm not promising anything, you know.
Diane: Do you find that this approach usually works? Or let me guess, you've never tried it before. In fact, you don't normally approach girls – am I right? The truth is that you're a quiet sensitive type but, if I'm prepared to take a chance, I might just get to know the inner you: witty, adventurous, passionate, loving, loyal. Taxi! A little bit crazy, a little bit bad. But hey – don't us girls just love that?
Mark "Rent-boy" Renton: Eh?
Diane: Well, what's wrong boy – cat got your tongue?

Do The Right Thing (1989): Spike Lee’s classic story about a community living in the racially-charged neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, is chock full of epic quotes. That’s because the dialogue is great and it has ethos. This, for instance, is poetry:

Radio Raheem: Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It's a tale of good and evil. Hate: it was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. Love: these five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that's right. Ooh, it's a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he's down. Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love.

Breathless (1960): Godard’s New Wave classic, Breathless is an existential film about a small time thief who kills a police officer and falls in love with a young journalist, while a manhunt gathers around them. It also boasts one of the most oft-quoted dialogues around, which is a testament to great screenwriting—it never ceases to intrigue. Plenty of great quotes for the deep and moody Overzealous Film Quoter in your life.

Patricia Franchini: What is your greatest ambition in life?

Parvulesco: To become immortal…and then die.

The Warriors (1979): Gangs rule a dystopian New York City, and trouble finds it way to The Warriors, a gang who must journey through NYC—and across several hostile territories—in order to get to their turf. Let’s just put it this way: we dare you to watch this movie and not say the film’s most legendary line compulsively, and for weeks afterward (you’ve been forewarned):

             Cyrus: Can you dig it?

PCU (1994): Jeremy Piven stars as a fifth year college co-ed at the esteemed Politically Correct University (PCU), where he and his rag-tag crew wreck havoc on the uber-sensitive (and politically divided) student body. A precursor to Old School, Van Wilder, et al, PCU was a bit of a 90s-college-humor-forerunner. It’s no Animal House, of course, but that’s precisely the point (to everyone, everywhere: stop quoting Animal House.) Also, here you can clearly see Jeremy Piven’s (as Droz) budding knack for witticisms before he eventually dominates the form as Ari Gold in Entourage:

Droz: What’s this? You’re wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see? Don’t be that guy.

Droz: We need kegs. Multiple, cold and domestic.

Droz: Ok, now it's true, the majority of students today are so cravenly PC, they wouldn't know a good time if it was sitting on their face, but there's one thing that will always unite us and them. They're young. They may not realize it yet. They've got the same raging hormones, the same self-destructive desire to get boldly trashed and wildly out of control. Look out that window! That's not a protest! That is cry for help! They're begging us…
[shouts]
Please have a party! Feed us drinks!
[Continues shouting]
Get us laid! Aahhhhhh!

Casablanca (1942): Casablanca might be the most quoted film in history; and with dialogue this great, it’s little wonder why. The classic romance about an expatriate and a former lover is teeming with quotes just waiting to be repeated during a romantic moment IRL. (Bonus points: Humphrey Bogart impressions).

Rick: Who are you really, and what were you before? What did you do and what did you think, huh?
Ilsa: We said no questions.
Rick: …Here's looking at you, kid.

Grandma’s Boy (2006): Ok, if you’re going to go for slapstick/stoner quotable movies, it’s likely that films Half-Baked, Dazed and Confused, or Super Troopers are well-worn territory already. So how about this Adam Sandler-produced underdog: A video game programmer/stoner is forced to live with his grandmother and battle out an evil genius at work. A bit sophomoric, but aren’t we all? Perfect for gamers tired of quoting Tron: 

JP: All I've ever cared about was video games and they made me a millionaire. So maybe I don't know what the Civil War was, or who invented the helicopter even though I own one, but I did beat The Legend of Zelda before I could walk. I'm thinking about getting metal legs. It's a risky operation, but it'll be worth it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): The screen adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s hallucinatory book is a drug-addled tour de force featuring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. Why is it quotable? Because Hunter S. Thompson has some of the most original lines out there. And bonus: when your friend quotes this movie, it’s kind of like you’re reading. You can practically hear the man writing here:

Raoul Duke:  There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Mommy Dearest (1981): Dark, yes. But the best-selling memoir turned cinematic sensation, Mommy Dearest, is a film teeming with quote-worthy one-liners. Joan Crawford might not have won the Mother of the Year award, but some of the lines in this film are unrivaled. Perfect for an Overzealous Film Quoter with a penchant for cutting remarks and especially vicious insults.

Joan Crawford: I'd rather you go bald to school than looking like a tramp.

Best in Show (2000): A list of quotable films would be incomplete without a Christopher Guest-directed mockumentary. Of course, picking the most quote-worthy of his movies is no simple task. This is Spinal Tap is one for the history books, as is A Mighty Wind, but we have to give his much-lauded Best in Show the honor. The mockumentary about a national dog show, and the quirky contestants competing is chock full of great lines.

Buck Laughlin: I don’t think I could ever get used to being poked and prodded. I told my proctologist one time, “Why don’t you take me out to dinner and a movie sometime?”

Jaws (1975): Everyone’s seen Jaws (it’s a fact). But try watching the original summer blockbuster/shark thriller with a tuned-ear for quotable dialogue. As you can see, it’s great material for anyone who enjoys standing by idly, while commenting on things run awry:

Hooper: This was no boat accident.

Brody: You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Brody: That’s some bad hat, Harry.

To which you can reply:

Hooper: [shouting] YOU GOT ANY BETTER IDEAS?

Therein, the real joy of having an Overzealous Film Quoter friend—two can play at this game.

Happy holidays!

**Feature image JAWS, courtesy of Universal Pictures

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The Credits

The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.

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