It’s a cold October day. I’m at school, stuck inside on a rainy lunch break. Miserable weather and the school lunch break is a sobering combination. There isn’t much to do except to see how long we can get one half of a tuna sandwich to stick to the wall before it slops back to earth. I place a five pence bet on twelve seconds, but I’m beaten out by a much more accurate five second stake. The post lunch double science lesson is starting to look unusually appealing. Suddenly, my good friend Martin stands up in front of me and with authority bellows "’Cos some damn fool accused you of being the best!”. I smile to myself and in my best faux Schwarzenegger accent retort "Dillion! You son of a bitch”. We clasp our hands mid air in a mano-a-mano arm wrestling contest; "What’s the matter? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils?”. Our impromptu Predator (1987)
re-enactment has brightened my day. We spend the rest of lunch putting on group Predator skits, arguing over the exactness of dialogue lines, the funniest Hawkins joke, and whose Jesse Ventura "I ain’t got time to bleed” is the best. There’s a shared bond between two people when a favourite movie quote is uttered. No more words are needed, just the line itself, and you have yourself a moment of mutual reminiscing that can turn any frown into a smile. A well used quote can inject humour, emphasis, joy and compassion to any of life’s moments. Obviously, it depends on how obscure the dialogue is you choose to employ, but there is nothing more pleasurable than quoting a bizarre line and receiving acknowledgement or even a return line from someone else. You aren’t the only one that thinks Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1974)
is a masterpiece; revel in your shared belief. You also can’t beat reinventing the classics, "You’re gonna need a bigger photocopier”, "Life is like a box of tampons”, "May the farts be with you”, "Keep your friends close, but your enemas closer”; endless hours of fun.
- THE GODFATHER (1972) / THE GODFATHER PART II (1975)
If the 1998 picture You’ve Got Mail is to be believed there are people that not only quote The Godfather movies, they live their lives by its rules and teachings. Coppola’s movies might be two of the gold standards of cinema, but surely that’s taking things a little too far? Far bit from me to judge, there are worse pieces of fiction you could live your life by; just Google "world religions” for a sample. What elevates The Godfather scripts is not so much the fact that they produced two of the greatest films ever, but rather that we’ve all seen them so many times. Just about every scene is a classic and every line is spoken by a Hollywood legend. Brando, Caan, Duvall, Pacino, De Niro, Keaton, Strasberg, you can spend many a fun filled hour imitating the greats. The films also have a line for almost every situation, many of them infused with great wisdom that you can use to impress the Godfather uninitiated out there. Credit to Mario Puzo for his original novels and screenplays for such legendary lines as "I know it was you Fredo, you broke my heart”, "It’s not personal Sonny, it’s strictly business”, "It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes”. They are phrases that have entered into the modern lexicon, taking on a meaning well beyond their original intention. They also inspired a whole raft of imitators, themselves creating classic quotes and memorable dialogue, from Goodfellas (1990) to The Sopranos (1999 to 2007).
Tasty Morsel – Coppola had such a miserable time directing the first film he asked the studios to consider the young director Martin Scorsese to direct Part II. The studio declined and insisted Coppola direct the sequel.
- MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975) / LIFE OF BRIAN (1979)
Long before the Pythons even considered writing a full length feature film kids and adults the length and breadth of the country were re-enacting the Flying Circus’ greatest hits. Such classics as the Lumberjack sketch, the Dead Parrot skit and the follies of the Spanish Inquisition were rich pickings for the budding comedic impressionist. The Pythons first big screen outing was in 1971 with the collected sketch film And Now For Something Completely Different (1971). It whetted the appetite of the Python faithful for more cinematic japes and when Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) galloped into theatres fans rejoiced. Whole scenes become instant classics from the Knights who say Ni, to the Bridge of Death riddles. It would take something special to top the Pythons zany take on Arthurian legend, so in 1979 they turned their particular brand of humour on religion. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) caused quite a stir when it was unleashed, most notably with the Church of England. Knowing how every religion the world over has a distinct lack of humour, it pretty much guaranteed Brian would be a comedy classic; and it was. Not only that the Pythons managed to craft some of their most irresistible sketches, the whole of which was greater than the sum of its parts. The combination of Grail and Brian creates the antidote to the dour sense of humour us English folk are supposed to imbue. So hilarious is the surreal comedy of the People’s Front of Judea, the Black Knight, and Biggus Dickus to name but three they are now part of world culture. Quote away and you’ll never be without a like minded friend, providing they aren’t the churchy type.
Tasty Morsel – The Pythons considered a number of names for their television show before settling on Flying Circus, including "Owl Stretching Time”, Vaseline Review” and "Toad Elevating Moment”.
- CADDYSHACK (1980)
Outside of the United States not many people are aware of the genius of Rodney Dangerfield. The closest most will have come to the New York stand-up would have been his role as Mr. Burns’ son Larry in The Simpsons. You’d recognise his face though, and you will definitely be familiar with his snappy brand of one line humour, taken straight from the Groucho Marx school of cinematic comedy. As a jobbing stand-up with a cult following, his pessimistic style of delivery landed him a role in this Harold Ramis directed golfing comedy. Despite being only his second film role Dangerfield stole the movie from under the noses of comedy heavyweights Chevy Chase and Bill Murray. It was his ace delivery of such one liners as "Last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it” that led to the swindle. As real estate tycoon Al Czervik, Dangerfield nails one-liner after one-liner with such style you end up watching the film with a pen and pad in your hand, scrawling down his razor sharp wit to impress your friends with later. "Oh, this your wife, huh? A lovely lady. Hey baby you must’ve been something before electricity” is just a little taster of Rodney’s barbed jibes. Elsewhere, Chase and Murray are on top form as playboy golfer and greenskeeper respectively, slipping in their own classics lines in a way that assured them of further cinematic success. Dangerfield himself built a minor movie career off the back of this one performance, films replete with quotable humour of the highest order. Much respect due.
Tasty Morsel – Bill Murray’s brother Brian-Doyle Murray crops up in a small role and also co-wrote the script, utilising his experiences working as a golf caddy. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray also worked as caddies during their teens.
- WITHNAIL & I (1987)
You’d think that with this generation’s "yoof” having such a predilection for getting smashed on a Saturday night, their favourite film would be Bruce Robinson’s 1987 ode to alcohol. But there is a world of difference between the chav brigade’s weekend missions to get trashed, and this pillar of English comedy. Withnail and I (1987), despite its scruffy demeanour, has class and a rich sense of humour. The alco-pop, Stella crowd have mono-syllable conversations and unwelcome displays of flabby flesh. Go up to one of these bar dwelling numbskulls and exclaim "I demand to have some booze” and you’ll get a blank stare. Do the same thing to anyone with a modicum of taste for the lively arts and you’ll get a high-five and a warm smile. Withnail follows two unemployed actors as they head off on holiday to their gay Uncle’s Cumbrian cottage. Much of the hilarity stems from the fact that the thespians Withnail and Morwood are partial to the odd tipple. Paul McGann plays Morwood, but it is Richard E Grant as the titular and borderline psychotic Withnail that steals the show. He also has all the best lines, dialogue that is ripe for pub time re-enactments. "Don’t threaten me with a dead fish”, "We want the finest wines available to humanity” and "I have a heart condition. If you hit me its murder” are just some of the mirth inducing classics up for grabs. Fine support is offered by Richard Griffiths as the aforementioned gay Uncle Monty. In his short screen time Griffiths works creepy wonders with his lines, "I mean to have you, even if it must be burglary”. If you’re feeling really brave and dialogue swapping isn’t enough for you and your friends, why not take the Withnail drinking challenge. This involves matching our own screen heroes drink for drink over the film’s running time; truly a life threatening amount of booze.
Tasty Morsel – Daniel Day Lewis was offered the role of Withnail but declined. Kenneth Branagh and Ed Tudor Pole also tested for the part.
- PREDATOR (1987)
As you may have guessed John McTiernan’s Predator (1987) was one of my favourite movies growing up; the reason was threefold. First off, it was a bloody, action packed sci-fi romp. Secondly, it featured a team of macho bad-asses almost unmatched in the arena of cinematic butt kicking. Third and most importantly it had some of the best and cheesiest dialogue for regurgitating over and over again. Oh, how I annoyed my siblings and parents running around the house pretending to be Dutch, Blain, Dillon and the rest of his Special Forces team. Schwarzenegger’s unmistakable delivery just added to the fun when re-enacting the movie’s best bits, "Stick around”, "Knock, knock”, "Run, get to the choppa!”. If you are a slack-jawed faggot and haven’t gotten round to seeing the film yet, it involves a team of Special Forces heading into the South American jungle to rescue a kidnapped cabinet minister. Instead they find themselves hunted by a creature from out of space that delights in testing itself against worthy foes. Epic script aside, the film remains one of Arnold’s best ever films, providing him with sparring partners of equal charisma (former wrestler and Navy Seal Jesse Venture, real-life hell raiser Sonny Landham, former American footballer Carl Weathers) and a foe that was both bigger and more menacing than he was. Arnie usually outsized and outmatched most of the villains he came up against, but the Predator made the Austrian Oak look positively weedy and dished out a solid battering during the film’s man versus alien final scene. Schwarzenegger found himself in the unfamiliar territory of having to use his brain to outwit this foe. All in all it was action and movie-quote nirvana guaranteed to turn you into a "god-damn sexual Tyrannosaurus”. Two equally enjoyable sequels followed, Predator 2 (1990) and Predators (2010).
Tasty Morsel – Fellow action star Jean Claude Van Damme was originally cast to play the Predator but director John McTiernan decided to go with the more imposing frame of seven-foot-two actor Kevin Peter Hall.
- PULP FICTION (1994)
As anyone with even a passing interest in cinema will tell you, the king of the modern movie script is Quentin Tarantino. His naturalistic, pop culture referenced dialogue is as infamous as his love of movie violence and non-linear storylines. The movie critics and dusty aristocrats of Hollywood took their time in warming to him, but how lucky we are that the former video store clerk grabbed a camera and aimed for loftier achievements. Reservoir Dogs (1992) set the tone, a film in a style we had never seen before, seemingly more focused on off-the-cuff dialogue exchanges that happened between the scenes of story exposition, than moving the story from beginning to end. Then with only his third directorial outing Tarantino created a modern masterpiece, Pulp Fiction (1994). Split into tasty chapters and with a fractured timeline, the movie provides glorious snap shots of dubious LA happenings, all delivered by a dazzling cast. But it’s the darkly humorous and endlessly quotable dialogue that really soars. It made stars of Tim Roth, Samuel L Jackson and Uma Thurman, renewed John Travolta’s career and created the term "Tarantino-esque”. Whether it’s Jules’ burger munching and terrifying monologue, discussions of hamburgers and foot massages, Mia’s crap joke, the Wolf’s sage advice, Captain Koons watch story or Butch catching a taxi ride, you feel immediately more cool reciting chunks of Pulp Fiction. In fact its almost as much fun to perform the film as it is to watch it. Tarantino went onto to write and direct movies replete with juicy dialogue with the likes of Jackie Brown (1997), Kill Bill (2003-2004) and Inglorious Basterds (2009).
Tasty Morsel – Daniel Day Lewis wanted the role of Vincent Vega, but Tarantino insisted the role went to John Travolta.
- SWINGERS (1996)
No, not a film about chubby middle-aged couples with car keys and a punch bowl, but rather a culture informing comedy from the pen of Jon Favreau. To many people Favreau will be the billionaire that Monica dated in Friends, but before that showing the writer / director / actor produced a superb script which told of a group of wannabe actors and their misadventures in the LA and Las Vegas bar scenes. The central couple in the group are best friends Mike and Trent, played by Favreau and Vince Vaughn (in a career making performance). Mike has recently spilt from his girlfriend and is struggling with both the breakup and his tentative steps back into the singles scene. Trent is everything Mike is not, confident, arrogant, single and loving it. Trent’s attempts to induct Mike into his "swinger” lifestyle are not entirely successful but eventually Mike finds his way with Heather Graham’s Lorraine. The simple story line is transformed into something special by the pop culture referencing dialogue and the catchphrase laden banter littered through the film. Such well known Saturday night, lads-on-the-town phrases as "Vegas baby!”, "That’s so money” and "Wingman” as a term for a fellow male on the prowl all stemmed from the film. How many you choose to employ and in what context depends on your level of obnoxiousness. Away from the male bravado though there are some great dialogue exchanges most notably amongst Mike’s insecure ramblings on dating, "So how long do I wait to call?”. Equal to this are the amusing quips and putdowns, the kind of "bromance” banter replete with subtle references, designed to tickle the funny-bone, "I’m gonna find me two waitresses here and I’m gonna pull me a Fredo”.
Tasty Morsel – Keep your eyes peeled for Vince Vaughn’s father Vernon and Jon Favreau’s mother Joan playing lucky gamblers in Vegas.
- THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998)
It takes something special for a Coen Brothers film to really stand out. Even on a bad day a poor Coen’s film is better than most other movies. Of their fifteen films to date, one of their very best is this low and lazy comedy of kidnap and mistaken identity. Not particularly well received on its release The Big Lebowski (1998) has grown in popularity and cult appeal since its debut twelve years ago. The main reason for this is the central character Jeffery Lebowski, the "Dude” as he calls himself and is known to his bowling buddies. The Dude meets a man who is also called Jeffery Lebowski, a millionaire whose trophy wife has been kidnapped. Lebowski utilises the Dude to deliver the ransom money but the drop-off goes awry. More twists and turns follow as the Dude finds his laidback world turned on its head. In a performance more Oscar worthy than his turn in Crazy Heart (2009) Jeff Bridges works wonders with the Dude, his carefree spirit underpinning all potential calamities with a jovial ambience. From his hippy outlook springs some one liners for the ages, "That rug really tied the room together”. Alongside Bridges is John Goodman in a whirlwind performance as the Dude’s war-happy bowling buddy Walter. With Walter onscreen (alongside Steve Buscemi cast against type as the quiet one, Donny) the Coen's film really starts to sing, as he barely contains his rage against the injustices of the world "Am I the only one that gives a fuck about the rules? Mark it a zero!” much to the bemusement of Donny and the Dude. Throw in some further excellent support from Julianne Moore and John Turturro, "I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead”, and smoky voiced narration from Sam Elliott and you have an effortlessly quotable and very tasty strange brew.
Tasty Morsel – The Dude is alleged to have been based on independent film promoter Jeff Dowd who was instrumental in helping the Coen’s gain distribution for their first film Blood Simple (1984).
- OFFICE SPACE (1999)
Some films take a while to climb into the public consciousness. The Mike Judge directed Office Space (1999) failed to set the box office alight at the end of the twentieth century and quietly crept out on DVD a little while later with minimum fuss. You can’t keep a good film down though and Office Space’s comedy brilliance is finally starting to receive the plaudits it deserves. Two years before Ricky Gervais decided to turn the mundane plod of office life into comedy gold writer / director Judge ploughed the furrow. Judge loosely based the film on Milton, a series of animated shorts that aired on Saturday Night Live in the early nineties. In the movie we follow Peter who is bored of his life working for a computer software company. He manages to convince two fellow colleagues to help him rip off his employers by installing a computer virus that diverts fractions of pennies into a bank account they control. They soon amass a small fortune but begin to have their doubts as to whether they can keep their crime a secret. Though it sounds like a heist movie, the film’s genius comes from its unravelling of the humdrum nature of working life in a stale open plan office. Anyone that has had the "pleasure” of slaving in such an environment will get an extra comedic kick out of the situations and characters captured by Judge. The cast of relative unknowns (with the exception of Jennifer Anniston) have a delightful time with Judge’s sharp script and the one-liners and memorable quips come thick and fast, "It’s not that I’m lazy, I just don’t care”, "That thing is lucky I’m not armed”, "We’re not going to white-collar resort prison, we’re going to federal pound me in the ass prison”.
Tasty Morsel – After becoming a cult his, Judge was offered the chance to direct a sequel, Office Space 2: Still Renting. He politely refused.
- ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004)
So adept was Will Ferrell at creating quotable characters during his stint on Saturday Night Live (the infamous "cowbell” sketch, the inimitable Robert Goulet) it was only a matter of time before he created cinematic comedy gold. Stealing many a movie through memorable cameos and smaller parts, the way was paved for Ferrell’s greatest creation yet, the seventies styled, chauvinistic "man’s man”, Channel 4 news anchor Ron Burgundy. Along with writer Adam McKay and a stand out cast of Hollywood’s unsung comedic acting heroes (Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, Steve Carrell, David Koechner) Ferrell created a film that provided more chucklesome lines than any other film had before. So rib-tickling were these catchphrases they even started appearing on t-shirts the world over. "I love lamp”, "Sex Panther”, "Two tickets to the gun show”, the list of quotable snippets was endless. Not only do they make for great fashion wear and hilarious back and forths with your Anchorman loving buddies, they make the film itself a joy to watch on repeat viewings. The movie gets funnier every time it’s viewed as you discover yet more gems of hilarious dialogue that previously went unnoticed. "Smells like bigfoot’s dick”, "I miss your scent, I miss your musk”, "Take me to Pleasure Town”, there really are too many to mention. Throw in some fabulous cameo’s courtesy of Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins and Jack Black to name but three, and you have the finest and most quotable comedy film this side of Some Like It Hot (1959). If any movie demanded to have a sequel it was Anchorman and in 2013 Ferrell finally convinced stingy studioo execs of the fact; Ron Burgundy was set for a sequel.
Tasty Morsel – Director Adam McKay shot so much footage during filming that a second film entitled Wake Up Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie was cobbled together and released as a companion piece, straight-to-dvd movie.