One of the great contributions of the cinema to the wider world is the addition of iconic lines to the lexicon. I’ve judged these lines on a number of criteria: quotability, cleverness, the ability to work out of context, and serving an important purpose to the film. The line doesn’t need to fit all of these criteria, but if it falters on one it better soar on the others.
- “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue… Fuck you whore!” – (500) Days of Summer: As the Joseph Gordon Levitt character is wallowing in a low point in the film’s central relationship, he’s brought aside by his boss at the greeting card company who’s reads back the card he’s just written that reflects the problems in his love-life. That this is one of those one time only PG-13 curses and the fact that the man saying it looks like Ward Cleaver makes this all the more surprising and funny.
- “Paging Dr. Faggot! Paging Dr. Faggot!”- The Hangover: The funniest moment in The Hangover is a study in careful comic time. There’s nothing funny about this line out of context, but spoken by a bunch of yahoos who pull up to the curb just seconds after the Ed Helms character assures his wife that his friends are more mature than she thinks they are. This sets the tone for the whole “Ed Helms lying to his fiancé” sub-plot.
- “Polar bears cover their noses before they pounce on a seal. How do polar bears know their noses are black? Did they look in the water one day, see their reflection and say, ‘Man, I’d be invisible if it wasn’t for that thing.’ Maybe, but that’s a lot of thinking for a bear.” – The Informant!: This little diddy doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I think it well represents one of the funniest aspects of The Informant, namely the strange non sequiturs that the scatter-brained central character delivers to the audience via the voice over. This is the best of those by far and I think it gives the audience a really good idea of the kind of nutty individual they’re dealing with.
- “There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch. And seeing as I might be rapping on the door momentarily….*drinks*….I must say, damn good stuff, sir” –Inglourious Basterds: It’s no secret that Quentin Tarentino is a guy who can put together an awesome line, Pulp Fiction is one of the most quotable movies of all time after all. This line is spoken by the Michael Fassbender character at a crucial moment just before the bar shootout scene. One of the interesting things about the movie is the way the characters of different nationalities are representing the prototypical vision their nation has about their war-legacy and this one represents the stoic British self-vision.
- “Y’know, I’ve come across a lot of psychos, but none as fucking boring as you. You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing so I’ll sort that out. You are a boring F, star, star, CUNT!”- In the Loop: This British satire is filled with potential nominees for this category and I ultimately choose this one because it best represents the kind of aggressive profanity laced lines that litter this script. This line is, first and foremost, a very funny moment in which the Peter Capaldi character confronts a war hawk who refuses to curse in public and it’s partly a callback to an earlier moment in which that character used this “star star” thing to muffle a curse.