Some of you (by which I mean, like, three of you) will remember when I proposed writing an NCAA-style tournament of quotable movies, to determine the most quotable movie of all time. Well, the (long overdue) time has come: the tournament has begun, and it's time to settle this non-existent argument that I made up because I clearly have nothing better to do once and for all.
As a reminder, entrants are scored in three different categories: how clever they are, how memorable they are, and how applicable they are. The third is weighted more heavily than the other two; if you can't find situations to use the quote in real life, it doesn't score nearly as well. Generally, you're only going to see one-liners; exchanges are funny, but it's much harder to quote from them without either having another person help you or looking like a crazy person. You'll see some two-line exchanges, but they're typically short, and they have to be REALLY good to make it — anything more than two-lines is pretty much disqualified. The method of determining the winner is extremely scientific, by which I mean I will be sure to shout "FOR SCIENCE!" a lot while I'm writing it.
Please note: since I will be using different quotes from each of these movies as the rounds progress, if you're not seeing your favorites in the first round (and for the high seeds, you're less likely to), chances are you're going to see them as the rounds continue.
Also: Mean Girls is in the Eastern Bracket. Calm down, PSF.
As with every entry in this series, we lead off with expert analysis from Chip Blandly, Bearslovehoney, and Charles Barkley:
Chip: Hello everyone and welcome to our 2013 Most Quotable Movie Bracket preview show brought to you by the new Toyota Prius. Prius: Your friends must own one for a reason. I'm Chip Blandly and with me tonight are our resident movie quote analyst, Bearslovehoney-
BLH: The first four letters in analyst are "anal", Chip.
Chip: They sure are, Bears, and to his left is NBA legend and Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley.
Charles Barkley: Wait, this is about movies?
Chip: Good point Chuck, this contest is all about the pictures. The selection committee has whittled it down to 32 of the most quotable movies made since 1970 and a winner will need to survive all four rounds to be crowned the King. Bears, you've been looking over the bracket so let's take this by conference. Who do you like in the West?
BLH: Chip, some people might think that no Lord of the Rings movies being nominated is ridiculous but I say they're wrong: the Western Bracket is all about the Two Towers. This is a showdown between Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. There's other talent here, I wouldn't be surprised if Spinal Tap made the traditional 1 vs. 16 blowout a closer matchup than usual, but those two are the cream of the crop. Head to head, you have to wonder who'll come out on top. On the surface, Anchorman has it all. Star power in the title character, a great supporting cast and a deep bench of cameos.
Chip: And Star Wars?
BLH: One word Chip: Experience. Also, Han Solo. So three words, Chip. Empire has been around for more than 30 years and has reached iconic status. With the new rules penalizing movies for groan inducing, overly familiar quotes you have to wonder if Anchorman's relative freshness in people's minds will hurt it in the long run.
Chip: Well said. Charles?
Charles Barkley: No, seriously, what's going on? Why are you talking about this? Why am I even here?
BLH: Charles makes an excellent point. The rest of the bracket is dominated by dramas asking us the fundamental questions. Who am I? What's going on? Why am I here? Can movies like the Shawshank Redemption, that don't bring the funny, compete with first rate comedies?
Chip: Dramas definitely at a disadvantage. So you like the favourites in the West. Now let's turn our attention to the East.
BLH: Chip, the Eastern Bracket is the sequel to Herbie the Love Bug. It is fully loaded. Monty Python, Ghostbusters, Office Space, Mean Girls, the Big Lebowski. This is where the heavy hitters ended up. Anything can happen here Chip. Has there ever been a stronger #13 seed than Superbad? A better #11 than Airplane? That's not even mentioning The Princess Bride which, let's be honest, is probably a top 3 seed if you only include the first 20 minutes of the movie by itself.
Chip: Do you like any upsets?
BLH: Chip, my dark horse candidate here is #10 Animal House and not just because I've been making its case for the last two hours. Great cast, perfectly skewers the lunacy of fraternity life and a devastating scorer in John "Bluto" Blutarsky. My only question: will there be enough support among Groupthink's traditionally female audience for this tale of college boy hi-jinx? Time will tell.
Chip: Charles, every year there's a lot of anger about some of the movies that were omitted. I'm hearing a lot of noise, mainly in the form of one crazy lady banging on the studio doors and shouting, about a lack of Burt Reynolds movies. Thoughts?
Charles: Dude, I really just know basketball.
BLH: Chip, I couldn't agree with Charles more. People looking up and down this list are going to see one glaring omission. Sports movies. No Mighty Ducks, no Major League, no Bull Durham. Again, you have to remember, it's not much of a sports crowd. That said, I'm going to have to side with the fans, or fan, and say that if I were doing the choosing, there might have been room for The Longest Yard.
Chip: Is that the original starring Burt Reynolds or the Adam Sandler starring remake with Mr. Reynolds in a supporting role?
BLH(laughing): Oh you done did it now, Chip. You'd better have one of the interns start your car tonight.
Chip: Boom goes the dynamite, huh?
BLH(dead serious): I'm not joking, man. Take precaution.
Charles Barkley: Yeah, that woman did not look like she was messing around.
Chip: And with that folks, we'll send it back to the studio. Needless to say all of us here are on the edge of our seats for the coming results."
Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore — This is especially painful for me, because I wish I could mash these two into one movie and include them. Billy Madison has maybe my favorite movie quote of all time ("I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul") which nevertheless isn't good enough to get it in on its own merits. Happy Gilmore is my spirit animal (the number of times I've shouted "YOU'RE GONNA DIE, CLOWN!" apropos of nothing are beyond counting), but none of its quotes quite get it there. Sad day for Mr. Sandler.
Tommy Boy — Ohhh, Tommy Boy. I badly wanted to include you. BADLY. But you just weren't quite there. You were close, with "Brothers don't shake hands...BROTHERS GOTTA HUG!" and "Did you live under power lines/eat a lot of paint chips as a kid?" Those are some seriously applicable quotes. Ultimately, though, you didn't have either a signature quote (like Jaws, which narrowly edged you out) or quite enough great lines to make it there on the strength of numerous quotes.
Serenity — This movie came close — as anything Firefly-related should. But it suffers by being still-not-nearly-as-quotable-as-the-show, and I just couldn't get past that. Also, some of you would've rioted if I'd put another sci-fi movie on this list, I think.
Love Actually — Almost made a low seed on the strength of "Kids: don't buy drugs. Become a pop star and they GIVE them to you FOR FREE!" But the brilliance of this movie is difficult to define through quotes — none of the amazing Colin Firth scenes are really quotable (since they rely on multilingual interactions). Though I love this movie, I couldn't justify it making this list.
Highlander — Highlander has one incredibly memorable/applicable quote ("THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!") and basically nothing else. It almost got there on the strength of that one quote, but not quite.
Bull Durham — I was tempted, but nobody ever gets it when I shout, "I'm going to ANNOUNCE my PRESENCE with AUTHORITY!" in public. Clearly, not as memorable as I thought it was.
Network — It's no secret that dramas suffer heavily in this competition, and no movie is more hurt by that than Network. It might have the greatest script ever written. But ultimately, it was kept out of this tournament for the simple reason that it scores lower in applicability than any movie that did make it in.
Good Will Hunting — I originally had it in there, until I thought about it and realized I can't actually think of any quotes from this movie off the top of my head. One of the best scripts of all time, with my single favorite monologue...but aside from maybe "How do you like them apples?" no quote is particularly applicable. Plus, someone mentioned Trading Places, and how could I not go with that one?
And now, the first round of the Western Bracket.
"I immediately regret this decision!"
"It's so damn hot! Milk was a bad choice!"
"Great Odin's raven!"
16) This Is Spinal Tap
"This piece is called 'Lick My Love Pump.'"
"You can't really dust for vomit."
"These go to eleven."
"Money talks, and bullshit walks."
This is Spinal Tap has dozens of great exchanges — unfortunately, with very few exceptions, exchanges don't cut it as quotes for the purposes of this tournament, and it's precious light on substantial one-liners. Shorn of context, all of its quotes are clever, but few are applicable, and as time passes, even fewer are memorable (with the notable exception of "These go to eleven").
Anchorman, by contrast, is quite possibly the most loaded competitor in this field. Where Anchorman really devastates anything in its path is applicability — practically any line from that movie can be seamlessly fitted into real-world situations. I can't stop myself from shouting "POLICIA! POLICIA!" every time I see a cop car, and even a lesser-known line like "I immediately regret this decision!" is incredibly applicable. Spinal Tap did a good job to make it into this tournament, but against Anchorman, it is badly outclassed.
Winner: Do you really need me to answer this?
8) Pulp Fiction
"WHAT DOES MARCELLUS WALLACE LOOK LIKE?!"
"Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead."
"Let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet."
"I'm sorry; did I break your concentration?"
9) Trading Places
"It's a miracle! I CAN WALK!"
"It occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people."
"Oh, ho, ho, thank you for correcting my English which stinks!"
"Those men wanted to have sex with me!"
A case could (and probably should) be made that Pulp Fiction is seeded too low here. It has way better depth than you might expect out of an 8th seed, and scores pretty big in all three categories (with the caveat for applicability that you probably shouldn't say most of these to your grandmother, unless she is AWESOME).
Trading Places, meanwhile, has a couple of really golden lines; both "Those men wanted to have sex with me!" and "It occurs to me that the best way you hurt rich people is by turning them into poor people" score well in all three categories. Unfortunately, Places is hurt by factors beyond its control, mainly the fact that it hasn't aged particularly well. Dressing one of the main characters in blackface (even ironically, even absurdly) it liable to give modern audiences the squicks — and ruins basically every quote from that point on in that scene. It also just doesn't have the depth of Pulp Fiction. While Trading Places keeps this respectable, the outcome is never really in doubt.
Winner: Pulp Fiction.
"In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary: 'come again?'"
"You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity."
"You can call me Susan if it makes you happy."
"Sneaky fuckin' Russian."
13) Boogie Nights
"I know fucking karate."
"I am a star. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. I am a big, bright, shining star. That's right."
"This was not supposed to be the thing, Todd!"
There's no other way to say it: this is a freaking bloodbath.
Everyone expected it'd be a walkover for Snatch. I certainly did. Then I actually looked at the quotes from Boogie Nights, and HOLY SHIT. You forget how quotable this movie is if you haven't seen it for a while. On balance, Boogie Nights might be the most underrated movie of the 90's, equally underrated for its quotability.
Snatch is also hurt by the fact that a lot of its best quotes aren't stand-alones, they're exchanges. With rare exceptions, exchanges don't usually fit into this competition; and they NEVER fit if they're more than two lines long. Then you get into the fact that "This was not supposed to be the thing, Todd!" is one of the most quotable entries in the entire tournament, and this is way closer than it appears.
In the end, Boogie Nights' best quotes beat Snatch's best quotes, and Snatch's depth isn't quite enough to save it. This is an upset even I hadn't planned for. Congratulations, Burt. Your spirit guide survives into Round 2.
Winner: Boogie Nights, in a last-second buzzer-beater scenario.
5) The Shawshank Redemption
"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."
"Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane."
"The funny thing is, on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook."
"Get busy living, or get busy dying."
12) Young Frankenstein
"Frau Blucher." *neigh*
"Dirty word! He said a dirty word!"
"He vould have an enormous schwanzstucker."
"'uuuuttin on the 'iiiiiiitz!"
We think of Shawshank as this great quote machine. It's true that its a superbly-paced and -acted movie (when was Morgan Freeman EVER not great?). But while its quotes are clever as hell, and memorable...they're not particularly applicable. Further, it hasn't aged terribly, but neither has it aged particularly well; many of its classic lines feel overwrought by today's standards of subtlety in drama. A lot of its best lines are also entire speeches, which disqualify them from quotability, since the whole point is to be a snappy response or line you can bring out in real-world situations.
Most of Young Frankenstein's quotes don't have the memorability of Shawshank's (excepting "Frau Blucher"), but it scores a ton of points both for cleverness (unsurprising, since it's a Mel Brooks film) and applicability (more surprising, since it's a Mel Brooks film). In particular, while "Dirty word! He said a dirty word!" isn't a line people think of when they think of this movie, it's a surprisingly applicable one — and remember, applicability is weighted more heavily here than the other two categories.
In short, we have the perfect storm for an upset, and Young Frankenstein does not disappoint. The tradition of a 12-seed beating a 5-seed holds just as true here as it does in the real NCAA tourney.
Winner: Young Frankenstein.
"What is this? A CENTER FOR ANTS?! How can we expect children to learn how to read...if they can't even fit inside the building?"
"I'm not an ambi-turner!"
14) The Rock
"'Your best?' Losers always whine about 'their best.' Winners go home and fuck the prom queen."
"I'm amazed you ever got past puberty."
Oh, Zoolander. You don't score much on cleverness, but I'll be damned if you don't rack up points like crazy in the other two categories. Your lines are so memorable that they become applicable just because everyone knows them — "I'm not an ambi-turner" makes no sense out of context, but it still works. I use it all the time. Hell, I go out of my WAY to use it all the time.
The Rock might be the biggest surprise entry to this tournament, but it really shouldn't be — not when it's riding one of the greatest movie quotes of all time ("'Your best?'"). It doesn't have anything else going for it, though, and it's about to get stomped. Zoolander barely even needs to break a sweat.
6) Jurassic Park
"Hold onto your butts."
"When the Pirates of the Carribbean breaks down, the Pirates don't EAT the tourists."
11) Terminator 2
"Hasta la vista, baby."
"I'll be back."
"Come with me if you want to live."
Terminator is another entrant that's really only getting by on reputation. It's certainly memorable as anything else in the tournament, but it hasn't aged well (partially due to overquoting, partially due to a reliance on slang that feels really, REALLY dated when you watch it again). Still, something starring Arnold needed to be in this tournament (and "Who is your daddy and what does he do?" wasn't good enough to get Kindergarten Cop in).
Jurassic Park is going in the other direction — you don't think of it as a particularly quotable movie, but it is one. Where it really scores points is in applicability. I use "Clevaaah girl" more than any quote in this tournament that isn't from Anchorman or Princess Bride. Aside from the Pirates quote, none are particularly clever — but damned if you can't find myriad ways to use them in everyday situations.
This one isn't as close as you might even think it'd be. Jurassic Park just has way too much for T2, and cruises to an easy victory.
Winner: Jurassic Park.
7) Back to the Future
"Why do you keep saying things are 'heavy?' In the future, is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?"
"Where we're going, we don't NEED roads."
"Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here?"
10) Cool Runnings
"Some people say you know we can't believe/Jamaica, we have a bobsled team!"
"I give you a dollah to SHUT UP."
"I see PRIDE! I see POW-AH! I see A BAD-ASS MUDDA WHO DON'T TAKE NO CRAP OFF OF NOBODY!
Though there have been upsets in this tournament, they were close calls. This one isn't: Cool Running rolls over Back to the Future in a surprising blowout.
But this one's only really an upset if you've never seen Cool Runnings. The only reason it's a 10-seed is because it isn't quite as well-known as a lot of the other entries to this tournament. But in memorability, it crushes nearly everything else in the field. I still can't look at a mirror without shouting "I see PRIDE! I see POW-AH!" Back to the Future might be (and probably is) the better movie of the two, but this isn't a competition about which is the better movie, but the most quotable — and that distinction clearly belongs to Cool Runnings.
Winner: Cool Runnings.
2) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
"Never tell me the odds!"
"I love you." "I know."
"Try not. Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'"
"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."
15) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
"I don't like to lose."
"To the last, I will grapple with thee! From Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"
Ok, maybe I did the seeding this way in order to have Trek vs. Wars in the first round. Sue me. Also, it felt right to have the two greatest sci-fi movies of all time face each other. Btw, anyone who read that last sentence and even THOUGHT the words "Bladerunner" or "2001," leave and know that we're not friends any more. I HATE those movies.
Wrath of Khan is a great film, carried in large part by Ricardo Montalbon (maybe the greatest movie villain ever). And it's quite quotable: everyone knows what the reference is if you drop to your knees and shout "KHAAAAAAAN!"
But Empire is one of the finest films ever made, and there's a reason every line above is so well-known. Where it really outpaces Wrath of Khan is in depth of quotes; there's just more to Empire than there is to Wrath of Khan, and frankly, it isn't close. I'm also docking Wrath of Khan points because one of its best quotes isn't even its own, as it's ripped straight from Moby Dick. It's a hell of a quote (AS MOBY DICK IS A HELL OF A BOOK, SALCELE), but still. This one is never in doubt.
Up Next: Part II, the Western Bracket! Hopefully with most expert analysis from bearslovehoney!