Earlier this week, while running down the worst performances of some of our favorite actors, we were reminded again of that unfortunate moment back in 2000 where Robert De Niro cashed in the chip of one of his most iconic performances for a cheap laugh in a Rocky & Bullwinkle movie. That’s only one way of looking at it, of course — it could also be argued that everyone else had been quoting Taxi Driver for years, so De Niro was just getting in on the action himself. There is something to be said for the notion that, cinema classic though it might be, we’ve probably all had enough of people taking the opportunity whenever they look in a mirror to do a Bickle-esque smile/smirk and inquire, “You talkin’ to me?”
Taxi Driver is one of many great movies that have been trod upon by the corrupting influence of movie quoting, that unfortunate social phenomenon by which pop culture obsessives, unable to communicate with their own words, end up speaking primarily in dialogue lifted from their favorite films, rendering said dialogue tiresome and unwelcome. We’ve assembled over a dozen movies we’re sick of having quoted back to us, but we’re sure we left some out — and that’s what the comment section is for. Check them out after the jump.
On a recent trip to downtown NYC that led me dangerously close to the weird, muttering watch and handbag slingers of Chinatown, I passed a T-shirt booth that had, on prominent display, a garment featuring a (rather poor) hand drawing of Sacha Baron Cohen’s mustachioed Kazakh, giving a thumbs-up over the phrase “Sexytime!” It gave me just a moment’s pause — because, after all, Borat came out six years ago, so are they really still moving a lot of that inventory? But “sexytime!” wasn’t the only Borat-ism we got sick of within about 72 hours of Borat’s release; “High five” and “Nice!” also wore out their welcome pretty quickly.
In all honesty, your film editor never quite caught the circa-2004 strain of Napoleon Dynamite fever; it’s a movie too obsessed with its own faux-cleverness, one more weird and off-balance than genuinely funny. But everybody else just loved them some Napoleon, and loved offering up a “Gosh!” or “Idiot!” whether the occasional called for it or not. Napoleon quoting got so out of control that it became a cottage industry — there were talking keychains, talking dolls and talking pens, even a “Complete Quote Book,” which would, for most movies, simply be the screenplay book. Thankfully, all my wildest dreams came true when the recent Napoleon Dynamite TV cartoon tanked, hopefully putting America out of the Napoleon-quoting business for good.
The Austin Powers trilogy
Austin Powers and Dr. Evil were amusing enough the first time around, in 1997’s Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, but by the time they returned for 1999’s The Spy Who Shagged Me, we were starting to get a hint of what 2002’s Goldmember confirmed: Mike Myers was less “writing screenplays” to these films than he was manufacturing situations for them to spout their catchphrases and work up new ones, which were duly gobbled up and repeated by the moviegoing masses, and thus Myers is responsible for that braying idiot in your office who kept howling “Yeah baby!” and “Groovy, baby!” and “Oh, behave!” and “Shh!” and “Do I make you horny?” until that last one got him called into the HR office and canned, the poor sap.
Make no mistake: we like Anchorman as much as the next, um, pop culture blog, and are obviously jazzed about its upcoming sequel. But here’s hoping Will Ferrell and Adam McKay don’t go the Myers route and spend two hours trotting out the old favorites, because as much as we love the original, we’re not quite sure we can handle another decade of “You stay classy, San Diego” and “Great Odin’s Raven.” And let’s be honest, anyone who is still saying “I’m kind of a big deal” probably isn’t.
The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers’ 1998 Fargo follow-up was famously ill-received at the time of its original release, with mediocre reviews and unspectacular box office, but the fans who’ve embraced it in the years since have more than made up for that slight by memorizing every single line and trotting it out at the slightest provocation. We love the movie, and would like to continue enjoying it, so we’d like to declare an embargo on the following phrases: “That rug really tied the room together,” “Shut the fuck up, Donny,” “Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” and “Nobody fucks with the Jesus!” However, feel free to continue saying “Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature” and “Say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” No expiration date on those two.
The Princess Bride
Our love for The Princess Bride is so intense that it very nearly cancels out our loathing of pretty much everything else Rob Reiner has done, but good lord, if we have to go to one more wedding and hear some comic genius mutter “mawiage” when the ceremony begins, it’s gonna get ugly. Ditto with “Inconceivable!” and “As you wish” and “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die,” which, c’mon, has no genuine application outside of that movie and doesn’t even make any sense when you say it in real life. “Stop saying that!” indeed.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Pythonites are a specific breed of movie quoters, ones you have to handle gently, like Renaissance Faire people and Dungeons & Dragons players (and if we’re being honest, the Venn Diagram on those three groups probably isn’t too complicated). Your film editor says this without judgment; I spent a fair amount of high school trading lines from the Parrot Sketch and “nudge nudge” with my friends, which probably (partially) explains why I didn’t spent a fair amount of high school on, y’know, dates. So my love for MPATHG is strong, but I (and all of us Python fans) must at least make the effort to resist the urge to insert “It’s just a flesh wound” and “It’s only a model” and “Ni” into every social situation. That said, if you can find an reasonable excuse to say “Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony” in an everyday conversation, well, I’m not going to judge you.
The Godfather trilogy
This one sorta gets a pass, simply because the Godfather movies are so iconic and have become so entrenched in American culture that its key dialogue has become part of the vernacular; people can say “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” or that someone “sleeps with the fishes” without even realizing they’re quoting The Godfather. That aside, something did go knotty in this Godfather fanatic’s stomach when I saw Tom Hanks cyber-quoting it to Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, and then proceeding to explain the “mattresses” quote and the movie itself in a fashion that made me want to stand in the theaters and announce “this man does not speak for that movie,” but good sense and manners prevailed. Point is, You’ve Got Mail was a tipping point, and unless you want to sound like a character from that movie, it’s probably best to let this one be.
Wall Street/Glengarry Glen Ross
It’s not often that the ceaseless quoting of one movie makes its way into another one, but that’s what happened with Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, which is viewed by several characters in the 2000 movie Boiler Room — and they say the dialogue right along with the movie, like teenagers singing along to Katy Perry. The most over-quoted passage in Wall Street isn’t in the scene they’re watching, though; it’s the notorious “Greed is good” speech delivered by Michael Douglas, who recently admitted, “If I get one more drunken guy from ‘the Street’ saying, ‘Hey, man, greed is good! You’re the man! You’re why I got into this business’… Hey, I was the villain.” He made that distinction on Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing podcast, and the host concurred: “I’ve got people coming up to me all the time quoting some of the most corrosive lines from Glengarry Glen Ross. They think it’s good to talk about the kind of thuggishness of the sales industry — when I say, you know, ‘coffee is for closers,’ and you say ‘greed is good’… I’ve got people walking up to me drunk in lobbies of hotels and they’re going, ‘Come do that speech! I’m in sales, baby!’ And I’m sitting there going, ‘You don’t get it, man. This is like Arthur Miller. We’re trying to wake you up.’ But they’re like… no, they don’t get it.” The other movie quoted by the guys in Boiler Room? Glengarry Glen Ross, of course.
When Swingers was released in 1996, its faux-Rat Pack patter was part of its charm, with all the “babies” and “moneys” and “beautiful babies” and “you’re so money and you don’t even know it” giving the picture a distinctive sound and style that was both retro and contemporary. But that was 16 years ago (holy hell, that was 16 years ago), and there are still people out there who will respond to ideas for vacations with “Vegas, baby, VEGAS!” or leave parties with a defiant “This place is dead anyways.” It’s a good movie, but quoting it these days is double-retro, and when you go double-retro, somewhere in the world, a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy fan dies.
Forrest Gump/Jerry Maguire
We hesitated to even include these two on the list, since both films’ transformations from beloved money-makers to loathed objects of derision would seem to preclude the notion that there are still people walking around saying “Stupid is as stupid does” or “You complete me” or even, God help us, “Show me the money.” But you know what happens when you assume: some idiot says “Life is like a box of chocolates” and gets pummeled mercilessly by his/her friends. Never forget!
The Wizard of Oz
This one could just be personal, so cut me a bit of slack here. But your film editor is a native of the great state of Kansas, and if you’re from Kansas, The Wizard of Oz is shoved down your throat from the time you fall out of the womb; you spend your life surrounded by T-shirts and calendars and mugs and “There’s no place like home!” But that’s nothing compared to what you get if you dare make your way in the world outside of the Sunflower State, where no matter where you go, no matter what you do, no matter what happens in your life, it’s an even money bet that you’ll encounter some asshole who’ll find out where you’re from and utter the phrase that sends bloody murder into the gentlest Kansas heart: “Well, you’re not in Kansas anymore!”
The Terminator movies
It’s 2012. Terminator came out in 1984; T2 was 1992. If anyone ever puts on a joke Austrian accent and tells you “I’ll be back,” reply “Hasta la vista, baby,” slam the door behind them, and lock every damn lock you’ve got.
Those are the movies we’re tired of hearing dialogue from — let us know yours in the comments.