Recently the #BestMovieLineEver hashtag made the rounds on social media, crammed full of blokey films about blokes doing blokey stuff. But great quotes come from a range of places, new and old, says Jenna Guillaume, who picks 12 of the funniest and most iconic.
Every so often, a movie comes along with a script so powerful that parts of it immediately enter our collective cultural consciousness and stay there forever. Some lines are so iconic they become more famous than the movies they originated from, with people quoting and referencing them without any knowledge of the original context.
But the very best lines are the ones that are not only clever, they also capture the themes or feeling of the movie as a whole. Many of these quotes have been shared on social media recently using the hashtag #BestMovieLineEver.
There were lots of the kinds of quotes you’d expect, from “You talkin’ to me” to “May the force be with you” to “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” These are great lines, undoubtedly, but they served a reminder that these lists are frequently Very Serious and Very Male.
So, with that in mind, I’ve picked 14 of my absolute favourite lines from two of the most underappreciated genres: romance and comedy. Sure, you might not find all of these in cinema history books, written by snobby film critics, but who needs them anyway?
12. “Up your ziggy with a wah-wah brush.” – The Hairy Bird
This is perhaps a controversial inclusion on this list because, well, not many people have really heard of this movie, let alone seen it. But it’s truly excellent and deserves way more recognition. The script is one of the best things about it, especially as the main character, a teen girl named Odie, is an aspiring writer; her playfulness with language is what birthed this unique “up yours,” which is deployed in a powerful way at a climactic moment in the plot.
11. “Glen Coco? Four for you, Glen Coco! You go Glen Coco!” – Mean Girls
In a movie absolutely packed with hilarious lines, for some reason this extremely random throwaway moment has endured as one of the most iconic. It’s the rhythm and the repetition that does it; it’s basically the dialogue version of an ear-worm. Of course, the very absurdity of it is what makes it so fun – just like the movie itself.
10. “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” – Clueless
One of the most cutting cinema insults of all time. Tai hits Cher exactly where she knows she’s most vulnerable, and it is, indeed “way harsh.” Clueless’ screenplay is fantastic. One of the best things about it is how, underneath all the over-the-tip dialogue, there’s a true depiction of what it’s like to be a teen girl struggling to figure out who you are. This line goes right to the heart of that pain.
9. “Don’t try to get on my good side. I no longer have one.” – Steel Magnolias
Shirley Maclaine’s Ouiser has all the best lines in a movie full of witty dialogue. It’s still way too rare to see a female character who is allowed to be old and cantankerous without being reduced to a two-dimensional caricature. Ouiser is so much more than her one-liners, but they are also, frankly, a huge mood.
8. “This is going straight to the pool room.” – The Castle
The Castle has one highly quotable – and extremely Australian – line after another. It’s hard to choose between “tell him he’s dreamin’” and “this is going straight to the pool room.” However the latter wins out in this case for the way it really conveys the character of Darryl Kerrigan and his somewhat daggy but also touching fatherly pride.
7. “I love my new asshole!” – Bridesmaids
Bridesmaids is one of the funniest movies of the last decade, and while this line might not be the most quoted, it doesn’t get much more iconic that Maya Rudolph angrily screaming this at Kristen Wiig in the middle of her bridal shower meltdown. It highlights how different their two characters have become and how they’ve grown apart. It’s also just really funny.
6. “There’s no crying in baseball.” – A League of Their Own
The most memorable line from this excellent movie, delivered wonderfully by Tom Hanks in what is perhaps one of his most underrated performances. The line itself perfectly captures the tension between Hanks’ character and the women he’s managing, and the gender politics at play.
5. “I’ll have what she’s having.” – When Harry Met Sally
This line – and the scene it comes from – has been parodied and quoted almost to death. But watching the scene again, in which Sally fakes an orgasm in a busy diner, it’s hard to deny how funny it is, and its punchline is definitely one of the best in cinema history.
4. “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.” – Heathers
Heathers has one of the best scripts of all time. The use of language is so creative, and the delivery of the lines from the young cast is pretty damn great. “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw” is a stunningly imaginative example of this.
3. Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” – The Princess Bride
There’s barely a single line in the whole of The Princess Bride that isn’t iconic. Still, Inigo Montoya’s mantra is perhaps the most memorable, especially because of the way it’s used in his final showdown with the Six-Fingered Man. It’s triumphant and tense, conveying grief, determination and anger all at once.
2. “You’re terrible, Muriel.” – Muriel’s Wedding
Muriel’s Wedding is another movie that’s full of incredible one-liners. The repetition of “you’re terrible, Muriel” makes it stand out among the rest, and it also encapsulates not only the way Muriel’s family treats her, but the way she feels about herself. It’s these feelings that drive the whole plot.
1. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” – Dirty Dancing
There are a few notable lines in Dirty Dancing – “I carried a watermelon”, anyone? – but the most famous is undoubtedly Johnny’s declaration at the end of the movie. It’s not only catchy, but it’s romantic as hell. Who doesn’t want to feel seen, and acknowledged, and told we deserve attention and respect? It really sums up what’s so special about the romance in Dirty Dancing.