Like most life-altering ideas, it began as a scheme to make lots of money.
I'm not talking about a scene from Ocean's Eleven - although I will be. I'm talking about a plan a friend and I have to pen a book made up almost entirely of other people's words - a book that examines memorable quotes from movies. You know, one of those bathroom-reading tomes you see at Urban Outfitters. But not just trite lines that became catch phrases, like "May the Force be with you" (Star Wars), "We're on a mission from God" (The Blues Brothers), or "Show me the money" (Jerry Maguire). Reusable quotes that you can, and should, work into everyday conversations to not only amuse yourself, but test others' knowledge of pop culture. For example, from the films mentioned so far, these obscure or under-used lines would work well in the following situations:
When a family member catches you in a fib, channel Star Wars: [waving fingers in person's face] "These are not the droids you're looking for."
When you're being pulled over for speeding, before the officer gets there, turn to your passenger and recite Dan Aykroyd's line from The Blues Brothers: "I bet those cops got SCMODS."
When your buddy buys you a beer, recall Jerry Maguire: [quietly,voice shaking] "You ... complete me." (Okay, that line's not exactly original, but, let's face it, how often are your buddies buying?)
When someone asks where you live, quote from the place this story got its headline, Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I: [do a shim-sham dance and slap your hands] "A hundred and twenty-fifth street!"
Didn't see those films? It doesn't matter. You can do this with almost any movie. Don't know where to start? Then keep reading, because we've come up with the following beginner's guide to using movie lines in everyday life. We hope it helps you better understand the concept when you buy the book. We also hope it convinces someone to pay us to write the book in the first place. (It's always better that way.) And if you're rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, "Here's an idea: When you tell these little stories, have a point! It makes it so much easier for the listener," just remember, you didn't really come up with that. You're simply remembering a Steve Martin line from Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
There are several movies you must see many times before you begin movie-lining. These are films so full of usable citations they should be studied with the attentiveness of a cartographer, for they provide your road map for movie-line victory. (Not the movie Victory. Although we have been known to imitate Pelé's description of his soccer plan in the film: "I do deees, deees, deees, deees, deees, goal." But that's for advanced users only.) Here are five from that must-see movie list.
No real surprise, as it's one of the first blockbuster comedies. Examples of good quotes to use (and that are printable here): "Don't think of it as work. The whole point is to enjoy yourself"; "Do you mind if we dance with your dates?"; "You guys playing cards?"; "Hey, it's gotta work better than the truth"; "See if you can guess … what I am now"; and, for when your employees are ignoring you, "Listen, I'm not joking. This is my job!"
Seems Like Old Times
Didn't see that one coming, did you? But this Neil Simon script offers so many possibilities, it deserves its own story. First of all, there are the two lines you repeat in a Spanish accent, a la Aurora, the maid: "I didn't ask and she didn't say," and the always gold, "She's not out in the back eating chicken, that's for sure." Then there are the Chevy Chase lines, everything from the one you use when someone says something unintelligible or stupid ("Well said, well spoken, B.G.") to the one I break out at least once a week, when someone does absolutely nothing to help solve a problem ("Well, you've done everything humanly possible.").
So fun because you get to deliver all of them in a British accent, since it works for either Dudley Moore's or Sir John Gielgud's characters. Lines like "Bathing is a very lonely business" and "If I begin to die, please take this off my head." I also like the "Where's the rest of this moose?" zinger, but if you can work that one into the conversation, then you don't really need my help at this.
Most films need years to a) see if the humor holds up to multiple viewings, and b) work their way into the pop-culture ethos so that there's at least a scintilla of a chance your joke will be recognized and appreciated. Steven Soderbergh's 2001 version has quickly become an instant classic, though, packed with lines that give you a cribbed feeling of understated cool. Memorize this movie, and you'll be surprised how many times you can use excerpts like "If I'm reading this right … and I like to think that I am"; "Denim like a jean"; "This is the best part of my day"; and the one even my wife uses, often at the grocery store when we're selecting wine, "You think we need one more? You think we need one more. All right, we'll get one more."
Pre-Rushmore Bill Murray movies
They're filled with everyday movie-line nuggets: Meatballs ("It just doesn't matter!"), Caddyshack (my fave is actually Chevy Chase's "This isn't Russia. Is this Russia? This isn't Russia."), Stripes ("It's a little cute."), Ghost Busters ("Whoa, whoa, whoa. Nice shootin', Tex!"), and Groundhog Day ("I'm a god. I'm not the god.").
"It's Only Wafer-Thin"
Like this famous line from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life -always said when you're stuffed and offered dessert - there are some lines for which you need little reason to bust out. It's just a matter of finding your favorites, the ones you put in your mental Palm Pilot and retrieve when needed. Here are some of my go-to lines, and the sorts of occasions that call for them.
"Well, Boys, I Reckon This Is It"
When Major T.J. "King" Kong said this to his crew in Dr.Strangelove, he was telling them what they already knew: Get ready for the end. So go forth and experience for yourselves the joys of movie-lining. The next time you're making a presentation to your co-workers, throw out this reference from The Princess Bride: "Lemme 'splain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up." When you've clearly overstayed your welcome at a dinner party, announce, as Jeff Goldblum does at the end of The Big Chill, "We took a secret vote. We're not leaving. We're never leaving." Or if a book publisher turns to you on a plane and says, "Hey, you think this movie-line story, expanded, would make a good book?" simply give him the Heathers response: "I like it. It's got that it's-a-cruel-world-let's-throw-ourselves-in-the-abyss type ambience."
Trust me. He'll take that as a yes.