Call me late – but just not literally, please! ‘Cos you could’ve knocked me up with the proverbial Feather recently, when I saw – for the first time, this perfectly sexist counter: “Why marry the Swine, when all you want is a Li’l Sausage!” To that perfectly sexist old burn: “Why buy the Cow, when you can get the Milk for free!”
But despite being arguably Earth’s most laughable species: Are we as Humans getting any funnier, though? One prime measure of this hoped-for evolution, is not just how stellar our movie one-liners presently are: but how much funnier we can possibly make them!
Let us take a trip back into cinematic history, and put Ten of the Best Movie One-Liners found there to the test! To see whether humanity’s humour has evolved to the point where our present-day one-liners are almost Too Good To be True! Or whether – as I fear: A monkey’s great-uncle can still crack both Nuts and Us, up: If there’s any great distinction! In doing so, I mean? For the monkey, of course! Far less for its cracking-great joke teller of a great-uncle!
No. 1: “Houston, we have a problem.” — Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell, echoing more succinctly what Kevin Bacon as Jack Swigert had said just a few seconds earlier in Apollo 13 (1995).
Background: And I’ll say this for the Americans: That while only a Yank can squint up as high as God, and ask: “Tell me again who made you the Boss o’ me?” I’ll bet the type o’ Taxes I’ll never have to pay as President, that every last one of ‘em will have the Devil of a time accepting that goddamn answer!
Modern take: “Houston, we’ll need a new contingency plan…”
No. 2: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” — Kathleen Turner as Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).
Background: Jessica Rabbit is a fine example of “Life Imitating Art.” With her swathes of hair seductively blinding one eye. Bodacious boobs threatening to poke each of everyone else’s out! And Kardashian-sized arse swaying with exactly the same degree of implausibility! What can one honestly say about a cartoon cut-out chick like that – not Kim! But this 100-percent real one…
Modern take: “Just like me? People never seem to see the real me!”
No. 3: “Here’s looking at you, kid.” — Humphrey Bogart’s as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942).
Could I have been that charitable, watching the love of my life saunter off with the love of theirs? I’d sure as hell have something to say about it! But something nice, though. And even rather thoughtful, like…
Modern take: “Hey! Don’t let the barn door hit you two stupid asses on your way in! ‘kay?”
Movie one-liner No. 4: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” — Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind (1939).
Background: Nothing more to say here…‘cept that under absolutely no romantic circumstances: save the absolute necessity of dispelling a Lover by dispensing the absolute Truth! Should with Bogey’s lingering farewell, ever be confused with Gable’s callous kiss-off!
Modern take: “Truly, my love, I could not love you less right now.”
No. 5: “I’m just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.” —Emily Blunt as Emily Charlton in The Devil Wears Prada (2006).
Background: If you don’t get this, it’ll be as much a ‘blow’ as: “What did the Big Bad Wolf say to the Little Model Pig? “I’ll huff! An’ I’ll…Where the hell did she go?”
Modern take: “Number one, I’m not too fat! And number two is how I can prove it to you!”
No. 6: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” — Ali MacGraw as Jennifer Cavilleri in Love Story (1970).
Background: Call me picky! But I legit hate that smarmy-arse saying, and will politely explain why in true Golden Girls (1985-1992) style; by borrowing here from Estelle Getty’s attention-grabbing preface: “Picture it!” Some wannabe ex-lover forgets to remember seeing the many Post-it notes so subtly littering the love-nest all month. Despite each one stating in big, fat Magic Marker: “My Birthday Wish is for Marriage! Or a New Mate!” And on D-Day has the big, fat nerve to saunter up – lips puckered and hands outstretched, but with neither a ring stuck in the former nor a sign language proposal made with the other! Surreally smirking-out some aggravated injury inducing crap about: “Love means never having to say…ow!”
Modern take: “And the couch means never not having a handy place to wank!”
No. 7: “Honey, black people don’t go to therapy.” — Kevin Hart as Calvin “The Golden Jet” Joyner in Central Intelligence (2016).
Background: A cursory Google search confirms that even CNN is willing to admit that “couples’ therapy” just might be a resounding S.C.A.M.M! Yep! Says right there in black and white metadata, that among the “major” reasons couples freely leave their own couches to pay for a swift slide offa someone else’s, is due to problems with: “Sex, Communication (and) Money.” Along with what they call “Major life changes,” but which I hope don’t include ‘death.’ Cause God knows the need for Celestial Therapy will always be astronomical, and its cost remain likely sky-high!
Modern take: “Honey, black people can’t afford to make white shrinks any richer.”
Movie one-liner No. 8: “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” — Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club (1999).
Background: Just when I felt justified in writing-off Brad Pitt as just another pretty-face, ladies’ man… He goes and does a pretty darn believable star-turn as a pretty-face, Everybody’s Man (okay – mainly female Bodies!); in films just like this!
Modern take: “The first rule of Fight Club is: Talking about Fight Club is totally ruled out.”
No. 9: “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” — Christian Bale as Batman in Batman Begins (2005).
Background: And call me warped! But whenever I hear that particular line, I can’t help but think of this favourite Hollywood scriptwriting trope: Where during the scarily popular “fright-night” flicks, any woman: but preferably a white, young, pretty, and pretty-much naked woman! Hears the distinct sound of bestial Humanity shuffling ‘round beneath her bed; and usually right at the point when she points her toes and slides seductively into it. Camera moves in tight on what rather prematurely appears to be her Headless Body, since focused moreso on her triple-D implants; since always helpfully pointed right back! Except when she has to lean awkwardly over them, to emote this excusably strained response: “Is anybody… there?” I mean… seriously? What, pray tell! Is the appropriate response expected, here? “Aw! Don’t mind me, lady! I ain’t never been one for boring formalities! Why’d you think I haven’t yet introduced you to this knife?”
Modern take: “Ask not who lays beneath me! But what lies in store for you!”
No. 10: “As my plastic surgeon always said, if you gotta go, go with a smile.” —Jack Nicholson as The Joker in Batman (1989).
Background: Well, quite obviously The Joker’s plastic surgeon is just a Big Baby!
Modern take: “As my urologist always said, if you gotta go, go somewhere else.”
Words to leave by! But – and just like Arnold “I’ll be Back” next week, to discuss: “Death by 1001 Cutting Remarks Made for the Movies.”
D. J. PAYNE, Dialogue Doctor – Denise is a banter dialogue specialist whose favourite thing to do is help other writers take their scripts from funny to Funtastic.
© Copyright 2021. D J. Payne. All Rights to this Material fully Reserved by Author D. J. Payne.