Inspired by something I read elsewhere, this post was going to be about the lines from movies we quote most in our household. But as my husband, Dan, and I could not agree on them (he wanted to put in the ones that were “the best”; I wanted those we quote the most), I am going with what I want.
Hey, it’s my blog.
The reason I want to write about those we actually quote the most is, whether or not they are “the best” lines, I am curious as to what makes them repeatable and enduring. The difference, as I see it, between those that are the “best” as opposed to those we actually say, is the schism between what we feel we “should” read (i.e. Moby Dick) and what we actually read.
Most quoted in our house:
- “Oh, asps, very dangerous. You go first.” – first Indiana Jones
- “We named the dog Indiana.” – third Indiana Jones
- Mr. Incredible: “How ya doin’ honey?” Elastagirl: “Do I have to answer?” – The Incredibles
- Princess Leia: “I love you.” Hans Solo: “I know.” – Star Wars
- “Everyone deserves to wear white.” – Bull Durham
- “Don’t eat the green ones. They’re not ripe yet.” – A Fish Called Wanda
- “I didn’t know you were funny.” – The Sixth Sense
- “Did that dog just say ‘hi there’?” – Up
- “There is no spoon.” – The Matrix
- “OK, so what am I doing? Oh, I’m chasing this guy. No… he’s chasing me.” – Memento
- “Technically it is brain damage.” – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- “Why do I have to be Mr. Pink?” – Reservoir Dogs
- Will Turner: “You cheated.” Jack Sparrow: “Pirate.” – Pirates of the Caribbean
Obviously, there are more quotes and many movies that are entirely quotable (Princess Bride, Apocalypse Now), but these are the ones that regularly pepper our conversations.
What makes them standard? For one,it’s the shared cultural meme between Dan and I.
We are from the same generation and have seen most of the same movies, some together, some not. It’s shorthand – each quote comes pre-packaged with connotation, setting, and emotions. It’s easier to quote someone else than use your own words, and often the quotes are much pithier than what we could come up with.
Second, each of these quotes are character-driven. In this small piece of dialogue, we learn something about the character uttering it without excessive explanation. That is the beauty of good dialogue – conveying a lot with very little.
Why don’t we quote sentences from books? I think, for one, it’s not a shared meme (excluding Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss of course).
Even when Dan and I read the same novel, it’s rare that out of 300 plus pages, we remember and quote the same sentence. But we see movies over and over again, they are quoted by other people (including those who don’t read books), and become part of our culture. I say “I’m walking here!” even though I’ve never seen Midnight Cowboy. When I say it, though, nearly everyone knows what I’m referring to even if they haven’t seen the movie either.
Once in a while I do quote a book, but it’s not the same. I’ll say to Dan, “Did he tell you the dog story,” from Charles Baxter’s The Feast of Love. He’s read the book and we’ve discussed that scene before but still I have to explain the context of the quote, which completely dilutes the whole purpose.
So, what do you quote most often from movies or books and why?