Well, how much time do you have?
The reason I ask is I have a pretty high retention level, provided they are movie quotes and song lyrics rather than other things…like names, faces, or birthdays. And if I really enjoy a a film, I tend to watch it repeatedly. With those repeated viewings, certain quotes and conversations become ingrained into my every day speech. I tend to quote a lot of movies throughout the day, most of which fall on deaf ears (or ears that simply don’t recognize the quote, which usually means a polite yet confused chuckle). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that out of pride or vanity. It sometimes leads to awkward moments, like imitating Buffalo Bill’s “lotion in the basket” scene from Silence of the Lambs in company that don’t get the quote. Then you come off as seriously demented. So believe me, I wish I could go into the Vault of Useless Knowledge and clear out space for something truly useful. Like post-apocalypse survival skills, not just ammunition for pithy and/or smarmy retorts and the ability to banter well at parties.
But there are a few films that stand out due to the sheer number of times I’ve seen them…or more importantly, how much I quote them on regular basis. I’m not even saying that this movies are the best of their respective genres. They just happen to be films that I enjoy the sh-t out of, so I want to remind people of their awesomeness.
1. Fight Club (1999)
Director: David Fincher
Something about Chuck Palahniuk’s anti-establishment opus spoke to me. And something about Fincher’s film connected with me. Tyler Durden is infinitely quotable as is the vast majority of the dialogue contained on the page or the screen. I can do Durden’s “middle children of history” speech without missing an article or syllable. Not bragging or anything, more explaining the depths of my psychosis.
2. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Hard to believe that Tarantino’s smash debut was almost 20 years ago. I saw this crime epic at a very young age and it effected me tremendously. Hell, I even saw Reservoir Dogs as a play in the only Tarantino-sanctioned performance on stage in the country. My love for Tarantino led me to search out the very movies that he was imitating or used for inspiration. It was the first time in my life I began to actively search out different styles and genres of films, instead of whatever was leading the box office that weekend. I learned to appreciate Akira Kurosawa and Howard Hawks years before I would study them in college. And yes, we’ve had extensive conversations about whether Tarantino is a true original since most of what makes his films so unique is the amalgam of elements that he liked from other movies. At what point does a copy of a copy become an original? That is a discussion for another day.
I can also do Mr. Pink’s “professional” speech verbatim.
3. Gross Pointe Blank (1997)
Director: George Armitage
My love for all things (well, most things…2012 was pretty f–king bad) John Cusack is not a secret. Even in his early supporting roles in Class and Sixteen Candles, he always cracked me up. One Crazy Summer and Better Off Dead are damn funny movies, albeit dated, that showed he could carry a movie on his own. He began to get some more credibility with some serious turns as the older brother in Stand By Me and Buck Weaver in Eight Men Out. Do I really need to go about heaping praise on Say Anything? If you haven’t seen Say Anything, then you should be ashamed of yourself.
But it is this 1997 dark comedy about a miserable hit-man returning home to attend his 10 year high school reunion that I quote more than any other Cusack movie. It also marks another appearance by one of my all time favorite actors who has made a surprising number of appearances on this list so far. Alan Arkin absolutely kills me as Martin’s (Cusack) psychiatrist, who doesn’t want to work with him anymore after he learns what Martin does for a living. With the great Jeremy Piven & Dan Ackroyd in juicy supporting roles and a (surprisingly) tolerable Minnie Driver, Grosse Pointe Blank is another movie that I tend to quote a smidge too much.
You’re a handsome devil. What’s your name?
4. Tombstone (1993)
Director: George P. Cosmatos (but really is was Kurt Russell, which makes him and the film that much more bad ass)
Someone had the balls to ask publicly via social media which was the better film: Tombstone or Wyatt Earp? As I read that ridiculous question, I almost spit up coffee on my computer. I actually had to take a moment to gain my composure before I wrote an inappropriately scathing reply. I defy anyone who reads this to get into a serious debate with me over the merits of both films, or more accurately, how Tombstone dominates the conversation. Watch this film if solely for Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. Seriously, you’ll thank me for it. (Then watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for another fantastic Kilmer performance as Gay Perry. And then you will thank me again.)
5. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Director: Edgar Wright
Great zombie-comedy-drama hybrid film. The combination of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright equals comedic gold for me. Actually, I like all three of them separately almost as equally. Just find properties that any of these three have been involved in and you’ll find some pretty damn good material. Like Spaced and Hot Fuzz. I was pretty floored by the awesomeness of Shaun of the Dead. Not only by how funny it really was, but for the overall respect to the history of the zombie mythos (countless references to Night of the Living Dead and other classics of the genre) and a few really touching moments that seem to come out of nowhere, but without feeling forced. Sure, it’s a movie about zombies…but it’s also about friendship, the will to survive, and well, zombies.
Honorable Mention: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Clerks, Can’t Hardly Wait, Army of Darkness, Pulp Fiction, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Supertroopers