Celluloid Heroes: The 10 Funniest Lines of the ’00s

It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud at something a person says. Witty is one thing, but genuinely funny is another beast altogether. And when I say laugh out loud, I’m talking about involuntary spasms of laughter, the kind that take a couple of minutes to subside. There is no formula for it, and I have no criteria for what form it takes. I just know it when it see it. Unfortunately, I don’t see it often enough. Sometimes they appear in otherwise unfunny movies, at which point I usually get angry, but that’s a subject for another day.

In the first of a long list of decade-oriented blog posts about the movies of the 2000s, here are the lines that made me laugh the hardest at the Googoplex. Be advised, potential SPOILERS abound here, so I don’t want to hear that I ruined such and such movie for you. What are your favorite lines? Let’s hear ’em in the comment section.

#10: Up – Somebody always loves you
This is more of a laughter-through-tears kind of thing, but it’s my list, my rules, so it counts. Pete Docter goes straight for the heart in this movie, almost mercilessly so. The “married life” sequence makes me cry like a little girl every time I watch it, and this scene, where the loyal Dug comes to comfort Carl, is quite possibly the “Awwwwwww” moment of the decade.

#9. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story – Peter La Fleur learns just how small his problems really are
Next time you think about quitting something, anything, remember this exchange between the defeated gym owner Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) and cyclist Lance Armstrong:

Lance Armstrong: Could I get a bottle of water. (Looks to his left) Hey, aren’t you Peter La Fleur?
Peter La Fleur: Lance Armstrong!
Lance Armstrong: Yeah, that’s me. But I’m a big fan of yours.
Peter La Fleur: Really?
Lance Armstrong: Yeah, I’ve been watching the dodgeball tournament on the Ocho. ESPN 8. I just can’t get enough of it. But, good luck in the tournament. I’m really pulling for you against those jerks from Globo Gym. I think you better hurry up or you’re gonna be late.
Peter La Fleur: Uh, actually I decided to quit… Lance.
Lance Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer, all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and I won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I’m sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying from that’s keeping you from the finals?
Peter La Fleur: Right now it feels a little bit like… shame.
Lance Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn’t have anything to regret for the rest of their life. But good luck to you, Peter. I’m sure this decision won’t haunt you forever.

#8. The Simpsons Movie – Albert Brooks loses his mind
Albert Brooks is the fifth Beatle of the “Simpsons” writing staff. The writers love him, and he loves the show. No guest performer has played more characters – the RV salesman, Brad Goodman, Jaques the bowler, the megalomaniacal Hank Scorpio – but his role as the power-mad director of the EPA vaults “The Simpsons Movie” to another level. The scene where he tricks President Arnold Schwarzenegger into doing his evil bidding is the better overall scene, but as single lines go, my favorite is when he’s confronted with his thirst for power. As Fat Tony once said, it’s funny because it’s true.

EPA Officer: Sir, I’m afraid you’ve gone mad with power
Russ Cargill: Well, of course I have. You ever tried going mad without power? It’s boring, no one listens to you.

#7. Zombieland – Woody Harrelson settles a debate the old fashioned way: by threatening an ass kicking
With apologies to when Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) tells Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) that he’s “like a giant cock blocking robot, like developed in a secret fucking government lab,” my favorite bit is this sly moment where Columbus tells Tallahassee that he’s heard there’s a place where there are no zombies, at which point Tallahassee assures him that such a place doesn’t exist.

Tallahassee: You know, you’re like a penguin on the North Pole hears the South Pole’s really nice this time of year.
Columbus: There are no penguins on the North Pole.
Tallahasee: (pause) You wanna feel how hard I can punch?

#6. Burn After Reading – Tilda Swinton forcefully illustrates that thing she…doesn’t do
She won the Oscar for “Michael Clayton” – which, in my mind, was a totally unwarranted example of the Hollywood welfare system at work – but this is bar none my favorite Tilda Swinton performance to date. As Katie Cox, Swinton is the coldest, most humorless succubus of a human being that you’ll find. (Even better, she’s a pediatrician.) Why George Clooney’s character Harry would choose her for an ongoing affair over the other women he beds during the movie is a mystery, but their relationship does produce the movie’s funniest moment, when Katie discusses destroying her husband while Harry suggests playing it cool and not hammering him while he’s down. “Is that how you see me? Hammering him?” The rest speaks for itself.

#5. Get Smart: Driving range car crash
All hail Alan Arkin. No one else could have made this line as funny as he does.

#4. 1408 – John Cusack speaks a universal truth
Mike Enslin (Cusack), a man who writes about supposedly haunted locations, wants to check into room 1408 at New York’s Dolphin Hotel. Hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to talk him out of it during a meeting in his office.

Gerald Olin: You do drink, don’t you?
Mike Enslin: Of course! I just said I was a writer.

Saw this at a critics-only screening. Big, big laughter followed that exchange.

#3. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters – Billy Mitchell equates himself with one of the most hotly contested issues in our nation’s history
Arguably the greatest movie villain the ‘00s had to offer – even more terrifying when you take into account that he’s real – video game wizard and restaurant magnate Billy Mitchell is awesome. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you. Hell, you don’t even have to ask him. He lays it all out on the table in this one line:

No matter what I say, it draws controversy. It’s sort of like the abortion issue.

That’s right, people, he compared himself, and his status within the video game community, to Roe vs. Wade. To be that fond of yourself, yet be completely lacking in self-awareness or tact, that is a gift. A gift wrapped in a denim shirt and a feathered mullet. Thank you, God.

#2. Finding Nemo – The seagulls
It’s one of those head-slappers of a commentary. But of course that’s what seagulls are saying when they crow. What else could it be? It’s not as if they’re picky about what they eat or anything. Even better is the line from the pelican Nigel (Geoffrey Rush), where he calls them “rats with wings.” Even the animal kingdom hates seagulls.

#1. Sex Drive – Andy and Randy hitting on the church girl
It made about a buck and change at the box office, but “Sex Drive” is without a doubt my favorite comedy of the decade. I could have made a list of nothing but quotes from this movie alone, but if I have to choose one, it’s unquestionably the scene where Lance (Clark Duke) has his shy friend Ian (Josh Zuckerman) observe the seduction technique of classmates Andy and Randy, in order to convey the message that confidence is a powerful aphrodisiac. That it doesn’t work on our little donation-soliciting friend only makes the exchange funnier. Imagine what Andy and Randy will be able to accomplish once they learn how to close.

  

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Bullz-Eye’s Best and Worst Movies of 2008: Senior Editor David Medsker’s picks

With mere weeks to go, I had no idea what my list for favorite movies of 2008 was going to look like. More accurately, my list contained several movies that my inner critic told me had no business whatsoever in a year-end top ten list. There were a lot of movies that I liked (as you’ll soon discover), but not a whole lot that I loved. Starting about December 1, though, that changed dramatically. Whew.

Oh, and if you just read fellow BE critic Jason Zingale’s list before checking out mine, your eyes do not deceive you. Unlike, say, EW’s Owen Glieberman and Lisa Schwartzman, who seem to go out of their way to run lists as dissimilar as possible, JZ and I are pretty much on the exact same page this year. A meeting of the minds, or a lack of options? A little of both, I suppose.

Best movies of 2008

1. The Dark Knight
I’m not sure how Christopher Nolan is going to top this. This is so much bigger, smarter, darker and bleaker than any other superhero movie ever made that it’s insulting to lump it into the superhero category.

2. WALL·E
Repeated viewings of this since its release on DVD have elevated it towards not just the top of my list of 2008, but on the list of Pixar’s finest work. The dancing-in-space sequence is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
As a longtime David Fincher fan (his video for Madonna’s “Oh Father” still gives me chills), I’ll be the first to admit that his reputation has loomed larger than the quality of his work. He puts his money where his mouth is here. The last ten minutes are devastating.

4. Frost/Nixon
The only man who can give Samuel L. Jackson a run for his money at saying the word “motherfucker”: Richard Milhous Nixon.

5. Iron Man
Let that be a lesson to you: always take the Humdrum-vee over the Fun-vee.

6. RocknRolla
My pet theory: the name of Gerard Butler’s character One Two is a reference to the Specials’ song “Little Bitch.” Can anyone confirm this?

7. Slumdog Millionaire
Do you think that guy that won all those “Jeopardy” episodes was tortured like this movie’s hero was?

8. Let the Right One In
If you see one vampire movie this year…it ain’t “Twilight.” This Swedish import combines the lure of the undead with the hell that is junior high school. The ending to this movie is sadder than any I’ve seen all year, even the one with the dead dog.

9. Revolutionary Road
Only Leo and Kate could make a movie about two miserable suburbanites so watchable.

10. Tropic Thunder
“Now let’s make a movie!” *Clank* “Oh.” *BOOM* Nothing all year made me laugh harder.

Honorable mentions:
The Wrestler
Choke
The Wackness
Burn after Reading

I Was a Middle-Aged Teenager, Part Deux

I’m 40 years old, but some of my favorite movies – or scenes – came from movies that were aimed squarely at my inner 20-year-old.

Step Brothers
If we were to update our Movie Tunes piece, the “Sweet Child o’ Mine” scene would easily be in our Top 20.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It had what most Apatow-related movies sorely lack: balance. And hot damn, how awesome is Mila Kunis?

Sex Drive
Rumspringa! WOOOOOO!

Zack and Miri Make a Porno
If anyone is thinking about seeing if this will work in real life, we beg you, STOP. The world has enough bad amateur porn as it is, and your friend isn’t a tenth as hot as Elizabeth Banks.

Wanted
I’d debate whether Morgan Freeman’s character was telling the truth in the movie’s final bloodbath, but does it really matter? This was big, dumb, silly, and an absolute blast.

Pineapple Express
Between this and “Choke,” I’ll never think of anal beads the same way again.

Role Models
Finally, a Seann William Scott movie that didn’t make me want to drown kittens.

Docs that rock

Man on Wire
Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

The Kids Movies Are Alright

Kung Fu Panda
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Horton Hears a Who

Appealing to a man, but made for a woman

What Happens in Vegas…
Definitely, Maybe
Baby Mama
27 Dresses

Worst movies of 2008 (that I saw)

1. The Love Guru
Not even Justin Timberlake could save this from being the unfunniest movie of the year, if not all time. It’s like a bunch of teenagers came up with dick joke punch lines, then worked their way backwards for setups. Painfully bad.

2. Meet Dave
It’s over, Eddie. The next time you have a thought about a family movie comeback vehicle, let it go.

3. Over Her Dead Body
The only Eva worth watching this year is the one in “WALL·E.”

4. Untraceable
Screen Gems makes “Saw Lite,” tries to equate gawker’s block on the highway with willingly contributing to the death of another human being. Uh, sure.

5. Mad Money
Note to self: get job at Federal Reserve. If Diane Keaton can steal from them, so can I.

6. Deception
Hearing Michelle Williams say “fuck and suck” might be the funniest thing I heard in a movie all year.

7. Nim’s Island
Someone once asked Elijah Wood why he did the movie “Flipper.” His answer: to swim with dolphins for six months. Now we know why Abigail Breslin did “Nim’s Island”: to play with sea lions. We forgive you, sweetie. Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler, on the other hand, have some ‘splaining to do.

8. Made of Honor
Made all the more sickening by the fact that this will stand as Sydney Pollack’s final performance. He steals the movie, but the movie he’s stealing isn’t worthy of his presence.

9. Married Life
A black romantic dramedy that’s neither dark, nor funny, nor romantic.

10. The Spirit
“NO EGG ON MY FACE!” Um, I don’t know how to tell you this, Sam, but this movie is one giant piece o’ egg on your face.

Well made, but repulsive in every other regard

Funny Games
Few movies will make you angrier than this self-serving cheat of a film. It’s basically two hours of director Michael Haneke saying, “Fuck you America, you violent, brutish thugs.” America responded by (rightly) ignoring his film. I guess we’re not as brutish as you thought, Michael, and what does it say about you that you tried to profit from our supposed misery? Douchebag.

My co-workers saw them so I didn’t have to

Meet the Spartans
Strange Wilderness
Disaster Movie
88 Minutes
Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins

Bonus points to that last movie when cast member Mike Epps gave us quite possibly the worst interview ever.

“Snakes on a Plane” award for Movie Title of the Year

“The Midnight Meat Train.” And surprise, it actually wasn’t that bad.

  

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