Friday, June 17, 2016

No Right to Be This Funny: Throwaway Movie Dialogue

Welcome to a special piece called No Right to Be This Funny, where Dan Moore and I will be examining some of the greatest lines of throwaway dialogue in film history.  In each case, the line was made mostly or completely by the actor's delivery and generally made us laugh very unexpectedly.  We'll include links to video clips so you can see and hear the awesomeness for yourselves.

The first two entries are from the 80s classic Gremlins.

Clip #1, sees Billy's friend Pete (Corey Feldman) attempting to deliver the Pelzer's Christmas tree, while himself dressed in a cumbersome Christmas tree costume.  His frustrated exclamation cracks me up every time.

"Ah Christ...."

In clip #2 our hero Billy Pelzer is trying to warn the Sheriff and Deputy of the impending epidemic of little green monsters running amok in the town.  The police basically laugh off his warning until they get a call about a snowplow accident and are dispatched to investigate.  The following is their hilarious exchange.  The Sheriff's delivery is so mean and dismissive, it's hysterical. 

"That's cuz I'm the Sheriff, asshole."

Sticking with the Christmas movie theme, our next clip is from The Ref - a scene where the town Santa Claus (Bill Raymond) has just been ejected from a house gathering for being too drunk.  His line as he exits the home makes me laugh audibly every time I think about it, resulting I'm sure in a few passersby asking, "What's wrong with that weirdo?"

"Maybe him and the Easter Bunny'll
take a f*ckin' cruise to Jamaica...."

City Slickers is a movie that in general had no right to be as good as it was.  When I saw the trailer I immediately dismissed it.  But then when I went with my parents to see the movie I thought it was hilarious and fairly touching actually.

Anywho, there's a scene where our heroes are being accosted by the drunk cowboys who have been charged with guiding them through their cattle drive.  One of them cowboys accuses Billy Crystal of stepping on his foot, in order to instigate a fight.  Bruno Kirby's response, absolutely full of venom, kills me.

"He did not, you horse's ass!"

Ah, Stand By Me.  One of the greatest adaptations of any Stephen King work, this coming of age story almost perfectly captures what it's like to be a pre-adolescent boy.  The film is full of poignancy and humor, but one line in particular is so brutally frank and awkward I can't stand how funny it is.

The boys in the story are going to see a dead body, but start to discuss how maybe this occasion shouldn't be celebratory.

"Like if he's real bad, like all cut up an' blood
n' sh*t all over him, I might have nightmares."

UHF - Weird Al is a name synonymous with fat songs and Amish folk, oddly enough. But back in the olden days, the 80’s, he hit us cinematically in the face with a comedy so brilliant that of course it went under the radar when released only to become a cult hit years later. And a huge part of its underrated-ness-ess (that’s a word) is the films over the top cartoonish villain, R.J. Fletcher, played by Kevin McCarthy, a truly excellent actor in any film he appeared in (also a hilarious villain in ‘Innerspace’). His hatred for being destroyed in the ratings by a station on the outskirts of town is undeniably hilarious.

"A U! H! F! STATION!!"

Fargo is an all-time classic, one of the best of The Coen Brothers' considerable catalog of excellent films.  It's also one of the most quotable films I've ever seen.  The Coens are famous for meticulously scripting every line and nuance, even inserting planned stammering and pauses that must be extensively rehearsed to get the timing right.  With this in mind it's hard to even consider any Coen dialogue to be "throwaway," but William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard has one line that he delivers so perfectly and it actually escaped me for years how funny this line is.

Jerry is being questioned by police detective Marge Gundersen in connection with two murders and a car that went missing from his car dealership lot.  Jerry tries to put her off by asking her about her hometown of Brainerd, MN, home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  Just watch the false joviality on Macy's face, covering his growing desperation.  Just flawless delivery here.

"....Babe the Blue Ox..."

One of my all-time favorite comedies and line-for-line one of the funniest of them all, Ace Ventura launched the movie career of Jim Carrey.  This one's chock full of quotable bits, but the most unexpectedly funny is the one where Ace gets confronted by his gravel-voiced landlord.  The joke is so obvious and stupid but Carrey's delivery makes this an awesomely hilarious line that makes me laugh every time I think of it.

"Oh I'm sorry sir.  Ya sounded like someone else."

The second Ace Ventura film is a far cry from the original, opting more for slapstick and gross-out humor than the performance-driven work by Jim Carrey.  Still there's some funny stuff in this one, plus a hilariously delivered line while Ace is shadowing one of the villains from inside a motorized rubber Rhinoceros.  His portable fan shorts out, leading to this gem.

"Kinda hot in these rhinoooooosss...."

Scrooged is one of my favorite Christmas movies, despite how brutally mean-spirited it is at times.  Bill Murray's performance as the modernized Ebenezer Scrooge is all kinds of awesome.  There's a scene early in the film where Murray's character is having lunch with his reviled boss, and despite being overwhelmed by work and life (the night before his deceased boss visited him as a ghost), has to pretend everything's peachy.  Murray is one of the kings of comedic delivery.

"Couldn't be better, Preston!"

Our final entry is a three-fer from one of the most quotable comedies, nay, films of all time, Ghostbusters.  It's the quintessential Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd etc. film. Everyone says lines from this movie. We all know the famous ones. But the following three are most definitely forgotten, and goddamn hilarious. Murray’s understated delivery on the sponge line gets me every time. The aggravation in his voice at his best friend is perfect.

"Ray, the sponges migrated about a foot and a half."

"What an asshole...."

"...crosssss the streeeeams...."

Well that's all for the inaugural edition of No Right to Be This Funny.  I'm sure there are hundreds of other deceptively awesome bits of movie dialogue to be compiled for next time.  Until then, May the Laughs Be With You (When You Least Expect Them).

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