My personal list of the best movie quotes of all time is different from most standard lists. Sure, iconic quotes are nice, but they are rarely as powerful in the film as they are in the cultural memory. No, the lines that stand out to me the most are what we might call "blank square" quotes. The blank square is a term from B-Movie Bingo, a game I play at the Hollywood theater most months. They exclusively show movies that are chock full of genre conventions, and you get a bingo when you can mark off five consecutive squares like "screaming while shooting", "ass chewed out by chief" or "villain in a white suit." But even though these movies have to be pretty generic to be a good fit for the game, they always feature at least one scene where something completely unexpected and amazing happens. If you've never seen it before but it's so awesome you kind of wish it was in every movie - well, that's a blank square.
A blank square quote, then, is one which is hilarious, but also comes at you from left field. Probably my favorite blank square quote of all time is Michael J. Fox saying "I'm not a fag, I'm a werewolf" from Teen Wolf. That quote has it all. It's incongruous with the rest of the movie, which is super PG. It implies a dichotomy that is mind-boggling - in what world are the two main categories "fags" and "werewolves"? Plus, the out-of-nowhere-ness of it all is perfect, because it's not like you could have ever predicted line ahead of time.
A close runner up comes from Encino Man. In case you don't remember it, Encino Man is about a caveman who gets unfrozen in the 90s and has to have the modern world explained to him by Pauly Shore. (Boy that caveman lucked out didn't he?) At one point Shore wants to illustrate what convenience stores are, so he runs inside one, sticks his head under the Slurpee dispenser and starts to "Weas the Juice" while the frustrated clerk yells "NO WEAS THE JUICE" behind him. It is absolutely fantastic. But I am taking points off because that was Shore's catchphrase and the line has to be augmented by physical action. Still, it's great.
The best delivery of a not-that-great line has to go to John Travolta in Battlefield Earth. Now, Travolta says a lot of insane things in funny ways in Battlefield Earth, but there's one moment that stands out more than the others in my mind. Travolta is standing in front of a "man-animal" dangling a plastic rat to see if his test subject is more of a man or an animal, and he says "Do you want... lunch?" He emphasizes 'lunch' like he's never heard of eating, and he says the whole thing with a manic zeal that would make more sense if he was a mad scientist who had just created a living corpse. (The rat moves around in the frame every time they cut, by the way.)
Also on this short list of gold: the best line from Robocop 2.
Before I give you the line, let me provide a bit of set-up. In this film Robocop gets damaged while he is out trying to stop a gang of drug dealing thugs, and when the greedy corporation that owns him repairs him they mess with his programming so he'll be less independent. As a result, he loses the ability to operate properly. He stops exercising good judgment - suddenly he's lecturing criminals instead of shooting them, and if his partner shoots someone, then Robocop reads the corpse their Miranda rights.
At one point he sees some kids playing in the spray of a fire hydrant they've busted open and he stop to lecture them. One of the kids responds with one of the greatest lines in cinema history:
"Go fuck a refrigerator, pecker-neck."
I could write a whole essay on why I think "Go fuck a refrigerator, pecker-neck" is so funny. I love that the implication is that he is going to use his neck for this fridge-fucking, and I love the idea that Robocop would be romantically attracted to mechanical devices that were roughly his size. I love that it's said by a kid, and this kid is so over the idea of seeing a walking, talking cyborg in his neighborhood that he immediately starts swearing at it. I love that he says it as if this was a common insult in his repertoire.
I've created whole scenarios in my head about what that kid did after his day of shooting wrapped. I honestly hope that he never took another acting gig, secure in his knowledge that he's contributed just as much to cinema as Michael J. Fox, Pauly Shore and John Travolta. I hope he goes around to parties and drops his anecdote about Robocop non-stop, and I hope everyone is as impressed by that anecdote as I would be. I hope that guy lives long enough to see Robocops become a real thing, and I hope that before he dies he gets one chance to tell a real life cyborg cop to go fuck himself, and then after he dies he puts "pecker-neck" on his gravestone in some way, even if it isn't part of the full quote.
Like I said, I could write a whole essay about that one line, but I don't think I have to. It's pretty self explanatory.
I mean, it's no "I'm not a fag, I'm a werewolf", but still.