Men communicate with movie quotes; this is a fundamental truth. Of course women love movies, too, and love sharing their favorite lines with each other. But not in the same way that men do. For guys, movie quotes help us say the things we want to say but don’t always feel comfortable saying in our own voices. We use movie quotes as a shorthand for communication. We’ll say things to each other in Goodfellas quotes or Caddyshack quotes to express emotions or feelings that they won’t—or can’t—otherwise say out loud.
And by the time we reach our 40s, certain movies have become part of our lexicon. If you don’t “speak” Fight Club or The Matrix or Big Lebowski, it’s like trying to get around Paris without even bothering to learn a few words in French. We understand each other because we’ve all seen the same movies and embraced the same life lessons. Gentlemen, if you’re in your 40s and you can’t effortlessly quote from any of these movies, it’s time for some Netflix homework. And once you’ve finished your assignment, you’ll be good to go and try out the 40 things you need to do once you turn 40.
What makes this movie so infinitely quotable is that it works in so many different contexts. Every man, at least once in his life, has muttered in a bad Cuban accent, “Say hello to my little friend!” And 100% of the time they’re not talking about a Colt AR-15 with a grenade launcher. And on the subject of Al Pacino movies, you should see who was originally up for his career-making role in The Godfather.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the holy grail of comedy quotables. If you’ve never ended an argument with “I fart in your general direction,” it’s possible that you’ve never truly lived. Now, here’s what you shouldn’t say in your 40s.
Seven Samurai (1954)
The original badass epic in which scrappy heroes beat impossible odds. Anybody can sound tough repeating lines from The Magnificent Seven, but guys who actually know anything about film history will always quote Akira Kurosawa instead. It’s also a great way to add a little levity when you’re faced with life’s crappy options. “I’m preparing for a tough war. It will bring us neither money or fame. Want to join?” Sounds shitty. Sign us up!
Sometimes we just need a buddy to put his arm around us a little too tight, lean in way too close to our face and remind us, “You’re so money and you don’t even know it.”
Top Gun (1986)
The movie may seem a little cringe-worthy today, but there isn’t a guy alive who won’t reply to the Marco Polo call-and-response of Top Gun. Tell your buddy “I feel the need …,” and if he doesn’t shout back “… the need for speed,” then he’s obviously not the Goose to your Maverick. And for you Top Gun buffs, here’s what the cast has been up to since the movie was released.
Bill Murray is our spirit animal, and that’s never been more true than in this comedy classic. Once you get started spitting out Murray one-liners, it’s hard to stop. “He slimed me. I feel so funky.” “We came! We saw! We kicked its ass!” “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown.” The quotable joy is never-ending. Golfers, Murray is also one of the 15 celebrity golfers who play a better game than you.
Forget Terminator, the only Arnold Schwarzenegger movie you need to know by heart is this beauty. If there’s a social situation in which saying “This shit makes Cambodia look like Kansas” or “If it bleeds, we can kill it” is inappropriate, we don’t want any part of it. Speaking of the Governator, read about the time he became a real life hero.
Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club is like wine. You appreciate it more with age. Take lines like “I don’t want to die without any scars” or “You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.” Those quotes were just badass in your 20s, but at 40 they resonate with meaning. Now, learn how to not be like Edward Norton‘s character, and stock up on the 20 best, most fun dress shirts on the planet.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Danny Marianin, a programmer for the Phoenix Film Festival and author of The Belligerent Book of Movie Quotes, finds different lines to appreciate in this classic film as he grows older. “Like when Wonka tells Charlie, ‘Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted… He lived happily ever after.’ This silly little quote inspires me to work hard for my family and to make sure I am a provider. It didn’t mean shit as a kid but when you start working to pad that 401K for your family’s future, you get what Wonka was about all along.” If you want to bolster your own savings, here’s how to put aside $500,000 in your spare time.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
When you over-dramatically say a line like, “To the last, I will grapple with thee… from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee,” most smarty-pants will think you’re quoting Melville‘s Moby Dick. But your true friends will realize you’re really doing Khan. (It’s the Ricardo Montalbán accent that gives it away). And who doesn’t tear up at the words, “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” Speaking of friends, learn the tried-and-true way to build a bromance as thick as thieves.
Not being able to quote Caddyshack extensively is like being confined to a wheelchair. Your life isn’t over, by any means, it’s just… restricted. It’s hard to imagine living in a world in which you couldn’t say to a friend, apropos of nothing, “We have a pond in the back. We have a pool and a pond… Pond’d be good for you.” You don’t need a reason. Just the fact that Caddyshack exists and those lines are forever in our brains is reason enough. “A flute without holes is not a flute. A donut without a hole is a Danish.” Amen. And on the topic, be sure to learn the 5 clever tricks that will elevate your golf game to Tiger Woods status.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001, ’02, ’03)
Pick your poison between Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, and Return of the King. It’s all fodder for better conversations—especially if you’re looking for a non-touchy feely way to tell your guy friends that you love them. If your bud suddenly announces that “You have my sword,” and the guy next to him says, “And my bow,” only somebody who’s dead inside wouldn’t complete that triad with, “And my axe.”
Because sometimes we all want to be the jackass at the party who ruins a perfectly good joke with, “I’m funny how? Funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?” (Psst: Being funny is the number one way to boost your sex appeal.)
Film critic Leonard Maltin swears this movie gets more meaningful with time, especially one quote in particular. “Claude Rains asks Humphrey Bogart what brought him to Casablanca and speculates about the possible reasons,” Maltin tells us. “Bogie says he came for the waters. ‘Waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.’ Bogart takes a drag on his cigarette and says, ‘I was misinformed.’” Maltin says he has a throw pillow in his house with “I was misinformed” written on it. “It applies to life in so many ways,” he says. Now, here’s looking at you, kid: Learn the 13 sexiest, most romantic things you can say to a woman.
The Matrix (1999)
Knowing the difference between a blue pill and red pill isn’t just about nailing a Morpheus impression. It’s become everybody’s favorite metaphor for not willfully living in ignorance. Of course you take the red pill. Because you want to “stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” Which apparently means wearing sunglasses and tight leather and being really aerobic.
On the Waterfront (1954)
Are you exactly where you wanted to be at 40? Maybe. Or maybe some days you feel the twinge of doubt. Hey, we’ve all been there. Some days you feel like breaking out your Brando tough guy voice, and complaining “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” You’ll feel better tomorrow. But for now, some Brando self-pity feels so good. Now, dress like the guy, by throwing on the greatest white t-shirt of all time.
Whether you’re playing chess or immersed in a friendly political debate, there’s never a bad time to say “Your move, creep.” And that’s just one of the numerous Robocop quotes that can be seamlessly inserted into everyday conversation. Getting impatient with a loved one moving at a snail’s pace? Just remind them “You have 20 seconds to comply,” and your lack of patience has been softened by Robocop nostalgia.
Sure, the “they can never take away our freedom” bits were good fun in your 20s, but when you’re 40 or older, you suddenly “get” some of the more wistful and philosophical William Wallace quotes. “We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why.” Dammit, Mel Gibson, now we’ve got to re-evaluate everything! Speaking of Gibson, be sure to check out the 20 wildest Hollywood meltdowns of all time.
Who among us doesn’t have a tiny Burgess Meredith in our head, ready to shout inspirational but also batshit crazy aphorisms at us when we’re plagued with uncertainty? “You’re gonna eat lightnin; and you’re gonna crap thunder!” Okay! Crapping thunder sounds horrible but also kind of awesome, so we’ll give it a shot. (Or, we’ll try some non-Burgess Meredith tricks for self-motivation.)
If you’ve never helped a buddy through a bad heartbreak or the loss of a job by saying, “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown,” then we’re not sure where you get off calling yourself his friend.
Donnie Darko (2001)
In the history of cinema, there has never been a better comeback to “Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?” then “Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?” Sorry, there just hasn’t.
The Godfather I and The Godfather II (1972, 1974)
At 40, you should be long past the “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” realm of The Godfather quoting. You shouldn’t even be resorting to “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” obviousness. No, at your age, you should be saying Hyman Roth lines like “This… is the business… we’ve chosen” as a way of, say, expressing frustration and resignation at your career choices.
The Big Lebowski (1998)
You don’t need to be in a bathrobe or bowling alley to suddenly say “The Dude abides” for no apparent reason. That’s one of the gifts of growing older. You can channel your inner Jeff Bridges and nobody is going to give you grief. A line like “That rug really tied the room together” is always going to be poignant, regardless of the circumstance.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
The “I can eat fifty eggs” quote may be the most repeated, but it’s not the one that stays with us over the years. Once you’ve been in a marriage for a few years, or a few decades, you start to really feast on lines like “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Ah yes, that quote makes so much more sense now, doesn’t it? You can also probably relate to the 15 ways that your sex life changes after marriage too.
Blade Runner (1982)
When we first saw it in the theaters, we all wanted to be Harrison Ford. But these days, we have more in common with the replicants. Remember when Roy Batty demanded “I want more life?” Yeah, we hear you, brother. Get in line! (Of course, Ford might have been a replicant himself.)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Tom Waits once famously said that he didn’t find Spinal Tap funny in the least. “It was too real for me,” he said. “I didn’t laugh once. I wept openly.” The older we get, the more we understand what he was talking about. The film is a portrait of cluelessness that’s fun to repeat just so we don’t fall down that black hole. Like this line: “I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn’t believe anything.” It would be hilarious if it didn’t feel so very true.
Repo Man (1984)
It’s another boring weeknight, and you turn to your partner and suggest that you both “go get sushi and not pay.” If they laugh, you know you’ve found a soul mate.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Anyone can do a semi-competent Jack Nicholson or Austin Powers impression. But if you can do a perfect Napoleon Dynamite, saying a line like “It’s pretty much my favorite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed… bred for its skills in magic,” then you’ve achieved a higher state of consciousness.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
What gives The Shawshank Redemption staying power is that it perfectly balances both emotional worlds, the immature and the introspective. You’ve got your “Man up and vanished like a fart in the wind” and “What is your malfunction, you fat barrel of monkey spunk?” But you’ve also got your reflective, life-weary quotes like, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Quoting this movie lets you be a buffoon and a poet.
The Untouchables (1987)
“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way!” C’mon! Has there ever been a better “don’t f*ck with my peeps” line in movie history? No. But there have been 20 more badass fight scenes in history.
The Searchers (1956)
Of all the great John Wayne movies, why this one? For one and only quote. “That’ll be the day!” Whether someone is asking him to quit or hoping he’ll die, this was the Duke’s perfectly flippant and defiant response to life’s haters. Yeah, you’ll get your wish, f*cker. But not today.
We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s your boss expecting too much of you, or your partner thinking you’re not pulling your weight, or just your circle of friends wondering why you’re not your usual vibrant and fun-loving self. A simple “Are you not entertained?” is the ideal way to tell the world that you’re doing the best you can so just back off.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
It’s Caddyshack for a modern age. So many classic lines, and they’re all useful in almost any social gathering. Having an after-dinner drink with colleagues? One of you is bound to say, “I love scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly.” Introducing yourself to a new co-worker? You know you want to tell them, “I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” If they laugh, well, you’ve found a kindred spirit.
The Princess Bride (1987)
How many Internet arguments have been won with the quote, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means?” All of them? Yes, probably.
First Blood (1982)
Rambo is a great movie for guys of all ages. Growing up, Danny Marianin especially enjoyed lines like “A man who’s been trained to ignore pain, ignore weather, to live off the land, to eat things that would make a billy goat puke.” But a movie that seemed like escapist fun as a kid takes on different shades when you you get some mileage on your life odometer. “When I learned how many veterans come home with PTSD and how the system has truly failed so many of our nation’s heroes,” he says, “I always get a little sad when I hear Rambo say, ‘Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million-dollar equipment, back here I can’t even hold a job parking cars!’” The world can be an awful place sometimes. Rambo also has one of the 20 best car chases in movie history.
Being There (1979)
Quoting Forrest Gump lines like “Life is a box of chocolates” only works for people too young or too old to understand what real irony looks like. When you’re 40, you’ve graduated from Forrest Gump to Peter Sellers‘ Chance the Gardener. “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.” Is it brilliant, or insipid? Or both? Yeah, life isn’t so easy to make sense of anymore, is it?
Pulp Fiction (1994)
“Bring out the Gimp,” you say. But your friend tells you, “Gimp’s sleeping.” Do you care? “Well, I guess you’re gonna have to go wake him up now, won’t you?” This is an exchange that happens between adults, and when it’s finished, nothing else needs to be said. We all understand. The Gimp must be roused from slumber. Maybe it’s a metaphor for something, or maybe it’s just freaking funny. But it’s something we’re going to keep saying to each other until our dying day.
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