OK, so eleven’s a stupid number, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to give anybody else the chop. Whether you’re fixing a neighbour’s tumble dryer, trying to explain to that woman at the Post Office that the pram isn’t yours or simply attempting to silence an embarrassing pal, it’s always good to have a stockpile of ready-made musings to hand. Pay close attention as we solve all your conversational woes.
11: BRUCE THE SHARK (Finding Nemo)
Never underestimate the power of animation. Despite a disappointing lack of screen time (we’re hoping for a bigger chunk of this guy come the 2015 sequel Finding Dory), we couldn’t help but sympathise with old Brucey as he strived to overcome his taste for fish and behave like an all round civil sort of chap.
‘Right then, the meeting has officially come to order.’
Bust this one out in the board room and people in the know will be high-fiving you all the way to the job centre.
‘How would you little morsels like to come to a little… a little get together I’m having?’
Ideal stuff to ensure female attendance at the all-back-to-yours. Although we’d advise changing the menacing and predatory tone of the original.
‘Fish are friends! Not food!’
Cause a supermarket scene as the cashier scans a Captain Birdseye 2-for-1 offer.
10: JAMES BOND
An obvious inclusion that we couldn’t overlook. However, this one calls for a touch of caution as the whole Bond thing is a bit clichéd and smarmy. If you plumb for J.B., keep it fresh and choose one of these lesser-known witticisms.
‘Shocking! Positively shocking!’ (Goldfinger)
This will go totally unappreciated unless it’s in a Sean Connery voice, so practise beforehand. Good for when you’re told the price of a round in Hoxton.
‘What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don’t think it gave me any pleasure, do you?’ (Thunderball)
We wouldn’t advise using this in its original context, but it’s spot on for when you’ve been inconvenienced or taken one for the team.
‘Now the whole world’s gonna know that you died scratching my balls!’ (Casino Royale)
Modern dialogue for a modern Bond. Sadly, we have no clue how you’d actually use it without being beaten or arrested. A challenge for the next stag do perhaps.
9: LENINA HUXLEY (Demolition Man)
Sandra Bullock’s excitable and childlike enthusiasm for a scrap balanced well against the brute force of co-star Stallone. In a politically correct nanny state where swearing incurs a fine and everybody keeps their hands to themselves, there were always going to be some classics to behold.
‘Just don’t ask them where the meat comes from.’
Uber topical since that whole ‘horse in your burger’ thing. Drop this one in the frozen food section and watch the manager sweat.
‘Bad language, chocolate, gasoline, uneducational toys and anything spicy.’
Launch into this one when disinterestedly asked if you need anything from the shops. Savour the confusion that ensues.
‘I find this lack of stimulus to be truly disappointing.’
The next time you’re cajoled into watching Failure To Launch, give it ten minutes then slip this one in. It’s truthful, non-whingey and will get you further than a standard complaint.
8: ALONSO HARRIS (Training Day)
Denzel’s performance as the renegade L.A. cop earned him an academy award, and rightly so. With infinite swagger, a questionable moral compass and an arsenal of bling, no crook was safe.
‘You disloyal, fool-ass, bitch made punk!’
Insult heaven for when a chum sacks off your weekly snooker session in favour of a hot date.
‘To protect the sheep, you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.’
Shepherding for the 21st century. Know your foe and the rest is a doddle.
‘King Kong ain’t got sh*t on me!’
Invoking a truly primal rage, this works beautifully as part of a goal celebration. A powerful declaration that will leave those around you cowering like the peasants they are.
7: HANNIBAL LECTER (The Silence Of The Lambs)
Nothing beats an academic genius who likes to chow down on other human beings. A methodical and well-articulated delivery ensures the success of these beauties.
‘I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m having an old friend for dinner…’
Telesales people quake at the very thought of this one snaking its way down the line to them. Next time the Virgin Media guy calls, let him have it.
‘I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.’
It’s timeless; it’s iconic; we wouldn’t use it. Why not? Purely because everybody knows it and there’s zero kudos attached. It’s the quotational equivalent of telling everyone that Miley Cyrus is Billy Ray’s kid: old news.
‘There are three major centers for transsexual surgery – Johns Hopkins, University of Minnesota, and Columbus Medical Center.’
This one is special, purely because people just don’t expect it. The key to success is context. We suggest a loud articulation at a polite, well- mannered event such as a Women’s Institute cake sale or a marrow growing contest.
6: CAMERON POE (Con Air)
Love him or loathe him, Nicholas Cage was onto a money spinner when he signed up for this rabid pile of testosterone-fuelled awesomeness. Getting home to see the Mrs has never been so stressful.
‘Put the bunny back in the box.’
Useful for dealing with premature unwrapping at Easter. It’s also great fun at a petting zoo.
‘Sorry boss, but there’s only two men I trust. One of them’s me. The other’s not you.’
Implemented correctly, this is a crowd pleaser of epic proportions. Reach for this one when a pal asks to borrow your car or the dentist suggests a general anaesthetic.
‘This is your barbecue man and it tastes good.’
Use it in the obvious way; a simple compliment secures a repeat invite for next year.
5: DOCTOR EMMETT BROWN (Back To The Future Trilogy)
One of the most iconic movie characters of the 80s, everyone’s favourite Einstein-a-like continues to amuse us today (mainly due to Sunday afternoon screenings on ITV2). We’d definitely buy a Flux Capacitor from this guy.
‘Look! There’s a rhythmic ceremonial ritual coming up!’
The ultimate declaration of an impending club night or festival.
‘This sucker’s electrical, but I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity that I need!’
This is truly one to cherish. We’ve found it works best when using a smart phone in front of elderly relatives. Simply wait for auntie Rose to ask ‘does that work on batteries?’ and you’re in business.
‘See you in about 30 years…’
The ideal farewell as a loved one disappears into the NEXT sale. Weep not.
4: HANS GRUBER (Die Hard)
Who said terrorism had to be scruffy? Even with the low standards set by his opposite number (no shoes, tatty vest), Gruber always kept his threads in check. One of those baddies you were sorry to see die.
‘Nice suit. John Phillips, London.’
A good ice-breaker for the office lift. Say it with confidence and the recipient will glow with pride, even if they’re actually sporting an ill-fitting number from George at Asda.
‘What idiot put you in charge?’
The versatility of this knows no bounds. Nonetheless, it should be used sparingly. For best results, target only people behind a large desk or counter; this ensures a decent head start if things turn nasty.
‘Touching, Cowboy. Touching.’
Unless used in the exact context in the film, we’d suggest avoiding this at all costs, particularly if responding to an overly familiar ranch worker asking what you do ‘for fun’ (think Brokeback part 2).
3: GANDALF (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy)
By anyone’s standards, Gandalf kicked ass. He was a buddy to the Hobbits, the slayer of the Balrog and the only character capable of sleeping with his eyes open. What wizarding is all about.
‘You shall not pass!’
It’s worth spending a term as a Lollipop Man just to unleash this gem. Stand tall, bang your ‘staff’ on the ground and watch the halflings scurry safely across.
‘Understand this: things are now in motion that cannot be undone.’
Perfect for a messy night out. This is an effective way of handling those pals who insist on stopping after ‘just the one’. Deliver this as their first glass empties and slip them a stronger second drink. Let inevitability do the rest.
‘Show us the meaning of haste.’
Cab drivers go wild for this. Bung him a tenner and strap yourself in.
2: DUTCH SCHAEFER (Predator)
Machine guns, grenades, skinned corpses, Little Richard on the soundtrack and a green blooded, crustacean-faced alien. Needless to say, this 80s number had a few surprises in store, in addition to some timeless Arnie one-liners.
‘I don’t do this kind of work.’
The perfect way of reminding your boss that brushing his dog wasn’t in the job description. The assertive tone and strength of the statement are enough, so keep your voice calm and controlled throughout.
‘Get to the chopper!’
You won’t get any points for innovation when using this one, but who cares? We think it works best during the mad dash for a taxi in the p*ssing rain.
‘If it bleeds, we can kill it.’
Deserving a place in the halls of pop-culture philosophy, this is the perfect reminder that no enemy is invincible. Whether dealing with a psychopathic centre half or that stone-faced bloke from admin, remember the words of Dutch and all will be well.
1: DARTH VADER (Original Star Wars Trilogy)
Everybody’s favourite Darth just had to feature on the countdown. Strutting around the Death Star dressed like some kind of cyberpunk vicar, Vader walked the walk and talked the talk. A cinematic and cultural icon.
‘I am altering the deal! Pray I don’t alter it any further.’
Lay down the law with those fussy clients. Admittedly, Darth didn’t have the worries of legal action or breach of contract, but his ability to convince all but the most strong-minded of individuals to do his will was still impressive. Take note.
‘He is as clumsy as he is stupid.’
Talking behind an Admiral’s back is never cool, but clearly this gripe needed to be shared. Find someone at work who’s a bit hapless and you too can bitch like a Sith Lord.
‘Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.’
An excellent way of implying that you’d like more responsibility at work without ramming it down the boss’s throat; clearly, production’s been slow of late and you’re the man to get things back on track. It’s politely suggestive without being pushy and hey, you’re a people person after all.
Words by Lee Smith. Copyright Lee Smith 2013.