Writing Humor

9 Funniest Lines in Movie History

OK, I’m not including lines that are funny just because they are delivered so well, such as “He’s kinda funny lookin’” (Fargo, 1996), “Are you horny, baby?” (Austin Powers, 1997), and “Freeze, gopher!” (Caddyshack, 1980).

Tom Hanks staring at Caddy Shack gopher

The choices below are delivered well, but they’re also well-written with a great setup and perfect payoff with just the right choice of words. To keep from having lines from the same films, or types of films, I’ve offered the best of nine different types of humor.

9. Hyperbole, Zoolander (2001)

This parody often feels all too real when it comes to the frankly bizarre world of high fashion. The head of a modeling agency delivers a line about super-popular fashion designer Mugatu that almost sounds like it could come from a Project Runway outtake:

“Mugatu is so hot right now he could take a crap, wrap it in tinfoil, put a couple fish hooks on it, and sell it to Queen Elizabeth as earrings.”

Zoolander screenshot

8. Offensive, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

Now, it’s hard to find stuff that manages to be as offensively funny as South Park, and the movie really ups the game. This is a show, after all, where one character is so consistently anti-Semitic that when a teacher admonishes him, “Eric, did you just say the F-word?” the kid replies in confusion, “Jew?”

But it’s the teacher himself, Mr. Garrison who delivers the most offensive and hilarious line of the day. After saying something about women being cranky because they’re on their periods, one of his students admonishes him that this is sexist. His response:

“I’m Sorry, Wendy, but I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.”

7. Total Lack of Self-Awareness, This Is the End (2013)

In a movie where actors play parodies of themselves (sometimes a little too well), the biggest laughs come from the unblinking delivery of selfish, self-involved, self-centered, self-promotion, with occasional notes of self-righteousness. Just before very sweetly asking the Almighty to kill someone he doesn’t like, Jonah Hill looks up to the Lord and murmurs:

“Dear God, I’d like to pray to you for a second. It’s me, Jonah Hill … from Moneyball.”

Jonah Hill "Dear God, I'd like to pray to you for a second."

"It's me Jonah Hill...from Moneyball."

6. Exasperation, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Not a single person responsible for the destruction of the world will own up to it, from a US president who chides the Soviet leader that he’s just as upset about the whole thing as his counterpart, to the way no one will acknowledge that the top scientist in the room used to work for Hitler, the Apocalypse is brought on by a ring of paranoid buck-passers intent on acting like the situation is inevitably out of their control. (Sound familiar?)

This all hits its peak when the president finally calls his top general to account, pointing out that, despite all the general’s arguments to the contrary, a psychotic has overtaken the nuclear launch protocol. The general responds:

“Well, I, uh, don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up, sir.”

5. Dramatic Irony, Blazing Saddles (1974)

Arguably the best movie parody of all time, the film throws constant ironic, fourth-wall-breaking reminders that the story on screen is being shown through the lens of a hundred years of history. Racism in particular is shown to be not just appalling, but ridiculous as smart black men are not only mistreated but completely beyond the understanding of (some) powerful, stupid, morally absent white men. This only works because of this duality in perspective: the America of the 1970s looking at the America of the late 1800s with both affection and incredulity.

At one point, the black sheriff disguises himself as a Candygram delivery boy (another black stereotype) to deliver a hidden bomb to a thuggish cowpoke (Mongo) hired to kill him. After the explosion works, the sheriff admits:

“Mongo was easy. The b**** was inventing the Candygram.”

Candygram for Mongo

4. Man-to-Man Insult, All of Me (1984)

In one of the best comedic scenes of all time, Steve Martin suddenly realizes half of his body is now being controlled by the spirit of Lily Tomlin. As people hurry past him on the sidewalk, Martin’s body fights itself as he loudly announces that he’s not sharing his body with anyone. A guy in a hard hat gets to deliver the slam:

“Everybody’s gonna be real disappointed, Mac.”

3. LongSuffering Personified, Galaxy Quest (1999)

Another parody, this time of the sci-fi genre, has the actors of a canceled-now-cult-hit TV show squeezing out a meager living from convention appearances and promotional events. The “Spock/Nimoy” character (Dane) is constantly prodded to deliver his signature line, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged,” which he has come to despise.

At the character’s lowest point, they stand in costume before the grand opening of an electronics store giving out promotional one-liners with their best fake enthusiasm. When it’s Dane’s turn, he sighs, rolls his eyes, and manages to mutter:

“By Grabthar’s Hammer … what a savings.”

"By Grabthar's Hammer...What a savings."

2. Shamelessness, Casablanca (1942)

Everyone thinks of bittersweet romance in this classic, but it’s really the incredibly funny bits that make it so rewatchable. When Captain Renault is ordered by the Nazis to close down Rick’s bar/casino, he objects that he has no reason to do so. When ordered to find one, he throws a fit about being “shocked” to find out gambling is occurring on the premises. When a croupier then hands him his winnings, without missing a beat, Renault puts on a gracious smile and says:

Oh, thank you very much!”

1. Righteous Indignation, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

God appears in the Heavens to give King Arthur and his knights a quest—wait, first he wants them to stop bowing and averting their eyes. It’s like the Psalms, they’re so depressing. He’s here to give Arthur and his men a quest to serve as an example in these darks times. Arthur exclaims in amazement that this is a good idea. God shouts down at him:

“Of course it’s a good idea!”

21 Things That Happen While Watching The Super Bowl

1. You begin to stuff your face with buffalo wings and corn chips during the pre-show.

2. Then you realize a beer would really complement the wings, you genius.

3. As the National Anthem is sung, you realize you are the epitome of being American – football, beer, food, and the Star Spangled Banner.

4. You yell “HEADS, HEADS, HEADS” at the screen before your team picks the coin toss.

5. You mentally prepare yourself for kickoff.

6. You start getting anxious since the score is staying at 0 – 0.

Anxious meets eating faster, right?

7. And hope that your team scores first.

8. Then you start hyperventilating when the other team is about to score.

9. And when they do, you just about lose it.

10. But you realize it’s okay because it isn’t even halftime yet.

11. You find yourself unimpressed with the commercials and start wondering where the funny ones are.

With food in hand, of course.

12. Then Doritos flies (get it?) in and restores your faith in Super Bowl ads.

13. You refill your plate during halftime.

14. And “lose control” when Missy Elliot comes out.

15. Then, after Katy Perry is a firework, you are back in game mode.

16. You realize your voice is getting hoarse from all the yelling.

17. But it’s okay because helping out your team is worth it.

18. You start truly appreciating your food when a crappy commercial comes on.

19. And can’t even taste it when the game is back because it’s crunch time.

20. When the game finally ended, you were stuffed and exhausted.

21. And then you realize Katy Perry’s shark was the real MVP.


Top 10 Best Female Outfits in Movies & TV

There are a lot of these lists, so let’s separate this one out a bit by excluding sheer fashion moments or times the actresses just look fabulous. Here are only complete outfits that reflect something inside the character and truly highlight the dramatic moment. Some of these are icons, some aren’t. But they are all perfect for the scene in which they appear.


10. Eliza Doolittle’s Ascot Dress, My Fair Lady (1964)

OK, yes, this is a fashion moment and she looks fabulous, but this sheath of froth (done up in exactly the same style as the other dresses at the Ascot race track) is not only delicate but fragile. Eliza is pretending to be something she’s not, and the black-and-white couture enhances how easily she fails. She looks and has an accent like a proper lady, but she opens her mouth to her downfall, talking of murder and telling the racehorse to move its bloody ass.


9. Angela Bassett and the Camisole of Fury, Waiting to Exhale (1995)

The white-and-black outfit here ties her to the burning car while a faithful wife expresses her displeasure at her husband’s treatment. The contrast is all opposites. She’s sexy and powerful, and her heart is broken. She takes no shit, and her innocence has been lost. She’s truly upper crust, but he can seriously go screw himself.


8. Abby’s Goth Cute With Boots, NCIS (2003–)

Fighting the battle against the stereotypes that smart women have to be prim or just plain ugly and that not dressing like a lady will turn people off, Abby helps get the bad guys in clothes she actually wants to wear and is the darling of the team. You go, girl!

author book editing novel

7. Hermione’s Yule Ball Dress, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

I love the way this fantastical movie offers up such a realistic, almost routine moment in the life of a young woman. It’s her first fancy party and her first fancy party dress (and her first fancy party arm candy). She looks like a fairy princess, and, of course, the evening ends up being a total disappointment.

pretty woman julia roberts

6. Julia Roberts’ Red Cinderella Gown, Pretty Woman (1990)

The transformation from hooker to lady is complete (or is it?) with this stunning, modest, and yet bright red dress worn to an opera about a prostitute who falls in love with a wealthy man. (Subtle.) To complete the outfit, instead of glass slippers, Prince Charming with a gold card offers up a ruby necklace (which later spurs him to find her when the ball is done).

morocco film

5. Marlene Dietrich’s Tuxedo of Lesbianism, Morocco (1930)

This risqué, gender-bending cabaret “costume” lets us know immediately that all is not what it seems. No, the character isn’t gay (despite a woman-on-woman kiss done for shock value), but she’s not going to toe the sexual line, and she’s definitely going to go after what she wants no matter what the world thinks.

maria wedding dress sound of music

4. Maria’s Wedding Dress, The Sound of Music (1965)

After dressing in some pretty awful clothes (“The poor didn’t want this one.”), Maria is finally both marrying the man she loves and embracing a major elevation of her tax bracket. The wedding dress (doubtlessly sewed by nuns and singing creatures of the forest) is adorned with flowers instead of jewels. It manages to look expensive and simple, modest and body-flattering, virginal and OMG, did you see that veil?

3. Grace Kelly’s Dior of Wealth, Rear Window (1954)

The approach here seems straight-forward, but Hitchcock’s got a twist. Kelly is in love with Jimmy Stewart, so she dresses up nicely for him and shows off how lovely she is. But Stewart objects to marrying her precisely because she’s so fancy and high-class.

2. Elsa’s Dress of Power, Frozen (2013)

Having finally had enough of hiding herself and her abilities, Elsa dresses don’t-mess-with-me style in hip-swaying, slit-leg womanhood and icy cape of power. (I love that some parents actually protested that the look was too sexual for their kids to look at. My goodness! She’s showing almost an entire knee there. Talk about needing to let something go.)

1. Scarlet O’Hara’s Curtain Dress, Gone with the Wind (1939)

I’d love to have some big surprise at the end of this list, but how can I not acknowledge that this is the ultimate? A symbol of both womanhood and the South after the war, Scarlet presents herself in the finery of a great lady when, in fact, she’s wearing something she’s sewn herself from the last bit of wealth in her life: a set of velvet green curtains from her fallen plantation home’s front window. Will she pull it off? Or will the man she’s trying to impress see through the act? Maybe she should ask Eliza how well things will turn out.