What makes a great summer movie? You can argue for the special effects, the acting, in some cases the story. Or you could just think about the movies that you quote with your friends for months afterward, the ones that take seemingly innocuous lines like "Let's put a smile on that face" or "I think we're gonna need a bigger boat" and turn them into legend.
It's too soon to tell if any of the great lines from this summer's movies will become legendary, but below are my picks for the 10 best. There's a whole lot to choose from-- The Hangover and In the Loop could each be a list of their own-- but these are the ones that either stuck with me or have me laughing weeks or months later.
SPOILER ALERT for a handful of summer movies that you've probably already seen.
"I was hiding under your porch because I love you!
Dug the Dog, Up
It's the purest declaration of devotion in a movie that's all about figuring out who matters to you most. Just when Carl thinks he's left all alone once again, there's ever-loyal Dug, thrilled to know that Carl truly is his master. It's what we all imagine our dogs are saying to us when they come to us at our lowest moments, loving us all the same.
"Hi, Christopher. I'm Nero."
Nero (Eric Bana), Star Trek
It's the line that proves that Eric Bana really was doing his best with Nero, adding a bit of character to the otherwise generic villain that skulked around the sidelines of the otherwise buoyant Star Trek. The slight tinge of humor somehow made him more threatening, more than just a crazy villain, but one who knew he had power, and relished it. Nero was far from the best part of the movie, but with that line, he suggested he could have been.
"That's a bingo!"
Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz), Inglourious Basterds
Most of Hans Landa's best moments are either long and winding speeches or subtle, threatening glances at other characters, but near the end of the film, when he's giddy with excitement about defecting to America, he utters this gem. For someone who has been endlessly smooth and well-spoken throughout the whole movie, it's a rare slip, but it only serves to make him more human and delightful. Yes, he's a delightful Nazi. That's the magic of Christoph Waltz.
"You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack... it grew by one. So there... there were two of us in the wolf pack... I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, "Wait a second, could it be?" And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!"
Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis), The Hangover
In a movie full of choice quotes (a close second being "Tigers love pepper. They hate cinnamon") this is the most amazing and unhinged. It's brilliant alone for the talk of a one-man wolf pack, but the fact that it's leading to a roofie-tinged toast-- that's the crazy genius of The Hangover in one uncomfortable moment.
"Don't get sarcastic with me, son. We burned this tight-arsed city to the ground in 1814. And I'm all for doing it again, starting with you, you frat fuck."
Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), In the Loop
Malcolm Tucker is the absolute best character to emerge from this summer, the foul-mouthed, constantly angry British equivalent to America's Rahm Emmanuel, the behind the scenes power player with the ability to actually invent a war. Among his many, many classic insults, this one particularly sings for having been aimed at one of our own, a White House official no older than 22.
"Well, if this is it old boy, I hope you don't mind if I go out speaking the King's?"
Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), Inglourious Basterds
Archie Hicox, the most debonair film critic to ever life, dies far too early in Inglourious Basterds, but at least he goes out with style. In his inimitable Laurence Olivier accent, leaning aside to light a cigarette, Hicox accepts death with grace and wit, taking one last jab at the Nazi who's about to kill him. He may not have won this particular battle, but he made sure England won the war of style.
"At the end of a war you need some soldiers left, really, or else it looks like you've lost."
Lt. Gen. George Miller (James Gandolfini), In the Loop
In the Loop is too brilliant to just get one spot on here. This is one of the most deadpan lines of the film, but spoken in one of the most ridiculous contexts-- James Gandolfini's Pentagon official explains to the State Department's Karen Clarke the pitfalls of the coming war, while sitting on a little girl's bed, and using a talking calculator to figure out how many soldiers will die. It's the same combination of the ridiculous and the deadly serious that makes In the Loop such twisted joy.
"Did I get any in my mouth??"
Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), Drag Me to Hell
Sure, anyone would be concerned if one of our coworkers suddenly started spewing blood all over her desk, and the blood flew in the direction of our mouths. But something about the way Christine Brown's boss freaks out, not even on camera, becomes the most unexpected laugh line in an already hilarious film.
James Taylor as Himself, Funny People
There are a lot of celebrity cameos in Funny People that never really pay off, but James Taylor's brief, totally unexpected appearance is absolutely worth it. Not only does he steal Seth Rogen's sign-off line, but James Taylor says fuck! Who saw that coming?
"I ain't any one of them. I'm Donny."
Donny as Himself, Bruno
Most of the reactions Sacha Baron Cohen got out of the everyday Americans this time were pretty disappointing-- even the gay-converting preacher wasn't really playing along-- but the guys on the rural Alabama camping trip by far stole the show. Things got uncomfortable later when Bruno tried to pay them all a late-night naked visit, but Donny's assurance that he's not like the Sex and the City girls was one of the few lines from the trailer that worked better in context.