Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is finally here. His career is a series of love letters to cinema, built on a staggering knowledge of every genre. And although his films are often sensational, controversial for their coarse language and indulgent violence, he’s got a loyal audience. His movies are raw entertainment, and though his work is filled with homage, the witty dialogue really stands out. He breathes life into otherwise completely unlikable characters. His criminals have conversations about pop culture and banter about random tangents. Most significantly, the humor sparks with a voice like no other. So, here are ten of the funniest quotes from Tarantino’s entire filmography.
10 Death Proof — “They Like It Better Than No Thing”
Death Proof is entirely hinged on the playful dialogue between two different groups of women, each targeted by a killer. The majority of the film is spent on the road, without very much plot. So, this is the movie that proves only Tarantino can write his style of wordsmanship.
One delightfully clever conversation after another helps to carry this movie until the stunning finale. A number of them bluntly discuss sex and relationships, and this quote is the best of the bunch. Arlene’s friends ask her to describe exactly how far things went last night. Her entertaining reply culminates with an explanation of “the thing."
9 True Romance — “Sicilians Were Spawned By...”
Justifiably, a lot of people question Tarantino’s consistent use of the N-word. But this is still arguably one of the best moments in Dennis Hopper’s entire career. Strapped to a chair, he is prepared to die, questioned over the whereabouts of his thieving son. Hopper defiantly decides to get under Christopher Walken’s skin. Watching the mobsters’ reactions as Hopper goes on about their ancestors is absolute gold. It’s probably the most memorable scene of True Romance. All due respect to the talented Tony Scott, Quentin probably could’ve brought more verve to the action scenes. But the dialogue still fires on all cylinders.
8 Pulp Fiction — “A Royale With Cheese”
Pulp Fiction is easily one of the most quotable movies of all time. Almost every single piece of dialogue sparks with creativity. The entire cast is flawless, bringing so much personality to the film. And personality goes a long way. So, it’s nearly impossible to choose any one quippy moment from the film, given hunks of metal and five-dollar milkshakes.
But the entire conversation about Europe is especially funny in context. Here are two killers, on their way to handle business, and they end up talking about McDonald’s. Then, the punchline about Burger King really seals the deal for this selection.
7 Kill Bill, Vol. 2 — “...There Ain't Nobody Out There To Bounce”
Michael Madsen gets plenty of work, but we all wish he were in more studio films. All of his roles with Tarantino prove that he can really deliver. He plays a great everyman, and in Kill Bill, Vol. 2 he effortlessly brings the laughs. Tarantino actually allows a surprising amount of sympathy for such an unlikable character.
His job is awful enough, but the conversation with his boss is fantastic. Secluded, out in the middle of nowhere, Madsen fails to defend himself. His deadbeat boss manages to point out that Madsen is being paid to do nothing. It’s a clever turn of logic, and that performance is great. Plus, there’s the punchline of Madsen having to clean up an overflowed toilet.
6 Jackie Brown — “I Ain’t Ridin’ In No God**** Trunk!”
There’s no denying that Chris Tucker’s voice is unlike anyone else’s. Just two years after Friday, Tucker once again proves his incredible comedic talent. His cameo in Jackie Brown only lasts several minutes, but it’s one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie. Samuel L. Jackson slowly convinces him to leave home, and get in a car trunk. Tucker’s aversion to this idea is lengthy, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Then, instead of any kind of punchline, the outcome is...unfortunate. This contrast is an important element in what makes Jackie Brown so distinguishable from Tarantino’s filmography.
5 Kill Bill, Vol. 1 — “Get The Sake!”
This is probably Tarantino’s bloodiest movie, just by the confrontation with Lucy Liu’s gang alone. The entire film is a roller coaster ride, full of non-stop style. It even has an entire anime sequence. But somehow, there’s still a lot of comedy involved. Much of it is rather dark. However, everything with Hattori Hanzo is terrific.
The actor, who also goes by Sonny Chiba, is a veteran of the genre. But the banter with his employee is a hilarious and deliberate breather amidst the frenetic chaos. After The Bride asks for sake, an argument about serving it provides some of Tarantino’s best laughs. The performances are simply outstanding.
4 Inglourious Basterds — “...Let Me Really Hear The Music In It!”
Christoph Waltz was an absolute revelation, even if he consistently plays himself. There’s plenty of actors that can get away with that, given their talent. Waltz’s so-called Jew Hunter, Landa, has a number of striking monologues. And there’s more than a few gut-wrenching moments in which Nazis prod people for answers in Inglorious Basterds. But none do it quite so well as Waltz. He draws comedy out of his terrifying interrogations. In this selection, he’s asked Brad Pitt and his men to pronounce their cover names. And they don’t have the best Italian accents. It’s both funny and nerve-racking.
3 Django Unchained — “No! Nobody Brought An Extra Bag!”
Django Unchained was set before the establishment of the KKK, but that didn’t keep Tarantino from poking fun. A group of hateful white men gather as a sort of precursor to the KKK. So, they’re still struggling to figure out the hoods situation. Mocking negative forces in the world helps to remove their power over us. So it’s a lot of fun that Tarantino gets Jonah Hill, Don Johnson and others to complain about their masks. Soon after, their incapacity to see actually proves useful to the story, too. This was a controversial movie that forces people to have a conversation about one of the darkest periods in this country’s history. And somehow, Tarantino infused just the right kind of humor to help it go down.
2 Pulp Fiction — “Say ‘What’ Again”
This is arguably one of the greatest moments in any Quentin Tarantino movie. Samuel L. Jackson gets to flaunt his effortless tough-guy attitude, while some kid cowers in fear. Besides the performances, the dialogue is written with a great sense of pacing. The organic manner with which it escalates helps drive the dark comedy of the situation.
Jackson’s character, Jules, hits a wide range of volume throughout the scene. But he finally gets fed up with the guy on the couch, and Jules’ mocking quips are priceless. In a movie that has memorable moments from beginning to end, this one still manages to stand out.
1 Reservoir Dogs — “Why Am I Mr. Pink?”
Steve Buscemi is a brilliant actor even without his comedy. But he can always deliver it with a pitch-perfect attitude. Reservoir Dogs establishes nearly all of the elements that Tarantino would incorporate throughout his career. This includes criminals that speak like everyday people. You wouldn’t expect an argument about codenames to abruptly intervene in the selected scene.
But when it does, the whole business about troublesome colors is exquisite. In the middle of planning a robbery, some juvenile arguing breaks out about being ‘Mr. Pink’ or ‘Mr. Brown.’ Even better, the logic behind preset codenames is hilarious. The punchline that everyone argues over being ‘Mr. Black’ is such a gleefully ridiculous and plausible reason. This is exactly the kind of dialogue that shines most brightly in Tarantino’s later films. It’s an early example of his incredible comedy about seemingly trivial subjects.