What Happened to the Movie One-Liner?
The great, repeatable lines have fallen off since the '90s
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2010 12:03 PM CDT

(Newser) – Think about it: When was the last time you, and everyone you know, went around quoting an unforgettable line from a movie? We all remember the classics—“Go ahead, make my day”; “You talking to me?”; “Hasta la vista, baby”—but such one-liners have fizzled out since the 1990s, which gave us “Life is like a box of chocolates” and “You had me at hello,” among others. Just one post-‘90s line (“My precious”) made it into the American Film Institute’s 2005 list of the top 100 movie quotations.

“What I don’t believe is that the writers are less talented,” one producer tells the New York Times, while admitting he’s “at a loss” to explain the phenomenon. Perhaps filmmaking is more visual, or our newfound love of irony causes us to repeat the worst lines as opposed to the best ones—like “Release the Kraken!” from universally panned Clash of the Titans. But some are convinced modern classics will emerge: Says one exec, “It just takes a little time to sort the wheat from the chaff.”