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Speaking of Richard Curtis and "very few words..."

I've always loved the moment in "Love Actually" when Mark confesses his love to Keira Knightley on poster board, then she runs after him, kisses him, leaves him, and he simply says...



Loved this riff in "How to Lose a guy in Ten Days." In the restaurant when they first meet, and are intent on picking the other one up...

Andie: Unattached?
Ben: Currently.
Andie: Likewise.
Ben: Surprising.
Andie: Psycho?
Ben: Rarely, Interested?
Andie: Perhaps.
Ben: Hungry?
Andie: Starving.
Ben: Leaving?
Andie: Now?

Chris Soth

Wow...3 words or less? Best? Genius, tough one, stumper. Here are my best shots:

"Play it, Sam." (it's what he SAYS!)

"Zuzu's petals!"




Wow Billy, you're writing a new novel-what's it about? Gonna use your old pen name, Leigh Anne Williams?

In my humble opion, great dialog is all about context and set-up that leaves the audience waiting for a clever zinger or topper, like the "I'll have what she's having" line from "When Harry Meet Sally."

Still, you're right, Billy, when most people quote great lines from movies they like, they tend to be short ones.

E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


hugh grant says "bugger" a lot in that film also. :)

did you watch love monkey? i'm wondering what you thought


"But I want to get hurt!"
-Lloyd Dobler.


RDane: Lovely, poignant, yes.

Writergurl: Perfect.

Chris: Major classics all.

EC: Yup.

Carolyn: Not sure yet...

Betsy: Feel his pain.

Fun Joel

I was going to say Hasta La Vista Baby, but I realized that is 4 words (I think -- I don't speak Spanish). One of the quotes I used could be 2 words, if written as:

"Blutarsky, 0.0" instead of "zero-point-zero."

Hmmm, what else? Three words is really short. Let's see...

Follow the money.
Use the Force (though some might say, Use the force, Luke)
Fiddle-dee-dee (if you can use La-dee-da)
Y'know, for kids (another cheat in how I'm writing it)

That'll do it for now!




Can I use a four-word quote? "Shut up and deal."

And Billy, as long as you're defending Four Weddings, could you address something that you didn't address in your book (which I loved, btw)? What in the world was wrong with Kirsten Scott Thomas' character as Hugh Grant's love interest? In your book, you say that she's a Bellamy and it's obvious that they're not right for each other, but to me the biggest problem with the movie was that Andie MacDowell was the wrong woman for Hugh and Kirsten Scott Thomas was the right one.


Looking forward to Billy's answer, but as a Brit with an occasional weakness for American women I have to say - what's wrong with Andie MacDowell?!


As an American with an occasional weakness for British women, I should be asking you what's wrong with Kirsten Scott Thomas? If Fiona’s a Bellamy, then there has to be something wrong with her so that she doesn’t belong with the male lead. But I didn’t see it. Fiona’s easily Charles’ equal in wit and she clearly has strong and lasting feelings for him – these are things (banter and permanence) that a prospective mate for Charles needs.

They are also things that Carrie lacks. To me, at least (and you may disagree on this), the scenes between Charles and Carrie were slack because Carrie wasn’t able to keep up the pace of the conversation with Charles. But a bigger problem I had was that Carrie was, like Charles, unable to commit. My problem here isn’t with Carrie’s promiscuity (heck, in the rom-com I’m currently trying to write, the female lead is a porn star) but with her lack of faithfulness (in her cheating on her fiancé with Charles) and, as an even bigger problem, her never being held to account for her infidelity. Since Charles, too, has a problem with commitment the worst match for him is someone who, like him, can’t commit. He needs someone who brings to the relationship what he lacks – devotion. In short, he needs Fiona.

Sorry Billy – it wasn’t my intention to hijack your comments section into a criticism of a movie that you expressly said you didn't want the comments of the thread to devolve into a criticism of (especially in my first comments here), but I just couldn’t resist my uncontrollable urge to criticize a movie I’ve always thought was overrated.

And yes, I’ll freely admit I can’t write anything as good as Four Weddings and a Funeral. I want to, though. Call it hubris, but I actually want to write something better.


FunJoel & JJ: Excellent.

Daniel: Not much!

Grieg: Well, there goes my 1-3 word comment riff, and I suppose I could devote a whole post to this developing "4 Weddings: Threat or Menace?" controversy, but in brief...

I don't think Charles really WANTS to be challenged, in his mate, as he is by Fiona; your observations about what's lacking in Carrie speak to this. And I agree with you that she does have her flaws. But if we all went for the mates we really need, as opposed to the ones we really want... well, half the marriages in the world wouldn't happen, let alone the romantic comedies.

Meanwhile, I may be giving Curtis too much credit in this, but I think he's actually suggesting that these two people who are both commitment-phobes may be exactly the right peas-in-a-pathological-pod to make a relationship work.

As to Fiona-as-Bellamy, the fact is that CHARLES (as opposed to Fiona, or us the audience) simply doesn't "feel that way" about her. Again, as in real life, it's a question of chemistry, however irrational it may be. WE may see what a perfect match they'd make, but if (in American parlance) "she just doesn't do it for him"... she becomes Ms. Wrong.

Knowing Charles (and I love the way we so absorb and connect to these imaginary creations that I can even say such a thing with a straight face), if he was romantically attracted to Fiona, he'd probably have made a pass, in the past -- and perhaps they wouldn't be the friends they are, since knowing Charles, he'd have messed things up quick. Instead, he's in one of those friendships -- again, all too familiar from real life -- where one pines and the other doesn't.

I always liked who Fiona ended up with, anyway. And as for Charles and Carrie, well, the wonderful thing about most rom-coms is that they end at the moment of conquest... as opposed to a few years down the road. Who's to say that their sticky little commitment issue didn't come back after the fadeout, to bite them in the butt?

As to your hubristic desire to go 4 Weddings better, I say, I wish you would! If you can raise the Curtis bar higher, I'll be a major fan. And I'm mightily intrigued, BTW, by the notion of a porn star as a rom-com lead... which, oddly enough, dovetails with the post I'm currently concocting (tune in tomorrow night)...


Well, I'll bow to your expertise and cede the argument as to Fiona-as-Bellamy. And possibly one committment-phobe does need another. s someone who was broken up with -- should I say dumped? -- not that long ago, I do want to say that "chemistry" isn't an explanation for why someone doesn't feel "that way" about another person -- obviously Charles doesn't feel that way about Fiona, but as an audience member who did find Fi more attractive than Carrie, I want to know why he didn't feel that way. I'd say that the fact that no explanation was given (unlike some other Baxters you discuss in your book) is a flaw in the movie. Perhaps not a major flaw, but it bothered me.

But I'm more disturbed that you preferred "ditto" to "shut up and deal." Oh well, de gustibus and all the rest. How do you feel about this:

Celine: "Baby, you are gonna miss that plane."
Jesse: "I know."


Daniel -- I love "Shut up and deal" -- but it's four words!

Your point about Fi's flaw being left unexplained to the audience is well taken.

As to Celine and Jesse, this is Great Minds Think Alike: I recently purchased the screenplays of Sunrise & Sunset and was looking at exactly that exchange when I was thinking about this post -- it only got left out because the set-up to explain it was too complicated, but Good Lord, what a wonderful ending to a movie that was! And the way Linklater faded out on her dancing and his beatific smile... Fantastic.


Back to saying a lot with only three words:

"Match me, Sidney."
JJ Hunsecker


It's Chinatown. (Er, from Chinatown.)

Who's Joe? (Only Angels Have Wings)

- Good luck
- Thank you. (The Great Escape)

It doesn't sound like much, but that brief exchange has had me screaming obscenities at the TV screen for decades now.


My favourites are:
'bugger bugger bugger' from four weddings (Carolyn and I were obviously separated at birth or something)


'Disappointed!', as shouted by Kevin Kline in his hilarious-psycho role of Otto in A Fish Called Wanda.


Greig, I love what you've come up with. The Sweet Smell line is of course a classic, I've always been a sucker for the whole Angels "Joe" routine (that film is, BTW, on my Desert Island Top Ten list), the Escape is indeed Great, and ditto to Townes' fabulous closer, though I always remember it in the long form: "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

Marrije: Thank you for reminding me of "Disap-point-ed!" which, due to its sing-song brilliance, is a quote an old friend of mine and I have been tossing at each other for years.


I have to defend Curtis, here. I, too, liked Fiona more than Carrie... but she's clearly friend material for Charles, rather than an object of desire. And how refreshing is it that this Bellamy *isn't* flawed-- just wrong for the hero?

Isn't this more emotionally true than showing Bellamies as flawed, or worse, as duds?

And now for something entirely different and supremely geeky:


"Andie! You GOONIE!"

"Beautiful." (King Kong)

"It's my HEAD."


"Fuck." (Eyes Wide Shut)

Hope I didn't cover old ground!


Jennica, I like your take on "the Bellamy who just is" as a conscious tweak of the paradigm...

And I'm into your geekiness but you've finally stumped me: who said "It's my head?"


One last and completely juvenile one that still makes me smile whenever I think of it:

'B-b-biggus Dickus' from Monty Python's Life of Brian.


Oh-- didn't mean to be cryptic! I could've easily put (Being John Malkovich) after "It's my HEAD". Craig is arguing the portal belongs to him, because he found it, and this is John Malkovich's counter-argument.

It still makes me giggle.


Marrije, something tells me there are more little gems to be mined in Python territory...

Jennica: Oh, THAT head! Thanks.

General comment: I'm amazed that this particular post, which I though of as arcanely whimsical, has gotten so many responses...


How about this gem:

"Toe pick"

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