With Michael Keaton’s resurgence in what is undoubtedly one of the year’s 10 best films, Birdman, a lot of people have been talking about the role that made him a certified A-lister in the first place – Batman. Obviously, you could argue that Keaton was already on his way to leading man status seven years earlier in Night Shift, or perhaps he really stated his case for stardom in Tim Burton’s classic Beetlejuice. Batman was always unique, though, because it was the role that started a bizarre and inexplicable decline into one forgettable title after another. Unless, of course, you enjoyed Speechless and Jack Frost, in which case you probably never noticed anything at all.
But none of Keaton’s movies matter, not even Birdman, when it comes to a movie that some of us think is the best and most absurdly underrated film of his great career. On December 21, 1984, Keaton hit the big screen with Joe Piscopo, Marilu Henner and a cast of character actors in Johnny Dangerously, the story of Johnny Kelly, a sweet nightclub owner who loves his mama by day and one of the city’s most notorious criminals by night. Much like Top Secret, which was released earlier that same year, Johnny Dangerously received a mild reception from critics and earned limited spoils at the box office, because at that point in time, the spoof genre was simply dried up. Johnny was the second feature effort of director Amy Heckerling, but back then her name carried little value, because her first film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was initially hated by critics. Little did they know these films would help her become a God of the Cult Classics.
Longtime readers of FilmDrunk might remember when quoting this movie was like a religion to us, especially since one of the site’s oldest commenters, Pauly Dangerously, dedicated his handle to the film. While we may have slipped on those references over the years, it doesn’t mean we don’t still love this movie like no other. So for the film’s 30th anniversary, I’d like to pay tribute to a wonderful comedy script, written by Harry Colomby, Jeff Harris, Bernie Kukoff and Norman Steinberg, by celebrating the best lines that you can still use in so many situations, mostly because they’re cleverly clean. That Roman Moronie sure knew how to leave his mark. Even if he wasn’t from Sweden.
“You lousy cork-soakers.”
Thanks to this film’s great lines, a young Burnsy was reprimanded many times in school for calling classmates “fargin’ iceholes.” But I also blame these lines for making me think that the word bastard was actually “bass turd,” which was hilarious to me because it was poop, man. That mistake led to me being grounded for a weekend. Still, the best thing that Moronie ever did for us was offer us these creative alternative curse words, not only because they’re technically clean, but also because your stupid friends who have never watched this movie won’t get them. It’s a great way to determine who doesn’t belong in your life.
While I have no statistics to back this up, I am confident that more people still quote this line in their daily dialogue than any other line in movie history. It goes so well with anything, from being interrupted in conversation to someone borrowing your copy of Johnny Dangerously and then NEVER RETURNING IT. Fargin’ iceholes, my friends are. Danny Vermin was full of great quotes, including another fun one that my friends and I used to think was great until everyone became overly sensitive to every word in the English language.
“I am handicapped. I’m psychotic.”
A fun thing about Vermin that means absolutely nothing, because it’s simply a really vague coincidence, is that he tells Johnny, “I’ll be late for target practice, there’s an opera letting out.” It makes me laugh because Keaton would go on to star in Batman, a movie in which his character’s parents were shot outside of an opera. Again, this is simply a coincidence, unless… JOE PISCOPO CAN SEE THE FUTURE. Haha, just kidding. If that were the case, people would still know who he is.
Fun Anecdote: At my high school reunion, I talked to a guy I hadn’t seen in 10 years and wasn’t even really that close with in the first place. He asked what I’d been up to and I replied, “I’ve become a real scumbag.” If it weren’t for Johnny Dangerously, I might have had to be dishonest.
“You got those. I like those on a woman.”
First of all, look at that trailer. They sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore. If anything, Piscopo should make a comeback as a guy who explains all new trailers in character as Danny Vermin. But back to the line, this is a great one for fellas to use at a party when meeting a woman for the first time. Sure, in 2014, it could backfire gloriously and your story could show up on Jezebel along with all of your personal information, and then you’ll never work again, unless it’s cleaning septic tanks in Manitoba. But there’s also a chance you’ll say this to a girl who has seen Johnny Dangerously and then it’ll be happily ever after.
On the other hand, if a woman should approach you and say…
“I’m not wearing a bra, Johnny.”
The obvious response is: “That makes two of us.” Again, it’ll be happily ever after from there, and the two of you can go on to open your own pet store. However, and this is very important, do not have sex before marriage, because…
“I’ve been thinking of taking up smoking.”
One day, I’m going to have a son and he’s going to come home from school with a really crappy ceramic ashtray that he made in class, even though he was trying to make me a coffee mug and he just realized the easy way that he sucks at pottery. I look forward to that day so I can tell him, “I’ve been thinking about taking up smoking,” especially since Big Tobacco will be back and better than ever after the great vaping class action lawsuit of 2018 that will occur when really cool bros’ heads start melting.
“Johnny and the Mothers are playing ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’ in Vermont tonight.”
This one is great for when a group of friends is sitting at a bar and a normal conversation can’t be held because everyone is facing forward, like that one episode of Seinfeld. So when someone inevitably tries to shout something to you, just reply with this line and confuse the hell out of your friends. Because, again, they shouldn’t be your friends if they don’t get the reference.
(Also, as soon as I figure out who took my copy of this movie, I’m going to upload proper clips to YouTube, because these cell phone recordings of television sets are more criminal than killing the DA.)
“There’s something I want to share with you…”
Honestly, I’m not even sure if there’s a situation that you could use this in, unless someone wants to tell you a secret and then you reply, “You go both ways?” Actually, that’s a really good one. Regardless, this line KILLS ME EVERY TIME. I hadn’t watched the movie in four, maybe five years until this morning and I cried from this one. That’s the drawback of watching your favorites – say, Big Trouble in Little China, the greatest movie ever made – on a regular basis, because you see the good lines coming a mile away. I’d forgotten all about this and it was like a fresh joke.
“The Lower East Side… this really sucks.”
This is a perfect line for anyone who visits New York for the first time and actually ends up in the area. Actually, I wish this had become a meme at some point, because this movie obviously deserves a stronger legacy. People could record Vines of them saying, “This really sucks” and losers who haven’t watched this movie wouldn’t get it. We’d have such a wonderful inside joke on our hands. Instead, we plank.
“Sounds like Johnny’s getting laid!”
The perfect line for bros just looking out for their bros. You know what? The ladies can use this one, too. Let’s make this one a universal declaration of hooking up. It’s even better if there are actually fireworks going off at the time. Then again, everything is better with fireworks.
“This is fargin’ war.”
My dream is to be president one day, just so I can say this line in an actual press conference. At least one person in the White House Press will get it and we’ll all share a laugh. And then I’ll quit, because I really want to open that pet shop with all the money I raised in organized crime. They say crime doesn’t pay, but we all know the truth… “It paid a little.”