The ’90s were filled with some incredibly memorable quotes, many of which still find themselves wriggled into modern-day conversations. From the romantic to the comedic, and the downright cool, ’90s movies provided some classic quotes filled with all the imagination and pizazz of the decade.
Expertly delivered by a range of stars, some quotes help add comedic relief, while others round up the storyline of a movie in insightful one-liners. Some manage to still relate well with a modern-day audience and can be worthwhile mottos to live by, or warnings to avoid. With the decade being absolutely jam-packed with some crackers to choose from, it’s difficult to compile a mere list of 20 offerings, however, some just rise above the rest as undeniable movie gems.
20 “Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal” – Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone opens with the hectic McCallister family preparing for their vacation to Paris in this beloved Christmas classic. When the family manage to sleep in past their alarm, chaos ensues as they frantically get themselves out of the house and to the airport. In all the palaver the youngest member of the family, Kevin, gets left behind. At first, Kevin revels in being home alone and enjoys the freedom it provides. His easy living doesn’t last long when two burglars enter the scene. Kevin rigs the house with a variety of inventive traps to catch the burglars and protect his home.
Kevin uses the snippet from an old gangster movie multiple times to equally amusing effects to both scare an innocent pizza guy, and one of the weaselly burglars. Both individuals are effortlessly fooled and equally terrified as gunshots follow, ending perfectly with “keep the change, ya filthy animal”.
19 “Hasta La Vista Baby” – Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Seven years after the first movie of the franchise was released and introduced the infamous line “I’ll be back,” Terminator 2: Judgement Day brought yet another action-packed cracker. In the second installment, over a decade has passed since the first Terminator tried and failed to kill a pregnant Sarah Connor. Her child is fated to one day become the leader of the human resistance against the machines. A new and improved Terminator machine is sent back in time by supercomputer Skynet. Its only mission is to kill her child before he has a chance to grow up a lead the resistance. In a twist of fate however, the original Terminator who was sent to originally kill her, is also sent back in time to protect her and her child from this new threat. “Hasta La Vista Baby!”
18 “You Can’t Handle the Truth!” – A Few Good Men (1992)
A Few Good Men manages to create a thrilling courtroom drama. Two marines find themselves accused of murder, and Navy lawyer LT Daniel Kafee is their only hope. Kafee is renowned for taking plea bargains, however, in this case, he’s convinced to take the case more seriously. Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway brings across the notion that the accused men are not at fault, and were probably only carrying out an order. Kafee decides to take the risk in forgoing the plea deal to prove the marine’s innocence. What follows is an unravelling of unjust conspiracy and plenty of drama. Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) delivers the well-known line to an increasingly frustrated Kafee (Tom Cruise) as tensions rise in the courtroom; Kafee demands answers, but Col. Nathan R. Jessup is adamant that “you can’t handle the truth!”
17 “Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied With Whether Or Not They Could That They Didn’t Stop To Think If They Should” – Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park is a well-loved classic with multiple sequels telling the story of when science goes a little too far in bringing back the dinosaurs. An isolated island becomes the centre of efforts to both revive ancient beasts and make an amusement park out of it. It’s incredibly risky and the events that unfold throughout the movie solidify this notion. The dinosaurs break loose, and it’s a race for survival for all humans to get off the island ASAP.
It’s the warnings of Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) from this movie that really stick. He insightfully notes to the mogul owner of the venture (Richard Attenborough) that “your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, that the didn’t stop to think if they should.” A pause for thought that sums up the whole movie pretty well.
16 “Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, You Never Know What You’re Gonna Get” – Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump is a wonderfully wholesome movie starring none other than Tom Hanks. He’s a simple man with a simple mind but filled with nothing more than good intentions. Forrest lives an interesting life; from joining the army to fight in Vietnam to creating his own ‘Bubba Gump’ shrimp business. A notable scene sees Forrest running from the bullies. As he breaks free of his leg brace, his childhood friend yells the line “run, Forrest, run!” Run he does; in fact, later on in the movie, he amasses a huge following of admirers as he runs for over three years!
More notable and touching a scene, however, would be near the beginning of the movie as he recollects his ‘mama’s’ teachings. “Life is like a box of chocolates; You never know what you’re gonna get”. It’s a simplistic line yet sets the scene for the rest of the movie.
15 “Alrighty Then!” – Ace Ventura (1994)
Ace Ventura is a top-notch pet detective based in the bustling city of Miami hilariously portrayed by the comedic actor, Jim Carrey. It’s a truly memorable comedy and just a lot of fun.
Ace is a specialist in retrieving missing animals and in the movie, he’s tasked with solving the case of the abducted dolphin mascot of a football team. The events that follow are elaborately excessive and filled with misadventures with the completely whacky pet detective at the helm. He’s initially seen as a complete laughingstock at the Miami-Dade Police Department, however, he eventually earns their respect after rescuing Snowflake, the dolphin mascot. “Alrighty then!” is the iconic catchphrase stemming from this movie, and is delivered brilliantly each time by Carrey who took this role and really ran with it.
14 “Hakuna Matata” – The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King comes from what is considered the Renaissance era of Disney and is without a doubt one of the best Disney movies ever made. After his uncle Scar kills his father, Simba runs away from home and bumps into the dynamic duo, Timone and Pumba. Scar rules the pride lands ruthlessly while Simba grows up with his two friends, feasting on bugs and enjoying the easy life. Timone and Pumba teach the young lion cub one of their main philosophies early on, “Hakuna Matata.” It means no worries, and the trio live out the years that follow with this motto strongly in mind. However, when Simba’s past catches up with him, he has to decide whether to remain an outcast and live the easy life, or confront his murderous uncle and take his rightful place as King.
13 “Get Busy Livin’, or Get Busy Dyin’” – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption is based on a novella by Stephen King, so you know it’s got some high-quality writing behind it!
Andy Dufresne is sentenced to life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Throughout the decades that follow, he befriends fellow inmates and creates genuine bonds on the inside. “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’” is a classic quote from the movie that reflects the lives of the inmates and is a to-the-point, insightful comment to just make the most of your life. Andy’s sheer motivation to keep going is highlighted beautifully when he states “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies’. Consequently, Andy’s determination does eventually see him escaping the prison and is later reunited with good friend Ellis, brilliantly bringing his story full circle.
12 “To Infinity, and Beyond!” – Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story shines a light on the private life of toys when no one’s looking.
Woody has it great; a loving owner and a bunch of great friends. However, one day there’s a new toy on the block, and his world completely turns on its head. Buzz Lightyear, the confident yet oblivious space ranger, arrives to stir things up. He brings with him the infamous “to infinity, and beyond!” line which he says with such convincing gusto. He’s deluded to believe himself a real space ranger and refuses to accept that he is indeed, just a toy. Woody finds himself consumed with jealousy and tries to get rid of Buzz. However, he soon finds himself on a mission to save Buzz and bring him back to the flock before the humans move house and he’s lost forever.
11 “That’ll Do, Pig, That’ll Do” – Babe (1995)
When farmer Hoggett says the short line, “that’ll do, pig. That’ll do”, it beautifully rounds up all the events of Babe leading up to that one moment.
Little piglet Babe forms an unusual yet wholesome bond with the farmer’s collie, Fly, and soon learns how to herd sheep himself. He finds himself an outcast with the other farm animals, who disapprove of his inability to conform to the usual social hierarchy of the farm. Through some trials and tribulations though, little Babe is accepted into the farm as he is. He even manages to help Hoggett win a sheep herding competition, silencing the audience members in sheer amazement as they witness his incredibly unusual talent. The movie was a big hit and managed to produce an equally brilliant sequel, Babe: Pig in the City.
10 “Houston, We Have a Problem” – Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 13 is based on the unfortunate true story of the 13th Apollo mission. It’s just a routine flight and having had man already land on the moon by this point, there’s a lot less buzz around the mission. That is, however, until the chances of the crew returning to Earth safely get very slim after things go incredibly wrong.
“Huston, we have a problem” is a quote that seems to echo in your ears when watching as the fate of the crew becomes submerged into a potentially fatal conclusion. This movie gets you fully invested in their story and firmly on the edge of your seat. Thankfully, the immensely tense movie ends with them miraculously managing to make a safe enough landing that all astronauts in the crew survive.
9 “Ernest Hemingway Once Wrote, ‚The World is a Fine Place and Worth Fighting For. I Agree with the Second Part’” – Se7en
In Se7en, a sick and twisted serial killer attempts to justify his killing spree as some kind of absolution for the ignorance consistently shown towards the seven deadly sins. Homicide detectives, Somerset and Mills, are on his case and are burdened with dealing with the gruesome tortured remains of his multiple victims. The movie is filled with some heart-wrenching moments, most notably when the two are confronted with a mysterious box. Mills desperately asks Somerset “what’s in the box”, only to find the decapitated head of his pregnant wife.
Somerset closes the movie with the line, “Ernest Hemingway once wrote, ‘the world is a fine place and worth fighting for’. I agree with the second part.” It’s a hard-hitting conclusion on regardless of the negative impact his work has had on his impressions of people, he’s still determined to carry on the fight.
8 “They May Take Our Lives, But They’ll Never Take Our Freedom!” – Braveheart (1995)
Braveheart follows Scottish rebel, William Wallace, as he leads his men to an all-mighty uprising against English ruler, King Edward I. Edward wants to inherit the Scottish crown for himself, but William is having none of it. After William suffers personal tragedy at the hands of English soldiers, he and his men fight for the freedom of Scotland with tenacious might. He bravely yells out to his men, “they may take our lives, but they’ll never take out freedom!”. This encapsulates the mindset of all those fighting; they will lay down their lives to protect the freedom of their people.
Upon release, the movie received some criticisms for its slight deviation from historical accuracy, however, these were undermined by the rave reviews of its action-packed storyline and dramatic presentation.
7 “Show Me the Money!” – Jerry Maguire (1996)
Jerry Maguire concerns the life of Jerry. A successful sports agent, considered to have it all. However, one day he realises his life isn’t as perfect as he had initially thought. He creates a mission statement that details his life and adopts a new lease on life to improve. His enthusiasm isn’t well received and he finds himself having to rebuild his life almost from scratch.
Life becomes very real for Jerry, and the harsh realities of life he once ignored come plummeting down to smack him in the face. The famous line, “show me the money”, comes at a time when Jerry is trying to convince his immensely volatile client, Rod Tidwell, to stay working with him. He completely smashes it and the movie follows his rise after the fall.
6 “Do You Like Scary Movies?” – Scream (1996)
The comedic horror movie Scream was well received upon release and quickly became a classic in the horror scene.
Sidney Prescott and her friends find themselves being hassled by a mysterious caller. They later find out that this caller is actually Ghostface, a manic killer who runs around in a white mask and a black robe out for revenge. He enjoys playing with his victims and asks them a series of questions when he calls them out of the blue. The most notable question being, “do you like scary movies?” It’s an appropriate question, as his actions turn Scream into exactly that, a scary movie. He ruthlessly murders multiple victims in the small town of Woodsboro without any remorse or hesitation. He’s a sadistic serial killer and his unbridled determination to kill makes him a terrifying foe to cross paths with.
5 “How Do You Like Them Apples?” – Good Will Hunting (1997)
“How do you like them apples?” is the ultimate line that flips the bird to any previously encountered doubt, famously appearing in the movie Good Will Hunting.
Matt Damon plays a troubled yet genius youth, Will, who spends the movie surpassing his struggles and finding himself with the help of others and sheer determination. He’s recently paroled and working as a janitor at MIT and spends his free time drinking with friends. One night at a bar he outsmarts a Harvard student to gain the attention of a girl they are both interested in. He returns triumphant with the iconic ‘how do you like that’ style comeback. His life starts to turn around when his genius-level IQ is discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau, who along with therapist Sean Maguire, helps Will make something of himself.
4 “I Want You to Paint Me Like One of Your French Girls” – Titanic (1997)
Titanic reprises the story of the ill-fated Titanic. The movie is loosely based on the real-life sinking of the Titanic back in 1912.
Rose lived the upper-class life, while Jack managed to get on board with a third-class ticket. Their love supersedes their clash of social class and ends with the heart-wrenching moment where Rose promises to Jack that she’ll “never let go”, but is ultimately forced to watch as he sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Many real-life re-enactments have no doubt been played out at the bow of a ship, shouting Jack’s excitable line, “I’m the king of the world”, with arms outstretched and full of life. Another notable moment of the movie finds Rose lying naked wearing nothing but a large jeweled necklace asking Jack to “paint me like one of your French girls.”
3 “I See Dead People” – The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Sixth Sense is a psychological thriller that ends with a shocking revelation for the audience as they can finally see the bigger picture of the story that has unfolded before them.
Malcolm Crowe takes on the case of a young boy who claims to “see dead people”. He initially dismisses the case, seeing the boy as delusional. However, upon listening to a session recording of the boy, Malcolm can hear the tearful sobs of a Spanish man in the background, proving to him that the boy’s claims are true. Turns out, he’s the young boy’s only hope and he does everything he can to help. That is however until the bombshell is delivered near the end of the movie where Malcolm finds himself just as surprised as viewers as to what’s really been going on.
2 “The First Rule of Fight Club Is, You Do Not Talk About Fight Club” – Fight Club (1999)
In Fight Club it’s made abundantly clear that “the first rule of fight club is, you do not talk about fight club.” An unnamed man struggling to subdue his emotional struggles and relieve his insomnia attends a support group. When he meets Marla, his life seems to get back on track. That is, however, until he meets Tyler and finds himself becoming a part of an underground fight club. The movie consists of many twists and turns, but none are as jaw-dropping as the realisation the audience deduces about the realities of the unnamed man’s situation. In order to make sense of his internalised issues, the unnamed man creates something truly elaborate that provides an interesting climax to the movie that makes you need to watch it a second time around to spot all the details previously overlooked.
1 “After All, I’m Just a Girl, Standing in Front of a Boy, Asking Him to Love Her” – Notting Hill (1999)
In Notting Hill, William Thacker is a pretty unsuccessful store owner, but then has a bout of luck in meeting Anna Scott. She’s a well-known, beautiful actress, and she just so happens to walk into his very bookstore. Nothing notable happens until they bump into each other a second time, and due to an orange juice mishap, William invites Anna back to his apartment. The two become closer over the pursuing months, however, their budding relationship is far from easy.
Considered to be one of the most romantic lines in cinema history, Anna Scott manages to mess things up and begs William for a second chance. She looks him dead in the eyes and says, “after all, I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her’. It gets the job done and the two manage to reconcile before the movie’s end.