The results of Slate'saction-movie one-liner contest.

Reviews of the latest films.
July 6 2007 6:45 PM

Et Tu, Babycakes

The results of Slate'saction-movie one-liner contest.

Wow, you people are really keen to blow someone away, aren't you? Apparently a lot of you have been thinking about this for years, composing flinty, menacing dialogue for your fantasy shootout sequences. You frighten me deeply. But you also crack me up. From the many hundreds of entries in the fake action-movie one-liner contest, here are a few favorites—and because contests have to have winners, a first prize selected from the short list below. I've identified entrants as they identified themselves in their e-mails, whether by first name, last name, or Fray handle.

Perhaps in tribute to Live Free or Die Hard, which imagines a terror attack waged via the Internet, several readers incorporated new media into their catchphrases. From Demolicious: "Consider this negative eBay feedback." Michael Martin provides a variation on the theme with "Myspace friend add … denied!"

Dana Stevens Dana Stevens

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.


Calaphin captures the latent jingoism of the genre with "Welcome to America, douche bag." And Chris Larson taps into a related action trope—the comeuppance of the pretentious European bad guy—with "You shouldn't have said shed-yul, asshole."

Some submissions sounded a bit more like they could belong in a real movie script. You could almost hear John McClane capping off a hair-raising car chase with Greg Murphy's deadpan: "It's OK, it's a rental." Then there was Bob Mellin's legitimately scary "Blink, and you'll die in the dark"—though those sound more like the words of a sadistic serial killer than an upstanding action hero. Christy Quirk, writing from Istanbul, Turkey, plucks a perfectly credible catchphrase from the mouth of our commander in chief: "I'm the decider."

In the puzzling-yet-strangely-compelling category, Brian Charles Mackinson coins a threat that sounds like a poorly translated subtitle from a grade-Z martial-arts movie: "My karate will disintegrate your genitals." C.F. Harkins imagines a hero's last words to his nemesis as these: "I'm canceling your elocutionist's appointment." Matthew Durand's protagonist is slightly more straightforward: "Your ass is about to get its own ass handed to it." And Steven Hutchins goes meta (and just plain weird) with "Dénouement-ized, man-kisser!"

Joe Martin of Roseburg, Ore., cuts to the chase with "Less talk, more dying," and Mike Spradlin Jr. takes the prize for pithiness with the sprightly "Toodles!" (I particularly like imagining that one in the voice of Steven Seagal.)

Many responses hewed to the classic one-liner formula: familiar phrase-plus-insult (or ironically employed term of endearment). This is the one-two combo presaged by Dirty Harry's "Do ya feel lucky, punk?" and immortalized by Die Hard's "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker." Nate Rulf of Philadelphia contributed the elegant "Et tu, babycakes." Slate's Timothy Noah, who pondered the rhetoric of the one-liner in the Fray, deserves a mention for his "Veni, vidi, vici, sugarplum," but his entry remains out of competition due to conflict of interest. There were countless amusing variants on this theme, but for the most unlikely combo of highfalutin reference and random put-down, first prize goes to John Wolf for "Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest, pissant."

John, if you'll send me your mailing address, I'll send you your prize: A signed copy of Eric Lichtenfeld's book Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie. And rest assured I'll be looking for the flimsiest excuse to hold another reader contest. Until then, auf Wiedersehen, cocksuckers.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.