Funny: Back to School

  • Everybody gets at least one. Unlike many modern comedians, Dangerfield was more than willing to let other people be funny in his movies.
  • The 'Tall & Fat' commercial shown at the beginning, mercilessly mocking the entire concept of body image. With Thornton closing "If you wanna look thin, you hang around fat people!"
    Thornton (turning off the ad): So whadda ya think, Lou?
    Lou: You could lose a few pounds.
    Thornton (shaking his head): I gotta hire bigger actors...
  • The entire dinner party sequence, early in the film.
    • In particular, when Thornton's wife introduces him to a couple friends; Thornton is busy eating a sandwich, but reluctantly agrees to shake their hands. But not before spitting out some food onto the hand he's shaking them with first.
  • "You're '''perfect!'''"
  • When Thornton first meets with Dean Martin, Thornton has his feet on the chair next to him. Martin asks him, "Comfy?" Thornton then moves his feet from the chair to Martin's desk.
  • Thornton: "I hereby dedicate this building to... myself!" (shovels dirt into Barbay's nearby car)
  • Thornton, to the college store clerk: "I'd like to tame YOUR shrew!"
  • Thornton totally schooling Dr. Barbay on his first day:
    Barbay: So, let's start by looking at construction costs of our new factory.
    Melon: What's the product?
    Barbay: That is immaterial for the purposes of our discussion here but if it makes you happy, let's say we're making tape recorders.
    Melon: Tape recorders? Are you kiddin'? The Japs will kill us on the labor costs.
    Barbay: OK, fine. Then let's just say they're widgets.
    Melon: (baffled) What's a widget?
    Barbay: (hoping he's getting the hint) It's a fictional product. It doesn't matter.
    Melon: Doesn't matter. Tell that to the bank.
    Barbay: On the board, you will see a cost analysis for construction of a square-foot facility, which will encompass both factory and office space, and is fully serviced by all utilities, a railroad spur line, and a four-bay shipping dock.
    Melon: Hold it, hold it. Why build? You're better off leasing at a buck and a quarter, a buck and a half a square foot. Take your down payment and put it into CDs, or something else you can roll over every couple of months.
    Barbay: Thank you, Mr. Melon, but we'll be concentrating on finance a little later in the term. For the time being, let's just concentrate on the construction figures, shall we? You'll see the final bottom line requires the factoring in of not just the material and construction costs, but also the architects' fees and the cost of land servicing.
    Melon: Oh, you left out a bunch of stuff.
    Barbay: Oh, really? Like what, for instance?
    Melon: First of all, you have to grease the local politicians for the sudden zoning problems that always come up. Then there's the kickbacks to the carpenters. And if you plan on using any cement in this building, I'm sure the teamsters would like to have a little chat with you, and that'll cost you. Don't forget a little something for the building inspectors. There's the long-term costs, such as waste disposal. I don't know if you're familiar with who runs that business, but I assure you it's not the Boy Scouts.
    Barbay: That will be quite enough, Mr. Melon. Maybe bribes and kickbacks and Mafia payoffs are how you do business, but they are not part of the legitimate business world. And they're certainly not part of anything I'm teaching in this class. Do I make myself clear?
    Melon: Sorry. Just trying to help, that's all.
    Bombay: Now, notwithstanding Mr. Melon's input... the next question for us is: Where to build our factory?
    Melon: How about Fantasyland?
    (class laughs)
  • In Professor Terguson's class, when Terguson (Sam Kinison) chews out and screams at someone who answers his question about the Vietnam War:
    Thornton: Hey professor, take it easy, these kids, they were in grade school at the time! And me, heh, I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover!
    Terguson: Weeeeell, I didn't know you wanted to join the discussion, Mr. Helper! But since you want to help, maybe you can help me. You remember that thing we had about thirty years ago called the Korean conflict? And how we failed to achieve victory? How come we didn't cross the 38th parallel and push those rice-eaters back to the Great Wall of China? (rips a desk out) Then take the fucking wall apart brick by brick and nuke them back into the fucking stone age forever? Tell me why! How come? SAY IT! SAY IT!
    Thornton: All right. I'll say it. 'Cause Truman was too much of a pussy wimp to let MacArthur go in there and blow out those Commie bastards!
    Terguson: (creepy smile) Good answer. Good answer. I like the way you think. I'm gonna be watching you.
    Thornton: (chuckles) Good teacher. He really seems to care. About what, I have no idea.
  • "I know you! You're that guy from those obnoxious commercials! You're 'Tall & Fat'!" "Oh, yeah? Well, you're short and ugly. Gimme back that pen!"
  • "Why don't you call me some time when you have no class?"
  • Thornton walking through the college campus wearing a bathrobe.
    Jason: They have lockers, you could've changed here.
    Thornton: I don't change in front of guys. I mean, the next thing you know, you're showering with the fellas. And the next thing you know, you're pinned to a sophomore named Chip.
  • At swim class, Jason does a nice flip into a dive, which gets no reaction from anybody. Soon after, Thornton does a simple front flip into a pencil dive; when he surfaces, everyone is applauding and cheering. Dude, Where's My Respect? indeed.
  • "I never get physical; I get upset. And when I get upset... (indicates Lou) He gets physical." (Lou turns to the jocks and crushes a metal napkin holder with his hand)
  • The fake-out where it looks like Thornton is receiving oral sex from Diane, but the camera pulls back to reveal he's just getting a leg massage in his dorm room.
  • Thornton hires Kurt Vonnegut to write his paper on Vonnegut... and the paper gets an F. Also notable for an Offscreen Moment of Funny: "Fuck me? Well, fuck you!" That's right, Kurt Vonnegut dropped an F-bomb on Thornton over the phone, and it's a shame the audience never gets to hear it.
  • Outside the dorms, Barbay is appalled at the midterms party, and a college guy (who's very drunk) approaches him:
    Guy: (slurring) The Melon man is throwing the greatest party of all time! The whole world is there. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my whole life! (moments later, the guy vomits nearby)
    • The cops arrive at the dorms, and Barbay is grateful that somebody besides him has a sense of outrage. But it turns out the cops are just there to deliver cases of beer.
  • "What's a bath without bubbles? Hey Bubbles, get over here!"
    • (pouring champagne) Babe: "Say when..." Thornton: "Right after this drink!"
  • "Is the work you turned in your own?" "...I can't lie to you, Dean Martin. (Beat) ...Yes it is."
  • Dr. Barbay's portion of the exam for Thornton:
    Barbay: I have only one question for Mr. Melon...
    (Thornton looks relieved; Beat)
    Barbay: ...In 27 parts.
    Thornton: (under breath) I'd like to break him into 27 parts.
    Barbay: Excuse me?
    Thornton: No, nothin', nothin'.
    Barbay: Discuss the foundations of modern global business systems. Part one: Define and differentiate the three economic philosophies of capitalism, socialism, and communism, as pertains to: A) Management fundamentals; B) organizing and staffing; C) labor management; and D) production and operations. (flips to next notecard) Part two... Are you getting all this, Mr. Melon?
    Thornton: Yeah. It's a piece of cake.
    • Later, as Thornton is answering the questions:
    Thornton: (exhausted) In response to Roman numeral 27, section three, part two, of subset D of the question, the answer is...
    Martin: Mr. Melon?
    (Thornton is glassy-eyed and staring into space)
    Martin: Mr. Melon?
    Terguson: Hey, relax. This man's been put under a lot of pressure. Let's take it easy on him. Say it! SAY IT!!!
    Thornton: The answer is... four??
    Barbay: (opens his mouth, ready to say "wrong", but is disappointed that his answer is...) ...Right.
    • When it comes time for Diane's test, Thornton is ready to throw in the towel: "Hold it, that's it. I can't take it no more. I feel like I just gave birth... to an accountant!"
  • When Chas fakes a cramp in the climax:
    Chas: (to coach) I have got a really bad cramp. I've been having bad cramps all week.
    Jason: It's probably menstrual.
    Chas: Screw you, Melon!
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