Some of the best Steve Martin movies came out in the 1980s and 1990s. After he became known for being “just a wild and crazy guy” in popular standup sets, played major roles in a number of great Saturday Night Live sketches while hosting and starred in his first hit movie with 1979’s The Jerk, the next two decades of Martin’s career was full of hilarious comedies where the actor had memorable moments we’re still quoting 30-some years later.
“I am removing the superfluous buns… George Banks is saying no!!” - Father Of The Bride (1991)
We never looked at hot dog buns the same again after this scene. While in the midst of an onslaught of checks Father Of The Bride’s George Banks has to write for his daughter’s wedding. The dad reaches his breaking point while at the grocery store which has him taking hot dog buns out of the packaging and ranting about the “superfluous buns” to store clerks. His episode lands him in jail as his daughter gets ready to say “I do.”
“Arugula. I haven’t had arugula in six weeks. It’s a veg-eh-te-ble.” - My Blue Heaven (1990)
My Blue Heaven had Steve Martin tapping into the memorable character Vinnie Antonelli, a former mobster inducted into the Witness Protection Program with his wife. One funny line that we haven’t forgotten since its release is how Martin says “arugula” and “vegetable” while stopping for groceries.
“Well, you slime-eating dogs! You scum-sucking pigs! You sons of a motherless goat!” - Three Amigos (1986)
One of the most iconic trios is Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short in the Three Amigos. When the three actors put on the sombreros of silent film stars who become mistaken for real heroes while in a small Mexican village, it was especially entertaining to see Martin’s Lucky Day speak to real bandits like the lead of a movie, unknown to him that he was seriously risking his life.
“Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral” - Housesitter (1992)
Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn teamed up for the first time for 1992’s Housesitter. After Martin’s Newton and Hawn’s Gwen have a one-night stand, she comes back into his life claiming to be his wife. Amidst all the wild antics one particularly laugh-out-loud scene involves Newton improvising to sing a classic Irish-American song to his parents. He’s embarrassed in the moment as he sings to a massive crowd of guests, but his father turns out to be truly moved by the song choice.
“Those aren't pillows!” - Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
One of the best fall movies, that many of us often rewatch during Thanksgiving time, is Planes, Trains & Automobiles, which paired Steve Martin and John Candy as two strangers trying to get home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving Day dinner. When Martin’s Neal and Candy’s Del end up having to share a bed at a motel one night, they wake up in each other’s arms cuddling. When they realize they’ve gotten a little too comfortable by each other’s sides, they quickly perk up in disgust at their intimate moment.
“There's someone out there for everyone. Even if you need a pickaxe, a compass, and night goggles to find them.” - L.A. Story (1991)
Steve Martin penned his own romantic comedy in 1991. L.A. Story had the actor starring as a TV weatherman named Harris who is looking for love in the big city of Los Angeles, California. Amidst his journey, Martin quips about how difficult it can be to strike rich with lasting love by likening that one needs “night goggles” among other things to really find it.
“I am in orbit around you, I am suspended weightless over you like the blue man in the Chagall, hanging over you in a delirious kiss.” - Roxanne (1987)
Steve Martin wrote and starred in a modern retelling of Edmond Rostand's 1897 verse play Cyrano de Bergerac with Roxanne in 1987. The movie had Martin playing Charlie, a fire chief who struggles with having an abnormally long nose and how that affects his burgeoning crush on Daryl Hannah’s Roxanne. This quote from Charlie showcases Martin’s particular charm that moves between romantic and comedic in the balcony scene between him and Roxanne.
“Hey, let's have five. Let's have six. Let's have a dozen and pretend they're donuts!” - Parenthood (1989)
In Ron Howard’s 1989 film, Parenthood, Steve Martin’s Gil struggles with balancing his family life and career. When his wife Karen (Mary Steenburgen) gets pregnant with their fourth child, Gil jokes about their increasing number of children by comparing them to donuts as he processes the overwhelming feelings that come with being a father to more kids.
“Oh, the gas isn't for you Seymour, it's for me. You see, I wanna really enjoy this.” - Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
One of Steve Martin’s wackiest roles of the '80s was certainly as Orin Scrivello, DDS, the sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors. During a standout scene where he is doing dental work on Rick Moranis’ Seymour, he plays into the character’s wild nature, by giving himself the patient’s nitrous oxide.
"I'm one of those nice, quiet Midwestern guys that no one expects to snap, but when we do, watch it, baby!” - The Out-Of-Towners (1999)
Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn starred as lovers for the second time after being in Housesitters together in 1999’s The Out-of-Towners, which is a remake of the Jack Lemmon movie from 1970. In the comedy, Martin and Hawn play a longtime married couple who venture out to New York from their quiet life in Ohio to a disastrous adventure that became more than they bargained for. The above quote really comes at a hilarious moment that encapsulates why The Out-Of-Towners is such a treasure.
“Oh god, they’re dancing!! Take me from this place!!” -Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Another Steve Martin gem is 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which had the actor playing a con artist competing with Michael Caine’s con artist to swindle a heiress out of $50,000. During the con, Martin’s Freddy poses as a Navy veteran who needs the money to walk again. As Freddy lies through his teeth with a backstory to get Janet to pay up, one enduring scene that remains comical is when Freddy starts having a breakdown at the sight of other people dancing.
“Oh great, real bullets. You’re in a lot of trouble mister.” - Three Amigos (1986)
When Steve Martin played Lucky Day in Three Amigos alongside Chevy Chase and Martin Short, the silent actors got into a host of funny circumstances as they became real heroes in a Mexican village. This realization came when they were approached by real bandits right after Lucky noticed that he’d been shot by real bullets. Then he goes over to tell a person who he thinks is an actor to simply say he’s “in a lot of trouble” for bringing real weapons to set.
“At least going to the movies, that’ll be more economical. One child, two seniors, thanks. Kid’s going to love spending his adolescence in a retirement home. At least we won’t hear him come in late.” - Father of the Bride Part II (1995)
After Steve Martin’s George Banks survives the events of Father of the Bride, he and his wife Nina (Diane Keaton) deal with a new surprise when they find out Nina is pregnant at the same time as their daughter Annie. While the couple breaks the news to Annie, George jokes about the implications of being a father as an older man by talking about common things seniors do and pairing them with raising kids.
“Our body? It’s my body, I’m sharing my body with anyone!” - All Of Me (1984)
Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin co-starred in 1984’s All Of Me with tons of humorous moments. In the movie, Tomlin’s millionairess Edwina Cutwater gets her soul transferred into the body of Martin’s Roger. As Roger walks the streets with another person’s consciousness inside him, it makes for some great physical comedy scenes as Martin figures out how to move with a dueling consciousness. In one scene early in their merge, he yells out the above quote in public, which certainly had us giggling.
“And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea: have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!” - Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
Although Steve Martin’s Neal is absolutely miserable for much of Planes, Trains & Automobiles as he becomes mixed up with John Candy’s Del on his prolonged journey home to Chicago to enjoy Thanksgiving with his family, it’s entertaining for us to see him pull his hair out about it. In one great line towards the end of the comedy, Neal expresses his frustrations with Del by commenting on his constant rambling. It’s a sick burn that leads to an emotional scene between the pair that Martin himself still gets tearful about.
"Obvious: Excuse me, is that your nose or did a bus park on your face? Meteorological: everybody take cover, she's going to blow! Fashionable: you know, you could de-emphasize your nose if you wore something larger, like... Wyoming..." - Roxanne (1987)
In Roxanne, Steve Martin’s Charlie combats the onslaught of bullying he gets for having a large nose by presenting a crowd in town with a list of 20 jokes with “big nose.” He categorizes the jokes and lists them on qualities such as “Sympathetic: Aw, what happened? Did your parents lose a bet with God?” or “Inquiring: when you stop to smell the flowers, are they afraid?” It’s not only a funny sequence, it also highlights how mean people can be and an instance of a character standing up to being made fun of and one-upping them with some humor of their own.
“What do you say, Gwen? ‘Gwen’ do you get off... and ‘gwhere’ can we ‘gwo’?” - Housesitters (1992)
In 1992’s Housesitters, Steve Martin’s Newton meets Goldie Hawn’s Gwen, a waitress working at a Hungarian restaurant, and he has a one-night stand with her before she finds him at home and gets his whole town to believe she is his wife. The above quote is a punny play on words Newton does with her name. What makes it funnier later, is the fact that “It’s actually Jessica.”
“That's one thing I've learned about clients. Dead ones don't pay their bills.” - Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982)
In 1982, Steve Martin co-wrote and starred in a neo-noir comedy called Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Martin plays private investigator Rigby Reardon, who is hired to investigate a scientist and cheesemaker’s death. Amidst Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid’s unique style that serves as a parody and homage to the films of the '40s, a classic line like this one showcases the comedy within the black and white film.
”I am the worst case scenario of Thomas Jefferson's dream.” - My Blue Heaven (1990)
Steve Martin’s 1990 film, My Blue Heaven, allowed the comedic actor to have some fun with his Italian mobster character, Vinnie Antonelli, as he befriends Rick Moranis’ Barney Coopersmith. It’s a lot of fun to see Martin tap into Vinnie’s hilarious personality as a person in the Witness Protection Program who is not quite reformed from his life of crime. His comment on being the “worst case scenario” of Thomas Jefferson’s dream is a notable way he makes the best of the character.
“I climbed to the top of a luxury hotel. Not in the elevator, actually on the hotel!” - The Out-Of-Towners (1999)
The antics of The Out-Of-Towners place Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn’s characters in some ridiculous, and even dangerous, situations as the couple deals with problems that come with facing empty nest syndrome. In one occasion in the movie, Henry Clark has to climb along the outside of a luxury hotel as he pokes fun at in another scene later in the movie.
“No Franck, tell Hanck it’s not okay.” - Father Of The Bride (1991)
One of the best parts of Father of The Bride is getting to see George Banks interact with Martin Short’s eccentric wedding planner Franck Eggelhoffer. Throughout the comedy, Franck clearly gets on his nerves, but it’s especially funny when he brings around the caterer named “Hanck” and their rhyming names become the center of a joke whilst George channels his frustrations to Franck just ahead of the wedding taking place.
"That's part of your problem: you haven't seen enough movies. All of life's riddles are answered in the movies." - Grand Canyon (1991)
Steve Martin clearly barely did dramas throughout the '80s and '90s, but he did pivot to one in 1991 with Lawrence Kasdan’s Grand Canyon, which also starred Danny Glover, Kevin Kline and Alfre Woodard. In the movie, Martin plays Davis, a movie producer who rethinks the violence in his action films after he gets shot in the leg. In one sequence in the film, Martin breaks some dramatic tension by saying the above line. Of course not all of “life’s riddles are answered in the movies” so it’s a funny quote from one of the actor’s roles.
“It's not a marriage! It is a simple arrangement in which I will share my house with her and in exchange for which she will argue with me in public and generally make my life incredibly terrible.” - Housesitter (1992)
Steve Martin tees up a very funny take on what marriage is in Housesitters. While in the movie itself, his character of Newton really does accidentally start sharing his house with Goldie Hawn’s Gwen, this quote is funny because it ends with the person he’s talking to responding by saying “that’s marriage!”
“A minute ago I was really confused about life, and grandma came in with her wonderful and affecting rollercoaster story and now everything’s great again.” - Parenthood (1989)
Steve Martin loves a good sarcastic line, and his character in Parenthood, Gil, certainly delivers a zinger after the family’s grandma interrupts a conversation with his wife Karen to tell a rollercoaster story to the quarreling couple. While Karen finds the moment endearing, Gil only gets more frustrated and says this line.
“It is better to be truthful and good than to not.” - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
During con artist comedy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, it’s endlessly entertaining to watch what Steve Martin’s Freddy makes up as he swindles others out of money. One notable quote from Freddy in the movie Martin shared with Michael Caine is this moment that definitely is rather ironic considering he’s literally lying as he says this.
“I can change Gwen. I can live in a make believe world. Hell, I already was. Half the things we tell ourselves are fiction. The only thing I know is real is that I love you.” Housesitter (1992)
At the end of Housesitter, Steve Martin’s Newton actually ends up falling in love with Goldie Hawn’s Gwen even after she made him lie to his friends and family regarding her being his wife. In a sweet, yet very funny, scene at the end, Newton confesses his love to her as she is heading into a bus. After he says these lines, he gets into a whole made-up story of his own to impress her before they kiss and he says “Marry me Gwen, I’m lost without you.”
“Drive carefully. And don't forget to fasten your condom… Seat belt! I meant, I meant seat belt.” - Father Of The Bride (1991)
It can be awkward to meet the parents. Especially when it’s Father of the Bride’s George Banks. In one early scene, Steve Martin’s leading character lets these words slip as his daughter and fiancé are about to drive off.
“I tip everybody, that’s my philosophy. You see actually, it’s not tipping I believe in, it’s overtipping.” - My Blue Heaven (1990)
Gotta love Vinnie Antonelli-isms. Steve Martin’s My Blue Heaven had the former mobster ranting about all sorts of things to Rick Moranis’ Barney, and this was one of them after Barney noticed him even tipping a flight attendant.
“As sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be *the actual* El Guapo!” - Three Amigos (1986)
Steve Martin’s Lucky Day says this funny line in Three Amigos after him and Chevy Chase and Martin Short’s characters, all of which are silent film actors, find themselves defending a Mexican village against bandits. It’s especially inspirational to the situation at hand in the movie because they have to face literal El Guapo.
“You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department.' That would be bad.” - Roxanne (1987)
In Roxanne, Steve Martin’s Charlie plays a fire chief who deals with constant attention and discrimination for his abnormal nose. During the movie, he turns on the comedy when he says he has a “dream.” “Not a big dream” but one he hopes is not “too crazy.” He just wants the people of his town to actually call the fire department when there are fires.
“I used to think a wedding was a simple affair.” - Father of the Bride (1991)
Father Of The Bride’s George Banks beautifully sets up the movie with an opening monologue that occurs during the events of his daughter, Annie’s wedding (which is one of the most beautiful movie weddings, I might add). He speaks directly to the audience as he says while he thought the above words, “he was wrong!” Thus, it becomes the setup of the 1991 comedy.
“Let me close this conversation by saying that you are one unique individual.” - Planes, Trains, Automobiles (1987)
Steve Martin is certainly a unique individual, with a unique career, full of hilarious quotes. As his Planes, Trains & Automobiles partner in crime, John Candy delivers some hilarious quotes of his own in the 1987 movie, Martin’s Neal responds with the actor’s usual snippy charm we all know and love.
Given the actor's many laugh-out-loud quotes from the '80s and '90s, it reminds us of what a talent Steve Martin has been and continues to be. May this list inspire you to revisit one of these classics.