The preeminent film in all things excess, The Wolf of Wall Street, fittingly sets the world record for the highest f-bomb count in any major motion picture. The ambivalently crafted Scorsese picture showcased an irreverent portrayal of notorious, real life Wall Street trader Jordan Belfor, stirring up controversy—in small part—due to the profanity. A staggering 569 f-bombs engulfed the 180 minute run time, putting the cursing count at 2.81 uses per minute. Just imagine the fucks per minute if Scorsese would have edited the flick.
“Fuck” truly may be the single greatest word in the English language. But when the four letter offender gets diluted in a pool of excess expletives, it reduces the value of each. Scorsese is no stranger to profanity-ridden films; Casino ropes in 422 f-bombs, while Goodfellas is close behind with 400. Neither made my final cut. If you want a word to have impact, use it sparingly—or well.
In honor of this record breaking swear-fest, I’m counting down the list of my top 16 greatest f-bombs in film.
16. Snakes on a Plane (2006)
“I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” –Neville Flynn
This Saturday Night Live caliber sketch turned feature length film has always bewildered me. It’s neither scary nor funny; Snakes on a Plane is ridiculous, stupid, and—somehow—a cult classic. I would bet that this was the only sentence spoken by any American male age 16-25 in the entirety of the year 2006. But I’ll give this campy comedy a spot mostly because I’m impressed that an eight-year-old throwaway movie is quoted with the frequency it is.
15. Closer (2004)
“That’s the spirit. Thank you. Thank you for your honesty. Now fuck off and die, you fucked up slag.” –Larry
I’ve seen Closer a handful of times and after each repeat viewing, I’m shocked to find one of the dirtiest, sexiest of movies contains no sex scenes at all. Each of the four main characters is fucked up, getting fucked, fucking, being fucked over, and none misses a beat in the most wonderfully vulgar, profanity-ridden dramas in recent history. The bastards all deserve each other, but Larry (Clive Owen) takes the cake as the most spiteful and twisted in the bunch. While I can’t imagine anyone would be particularly tactful in the midst of uncovering a spouse’s affair, Larry prods his wife for explicit details of her sexual encounters. In return for her candor, he glares, sizing her up one last time, and delivers one of my favorite blows (no pun intended) of the film.
14. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Car Rental Agent: [cheerfully] Welcome to Marathon, may I help you?
Car Rental Agent: How may I help you?
Neal: You can start by wiping that fucking dumb-ass smile off your rosey, fucking, cheeks! And you can give me a fucking automobile: a fucking Datsun, a fucking Toyota, a fucking Mustang, a fucking Buick! Four fucking wheels and a seat!
Car Rental Agent: I really don’t care for the way you’re speaking to me.
Neal: And I really don’t care for the way your company left me in the middle of fucking nowhere with fucking keys to a fucking car that isn’t fucking there. And I really didn’t care to fucking walk, down a fucking highway, and across a fucking runway to get back here to have you smile in my fucking face. I want a fucking car RIGHT FUCKING NOW!
Car Rental Agent: May I see your rental agreement?
Neal: I threw it away.
Car Rental Agent: Oh boy.
Neal: Oh boy, what?
Car Rental Agent: You’re fucked!
I get that Planes, Trains & Automobiles provides a potentially hypocritical claim for the list. In the one minute exchange between Neal (Steve Martin) and the rental car agent, an astonishing 18 f-bombs were dropped. But the wonder in this exchange is the “how many times have I wished I could do that” factor combined with the “I can’t believe he actually did that” component. Martin delivers 17 of 18 of the unexpected offensive utterances in the absolute definition of a public place. It’s not his profanity infused tirade that makes the scene, but that two line retort that cinched it.
13. Die Hard (1988)
“Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.” –John McClane
Ah, Die Hard. Begrudgingly, I admit it is one of the most iconic movie one liners of all time. John McClane’s battle cry has the staying power few other catchphrases have managed to accomplish. As “just another American cowboy,” Bruce Willis brings John McClane to life with a unique, better brand of humor than his more forgettable action hero contemporaries. His skillful adaptation of Roy Roger’s (technically Bing Crosby’s) line, (what I wouldn’t do to hear Rogers or Crosby scream “motherfucker” after dismembering the bad guy…) is a staple in the series, infusing the right blend of humor and bad-assery. Die Hard got one thing right: the hero of the story always gets the last word. And the last word should always be “motherfucker.”
12. Skyfall (2012)
M: I fucked this up, didn’t I?
James Bond: No. You did your job.
As the first f-bomb to grace the Bond flicks, this one could not have been more perfectly executed. Had M been played by anyone other than fuckin’ Dame Judi Dench, I may have not been quite so enthralled by this moment. Herein lies a case of a most well-engineered, unexpected f-bomb impeccably aligned to the argument that less is indeed more. I have never and surely will never hear a classier “fuck” spoken.
11. Zombieland (2009)
“Goddamn it, Bill fucking Murray! I had to get that out. I don’t mean to gush. This is so surreal. I mean, you probably get this all the time. Maybe not lately, but I’m such a huge fan of yours. You know, I swear, I’ve seen every one of your movies a million times. I even loved your dramatic roles and just everything. Six people left in the world and one of them is Bill fucking Murray. I know that’s not your middle name. I’ve been watching you since I was like…since I could masturbate. I mean, not that they’re connected.” – Tallahassee
Maybe it’s because I love Woody Harrelson. Maybe it’s because I love Bill Fucking Murray. But this one goes into fantasy territory. I’m rooting for the fucking zombie apocalypse if it gives me a shot at smoking pot with Bill Murray and reenacting Ghost Busters in his fucking mansion. You’re a lying shit if you wouldn’t claim the same. But honestly, by this point, isn’t his name actually Bill Fucking Murray?
10. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy (2004)
“Go fuck yourself, San Diego.” –Ron Burgandy
If Ron Burgandy (Will Ferrell) says it about San Diego, everyone else does, too…even a decade later. His usual, catchy (and true, I might add) sound off is still the biggest take away from the flick, but the classy whale’s vagina took a hit in Burgandy’s oblivious, accidental blunder. This f-bomb in a movie with otherwise mild language is thrust upon a perfectly unsuspecting audience. Of course in the extended scene, he follows it up with the equally delightful, “Don’t you know I would never say the word ‘fuck’? I would never fucking ever fucking say that! Ever. Fuck!” While I love the clarification, there is beauty is in the simplicity of the sole f-bomb.
9. The Usual Suspects (1995)
Cop: Number 1, step forward.
Hockney: Hand me the keys, you fucking cocksucker.
Cop: Number 2, step forward.
McManus: Give me the fucking keys, you fucking cocksucking motherfucker, aaarrrghh.
Cop: Knock it off. Get back. Number 3, step forward.
Fenster: [laughing] Hand me the keys, you cocksucker.
Cop: In English, please?
Fenster: Excuse me?
Cop: In English.
Fenster: Hand me the fucking keys, you cocksucker, whatdafa?
First of all, it’s a great fucking line. But when Benicio Del Toro slurs, mumbles, and ensures everyone (even Kevin Spacey) cracks up at his effortless delivery, he steals the scene. Not often do you see such a perfect instance of profanity delightfully and charismatically expelled from multiple characters.
8. The Wedding Singer (1998)
“But it all was bullshit. / It was a goddamn joke / And when I think of you, Linda / I hope you fucking choke.” –Robbie Hart
Ah, nothing’s better than a good love song. Except maybe a “fuck you for standing me up at the alter and subsequently ruining my career, bitch” song. A well-placed, unexpected f-bomb in an otherwise tame romantic comedy edges it out over other f-bomb ridden song favorite contenders I mulled over like Jay and Silent Bob’s “Jay’s Rap” and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut’s “Uncle Fucker.” The oft-unfunny Adam Sandler deserves credit where credit’s due: The Wedding Singer ranks up there on the short list of his least offensive—dare I say likeable—flicks. He secures this spot because I’m not embarrassed to admit that I like this movie and love this song. It’s a great feat considering each time I’m subjected to one of his movies I’m chanting “Somebody kill me please. / I’m on my knees, pretty, pretty please / Kill me. / I want to die. / Put a bullet in my heeeeaaaad…”
7. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
“Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on, and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.” –Clark Griswold
Nothing quite like the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed frenzy of trying to salvage a holiday gone awry. Clark Griswold is the king of unrealistic, self-imposed holiday expectations, and in this crazed plea, he’s going to save this shit—or sink the fucking proverbial ship. This breakdown is second only to his later f-bomb-less tirade over his boss, a “cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit.” For such an endearing, simple character, Clark Griswold “curses” flawlessly.
6. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
In this gut-wrenching, primal scream, our token misanthropic teen breaks his nine month vow of silence after discovering he’s not a candidate for his dream career as a jet pilot, making this the most heartbreaking “fuck” on the list. The seemingly simplest line is packed with more pure, unadulterated agony than any other. This is the unfair “fuck”—the “fuck” that strikes a chord with our former teenage selves that reminds us of our first taste of the arbitrary negligence the universe often has for our plans.
5. A Christmas Story (1983)
Ralphie: Oooh fuuudge!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Only I didn’t say “Fudge.” I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!
Mr. Parker: [stunned] What did you say?
Ralphie: Uh, um…
Fuck this movie. I mean, I love it. But fuck this. A Christmas Story delivers perhaps the single greatest f-bomb that never was. Though the four letter word never actually graced the screen (c’mon, assholes. What do you expect?—family film, here), it has become one of the most iconic scenes in the classic Christmas movie. Of course this means for more years of my childhood than I care to divulge, I believed the word “fudge” to be the f word. No, no resentment here. But for fuck’s sake, one of my sadistic parents could have bothered to explain that one. (Sorry for all the swearing, Mom. Thanks for giving me life. Love you.)
4. Donnie Darko (2001)
Elizabeth: “You can go suck a fuck.”
Donnie: “Oh, please, tell me, Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a fuck?”
I have to admit that this one ranks, in part, for sentimental reasons. One of the first exchanges between my now-husband and me began with a perfectly executed flirtatious insult (on my part, of course) followed by his biting nod to Donnie Darko’s “go suck a fuck.”* I still don’t exactly know what it means to “go suck a fuck,” but I’m pretty sure I’ve never done it. The movie is twisted and decidedly weird, but this bitter expletive slinging between siblings grants it a moment of relatability. All in all, Donnie Darko misses the mark, but at least it left us with this gem.
*Use caution when telling someone to “go suck a fuck.” Results not typical.
3. In the Loop (2009)
“You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing so I’ll sort that out. You are a boring F, star, star, CUNT!” –Malcolm Tucker
Okay, truth be told, I have never actually seen In the Loop but my brilliantly cursing British brother-in-law highly recommended it. And from what I can see, Malcolm Tucker’s (Peter Capaldi) swearing alone would be worth the watch. There’s something about that Scottish accent and the roll off the tongue fuckery for whom each has been genetically gifted that just gives you this warm, fuzzy I’d-actually-enjoy-this-man-telling-me-to-fuck-off kinda feeling. The profanity-laced spiels Malcolm spouts throughout are nothing compared to this scene; he delivers the most endearing bit of contrived self-censorship and the most perfect spelling of “fuck” I’ve ever come across.
2. 25th Hour (2002)
“ Yeah, fuck you, too. Fuck me? Fuck you! Fuck you and this whole city and everyone in it. Fuck the panhandlers, grubbing for money, and smiling at me behind my back. Fuck the squeegee men dirtying up the clean windshield of my car – get a fucking job! Fuck the Sikhs and the Pakistanis bombing down the avenues in decrepit cabs, curry steaming out their pores stinking up my day. Terrorists in fucking training. SLOW THE FUCK DOWN! Fuck the Chelsea boys with their waxed chests and pumped-up biceps. Going down on each other in my parks and on my piers, jingling their dicks on my Channel 35. Fuck the Korean grocers with their pyramids of overpriced fruit and their tulips and roses wrapped in plastic. Ten years in the country, still no speaky English? Fuck the Russians in Brighton Beach. Mobster thugs sitting in cafés, sipping tea in little glasses, sugar cubes between their teeth. Wheelin’ and dealin’ and schemin’. Go back where you fucking came from! Fuck the black-hatted Chassidim, strolling up and down 47th street in their dirty gabardine with their dandruff. Selling South African apartheid diamonds! Fuck the Wall Street brokers. Self-styled masters of the universe. Michael Douglas, Gordon Gekko wannabe mother fuckers, figuring out new ways to rob hard working people blind. Send those Enron assholes to jail for FUCKING LIFE! You think Bush and Cheney didn’t know about that shit? Give me a fucking break! Tyco! Worldcom! Fuck the Puerto Ricans. Twenty to a car, swelling up the welfare rolls, worst fuckin’ parade in the city. And don’t even get me started on the Dom-in-i-cans, ’cause they make the Puerto Ricans look good. Fuck the Bensonhurst Italians with their pomaded hair, their nylon warm-up suits, their St. Anthony medallions, swinging their Jason Giambi Louisville Slugger baseball bats, trying to audition for “The Sopranos.” Fuck the Upper East Side wives with their Hermès scarves and their fifty-dollar Balducci artichokes. Overfed faces getting pulled and lifted and stretched, all taut and shiny. You’re not fooling anybody, sweetheart! Fuck the uptown brothers. They never pass the ball, they don’t want to play defense, they take five steps on every lay-up to the hoop. And then they want to turn around and blame everything on the white man. Slavery ended one hundred and thirty seven years ago. Move the fuck on! Fuck the corrupt cops with their anus-violating plungers and their 41 shots, standing behind a blue wall of silence. You betray our trust! Fuck the priests who put their hands down some innocent child’s pants. Fuck the church that protects them, delivering us into evil. And while you’re at it, fuck J.C.! He got off easy! A day on the cross, a weekend in hell, and all the hallelujahs of the legioned angels for eternity! Try seven years in fuckin’ Otisville, J.! Fuck Osama Bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and backward-ass cave-dwelling fundamentalist assholes everywhere. On the names of innocent thousands murdered, I pray you spend the rest of eternity with your seventy-two whores roasting in a jet-fuel fire in hell. You towel-headed camel jockeys can kiss my royal Irish ass! Fuck Jacob Elinsky. Whining malcontent. Fuck Francis Xavier Slaughtery my best friend, judging me while he stares at my girlfriend’s ass. Fuck Naturelle Riviera, I gave her my trust and she stabbed me in the back, sold me up the river, fucking bitch. Fuck my father with his endless grief, standing behind that bar sipping on club sodas, selling whisky to firemen, and cheering the Bronx Bombers. Fuck this whole city and everyone in it. From the row-houses of Astoria to the penthouses on Park Avenue, from the projects in the Bronx to the lofts in Soho. From the tenements in Alphabet City to the brownstones in Park Slope to the split-levels in Staten Island. Let an earthquake crumble it, let the fires rage, let it burn to fucking ash and then let the waters rise and submerge this whole rat-infested place.No. No, fuck you, Montgomery Brogan. You had it all, and you threw it away, you dumb fuck!” –Monty Brogan
Get through that one? Outwardly, sure, it breaks my “quality over quantity” rule. But not fucking at all, really. My God. Everything about this is just beautiful. Perhaps I have a bit of a hard on for Edward Norton. He can do no wrong in my eyes. (And when he has done wrong, I’ve made sure to not remember.) With the concentration and reflection only a looming seven year prison sentence can offer, Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) gives us an extraordinary glimpse into the musings of a man losing everything. The film serves as a brilliant, endless exercise of what it is to watch a person implode—until this scene. Norton’s five minute mirror monologue is flawlessly executed. In the only scene where he loses his composure, Monty’s heightened sense of awareness of everything and everyone on the last day of his life as he knows it, leaves him realizing the biggest “fuck you” belongs to him. Who hasn’t been there?
1. I Heart Huckabees (2004)
“Motherfucking cocksucker motherfucking shit fucker what am I doing? What am I doing? I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m doing the best that I can. I know that’s all I can ask of myself. Is that good enough? Is my work doing any good? Is anybody paying attention? Is it hopeless to try and change things? The African guy is a sign, right? Because if he isn’t, than nothing in this world makes any sense to me. I’m fucked! Maybe I should quit. Don’t quit! Maybe I should just fucking quit. Don’t fucking quit! I don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to fucking do anymore! Fucker! Fuck shit!” –Albert Markovski
I’d need my own existential detectives to navigate this clusterfuck of a film, but this—this opening scene—resonated with me in the first viewing. The rest of the movie serves as an exercise of tolerating a work that’s seemingly designed to be intolerable. On paper, this is my perfect movie. In reality, it read as bad sex—distract yourself until it’s over while keeping up the façade that it’s as enthralling as it thinks it is. I constructed my month’s to-do list, lamented faking my way through World Literature 1 without ever having read Son-Jara (who the living fuck needs to read that shit? But, still, I should have.), and picked every split end on my head by the time this monstrosity came to a close. What was I saying? Oh, yeah. What does work about I Heart Huckabees are the singular funny, deliciously relatable moments like Albert Markovski’s stream of consciousness internal monologue. The bastard so accurately, alarmingly raided my own internal monologue that this will be forever one of my favorite scenes in any movie…in spite of the movie not being worth much more than the five dollar bin. The “fuck,” however, is worth the number one spot on this list.
What f-bombs make your list?