Few scenes in movies are as satisfying as a character confronting a rule.
Whether they’re recalling what not to do (woo, callback!), facing the consequences of breaking the rule (woo, other callback!) or learning something deeper by embracing it (not really a callback, but still cool!), guidelines keep a movie grounded, however outlandish, silly or terrifying they may be. Hearing someone vocally tell another person what they can or can not do is something we can all relate to – especially if you have daddy issues.
I’m sorry, Dad. I know I wasn’t supposed to eat that piece of cake!
Anyway, here are some of the best rules that have been vocally declared in the movie. Read them all at once. Or else.
1. Don’t Cross the Streams – Ghostbusters
Imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Total protonic reversal – it smarts!
Egon spits out plenty of scientific jargon, but when he warns his fellow Ghostbusters not to let their proton pack beams get too cozy with one another, he describes the probable devastation in terms even Venkman can understand. A simple “don’t do it” doesn’t suffice. The rule requires instilling the team with the fear of God (or the Big Bang, depending on your beliefs).
2. Karate Is for Defense – Karate Kid
Mr. Miyagi teaches Daniel-san many lessons during their training montages, but none as important as only using car waxing for the purpose of protection. If Daniel were to use his karate chop action in an aggressive manner, he’d be like that douchebag Johnny from Cobra Kai, and nobody likes Johnny from Cobra Kai.
3. Coffee Is for Closers Only – Glengarry Glen Ross
The paradox of real estate: in order to have the energy to survive the business, to make the calls, to sell the houses, a good agent needs his coffee. But alas, the only people sipping stiff cups of joe are the ones who seal the deal in the first place.
Shelley Levene learns this rule the hard way, in the form of a verbal ass-kicking by Alec Baldwin’s Mamet-spewing Blake. Thankfully, tea is still an option.
4. You Do Not Talk About Fight Club – Fight Club
Tylder Durden stresses the importance of this mandate by not only making it the first rule of his underground boxing group, but also the second rule as well. The repetition certainly gives the line additional significance thanks to Durden’s commanding emphasis, but he’s not a badass just for making up two rules that are exactly the same. It’s the fact that he’s technically breaking them that wows us. What a rebel.
5. Rule #2: Double Tap – Zombieland
Keeping a mental check list of how to handle zombies during the apocalypse is a smart idea. Establishing 32 self-imposed commandments that you frequently mutter out loud to yourself…is neurotic.
Mental health issues aside, Columbus keeps himself alive by strictly following his learned lessons, including the always helpful Double Tap. I’m sure shooting two bullets into his former-therapist-now-zombie is a lot more relieving than talking through his problems.
6. Don’t Have Sex – Scream
No wonder so many teenagers die in scary movies; the requirements for staying safe are ludicrous!
True to the genre, Randy decides the perfect time to announce the rules of surviving a horror film is in the middle of a house party full of rowdy, drunken teenagers. Randy tells the hormonal high schoolers that if they want to live, they must absolutely abstain from sex. This is the moment Randy was revealed to be the killer…of the mood.
7. No Touching of the Hair or Face – Anchorman
News anchors love a good fight, but one thing they don’t do is play dirty. Ron Burgundy, armed with a chair leg, steps into the center of his ready-to-brawl competitors and lays down the singular rule of the San Diego turf war: no damaging the goods. No amount of Sex Panther can make up for a broken nose or unkempt hair.
8. There Are No Rules – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
A great way to gain the upper hand on a bad guy is to ask questions with obvious answers. An unstructured spat like a knife fight obviously doesn’t have any rules (okay, you do need to bring a knife), but Butch asks anyway, giving him the opportunity to kick Harvey Logan in the balls. Luckily it wasn’t a ball-kicking fight, which does have one rule: no knifing people.
Which rules do you live by?
Final Rule: Read other number-based features