Top 100 American Movie Quotes of the 21st Century: #98

The actor:Vin Diesel
The character:Groot
The film:Guardians of the Galaxy
The quote:“I am Groot.”

G- Groovy as heck
R- Raccoon’s friend
O- Oh so very tall
O- Odoriferous, in a pleasing woody way
T- Tree

Thanks to this acrostic, I now have “how does groot smell” in my search history. The night is dark and full of terrors.

This is not my favorite line from Guardians of the Galaxy. I doubt very much that this is anyone’s favorite line from Guardians of the Galaxy. People who enjoy jokes about people not understanding idioms will flip for Gamora’s “Who put the sticks up their butts?” or Drax’s “Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are far too fast.” People who like Maui’s bit in Moana about Moana being a princess will also enjoy Rocket’s “We’re all standing now, bunch of jackasses standing in a circle.” My personal favorite, another setup-punchline bit that I’m keeping out of this for purity’s sake, is the one where Rocket asks Quill why he wants to save an uncaring galaxy anyway. “Because I’m one of the idiots that lives in it!” Quill responds, very rationally and very loudly.

If this is the space opera for Zoomers that Star Wars was for Gen Xers, then Groot is their Chewbacca.

Not that Groot is as funny or delightful as Chewie, who has always been shockingly unfrightening for a large hairy growling monster., but he serves a similar purpose for Zoomer Han Solo…Rocket Raccoon. The element of surprise is always on Rocket’s side when Groot is involved, because it’s impossible to predict exactly what the joke will end up being. Thus the “I am Groot” that we get after Quill pulls a success rate out of his butt (“twelve percent”). So what if it’s better than “eleven percent,” Rocket shouts at Groot.

“I am Groot” is a great catchphrase, too, something that tonally takes on the tone of a mantra rather than the tone of an introduction over the course of the film. (For that reason, I was sort of tempted to pull an “I am Groot” not from Guardians but from Guardians 2…I like Baby Groot because he is baby kyewt.) Because this is a movie for children, the line is eventually perverted into something stinky and mawkish by the end; “We are Groot” is such a copout even for a Marvel movie. “I am Groot,” on the other hand, is the kind of phrase that means exactly what it needs to mean at any moment, a statement which is never so impolite as to pretend profundity.

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