Top 100 American Movie Quotes of the 21st Century: #71

The actor:Russell Crowe
The character:Jack Aubrey
The film:Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
The quote:“There! I have you! You’re completely dished! Do you not know that in the service, you must choose the lesser of two weevils?”

Lawrence of Arabia is frequently cited as not having any women in it, which is not exactly true. They are there in a single scene (I know, I get it), where there’s a brief shot of them and you can hear their voices throughout. None of them are named. Master and Commander, unless you’re going to get real metaphorical and start talking about how the ship is the woman in this film (I know, I get it), genuinely doesn’t have any gals hanging around. It’s much too easy to overstate how much this movie is part of the dudes rock canon, guys being bros, male bonding, homosocial relationships.

Master and Commander is about Aubrey and Maturin, and it’s about the officers and the way they interact, and it’s about the junior officers and the way they relate to one another and to their betters, and it’s about the regular sailors and their struggles and grievances and triumphs. If the movie were about one of those things primarily, then I think I’d accept the “dudes rock” stuff in the way that I accept it for, say, Ocean’s Eleven or Gladiator or Speed. (No women doth protest too much; one woman makes a dude rock.) But this is not about men who are roughly equals with one another in this confined space, like Keanu Reeves is on the same level as Jeff Daniels or the guys in the Ocean’s crew all work in tandem or the gladiators are all slaves. This is about men who coexist together and are constantly forced against men above them or below them. This is a film about rank, order, hierarchy much more than this is a film about male pals.

With all of that said…this is one heckuva dad joke. The glee that Aubrey fails to restrain while he drops the punchline slays. (It’s like the one time I managed to get someone to ask me in person what “bofa” meant, and it took me about ten seconds to get myself together before I could say the counter-password.) The way that the rest of the officers at tables lose their minds at this joke, which, again, is very bad, is wonderful. Maturin is more bothered by getting got by this “two weevils” bit than he will be later in the film when someone accidentally shoots him. There he was, just doing his whole entomology thing, showing off a little…and the polymath gets got.

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