Discover more from Discourse Blog
We Don't Talk Enough About: Christopher Walken Saying 'Good For You'
Good FOR you.
There are two types of people in this world:
Those who hear someone say "good for you" and think nothing of it beyond a general sense of satisfaction at receiving a compliment.
Those who hear someone say "good for you" and immediately picture Christopher Walken, dressed in like an itinerant drifter, delivering one of the greatest line reads in modern cinema.
I am firmly in the latter camp.
I'll admit that I've never seen the film this clip is from — and, from what I understand, most other people haven't either. Despite starring both Ben Stiller and Jack Black at the height of their Hollywood prowess, 2004's Envy was a massive flop, earning back less than half of its $40 million budget, and securing just one award nomination: a Razzie for "Worst Actor," which Stiller ultimately lost to George W. Bush's star turn in Fahrenheit 9/11.
Why was the movie such a dud? It might have something to do with the fact that, per a Wikipedia summary I just read, it's a feature length film about a guy who gets rich inventing a spray that makes dog shit disappear. Nevertheless, even though I've never actually seen the movie, and really only took the minimal time and effort to figure out what it's about for the purpose of writing this blog, that four-second clip has been seared into my brain for years. It's become a part of me. Inside some people are two wolves? Inside me is Christopher Walken repeating "good FOR you." This is just how I've lived since I first saw the scene (where? How? I have no idea. High in college, maybe) and I think we don't talk enough about it.
Let me break down why the simple recitation of "good for you" is so meaningful to me.
"Good for you, man." — Here we have the basic framing and set up. I don't know why the "man" in question (I think it's Ben Stiller, but honestly that's not important) is being congratulated, but he's evidently done something worth commending, and who better to do so than Christopher Walken, looking like he left his bindle stick and can of beans back at the railyard? Color me intrigued.
"GOOD for you." — Oh-HO. The stakes have been raised. Whatever congratulations were initially called for are evidently important enough to bear not only repeating, but accentuation! It's not just "good," it's "GOOD." How deep does this rabbit hole go?
"Good FOR you (?)" — And here we are at the crux of the matter. This is Walken at his Walken-ist. This is Walken doing an impression of someone doing an impression of him. Simply by stressing the preposition, the whole mood has shifted, and we find ourselves in strange new territory. Who talks like this? Why is there the faintest hint of a question at the end of this repetition? Are these congratulations really as benevolent as they seem? In just three small words, a world of unsettling possibilities has opened up, whether we're ready for them or not.
To say I have spent years haunted by these four words, repeated and iterated upon just three times, would be an understatement. At this point in my life, they've become a reflex for me. Someone says "good for you" and my brain cannot help but respond "good FOR you" — sometimes internally, and sometimes, when I'm with friends and family who have grown to tolerate my insufferable eccentricities, aloud. Do they know what I'm talking about? Probably not. Do I care? Absolutely not.
I doubt I'll ever actually watch Envy. Maybe I'll find it while channel-flipping and resign myself to giving it a shot. Unlikely, but never say never, I guess. Still, I don't need to see the rest of the film. These four seconds (were they in a trailer? Have I actually seen this movie and wiped it from memory? I honestly don't know!) have sustained me for more than a decade, and will only worm their way deeper and deeper into my frontal lobe the older I get. I can only hope that, if I do my job as a parent correctly, my children will be repeating "good FOR you" long after I'm gone, even if they have no idea why or where it came from.