we’re gonna need a bigger X

This originated in the 1975 movie Jaws. The group setting out to kill the great white shark are told, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” [Insert something here about the movement from “you” to “we” because of the asynchronous nature of Internet dialogue…]

Variations on X returned by snowclone.pl include cessna, stoat, blimp, litter box, skillet, blanket, park, rug, roach motel, and console, among many others. People seem most comfortable with single-word Xs, and single-syllable Xs are even better, so that the phrase more easily recalls the Jaws usage.

This is a pretty unidiomatic expression, so it is quite possible for people to use it without making any reference to taking down overlarge sharks. The instances I’ve investigated for context confirming intentional allusion to Jaws do favor it, though this confirmation is likely biased because I searched using “gonna” instead of “going to.”


8 responses to “we’re gonna need a bigger X

  1. I think that the most well-known use of this snow clone would have been in the Taco Bell commercial cross-promoting the Godzilla movie. On seeing the size of Godzilla, the Taco Bell chihuahua announces that he’s “gonna need a bigger box”.

  2. This may also be linked with an ancient joke about two fellas selling watermelons. They drove down to Georgia, bought 100 watermelons for $2 each, and painted a big sign Watermelons $2.50, or 3 for $5.00. After selling out, they counted their money and one said, “Know sumpthin’ Clem? We’re gonna have to git a bigger truck!”

  3. In the movie “Clerks,” from 1994, one of the characters uses the original form (“boat”) but says “we’re,” not “you’re.” The Internet was indeed around in 1994, but was not commonly available, so I think the change from “you’re” to “we’re” occurred outside the bounds of Internet dialogue.

  4. ‘The group … are told’? I can only conclude that you’re the last remaining sentient life form on Earth who hasn’t seen Jaws, since every other SLF knows that Chief Brody (one of the ‘group’) says it after he sees the villain for the first time.

    And I think it’s corrupted to ‘We’re…’ because a) it would actually make more sense if he said that, and b) he says it pretty quickly, so, given (a), it’s easy to mishear.

  5. I got the quote from IMdB, so yes, I was missing some context.

    And I think it’s corrupted to ‘We’re…’ because a) it would actually make more sense if he said that…

    I think this is arguable. It makes more sense to *me*, having never seen the movie, that he’d say “we”, but there’s nothing about the expression independent of its original context (i.e. how the snowclone is heard) that makes it more natural. Cooperation is implied in fighting a huge fucking shark, which makes the “we” more natural in some sense, but if Brody is speaking from the position of “you people are all on your own on this one, suckers” then “you” would make more sense.

    As for the quickness of the original dialogue causing “mishearing”, sure. It would also contribute to misremembering the line, the same way people misremember “beam me up, Scotty” or “it’s elementary, my dear Watson”. (Those lines were never spoken in their respective TV shows/movies.)

  6. Sorry, I should have specified the context: he’s in the boat!

  7. All the more reason for him to have said “we,” eh?

  8. Pingback: misquotations | The Snowclones Database

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