15 Lines We Never Want to Hear in a Movie Again
Last week, I got so sick of hearing a particular line of dialogue — “This isn’t a movie! This is real life!” — that I wrote a piece about it. While finishing it, I teased the article on Twitter by sharing the headline and inviting my followers to guess what line had set me off. I got well over 100 responses, but just one correct answer. But so many of the other replies were also outstanding examples of dumb clichés I decided to collect the best of the best (slash worst of the worst) in their own list.
So beware screenwriters: If you’re considering using any of the 15 examples below in your current script, it might be time to try a different direction. After all, this isn’t a movie! This is real life! And as far as those of us living in the real world are concerned, all of the lines below are now in the Movie Penalty Box. It’s time for some new material, because, for the very last time (we wish) we are all getting too old for this s—.
1. “Let me start at the beginning...”
These, like so many lines on this list, are audience code words rarely spoken in real life but used in movies and television to signal viewers. In this case, “Let me start from the beginning” means “Hey dummy, what I’m about to say is important, so pay attention.”
2. “We’ve got company!”
One of those seemingly innocuous exclamations that has been used so many times it no longer feels like a genuine sentiment. I imagine there are some situations where people say these three words in a non-ironic setting. But at least 90 percent of the time when they’re uttered in real life it’s by people making fun of dumb movies.
3. “I’m a little busy right now!”
A variant of “We’ve got company!” this battlefield declaration is meant to express a hero’s unflappable courage under fire. In reality, I think most people fighting, say, demons from beyond the grave, would probably be too busy punching zombies in the face to argue about whether they’re free or not.
4. “Wait! He wanted us to capture him!”
Here the line is probably less the problem than the ridiculous plot it’s connected to. Any bad guy who wants to be captured is almost certainly utilizing a plan that is way too complicated to actually work.
5. “I’m hacking the mainframe ... I’m in!”
I particularly like when someone says this with less than a two second pause between the two phrases. Hacking is very easy and can be done very quickly, especially when you describe what you’re doing out loud. In about two years the offshoot, “Zoom in. Enhance!” will join this one on the list.
6. “In English, please?”
Typically done at high-level government briefings, where everyone should understand exactly what is being discussed, but there just so happens to be one character, the audience surrogate, who is clueless and demands clarification. So not only do we get blatant exposition, we get to hear the exposition twice; once in believable language and then again dumbed down.
7. “You just don’t get it, do you?”
A nearly-as-annoying variation on #6. Instead of the dumb person saying “In English, please?” they say nothing, and then a smart person in the room keys off their bewildered expression and says this in response. The net result is the same: Repeating the same information twice for the purposes of stupid people. (Or because the filmmaker assumes the audience is full of stupid people.)
8. “Let me get this straight...”
So let me get this straight: Hollywood has many different ways to get this same idea across? And they’re all bad? Can you start from the beginning? In English, this time?
9. “I’m getting too old for this s—!”
A great line that was a victim of its own success, and recycled so many times it became a bad joke.
10. “I had brothers!”
Science fact: It is physically impossible not to cringe when someone says this line.
11. “It’s not my dream, dad. It’s yours!”
This one is so bad, it’s almost useful again. This line will definitely appear in a Lonely Island movie at some point in the future.
12. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
Another classic line rendered radioactive by overuse. We get it; they’ve got to put it in every Star Wars movie. Fine. But nobody else should touch it for 75 years.
13. “Look, we’ve been friends for a long time...”
What? Don’t you start all your conversations with your old friends by reminding yourselves that you’re old friends?
14. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
There is literally no better way in a movie of ensuring the worst happens than saying “What’s the worst that could happen?”
15. “So that’s it, huh? We’re some kinda Suicide Squad?”
You would be surprised how many people suggested this one. Or then again, maybe you wouldn’t.