Frankly, my dear...
One of my favorite films of all time, Philadelphia Story, was on last night. Last week I ranted about how American speech has turned into crap. I’d have to say that holds true for movies as well.
Think of all the classic lines from the classic movies. “We’ll always have Paris.” “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” “The stuff that dreams are made of.” “Rosebud.” “You know how to whistle, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Now think of any line from any movie of the past five years. Go on, I’ll wait.
Can’t do it, can you? OK, if you can you’ve either got a better memory than I, or you see a lot more movies. The last film I can recall that has a memorable line goes back over 10 years to Apollo 13 and Tom Hanks saying “Houston, we have a problem.”
I saw two recent movies in the past two weeks. The Golden Compass and The Namesake. I enjoyed both and couldn’t tell you anything that was said in either one. I’m a bit clearer on the latter film because I also just read the book, but in neither case was there one line of dialogue that lasted longer than the popcorn took to digest.
Why is that? Why is the history of Hollywood dotted with amazing lines and yet nothing in the past decade has lived up to that tradition? Has the dumbing down of American conversation moved into its movies, or have movies contributed to the demise of the English language? Or is it both? If movies reflect the times in which they are created I suppose it’s little wonder that contemporary filmmaking includes insipid dialogue. Perhaps it’s all part of my rant on how words have lost their magic, their sense of play and wonder. Whatever the cause, I miss movies where you walk out thinking “I wish I’d said that.”