Website Shortlist has crafted an entertaining look at 20 of the most overused phrases in movie history, complete with an exhaustive list of what films have used each line. It’s an interesting piece not only because it showcases how ubiquitous some of these phrases have become, but also because you can sort of cross-reference it and see which movies are really lazy.
We noticed that Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay for True Romance turns up here four times – which is an awful lot for a writer hailed for being such a master of his craft. I guess it all just ties in with Tarantino’s recycling motif, right? We still love you, QT. Plus, he does kinda make up for it with that scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken.
To be fair, a few of these phrases are rather generalized. “Get out of there!” is used in a whole lot of movies, but it’s hard to imagine a replacement that conveys the same urgency and gets that message across. “Please remove yourself from that location, posthaste!” doesn’t have quite the same vibe.
However, others on the list are definitely overused – and fledgling and professional screenwriters would be well served by printing this list and taping it above their monitor for future reference. If we never see another movie character utter the lines “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you” or “there’s a storm coming," we can die happily.
For our money, the website’s number one pick – “Is that all you’ve got?” – is definitely the worst offender. Featured in 54 films by Shortlist’s count, it’s pretty safe to say that it’s been run into the ground as dialogue. It may have been a good line when it was uttered way back in 1979 as part of Rocky II, but that was 35 years and 50-plus films ago. I think we can safely retire it at this point.
Head on over to Shortlist and check out all of its top 20 choices. Which one do you think is the most overused? Are there any big ones that you feel they missed? Share with us in the comment section below.
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