“Play it again, Sam…”

October 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Are we are alone in this, or do other families speak to one another in movie lines?

My husband and I began this practice when we were dating, and adding members to our family has only multiplied the fun. Again and again we find ourselves letting favorite film characters express sentiments on our behalf. While I can’t exactly put my finger on what gives this pattern such appeal, I do know we will reach for a movie line pretty much any time one will fill the bill. Occasionally two or more of us will blurt the same line simultaneously. And then, of course, those who were in on the mind meld will burst into peals of laughter. Really, I don’t quite get this whole crazy dynamic — that of parroting words some script writer penned years ago just so we can lob some humor into one of our family moments. Borrowing in this way just doesn’t strike me as very creative. But this puzzlement sure hasn’t prevented me from interjecting my own favorite lines as readily as the next person.

In preparing oneself to enter the fray, it comes in very handy to stockpile an arsenal of assorted lines. I can attest to the fact that being able to whip one out on a moment’s notice and score a bull’s eye is very satisfying. When a funny, awkward or weird family moment calls for witty punctuation, you are locked and loaded. Ready to carpe diem.

In addition, movie lines are most effectively delivered in the timbre, inflection and meter of the original character, so some practice is in order if one wishes to do the line justice. A respectable approximation of Brando’s mush-mouth style, or Schwarzenneger’s thick Austrian monotone will not only amuse and entertain the listener, but can also reward the practitioner with a measure of fulfillment. (I’m still working on my Chewbacca. Because there are simply times when nothing says it like a good wookie moan…)

Submitted here for your consideration are a few of our family favorites. Imagine, if you will, the miscellaneous family scenarios in which lines like these would positively zing:

1. “Have a little faith…”  Donald Sutherland, as Oddball, in Kelly’s Heroes (1970).

2. “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Christopher Lloyd as Doc, in Back to the Future (1985).

3. “You talkin’ to me?”  Robert de Niro as Travis Bickle, in Taxi Driver (1976).

4. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” Struther Martin as Captain, in Cool Hand Luke (1967).

5. “We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing near you.” Robin Williams as John Keating, in Dead Poets Society (1989).

6. “I’ll be bach.” Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, in TheTerminator (1984).

7. “Go ahead, make my day.” Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, in Sudden Impact (1983).

8. “We don’t serve their kind in here.” Barkeeper to Luke Skywalker, in Star Wars (1977).

9. “May the force be with you.”  Harrison Ford as Han Solo, in Star Wars (1977).

10. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessup, in A Few Good Men (1992).

Movie Line Collage

So, what’s your line?


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