Movie Dialogue

Posted September 19, 1998 at 9:00 am No Comments

Every time I see a movie with sharp, witty dialogue (like Clerks or Pulp Fiction) I feel kind of stupid.  Why?  Because it makes me realize that my friends and I never have very intelligent conversations.  For instance, consider last evening’s movie: The Last Days of Disco.   It was the story of the loves and careers of a group of young professionals seeking fulfillment amidst the dwindling disco scene of the early 1980’s.  In one memorable scene, they performed an in-depth analysis of the Disney film Lady and the Tramp:

What a depressing conclusion — despite her refinement and grace, Lady is ultimately seduced by a shiftless, vulgar street rogue.  Meanwhile, the loyal and considerate Scottish Terrier who stands by Lady throughout the course of the film is marginalized, ridiculed, and regarded as old-fashioned.

You’re ignoring the significance of the Tramp’s character transformation.  True, at the beginning of the movie he was an indolent drifter, but through his love for Lady he learned lessons of commitment and responsibility.

I disagree.  Perhaps the Tramp changed on a superficial level, but I don’t see him as fit for his ultimate role of father and family provider.  Think of the message projected to generations of young females: instead of looking for reliable husbands, they’ll seek out reckless scamps who live life on the edge.

If my friends and I were to have a conversation about Lady and the Tramp, it would sound more like this:

That movie had talking dogs in it.

Ha!  Talking dogs.

They were eating spaghetti.

Ha!  Spaghetti.

I like spaghetti.

My main consolation is that the people in the movie have all their dialogue scripted out and rehearsed in advance, whereas we have to come up with stuff on the fly.  It’s kind of a shame, though — wouldn’t it be neat if everyone could always come up with really snappy conversational zingers, one after another, just like in a TV sitcom?   The only real drawback to that sort of world would be the laugh track.   Imagine how eerie it would be if every time one of your friends made a witty rejoinder you’d hear a chorus of laughing voices coming from nowhere.

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