WHO IS ROBERT LANGDON? The name on the internet message I received seemed familiar. An actor? I asked a colleague who knows everything about movies.
“Robert Langdon is the hero of ‘The Da Vinci Code’,” he replied without a moment’s hesitation, other for a three-minute gap during which he looked it up on Wikipedia.
Mr Langdon, a fictional professor, was writing to tell me that he was deeply unhappy with the awful dialogue put into his mouth and wished to join a “fictional characters union” started last week by one of the present writer’s fictional characters, who has the same problem.
Later that day, I received a similar web comment from Megatron Decepticon, a bad robot from Transformers.
“Not only does my dialogue stink, so does my name. Would you call your kid Megatron Decepticon?”
I did not respond, since that name WAS on my list when I was expecting my youngest child, had she turned out to be a 50-meter high evil robot from another galaxy.
But clearly, these fictional characters (or readers cleverly using their names) were making a point that dialogue in modern movies is often awful.
Remember that bit in The Matrix where Trinity says: “A sentinel. A killing machine! Designed for one thing.”
Now what would that one thing be? Killing, maybe?
Dozer replies: “Search—and destroy!”
Er, that’s two things.
Anyway, here’s a list of the 12 worst bits of dialogue from famous movies.
12. House of the Dead.
A: “You did all this to become immortal. Why?”
B: “To live… forever!”
11. The Ten Commandments.
“We're going to the Land of Milk and Honey. Anybody know the way?”
10. Battlefield Earth.
“While you were still learning how to spell your name, I was being trained to conquer galaxies.”
9. Night of the Lepus.
“Ladies and gentlemen, attention. There is a herd of killer rabbits headed this way, and we desperately need your help.”
"Before time began, there was The Cube.”
7. Plan 9 From Outer Space.
"Inspector Clay is dead. Murdered. And somebody's responsible."
“He can't hear you, Jack. He's been decapitated.”
A: “If this translation is right, this alien sounds like an idiot.”
B: “That's something to consider, a stupid alien. Well, they must have them.”
4. King Kong (1976).
“Come on, Kong, forget about me. This thing's just never going to work. Can't you see?”
3. Lost in Space.
“I don't like the sound of that sound.”
A: “Ask him for his last name.”
“I once fought two days with an arrow through my testicle.”
Now if Revenge of the Sith author George Lucas is reading this, or the screenwriters who wrote Troy, don’t think that you’ve escaped unscathed.
Your dialogue is famously awful, and it’s going to take a while to get copies of the screenplays and locate the very worst lines.
I’ve got to get to a library—fast!