Entertainment Weekly has a list of the fifteen worst lines of dialogue in film history, by their reckoning. It’s not a ranked list, just fifteen nominations. I tend to ridicule things like this because they veer so sharply away from my own taste, but this one is pretty persuasive. All fifteen are indeed crappy lines, though one or two are intentionally crappy, and not all of them strike me as one of the very worst bits of dialogue ever. One of them is from Dwight’s voiceover in Sin City, which is overwritten noir on steroids, but intentionally, so I don’t think it’s fair to throw it in there with lines from Notting Hill or Jerry Maguire.
Of those chosen by Entertainment Weekly, the worst has got to be the line from Love Story. “Which line from Love Story?” you ask. An excellent question, as pretty much every phony-ass fucking line from the movie could qualify. Specifically, that justly ridiculed bit of meaningless pap uttered by Ali McGraw after a fight with Ryan O’Neal, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” It’s a horrible line, made even worse when O’Neal tearfully reprises it to his father at the end. Obvious callbacks like that are nearly always corny and lame, even with a good line. This one reuses the worst line of dialogue in film history. What the fuck was Arthur Hiller thinking?
Another thing: They nominate “I carried a watermelon” from Dirty Dancing, another nearly bottomless well of god-awful dialogue, instead of “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!” Were they just trying to avoid the obvious? That sort of defeats the purpose of the list, though. I’ve never heard anyone bring up the watermelon line to ridicule Dirty Dancing.
For the most part a good list. There are a few they left out, though. They should substitute one of these for the Sin City line:
“Be mindful of the living Force, my young padawan.” — Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), Star Wars — Episode I: The Phantom Menace
There was a Star Wars line on the Entertainment Weekly list, but it’s from Episode III. Of all the tin-eared lines in the entire Star Wars franchise, that line from Qui-Gon in Phantom Menace has got to be the shittiest. I cite it as proof that Liam Neeson, who was almost able to pull it off, is one of the greatest actors alive in thankless roles.
“Your real face is the one that criminals now fear.” — Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), Batman Begins
Batman Begins is another one, like Love Story and Dirty Dancing and the Star Wars films, just swimming with almost inconceivably horrible bits of dialogue. This one comes right at the end, as Rachel and Bruce Wayne say their goodbyes amidst the ruins of Wayne Manor. What makes this one the worst of a rotten bushel is that a simpler line like “Your real face is the other one” would have served much better than this convoluted clunker.
“So here I am standing in your doorway. I’ve always been standing in your doorway. Isn’t it about time someone saved your life?” — Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), Spider-Man 2
As much as I love this movie, I must admit that this is just a mortifying little speech that Mary Jane gives at the end. It’s corny but not terrible, until she gets to the doorway bit. No wonder Peter is so keen to throw on the Spidey suit and jump out the window after those sirens instead of staying there with the girl of his dreams.
Those are just off the top of my head. Have I missed any?