Popular Movies, Unusable Phrases

Movies often produce iconic moments with memorable lines. Many of these movie quotes are meant to be catchphrases. "May the force be with you." "Run, Forrest, run!" "To infinity... and beyond!" They become a rallying cry for fans, and you wouldn't use them in your own writing unless you were trying to reference the film franchise.

But then there are other iconic movie lines. The innocuous phrases that you may have easily used in everyday writing before the movie came along. The phrases that you still catch yourself writing, before realizing that they're now too much of a distraction.

Here are six examples:

Let it go - This phrase may be useable again after the Frozen fever fades--but that's not happening any time soon. And, until it does, these three words are likely to cause readers to break into song. Or at least be distracted by the earworm burrowing through their brains. 

I'll be back - Another three words that are now a risky choice as a phrase on their own. You may be able to soften this one by adding a fourth word, like "soon," but if you have any character say this line alone, some readers are bound to hear it in Schwarzenegger's guttural monotone.

Who you gonna call? - There is no way to save this one. The Ghostbusters franchise has made this question utterly useless. It's better if you clean up the grammar, "Who are you going to call?" but anyone who grew up in the '80s won't be fooled. 

As you wish - Unless you're writing dialogue for a genie, the response, "As you wish" will melt the hearts of your readers, making them subconsciously assume that the character speaking has just declared their undying love. You might as well have them say, "Hello! I am Indigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die!"

Just keep swimming - Okay, this one might still work, particularly if you're writing a gripping tale of shipwreck survivors swimming to safety. But, then again, why risk bringing a memory-impaired blue tang fish into your readers' minds?

It's a trap! - Before the explosion of social media, the risk of this exclamation conjuring images of Admiral Ackbar was only high among the more hard-core Star Wars fans. But now this Return of the Jedi meme has infected enough of the Internet that you might as well expect a few snickers if this three-word phrase is shouted by any of your characters.

Of course, the only way for people to get over the movie connections is to keep hearing these common phrases in other contexts. Which means, including them in your work may be some kind of a public service. A sort of immersion therapy for movie buffs.

What do you think? Would you still use these lines in your writing? Can you think of some other common phrases that have been taken over by a popular movie? Add them in the comments below!



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