Thursday for Thought : Can a movie’s tagline sell it?

by shmuttie

Taglines. We could call the crisp snappy one liner the equivalent to a movie’s pick-up line. So here we are, sifting through the endless rows of DVDs at Blockbusters, searching for the perfect movie date. For starters, we are drawn to the attractive A-list cover, then we read its appealing and sometimes not so appealing title. And next – what about that pick up line?

film reel

Which makes me wonder – can a movie be sold on its tagline alone? Here are a couple of “pick up lines” selected at random. Read. Consider. Are you sold?

“Don’t go in the water”

Firstly, human beings are curious bunnies. Secondly, don’t you all hate being told what not to do? Like when I’m at the furniture store and the softest best looking pillow has the sign, “Don’t press”- God, I just suddenly have the biggest urge to press that damn pillow. So props – you got me curious. I rent the DVD and develop a long lasting phobia that prevents me from ever wanting to swim in the sea again. Ever. And did any of you get the impression from Jaws that all shark attacks should happen with that haunting music in the background?

– Jaws

Jaws lego poster

“A comedy about growing up… and the bumps along the way”

Nah. First thought “Sunday afternoon dramedy at best”. I think it was that whole “growing up” bit in the tagline. Been there, done that – did not like it, still don’t like it. So I would probably would have skipped the movie, thinking that I DON’T feel like I’m in a very “Full House” mood today- Which tragically would have meant an existence devoid of such classic lines as “That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can’t be undid, Homeskillet” Thank goodness that every other tagline that evening was sunday-afternoon-dramedy-at-best. Now, what was it that they say, something about not judging a movie by its tagline. Oh was it a book?

– Juno.

Juno poster

“Insanity is infectious”

Sold. I absolutely love this tagline. It has me curious again AND it includes my two favourite words in the same sentence.  But for some reason, I am thinking a group of young good-looking people, smoking pot, binge drinking, scorching dialogue and a killer A+ soundtrack. And then I flip to read the synopsis, and find out it’s a horror sci-fi about small town people in Iowa going mental from drinking the water and killing each other. Um, where is the sci-fi in this? No longer sold on the grounds of my over active imagination and subsequently potential sleepless nights. I watched Freddy’s Nightmare on Elm Street #1 and I was pale as ghost for about a week, because I was terrified of sleeping. I was convinced, he was going to come back and get me. (He did come back from the dead – remember #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 and that TV series, and then he tried to take on Jason, and yes, he will be back again soon in your next dream)

-The Crazies

“Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t.”

Sold again. Curiosity wins (again). I like the contrary play on themes and the fact that the girl doesn’t fall in love. Why doesn’t she fall in love? It just seems that many romantic comedy genre tend to stem from the girl’s point of view. Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love. Boy is married. OR Boy loves another. OR Boy doesn’t know girl exists. OR The evil girl has the boy. OR Boy can’t commit.  But here, is a refreshing twist: The girl doesn’t.

-(500) Days of Summer


“Life’s a messy business”

Tell me about it. I hear you sister. This is my kind of tagline. I am the glass half empty . Life is very messy. When you wake up, the bed is messy. There are still dishes in the sink. There are socks in the living room. Clothes on the floor. And so once again I want to know why their life is messy. How many dirty plates do they have in their sink? And now having watched the film – I will never forget that scene with the train and tears streaming down Norah’s (Emily Blunt) face.  Don’t you also want to feel the rush of the train as it passes by over you?

-Sunshine Cleaning


So can the pickup line help sell the movie? Certainly if it engages my curiosity then it’s a date (good or bad). But that’s just me.

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