Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Failure To Grammaticise Correctly

The tagline of the film 'Failure To Launch', a romantic comedy currently limping out of a multiplex near you:

'To leave the nest, some men just need a little push.'

That's not right, is it? God knows that I'm crap at grammar. I'm particularly bad at apostrophes (or should that be apostrophe's?), and anyone wishing to check this statement need only look through my archives to find several dozen examples of this. However, I'm fairly sure that sentences shouldn't be structured like that. Wouldn't 'some men just need a little push to leave the nest' be better? Help!

It's a shit tagline anyway. Having spent an absurdly large amount of time pondering the question today, I've come to the conclusion that the best film taglines work by engaging your curiosity, not giving you a plot précis. I'm rather ashamed to admit this, but I once went to see a film purely on the basis of its tagline. That film was 'Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events'. Now, before you take the piss out of me, let me defend myself. Consider the two taglines I saw it advertised with:

'Don't say we didn't warn you', and my favourite

'We're very concerned'. (More here)

I can't quite explain why, but these stuck in my head, particularly the latter. Who, I wondered, are 'we'? What, I pondered, are 'we' 'concerned' about? After a while thinking about such things, and I always spend too long thinking about everything, questions like these take on a special significance. I had to know what was so concerning. In the end, we needn't have been concerned, whoever 'we' were, because I rather enjoyed the film, which was surprisingly Gothic and threatening for a kids flick.

By contrast, the 'Failure To Launch' tagline put me off even before I read its shitty reviews. In just eleven words, it tells you every significant twist that there will be in the plot. Why should I see it, then? In particular, I have a strong objection to the word 'nest', as if humans were birds that are biologically conditioned to have buggered off by a certain age.

So, to give this post a summative tagline:

'You're better off puzzling me than exposing yourself'.

More importantly: what kind of man lives in a nest? is this swampy's latest stunt?
My favourite recent tagline was Serenity's: They aim to misbehave.

Although as with the Lemony Snickett line I think it would have been better left as Nathan's actual line which, if I recall, was: We aim to misbehave.
MG - Swampy's left the water? If he's left the water and moved into the trees, it must be evolution at work.

MC - That is a pretty good one.

Did you like 'Serenity'? I have to say I don't really understand what all the fuss was about it, it seemed like a bit of a wasted opportunity to me.
The tagline 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' was good - taken from the book - but the film was crap, absolutely flat and lifeless. Maybe it should have been renamed 'an unfortunate cinematic event'.
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