If there's an art to creating a movie tagline, it's a special sublevel of art, somewhere on the same level as picking a nice font size for the cover page of the report, or trying to colour inside the lines when you're an adult. Really, it must be that easy to come up with a snappy quip that captures a film. But for whatever reason the half of them are pure garbage, the hasty last-minute call from the graphics department to the PR office. Here are a few that rankle me most. And why.
Volcano - The Coast is Toast.
I don't think so. Everyone knows that the coast of southern California is not only a shipping hub of the Pacific, it is also to home to some of the most beautiful beaches and seaside homes in all of North America. The LA metropolitan area alone boasts a staggering population of 10 million people. Settlement could not have occurred in such concentration on toast.
X Files - Fight the Future.
You can try and fight the future, but as soon as you do, it becomes the present. I blew your mind, man. I blew your freakin' mind.
More realer reason for not liking the tagline: it's just stupid. It makes my head hurt, and then my head goes numb for a while, and I think, Hey, Maybe that line makes sense, and then the pain sets in again like a kick from an alien in the back of the neck, and I think No, that tagline's still stupid.
Panic Room - It Was Supposed To Be The Safest Room in the House.
From this tagline you'd expect a movie where people shut themselves away from danger in a panic room and then died or got exceedingly mutilated or something. Ahhh, they shout, We thought we were safe in the panic room etcetera as their heads fly off. Instead, Jodie Foster and an androgynous teen shut themselves in a panic room - and it really is the safest room in the house. Everyone outside the room gets shot, burned, deformed, maimed, betrayed, you name it. Inside the panic room? Safety. That tagline lied to us.
The Phantom Menace - Every Saga Has a Beginning.
Maybe, but that doesn't mean you have to show it to us. We were just fine without seeing Ewan MacGregor's weird Duran-Duran-Joins-The-Marines haircut.
The Green Mile - Miracles Do Happen.
Yes, such as uneducated black man being imprisoned and executed for a crime he didn't commit in 1950s America. And he had the magical ability to heal white people. What a feelgood tale that was.
Léolo - Sometimes Growing Up Can Be Painfully Funny/Parce que Moi Je Reve...
There must be some award for the most flat-out mendacious tagline ever. I want this award to be a five hundred pound iron crown, the better to break the necks of the film's English distributors. The French tagline is part of the narrator's repeated refrain "Parce que moi je reve, je suis," which sums up the film fairly well. The hero is a thirteen year old boy named Leo, a kind of gutter Cocteau who dreams up an illustrious Italian heritage and fantastical present in order to escape a degrading and horrific life. It's one of those films that leaves you wanting a very long and very hot shower, unless you're enlivened by the sight of a boy fucking a cat, or a naked woman trimming an old man's toenails with her teeth (to the music of Tom Waits). If you're trying to get a mental hold on this movie, think of it as a pornographic version of Radio Days where family members give each other enemas instead of hugs.
If there's one thing that Léolo is not, that would be a slightly sexy coming-of-age comedy. Which is what the English distributors are marketing it as. If they were honest, the tagline would read: Sometimes Growing Up Can Be a Catalogue of Psychosexual Horrors Until You Retreat Into Catatonia.
The Return of the King - This Christmas, The Journey Ends.
Seems awfully dated.