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Awkward Moments with Movie Quotes

April 10, 2017

Be careful when you recite a movie quote in public.

Using movie quotes in conversation can be a great ice breaker, but sometimes the quotes can put people into awkward situations.  Saying “Use the force, Luke”(Star Wars) is safe because even people who have never seen a Star Wars movie know what you’re talking about.  30 years ago, everybody liked to say “Go ahead, make my day” (Sudden Impact) or “Welcome to the party, pal” (Die Hard).

But last week, a co-worker got in trouble for using a movie quote at the wrong time.  First of all, this guy likes to insert quotes into a lot of conversations, and it gets annoying sometimes.  Maybe I’m being harsh, but I don’t like getting upstaged by a guy who quotes a line from a movie when I work really hard to come up with (my few) original thoughts.

Anyway, this guy has a reputation for being late to meetings, and he showed up about 20 minutes late to this particular meeting and walked in with a cheese-eating grin.  Looking back, a little facial humility might have helped him.

The boss said, “Have a seat.  We thought you were going to miss this today.”

The coworker said, “Well, I wouldn’t have really MISSED it, Bob.”

This was a loose paraphrase of a quote from Office Space, and if there’s a movie to quote from, it would be Office Space.  But this was the wrong time and the wrong place and the wrong boss.  The boss’s name isn’t even Bob.

I don’t think our boss has ever seen Office Space.  “You don’t have to be here,” he said harshly.

The co-worker’s grin disappeared.  “No, I didn’t mean it like…”

“If you don’t want to grace us with your presence…”

“It’s okay, I…

“If all you have to contribute is snide comments…”

“But… I…”

The coworker didn’t have any movie quotes in his repertoire to bail him out, and he got kicked out of the meeting.  We haven’t seen him since.

The uncomfortable silence lingered in the conference room for several minutes after the coworker left, and it was torture because I wanted to laugh.  I really did, but I couldn’t show any signs of it, or I could have been called out too.  I felt guilty for finding humor in my coworker’s misfortune.  Plus, I’m too old to laugh at inappropriate situations.

I kind of understood what happened to my coworker though because something similar happened to me a few years ago during a boring meeting.  It had gone on for too long, and it was the end of the day, and we were tired.  After a couple hours of pointless idea exchanging (I’ve forgotten what the topic was), one co-worker said, “That’s it.  We’re done.”

There was a silence because our boss (this was a different boss, a young Ivy League female) usually decided when we were done, not the co-worker.

“Did you say ‘done’?” I said in a mock animated voice.

My co-workers were surprised.  I hardly ever talked (especially back then), and when I did, I had a monotone voice (I still do).  I’m actually pretty good at impersonations, though, so my impression of an emotional guy must have been convincing.

“Nothing is done until we decide it is!” I continued in a fake outraged manner.  “Was it done when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

One co-worker (who was old enough to understand the reference) laughed.

Then my young boss said, “The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Jimmy.  You should know that.”

And we brainstormed in drudgery for another hour.

I have to admit, that was a bad time for a brain glitch.  I usually don’t quote movie lines in conversations, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.  The meeting was probably about to be over due to exhaustion, and I inadvertently gave my boss a new momentum.  Plus, she thought I was stupid because she believed I thought the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

Maybe my boss’s generation was to blame because everybody should recognize the “Germans bombed Pearl Harbor” line.  When the movie Animal House came out, I was too young to see it because it was rated R (pre-cable and pre-internet days), but the line was legendary.  Everybody knew it.  But not anymore.  If young bosses from Ivy League schools don’t understand the context of “the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor,” then that generation is lost.

I hope my coworker learned a lesson from this experience.  If you’re late for a meeting, don’t grin.  Even more importantly, don’t quote from a movie, unless you’re 100% certain everybody will understand the context.

*****

What do you think?  What movie quote could get you into an awkward situation?

From → Pop culture

13 Comments
  1. into an awkward situation? Laughing.
    Well Yippee Kai Yay M-F-er.

  2. Do sitcom quotes count? Nobody watches my sitcoms so nobody ever understands them

    • That’s an interesting question. If you quote a movie and nobody knows you quoted a movie, does it really count? I have to think about that.

  3. I have the literalness of a nine-year-old. Any movie quote in the entire world goes right over my head – except maybe any “Force” quote – literally. I can almost watch them. I am the source of awkward moments. You’re welcome.

    http://judithabarrett.com/

  4. Ha – the only movie line I can ever use is “I’ll be back”.

    • That’s a good one. If you adjust it a bit to “I’ll be right back,” then you have another famous movie quote (but not nearly as famous).

  5. “don’t quote from a movie, unless you’re 100% certain everybody will understand the context” just means “don’t quote from a movie unless your group is just coming out of the movie theater having just seen that movie 30 seconds ago”. Otherwise, you never know if one of the people you’re talking to is a Ivy League grad who missed that movie because of extensive studying, protesting, playing lacrosse, or whatever people do at Ivy League schools.

  6. I certainly wouldn’t say, “Thank you, sir. May I have another?” Unless it was a paycheck. Nope, still in poor taste.

  7. There are two kinds of people in this world: People who quote movies and those who don’t. If I had a choice between quoting movies and being fired, I would choose to be fired. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t quote movies…or The Simpsons. “Me fail english?! That’s unpossible!”

    • I’ll sing Homer Simpson’s “I am so smart… S-M-R-T” song to myself, as long as nobody else is around.

      I’ll also ask out loud “Is it safe?” in a German accent before stepping into the men’s room at work, but that’s about it.

  8. My friends and I quote Mean Girls on a regular basis. This Lindsay Lohan classic came out at the perfect time of our lives: when kids started being, well, really mean. “Is your muffin buttered?” “It’s not my fault everyone is so jealous of me.” And the all time favorite “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!” Never forget.

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