Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tag, You're Sh*t

On my ride into work this morning, I saw a newspaper ad for the new horror movie “One Missed Call,” which I’m sure will rival the Exorcist (in terms of sheer mind-numbing horror and changing the pop culture landscape), and I think this movie may hold bragging rights for the worst tag line ever.

The movie itself seems to be about a group of average, run-of-the-mill teenagers (you know, the kind who just happen to look like supermodels) who drop over dead when they see their text messaging rates from Verizon, or something like that.

Anyway, the tag line for this little cinematic gem is - get this - “Scream and Scream Again… You Just Missed a Call.”

Excuse me?

First of all, there was already a movie CALLED “Scream and Scream Again” with Vincent Price, if I’m not mistaken. (I’d have to check to see if the tag line for that movie was “One Missed Call.”)

Secondly, Wes Craven’s Scream was, what, like 57 years ago now? Can we get over it already? It’s pretty sad when filmmakers are still trying to subliminally trick moviegoers into thinking their latest 88 minute crap-fest has some tenuous connection to the Scream trilogy. And once wasn’t enough for these guys! They had to shove the word in there twice, in the hope that ADD-afflicted youths who only glance at the movie ads for .3 seconds will mistakenly think this is the fourth installment in the Scream franchise and race right off to the theater, where they can talk on their cell phones and not watch the damn thing anyway.

Thirdly, and most importantly, what the hell does that tag line even MEAN? Why would someone scream because they missed a call? That makes no sense, unless you’re a very lonely man waiting for a call from Jessica Alba and you were organizing your shoe horns when the phone rang.

Actually, given the fact that we live in a society filled with rabid consumers and technology fetishists who can’t bear to be separated from their latest rheumatism-inducing gadget for more than 5 seconds at a stretch, maybe that IS a good tag line. I know the commuters I ride with every morning might scream and writhe in agony if they missed a call and felt deprived of another precious opportunity to inflict their asinine conversations on everyone else on the bus.

Still, it’s a pretty lame tag line, no matter how you slice it. Even if we give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt, and assume that the tag line makes more sense after seeing the film (maybe you die if you miss the call? Sort of like “The Ring” in reverse?), it’s still pretty weak taken on its own merits. To make this even more obvious, consider a few of the greatest tag lines of all time:

“In space, no one can hear you scream” (Alien)

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” (Jaws 2)

“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” (The Fly)

“You’ll believe a man can fly” (Superman)

"The night HE came home" (Halloween)

Simple. Succinct. Powerful. Provocative. These movies could have blown (they didn’t, excepting maybe Jaws 2) and we’d still remember those amazing tag lines. Krist, I was scared to even LOOK at the ads for “Alien” when I was a kid! I had to hide the newspaper in the other room under a stack of books, because if I got too close to that picture of an alien egg and that scary tag line, I might wet my 10 year old self. I didn’t even know what the hell the movie was about! It could have been a documentary about omelets for all I knew. But man, what a tag line. The marketers for “One Missed Call” (even the title is weak) could take a lesson from those cats.

I can’t even imagine someone got paid to write the tag line for One Missed Call. Something tells me I won’t be missing this flick very much when I make a point of not seeing it this weekend.

Perhaps next time they can go for the honest approach when it comes to writing the tag line:

“Scream and scream again. Cause you just pissed away 10 bucks on a movie that sucks ass.”

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