Movies · TV

“Let’s Go Home” — The Supercut of a Cliché

By  · Published on March 15th, 2017

When there’s nothing left to say, this gets said. A lot.

Screenwriting is a road wrought with potholes where other writers have come before you. These potholes are clichés, they are contrivances and other such overused facets of dialogue-driven storytelling that in their day might have been novel but in ours are so ubiquitous as to be meaningless. I’m thinking of phrases like: “I was born ready,” or “I have a bad feeling about this,” or “I’m just doing my job.” These are all examples of pointless exposition. No one is born ready to do anything except poop and cry, bad feelings are obvious from facial expressions, and just doing your job isn’t special or exceptional, it’s expected. Lines like these are lazy space-fillers and in fact do more to detract from a story rather than inform it.

One of the more egregious of these is, “let’s go home.” You know it because you’ve heard it time and again, usually in the very final scene of a movie: the plot has resolved itself in the favor of our protagonists, and with nothing left to say or do, one looks at the other, maybe throws an arm around their shoulder and says, “let’s go home.” It’s the closest a character can get to saying “all’s well that ends well” without breaking the fourth wall, and at this point is has been used so many, many times, that editor Matt McGee was able to construct a seven-minute video made up of nothing but various examples of the line as spoken in a variety of movies and TV shows including Gilda, The Room, The Wire, The Big Sleep, Aladdin, Battlestar Galactica and many others.

As you watch, notice the different implications the line carries; sometimes it’s hopeful or relieved, other times it’s a statement laced with regret, dread, or even menace. But in every instance it’s cliché as all get out, so appreciate this video, but never, ever, EVER mimic it in your own writing. Now come on, let’s go home.

Related Topics:

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist