Would You Like Some Cinematic Snark with Your Business-Networking?

Quoting movie dialogue is a surefire way to shake up a dull business-networking conversation...
Quoting movie dialogue is a surefire way to shake up a dull business-networking conversation…

If you’re a movie fan, there are certain films you watch over and over again. And why is that? It’s probably because you anticipate the hallowed pieces of dialogue you love so dearly.

The fact that you’ve memorized memorable lines from particular movies tells me you appreciate good writing!

I’m not advocating rude, insolent behavior when you’re out and about at business-networking events. However, these selected quotes are guaranteed to claim someone’s attention. You can then segue into innocent protestations of merely redirecting the conversation in a helpful way.

I strongly advise you first practice with a family member before launching any of my Extreme Sour Warheads into the business universe…

“Does Barry Manilow Know That You Raid His Wardrobe?”: (Courtesy of The Breakfast Club) Are you a cloud-loving millennial? An old-school baby boomer? Regardless of your demographic, count on the late, great John Hughes to capture the mortifying glory of being a teenager.

In the film, a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal converge on Shermer High School for Saturday detention. They are not so warmly greeted by Richard Vernon, a teacher with attitude. (His professional life would have been vastly improved if he had kept a journal…)

John Bender, the school’s resident smart-ass and a 17-year-old “criminal,” mocks Mr. Vernon’s leisure suit of choice that morning.

You say Barry Manilow is too obscure a reference within your networking circle? Then consider using one of these alternatives: Lady Gaga, Stefon, or any of the Kardashian sisters.

Observe the audaciousness that is John Bender

“How Can You Be So Obtuse … Obtuse–Is It Deliberate?”: (Courtesy of The Shawshank Redemption) If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching the film, based on a Stephen King novella, your excuse is oh so flimsy. Almost every day, at least one cable-TV channel airs it.

This snappy piece of dialogue comes from the scene in which Andy Dufresne, a bad husband but no murderer, challenges Warden Norton’s mental acumen. Andy unwisely unleashes it after sharing with the warden a story relayed from another prisoner that supports Andy’s claim of innocence.

A critical factor when detonating this verbal bomb is your level of confidence that the other person isn’t familiar with the word “obtuse.”

See Mr. Dufresne in action here

“The Ratio of People to Cake Is Too Big”: (Courtesy of Office Space) Mike Judge (of Beavis and Butt-Head fame) is a genius at cubicle-life commentary, as channeled through the Milton Waddams character in this cult film.

Unbeknownst to Milton, he’s no longer employed by the soulless corporation known as Initech. Oddly enough, a glitch in the company’s payroll system continues to provide him with the financial means of replenishing his red Swingline stapler’s cache of staples.

In an early scene, Milton and his co-workers celebrate division vice president Bill Lumbergh’s birthday with a (small) sheet cake.

Sadly, Milton didn’t get any cake at the last birthday celebration. This time he’s on the receiving end of a piece of cake, which he valiantly tries to keep. But Milton’s chastised by the redheaded front-desk gal to keep passing sliced cake. Realizing he’ll be cake-less once again, Milton mutters his obvious observation.

I’ll speculate you’ll have a tough time refraining from blurting out Milton’s lament the next time a business celebration involves cake. Enjoy watching the Initech birthday party

“Truly, You Have a Dizzying Intellect…”: (Courtesy of The Princess Bride) Please don’t tell me you’ve never seen this film; that’s so inconceivable to me.

Director Rob Reiner’s fractured fairy tale is based on a convoluted–but still entertaining–book by  William Goldman. It’s also an Everlasting Gobstopper of quotable quotes galore.

These few snarly words liberate themselves when the Man in Black (aka Westley) engages in a poisonous “battle of wits” with Vizzini (the marvelous Wallace Shawn).

Vizzini fancies himself a lofty intellectual. But his illogical banter is no match for Westley’s built-up immunity to iocane powder, conveniently dissolved into both their wine goblets. Here’s some of the dizzying dialogue:

“Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

Please remember to maintain a neutral facial expression when nibbling on this delicate macaron during a business conversation.

Go ahead, witness the battle of wits for yourself…

“You Can Keep Your Diseased Chickens!”: (Courtesy of Fiddler on the Roof) You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate the marvelous “Yiddishkeit” that abounds in director Norman Jewison’s (no, not a Jew) film. It’s based on Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman stories.

Sure, you love this movie for the entertaining musical numbers–in particular, “Tevye’s Dream” and “To Life, L’Chaim!”. But the next time you watch it, focus your attention on the dialogue. As the good book says, Tevye is one amusing shtetl dweller

He blurts out his poultry-laden barb during daughter Tzeitel’s wedding celebration. Lonely Lazar Wolf is the much older widower in Anatevka who sought out Tzeitel as his own bride. He generously gifts the newlyweds five chickens: one for each Sabbath they’ll observe in the coming weeks.

But Lazar is still miffed that his agreement with Tevye for Tzeitel’s hand (and the rest of her body) fell through. (See the “Tevye’s Dream” video clip above…)

Rather than hilarity ensuing, the dishonored agreement adds tension to the wedding’s festivities. This irks Tevye, pushing him to say “thanks, but no thanks” regarding those precious Sabbath chickens.

Trust me, Tevye’s declaration will resuscitate ANY floundering business conversation. Here’s the only version (cue in at 2:26) of the clip I could find.

The Honor Roll of Additional Movie Dialogue You Might Use to Make Friends and Influence People at Business Events:

“Oh, I’m sorry, did I break your concentration?” (Courtesy of Pulp Fiction)

“There is a name for you, ladies, but it isn’t used in high society … outside of a kennel.” (Courtesy of the 1939 version of The Women)

“Are you gonna bark all day little doggy, or are you gonna bite?” (Courtesy of Reservoir Dogs)

“Is it true when you were born the doctor turned around and slapped your mother?” (Courtesy of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert)

“Blood and relatives … well, that’s great. I’ve got both of them. (Courtesy of Breaking Away)


When you’re trapped in a sinking conversation, do you intercede? If you do attempt to right a badly listing verbal version of the Titanic, is humor an option for you?

How do you feel about redirecting a slow, dull, or otherwise nonsensical business conversation with one of my movie-dialogue suggestions?

Personally, I favor linguistic creativity, especially if it salvages a discussion that’s run amok. Please feel free to leave your favorite “snarky” movie quotes below!

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) company in Marlton, New Jersey, that plies its trade via copywriting, editing, and other content-marketing services. She revels in shielding her clients from the time-consuming pain of writing their own print or web marketing and promotional copy.

Please call Lori Shapiro of By All Writes LLC at 856-810-9764 (or e-mail her via lori@byallwrites.biz) to schedule the gratis 20-minute consultation that will resolve your current copywriting or editing dilemma…

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.