Cheesy dialogue

Someone got me thinking about the difference between unrealistic dialogue and cheesy dialogue. Brick, a movie I love the hell out of, has plenty of unrealistic dialogue. But it somehow uses that to its advantage.

So Brick proves that being unrealistic is not sufficient to render dialogue cheesy. What sets it apart from cheesy dialogue?

I thought for a moment that cliched + unrealistic = cheesy, but it seems the cliched part isn’t necessary. “It’s all right, Rover. These friendly robots are obviously not mischievous trespassers.” There’s only one movie I’ve ever heard that line spoken in, so it’s original, but it’s still cheesy.

So I watched Brick again, and I think I’ve got a handle on how it keeps from sounding cheesy. The dialogue isn’t realistic, but the characters are. Even if the words themselves aren’t quite everyday English, for example, “The ape blows, or I clam,” that’s cool. But the meaning that the sentence expresses has to be something the character would express under those circumstances.

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