Don't let me be misunderstood
December 28, 2006 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Please help me find movie scenes that feature miscommunication/ misunderstanding.

Extra points if the scene is funny and the misunderstanding is between a customer and a service worker.
posted by cosmicbandito to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just about any Monte Python sketch that takes place in a shop.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:47 AM on December 28, 2006


"My name is Warts?"

The early scenes in "Being John Malkovich", with Phyllis the receptionist.
posted by hermitosis at 9:58 AM on December 28, 2006


Lost in Translation has a number of them. Office Space, maybe? Zoolander also has some great, idiot-based instances of misunderstanding. ("How can you teach them to read if they can't fit into the building?!")

Lastly, Much Ado About Nothing, though not business oriented, is centered on misunderstanding/miscommunication.
posted by B-squared at 10:01 AM on December 28, 2006


Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine.
posted by Captain_Science at 10:02 AM on December 28, 2006


There must be something like that in "Clerks," though its been a while since I've seen it.

The whole movie "The Man Who Knew too Little" is about one big misunderstanding (and I found it absolutely hilarious).
posted by iurodivii at 10:02 AM on December 28, 2006


The end of "Waiting for Guffman" when they, well, are waiting for Guffman.
posted by hermitosis at 10:07 AM on December 28, 2006


I believe there's a scene in "Kids" where the kids are stealing 40s from an Asian storekeeper, distracting him by asking if they have "dis dick" while grabbing at, uh, well, no one said it had to be a pretty movie, right?
posted by raconteur at 10:08 AM on December 28, 2006


Well, this isn't customer service, but Life of Brian, when Brian is listening to the Sermon on the Mount.

"Blessed are the cheesemakers?"
posted by perpetualstroll at 10:08 AM on December 28, 2006


Customer and service person-- try "Dumb and Dumber":

"What's the soup du jour?"

"It's the soup of the day."

etc.

Also the hilarious "business women's lunch special" scene in "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion".
posted by hermitosis at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2006


Not a movie but, there's an entire episode of GI Joe where the "Viper is coming," and GI Joe freaks out. It turns out he is the "Viper who has come to vash the vindows."
posted by drezdn at 10:12 AM on December 28, 2006


Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau -- Shot in the Dark, Pink Panther ...
posted by thinkpiece at 10:16 AM on December 28, 2006


Any episode of Three's Company will do.
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on December 28, 2006


Oh and of course, Jack and the sandwich at the diner in Five Easy Pieces, although that's darkly funny.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:17 AM on December 28, 2006


I happened to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang last night, and I enjoyed this scene:

Perry: ...talking money...
Harry: A talking monkey?
Perry: Talking monkey, yeah. Yeah. Came here from the future. Ugly sucker. Only says 'ficus.'
posted by hutta at 10:22 AM on December 28, 2006


Almost anything from What's Up, Doc?.
posted by niles at 10:37 AM on December 28, 2006


The first scene when Drak (Louis Gosset Jr.) and Human (Kurt Russell) meet on the barren planet in Enemy Mine.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 10:50 AM on December 28, 2006


In Groundhog Day Bill Murray's character asks the innkeeper if she has ever experienced deja vu:

Do you ever have deja vu?

I don't think so,
but I could check with the kitchen.

That's okay. Thank you.
posted by LoriFLA at 10:54 AM on December 28, 2006


Virtually any scene with dialogue in Taxi Driver. Travis (De Niro) with Cybill Shepherd, with Jodie Foster, with the taxi dispatcher, with his fellow cabbies, with the concession girl at the p o r n theater, you name it.

(It's my favorite movie ever, so I'm biased.)


There's another good one in the 1970 film Joe, starring Peter Boyle as a grouchy hard-hat in the "hippie era." There is an excellent scene where Joe & his wife invite another, wealthier couple over for dinner, and confusion ensues when the rich lady remarks that the hippies are taking over the culture. Joe is unfamiliar with the concept. What makes this scene so fabulous is that it is shot in claustrophobically tight closeups, making the viewer feel as uncomfortable as the characters. Not a great film overall, but one of my favorite scenes in all of 1970s cinema.
posted by scratch at 10:54 AM on December 28, 2006


Being There with Peter Sellers. The whole movie is about miscommunication/misunderstanding, but the "I like to watch" scene is pretty funny.
posted by shemacg at 11:41 AM on December 28, 2006


Most of the classic Harvey with Jimmy Stewart.

The Come Up To My Place number from On The Town.

Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest and The Wrong Man by Alfred Hitchock.
posted by brookeb at 11:57 AM on December 28, 2006


And one more I forgot - Who's Minding the Store - Classic Jerry Lewis.
posted by brookeb at 12:13 PM on December 28, 2006


These are some of my favorite things... what does this say about me? Never mind that... what about Rabbit Seasoning?

Bugs: It's true, Doc; I'm a rabbit alright. Would you like to shoot me now or wait 'til you get home?
Daffy: Shoot him now! Shoot him now!
Bugs: You keep outta this! He doesn't have to shoot you now!
Daffy: He does so have to shoot me now! [to Elmer] I demand that you shoot me now!
Fudd: [Bang!]
Daffy: [to Bugs] Let's run through that again.
Bugs: Okay.
Bugs: [deadpan] Would you like to shoot me now or wait till you get home.
Daffy:[similarly] Shoot him now, shoot him now.
Bugs: [as before] You keep outta this, he doesn't have to shoot you now.
Daffy Duck: [re-animated] Hah! That’s it! Hold it right there! [to audience] Pronoun trouble. [to Bugs] It's not "he doesn't have to shoot you now", it's "he doesn't have to shoot me now"
[Pause]
Daffy: [angrily] Well, I say he does have to shoot me now!! [to Elmer] So shoot me now!
[Elmer shoots Daffy again]
posted by ewkpates at 12:31 PM on December 28, 2006


Failsafe
posted by Megafly at 2:17 PM on December 28, 2006


Oh and of course, Jack and the sandwich at the diner in Five Easy Pieces, although that's darkly funny.

Huh? How is this "misunderstanding"? The two characters understand each other perfectly--they just want different things (one wants toast; the other wants to follow the rules).
posted by dobbs at 2:29 PM on December 28, 2006


Cool Hand Luke: What we got here is...a failure to communicate." [.wav]
posted by kirkaracha at 3:07 PM on December 28, 2006


Several scenes in Falling Down and Pulp Fiction.
Maynard: Nobody kills anybody in my place of business except me or Zed.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:14 PM on December 28, 2006


Every other scene in Airplane. "I am serious... and don't call me Shirley" etc.
posted by puritycontrol at 3:37 PM on December 28, 2006


Does it have to be a movie? There's the infamous driving test scene in Taxi.
Some details here.
Transcripty goodness here.

I'd love to know why you ask!
posted by juliplease at 3:42 PM on December 28, 2006


The hospital scene in Lost in Translation where Bill Murray is nodding along to an old Japanese Man with two ladies next to them laughing at the misunderstanding.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:49 PM on December 28, 2006


The department store scene halfway through Love Actually between Rowan Atkinson and Alan Rickman.
posted by thisjax at 4:24 PM on December 28, 2006


Several scenes in Airplane! (one of the funniest movies ever!)
posted by SisterHavana at 5:16 PM on December 28, 2006


The francophone ice cream man in Ghost Dog.
posted by thecjm at 5:25 PM on December 28, 2006


Pretty much any episode of Fawlty Towers, but the Communication Problems one probably best fits the bill. Sorry if being a TV show means this doesn't count.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:42 PM on December 28, 2006


Several scenes in Airplane! (one of the funniest movies ever!)
posted by SisterHavana at 5:16 PM PST on December 28


My favorite:

One of the characters is informed that another of the characters has been taken to the hospital, prompting the first one to remark:

"The hospital? What is it?"

"It's a big building with lots of patients, but that's not important now."
posted by diddlegnome at 7:20 PM on December 28, 2006


I have nearly the perfect scene for you from Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run, where Woody (as Virgil Starkwell) attempts to rob a bank with a note that is written so poorly that none of the bank tellers can read it. Virgil is treated like any other bank customer, so it should work for your purposes.
Teller: What does this say?

Virgil: Uh, can't you read that?

Teller: I can't read this. What is this?
"Abt natural"?

Virgil: No it just reads, "Please put $50
thousand into this bag. Act natural."

Teller: Does it say, "Act natural"?

Virgil: I, uh, am pointing a gut at you.

Teller: That looks like "gub",
it doesn't look like "gun".
No, it's "gub". That's a B.

Virgil: No you see, it's an N... G-U-N.

Teller: George, would you step over here
a moment please.
What does this say?

George: "Please put $50 thousand
into this bag and... abt"
- What's "abt"?

Virgil: - "Act"

Teller: Does this look like "gub" or "gun"?

George: "Gun". You see.
But what's "abt", mean?

Virgil: It's "act"...A- C-T, act.
Please put $50 thousand
into this bag. Act natural.

Teller: - Oh, I see, this is a hold up.
Virgil: - Yes.
and it continues with three more bank people consulting on the note and what it actually says.
posted by plasticbugs at 10:28 PM on December 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Firefly
Simon: Are you Alliance?
Jubal Early: Am I a lion?
Simon: What?
Jubal Early: I don't think of myself as a lion. You might as well though, I have a mighty roar.
Simon: I said "Alliance"
Jubal Early: Oh, I thought...
Simon: No, I was...
Jubal Early: That's weird.

I guess you could call Jubal Early a service worker, but Simon wasn't his customer.
posted by deborah at 6:06 PM on January 1, 2007


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