There are plenty of despicable trends sneaking their way into movie theaters these days. Like 3D, endless remakes, sequels, and reboots, and Channing Tatum. I can stomach those. But there is one trend I simply cannot stand.
In the past year, I’ve seen more terrible titles than I can shake a non-descript stick at. They say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but come on! If you’re going to dump $100 million, two years production time, and millions of man hours into a movie, don’t you want to be able to say the name of your movie without mumbling the title, embarrassed?
The past two years have been shining examples. This year already we’ve had stinkers like “The Mechanic,” “The Rite,” “The Roommate,” “The Eagle,” (Channing Tatum, double-boo), “Unknown“, “The Conspirator,” and “Prom.”
Boring, bland, article-then-noun formulas that say nothing about the film, and make no effort to whet the appetite of potential viewers. My natural fear is that, well, if the writers can’t write a decent title, how can they write a decent script? Are they trying to make their bland movie seem better by comparison by tagging it with a blander title?
Maybe they are trying to snatch up a wider audience by giving their film a generic name that no one will strongly oppose. I say, get some balls. Give your film a name like “DIE HARD” or “LOCK, STOCK, and TWO SMOKING BARRELS.” Jesus, just typing out those titles was like sucking down a cold glass of Fresca after fourteen days in the desert. Speaking of which, “THE GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY.” Now that’s a movie title! Give me some creativity, some variation.
I don’t even care – get literal. “SNAKES on a PLANE” garnered a huge pre-release cult following just based off the title. “THE ASSASSINATION of JESSE JAMES by the COWARD ROBERT FORD” might be a mouth and an earful, but it’s bold, hinting that the film isn’t pulling any punches. “KILL BILL” not only captures the plot, tone, and violence of the movie, it fricking rhymes. Double points. People snicker at those two titles because they sound too simple, but they plant themselves right in your squishy little brain matter, don’t they? Can’t forget them.
Speaking of forgetfulness, what was the name of the Ron Howard movie that came out this year? Oh, that’s right, you wouldn’t remember, because it was slapped with the dullest title in the history of cinema: “THE DILEMMA.” I swear to Spartacus, someone at Universal Pictures OK’d a title that couldliterally apply to any movie ever made! Every single movie has a dilemma. Every single movie could have that title. (Also, more Channing Tatum. Rough.)
But there’s some hope.
2011 has had a few good titles. I can’t comment on the quality of the films attached to those titles, but good titles nonetheless. “GNOMEO and JULIET” and “YOUR HIGHNESS” (I love me some good puns). I approve of the streamlining of “THE FAST and the FURIOUS FIVE” into simply, “FAST FIVE.” It’s like the producers are saying, “Our movie is so fast-paced, we don’t even have time for articles and conjunctions.” “THE TREE of LIFE” sounds hopeful, and is ambiguous without being lazy or dull. “PIRATES of the CARRIBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES” has an excellent feeling of eccentricity and escalation to it.
There is still a lot of crap coming down the line. Producers changed “RISE of the APES” to the unfortunate and clunky “RISE of the PLANET of the APES“, which will give you cerebral palsy when you type it out. I guess they thought audiences wouldn’t make the connection without the “planet” in there. I’ll take smooth syntax over franchise association any day.
Do you guys agree? What are some other terrible movie titles? Am I alone on this Channing Tatum thing? Leave your thoughts below.