Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's All in the Title

After watching "Hot Tub Time Machine" yesterday--an amusing farce that satisfied my need for time travel as well as seeing limbs ripped from torsos--I did my usual read through the trivia section of the movie's IMDB page. There, I learned that John Cusack agreed to do the film solely because of the goofy title (if you can't count on user-generated comments on IMDB, then I don't want to live in your untrusting world!). This is similar to when Samuel L Jackson agreed to do "Snakes on a Plane" solely due to that movie's goofy title, going so far as threatening to back out of the picture when it was suggested the title would be changed. Sometimes, the goofy plain-ness of a movie title will make or break the film itself.

Giving a movie the proper title has become an actual cottage industry in Hollywood, as special firms are used to come up with just the right title to sell the film. Consider when "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" came out, or "Breakin' 2--Electric Boogaloo". You could almost taste the disaster! And the makers of "Oceans 12" opted for that title, rather than "Oceans 11, 2" which would have been just confusing. "Die Harder" probably tested better than "More Die Hard" or "Die Hard Strikes Again". The film "The Madness of King George" was retitled from "The Madness of George III" so that viewers wouldn't think it was a second sequel, driving off moviegoers who assumed they missed the first two. Incidentally, I'd have been one of the moviegoers who'd actually watch it if I thought it WAS a sequel--I'd have to think "what will that mad King George do next? Hijinks ensue!"

But now, the new trend (after "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "Snakes on a Plane") I predict will be titles that basically sum up the whole plot of the movie. Under this rule, classic films could be released under new titles:

1) "Gone With the Wind" can be "Spoiled Conniving Bitch and Classy Dude Who Screws With Her". Of course, that could also be the title of most Katherine Hepburn films.

2) "Casablanca" could be released as "Cynical Bar Owner Helping Refugees". Doesn't have the right ring to it.

3) "Poltergeist" can be "Wacky Ghost Messes With The Guy from Coach". Of course TV's "Coach" didn't come out before the film did, so that would be yet another eerie coincidence related to that film.

4) "Back to the Future" can be "One Long Incest Joke".

5) "The Godfather" can be "Don't Mess With That Olive Oil Salesman".

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