VINTAGE COLUMN: MOVIE TITLES - Content
VINTAGE COLUMN: MOVIE TITLES
For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, April 3, 2015
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ever get the idea that dozens of movies have similarly forgettable titles? That was the subject of “Movie titles echo each other in a confusing babble,” my Sept. 1, 2000, column in the Desert News.
Since I stopped reviewing movies a couple of years ago … in the paper, that is; my wife still has to listen to detailed critiques of everything we see … I've noticed that titles are starting to merge in my brain.
Especially those generic-sounding movie titles like "Here on Earth," "Return to Me," "Where the Heart Is," "Boys and Girls," "Bring it On," "Autumn in New York," etc.
Sometimes, the titles are misleading. Other times they don't seem to mean anything. And often, they just sound like other movies.
For example, shouldn't "Here on Earth" be a science-fiction film? A kinder, gentler version of "Battlefield Earth," perhaps?
And "Autumn in New York" is so bland it sounds like the title of a TV movie. You know, like those CBS or ABC network pictures that go into reruns on the Lifetime cable channel, and they all sound alike — "Sisters and Other Strangers," "Not in My Family," "At the Mercy of a Stranger," "No One Could Protect Her." And they all seem to star Joanna Kerns.
Then there are "Return to Me" and "Where the Heart Is," which should just switch titles.
The plot of "Return to Me" — a romantic tragi-comedy about a man (David Duchovny) whose late wife's heart is used as a transplant for the woman he is destined to fall for (Minnie Driver) — is actually a better fit with "Where the Heart Is." Then, when Duchovny is asked where the heart is, he can say, "It's in that woman over there!"
And the story of a young, abandoned pregnant woman (Natalie Portman) in a small Oklahoma town who gives birth in a Wal-Mart should be titled "Return to Me" … which could either mean she's yearning for that skanky boyfriend who dumped her or that she's working at the Walmart service desk doing exchanges.
Some movies' titles are more obvious, of course. Like "Mission to Mars" and the upcoming "Red Planet." Those just sort of say it all, don't they? (The sequel to the former, with an all-female cast, will be no doubt be "Mission to Venus.")
"Scary Movie" should really be "Funny Movie," shouldn't it? Or perhaps more correctly, "Stupid Movie." Or "Gross-Out Movie."
Another one that seems out of place is "The Art of War." What does that mean? It's not about art and it's not about a war. It is about Wesley Snipes and his stunt doubles.
What's going on with Snipes, anyway? And with Nicolas Cage, whose most recent film was another mindless action picture with a dumb title — "Gone in Sixty Seconds." Have they both forsaken lower-budget dramas and comedies to become their own respective versions of Arnold Schwarzenegger? They've buffed up and seem to do nothing but large-scale, look-at-all-the-fireballs action flicks lately.
Actually, Snipes seems to want to be Arnold Schwarzenegger crossed with Jackie Chan. What's that about?
Those movies are OK as diversions, but why are talented guys like Snipes and Cage making careers of them?
… But I digress. The subject was generic titles.
"Whatever it Takes," "Bring it On," "The In Crowd," "What Lies Beneath" … good grief.
And some of the upcoming films discussed in this section by Jeff Vice don't sound a whole lot better . . . title-wise:
— "The Watcher." Couch potato or peeping Tom?
— "The Way of the Gun." Forty years ago, this would have been a Western.
— "Bait." You sure this one isn't "Jaws V: Bait"?
— "Bounce." This is the title of a serious romantic movie about a young widow whose husband dies in a plane crash?
— "Pay it Forward." Sounds like a croupier's command before spinning the roulette wheel. (Not that I would know that.)
— "The Yards." Probably not a topiary competition.
— "Under Suspicion." This one says it all. There have already been seven other films that have used this same title; the most recent just eight years ago.
Who says movies aren't original anymore?