Monday, February 25, 2013

Bland-Phrase Movie Titles that Carry No Meaning

It's complicated. How do you know? Because I said so. Is this as good as it gets? Something's gotta give.

Do these bland phrases add up to a coherent thought? Or are they all movies starring an elderly Jack Nicholson?

How big a cop out is it when a movie just picks a random, dull, shopworn common saying as its title, without any attempt to relate it to the film itself? You've got an expression like "Something's gotta give." - which as far as I can tell means you've got an overpacked schedule and you'll need to cancel something. What does that concept have to do with the film of the same name, which (I did see it) is sort of a weekend-in-the-country light comedy about an unlikely romance?

Really - I've spent a long time thinking about this: who in the movie is the person from which something has gotta be given? Diane Keaton? Keanu Reeves? Who can turn to the camera and say "I've got A, B, C and D going on. I'm going crazy, I'm overburdened, I've got too much on my mind - something's gotta give!"

The answer is no one. They picked a cliche for the name of the film, and they couldn't be bothered to find a cliche that passed some minimum threshold of relevance. The movie could just as easily have been named "A Stitch in Time", "Sauce for the Goose", "Loose Lips Sink Ships" or even "Whoever Smelt It Dealt It". It wouldn't matter. The point, I guess, is that you, the audience member will think to yourself - "Hey, yeah, I know that phrase! This must be my kind of movie!" and head immediately to the box office.

Woody Allen is a particular offender in this department. When he comes up with the least inspired titles you've ever heard (Whatever Works, Anything Else, Don't Drink the Water) you wonder if he's deliberately trying to find something commercial by way of blandness, or if he just doesn't care. I suppose it must be a handicap when you can't call a movie Transformers 2. If you can't reference a known movie product that offers the audience some kind of reassurance, then I guess it's helpful to find a backdoor entrance to familiarity through cliche.

I prefer a good old fashioned informative title. A title that lets you know where you stand. Like Tower Heist. Or The Human Centipede.

But Rumor Has It that Everybody's Fine. It's Kind of a Funny Story. In Good Company. You Again? Imagine That. I Don't Know How She Does It. I mean What Goes Up, right? But hey, When in Rome, What Happens in Vegas takes a New York Minute.

Are We Done Yet?

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