September 16, 2009

Title-Challenged Films Should 'Meet' Their Maker

I've now had it with terrible film titles.

Although the dreadful trend of releases with "Meet the" in their monikers appears to have fizzled out (at least for the time being, thank goodness!), the world now has a new enemy: "All About" flicks.

I kid you not. This is truly an insidious pattern.

Take All About Steve, for instance--a universally panned dud starring Sandra Bullock (who should know better than to do this dreck) and Bradley Cooper (who may find himself knowing better after seeing the reactions to this movie). What does the title actually tell us about the movie...other than it's a riff on the 1950 classic Bette Davis picture All About Eve? My theory is that junky flicks of this ilk depend on titles that say nothing about the they're low-concept initiatives with limited, simple (or, rather, simplistic) plots. This applies to such cinematic horrors as Meet the Parents and its cheap-laughathon sequel, Meet the Fockers, as well as to bargain-basement "parodies" such as Meet the Spartans. And let's not forget the prolific Tyler Perry, who regaled us last year with Meet the Browns.

Exciting stuff, huh? Makes you just wanna rush out and spend 12 bucks on these classics.

A good movie title, IMHO, should tempt the potential viewer without giving away too much. But it shouldn't say too little, either...or nothing at all. Films such as The Exterminating Angel, The Hidden Fortress and Kind Hearts and Coronets not only promise interesting content, but also live up to their potential appeal--and each one of these pictures provides some insight into its title when viewers watch it.

So...are the days of good titles gone already? Come on--I hardly knew ye.

I guess I should be optimistic...after all, if Quentin Tarantino can weirdly misspell a 30-year-old movie title for his own Inglourious Basterds, there must be some creativity left. Then again, if we've come to the age of "All About" flicks because it's easier to slap on a movie than a moniker that offers a real perspective, then it's time for me to eschew the popcorn at the movie theater for a nice big cup of fake butter.

Cheap's to the cheap, right?


  1. The lack of creativity in middle to big budget genre titles is astonishing. The only thing I find more annoying than the lack of creativity in titles, and taglines, is when films do this:


    Really? Does anyone really think producers do anything beyond fork over money? The producers don't write the script, hire the actors, direct the film, edit the film, do the special effects for the film, really they're just the money people. Maybe 1 in 50 producers really have an effect on the films they produce.

  2. Hee, hee! I completely agree with you, Univarn. The "from the producers of" syndrome is movie advertising at its cheapest. I also would like to posit tactics such as inserting a famous author into the title, such as "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet" or "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." My question is: Would anyone really confuse "William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet" with someone else's? Who knew that "Irving Pincus' Romeo & Juliet" would be just as famous...and as difficult to differentiate? :-)

    - Simon