So, I’ve been thinking a lot about movie names. Woody Allen has said one of the hardest things he does is come up with a name for his movies. Apparently he had the hardest time coming up with the name “Annie Hall,” even though that was the name of the lead woman character. I thought that was interesting.
Woody Allen has had movies with fantastic names (Crimes and Misdemeanors, Radio Days, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters) and some that were just kind of blah (Match Point, Scoop, Celebrity, Husbands and Wives, To Rome With Love). Here, again, I’m only talking about the NAMES of the movie, not the movies themselves. But he has a generally good record. He obviously puts effort into it.
Most movie names these days seem pretty terrible. Delivery Man. Gravity. Frozen. All the sequels. I think American Hustle is a good name. Anthony Lane at The New Yorker did a hilarious turn on movie titles a couple of years ago when the horrendously named movie “Bad Teacher” came out. “Bad Teacher?” Really? Gee, what’s that one about? Let’s see if we can come up with some other names for movies using this Bad Teacher labeling style of movie names:
-- Underdog Boxer. -- Murderous Gangster. -- Corrupted Newspaper Owner. -- Brainwashed Army Guy. -- Autistic Guy And His Selfish Brother -- Lost Kansas Girl
There is a movie out right now that might have the worst name in the history of Hollywood. At least for me. Others will wildly disagree, and I’m telling you right up front that they’re right and I’m wrong. But it’s my blog. And for me, if you were assigned to come up with a combination of any four words (well, one of them is not technically a word) that would absolutely guarantee that I would never, ever see the movie, not even at gunpoint, you could not do better than “The Desolation of Smaug.”
“The Desolation of Smaug.” Whew. They might as well have called it, “Not For You,” or “Stay Home,” or “You Will Not Get This.”
Now, I do realize this is not fair at all -- I don’t get any part of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings thing and so I’m not the target of this movie. This movie is for our pal, Hobbit/Lord of the Ring Enthusiast Michael Schur, who I’m sure was totally fired up by the title and has already seen the movie three times even though he’s producing half the shows on television. Me, I saw the first Lord of the Rings movie, sort of. About 10 minutes in I was already entirely lost and I don’t really remember watching the rest of it. I remember seeing a ring of some kind.
I have tried to start The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books because I feel so stupid for knowing NOTHING about this stuff, and I have never been able to make it through three pages. It’s like reading mandarin Chinese. I am fully admitting this is a failure on my part. I love the Harry Potter books and have now read the Hunger Games (review coming! Oh, wait, those have been out for a while) and so I don’t think I’m entirely tied to realism and unable to follow at least basic fantasy plots. But for some reason i don’t get this Middle Earth stuff at all*.
*This is Middle Earth, right?
The Desolation of Smaug. Every word in that title makes me want to run to a cave somewhere far away. Desolation? Can you make a good movie with the word “Desolation” in the title? Desolation Wilderness. Desolation Angels. Desolation Canyon. Desolation Island. I say no. I’m not seeing any of these movies. And where to begin on “Smaug.” It’s one of those words that looks misspelled even when it isn’t. And I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even know until my buddy Tommy Tomlinson told me that “Smaug” is not a place. I thought it was this desolate city somewhere in middle earth with, you know, lots of desolation. But that’s wrong. It’s like a creature or something. I guess it’s the creature that opens one eye in the commercials.
This reminds me of when I watched the awfully named “Ronin” with Robert De Niro and for 45 minutes or so I kept wondering, “Which of these guys is named Ronin?”
All of which leads to the question: What are the best movie titles ever? Put your nominations below in the comments and we’ll try to do a poll on it.