Perhaps it is a sign of my own aging, but I could swear Hollywood has gotten lazy. What is the deal with the one-word titles?
Push. Taken. Defiance. Doubt… These are all titles of major block buster movies on the big screen right now.
Is it the ”Less is More” principle? If so, then in my case, it would be applied as “Less is More… Confusing!”
One recent afternoon, I was blessed with the rare opportunity of going to the movies by myself and seeing something other than a G-rated cartoon (if you have small kids chances are you know what I’m talking about here).
The opportunity presented itself with little to no advance warning as weekend schedules, birthday parties and kids can be subject to frequent change. So needless to say, I found myself standing in the lobby of my neighborhood theater, looking up at the board and down at my watch.
“Defiance,” I thought I recalled, was that one with the James Bond guy who whose daughter is kidnapped — and subsequently extracts vengeance on the perpetrators. A perfect fit for a surprise movie outing — lots of action, sinister plots and little thought required!
I recalled wrong. It was the James Bond guy alright… but set in the Belarusian forest during Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. It was a touching film and a true story. But to be quite honest, the entire thing takes place in the frigid winter woods of 1942 and it was 27 degrees and snowing in Washington that day. It was like walking out of seeing the film “Backdraft” to a lobby on fire.
“Taken” was the correct title of the film I thought I was seeing – and one might argue that it is telling enough so as not to be confusing. But I don’t want to have to decipher clever titles before shelling out my 10 bucks to be entertained.
In my opinion, Hollywood would do itself a favor in these tough economic times by protecting their customers from making similar mistakes: Go the extra mile and make it clear.
Take for example, “Hotel for Dogs.” Now that’s a clear title. I understand what that movie is going to be about – dogs at a hotel. There’s no way anyone would confuse it with a film about the struggle of two Jewish brothers in Belarus.
Or better yet, “The Curious Case for Benjamin Button.” They show Brad Pitt’s face so long during the time it takes for the voice on the trailer to read it that it’s probably impossible to erase the image burned into our subconscious.
In fairness, I will admit that some of my favorite films of all time have one-word titles: Casablanca, Harvey and Scarface.
But those are catchy names, not random nouns and verbs.