Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sucky By Any Name (Especially So By This One)

Got myself back to the theater tonight by squeezing in a showing of Stop-Loss, which I’ll review later in the week. I was planning on arriving at the theater just before the opening credits. Instead, I got there in time for the full slate of previews. Damn promptness! If I could manage to be a little more nonchalant I would have saved myself the agony of watching the trailer for an upcoming film starring your favorite Oscar winner and mine: Nicolas Cage.

I needn’t say it here, but the movie failed to entice me. Fucking brutal were words that came to mind, and that was just the experience of enduring the trailer. Cage, wearing a long hairstyle that only accentuates the massiveness of his forehead, apparently plays a gunman for hire who gets pissed off over a shady business deal and goes on a rampage in some Asian country or another. Truth is, I did my best to keep from paying attention. Cage’s goofy hairstyle sure helped.

Still, I was attentive enough to catch the title of the film at trailer’s end: Bangkok Dangerous. Seriously! I’ve done a little Googling and it seems that this is an American knockoff of a 2001 Thai film, so I’m guessing the title is a literal translation. Too bad, because it sounds like a bad porn name, more specifically like an action hero played by Dirk Diggler. Or, maybe more accurately, it’s the character Will Ferrell would play if allowed to take his Ron Burgundy/Ricky Bobby/Jackie Moon act to the world of adult film: “Hello, I’m Bangkok Dangerous.”

But here’s the thing: it turns out that the movie’s title and the casting of Cage in yet another a leading role are not the most curious decisions related to this project. No, what’s downright preposterous is this: the 2001 film upon which the movie is based might not be very good. Over at Metacritic the original Bangkok Dangerous pulled a score of 45 (out of 100). That would put it behind movies like Beowulf (59) and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (48). But, hey, the new film has Nicolas Cage in an unforgivable hairdo! How could it fail?

So I offer this post as a public service announcement, but also to ask: What are some of your favorite awful movie titles? The invention of those computerized ticket kiosks has created a less embarrassing alternative, but has there ever been a movie you skipped at the theater simply because you were too proud to say its title out loud at the ticket booth?

1 comment:

ghibli said...

Loved reading this! Here are my thoughts on the “what’s in a name?” topic.

1) Throw Mama From The Train: I realize the 80s alone provide a wealth of ripe material for this competition, but for me, Throw Mama takes the cake. No idea what this was about any more, but I didn’t see it and remember thinking at the time that the title was idiotic.

2) To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar: I never saw this movie because of the title. It bothered me at the time because I loved the classic film “Some Like it Hot” to which it was then likened. I was only recently reminded of this film when reading an item earlier this year reporting that Patrick Swayze is battling pancreatic cancer. While not his fault, the title of this film is unforgivable.

3) Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School: I DID see this one and enjoyed it for all that it is. That said, I know that I hesitated going at the time because of the title, and it may have hurt box office sales—that and its extremely limited release. Had I known nothing about it, I never would have looked into seeing it based on its name!

4) The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (both 1 and 2): This is unfortunate for me because the trailer for both films look like they could be semi- appealing, were I 20 years younger, and I know of at least one adult who saw the first movie and didn’t hate it. I just think the title is ridiculous. Back to the Future, now that’s a cool title.

5) Snakes on a Plane: I am kicking myself right now (ouch) for not having seen this in the theater. I can’t ever see myself watching it on tv or dvd without the big screen and full crowd laughter this film apparently inspired. The title not only sounds like an internet hoax, it generated so much pre-release laughter that the plot was actually altered by online commentators. Still kicking myself.

6) Any movie with the word "Hellboy" or "Chucky" in the title!

7) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: I hate to say it but as a pure, 3-part-trilogy-makes-perfect Indiana Jones lover, I’m skeptical of the new film’s raison d’etre, let alone the goofy sounding title. As the most syllabically bulky and rather unrefined title, my only hope is that the movie doesn’t taint the legacy of the trilogy and proves to be more on key than its name.

I look forward to hearing from others!