Super Bowl

Naming Conventions


Not to belabor today's bad movie theme but what kind of parallel universe are we living in where you're supposed to believe Guess Who is a sacrilege against the revered classic Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? If you can name a more turgid, preachy picture than the original Stanley Kramer joint, I'd be interested in hearing about it. Check out the film's climax, a scene in which Spencer Tracy pontificates for about four hours on the finer points of racial tolerance while all the other characters listen rapturously, for a lesson on how not to make a movie (a lesson in which Kramer was always a reliable prof). The movie didn't even blaze any new territory in casting Sidney Poitier as a gifted physician: That was done 17 years earlier, with 1950's No Way Out, in which Poitier plays a doctor who treats the racist hoodlum Richard Widmark. (And No Way Out at least had some melodramatic brio to go along with the message about universal brotherhood.)

But Guess Who also has the advantage of downsizing the original name of the movie, thus taking a stand against the lamentable trend of title inflation. Moviegoers like to get some bang for their buck, and bigger titles inevitable crowd out admirable works with more modest titles. Who's going to bother with The Ring when you can see The Lord of the Rings? Why would anybody settle for just one King of Comedy when you can see multiple Kings of Comedy, who in addition to being more numerous are also, apparently, The Originals? Is it any wonder that nobody's heard of Robert Altman's A Wedding lately, when for the same price you can get a wedding that's not only big and fat but also Greek? You'd be a fool to watch a movie that offers only the experience of watching John Malkovich when you have the option of actually Being John Malkovich. (In the exception that proves the rule, The Incredibles managed to outperform the 1971 Bruce Dern/Casey Kasem vehicle The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant.)

The most ominous new title is the Farrelly brothers' looming remake of the 1997 paean to soccer hooliganism Fever Pitch. Not only will the movie be terrible because it stars Jimmy Fallon, who sucks out loud; they didn't even bother to change the title! The original title is a pun on the fact that soccer is played on a pitch. Now I realize the word "pitch" has a not-inconsiderable application to the game of baseball as well, but talk about your Anglicisms invading the USA. If Jimmy Fallon is not stopped, we'll all be watching NFL "footy" one of these days. (And rooting for the Pats to boot.)