Tuesday, July 10, 2007

10 Worst Movie Gerund Titles

As I hinted in a previous post, I hate titles that begin with gerunds. They're slick but inelegant, 'contemporary' but banal, and they force a kind of spurious intimacy on their audience -- hey, you, just glancing at this movie poster, you don't know it but you're already involved in this vapid plot -- you're already "Saving Silverman" or "Walking Tall." Ugh.

Of course, there are gerund titles for all different kinds of art, from classic literature ("Loving") to crap music ("Throwing Copper"). The gerund phenomenon is only an epidemic, however, in Hollywood. Here are the 10 worst titles, largely (but not entirely) irrespective of the quality of film:

10. Wrestling Ernest Hemingway. This 1993 old-person movie -- which, strangely enough, I've actually seen -- is the most egregious of the 'Gerund + Famous Person' genre, which also includes Searching For Bobby Fischer and Being John Malkovich.

9. Waking Ned Devine. Old-people movies are apparently gerund-friendly. The worst of the 'Gerund + Random Full Name' genre. Beats out Kissing Jessica Stein and the projected 2008 Judd Apatow release, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Who the fuck is Ned Devine, and why should I care?

8. Saving Private Ryan. Say a word for perhaps the biggest-ever of the Hollywood gerund titles. Both the overblown praise and the unfair criticism of this film tends to neglect its awful title. I actually think its banality taints the overall work of art (which I respect) in a small but still meaningful way.

7. Pushing Tin. Surely the first and last time air-traffic controller jargon makes it into the title of a major studio picture.

6. Leaving Normal. OK, OK, so it didn't make much of an impact at the box office, or anywhere in pop culture, really. But it was still a studio pic made by Edward Zwick, and you tell me if it doesn't manage to pack about six Hollywood cliches into those four syllables. (Yeah, you guessed right -- "Normal" is also "Normal, Wyoming.")

5. Riding In Cars With Boys. Such ghastliness should speak for itself. The first of these clunkers not released in the '90s -- truly the Age of the Gerund.

4. Finding Forrester. Hollywood really likes to help filmgoers "find" things: Graceland, Neverland, Nemo. It's hard to imagine a more disappointing find than Sean Connery doing a preposterous J.D. Salinger impression in this painful Good Will Hunting reprise.

3. Being Human. The grandaddy of gerunds. We've been forced to be There, Julia, John Malkovich, and countless other people, places, and states of mind. But the tie goes to a movie whose central premise has Robin Williams playing a single human soul over the course of all human history, including stints as a caveman, an ancient Roman slave, and a 16th C Portuguese nobleman.

2. Feeling Minnesota. 1996. Keanu Reeves. Cameron Diaz. Courtney Love. Ugliest 'Gerund + Random Place' title. I might have to see this.

1. Regarding Henry. I guess you could quibble with the purity of the gerund use here; I think "regarding" functions more as a preposition than as a verb-noun. But I'd say that just shows the flexibility of gerund awfulness. Maybe you have to know that the movie is about Harrison Ford's brain-injury-induced transformation from obnoxious lawyer to deep-souled human innocent. But is there a more sickly smug, more emptily mawkish film title in the universe than "Regarding Henry"? I hope not. It fits the movie perfectly.


John said...

Wow, nice. I think Kissing Jessica Stein should probably have been in there, though.

But definitely, Wrestling Ernest Hemingway and Feeling Minnesota are among the worst movie titles of all time, especially the latter.

Drew said...

A wonderful list. You are the man now, dog.

mick said...

Oh thank you! Searching gerund movie titles, finding perfection!!

Michael Writing