Tag Archives: The 40 Year Old Virgin

TV Recappers Anonymous Plays the Less Ambitious Movie Titles (and Taglines) Game!

Oh, the games we play when we’re bored . . .

While getting my daily “news” dosage for the day, I came upon a fun little article in Entertainment Weekly.  It was about this game everybody has apparently been playing on Twitter lately, called #lessambitiousmovies.  Here’s how you play:  (1) Find an “exciting” movie title; (2) change the words around a bit, to make it into a completely mundane (and stupid)  one.  It’s THAT EASY!

Or is it?  You see, I was playing this game with my friends today, when it simultaneously occurred to all of us that most modern day movie titles are already pretty unambitious.  This is even the case for genuinely good movies, with decidedly intricate plotlines.  Think about it.  How could one POSSIBLY further dumb down titles for movies like The Town, Black Swan, Toy Story, Tron and How Do You Know?  Is it just me, or does Hollywood need to take a SERIOUS crash course in creativity?

Gee, I wonder what THIS movie is about!

Nevertheless, my friends and I did come up with a few Less Ambitious Movie Title ideas, which I’ve decided to share with you today because there’s been nothing on TV lately, and I have absolutely NOTHING ELSE TO WRITE ABOUT.  What I’ll do is give you a little intel on the original film first, and then share my “New and Improved” Less Ambitious Version.  Sound good?   OK, here goes . . .

1) Ghostbusters

What it was about:  A bunch of out of work comedians (most of whom used to be on Saturday Night Live) wear khaki jumpsuits, carry around what look like vacuum cleaners, and suck up goblins and ghouls, on the streets of New York City.

Less Ambitious Version: “Roastbusters”

What it’s about NOW:  Ummm . . .  vegetarians, maybe?

New and Improved Tagline:  “I ain’t afraid of no ROAST!” 

2) The Sixth Sense

What it was about:  Little Haley Joel Osment sees dead people (SPOILER ALERT:  Bruce Willis may be one of them.)

Less Ambitious Version: “The Six Cents”

What it’s about NOW:  The pocket change you always have on hand, but are perpetually forgetting to use . . .

New and Improved Tagline:  “The heartwarming tale of Nickel and his good pal, Penny (based on a true story).”

3) Die Hard

What it was about:  Bruce Willis, again!  This time he’s battling terrorists, shooting people, and blowing sh*t up for two hours, all the while making snarky comments, and flexing his muscles to show us how cool he is.  (In other words, if you are watching this film, and you are female, you may grow a weiner, as a result . . .)

Less Ambitious Version:  “Diet Hard”

What it’s about NOW:  Bruce Willis is really cranky, because all he’s eaten all day is a salad and two peanuts.  So, he starts blowing sh*t up . . .

New and Improved Tagline:  “Twelve extra pounds.  One cop.  The odds are against John McClane.  And he’s STARVING for a donut!”

4)  127 Hours

What it was about:  A hiker gets his arm stuck under a rock for 127 HOURS.  So, he chops it off . . .

Less Ambitious Version: “127 Seconds”

What it’s about NOW:  Do the math.  That’s just a little over two minutes.  It doesn’t really have time to be about anything.  But it WILL star a hot guy . . . because I say so . . . and it’s my movie, dammit!

New and Improved Tagline:  “By the time you finish reading this, the movie will be almost over.”

5) Field of Dreams

What it was about:   A bunch of dead baseball players (including the voice of Darth Vader) tell Kevin Costner to build a baseball field in his backyard.  He does . .  .

Less Ambitious Version:  “Field of Streams”

What it’s about NOW:  Running water, running water, and more running water.

New and Improved Tagline:  “This movie is so good, it will make you pee.”

6) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

What it was about:  Jim Carey had a bad breakup with Kate Winslet.  So, he had her surgically removed from his brain.  I’m not kidding . . .

Less Ambitious Version:  “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Kitchen”

What it’s about NOW:   Jim Carey is a compulsive neat freak, who is obsessed with keeping his kitchen clean . . .

New and Improved Tagline:  “His floors are so clean, you can eat off them.  (But if you do, he’ll KILL YOU!)

7) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the movie)

What it was about:  A perky cheerleader battles vampires in her California high school.  She also says the word “like” a lot . . .

Less Ambitious Version:  “Buffy the Violin Player”

What it’s about NOW:  It’s kind of self explanatory.  Don’t you think?

New Tagline:  “For all the tools who like to get played, and the girls who like to play them . . .”

8)  Flashdance

What it was about:  A factory working teen tries to become accepted into a prestigious dance school.  She falls in love, in the process (SHOCKER!).

Less Ambitious Version:  “Flashy Pants”

What it’s about NOW:  Hot pink sparkly pants, and the girls who wear them . . .

New and Improved Tagline:  “It’s kind of like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants .  . . except without the ‘sisterhood,’ or the ‘traveling.’  Oh . . . and the pants are WAY sluttier!”

9) The Forty-Year Old Virgin

What it was about:  Steve Carell is a middle aged salesman of electronic equipment, who can’t seem to get himself laid.  Hijinks (not to mention, some REALLY NASTY BACK WAXING) ensue.

Less Ambitious Version:  “The 40-Year Old Merchant”

What it’s about NOW:  Steve Carell sells paper for a company called Dunder Mifflin.  He doesn’t get laid all that often (because he’s kind of a jackass).  But at least he’s not still a virgin!

New and Improved Tagline:  “It’s kind of like Death of a Salesman . . . except nobody dies at the end.”

10)  The King’s Speech

What it was about:  Colin Firth is going to be King, but he stutters like crazy!  Geoffery Rush to the RESCUE!

Less Ambitious Version:  “Larry King’s Speech”

What it’s about now:  It’s not really a movie, per se . . . more like every episode of Larry King Live ever aired .  . . back . . . to back . . . to back.

New and Improved Tagline:  “He may be retired, but he’s still not shutting the hell up . . .”

So, there you have it:  Ten Less Ambititous Movie Titles and Taglines.  Now it’s your turn to play!  (Feel free to leave your “new” film suggestions in the comment section below  .  . .)

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Freaks and Geeks – The Best Show You Probably DIDN’T Watch (and neither did I), But We Should Have

Before Katherine Heigl got Knocked Up, before Jason Segel spent an entire Hawaiian vacation Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and before Steve Carell endured the ignominious label of The 40-Year Old Virgin, there was a funny New Yorker named Judd Apatow, and a little  television show called Freaks and Geeks.

Although the show aired roughly ten years ago, I didn’t come across it until fairly recently.  I was looking for a prospective candidate to fill my ever-dwindling Netflix queue, at the timeThe show was described as a “period piece” of sorts, in that it took place at a Michigan high school during the 1980-81 school year. 

Now, as you can probably tell from this blog, I LOVE my high school dramedys.  Plus, I have always been a bit obsessed with the ’80s as a decade, despite the fact that I was itty bitty during most of it.  (The Breakfast Club was the first R-rated film my mother let me watch on video.  It is still one of my favorite movies of all time.)  So, I figured this was right up my alley.

The Pilot episode opens with a clichéd jock and his clichéd cheerleader girlfriend engaging in a vapid discussion about the nature of their relationship, while cuddling on the bleachers at the high school football field.  Within moments, the camera pans beneath the bleachers to reveal the show’s real stars: a group of stoners smoking weed, and a trio of nerds discussing Star Wars.  I was instantly hooked.

The series follows the lives of Lindsay Weir (played by Linda Cardellini of ER), a shy overachieving mathlete who becomes disillusioned with her dull life and quickly falls in with a “bad crowd,” and her younger brother, Sam (John Francis Daley of Bones), a good humored and intelligent, but diminutive and undeveloped (his voice still hasn’t changed) high school freshman.  Lindsay hangs with the titular Freaks of the show, played by James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen (all of whom have gone on to become regular staples in Judd Apatow films).  Sam’s friends comprise the Geeks, who are played by Sam Levine and Martin Starr. 

Rather than creating a glossy and stylized version of high school, as most teen dramas tend to do, Freaks and Geeks portrayed a more realistic version of the teen years, one rife with awkwardness, discomfort, growth spurts and acne.  Unlike most teen shows airing during that time, the actors here actually looked like real teenagers (even Cardellini, despite the fact that she was already 25 when the show started taping).  They even talked like real teenagers — their speech rife with the trademark inarticulate umms and uhhs that characterize “teenspeak” (and, on occasion, my own “speak”).

Freaks and Geeks  stood out from other teen television shows, in that it was primarily NOT about romance.  The “couples” in the show weren’t portrayed as soul mates, star-crossed lovers, or adults trapped in young bodies.  Instead, the Weirs’ respective relationships much more closely resembled those of  my limited high school dating experience.  Namely, they were frightening and cringe-inducingly uncomfortable. 

I love, for example, how Lindsay’s “love interest,” Nick (Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother), is not smooth or cool at all.  In fact, he is kind of smothery and more than a tad creepy at times.  Lindsay generally sticks with him because he is part of her social circle, and because she wants to have a boyfriend.  Unforunately, I too have been there . . .

Freaks and Geeks also took risks with its storylines.  One episode dealt with a hermaphodite student in a way that was surprisingly tasteful and heartfelt.  In another episode, viewers spent a good deal of time watching the Geeks watch a pornographic film.

So, if your Netflix queue has been looking a bit anorexic lately, and you are in need of some quality programming, I highly recommend Freaks and Geeks.

Oh, and did I mention James Franco looks really hot in it?

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