Tuesday, May 21, 8:27 am
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Tuesday, May 21, 8:27 am
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Sequel-mania! Have you ever had the unpleasant experience of going to see the sequel of a beloved movie, only to find out that the sequel is horrible, pathetic and irritating? I won’t name names – it would be tacky. Wait! I am tacky, so here you have a few examples, in random order: “The Odd Couple II”, “Basic Instinct 2″, “Son of the Mask”, “Speed 2: Cruise Control”, “Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd”, “Caddyshack II”, “Superman IV: Quest for Peace”, “Son of Pink Panther”, “Teen Wolf Too”, “The Godfather Part III”, “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”, “The Whole Ten Yards”, “Species II”, “The Sting II”, “Jaws: The Revenge”, “Smokey & The Bandit 3″, “Batman & Robin”, “Staying Alive”, “Police Academy: Mission to Moscow”… The list is pretty darn long.
Now, for a change, imagine this: you go to the movies sure to see the sequel of your beloved movie… and you find yourself staring at a movie that has no connection with the earlier flick if not for some similarity (it takes place in space; it’s a comedy; one of the actors saw the previous movie), but it is NOT the actual sequel of the actual movie you actually want to see. Granted, here in the U.S. something like that happened with “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”, but at least the movie was part of the “official” saga created by John Carpenter.
In Italy, something happened that’s much worse. For instance…
“2002: La Seconda Odissea” (literally, “2002: The Second Odyssey)”; this movie carries a title reminiscent of a certain flick by Stanley Kubrick (no, not “Barry Lyndon”). Well, people flocked to see it – remember, when it came out, no internet. We couldn’t verify the information as quickly as we do now. Well, the movie was really a 1972 eco-sci-fi movie with Bruce Dern, called “Silent Running”. Not a bad movie, and yes, its director, Douglas Trumbull, was the guy responsible for the special effects of “2001″, but the movie had nothing to do with a monolith, evolving monkeys, and a lot of silence. It had three robots named Huey, Dewey and Louie (in the U.S.; in Italy they were Paperino, Paperina and Paperone – Donald, Daisy and Uncle Scrooge. Go figure!).
“Balle Spaziali 2: La Vendetta” (literally, “Spaceballs 2: The Revenge”); the movie borrows its title from the well-known Mel Brooks’ parody, but in reality is a so-so Randy Quaid comedy called “Martians Go Home”. I’m not sure if you saw it, but if you haven’t, please don’t. In Italy an audience almost rioted after realizing they’ve been tricked.
“Ancora Più Scemo” (literally, “Even More Dumb”); this is a movie where Jeff Daniels plays a lawyer who gets replaced in court by Michael Richards. Here it was “Trial & Error”, a straight comedy vaguely romantic, which had nothing to do with “Dumb and Dumber”.
Also, allow me to add one of the best twists ever (on a separate paragraph because this is not an American movie): the 1974 Turkish flick “Çirkin dünya” was distributed in the U.S. as “Ugly World” and/or “Last House in Istanbul”. Since it was about three criminals who terrorize the family of a doctor, in Italy they thought to title it “La Gang dell’Arancia Meccanica” (literally, “The Clockwork Orange Gang”. No points to figure out what movie they were trying to capitalize from).
CRAZY AND SCHOOLS
Another BIG problem with movie titles is when distributors try to suggest to you that their movie somehow belongs to the same genre or style, and so they title it similarly to illustrious predecessors (one example: “Home Alone” was distributed as “Mamma, Ho Perso l’Aereo” – literally, “Momma, I’ve Missed the Plane”. Huge success. When Macaulay Culkin starred in the dark-humoresque “My Girl”, they put it into theatres as, “Papà, Ho Trovato un Amico” – literally, “Daddy, I Found a Friend”. Metrically the title was the same. Thematically, not really – Macaulay dies at the end of the flick! Picture the faces of the audience, when they saw that plot twist).
However, the contagion is much more serious when it comes to use “Pazzo” (crazy) and “Scuola di” (school of) in the titles.
Allow me to explain these two plagues.
1976’s “The Gumball Rally”, known as “La Corsa Più Pazza del Mondo” (“The Craziest Race in the World”)
The real one “responsible” without any faults on its own for the Crazy craze was “Airplane!”. The awesome comedy came out as L’Aereo Più Pazzo del Mondo” (“The Craziest Airplane in the World”), and since it single-handedly redefined a comedy genre, the idea of a movie with “crazy” in the title (better if “craziest something-something in the world”) automatically was guarantee for your movie to be zany, absurd, hilarious… but often time that wasn’t the case.
In the list of “Crazy” movies, let me reveal you a few…
“Airplane II: The Sequel” – “L’Aereo Più Pazzo del Mondo… Sempre Più Pazzo” (“The Craziest Airplane in the World… Even Crazier”)
“Young Doctors in Love” – “L’Ospedale Più Pazzo del Mondo” (“The Craziest Hospital in the World”)
“Finders Keepers” – “Il Treno Più Pazzo del Mondo” (“The Craziest Train in the World”)
“Crimewave” – “I Due Criminali Più Pazzi del Mondo” (“The Two Craziest Criminals in the World”)
“Speed Zone” – “La Corsa Più Pazza del Mondo 2″ (“The Craziest Race in the World 2″)
“My Blue Heaven” – “Il Testimone Più Pazzo del Mondo” (“The Craziest Witness in the World”)
“Driving Me Crazy” – “L’Auto Più Pazza del Mondo” (“The Craziest Car in the World”)
“Frozen Assets” – “La Banca del Seme Più Pazza del Mondo” (“The Craziest Sperm Bank in the World”)
‘Senior Trip” – “Senior Trip, La Scuola Più Pazza del Mondo” (“Senior Trip, The Craziest School in the World”)
Of course, the Italians, who are always good in borrowing ideas (at least titles) did also the spectacularly unfunny “L’Esercito Più Pazzo del Mondo” (“The Craziest Army in the World”) and “Il Sommergibile Più Pazzo del Mondo” (“The Craziest Submarine in the World”). More than “craziest,” these two were “moderately demented,” but this is another story.
Among the variations on the Crazy theme, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” has become “Una pazza Giornata di Vacanza” (“A Crazy Vacation Day”), “History of the World: Part I” is “La Pazza Storia del Mondo” (“The Crazy History of the World”) and “Porky’s” is sadly known as “Porky’s Questi Pazzi Pazzi Porcelloni” (“Porky’s These Crazy, Crazy Pigs”).
Also, probably because they thought that they weren’t that crazy and so they had to limit their bounds, “The Cannonball Run” and “Cannonball Run II” became “La Corsa Più Pazza D’America” and “La Corsa Più Pazza D’America 2″ (“The Craziest Race in America”). And recently, “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” has been presented as “La Concessionaria Più Pazza d’America” (“The Craziest Car Dealer in America”).
And then there is the “Scuola di” series.
“Scuola di” means “School of,” and it was created for the widely successful “Police Academy”. Instead of titling the movie, as it should have been, “Accademia di Polizia” (as in, “Police Academy”), they titled it “Scuola di Polizia” (as in, “School of Police” or “Police School”, as you wish).
And they opened the floodgates. Any movie titled “School of —” became synonymous with uproarious, madcap, knee-slapping adventure with funny characters. And again, a lot of movies – too many, really – fell under the umbrella-ella-ella of the “School of —” curse.
Among these (not counting the subsequent Police Academy episodes)…
“Real Genius” became “Scuola di Geni” (“School of Genius”)
“Jekyll & Hyde… Together Again” became “Scuola di Sesso” (“School of Sex”)
“The Monster Squad” became “Scuola di Mostri” (“School of Monsters”) – Why!??!?!
“Toy Soldiers” became “Scuola di Eroi” (“School of Heroes”) – this is not even a comedy!
“Reform School Girls” became “Scuola di Buone Maniere” (“School of Good Manners”)
“Stitches” became “Scuola di Medicina” (“School of Medicine”)
“Sky High” became “Sky High – Scuola di Superpoteri” (“Sky High – School of Superpowers”)
In order not to lose their ability of leeching, Italy made also the two colossally unfunny “Scuola di Ladri” and “Scuola di Ladri – Parte Seconda” (“School of Thieves” and “School of Thieves – Part II”).
And finally, the two worlds collided when the abysmally horrendous comedy “Stewardess School”, which should have been titled “Scuola di Hostess” (as in, “School of Stewardess”), it was called… “L’Aereo Più Pazzo del Mondo 3″ (“The Craziest Airplane in the World 3″). The audience was sooo not pleased that the distributors quickly reverted the title to a faithful translation of the original movie. Not surprisingly, it didn’t help. A rose by any other name, is still a sucky movie.
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